Saturday, June 30, 2012


I am so excited about summer! I love it for many, many reasons. Right up at the top of the list is helping teachers get ready for a new school year both in the real world and here on my little ole blog.

I have a HUGE collection of tips for organizing and managing your classroom and am so excited to be sharing oodles of them with you this summer. While some have been featured in my best-selling Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom, most will be brand new and exclusive to the site.

I'll be continuing to reveal a component of my 2012-2013 classroom with you each day in words, pictures, and {often} video as part of my CLASSROOM 360 Series and will start my Guided Math Workshop How-To Series after that. However,  I will also be posting a DAILY TIP & FLASH FREEBIE each and every weekday throughout the ENTIRE SUMMER.
In addition to a classroom organization and management "tip of the day," I will be creating and giving away a free printable each weekday during the months of July and August.


They'll be gone in a FLASH!

Each freebie will be only be free for a short time so be sure to snag them when they debut.

After each debuts as a FREEBIE for a limited time, they will be added to my product inventory in my Teacher Store and can be purchased from there at any time.

 By doing each of the above, you'll be notified when the FREEBIES are released so you can snag them right away.

Before you ask....I still plan on posting on the weekends as well, but have left those days open on my blog-planning calendar so I have some wiggle room to post about whatever my little heart desires on those days. Happy summer friends!

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Going Green Themed Classrooms

Use found materials for decorations. Back your bulletin boards with newspaper, cardboard or magazines. Create borders using plastic bottles, cans, etc.

Repurpose food containers for storage (plastic yogurt containers, cereal boxes, etc).

Incorporate lots of plants.

Have your students use leftover drinking water to water said plants.

Check out this site for ideas to use throughout the year: 50 Ways to Go Green in the Classroom.

I love that the title of this board was made with soda bottles. {source}

Go Green Classroom Theme Commercially Made Items

Setting Up Your Green Classroom

30 Go Green Tips for Teachers to Introduce in the Classroom

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Friday, June 29, 2012

"SPACE" FILLER {Classroom 360}

As we continue to travel 360 degrees counterclockwise around my 2012-2013 classroom, we arrive just north of my Math Workshop Board at my "SPACE" Filler.

Do you get it?  "Space" Filler?  Like Outer Space? Forget it.

I got about 3/4 of the way through this blog post and realized I'm not happy with the "after" picture.

I liked it enough in real life, but while editing the photo for today's Classroom 2012-2013 Reveal, I started to feel like it was missing something. Then after I uploaded it next to the before picture I really felt like it needed something more.

So on Monday morning, I'll trek back into school, make a few alterations and then return to my regularly scheduled summer vacation. Because you all know I will lie awake at night thinking about the "what's missing" until it is no longer missing. :)

Let me explain.

This was my hallway display "Welcome Back" Board last fall.
{view the original blog post about this Welcome Board here}

I love, love, loved it.

It was inspired by a board I had coveted online {in the pre-Pinterest days if you can believe that}.

I try to tie everything in with a writing project so I created a writing packet to go with the board and it was the first piece my students completed.
{click here to purchase / instantly download this packet}

When the Welcome Board overstayed its welcome, I took it down and replaced it with something else ...spiders I that tells you how much I loved it because we didn't do spider research until we started our Charlotte's Web study in October.

I am lucky enough to have REALLY high ceilings in my classroom. They make the room feel so much bigger than it actually is. But, they create a whole bunch of extra vertical space that sometimes make the room feel a bit empty.  Since I had space and I had a rocket and motivational phrase hanging out in a closet unused, I decided to fill the space. It's appropriate because:

  • One of my goals in my current classroom design was to include phrases and reminders to make sure learning is engaging and inspiring.
  • Our school mascot is a Rocket - how perfect is that?
  • The bright colored word cards matched the Bright and Cheerful classroom decor theme I had settled on using.
  • It was already done and at that point in the year I certainly didn't need to add more to my plate.
Here's what the rocket and words look like in their new home above my math workshop board:

Like I said, the picture made me feel like a little something was missing.  I realized that I loved the black background on my original board. Since I am balancing all of the bright colors in my room with Blackline Design accents throughout, I decided that mounting the cards onto black cardstock will be just the little extra sumpin-sumpin' it needs.

{ETA: After looking at it again, I think I'll add a moon and stars with my new friends names or pictures on them.}

I'll keep you posted when I add them on Monday!

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Thursday, June 28, 2012


And I am not changing one stinking thing about it for this year. Now that I think about it, aside from my curtains and hand signals this is the only thing that didn’t get made over, spruced up or enhanced.

