Sunday, September 11, 2016

Back To School Ideas

Back To School is in full force! And we all know, there is no tired, like teacher tired during the first month of school. I am going to share a few time saving tips with you that will help ease your stress levels and help you relax a bit during the beginning of the school year.

Are you required to post student learning standards each day? I was spending WAY TOO MUCH time writing the CCSS out on the board each day. It took up valuable learning space on my board and I was getting frustrated. To solve this problem, I created kid-friendly standards posters I could change out easily and quickly in a pocket chart. The front of each card has the standard, in kid-friendly words. The back of each card, has the actual standard written out with the standard number and strand.These are available for all the ELA and MATH standards grades K-5. Now, when I have my admin, a parent, etc. come into our classroom, they can easily see what skills we are working on throughout the day.

Do parent conferences stress you out? Do you hate prepping for them or don't know how to organize all the information you want to tell them in 15 minutes? I have the resource for you! Getting organized for conferences has never been easier, since I started using this personalized conference binder. It has all the forms and information I need at my fingertips. 

All the forms are editable, which helps save time too! This pack includes:

1. A conference note to send home with the date and time of the meeting. 
2. A reminder note
3. Sign in sheet
4. Missed You At Our Conference note
5. FIVE conference checklist options
6. Personalized binder cover

This is, by far, a new favorite in my classroom! Be the coolest teacher on campus with this Back To School bulletin board. Bridging the gap between school and social media will make you a hit with your students and their families. Each student will create their own Instagram page with a personalized picture, comment, and hashtag. This is a great student center bulletin board that you can leave up all year! I emailed the parents and asked them to email a picture of their child doing a favorite activity, on a summer trip, or just hanging out. They kids were so excited to see their faces up on the board as each picture was sent in. It is a great motivator and they love reading what each caption says.

Do you get frustrated always having to stop your teaching to help a student log on to a website? Are you looking for a way to organize their user names and passwords? I have the resource for you! And the best's FREE!

I was getting so frustrated every time we went to computer lab and I would always have several little kiddos tell me they couldn't log on to a site because their password didn't work. Nobody has time for that!  To solve this problem, I created individual student password cards! This was a game changer for me. Just write the student's name, user name, and password on the card. Then, laminate them and hole punch so you can put them on a ring. Each time I go to the computer lab, I grab the appropriate password ring and off we go. Ta Dah! Problem solved! You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking HERE.

I hope these back to school tips have given you some ideas that you can use in your classroom. Best of all, you can start implementing them immediately! Enjoy!


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Teaching Resources By Oriental Trading

Today, I am super excited to share some incredible teaching resources I found through Oriental Trading. When I first started teaching , Oriental Trading was my go to source for everything prize related in my classroom. Now, I still use it for that... BUT it has SO MUCH MORE to offer teachers! 

My eyes bulged out of my head when I saw these... I have made my own tens frames and laminated them. But they needed a face lift. I love how these dry erase math boards are DOUBLE SIDED! There is a 120 Chart on one side and ten frames and number lines on the other. These are going to be PERFECT for my kiddos during math time!

I have never had a complete class set of number lines for my students to use! These dry erase number lines will be perfect to use all year long. I am sure we will wear these out during skip counting, addition and subtraction strategies and so much more!

I also got a class set of sunglasses. I know that might sound strange BUT I give them to my kids every year with this little label. Sometime I give them at Back To School night at the beginning of the year. Other times, I wait and give it to them at the end of the year at Open House before they move to the next grade level. Either way, they are a HUGE hit!
 Beach balls???? Yes, please! I love using these for math facts practice, sight word recognition, and even as a way to call on students. It is something different that keeps my kids engaged and ready to learn.

I love these pencils! They say "Happy Birthday, From Your Teacher!" I use them to create my birthday bloom display. You can grab this freebie by clicking HERE.
Finally, I grabbed a class set of white paper bags with handles. I use these several times during the school year for special events. I have the kids decorate them and then put all of the small items they collect inside them so they don't get lost. 

One of the best new features at Oriental Trading is their classroom Wish List! That's right! All you have to do is go to their website, start shopping, and add the items you love to your wish list. Then, share that wish list with the families in your class and BAM all your wishes may be coming true! How awesome is that?

Now is the time to head on over to Oriental Trading! Get your classroom stocked up and ready for all those sweet kiddos headed your way!

*Disclaimer: This post contains information about products that were sent to me by Oriental Trading for review. However, all opinions and classroom ideas are my own.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Back To School Blog Hop!

It's hard to believe it is already Back To School time! Where did the summer go? In order to make the transition from summer to school starting a bit easier, a few of my blogging teacher friends and I have joined together to bring you something to get excited about!

How do gift cards and freebies, sound to you? Well I have not ONE but TWO freebies for you to grab! I hope that news makes you a bit giddy! 


