Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Guided Reading Area Tour

Hi everyone! I changed up my Guided Reading area and thought I'd share a few pictures with you. Since I'll only be teaching ELA this year I knew I needed to revamp where I meet with my groups and make sure the space was comfy and had everything we would need!

Here is the new location. The grey cabinets on the left house my leveled readers. The blue hanging file folder will help keep my materials for each group/individual organized. 

This book shelf helps keep all of my materials at hand. The top shelf holds books for read alouds and games. The middle shelf has task cards, flash cards, and dry erase boards. The bottom has our leveled vocabulary readers and reference materials for our small group. 

Now, I need some help from you guys! I'm wondering what to do with that blank wall behind the table? I'm thinking maybe a whiteboard? What would you suggest? 

I'll be storing anchor charts in a different place in the room, so I'm not sure I'd want to leave the space free for those. However, I am willing to wait. I don't have a problem at all with blank wall space at the beginning of the year. I always tell my students to take a look at all that space because THEY are going to help me fill it up! 

Monday, July 29, 2013

Numbers, Labels, and a Blanket! {Monday Made It and Must Have Monday}

It is a bittersweet Monday - the last Monday of freedom (for a while anyway!). Next Monday I will be back in the classroom for inservice days and the one after that I'll be starting my first full week with a new group of students! 
That all means I have been super busy creating and making things for my classroom! I'm happy to be linking up with Fourth Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!! 

I finally revamped the way I number the cubbies in the back of my classroom! The vinyl numbers I cut out were a much needed improvement over the little yard sale circle stickers I'd had on there before. 

The white vinyl doesn't really rock my world, but I'm trying to use up all of the vinyl I have before I buy more! I plan on using these to also help keep the cubbies clean. I think I'll make it a rule that the number must always be visible. Sounds pretty obvious, but every year I have those kids who will stuff that cubby full!

Before I got the Silhouette Cameo and was able to cut my own vinyl I used calendar numbers to label everything! I love those!

I also redid my 3 drawer organizer to go along with my new teaching assignment - all ELA this year! 

And finally I finished my denim and flannel blanket! 

My very tall helpers got some help from a gust of wind at just the right time and I got a perfect picture! I am really please with the way this turned out! It is really heavy - 8 pounds - so I was sweating by the time I got done trying to maneuver this thing through the sewing machine! 

Here is the back. I fell in love with this flannel sheet from the Company Store and knew it was just perfect for the back of my blanket. This will be the perfect thing for the colder weather! 

I'm also linking up for Must Have Mondays with Teaching with a Touch of Twang. 

Command strips hold my world together! If it weren't for command strips I would have nothing on the walls in my house and nothing in my classroom would actually stay up on the walls! They are one of my biggest must haves! 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

My America and Dear America Series {Must Read Mentor Text}

I'm happy to be linking up with Collaboration Cuties for another great round of mentor texts. This week is all about Social Studies. 

Instead of just sharing one book today I thought I'd share two similar series that I have found my students really enjoy: My America and Dear America. 

These books are written as young girls' diaries during various time periods throughout history. The diary format makes them easy to read aloud when there is a few extra minutes during class. I really like the historical connections in the books and have been very impressed with all those I've read so far. 

A few years ago I read My Brother's Keeper: Virginia's Civil War Diary  aloud to my class while we were studying the Civil War. It was a very engaging way to extend the history and get some extra practice talking about the "sides" of the war and the different issues. My students were very interested in the book! 

The book was also the perfect way to study the Historical Fiction genre. Since we were studying the Civil War in history we were able to pick out the historical events from the fiction pieces. I think it really deepened my students' understanding of Historical Fiction. 

I always recommend these books to my students who are interested in Historical Fiction and to those who seem to be particularly taken with a specific period in history. 

I just learned that Dear America has been relaunched with a fresh look and I discovered a pretty neat feature on it on the Scholastic website. It is certainly something worth checking out! Click on the picture if you'd like to see more - there are scrapbooks for each main character with crafts and recipes. 

Wow! Writing this post has certainly been informative! I also just learned about another spin off of this series for boys called My Name is America and all written from a boy's perspective. I've never heard of these books before so now I'm going to be adding some of those to my cart! This could be bad - adding books to my own cart before I even read any of the other posts from the week!?!

Have you ever used any of these series in your classroom? What'd you think?

Friday, July 26, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

Hi friends! This is my last official Friday of Summer. I'm trying very hard to be positive about it! {big smile} I thought I'd join up with a Cara great linky party to share some of my favorite Pinterest finds from the week. Nothing like a little Pinterest to take the blues away!

I am in LOVE with this idea! It is the perfect solution for my classroom!

Decals for your keyboard?! Sign me up! AND they have pink chevron!

This will be the perfect project when someone needs some extra help with a 4H project!

This is on the menu for the weekend!

I just heard about Remind 101, but I plan on using it this year! Anyone else use it?

