Tuesday, July 31, 2012

ORGANIZE DAILY COPIES & MATERIALS {Teacher Tip #17}

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 post is a another Classroom 360, Teacher Tip and Flash Freebie all in one.


I use these boxes to organize my copies and materials that I will need to go with my lessons each day.

When the copies are made, I simply slide them into the appropriate box for the day I plan to use them. I love this method for a few reasons:

a) everything is at my fingertips
b) the vertical design makes it easy to flip through and find what I need
c) in the event that I am out unexpectedly or need to leave the room, someone can step in and take over
d) if we have a snow day or don't have time to get through everything that had been planned, it is very easy to shift the materials over to the next day.

I decided to spruce up my boxes this year to better mesh with the Blackline Design Decor I have integrated into the space. I made the labels available for you to download and print for free. You'll be able to add your own flair and make everything coordinate to your space by selecting cards tock, border or scrapbook paper to match your classroom theme or color scheme.




{Click here to access and download the labels and directions for creating your own boxes}
For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of:
This item debuted as a Flash Freebie on 7.31.12 & was available from 11:17 a.m.-present {Eastern Standard Time}
Be sure to follow my blog and store so you never miss the Freebie of the Day


Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


Saturday, July 28, 2012

LIBRARY BASKET LABELS - BLACKLINE DESIGN

This has been one of my favorite products to create because it was such a collaborative effort.

I LOVED reading your sweet comments that accompanied your label requests. I ended up including all of them which resulted in a collection of over 250 labels.

{Click here to access and print the library basket labels}

Anyhow, this is a super quickie post just to let you know that, as promised, it's currently available as a FLASH freebie for a limited time. I'm planning to write a more detailed post about it tomorrow when it becomes a paid product, but right now this tired mama needs to get to bed.

We skipped the girls naps today which means they were cranky and exhausted.
Which means we are cranky and exhausted. :)

I hope you all are enjoying the weekend so far. Sweet dreams.


Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


COLLECTING STUDENT WORK {Teacher Tip #16}

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 post is a Classroom 360, Teacher Tip and Flash Freebie all in one.

Talk about getting the most bang for your buck.

I didn't plan it that way, but when I was writing it up I realized I needed to tag it as both.

So without further ado I present to you my new and improved student work bins.
{Click here to access and download the labels shown in this picture as well as 8 additional labels.}

I actually used to just have one dishpan for collecting all student work. It sort of worked for me.

Sort of.

It wasn't all bad, but it did take some work to sort through the assignments because my friends finished work at different rates. I typically had kids sort it as an odd job when time allowed, BUT in the event that I wanted to correct something and my little worker bees were not around, it added extra time to the task.  

And we all know how crucial every moment is in our teacher lives.

So this year I decided to have designated spots for each subject area. This will be the one central area that all completed assignments get turned in. Because students will know this is the procedure in our classroom, they will be able to quickly turn in their work and move onto the next activity and not waste time standing around waiting to ask, "What do I do with this now that I'm done?"

In the past, I had made labels, laminated them and taped/glued/tied/hot glued them onto the bin.

And every.single.time the label managed to fall off.

Well, first it would fade and THEN it would fall off, but the end result was always the same.

It is for that reason that I decided to skip the lamination and get my Modge Podge on. You're actually going to be reading quite a few posts about my love of Modge Podge in the next couple of weeks. Consider yourself warned...and now go out and buy yourself a big ole jug of it (and a bunch of those cheapo foam brushes because they are the BEST for applying the MP).

I decided to use a different color bucket for each subject area. I plan to coordinate folders and whatnot to those colors as well.

I also made the executive decision to go with an ELA bucket as opposed to a reading bucket, a word study bucket, and a writing bucket. And since I alternate teaching a social studies unit and a science unit, I went and got all genius on myself by putting those two labels on opposite sides of the same bucket. I'll just rotate it around to reflect which subject we teach.

Because I wanted to use different color buckets AND because I wanted them to match my room, I decided to spray paint some dishpans I already had. This proved to be a great idea as I was able to then use the paint for some additional projects (which I'll be sharing soon).

Here's how it played out.



I have created a packet that includes all of the labels shown in the images above.  This product was designed as part of my versatile, ink-saving Blackline Design Collection.  

{Click here to access and download the labels shown in this picture as well as 8 additional labels.}

You may also be interested in my related posts:

Unfinished Work Boxes: How to Manage Students "Work in Progress"

The Must Do / May Do Board - How to Manage Student Assignments and Projects


For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of:
This item debuted as a Flash Freebie on 7.28.12 & was available from 5:58 a.m.-present {Eastern Standard Time}
Be sure to follow my blog and store so you never miss the Freebie of the Day


Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


Friday, July 27, 2012

MY UPDATED CLASS SCHEDULE DISPLAY {Classroom 360}

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. Be sure to check out all the other posts.

