Tuesday, January 31, 2012

My Superbowl Bulletin Board



As promised here is the 4-1-1 about our
Superbowl Writing Projects {which are free btw}.

I began with a large football cutout.

I typically use a brainstorming page from my writing packets to have the students come up with topics and ideas. However, despite the bubbling enthusiasm for all things football that the majority of my kiddos are showing this week, I knew that some of my little learners are not so interested in the gridiron.

Anticipating that this would translate into writer's block, I opted to brainstorm together. We did so by adding topics on Post-It notes to my big football. My 3rd grade football fans frantically waved their hands in the air begging me to call on them so they could add such phrases as Tom Brady, Rematch with the Giants, and AFC Champions to the potential topics list. Another popular choice was Rob Gronkowski. Lucky for me 1/3 of my class was sporting Gronkowski jerseys so I was able to spell it without consulting Google.

And then there were my non-football fans. We talked about things that are associated with football that they could select as a topic. I had kids write about cheerleading, Gatorade and nachos. By the time we were done, each little sweetie had a topic they were excited about.

After we went through the web-draft-edit routine, they completed their final copy and then it was time for our craftivity.

These caused me to lose sleep. On Monday we completed the heads and bodies. I thought they looked like astronauts. I literally woke at 4:30 and the first thought that popped into my mind was "facemask." Sure enough when we added the 3D face masks it all came together.

I was so excited by their cute little football players that I impulsively blurted out, "Oooh get me the silver glitter. These need some glitter."

In case y'all didn't know....I LOATHE glitter.

It is not a secret.

I had to laugh when one of my little boys leaned over to another and said, "Mrs. D TOTALLY just got caught up in the moment. She never would have used glitter if she had thought about it." So funny because it's true.

I put green paper and white stripes on the back of the board.

The border makes me smile. I simply cut 12x18 construction paper into a spiral. It actually went all the way around my board. I love how it looks.

All of the writing pages I used for this project are included in my Football-Themed Writing Packet Freebie. Swing by my products page to download it for free!

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.

Storage Tip #2 SAFETY



If you are new you may want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Classroom Guide.



{photo source}

While I am all for FREE, it is also important to think about safety. Be cautious when selecting storage containers. If you are using recycled cans, be sure that there are no sharp edges. Use your judgement when picking glass containers.


Also, check to see if your school has a policy on using them. Some don’t allow any glass items. If you are working with very young children you might not want to allow them to have access to Ziploc bags.

{photo source}

I love these glass jars, but would hate to think of them shattering.

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, January 30, 2012

Are You Ready For a Football FREEBIE?

I live in New England.

Also known as Patriots / Red Sox Country.

We New Englanders love our home teams.

So with the Superbowl coming this Sunday you can only imagine the buzz going around.

I subscribed to the "if you can't beat 'em join 'em" philosophy.

And since getting them to focus on non-football tasks is a challenge, I

Today I brought great joy to my third graders with a football-themed writing project.

And because I love and appreciate all of you (even you Giants fans out there ;) I am sharing it for free.

If you've wondered about my writing packets, this is a good opportunity to see what they are all about.
Pictured above are the 6 pages I printed to use with my class.


They include webs, draft papers and final product pages as well as 4 full-color printables to use as bulletin board titles or class book covers.

I'll be back tomorrow to show you some pictures and explain how I used them in my classroom today.

And if you cross your fingers and toes, I just might get my bulletin board up in the morning and will share that too.

To download this packet for free just hop on over to my products page and snag it there.

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.

Storage Tip #1 GO UNIFORM


If you are new you may want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Classroom Guide.

The key to looking and feeling organized when it comes to storage is keeping things uniform. Mismatched sizes, colors, and patterns cause visual clutter. They also prevent you from maximizing on the potential of your space.


Congruent containers do not need to cost you a fortune. With a little creativity you can easily design visually appealing and highly functional storage solutions.


Another benefit to filling your space with congruent containers is that you are left with a predetermined amount of space that you are allowed to use. Everything will have a home and it will be easier to manage what you have.


Decide what you have for space and what your needs are. Select one container that will be universal and meet your needs.


Because there will be a need to use some containers of varying sizes. I suggest pulling the look together by enhancing your containers with matching colors and elements. We'll talk about this later in the week.


Consider getting a larger bin to hold the smaller ones. Plastic bags and Pringles cans will fit nicely inside a large canvas tote and will present a uniform appearance.



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.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Clutter-Free Classroom Project: Week #5 Challenge STORAGE


If you are just joining us, you'll want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Guide to Organizing and Managing Your Classroom.
Oh my.

I am downright giddy over this week's topic.

So giddy that there is a chance it just might be stretched out into a two week segment.

Folks, the time time has come

We're going to chat about classroom storage.

Am I the only nerd who drools over the different types of plastic containers, canvas bins, and stackable totes that line the shelves of stores? I could seriously set up camp at the Container Store and be content forever. Well, as long as I had access to a cup of Starbucks as I strolled the aisle.

