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Year-Long Planning

Back to School, Organization
Last year I made a long-term, whole year plan, for all academic areas! While it was a lot of work, it was a lifesaver in the long run.  Weekly planning was so much easier because I already had things laid out.  It also was easy to make sure I hit everything because I spent time over the summer making sure each standard was covered in the long-term plans.

I got my layout idea this year from Primary Punch. She laid out her 3rd grade plans in a very easy to read fashion and I made a version like hers, but with our standards, resources, etc.

So…here is my baby…the big project I spent many, many, many, many hours on….

Our school year is broken up into trimesters.  I have two pages for each trimester and each subject area is included.  As you can see some projects, standards, units take more than a week and some take only a week.

In addition to the basic, year-long plan. I also planned out Writing Workshop and Math in much more detail.  I used Lightbulbs and Laughter’s cute year-long calendar and planned out each day.  Again, this takes time, but again will save me time down the road.
Here are my Writing Workshop plans for September:
A close up of my WW plans for September…
Here are my math plans for September. We use a combination of enVisions, Investigations, CGI, our own resources, etc….
A close-up of math plans..

Thank you for stopping by to check out how I plan for the year! I highly recommend doing year-long planning if you have the time.  It really does make the school year run smoother and takes a little stress of your plate.

Happy planning!!

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Monday Made-It – August 8

Back to School, Organization

I’m back for another Monday Made-It with Fourth Grade Frolics! I have two back to school items to share with you today and both are now freebies in my TPT store (Jordan Johnson).

My first made-it today are new cubby labels! My student use their cubby to hold their lunch, snack, or other items.  Since my theme or color scheme is bright colors, I made these cubby labels so that each child knows what cubby belongs to them.  (I use numbers for each student to help with line order and organization.  There numbers is based on alphabetical order by last name.)

Here are what our cubbies look like. I have 20 total to work with and typically 20 students in a class.
I used this self-adhesive hook and loop tape to attach the cubby numbers.  It was really easy to work with!
Here are my bright numbers! I have this up as a freebie in my TPT Store (Jordan Johnson).  You can download my cubby numbers (numbers 1-30), here.  
A close-up of the cubbies all labeled and ready for kids!
You can download my set of number labels as a freebie in my store! They can be used to label cubbies, desks, or whatever items might need numbers! Happy labeling!

My second made-it was my Meet the Teacher treat for my students. We have Meet the Teacher at my school the Friday before school starts. It’s a chance for kids to come in and meet me as well as check out their new classroom. I love to have a little treat waiting for them when they come.  I saw this Smart Cookie slogan on Pinterest and most kids love cookies – so I thought it would be perfect for my student gift.  If you don’t have a Meet the Teacher event at your school, these could also be used at an Open House or as a first day gift to your students.  
I went to Target to buy my cookies. They have many options of small cookie bags, but I figured Chips Ahoy was a pretty safe bet.
Then, I made my little tags.  I printed them on Astrobrights paper so they would stand out.  These tags are now a freebie in my TPT store.  
Then, I attached the tag to each bag of cookies using washi tape! Cute, simple and now all ready to go for Meet the Teacher!
These tags are a freebie in my TPT store.  I have tags for Kindergarten-5th grade. All you need to do is print, cut, and sign your name after the heart.  Well, and buy cookies lol.  
Thank you for checking out my Monday Made-It’s today. Be sure to check out 4th Grade Frolics link-up for more wonderful made-it ideas!

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Classroom Library Organization

Classroom Set-Up, Organization

I know there are many posts out there on classroom library organization.  While there are already many, I decided to jump in and share how I organize mine.  My library organization has worked for me the 8 years I’ve used it.  Organization and especially of your class library and your classroom books is a personal thing. Everyone has their ways of organizing. So, I thought I’d share how I organized mine in hopes it might speak to a few people.