FYI: TpT is still experiencing some "quirks" because of the updates they are doing. I tried throughout the day to upload today's FLASH FREEBIE...without success.  I ended up taking a poll on my Facebook Fan Page on if I should post the tip and show you the freebie now or wait until the file was uploaded. The majority voted to wait. So wait it is. I'll post it as soon as I can.

But for now I have another peek into my 2012-2013 classroom.
{These schedule cards can be accessed and downloaded here.}


This is my new and improved classroom schedule display for next year.

I love using a pocket chart because it is oh-so-easy to switch the activities around. I hung it a bit lower than normal so that my kiddos can be in charge of changing it up each afternoon. I left a bit of space to the left of each schedule card. My plan is to place small colored cards that can be flipped over as we complete an activity. I think this will help some of my friends who always want to know "What's next?" and "When's lunch?" 

And since I'm having a love affair with all things ribbon, I of course added a ribbon border to the pocket chart.

The cards are part of my Blackline Design Classroom Decor Bundle. I was going to copy them onto cardstock (as is the intent of that product line), but this board is already so colorful that I thought it best to "ground it" with some black and white.




Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


Thursday, July 26, 2012

STREAMLINE YOUR CLASSROOM LIBRARY {Teacher Tip #15}


I’m not talking about it being different now from the way it was my first year, but rather that it has literally changed dramatically over and over and over again.
My gosh.
Actually, when I think back to my first “library” I have to laugh. It was nothing more than a milk crate with some books the teacher I took over for left behind. I was young. It was my first job. I had just relocated from Boston to sunny Florida and could barely afford Ramen Noodles for dinner, much less books to stock a classroom library. Instead I checked out TONS of books from the public library each and every week. I have such vivid images of driving around every Saturday morning with a stack of books several feet high on the passenger seat of my 2 seater Miata convertible. 
But you know what?
My kids devoured those books. Mondays were super exciting because they knew there would be new books available and that they would need to take advantage of them quickly because they would soon be returned to and reshelved at the Winter Park Public Library.
Over the years my library grew and grew and GREW.


It grew to thousands of titles. There were books for all levels and books for all seasons.
Which meant I had thousands of books to organize and manage.
And as much as I love me a good organizational project, it became daunting.
I spent many a summer day sorting, leveling, categorizing, labeling, etc.
Then school would start and I would need to teach my elaborate system to my new friends as part of our procedures and routines. But, I noticed that while I had a very full, well-organized library, it wasn’t being used to it’s full potential.
It’s kind of like that saying, “you can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
I had some friends who would spend FOR.EV.ER browsing through my library. They were spending more time “shopping” for books than reading books. 
And then I thought back to my first year of teaching and my sad little library and realized that the ironic thing was that those students were actually more excited about reading and read more books than my more recent students because they had less to choose from and new books were spotlighted often.
So while I didn’t purge my library back to a single milk crate, I did make some changes that I’ve been thrilled with.
  • I scaled back the number of books available at any one time. 
  • I broke my library up into different sections (picture books, non-fiction, chapter books, and temporary books). This made it possible for several students to look for new books without feeling crammed in too tight.
  • I use the games and activities in my Genre Kit to teach the class about genres and have them help me sort books. This provides real world practice of the skills and helps them navigate the library easier throughout the year.



  • I stopped leveling the books. The real world does not group book by reading levels so it was important to me that I create an environment that would prepare them for selecting books at the library and book stores.

  • I developed ways to showcase new books so that my students had a list of desired books they knew they wanted to read and weren’t wasting time sifting through my collection.

  • I rotate books out throughout the year. Books are constantly changed out to reflect seasonal interests and topics of study. Keeping things new and fresh makes my friends want to get their hands on the literature before it’s gone. 

I love these changes because they not only increase the students' interest in books and decreases time wasted looking through bin after bin, but also because it helps keep my classroom Clutter-Free.
I’m not saying that books are clutter...but, I think you’ll find that it is best to have books that are enjoyed by your students and not just there because they are books.
Today’s FLASH FREEBIE has a twist.
It’s a collection of Blackline Design Book Basket Labels that can be copied onto colored cardstock or scrapbook paper.


