26 June 2012

A Bunch of New Stuff :)

So I've been busy meeting my new teammate (umm... beyond words excited!) and living the life of 20 something enjoying some summer time. I haven't forgotten about everyone though, I'm still trying to catch up on stuff from the past few months and create new things. It's hard to do some stuff, because I'm not home often and a good majority of my clip art and things are on my other laptop/network. I'm 99% sure I'm going to keep everything basic and bright this upcoming year, think black backgrounds with super bright colored posters and things. That doesn't mean I've forgotten about all of my polka dot and zebra lovers though! As I make everything, I've been making sets for me, as well as a polka dot and zebra set for EVERYTHING!! :) So here's a whole posting of things that I've been making. I still have millions of more things, plus so many ideas for posts to help give ya'll ideas to organize and do things a different way! 

First some recent things I've posted in my Teacher's Notebook Store:

                                      {2012-2013 dot calendar}    {2012-2013 zebra calendar}

                                   {bright cursive letters}                       {zebra cursive letters}

Here's some freebies:

                      {zebra poster}                         {bright poster}                      {polka dot poster}

                                   {zebra supply labels}                             {polka dot labels}

Pretty much anything I post I'll try to post in these styles. I'm trying to go back and add a chevron theme as well but I haven't gotten to it yet. I still am always willing to customize things if I have time, but please send me a message asking first. I hope some of this helps :) 

15 June 2012

Back to School Papers

Now I know the last thing I should be worried about right now is my papers I need for back to school, but my main goal for this summer was to bring home all of my binders to organize. I honestly don't have that many. I have my messy tendencies and I can be a temporary hoarder... like for instance throughout the year at some point there will become a huge pile of masters for different things we did. It looks horrible, but by the time the last day of school rolls around the majority of them are recycled. This is why my file cabinet sits empty year round just looking ugly and taking up space. I do not believe in using file folders for papers, not do I believe in keeping things just because "one day I'll need it." I know I'm probably in the small percentage, probably like the -1%... yea I said negative... that does this. Most teachers I know keep things, everything just in case. I have become a thrower-outter. My wordage is fantastic tonight!! ;-)

So anyway, aside from trying to convince you to join my thrower-outter club, I thought I'd share the major papers I use at the beginning of the year. I keep a binder just for these specific papers, each master in it's own sheet protector, along with the forms the school gives us (food form, library form, internet form, 3rd grade district goals, etc.) that way I just take it to the copy room, copy what I need and tah-dah I'm done!! :) There are only a few, but here they are:

On a totally side note, anyone else live in the Chicago area? It was like 8 million degrees today? The boy and I went on an adventure because this girl was determined to find a specific bathing suit from VS. Yes, he went on the adventure with me, his idea. Amazing. We managed to find the smallest VS ever, combined with the Semi Annual and the 100 degree heat... made for a miserable Christie!! But anyway to add to it, it hasn't rained in like, I dunno, forever. It's supposed to continue to be miserable for like ever. Thanks for listening to my rant :) Hopefully you're nice and cool somewhere! Nighty lovelies!!

14 June 2012

Colorful Classroom, Blank Labels

A few random things for the afternoon...

I've thrown away the black and white collection idea and moved onto other ideas. I'm tossing around between black and bright colors or keeping some of the zebra stuff and doing bright colors. I've been busy making things... mostly things I've already made, but updating them to all have the same font, colors, etc. This is what I've been doing:

I have to say I hadn't even contemplated any zebra stuff, until I was thinking of all my zebra followers :) I happened to change the background on one of these and the zebra background with the colorful letters looked AMAZING :) I just don't think it'll work with what I'm planning on doing!!  We shall seeeeee!!

I posted about how I put some new library labels on TN. I know some people have additional categories so they needed some blank pages for themselves. I don't normally post edit-able things because there are some awful people out there that steal work from people and claim it as their own. I mean I know we're teachers and we all get ideas from each other, but I don't like my exact file being sold as someone else's. So anyway here are the blank editable files for the 3 labels I posted. They will open in powerpoint and you will be able to add text where it says "text here" and add pictures or whatever if you need do. I hope this helps someone.