There are probably about 8 billion ways you can categorize your classroom books.  The first thing I recommend you do is decide how you want to categorize your books and then separate them into those categories.
I chose to categorize based on types of books and series. I mainly focused on series of books that I had multiples of.  For example, I have many Junie B. Jones books. So I have a Junie B category that only has Junie B books.  I have a few of the Rainbow Fairy books, so those just go in the chapter book category since I didn’t have enough to make it’s own category and bin.  Here are the categories I have….
Picture Books, Non-Fiction, Animal, Bugs, Science, Social Studies, Math, Sports, Chapter Books, Junie B Jones, The Littles, The Boxcar Children, Clementine, Judy Moody and Stink, Mystery Books, A to Z Mystery Books, Cam Jansen, Who Was/What Was, American Girl, Holiday, and School.  
Ahhh…containers.  Containers make my OCD heart happy!  For my books, I use the three containers pictured below.  Depending on the size of the books and how many are in the category, I choose which bin best fits the books.  You can find these containers at Target, Walmart, Amazon, and I’m sure many more places.  Dollar Tree and other Dollar stores also have bins similar.
Sterilite 6 Qt Storage – Great for chapter books
Sterilite 16 Qt Storage – Great for picture books, larger books, and a big amount of chapter books
Sterilite Medium Storage Basket – Great for large amounts of chapter books, picture books, large books
Another thing that I love probably as much as I love containers are labels! I love to label things. Like love it – like probably too much.  My OCD side definitely got going with my classroom library and I was a label making queen.  I decided to make labels to place inside each book.  That way a child can look at the label/sticker and know what bin the book goes in.  The label has the name/category of the book and then also a picture.  When I taught first grade the picture was perfect for some of my friends who were still learning to read.
I recommend buying the labels at Costco. I was at mine the other day and they had a pack of 140 sheets which is 4200 labels for around $8.  I use the white address labels.  Here is a screen shot of what it looks like in Word.  As you can see, very simple, but easy to understand. 
After printing a few sets of each label, I got to work. I first made a label on card stock laminated to go on the front of the actual book bin.  Then, I started labeling each individual book. I know it seems like a lot of work, but once you do it…it’s done.  Then, as I get new books, I have extra labels in my desk drawer that I can use and then put in the correct bin. Once you get the first overhaul and organization part done, it is much easier.
We use AR (Accelerated Reader) at my current school. To prepare the books for AR, I used this awesome website called AR Book Find. It’s FREE! And, it’s awesome.  All you do is type the title in of your book and it’ll tell you the level, a brief description, quiz number, points total, etc.  If no book comes up in the search, then the book is not an AR book.  This takes awhile as well, but again worth it in the end.  Inside each book, I place the label, my name, and then also the level of the AR book. This way a child can quickly tell if a book they choose is in their AR level or not.  Some teachers put the quiz number in so it’s easier when taking the AR test. I opted not to.  One – it takes a while to do that.  Two – I like having the kids type the title into the AR App. I think it’s good typing practice.

The last thing and one of the most important things is to model how you want the kids to find books and put books away.  This past year, I did not model as much as I normally do and I regretted it.  I was finding books in the wrong bin. I recommend modeling how to find the book and then how to figure out where it goes when you are done. I also recommend having a library helper job. This student’s job can be to check the library each day and make sure things are being put away in the correct bins.
I hope this was helpful! Happy organizing!
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Classroom Reveal 2015-16