But...
It won’t be available for download until Saturday.
Because I’m taking requests for specific labels.
I was planning to upload the packet to TpT yesterday, but since the site was down, I had a chance to think about it and decided to add on to it. The set I’ve designed and created so far includes all of the labels I will need in my classroom. It includes all of the basic genres along with some popular series Titles and authors’ names.
I think they are cute and useful and will appeal to many of you, but I want to make it more comprehensive. 
So...
here’s your opportunity to have a say in the product.
If there are specific labels you would like to see included, please leave them in the comments section. 
I’ll add them as they come in (providing they aren’t too obscure) and will upload the finished product on Saturday as a FLASH FREEBIE.
And on that note...what labels would you like to see included?

For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of: 



Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


CUTE, COLORFUL, EASY, & FREE NAMEPLATES


Last week we hosted a party in honor of my son’s 7th birthday.
He picked an “art theme.” Be still my heart.
We passed out gift bag invitations that included a few things they would need for the party.  The nametags were created using paint samples. I just folded them in half and stapled on each child’s name.
This got me thinking.
Folded paint samples would make super easy and yet colorful, kid-friendly nametags for the first day of school.  



I love that they create a “tent” so you could put the name on both sides so it would be seen from either direction.
As a general rule I am not a fan of having anything on the desks that invite distraction so I wouldn’t use these all the time, but for those first few days they are perfect.
Here’s why.
I like to sit my students near a known friend on the first day. It really helps them to feel more comfortable when anxiety may be high.  
But...
I know better than to sit them together permanently. We always start school on a Wednesday. So on each of those mornings (Wed, Thurs, Fri), I play around with some seating arrangements. I try kids out next to each other and tweak the arrangement as I get to know them. By Monday I have selected their permanent seats and we hit the ground running. 
These tags will be great for that purpose and after Monday I will put them in with my emergency sub plans...because it is important to do everything you can to make a sub’s day run smoothly.
Are you looking for cute deskplates that are more permanent? I have them available in each of my classroom theme kits to match your theme as well as all of my color scheme packs and my quickly-growing-in-popularity, versatile, money-saving, ink-saving Blackline Design Classroom Decor Bundle. I have been adding so many of the components from this packet into my own classroom. I really like how the black anchors all of the bright colors in my room this year.

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Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

LOG PARENT COMMUNICATION {Teacher Tip #14}









TODAY'S TEACHER TIP & FLASH FREEBIE...


Seven years ago this week I became a mom for the first time.
And it gave me a whole new perspective in the classroom. I think any teacher who has had children will agree. 
Build time into your daily routines to communicate with parents. If you establish a positive relationship with a child’s family by keeping them up to date on his progress and sharing examples of things that have gone well in the classroom, they will be much more receptive to a note addressing a potential issue that has arisen. Parents do not want to only hear from their child’s teacher when something is wrong.
While you can certainly write spontaneous notes home when something awesome happens, positive communication can be organized and systematic.  You just need to develop a system that works well for you.
First, decide which methods of communication are going to be best for you. If you use a daily communication folder then writing a note in there may be best. Emails are also a nice option because you’ll automatically have a copy in your sent mail. 
Plan to write 2-3 notes home per day for positive reasons. It need not be elaborate. Examples:
  • “I can tell Jane has been practicing her math facts at home. Thanks for your continued support.” 
  • “Stephen went out of his way to include a child who was sitting alone today. We’re so proud of him.” 

These are short, sweet, and to the point, but will mean the world to the people on the receiving end. It will communicate that you appreciate their child and recognize the positive choices made. 
If you don’t feel that you have time during the day, an alternative is to write your notes on adhesive mailing labels after school and then stick them into the communication folder in the morning. This method also works well because you can write notes onto the labels throughout the day as they happen or when you reflect on the day in the evening so you don’t need to jog your memory as you check the morning folders.
There are plenty of families who will reach out to you with questions or concerns, but others won’t. Take the time to call home at least once a month to “check in.” Be prepared to share a recent success and then ask if they have any questions or information that would be helpful for you to know. 
I suggest you establish a simple method for tracking your communication so that you are able to provide consistent feedback in an equitable manner. 

I have created a resource that includes 20 templates for documenting communication between school and home. This product was designed as part of my versatile, ink-saving Blackline Design Collection.  It can certainly be used on it's own, but is a great companion to these products:


For more tips and ideas on organizing and managing your classroom please check out my Clutter-Free Guide. This post is part of:
This item debuted as a Flash Freebie on 7.20.12 & was available from 11:04 a.m.-10:28 p.m. {Eastern Standard Time}
Be sure to follow my blog and store so you never miss the Freebie of the Day




Follow my Teacher Store so you don't miss
Flash Freebies or Discounted Debut Items and view my easy-to-navigate online catalog.

Check out CFC's Helpful Series for Teachers: 


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