Please link back to me, don't sell them as your own borders, and please, please, please don't use them for reasons other than library labels

Goodbye for now!! :) Off to watch the Cubbies!!
(yea... don't me started on that...)

13 June 2012

Library Organization

I feel like I need to answer the pressing questions I get often before I start working on any new stuff, and as I'm taking a break from my list of things to do. I've had a lot of questions on how I do my library. It's an ever growing, learning, and revamping process... basically one big never-ending headache. So through my 3 years, I've changed the way I've had my library probably 50 times. I think the way I do it now works for most grades, and is pretty basic and easy to manage.

So first I took my books... (which is also a ongoing headache) and sorted them. Last year after my move to 3rd grade I packed away probably 20 boxes of picture books more aimed at first graders, but I'm thinking I need to pull a lot of them back out for my third graders because they love picture books, and it's easier to do summaries, projects, organizers from picture books as in class work. But anyway I sorted my books last year, mostly into chapter series, genre, etc. You probably have to combine many because you'll end up with a few from one category, and it's silly to waste a whole bin on one series with only a few books.

So that's my first suggestion. One of these summer's, maybe next summer when I'm even more comfortable in 3rd grade I'll scan all my books in, because if you have time I'd highly suggest doing that. That way you have a list of books and you can make marks about what you want to buy or what you need to replace. So anyway, sort your books into manageable, sense-able groups - by author, series, genre, fiction/non-fiction, topic.

Then I made names for each of my groups based on the author, topic, etc. I wrote a list of all of these, then I gave each group a number. Some people do colored stickers, letters, etc. This was the easiest way for me to do things. Plus I also leveled a good majority of my books so I put levels on the book as well.

So first I bought tiny labels, think small return address labels. On each of the labels I put the number I gave to each group/series on the right and then, if I found the level of the book, I put that letter on the left side. This was a LONG process. Basically it took a lot of post it notes and organization. I had already leveled all the books with sticky notes (most were similar levels in each chapter series and even all together as whole). So I would take each group one at a time. As I picked a book up I would type the level in the computer at the same time. This was I had the right amount of labels for each group, plus I had the right levels written on the labels. Once I finished a page, I'd print it, then label all of the books I had done. This was my way of not having too many piles and craziness going on.

I curved the labels around the spine of the book, with the group number in front and the level in back. So anyway I continued this with ALL of my books. As I said, you probably are going to not be able to find some levels for books, I either guessed if they were part of a series with similar levels, or I left some blank.

Then I made labels for my library bins. I put the title of the group/series, with a picture of a book from that series/group, as well as the number for the group. I started with shoe box size tupperware totes, which work fabulous and aren't expensive. Don't get me wrong, I'd love the colorful bins from Really Good Stuff, but there's no way I can afford those! So after a few weeks of school I realized I had these 2 shelf-type units (see below) with nothing in them, so I switched all my books over to it. I just took the labels off the shoebox bins and placed them on the bins in the shelving unit.

Because I had 2 of them in my room I was able to put them in 2 different places around the room. I am a firm believer that you should have books all over the room, not just in one specific place. I still had quite a few groups without bins so I found some places for those books as well. This worked WONDERFULLY for me, but that's because the majority of my books are chapter books. If you're a primary teacher this probably wouldn't work because your books aren't all going to fit in these bins. You might be able to take the bins out and just store the books. To be honest I'm thinking of trying to find a way to do that this year, just because I hate (and yes I know I'm crazy) the colors of the bins. The primary colors does not fit with me at all!! I hate it! I wish I could paint the whole think black and get colorful bins, or just plain black/white bins for inside.

