Sunday, March 1, 2015

Spring Cleaning Means Spring Organization!

This year has been crazy with new teachers, new students, new ideas, RTI, Intervention, Co-Teaching, Space Night, STAAR testing, Benchmarks, SPED requirements, new professional development and so much more. I still love it, though :)

Now that it is spring, it is more important than ever to get organized. Everything is getting jammed into the school day along with testing coming up, so people are freaking out about getting it all done. I wanted to share my Daily Teacher Organizer that I use to help me get through the day. In the morning, when my head is clear, I fill out my organizer with all of the things that have to be done that day. Everything that is school related fits in one of the sections in the organizer, and I have a dedicated clipboard for it so I can find it easily and quickly as the day goes on. I am offering it as a free download on my blog and in my TPT store.

There are 3 versions, so use whichever one works best for you. I use the middle version, the one featured below. It does what I need it to do daily. I really find it helpful for me, and hopefully some of you will, too!

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classroom Management for the New School Year

Every year, no matter how good it goes or how many headaches occur, I am always ready to try new things when a new year approaches. I finished my room this year in record time...5pm Friday before school :) I am going to implement a few new things in my classroom that I saw on blogs over the summer and I am keeping some that I thought worked great from last year.

*FYI - I have about 120 students in 4 science classes (one regular, 1 co-teach, and 2 pre-AP) and one hour long Intervention class where students get enrichment or intervention at the end of the day. I have one lab classroom and work on a team with 4 other teachers (Math, ELA, Soc.Studies and SPED).

1. New Volume Board -It won't flip, even if it is saved that way, so instead of fighting it, please tilt your head :) If anyone can help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it.

I have used a C.H.A.M.P.S. board, but I found it too hard to switch all sections each time we did something different in class. I saw something similar to this this summer and I decided it would work better. My whole team is using this in each of their classrooms so students get to used to it and know exactly what the expectations are for each section.

2. Old Supplies Marking

I used pickle duct tape on my class sets of supplies last year (glue, scissors, red pens, etc.,...) and I lost so many less supplies to sticky fingers than in years past. I chose a duct tape design that I didn't see many places, so another teacher probably would not have it. Dill Pickles seemed appropriate. I wrapped it around my glue, and made little flags for my scissors and pens and things. When the tape stuck to the sticky side of itself, it was much harder for a student to pry off or for it to just fall off from wear and tear. I decided this was a great thing to do again this year.

3. New Exit Tickets - Stoplight Method

I have wanted to routinely implement exit tickets in my classroom for many years. It has been hard to find a system that was not wasting paper, was easy for me to assess, and was easy for the students to remember how to do. I saw this video on Teacher Channel. It seemed really easy to make, and the students could easily slap them up on the wall as they left the room. The green one says, "Today I LEARNED...(be specific!)." The yellow one says, "A QUESTION I have is..." The red one says, "What STOPPED my learning was..." Hopefully I can easily grab stickies by color and really make sure I focus on those points. This will also help me prioritize which exit slips get the most attention when I have to leave right after class and cannot assess 120 slips in one evening.

4. Old Enter and Exit Checklists
 I used these last year, and they were a good reminder of my expectations when entering my classroom and before being able to leave the classroom. It also gave me a place to direct the students to reference when they forgot or needed redirection.

5. New/Old Finger Signs
I know a lot of teachers think 5th graders are too old for finger signs, but they make my class run a lot smoother. Students hold up certain fingers for certain needs, so you can just nod your head while you are teaching or talking to others without interruption. It is especially helpful during testing and other silent times. I just updated my posters from last year so they were easier to see from across the room (my science lab is pretty long).

6. New Absent Files
I think it age appropriate for 5th graders to be responsible for their own absent work. Last year, I had a folder on the wall per class. If a student was absent, I would write their name on the papers and put them in the right folder. This year, I made a simple stacked file pocket out of file folders and duct tape. It was another idea I saw this summer. It was really easy to make. Instructions are here. When a student is absent, I can just put all the copies from the day in the folder and they can get one out for the day they were absent. We will see if this way is easier that last year's way.

7. Old Color-Coded Classes

To make my life and the students' lives easier, each class is color-coded. The labels for their turn in boxes, journal bins, and warm up / pass back shelves all have the same color. We will also tape a piece of matching colored paper on the spine of their journals so we can easily get each journal back into the correct bin.

Hopefully all of these classroom management strategies will help make life a little easier in the classroom so we can maximize learning time. I hope you have a great year, and I will post again, soon!

Friday, August 22, 2014

Back to school!

So one more day to get my classroom all ready. I have been working hard to get it just right this year. I am only implementing a few new things and tweaking the rest of the ones I have already done in the past. I have a great team of teachers with me this year, and I cannot be happier about how it has gone so far.