{purchase/download here}

I had posted about it last summer when I first created it, but felt it was definitely worth writing about again now that I have a full year of daily use under my belt. 
I have created many things over the years, but this is honestly one of my absolute favorites. It has truly changed my math instruction in the most positive of ways and has allowed my to teach the mandated curriculum in a manner that allows me to differentiate for all my learners. 

{purchase/download here}

There were occasional days when assemblies or other schedule changes caused me to not use the workshop.  When that happened there were actual moans and groans from the kids. They loved it as much as I did.  Here’s why it makes me so happy:
  • Short doses of everything. I’m sure you will all agree that attention spans as a whole are dwindling each year. By teaching math in small groups and in small chunks of time the students were all actively engaged and attentive throughout the entire math block. Each section held their attention and wrapped up before they became off task or disinterested. 
  • I was able to spend a great deal of time with each student 1:1 or in a small group which allowed me to really know them as mathematicians. I not only knew what their strengths and weaknesses were, but the format allowed me to effectively address them.
  • Each child had ample opportunity to talk about math. When instruction is delivered as a whole group you’ll find the same students volunteer to answer questions. Small group instruction and 1:1 meetings require a great deal of math discussion. Talking through their ideas and listening to others is crucial. It’s too easy to “drift” in whole group situations. My workshop routines created situations where students were constantly engaged in conversations about math and the students were constantly learning from each other.
  • It’s a routine. I love routines. The students knew what to expect when. They quickly became independent and the workshop was self-running.  This allowed for much more time on task learning and collaboration.
{purchase/download here}

I love the look of the board. It’s organized and meaningful. 
This version is available in my store and is currently one of my best selling products. You can purchase it here as an instant download. I’m currently working on another version that goes with my Blackline Design Product Line {saves money and creates custom color themes} without the cutesy clipart for teachers who want a different look. I’m hoping to have it uploaded to my store within the next day or two. 

{purchase/download here}
I have so much more to say about my Math Workshop and am working on a new blog series to further discuss how I plan each day, organize materials, adapt the mandated curriculum to fit this routine, and also how I get it going at the start of the year. I’ve created a video to “talk you through” the board. You can view it here or at the top of this post. 

 Feel free to leave your questions in the comments so I can address them in my upcoming Math Workshop series. In the meantime be sure to visit my original post from last summer that details how I use this system in my room.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Classroom 360 is a complete tour of my classroom as designed for the 2012-2013 school year. Each post highlights an aspect of my room with photos, a detailed explanation of it's purpose, and often times videos.

This is a fantastic solution for those of you who may have ratty, beat up desks that you want to fix up. For me it was more about being matchy-matchy. I love matchy-matchy.

I’ve mentioned a time or two thousand that I don’t love on the color red. Sure it’s the color of love and yes it looks great with my dark hair and pastey Irish complexion, but it clashes with my otherwise perfectly color-coordinated classroom and therefore me no likey. 
So you can only imagine my feelings towards red desks. 
The thought of spray painting them had crossed my mind...briefly. But that would mean taping them to paint them. And it would be permanent. I quickly realized I could eliminate a step and simply tape them.
I actually only have a couple desks and decided Duck tape would be the perfect solution. I had fallen in love with a damask pattern I had seen online, but couldn’t find it in any of my local stores. 

I opted instead for a solid aqua and was very pleased with the results. It peels off easily and a little vegetable oil or vinegar will easily take care of the stick residue if I want to change it out in the future. After all was said and done I realized I could have also used colored painters tape. So if you are thinking about making over some desks, or a filing cabinet, or anything else for that matter you may want to go that route.

SIDENOTE: Duck Tape is the name brand for the fun pattern / colorful Duct Tape maker. You can do a google search for either to find lots of fun options. I went back and forth on which spelling to use for the post, but ultimately decided to go with the brand I used.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


Classroom 360 is a complete tour of my classroom as designed for the 2012-2013 school year. Each post highlights an aspect of my room with photos, a detailed explanation of it's purpose, and often times videos.

{classroom clock labels}

I used to keep a digital clock next to my sign out sheet to make things easier for my little friends. 
And then I realized that signing out was a great real-world opportunity for practicing time telling skills.  
Except they didn’t all know how to tell time. I find this problem increases each year as we become more and more digital.  I started labeling my classroom clock with 5 minute intervals 5 classrooms ago.  I recently checked each of my former classrooms and was delighted to see that my labels were still hanging around the clock. 
And then I shuddered a bit at how primative they looked.