1. INSTACLASS: Be the coolest teacher on campus with this Back To School bulletin board. Bridging the gap between school and social media will make you a hit with your students and their families. Each student will create their own Instagram page with a personalized picture, comment, and hashtag. This is a great student center bulletin board that you can leave up all year! I can't wait to get into my classroom and start gathering pictures from my students so I can get this board up right away!

2. BACK TO SCHOOL BASICS FORMS: I like to have all my students' information at my fingertips. I never know when I am going to have to contact a parent, look up how a child gets home, discover food allergies, and more! I love using these forms to keep the lines of communication open with my families. 

3. STUDENT PASSWORD CARDS: How many times have you gone to the computer lab, only to have a couple little darlings tell you their password doesn't work. Hello??? User error!!! Nobody has time for that. I created individual student password cards to solve this EXACT problem. Just write the student's name, user name, and password on the card. Then, laminate them and hole punch so you can put them on a ring. Each time I go to the computer lab, I grab the appropriate password ring and off we go. Ta Dah! Problem solved! You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking HERE.

4. BIRTHDAY BLOOMS: I love to celebrate birthdays in school, but with 24+ little kiddos, it can get very expensive. At the beginning of each school year, I create our class Birthday Blooms. I attach the "flower" to a special birthday pencil and create this display. When it is a child's birthday, they get to pick out their pencil, get a birthday sticker, and a homework pass. It's very low cost. Each child feels super special and it makes an adorable display. You can grab this FREEBIE by clicking on the picture below.

Now that you are organized and have a few FREEBIES to use, how about a chance to put some Teachers Pay Teachers cash into your pocket!!! We are giving away, not one, not two, but THREE $50 TpT gift cards to three lucky people. Make sure to use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win! Then hop on through to visit some more of my blogging buddies and grab some more fabulous freebies!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Student Centered Decor: Tips and Ideas

Displaying student work can be a nightmare. OR maybe you love it! I'm a control freak . With little classroom space to display student work.... so I get stressed out about it! This is the struggle that goes on in my mind: Can I get every student's work on display? Does it look neat? Did they cut correctly? 

Read on to see how I deal with these voices in my head and hopeful you will gather some great ideas along the way.

As we approach Back To School season, teachers are slowly heading back to their classrooms. I always feel overwhelmed when I take those first steps into my classroom from summer break. The first thing I do, to combat the nauseousness that overwhelms me, is my bulletin boards! Sounds weird, right? Here is my theory.... it will look like I have accomplished A LOT once I get my boards up. I will feel like I have made progress and be able to come back to work over and over. I will be able to ignore the other mess.

BUT... then I realize something.... All of my boards and wall space are for my students' work. Sure, I have a few posters for scheduling, behavior etc. They are standard, but the actual board and wall space is BLANK until those kiddos create the work to display!

I want my students to have ownership of our room environment. It's not solely MY room. It's OUR room. If their work is valued and highlighted, it will encourage them to do their best work and take pride in it! 

Give your students activities they can succeed at! This will build their self confidence and they will want to show off their work! 

These kiddos are always a hit with my students and parents. I have my students complete these before Open House. This gives them the ability to share their accomplishments with their parents in a natural form. Nothing is forced. These are from My Future Is So Bright Craftivity packet.

Photo from Sailing Into Second
I have to get creative with space to display student work. I am able to hang some work from a wire across my ceiling. I know this isn't an option for everyone, but this is the best way for me to get the most out of the space. My students are always "ooing" and "aweing" at their work and each other's work. They try to guess who wrote what and which one is theirs. They also beam with pride when guests come in and admire their work.... hence, building SELF ESTEEM! 

Scarecrow Writing Craft
I also use the doors of my cupboards to display student generated work (Hey, a girl has got to get creative). This is one of my favorite character building/self esteem projects we do each year. I teach my students how to draw self portraits. Then, I walk them through the process of writing their own All About Me poems. The students LOVE sharing what they write with each other and having their parents read them at Back To School Night. Building each student up is SO important to do throughout the year.

Self  Portraits
This year I am going to create an Instagram display to highlight each of my students. This is a display I leave up all year! It makes every student feel special. It promotes their self esteem and there is always something for them to show off about themselves in our classroom. 

I have each parent email me their child's favorite picture of  himself or herself. It can be a picture of them doing their favorite activity (like the picture below) or a special family event etc. If I don't get a picture sent to me, I take one of them at school to use.

Next, students choose a simple caption and hashtag to go with their picture.

Finally, I will print them on white card stock and laminate them. I display each Instagram page with our class title. It makes my heart pitter-patter to highlight each student all year. 

Build your students' self esteem and grab your own Instaclass Bulletin Board set below:

I hope you were able to gather a few new ideas to highlight each student in your class, build their character, and self esteem throughout the year. 


Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Interactive Notebooks Tips & Tricks: Part 4

Welcome to Part 4 of my Interactive Notebooks Tips and Tricks blog series. This week I am discussing everything about rubrics and grading.