Back to School, Classroom Set-Up, Organization
I’m so excited to share my classroom for the 2015-16 school year. This is my 9th year teaching and my 2nd year at this school.  It is so much easier decorating your room when it was the room you had last year.  We have summer camp at our school so we do have to pack up everything in May, but it was so much easier setting up this year since I had been in that room all last year.
Let’s take a look.,..
This bulletin is out in the hallway right next to my classroom. I had seen many different variations of Instagram boards on Pinterest and used those for inspiration. My goal is to take many pictures throughout each month and post them up for everyone to see. We will also create hashtags as a class like we do on Instagram. I think this will be a neat way for us to capture a timeline of our year.
This bulletin is also outside my classroom. For back to school, it has all of the names of the students in my class.  Throughout the year, I will be posting student work on this bulletin. The clothespins make it easy to switch out work.
Here is a view of the front of my classroom. I like students to work in groups and have 19 so I have 3 groups of 5 and one group of 4.
This area is my math and work area.  The blank space on the bulletin will house the anchor charts that students and I create together.  The empty bins in the first cubby storage that have numbers on them, will be used for Math Stations.  The bins in the other cubbies will hold all the math materials that we use.  On top, I have a turn in bin as well as pencils, etc.  This will be a much-used area.
I shared these frames last year in a Monday Made-It. I use these for posting the essential questions we are working on in the different subject areas. The nice thing about them is I can move them and hang them on the white board to make them more visible.
This is the writing area. It will be used for writing station and also houses the folders for Writing Workshop. The folders go in bins that have the different writing processes labeled. This way I know what stage the students are in.  For writing station, students will use the I Can list and the items in the two white storage units on the desk. (I’ll post more on Writing Station later).
I still use the Clip Chart. I know there are a variety of thoughts on the Clip Chart, but I find it works for my students and many of the other grades use it at our school so it helps for consistency. These bins hold all of my teacher books that I use when modeling and doing read alouds. The bins up top need to be labeled, but they hold games and activities for different subject areas.
I love having a storage closet in my classroom. It is quite full, so no picture of that! On the door, I have my I’m Done activities listed.   I also have moved my Bucket Filling area to this wall.
Here is my classroom library. I don’t think I’ve done a post on how I organize it, but plan to do one soon. I’m very OCD about my library and have found a system that works for students to quickly find books, but to also keep them organized.
Student cubbies and my classroom jobs chart
Here is our meeting space. I use the rug for students during Morning Meeting, but also throughout the day. We have short throw projectors so I like to have the students up close when I’m projecting things but also like proximity when teaching to help keep students on task. I use the three pocket charts for vocabulary. One for reading, math, and social studies.  I like having it accessible so students can see it and use it throughout the day.
Here is my area. Now, I have been free from a teacher desk for awhile, but these were brand new and we have to have one in each classroom so I decided to use it as a desk and actually like it.  The table by the window actually fits on the end of the desk and can be used for many things. 
I use the board as our homework board. Each student has a planner divided into the same subjects on the board. I write the homework up here for each day and students can then copy it in their planner.  I love washi tape!
Here’s a view of the back of the classroom.
Here’s a view of the side of the classroom.
And, one last view of the front!
I’m loving my new bulletin labels. I use three boards in the classroom – reading, math, and writing. I got the idea for the pennants from Sarah a teacher I taught with back in AZ. I saw she used them on her bulletins and loved the idea! She found them Target in the party aisle. They have them in many different colors. I then used big stickers from Michael’s. I’m pretty excited with how they turned out. Now, I need some class made anchor charts to put on the board!
We are big on growth mindset at my school. I saw this board on Pinterest and it was made by Sarah from Math Equals Love. I loved it and my teammate and I made a replica on one of our hallway boards for all parents to see. 
Thank you for stopping by to take a peek in my room.  Excited for our first day of school tomorrow!