So in summary, my tip is to sort all of your books into nice, manageable categories that make sense to your kiddos. Give each group a number (or maybe if you use number levels give the groups letters so you don't have more than one letter on the label) and make labels for each book. I preferred those small labels above because they don't take up much room. Placing them on the spine made it easy for kids to read. They only really see the group number, not the level, when they're looking for books. I prefer to not have my kiddos worried about finding a book based on the level they see. Then make book bin labels that are easy for your kids to read and place them on whatever storage units you have. I have made some of these labels in the past, as well as some this year. I have a few already posted on TN and I'll be posting a few more sets. There are sets with and without numbers. If you used my system last year, the numbers on the labels are the EXACT same as last year so you won't have to re-number books.

Labels I have posted:

{i do have a set with numbers not posted}

12 June 2012

Classroom Binders

I started my first year teaching with take home folders, just like everyone else I knew. Within about 2 months those folders looked AWFUL!! I wish I would have taken a picture of some of them... but come on... you know what I mean!! So I asked the parents to donate a binder or 2 bucks for a binder. I actually had a parent donate a bizillion of them which worked out great. They weren't a big deal, just a great replacement in my frantic first year. (Note: if you're a new follower or don't know much about me, I was thrown into a 1st grade classroom fresh out of college 2 weeks into the school year. I had 1/2 day to set up a classroom and meet my new 30 smiling face. Survival was the word that sums up my first year!) My second year I turned them into a much bigger deal, and by last year I perfected them a bit more. I HIGHLY suggest you use this system of organization, or at least one similar, as it is a lifesaver!! Here's all the basics:

Binders: I usually go to Sam's Club and buy the 6 pack of 1 inch binders. I think they're usually about $10-11. They are the binders that have the see through pockets on the front, back, and spine. This is key for me because I can put the covers on and label the spines. I always let the kids make a picture for their back cover. It gives them a sense of ownership. This is one of those many things I splurge on for my classroom, but you could always find ways to use classroom money, ask parents, get donations, etc. *I should note my OCD doesn't allow most of those options because I need all of them to match! ;-)

Pouch: Around back to school time you can usually go to Target, Walmart, etc. and find pencil pouches that have the 3 hole punch for a decent price. I think I should them for 15 cents or something last year. I'm sure bargain hunters can find them for even cheaper. I put these inside of the binder at the very front for money, notes, etc.

Labels: I use address size labels to label the different parts. I usually put one of the spine with the number or name of the students. I also put one on each of the pockets that say "take home" and "stay at home" or similar. I also put one on the pouch that says "money and notes."

Storage: I buy file folder storage crates (see below). I usually get 3 of them and that takes care of a class of 25, barely! If you have more, or you need a little more storage room get more. I put hanging file folders inside of these storage crates and then the students place their binders (spines up) in the folders. The kids place any papers that need to go home in the files and at the end of the day students just grab the whole folder, bring it to their seat, empty it, organize, then bring the folder back. It works phenomenal, way better than mailboxes. Here's a post that has more of a description on that: Binder Storage.

So those are the basic tools I get to organize them. Then I print out the covers and the inserts to go inside of them. I usually print the covers in color at Office Max, then laminate them just for extra durability. It seemed to work really well this last year. I have a table of contents as well as rule page, and cover pages for each of the major sections. I organize all of these at home, usually putting my parents or friends to work ;-)

I have made some covers in the past, as well as insert pages and such. I have made some for this year as well. There are many different acronyms you could use, but I have STRIPE (to go with the zebra theme last year) and DOT (to go with the polka dots or just in general because it's simple and easy to the point). I am thinking of doing a DOT Binder or possibly a BRIGHT Book. I have made some different versions of covers, but I've kept the cover pages and contents more basic. This way they can work for almost anyone with most themes. I'm trying to go for bright and simple this year. Here's what I have so far. Feel free to request things... I can't promise I'll make them, but I'll add to it my ever growing notebook!!