I have to admit, when I first started using interactive notebooks I didn't use a rubric. I modeled how the pages should be completed and explained my expectations, but there was no visual reference for the students to refer to besides my model page. Most of my classes were OK with that. However, this last year was a bit different. My students needed the rubric to be successful. 

I created this kid-friendly rubric for each of them to glue into the inside of the front cover of their notebook. I also post a copy of it on our math concept board for easy reference!

If you would like a copy of the rubric to use, you can grab it by clicking on the picture below. This FREEBIE also comes with sample math interactive notebook pages for you to use as well. 

Grading... this can be tricky and time consuming if you are using interactive notebooks during whole class time. Collecting and grading 24+ notebooks is just one more thing you do NOT need on your plate. If you are using interactive notebooks during small group time, it is a bit more manageable to grade. 

To solve this great dilemma in my classroom, I switch between whole group and small group time when using INB. This way I can focus on grading a small number of  student notebooks at a time. I use the rubric and then add constructive and meaningful comments. This allows the students to know what they are doing well, and how they can improve their work too.

But....let's be honest.... grading and commenting on all these notebook pages is difficult to keep up with. It is SO easy to fall behind and then you just throw your hands up in the air and give up trying to grade them. 

In order to tackle this problem, I would have my students "grade" themselves on all their pages they completed. Once a week, I would have them choose one page they wanted me to look at and comment on. Of course, I looked at all the pages, but I only commented on the one page they chose. This kept the kids honest about their work quality and grading. They knew I was going to look at it at some point!

I hope this blog series about Interactive Notebooks: Tips and Tricks gave you some new ideas and inspiration to get started using them with your students or at least a new idea to implement if you are already using them. Remember that it is an ever evolving process. Each class is different. Find what you love and make it work for you and your students! 


Did you miss any part of this blog series? No worries. Just click on the links below to the posts you missed and get started!

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Interactive Notebooks Tips & Tricks: Part 3

Welcome to part three of my interactive notebook series! In this post, I am going to be discussing different ways to manage your notebooks in the classroom. If you missed the first two posts about why to use interactive notebooks and how to set them up, the links are at the end of this post.

At this point, you have committed to using interactive notebooks or at least giving them a try because you know all the awesome learning benefits of your students creating them. You also have some ideas on what you need to do to set up your notebooks, before you even put them into the hands of your little learners. Today, I want to help you conquer HOW TO MANAGE these bad boys. This can be tricky, so you may need to try a few different ideas before you get it "just right".

There are so many different ways to store your student notebooks. It really depends on your classroom set up. In my classroom, I have a table/desk for every 2 students with a place for them to keep their supplies and books. This picture will give you an idea of how I set up my desks. 

Each of my students has their own supply box with materials they will need throughout the school day. In this box they have crayons, pencils, erasers, a glue stick, dry erase marker, and correcting pens. I HATE, dislike greatly, the idea of communal supplies. As a kid, and even as an adult, I like my things "just so". I take care of my things. Not everybody has the same standards of taking care of their supplies. For this reason, I always have my students keep their own supplies in their desks. This is what their boxes look like. 

Why am I telling you all of this? What does it have to do with interactive notebook storage?  

The point is, my students always have the supplies they need to complete their notebook pages with them. I don't have to waste time passing out supplies. The only thing they have to get is scissors. I will not let them keep these in their desks. When we work in our notebooks, I dismiss the kids by table to get a pair of scissors to use. SIMPLE. EASY. TAKES 2 SECONDS.

All my students keep their interactive notebooks INSIDE their own desk! Yes, I know this is unheard of in many classrooms. I have NEVER had a problem with the notebooks being destroyed or damaged. In second grade, we have one textbook for reading. All of our other resources are consumable. The materials they need are stored in folders in their desks. The point is, they don't have a lot to keep in their desks, therefore their notebooks survive. 

Many teachers use bins or trays, such as these, to store their notebooks in also.

I suggest experimenting and seeing what works best for you. Don't give up!

Oh the dreaded "little pieces!" I solved this problem pretty easily by gluing an envelope to the back cover of the notebook. Tape does not work. It peels off too easily. A little white glue and you are all set. I suggest doing this when you are setting up your notebooks BEFORE they are in the students possession. 

There will ALWAYS be those students that don't finish in the allotted time frame. My students finish their notebooks during morning warm up the next day. Sometimes, I allow them to take it home as part of their homework. It really depends on the child and if I feel they are responsible enough to bring it back the next day. If we are doing center work, I integrate the notebooks at that time. Students need to finish any incomplete pages first, before starting a new one. These 3 options usually get the job done! 

I hope you were able to take away a few management tips and tricks. I hope you stop by next week for part four: Grading and Rubrics.


If you missed any of the posts in this series, be sure to check them out by clicking on the links below.