For those of you who have been following along with the Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT, I had you...

with the promise of helping you find ways to store your items.

And that is just what I'm going to do.

For the next week (or two) I'm going to be talking all about storage containers. We'll chat about where to get them. I'll inspire you to recycle and upcycle. We're going to think outside the box (no pun intended). We're going to get crafty and organized all at the same time.

As time goes on, I'll be spotlighting specific classroom areas and materials and sharing tips and ideas for storage related to them. For now, we are going to keep it general and open-ended.








Select an area of your classroom that could use some containerizing and do it justice.









  • Spraypaint is your best friend. I HIGHLY suggest black. First of all black is slimming and who doesn't want to look and feel slim? Secondly, it matches EVERYTHING. If you change your classroom theme or color scheme it will still look fantastic. Furthermore, black looks sleek and professional and fancy. Be sure to buy the kind that is made for plastic.
  • Invest in a pad of scrapbook paper that makes you smile. If you don't already have a theme/color scheme then I once again urge you to use a patterns of black/white/grey. You'll be able to easily change things out. I love me some black damask.
  • ModgePodge! Get to know and love it.
  • Keep an ongoing list of your storage needs and possible containers.
  • Ask friends, coworkers and parents for recycled goods. It's amazing how quickly you can collect an abundance of containers with a simple email.
  • Don't buy containers unless you have a specific need for them. This is an area in which I need to "practice what I preach." I am always tempted to buy containers. I've gotten much better at seeking out freebies instead.
  • "Play the teacher card." It is so easy to score freebies by explaining that you are a teacher.
  • If you aren't already subscribing to my blog or TPT Store be sure to do so. This will prevent you from missing any of the tips or freebies. Simply click on the button reading "FOLLOW" at the top of this screen to follow my blog. To follow my store, CLICK HERE and click on the word Follow next to my logo.







On Friday, I'll put up the Linky Party related to the Clutter-Free Classroom PROJECT. The Linky will be ongoing and you can always jump in and link up at anytime. If you don't have a blog you can respond to the prompt in the comment section on Friday's post. Below is this week's prompt. Keep these questions in mind as you take your pictures:

PROMPT FOR FRIDAY:
SHARE YOUR FAVORITE CLASSROOM STORAGE CONTAINER. EXPLAIN WHY YOU LIKE IT AND WHAT YOU USE IT FOR.
classroom organization tips classroom organization ideas classroom organization supplies classroom storage classroom management classroom arrangement classroom organization skills organization ideas for the classroom organization ideas for teachers organization ideas for elementary classrooms decluttering a classroom declutter classroom before pictureskindergarten first grade second grade third grade fourth grade fifth grade sixth grade preschool 1st grade 2nd grade 3rd grade 4th grade 5th grade 6th grade time management, professional organizer, ways to get organized, organizing products, helping kids get organized, organizing teachers, the organized classroom, tips for getting organized tips for classroom organization storage manipulatives school supplies classroom storage free storage creative storage solutions

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.

Groundhog Day Ideas





I had a chance to use my Groundhog Day Writing Packet both at home and at school recently.

Last week I had my students write a persuasive paragraph on why spring was better than winter (or winter was better than spring).

We began by reading about the history of Groundhog Day and discussed what it meant if he saw his shadow.
As a class we created a Venn Diagram comparing winter and spring and then they created their own version using the brainstorm page.


Next, I modeled a top-down web using my reasons for preferring spring.

They completed their webs and then composed a draft. The publish pieces came out insanely cute. I didn't get a chance to snap a picture of them before I left. I had originally planned a different craft, but inspiration struck as I stumbled upon a stack of headshots I had taken of my friends.
This product is available a la carte or as part of my February / March Writing Packet Bundle

I held each head/shoulder up to black construction paper and cut out the shape of just their head and shoulders so that I had their photo and a black piece of paper that was the same size and shape. They drew a "hole" on their papers, glued their picture down, placed the black shape in front like a shadow and illustrated a background to represent their season. When all was said and done it looked like they were popping out of a little hole and seeing their shadow. Cute!

My first grade son announced he wanted to learn how to tell time on an analog clock last night. For the record, he didn't actually use the word analog. Go figure.

Inspired by his enthusiasm and the groundhog I integrated some science, math and literacy at home. We spent the day measuring his shadow and recording the time and length. It was such fun to see how it changed shape, size and direction. We made predictions as the day went on. He's so much fun to teach.

I printed off a copy of the page with the primary-ruled paper and he used it to reflect on our experiment in writing.

In my Groundhog Day Writing Packet I list a few ideas for writing prompts / topics. You could use the pages from mu packet to write...
  • a nonfiction piece about groundhogs
  • explain the history of Groundhog Day
  • write a descriptive paragraph about a groundhog
  • write about a place that the student and their shadow have been
  • If I lived underground...
  • and so much more


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.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Kicking Off Multiplication



One of my favorite parts of being a third grade teacher is teaching multiplication.