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Packing Up Tip

Back to School, Organization
I’m not sure about any other teacher, but the end of the day always drives me a little crazy.  Especially at the beginning of the year.  Packing up has always been a chaotic time no matter how much routine I try to put into place.  The beginning of the school year is even more chaotic because they have no idea about the routine and listening skills need some work as it is. 
So, this year we did our super slow motion pack up 2-3 days.  Slow motion meaning – open your planner – stop, write in your planner – stop, have me sign your planner – stop, get your folder – stop, etc…  I won’t bore you with the rest of this.  This year since I have a small number of students they definitely picked up the routine faster.  However, I have a few kiddos who seem to be in their own world at times and move quite slowly to do many things.  These are the kiddos that think they are packed up and are sitting and in reality their backpack is still hanging, lunchbox in the cubby, planner out, and more. 
So, instead of driving myself totally crazy and losing my voice continuing to call out the routine, I wrote it on the board.  Simple and to the point. I’m sure many of you have thought of this, but if not try it.  It helps because instead of me continuing to repeat the routine or repeat it to certain students, they can look at the board or I can “remind” them to look at the board :-).
Here’s my routine on the board…

Sorry for the lack of blogging. I always forget how the first few weeks of school leave you so exhausted.  I have a handle on things now and many blog posts to share so I should be back at it this week.
Hope everyone has a great long weekend!

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Classroom Reveal 2014-15

Back to School, Classroom Set-Up, Organization

I’m so excited to share my photos from my new classroom. I’m going to warn you, there’s a lot.  Last Sunday I moved into my new school and new classroom. And….I….love….it! There are windows.  Not just one – but four! It’s amazing how having windows makes the room so much brighter, warm, and more inviting.  The other cool thing is that I’m on the 2nd floor and out two of my windows I have an awesome view of the Las Vegas Strip. 

Here we go….

Outside Bulletins in the Hallway

Welcome Bulletin for Orientation

Now, the inside…

Love that kids can each have their own cubby and there are also hooks for backpacks.
My classroom library space
Classroom supplies (in the cubbies)

My teacher workspace/desk and small group area

I’m super lucky that we have extremely small classes.  I have only 16 kiddos. I’ve always had 20-24, but this school keeps them very small, which I’m going to like!

Essential Questions boards – can use an Expo marker to write the essential questions and change them as needed.

White board with projector. I’m going to use the pocket charts below the white board for our vocabulary words.

Writing table area. I’m going to eventually use this for a writing station.

Math Area – Math Bulletin board (blank spot is for anchor charts created as a class). Bucketfilling area below…

My teacher books that I use for lessons organized by skill or topic.

I also love that we have a closet here with shelves. Nice to have storage options. 

Thanks for stopping by to check out my classroom space. I met my kiddos yesterday at Orientation and they are so cute! I can tell we’re going to have a great year together!

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Lesson Plan Binder

Back to School, Organization

Each year I always get excited to make my new lesson plan binder. It’s kinda like being a kid and getting a new backpack for the school year. Although, who am I kidding – I love getting a new teacher bag for the school year.  These issues all stem from my obsession with anything school supply related. 

Anyways, I like to use a 1.5 inch binder so that I have room to fit all of the necessary things in it.  This year I’m going with a fun, hot pink color. I love the cover – I got it from one of Teaching and Tidbits with Jamie on TPT. It was her spring collection of digital paper.  Love it!

Then, I always update the dividers. I’m not 100% sure what the school’s focusing on since I’m new, but I’m pretty sure these will work.  My 5 dividers are – Student Info (roster, personal info), Class Info (schedule, etc), School Info (this is the big folder – anything school related – maps, meeting info, behavior policies, etc), Essential Questions (big focus at my new school so I want to have the info handy), and of course a lesson plans section.  My lesson plans are typically done on Excel in a template that I can just type and print each week.

Thanks for coming by! How do you organize your important school info?
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Monday Made-It- July 28

Essential Questions, Organization
 I’m linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made-It!

My new school uses essential questions.  I decided to come up with a cute way to display these questions. I had seen frames used to show I can statements and objectives, and there also has been an example or two for essential questions.  Here are mine below…


The nice thing is you can use Expo marker on the glass and change them out when needed.  I plan to hang these with the Essential Question frame at the top, then two below, and two below. 

