Sunday, August 24, 2014

10 Best Organizing Tips for the Classroom

Although I've been teaching for a bajillion years, I still find that the littlest organizing tip goes a long way!   I am going to mix a few of my all time favorites with some of my new found treasures!  This is going to make my classroom run as smooth as silk!

1.  Class Mailboxes-  I have used these for years and they are best!  I assign each student a number in alphabetical order.  When turning in papers, I have students place the assignment in their mail slot and I can quickly check to see who didn't turn one in.  Then I can collect them in number order which makes it easy for entering grades!  Oh yeah!  I'm doing the happy dance.

I also have a mailbox.  This is used for student notes as well as lunch money, bus notes. and other important information.  In the past, students put them on my desk, but if you saw my desk, you would see why I needed a new plan!  After misplacing a few items, it was time for a change!  I got this adorable designed box from Kirklands for 50% off and added a label to it.

2.  Door Window Shade-  Erin across the hall found this on Pinterest this year!  Another colleague, Meredith, made the shade for all of us.  Then we bought dowels, hooks, and ribbon at Walmart.  This is super effective for Lockdowns!  All you have to do is pull the bow and the shade falls down!  LOVE it!

3.  Leaving the Room Sign-  Also on the inside of my door, I posted this sign.  I laminated the colorful section and made copies of the signing part.  Then I tied a string to a pen and taped it to the door.  When students leave the room, they need to sign out.  Then when they return, they cross it off.  This is especially effective if we have a fire drill.  I can quickly check the list as we are lining up!  Although I usually remember who is out, there is always a panic as I'm counting heads and checking my clipboard for students at a quick second.

4.  Class Library- To keep order for my class books, I bought these baskets and labeled chapter books according to their genre.  I also place color-coded dots on the books with a letter so they can easily be placed back in the correct basket.  For example- M- Mystery.  Below there are fiction picture books on one side and nonfiction picture books on the other side.

5.  Daily Lessons-  This is one of my favorite organizing tips of all time!  My partner, Roberta, found it at Ikea in the children's department.  I can place all the worksheets, plans, even books needed in these bins for each day of the week.  Below the days of the week, I place extra lessons or lessons coming in the future for my subjects.  Boy oh boy does this keep me organized!!!!!

 6.  Jobs-  I have two classes.  I assign two students from each class to a job.  That way, if they are absent or out of the room, there is someone to perform the job.  I have two students from each class on vacation.  I allow them to sit back and watch others work!  (I even allow them to put their feet up, ha!)  My jobs include:  Geek Squad, Teacher Assistant, Cafe Team, Clean Team, Pencil Team, Board Team, Library Team, Cubbie Team, Library Team, Chairs Team, Floor Team, Supplies Team.  There is a description of their job duties on the chart.  I have students on the same job for the whole month.  That way I can keep track of their duties!   Then we rotate!

Another team job, I place 4 different colors on the desks.  Below, you will see a pink cloud.  That is the color who will be the group helper for the day or week or month.  I move them whenever I feel like it!

7.  Missing Work Board-  MIA- Missing/Incomplete Assignments.  I place this on the white board so I can write names under it.  No Names- I clip any no names to this board.  Absent- If they are absent, I clip their work.  Incomplete work- I clip it.  In the middle there is a "Look What I Did" board.  I found this at Kirklands and although it doesn't go with the missing assignments, it was a space on the wall so I will highlight some Rockin Work!

This is a photo frame with magnets on the back and bow in corner.

I created the No Name and Absent Boards by painting an art canvas from Michaels and hot glued the clothespins!  Then I hot glued them to the wall.

Below to the left is where I place incomplete work.  I took an old white board and covered it with wrapping paper!  To the right, I place extra worksheets incase a student messes up or loses work.

8.  Cover Ups-  I have so many supplies and books and materials I have collected over the years and it looks just messy messy messy!  So, I took the same curtains I purchased from Target for $19.99 for my windows and cut them to fit my tables and counters to cover up all the messes.  I didn't sew- oh no.  I hot glued them and they look professionally sewn!  Then I hot glued them to the tables and counters!  Yes, I am a hot mess!  I mean a hot glue crazy woman!

Mess #1

Mess #2

Mess #3

Fixed Mess #1

Fixed Mess #2

Fixed Mess #3

9.  Collect Items-  This is especially useful at the beginning of the year when I am collecting class supplies!  I place bins and signs and they go at it!  Of course if it was something I had to track, I would do it with a list instead of this way.  It saved us lots of time that first day!