Mainly because their excitement level is through the roof.

This week as part of my MATH Workshop (see here to read more about how I teach math), the students worked on THINGS THAT COME IN GROUPS.

I created this resource to enhance our math curriculum.

Students brainstorm things that come in groups of different numbers:

Example:

2 - mittens, shoes, earrings, nostrils
3 - sides on a triangle, wheels on a tricycle
4- bases on a baseball field, vertices on a quadtrilateral
etc.

Then they use these lists to write and solve word problems.

Which I make into a bulletin board display and ultimately into a class book.


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, January 26, 2012

Alternatives to a Teacher Desk


If you are new you may want to start here or check out my Clutter-Free Classroom Guide.


I primarily use my teacher table as my workspace. I love that it is large and allows me to spread out when planning. I also like that it accommodates others so that my partner teacher can sit and plan with me.


I added a table skirt to it for two reasons. First, it dresses it up and adds to the feel of the the classroom. Second, it provides me with hidden storage underneath. I think it is a great alternative to a traditional desk.


Here’s how I stay organized without a desk:


Supplies:

I moved all of my supplies to areas where the students can also access them. The majority of them were duplicates. By that I mean, they had some in the writing area and I had some in a desk drawer. The only exceptions to this rule are my colored Sharpies and my “Big Girl Scissors.” My friends know that those two things are for “teacher hands only.” Everything else is fair game.


Files:

I used to use stacking trays. They functioned very well, but had a footprint. I loved the idea of a file tote that I could easily transport and was thisclosetobuyingone. But then I realized that my current school bag had more than enough room to serve this same purpose. I keep an orange folder inside that is my “inbox and outbox.” I place items that need my attention on the left and shift them to the right when they are completed. I have a red folder for copies. I use a plastic expandable folder (from the Target Dollar Spot) for student work that needs to be corrected.


Between those items and my Teacher Organization Binder, I have everything I need with my at all times.


I keep it under my teacher table.


I bring it with me to the workroom when I need to make copies. Not only are my copy masters handy, but I can grade papers or work on my plans while the machine is running.


I have everything I need at home. I have everything I need at school.


Win-Win!


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.

Teacher Feature: You MUST Check HIM out.

Call me Mrs. Frizzle and hop aboard my virtual Magic School Bus because we're heading to New Zealand.

Because that's where my cyber-buddy Liam resides and teaches.

Well, that and because it's summer over there right now and I am simply dying to kick my awful closed-toe winter shoes aside and experience the joys of flip flops once again.

I first became intrigued by Liam last summer (my summer, not his) when he began commenting on my blog. A male elementary teacher is always a rare and interesting creature to observe, but when you factor in the whole New Zealand thing the curiosity level increases all more.

Not only does he have great ideas to share, but he also writes with a wonderful sense of humor and style. Trust me. You'll enjoy him quite a bit.

Liam has embraced the CLUTTER-FREE CLASSROOM PROJECT and is tackling his entire room.

Oh, and speaking of his classroom....SWOON!!!!

Seriously, look at this classroom!

The dark walls!!!
The white trim !!!
The natural light!!!
The tables!!!
ALL that shelving!

Oh how the potential of that classroom excites me. I'm at the edge of my seat waiting to see how it unfolds.

And you should be too. Head on over to
Twist of Liam and follow his blog to see how it all unfolds.


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, January 24, 2012

Tips for Keeping a Clean Desk

Tips for Keeping a Clean Desk:

  • Stop using Post-It Notes. Instead keep one notebook designated for reminders and to do lists. I love me a Post-It too, but they make your work area look cluttered.

  • Find a new home for the tools that typically sit on top of a desk. I referring to tape dispensers, staplers, pencil cups,

  • Limit the family photos and kid art. It’s nice to have pictures of your family available so that your students can connect with you and know you are human. It’s also great to be able to look at the smiling faces or your loved ones while you are away from them. However, your classroom should not be a shrine to your family. Consider creating a personalized binder cover insert or a page protector with your personal photos. You could also go digital and simply look at your phone when you want to see those adorable little smiles.

  • Say no to knick-knacks. Enough said.

  • Ditch the desktop calendar. They are big. They are bulky. And chances are you are going to need to duplicate the dates and notes into something more portable anyhow.

  • Schedule times to clean your desk. Make this a routine. My class takes a few minutes to wash their hands and gather their recess things just before lunch. They also take about five minutes to pack up to go home at dismissal. I use both of those times to “manage” my desk. I quickly recycle anything I don’t need, address things in my action file, and relocate anything that has been placed onto the surface. Because it never gets to the “out of control” stage, I am able to tend to it during these two short periods of time. After the kids leave for the day I wipe the desk down and place my emergency sub binder in the center of the desk.

  • Stick to one pen. Pick a brand and color that you like and use it exclusively. Only keep 2-3 on hand at a time.

  • Don’t print emails or resources unless you absolutely need to.

  • Use twist-ties to tame cords.


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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