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Great Resource for Reading Activities and a Favorite Summer Read {Book Talk Thursday}

I'm back for one last link up this summer with Andrea from Reading Toward the Stars. I've really enjoyed all the professional books, novels, and kid's lit. everyone has been sharing on Thursdays. 

I ran across this book while reorganizing my classroom and knew it would be the perfect one to share this Thursday! It is a book I picked up several years ago from Scholastic. 

When I started typing this post I was sad to see that Scholastic no longer carries this book in the Independent Reading Management Kit series. However, Amazon came to the rescue and they have some reasonably priced used copies. 

This book contains a variety of activities designed for students to complete independently. I like the fact that it is really an activity and not just another worksheet for students to fill in. When I need a quick idea for planning this is one of my go to books. 

The book has sections with activities for the following genres: Historical Fiction, Mystery, Adventure, Fairy Tales, Fantasy, Realistic Fiction, Biography, Science Fiction, and Nonfiction. Of course, each activity can be completed with any book students are reading.  

I would highly recommend this book. I have a whole shelf full of professional books like this one and most of them rarely get used, but this one is the exception. I noticed that Scholastic has some other books in this series so the next time I order I think I'll check out a new one! 

I also wanted to throw in a very cute, quick summer read that I am still thinking about! Right at the beginning of summer I read Flat Out Love by Jessica Park and I loved it! It's just one of those stories I can't stop thinking about even though I've finished the book. 

What has been your favorite summer read so far? I still have 7 days of summer left so I can squeeze in another good book or two!  

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

I Just Opened My Teachers Pay Teachers Store!!

Good Morning! I have a very exciting announcement today - I now have a Teachers Pay Teachers store! Yay!! Opening a store has been on my list of things I'd like to do since I started blogging and with one week left to go in the summer I finally did it! 
So far there aren't a lot of products in my store, but almost everything there is a freebie! You can click on the image below to visit my store. My free download is a reading freebie that I haven't featured here on the blog.
While you're there I'd love it if you would follow me! I only have one follower (thank you to my follower)!! 

The one paid item in my store is a 16-page novel unit for Raymond and Graham Rule the School by Mike Knudson and Steve Wilkinson. If you've been reading this blog any amount of time I'm sure you've heard me talk about this book. It is my all time favorite read aloud with 4th graders. I always start out the year with this book because it is laugh-out-loud 'til you cry funny and I want to make sure my students know that reading can be fun! Click on the image below if you'd like to take a look! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

Good morning! I'm finally linking up with Cara at First Grade Parade for her Favorite Pins Friday linky party! I've gotten some great ideas from these posts over the last few weeks.

I love this! I wish I could get it as a poster!

My kiddos really could use this visual reminder! Fabulous idea!

I plan on making some time for this activity during the first couple days of school! Feedback like this is invaluable.

Such a neat idea for the Daily 5!

I love Command strips and had no idea they made these! I NEED these for the cords around my Smartboard! They are a mess!

Please forgive me for the very crazy looking post! Wow!! When I decided to do this post I thought it wouldn't take long - wrong! I was trying very hard to embed the pins in this post and with the new Pinterest things got kinda interesting. Anyone have tips on how I can make this work a little easier?!

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Website Find - Videos for Kids

As I was flipping through magazines in the dentist office (fun, fun) yesterday I made an amazing discover!! There was a little review snippet on this website called The Kid Should See This. It sparked my curiosity, so when I got home I checked out the site and I am hooked! 

I was amazed at how many cool videos there are on this site. I just kept clicking on different categories and videos and everything I watched was great! 

The site was created by a mom with some input from her two kids, so I love that part about it because you know it will be classroom friendly. Here is a screen shot with a little more background info on the site. 

There are so many science videos! I can see these as being great introductions to different science topics. There are also a lot animated and fun videos that would be great for brain breaks or inside recess. Heck, even the educational videos were so fascinating I think kids wouldn't mind those for recess! 

Head on over and check it out! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Back to School Fact or Opinion Freebie {Monday Made It}

With only 2 more full weeks of summer break left, I've been working hard at lesson plans and getting my room together. I'm linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It to show you what I've been up to.

I have been working on how I will teach procedures this year and that led me to this week's freebie! Just click on the image below to download your copy!

I created this fun, quick little Fact or Opinion sheet to use during the first week of school. All of our glue, scissors, and crayons are shared, so this sheet will be a great way to introduce how we use those. 

I will also use this as a "preassessment" of sorts for fact or opinion as it is one of the first skills we will work on. 

The rest of this post is nothing school related, so feel free to skip if you'd like! 

Here are few other things I've made this week! 

I worked on catching up on my Smashbook. I am way far behind - this page was from January!!  

I destructed a lot of jeans as the first step in creating a super comfy denim and flannel blanket. Look for this one in future Monday Made It posts! 

We made hay. That counts as a MMI, right?!? This past week was the first time ALL summer we've had 3 consecutive days without rain!! I am very thankful we had the nice weather to get some hay put in the barn! 