10.  Group Supplies-  I found these at Walmart and they are perfect!  Each group has markers, color pens, colored pencils, a tape dispenser, glue sticks, and scissors.  I have rules for the supplies!  Markers need to be facing up to see the color.  If a lid is missing, throw it away and get a new one from the class supply.  Pencils are to placed point down to see the colors.  Keep them sharpened and the bins neat!

I hope these classroom organization tips help you this year!  If you have any tips that work well for you, please share!  I would love to see what else I can do to make my job easier!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

Can you believe that it is time to welcome students through the door?  I had Meet the Teacher last night and got to see all those sweet faces!  I think I am finally ready but have one more day to work on little things.  In preparing for the coming weeks, I am super excited to share a few products that I came across.

First off, if you believe in Project-Based Learning, you need to skip on over to Plan a Field Trip from Performing in Fifth Grade.  She has several projects with different themes and even has a bundle of all her Project-Based Learning products.  This stretches students' minds and helps them explore their creativity.  LOVE IT!

Second, Teacher Next Door has an amazing Inference Bundle!  She uses Literature and Informational Text.  It is geared towards 4th-5th.  There are worksheets, task cards, posters, games and activities!  You get 124 pages of great resources for only $9!  Seriously?  You can't beat that!  This skill can be tough for elementary students and this will certainly help!  Inference Bundle

Next, I start off the year with Geography and Teaching Ideas 4 U has a fabulous interactive notebook for United States Geography.  It is for 5th grade but I can certainly tweak it for 4th.  Geography includes territories, latitude/longitude, regions, waterways, plains, etc, etc.  Can you believe you get all of this for only $4?

And to go along with interactive notebooking, my grade level just planned for the first couple weeks in Interactive Writing Notebooks.  Super Excited.  Last year, it was a huge hit with amazing results.  It is very teacher-friendly and walks you through Narrative-Opinion-Informative writing with tons and tons of mini-lessons!  Interactive Writing Notebooks

Now that you've heard about my favorite things, take advantage of TPT sale tomorrow!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Second Grade Interactive Notebook- Finally ready!

I have been working and working and working on this second grade bundle.  OVER 400 PAGES!  I had a few customers who teach 2nd grade who kept looking at my other grade writing bundles and asked if I would do a 2nd grade one.  Whew!  I can now breathe and I am so happy to have it uploaded and ready for BACK TO SCHOOL!  I will give a description but first I want to let you know that it is 50% off until Friday- Aug.15th and 10 pm!  No lie!

My other grades have been best sellers on TPT. Now there is one for 2nd grade! It has hyperlinks to easily maneuver through the large document!

This year-long unit (407 pages) was designed to follow through the WRITING PROCESS and model lessons for Narrative Writing, Opinion Writing, and Informative Writing. It covers ALL of the Writing Common Core Standards and many Language Standards as well as essay writing. 

What is different about my product than other interactive writing notebooks?
There are teachable slides that can be used on the smart board or printed for posters, as well as student printables WITH STANDARDS to go along with each mini lesson. 

In addition to the multitude of lessons, you will find independent practice, model writing, assessments, student resources, graphic organizers, tracking charts, forms, rubrics, dictionaries, labels, homework assignments, etc etc. 

Getting Ready
Setting Up Notebooks
Student Resources
Million Dollar Dictionary
Mini Lesson Instructions
Decorating notebook 
Portfolio Labels
Portfolio Message to Parents
Quick Notebook Check Rubric
Tracking Progress Form
Presentation Cards
Writing Workshop Rules

Developing ideas 
(Lesson plans, instruction posters 
and notebook printables)

Paragraph Writing Lessons
(Lesson Plans, Instruction Posters, Notebook 
printables, and Independent printable for each)
A. Subject and Predicates
B. Fragments
C. Complete Sentences
D. Topic Sentences
E. Relevant Details
F. Clincher
G. Assessment
H. Hamburger Model

Writing Process 
(Lesson plans, Posters and notebook printables)

Narrative Writing
(A sample is provided to model and follow through the writing process)
A. Lesson Plans
B. Narrative Elements
C. Narrative Writing CCSS Checklist
D. Prewriting
E. Brainstorming
F. Prewriting- Graphic Organizers 
G. Introduction (Character, Setting, Plot)
H. Body (Power of 3, Suspense, Climax)
I. Character Traits
J. Dialogue
K. Conclusions
L. Rough Draft
M. Writing Goal Form
N. DARE to revise (Delete, Add, Rearrange, Exchange) 
(more lessons on rockin beginnings, transition words, Million 
Dollar Words using money CLIPS (Colorful Adjectives, Lively 
Figurative Language, Ideal Adverbs, Powerful Verbs, Sizzling 
Sense Words) including bulletin board posters, trashcan 
words, sentence variety, jammin conclusion, crafty title) 
(lessons on capitalization, usage, complete 
sentences, punctuation, spelling), ASSESSMENT
P. Peer Reflection and form
Q. Final Copy
R. Samples of final copy paper
s. Rubric
T. Reflection Form
U. Homework/Classwork Printables