I hope that helps! I'm really thinking I'm going to do this whole BRIGHT Binder things, just because I'm going to have a load of kids I had 2 years ago with the DOT Binder and I'd like them to have something new. If and when I complete that I will post that as well. A few tips for google docs. Make sure you download and save the document to your computer. Often, backgrounds and fonts don't show up correctly or even at all on the direct page. Also, please don't request for me to share with others. Just send the link to anyone you want to share the document with and they'll be able to download and print away. If you share with others please credit back to me! :)

** I know the pictures only show one grade, but if you click on the link each file has a cover for grades 1-5!! :) I have had kinder requests... I guess I didn't think kinder teachers would use folders or binders, but they do!! I'm in the process of making them as well :) **

10 June 2012

Classroom Jobs

I'm thoroughly convinced as I've gotten in my mid to later twenties (what exactly is 27 considered these days?) I've developed ADHD. I never remember having it when I was younger, but I'm confident I have it now. What got me thinking about it is how I have about 45 tabs open in Google Chrome right now and somehow I stopped all of those to post about classroom jobs. I got a message the other day about someone who was looking at a post about jobs, but wasn't sure what most of them were, so here's my description of the classroom jobs I have narrowed mine down to.

Line Leaders – My class always have secret agent numbers (just their number where they are in ABC order). They line up in their 2 lines (boys and girls) in number order. My line leaders obviously get to be at the front of the line for the week. These students are also my bathroom monitors. They make sure the kids are silent in the bathroom and make sure the kids are moving in and out so we’re not at the bathroom for 5 hours. They also make sure everyone is out, and when I see them at the end of the lines waiting outside the bathroom I know we’re done. So I suppose when we leave the bathroom they are technically line enders. I’ve seen teachers do bathroom monitors right behind line leaders as well.

Line Enders – Obviously the opposite of a line leader, they are at the end of the line. They make sure everyone is out of the classroom and everyone in front of them in line is behaving how they should in the hallway. I am very strict in the hallway and I expect them on their absolute best behavior. They also should close the door or turn off the lights off if I need them too. They don’t always like being at the end, but for me it’s a huge responsibility because they’re watching the whole class.

Paper Passers – These students pass out papers when we’re doing classwork, or help passing out any other tools/manipulatives. You must teach them how to pass out papers, especially if you rearrange the room. It took me 3 years to realize this. It’s a disaster if you don’t really remind them constantly how to pass out papers. Don’t forget to reteach them if you change the way your classroom is arranged. They also must know where to put the extras. I know give me a speech about saving paper! But you need extras! They always lose things or do them wrong.

Homework Helper s– These students check in the homework from the night before. I also have them do miscellaneous other things depending on what was for homework. Last year I was lucky enough to have math workbooks so one would check the homework in, the other would pass them back. I may have one put stars on the homework if it’s all done, or sometimes there are more than one assignment so they’ll take turns. I DO NOT take grades on homework. I always thought that was common sense, but apparently it’s not. That’s why as long as it looks done I’ll have students put a star on it.

Substitute – These students fill in for anyone that’s not at school that has a job. They also may do miscellaneous other jobs for me if other students are busy. I am also not afraid to fire students if they aren’t doing their job, in that case the substitute would take their place.

Behavior Patrol – I have a clip board next to our clip chart that has the students down the left side and dates colors or dates at the top (I don’t remember! Oops!). Anyway the behavior patrol goes to the clipboard at the end of the day and makes sure that all of the students who moved a clip/magnet are marked on the clipboard. It’s also their responsibility to call over students who changed colors to check their behavior logs. This is another job for responsible, very trustworthy students who you know will tell the truth and do their job everyday.

 Insurance Officer – This person is there as insurance, just like the job says! If someone has a messy desk, this person helps them out. If they spill something, they help them out. This is a great job for that student that loves helping others out. It’s also comforting for students to know that if they have a messy desk, can’t find something, spill something, or don’t know how to do something they can go to the insurance officer and ask them for help. Some weeks this person doesn’t do much, other weeks they are the busiest person in class!!

Librarian – This person/people take the library books down in the morning to the library. I also have these students occasionally organize the library bins and students book baggies/bins. They are also responsible for making sure the room is cleaned up (no books, bean bags, pillows) around after we have had independent work/reading time.

Absence Insurer – This is another job for responsible students. This student is responsible for writing down the assignments/activities that occurred during the day for any students that were not there that day of class. I have sheets that students fill out, and then they make sure at the end of the day they organize all of the papers into the absent folder for them. This job is key in 3rd grade, as we have grades in our district and absent work needs to be made up.