What have you been making this summer? Head on over to link up! 

Saturday, July 13, 2013

DIY Teacher Planner {Optimum Organization}

Since posting the Teacher Planner I created for my Monday Made It post I've had a few people ask if I'd be willing to share the templates I used, so I thought this would be the perfect Optimum Organization post for this week.
Be sure to head over to Fun in Room 4B and Ladybug's Teacher Files to check out all the great links! This has become one of my favorite linky parties of the summer! 

Before I go further with the post it would be helpful for you to know that I keep my lesson plans online, so my templates do not include lesson planning pages. I needed to create a planner that would be small enough for me to carry home, to meetings, and have handy in the classroom. The planner will be used for long-term planning, keeping up with important events, meeting notes, and parent communication. 

You can click on any of the images in this post to download ALL the templates I used in creating my planner. 

Here is a picture of the front of my planner.

In the front of the book I added a page for all those logins and passwords I can never remember! 

Here is a look at the inside calendar pages. 

In between each calendar page I added a notes page on the left and then a page with spaces for making notes for each of the 3 classes I teach. 

After the calendar and notes pages I added in a section with my pacing guide and standards. 

Next came the Parent Contact Log. I like to keep a list of all my parent contact information in a notebook with some space to document when I talk to a parent and what we discussed. This planner was the perfect place to add that in. 


I threw in some of the note pages from earlier to record my calls and conferences with parents.

The last page was the beautiful verse. 

You can click on any of the images in this post to download all the templates I used for creating my teacher planner. I even threw in a Birthday organizer, but ended up decide not to put that in my planner! 


I printed the pages front to back on my color printer. The process actually didn't take nearly as long as I thought it would have. I would recommend using a heavier weight paper than 20#. The lines show through to the other side of some of the pages, so I think a heavier weight paper would make it look a little more professional looking. 

I had mine bound at Office Depot. It was $5 for the plastic binding, a clear plastic cover, and a black plastic back. I think that is a great deal for a customized planner! 

Have you ever made your own teacher planner? Have any tips to add?! 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

{Throwback Thursday}

Since I'm still pretty new to the blogging world I've really enjoyed seeing all the posts from Throwback Thursday over at The First Grade Parade

I've noticed one of the first posts I ever wrote has been getting some more views lately and I wanted to share it for some of my new followers. 

Here is an explanation of how I have students turn in papers and also how I keep makeup work for absent students. 

If you are interested in reading more of the Tame the Paper Monster Series you can catch up on them here, here, and here.

Tame the Paper Monster Series 

Part 1 Student Papers

I have been battling with the paper monster since my teaching career began 7 years ago. I feel like I've tried every solution out there to dealing with the mounds and mounds of paper that seem to magically appear in the classroom.

I'll save you the recap of all the systems that came oh so close but never quite made the cut. I'm an organization lover (okay, I might have just a slight obsession with it) so having all these homeless papers floating around the room really bugged me.  Now after all my scouring teacher magazines and office supply stores I have hit upon the perfect solution (at least it is in my little world)! 

I give each student a number at the beginning of the year and we use it to label papers, books, mailboxes etc.  Well those little numbers come in super handy, so first things first - give all your little darlings a number. 

I went to Wal-Mart and picked up packages of slash pocket dividers for 3 ring binders and attached a number (from an old calendar set) to the front.  I used one little Command poster strip and stuck those babies to the wall under my chalkboard.  I also have a deep love for Command strips.  What can't those things hold up? These have been up in my classroom since before Christmas and are still holding strong on our cinder block walls. 

Now when students come into the classroom they have a place to put homework right away.  There are no baskets, check lists, folders or other fancy systems - just these little pockets.  Students place their work in the pocket with their number on it and ta da! - papers managed! 

Here are some reasons why I love these pockets: 
  •  In one glance I can see who didn't have homework to turn in. 
  •  When I pull work out of the pockets it is already in alphabetical order. 
  • When its time to put work into mailboxes the papers are already in order.
  • They are using up that dead space under my chalkboard. 
  • When I have a student absent for the day I stick whatever work they've missed in the pocket. When the office calls for Johnny's make up work to be ready at 3:00 and it's 2:58 I can swoop in like Super Teacher and have it all together! 
  • We have a rule - nothing goes into your pocket until you pick up make up work. 
  • No name? No Problem!  I can use my class list to see whose paper is missing the name. 
I do have a few thoughts about why this has been so effective for me and my students.  First of all the pockets are right under the chalkboard and easily visible to everyone.  I've tried them in the back of the room and students seem to ignore them back there and make up work stays there forever! 

They are clear, durable, and easy to use.  I've tried using file folders this same way (just staple the edges together), but it is more difficult to get papers into the file folder and they don't hold as much.  These little plastic sleeves of goodness (told ya I loved 'em) hold A LOT of work and it all looks neat - nothing is flopping out of the side of the pocket. 
Stick around for part two of the series when I'll reveal where papers go after they leave the pocket. 
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