Opinion Writing 272-331
(A sample is provided to model and follow through the writing process)
A. Lesson Plans
B. Opinion Elements
C. Opinion Writing CCSS Checklist
D. Prewriting
E. Brainstorming
F. Graphic Organizer
G. Strengthen Opinions
H. Introduction 
I. Body (Power of 3, facts and details)
J. Conclusions
K. Rough Draft
L. Writing Goal Form
M. Revisions (lessons on rockin beginnings, 
supporting details, transition words, 
sentence variety, jammin conclusions, craft 
N. CUPS (Revisit capitals, usage, punctuation, spelling)
O. Peer Reflection 
P. Final Copy 
Q. Rubric
R. Reflection Form
S. Homework/Classwork Printables

Informative Writing
(A sample is provided to model and follow through the writing process)
A. Lesson Plans
B. Informative Elements
C. Informative Writing CCSS Checklist
D. Assignment
E. Prewriting
F. Prewriting- Brainstorming
G. Graphic Organizer
H. Organization
I. Plagiarism, Taking Notes 
and Citing Sources with forms
J. Introduction 
K. Body (Power of 3, vocabulary)
L. Conclusions
M. Rough Draft
N. Writing Goal Form 
O Revisions (lessons on rockin beginnings,
supporting details, transition words, 
sentence variety, jammin conclusions, craft 
P. CUPS (Revisit capitals, usage, punctuation, spelling)
Q. Graphics/Headings/Captions
R. Peer Reflection
S- Final Copy and Template
T- Glossary/Source/Table of Contents
U- Rubric
V. Reflection
W. Homework/Classwork Printables
More Practice/ Choice Assignment/Homework

Look no further! It is all here! If you are a new teacher, this resource is perfect. It is STEP by STEP and TEACHER-friendly. Instructions on how to teach the skills are included too!

W.1, W.1.a, W.1.b, W.1.c, W.1.d, 
W.2, W.2.a, W.2.b, W.2.c, W.2.d
W.3, W.3.a, W.3.b, W.3.c, W.3.d, W.3.e, 
W.4, W.5, W.6, W.7, W.8, W.9, W.10
L.1, L.2, L.3

Monday, August 11, 2014

Contest Winner!

Congratulations goes out to Emily Levine for winning an Interactive Writing Notebook bundle for the year!  400+ pages!  Good luck to the rest of you on my next giveaway!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Best Way to Display Children's Artwork in Your Home

This is for all the moms out there!  Have you struggled with what to do with all your child's artwork? Well let me tell you, I found the most precious solution!  There is an artist, Reyna Watson, who takes your child's artwork and creates a collage from it!  She lives in Charlotte, NC.  I have to admit I was hesitant on giving up 19 years of my daughter's art, but she took very good care of it.  She cut out things that work for her creation and returned the rest.  Recently she had an Art Soiree and it was amazing!  Her art pieces from many children were set up on easels around her house..  Framed art, photo books, and canvas art like mine.  She is so humble about her work and didn't even sign it!  I made her sign mine!

Here is a closer look at my daughter's art.  Look at the detail!!!

This is proud Momma with her baby's art.  Demi may be 19, but she is still my baby and now I can display work that has been sitting in tubs for all those years!  It is now hanging in our foyer for all to see!

The greatest part is to see the excitement in Reyna as she talked about my daughter's art.  She told a story about a theme she saw throughout Demi's work.  It brought tears to my eyes to see someone not only passionate about their work, but truly intuitive to my child's expressive thoughts.

Check out her work!

More pics of her art:

DIY- Classroom Curtains

DIY- Super Easy Classroom Curtains-  I am not kidding when I tell you it took me 5 minutes to do this!

1.  I bought one 84" long curtain from Target for $19.99.
2.  I cut it in half length-wise.
3.  I put the rod by the cut end.
4.  I hot glued the cut end over the rod.
Waaalllllaaa you are done!  Put those cute curtains up!

Some other friends on Facebook said they have used cheaper methods like material from Walmart, twin flat sheets, or shower curtains!  There is also Stitch Witchery you can use instead of hot glue!  