Ironically, the teacher who had my current classroom before me had asked if she could copy my labels and so my current clock came “pre-labeled.” For whatever reason (probably laziness and a fear that I would come crashing to the floor if I scaled a desk or table to hang new numbers), I left them there.
But they bugged me.
They didn’t “match” the rest of my classroom style and so I made them over this year.
I created two different printables (circles and frames) because I was on the fence about which I wanted to use. I printed them both out to “try them on.” Ultimtely, I decided I liked the frames the best. I copied them onto 3 different pieces of colored cardstock, cut them out and attached them around the clock. Three colors seemed to make sense to me. You could do more or less.  I’m thinking about making some Cricut letters to read, “Time to Learn,” but want to look at them like they are for a bit.
I find that these are used very often by my students and help to bridge them to mastery of telling time. I notice they also refer to them for tasks that require skip counting by 5s and love that they make them connection.

Click here to purchase / download my Classroom Clock Label Packet

This packet includes:

4 different options designed to be printed onto your choice of colored cardstock to save you ink and match any classroom theme or color scheme.

SET 1: Small Outlined Frames
SET 2: Circular Double-Mounted
SET 3: Larger Outlined Frames
SET 4: Larger Blacklined Frames

These could also be used as a math center or craft/craftivty by creating paper plate clocks and having the students use the images from this document to label the outside.

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My 2012-2013 Classroom Intro {CLASSROOM 360}

Oh my!

I have never before been finished with a room so early in the summer. We are so lucky because while the cleaning crew will move everything off the floor to clean the rugs (translation: pile it in a heap), the walls are left untouched. There will be a tech team coming in to mount and install my smartboard so I didn't mess around too much with the area where it will hang, but I am otherwise good to go.

And more importantly, I am ready to share all of the nooks and crannies of my room with all of you.

I actually sat in the middle of the room on Friday with my trusty notebook in hand and jotted down each and every aspect of what was on the walls so that I could detail it all out in blog posts. Because there needs to be a rhyme and reason to it, I've decided to simply go counterclockwise from top to bottom and detail each component in words and pictures. I've snapped a bazillion pictures and filmed a ton of video.

Below is a  map of my classroom which outlines each of the things I will be blogging about as part of my classroom reveal series...I'm calling it "Classroom 360." A new component will be unveiled in a post each morning.

I'm doing it counter-clockwise so the posts will follow this map from right to left.

I'm kicking off the series today by posting about my "classroom makeover supplies."

Which I should subtitle, "Step Away from the Teacher Store!"

I did buy some black borders, a classroom calendar and a cursive and manuscript alphabet from a teacher store, but other than that I sought out items that allowed me to personalize and customize my classroom. It's really easy to create an environment that is fun and inviting without using tons of store bought posters and decor.

Here are my favorite tools and supplies that were used in the makeover:

RIBBON: The colors and patterns are endless. It can be bought super-cheap. It adds fabulousness and a finishing touch to EVERYTHING! 

SCRAPBOOK PAPER: If you are using a color scheme or classroom theme then scrapbook paper will be your BFF. I personally super heart the 12 x 12 scrap pads. This one is my favorite. You'll see traces of it everywhere in my room and it totally compliments my current most favorite products: My Blackline Designs

FABRIC...or more specifically BED SHEETS: Fabric has long since been the only thing I back my bulletin boards with. I used to buy yards and yards and yards of it.  Now, I will only buy bed sheets. Not only are they much cheaper, but they come in really fun bold colors (especially as the college kids get ready to head to the dorms) AND bonus...they often come with a pillowcase, which I use in the classroom on standard pillows. The kids love grabbing a pillow to read with on the floor. 

SPRAY PAINT: Again-cheap and easy.  The options of colors are amazing. You'll find any color you want and can quickly transform Dollar Store treasures into custom-matched pieces for your room.

STICKERS: I have and use a Cricut, but actually prefer fun, colorful stickers since they are easier to use and are already, well, sticky.

TISSUE PAPER: Again I must sing the praises of color and texture.  Target is my favorite tissue paper buying spot.

Next up: Hand Signals {tomorrow}

Followed by: My Clock Makeover {Tuesday}

{This post has been linked to: Kristen's Summer Shopping Linky Party}

Be sure to follow my blog and store  and Facebook Page for notification of the FreebiesClick here to access a collection of Teacher Tips or tour my Classroom Makeover here.

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