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Turning File Folders Into Binders


So who loves big projects that turn your house into a mess, but will hopefully make you more organized in the long run? This girl.  And, I’m sure many other teachers out there. I’ve seen a few teachers blog this summer about turning their files into binders and I’ve been wanting to do the same thing for years. Since I’m moving into a new school I decided this summer was the time to begin this huge and I mean huge project.

First, I took all of my files from 1st and 3rd grade and went through them.  I like to keep everything. Like many teachers, I am a bit of a hoarder.  But, no more of that – I threw out a few boxes of stuff! I was very proud of myself.

Here’s the mess…. (and this is just a bit of it)

Then, after purging it was time to organize.  I decided to organize things in a few different ways, but all that made sense to me.  For each person, I’m sure organization of this part might look different.  I decided to have a variety of binders, different sizes depending on what was going in the binder. 
Here are some examples – Reading Literature, Reading Informational, Writing, Story Prompts, Fluency, Phonics, Language, Conventions, Science, Social Studies, Holidays, Number Sense, Operations, Geometry, Multiplication, Division, Measurement, Story Problems, Graphing, Money, Time, etc.  As you can see I have a lot of binders. I like having things divided up by topic and my hope is that it’ll make me more organized throughout the year. 
Within each binder there are dividing pages.  For example, Fluency has Reader’s Theater and Poems.  Parts of Speech includes nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and pronouns.  Each page, project worksheet, etc is in a page protector. Some are grouped together if that made sense and some are in their own.  Like I said, this project is up to what works for each person.
I made covers for each, binder spines, and dividing pages that I also laminated.  See examples below….

So, I’m about halfway done with this project. Once you start you kinda have to finish so even though right now I’m cursing myself for starting, I’m sure once I’m done I’ll be glad.
How are your teaching materials organized? Do you use files, binders, on the computer? Leave a comment below and let me know. I always love getting new organizational ideas.
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Reading Plans Binder

Organization, Reading
Yesterday I blogged about how I use my Math Plans Binder and today I’m talking about my Reading Plans Binder.  Yes, they are very similar, however the reading one I use for Reading and Writing.
Here’s how I set it up…
Cute, fun cover

5 Tabs – Standards, Calendar, Plans, Book Lists, Assessments – Pretty much anything you would need to plan out reading lessons.

I’ve updated these with my new school’s standards. They use ERB and also CPAA. 

Next up is the calendar. This is an example from last year. I wanted to show one filled out. I use this monthly calendar as a way to map out reading for a quarter or a few months at a time. I like being able to see it all on one page.  Here’s where I put down what phonics skill we were working on, reading standard, and also writing standard.  From this, I would come up with daily plans and weekly lesson plans, but I had this with me to show the big picture.

Here’s my new calendar for 2014-15.  This awesome calendar can be found in A Modern Teacher’s TPT Store.  It’s a refill calendar that you can find….here.

After the calendar, I put in my planning pages. I like to take each standard and map out what the daily lessons will look like. This also is a great tool to share during team planning meetings so that everyone is on the same page or has ideas for how to teach the different standards. Below is an example for inferring.  I have the standard at the top, the dates I’m teaching it, a book list that focuses on that standard, and then ideas for each day. I then take this to fill in my weekly plans. My weekly plans are typically less detailed, but I have these standard focused plans that are the detailed versions.

The last two tabs I didn’t get pictures of, but one is a book list.  Over the years I have found a few different book lists that give a billion book ideas and next to each book have the reading skill that they work best with. I love these! 
The last tab is an assessment tab. Here’s where I put different assessments that I’ll use to measure progress on the various reading standards.
Thanks for checking out my reading plans binder. I know it might seem like extra work, but it helps me to have a long range plan, a weekly plan, and then a more focused detailed standard plan. The nice thing is that the standard plan can really be used from year to year.  I always tweak or add to the standard plans, but at least the general lesson ideas are there. Then, each year, I look at it and fill in the weekly plans from it. So, while it take more time upfront it saves me time in the end.
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