I love them so much I think I will create some to put on tables to hide my storage containers! 

Monday, August 4, 2014

Blasting Back to School: Giveaway and Get Ready for an Amazing Year of Writing!

Are you ready for Back to School? I'm joining several other upper grade teachers to help you get ready for the next school year, and to give away some AWESOME prizes! You'll have the opportunity to win something different on each blog in our group, so make sure that you visit the next blog in the blog hop at the bottom of this page. To enter to win the HUGE gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers, visit our group blog, Lesson Delicatessen. Make sure you hop through all the blogs to read all the great back to school tips and be entered to win over 20 different prizes!

ARE YOU READY FOR AN AMAZING YEAR OF WRITING?  I SAID, "ARE YOU READY FOR AN AMAZING YEAR OF WRITING?"   Read the great ideas and then enter to win a year-long writing bundle at the bottom of this post!!!!

Get ready to Rock and Write!

First of all, if you haven't read my two previous blog posts on writing, you might want to start there!
1.  10 Steps to prepare for Writing Workshop
2.  How to create interactive writing notebooks and portfolios.

This is my third post (this school year) for writing workshop!

Prepare Your Classroom

1.  Writing Process with clothespins (previous post)

2.  Million Dollar Word Bulletin Board-  I put up the FAAVS (Figurative Language, Adjectives, Adverbs, Verbs, and Sense Words)  As students use these in their writing, I post them on the bulletin board and we celebrate their accomplishment.

3.  Have an area in the room for bins to place their writing notebooks, student resource folder, spelling dictionary, thesaurus, paper, pens, glue, etc.

4.  Published Work- Display it then place it in their final copy portfolio (previous post).  I also like the students to keep track of their writing.  They can create links with the titles of their work and drape them across the room!

5.  Author's Chair-  I love all of these!

6.  Writing Center and Teacher's group-  Include colorful pens, erasers, and tape (or glue)

Mini Lessons

General Instructions:
Most of the mini-lessons are taught while writing the Narrative essay together.  When moving onto the Argument writing and Informational writing,  I go back and review the lessons necessary for that particular type of writing. 
When teaching the mini-lessons, I suggest to bring the kids to the carpet or front of the room with big chart paper or white board to display anchor charts and whole group reflections.   At the end of each week, do a quick check of notebooks by walking around the room and looking for one or more items in each notebook.  List the pages on the board that students need to check.  Give them 5 minutes to check over their work before you walk around and grade their notebooks.   Keep track of their progress with a quick check rubric like this: 

When Teaching Mini Lessons

1.  Choose a mini lesson that addresses your students’ needs.   Although I provide an order that works well with the writing process, always keep your students’ needs in mind.  If they have a solid understanding of a particular skill, skip over or give a quick review.  If you notice that they struggled on a particular skill on a previous writing piece, I suggest to put that mini-lesson in your plans earlier.  In writing, nothing is set in stone!  Of course we need to cover the standards but we also need to slow down for some students to have a better understanding of a skill and encourage other students to continue taking risks in their writing to uncover their talents.  This order of mini lessons has been incredibly effective!  

2.  Make a connection to your previous lesson.
3.  Tell what you will focus on that day.  (Be excited!  Your students will mirror your enthusiasm)
4.  Teach the skill and reason for the importance. 
5.  Model an example of the mini-lesson..  I can’t stress enough the importance of modeling.  Talk out loud as you model the lesson so students can hear your thought process.  Purposely make mistakes along the way (especially when writing a rough draft)! 
6.  Have students collaborate (3,2,1….Focus back to the front) and share their thoughts with the class.
7.  Summarize the lesson .
8.  Invite them to try it with their own writing.
        I have students write a 5-paragraph narrative writing essay over the course of several weeks.  We go back to the same essay for each mini-lesson and make corrections or changes.  Then the rest of our writing essays including opinion and informative are so much easier to teach.

Mentor Texts
Mentor texts are ways to use authors  to help teach specific skills, strategies, or genres.  It provides students with a good example of the lesson they are learning.  Sometimes, it is perfectly acceptable to read a particular part of the story that relates to your lesson.  I share Mentor Texts in my writing resources.  However,  you can always google the skill you are working on along with "mentor text" and you should find what you need!



  a Rafflecopter giveaway 

NEXT ON THE BLOG HOP:  Hop on over to THE AMAZING MISTY MILLER'S blog called Little Room Under the Stairs to read about her advice for the new school year.  She also has a great deal for you!  She is offering a $10 gift certificate to her store!  Click the icon below!

Little Room Under the Stairs

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