Messenger/Reporter – This student takes any messages to other teachers as well as their more important job of taking down things to the office in the morning. In our district we take a hot lunch count and collect lunch money, as well as any other money that comes in and send it straight to the office. They count how many kids have moved their numbers to hot lunch and take any money or notes down to the office in the morning.

Clean Up Patrol – These students check the floor everyday at the end of the day. They check to make sure all scraps are cleaned up. I am very strict about this. We talk about how this classroom is ours and it’s like a 2nd home/bedroom and how we have to be responsible as a family to clean up our classroom. They also make sure the tops of desks are cleaned and on Fridays the chairs are stacked so the custodians can clean the room up. They also make sure cubbies (our cabinets where backpacks and stuff are stored) are closed during and at the end of the day.

*These jobs are more used in a classroom that has an economy. Unfortunately because of the fact that our district had accelerated and general classes this year, which therefore meant kids switching classes (think middle school/junior high), I wasn’t able to keep the economy*

Banker – The banker cashes checks that students have. They run the cash register as well as the store. They make sure they are giving the correct amount of cash out, as well as making change when students buy things in the classroom store. They have to make sure they stamp cashed checks as well so students cannot use them again.

Payroll – This person writes down who had what job so I can write checks out to students on Thursday nights. This person then passes out paychecks on Friday so they can be cashed later by the banker. They also can assist the banker in the classroom store.

I hope this helps someone come up with classroom jobs!! If you still have questions let me know! I'll be creating new job spot posters/labels for this year, so watch out for them! If you're looking for the old ones, search 'Jobs' on the right side under topics and you will find the older ones!!

I am in the process of writing some posts related to classroom management... I've always felt it's my stronger suite, so I'll try to share the things I do. I know new teachers can use any tricks and tools they can find. Plus I am a firm believer that if you are strict/firm with your classroom management you get through things easier, leaving more time for fun educational things. Just keep an eye out at the top for more posts.

06 June 2012

What I'm Loving Wednesday

So it's been forever since I've done one of these, but I feel like I need to, more for my own sake. I feel much better since I've been getting back to all of this stuff. I also have a few other things I needed to share :)

So 5 things I'm absolutely loving lately:

{my brand new brooks glycerin 10}

{target bathing suit. soo comfy! it's like jersey material} 

{not wearing real clothes, but only soffe shorts everyday}

{dunkin iced coffee w/cream & sugar}
{seriously if you don't have a dunkin where you live, add it to your list of things to do} 

{neon pink polish with glitter - i might have a slight obsession w/neon lately}

Anyone else panic after summer is over and you can't live in yoga pants and comfy clothes anymore? I actually don't even know the last time I put a pair of jeans on. Yea, for me jeans are even considered dressing up! Especially in summer!!

In other news, I had some questions about how I hang my monthly projects from the ceiling. If you don't want to spend any money, you can always use paper clips and string, or fishing line. I prefer the fishing line because you don't see it very much. I prefer these:

They are ubber easy to attach to the ceiling. I'm pretty sure there's a tool you can buy too that will help you so you don't have to stand on desks to get them on and off (some of us just force our younger bother's to do this). I actually started taking the strings off some of them this year and putting fishing line on instead, but I haven't been motivated enough to do it to all of them. It's nice because you can wind the string around like it is in the picture. That way you don't have to play the game of how long should I cut the string. There are also some clips you slide on the one side of the black part, they work too, but you have to put your own strings. 

I'm probably going back to DOT Binders this year (versus STRIPE binders like last year). I used to have candy on the old DOT binders I did a few years back, but I wasn't digging that this time. I couldn't really find any graphics I liked, but I did find some cute super heroes. Aside from the dots, they don't have bright clothes so it won't go perfectly with the theme, but I still like them.

I dunno? Too simple? I'm just kind of starting to play around with things. I really like those stinkin' super heroes though!! So cute!! Well, off to soak up some sun? If those stinkin' clouds would go away!!