We got to see Manny Scott, one of the original Freedom Writers at Convocation, and it was inspiring. We are the salt that gets kids thirsty to learn!

As soon as I finish my room, I will post pictures along with the classroom management strategies that go with them.

Have a great day!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

How to Make Your Own Backgrounds

So I really like my activities to be fun and appealing in their looks so my students are more attracted to what they have to do. It may sound weird, but think about an activity. Would you rather have to do this one...

...or this one?


There are lots of different programs and ways to do this. Here is how I make cute quick backgrounds for my activities.

First, I start in Publisher with a  shape or clip that I like. This one is a raindrop. I place them on the page in a random yet patterned way. I make some different sizes, too.

Once I have everything where I want it, I save the page as a .png with 300 dpi for better resolution.

Now I open it up in a photo editing program like Adobe Photoshop Elements. Paint on the basic PC Accessories can work, too, but the resolution and options aren't nearly as helpful.. I make all of my raindrops black and then save it again as a .png file.

Now I can reopen it and change the colors in the background and the raindrops. Elements lets me do this by changing the 2 colors I am working with and using the stamp tool.

Then this is what I get.

I can also back it up and switch my colors around for this effect.

Save the file as a new name like RaindropsBlue.png and keep them in an easy to find folder.

Now you can try and make a new cute background for any of your classroom activities, too! Enjoy these backgrounds for free personal or commercial use with a link back to my blog or TpT store.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Anchor Charts, Journals and Sooooo Much Going on!

So I haven't blogged in a month, and there are 10 thousand things going on at school. Space Night was on Friday, and I thought to myself, "Well, now that Space Night is behind me, things should settle down a bit." Uh, what was i thinking?!?

Between RTI, and SSI, and CBAs and missing work, and department stuff, and testing preparation, and curriculum callibration, and getting lessons together, and making my fun anchor charts, and kids in ISS, it is just another normal day at  school :)

Here are some recent anchor charts I have made:

Energy Resources

Moon Phases

The Sun

Water Cycle

Weather Maps

I am really loving how nice and useful our journals have become this year. We don't have textbooks, so our journals are our resource. Most students take a lot of pride in keeping them  nice and neat. We do a foldable or notes on the left side, usually an activity afterwards with the new material, then they complete an application or evaluation journal prompt on the right side so I can see if they got it. Usually there is a diagram or something involved along with writing, so I can tell pretty quickly just walking around who got the material and who didn't. Here is an example of our Sun foldable and journal entry.

Well, I hope you are having a week that is not as busy as mine, but you are probably a teacher, so probably not :)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Currently for the New Year!

Welcome back! Evidently I have not blogged since the last day of November. Yikes! The holidays is a very busy time for school and home, but like I have to tell you!

I am starting the year with the newest edition of currently with Oh' Boy Fourth Grade.

Listening: I love hearing my family happy. The hubby playing video games, the kids playing nicely, together, and me sitting here typing getting to hear it all. These are peaceful moments that feel like heaven.

Loving: I LOVE coconut! I bought some coconut oil this week and got to thinking what I could do with it. Well, it helps make an amazingly tasty, aromatic Coconut Almond Granola. I posted a recipe I made up for it. 

Thinking: My list is gratefully pretty small. That just equals more time to play!

Wanting: As long as I reestablish my expectations, I think we can continue having fun and learning as normal when we return.

Needing: Granted, our house was not as bad as some friends Christmas morning, but after all the presents for the kids that had packaging, ties, wraps and things we put together ourselves, I could use a maid to come clean up, do some laundry, and maybe empty a trash can or two.

Tradition: This is our second year with an Elf on the Shelf. My daughter did not understand it as well last year as she did this year at 3. She would talk to him, remind her baby brother not to touch him so he wouldn't lose his magic, and let everyone know how sad she was he had to leave Christmas Eve but that he would be back next year at Thanksgiving. We loved this, and hopefully he comes back and sees us next year!

I cannot wait to read others' Currently and see what everyone else is up to! Have a great time back to school!

Saturday, November 30, 2013

A Peek at My Week - Earth Science

So I realized it had been a long time since I had done a Peek at My Week with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings, so here are next week's activities.

We are still working on changes to Earth's surface. This is a big TEKS for us because it is a readiness standard and can cover so many different types of landforms. We have to cover them all :) I can just see the influx of anchor charts that we will get to create!

WU Soil from Science Penguin's Upper Elementary Weekly Warm Ups

WED Foldable and Activity

WED Foldable and Activity (lab part today)

Writing Science From 5.7D STEMScopes and sharing

Glacier Foldable and Activity

Caves Foldable and Activity

Enjoy your (hopefully) 3 weeks of school until Christmas Break!