Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Best Back to School Tips, Blog Hop, and Giveaway!

I've teamed up with some great TPT friends to blog about our favorite activities, organizational ideas, and teacher fun!

The best part is that each of us is giving away a $25 TPT Gift Certificate!  You can enter at the bottom of the blog post.  Lots of different ways to enter to win before the next big TPT Sale!

That first day of school is a whirlwind of CRAZINESS!  If everyone gets feed and home the right way it is a SUCCESS!

To get the kids settled for a few minutes and give me a chance to breathe, we make About Me Banners. When I first tried them I let the kids design them by themselves and it never seemed to turn out the way I had thought.  I always seemed to have one crying because they couldn't think of anything to write and another that had cut their banner into 1,000 tiny pieces.

Being the OCD teacher that I am, I created a template for them to use.  It has been a HUGE lifesaver for me.  I project it on my board and fill it out so they can get to know me a little better. Then I give everyone their copy and they go to work.

The banners look adorable in the hallway after the first day and are a favorite memory in our portfolios at the end of the year. The kids are always so amazed at how much better their handwriting is at the end of the year.

You can download this activity for FREE from my TPT store.  Just click on the picture.

My favorite classroom game is SKITTLE MATH!

State testing is just part of life....  like it or not!  So we do test prep all the time and for math we play a very simple game....


Just use any test prep you have, dry erase boards, and Skittles!  Just project one question at a time and have the kids write their answers on their board.  Move around the room and check their work.  If they are right, they get a Skittle.  Because test prep has lots of different levels of questions, everyone gets a BUNCH right!

I made these fun jars this summer so that I didn't have to keep the Skittles in a ziplock bag this year. You can download the labels by clicking on the picture.

I hope your kiddos enjoy them!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

You can enter for the giveaway starting at 10 a.m. on July 27th.
The blog hop will end on August 1st at 11:59 p.m.
The WINNER will receive their $25 directly from me on August 2nd.

Want to enter to win more?

Just click on the link and enter to win another $25 TPT Gift Certificate!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Shopping for the new YEAR!

Like or not....  the new year is approaching.

Tomorrow I will get to return back to my room and begin setting up for the new year.

My teaching BBF and I have done some shopping and I don't think anything makes a teacher happier than new plastic book bins.  WE BOUGHT A TON!

Today I hit Cost Co and got a bunch of things to start the year off right.  Who doesn't love a pretty new pen?  I also decided to try a package of furniture pads to put on my student chairs.  I hate how fast the floor gets all messed up.  My son is helping me tomorrow and he will be so thrilled to get to put them on the bottom of the chairs.  All of this for less than $45...  Thank you Cost Co!

This summer my son had the honor to play for Team TN.  He spent time at the University of TN training in their amazing facility and then traveled to Kentucky to play at Western Kentucky University. He was treated to the full college football experience.  One of his favorite parts was staying in a hotel the night before the game.  The best for me was that several family members that haven't ever seen him play made the trip to Kentucky to see the game.

I'm a worried mom...  I admit it.  I wasn't willing to just drop Jackson off at University of TN and come back to Memphis.  We stayed in a hotel and attended as many practices and events as they let us.  So we had a lot of down time and my husband found some of the best teacher stores ever!

All of these books cost me less than $40!  I have a huge other stack that didn't make it into this picture.   McKays Used Book Store is a gem!  If you live anywhere near Nashville, Chattanooga, or Knoxville, you have to check it out.  Lots of books that are less than a $1!  The other amazing find was the Habitat for Humanity Thrift Store.  The books were 10 cents!  Yes, you read that one right!


I have made myself a promise.  I am going to level my HUGE classroom library before the kids come back.  I've made book bin labels and laminated them.  I create stickers with the level number on them and have even done all the stickers for the books I bought over the summer.  Tomorrow I will begin to make this promise come to life!  Check back to see the pictures and a link to download all of the organization pieces.

Happy Teaching!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Reflection of 2015-16!

With only a few days left I began that ever so UNPOPULAR task of packing up my room.

As I was taking things down and packing boxes I started to think about what went right this year and what went WRONG!

First the RIGHTS....

I did much better organizing things this year!  Everything had a place and I threw anything away that I didn't use in the last year!  HUGE ACCOMPLISHMENT!

We did MUCH more writing.  We wrote every single day about the books we read and what we were doing in math.  I could see huge progress in their writing skills as we put the finishing touches on our writing portfolios.

Some of my favorite writing prompts....

Pick a character in the story.  What did you like about him/her?  Is there anything you would change?

What was the BEST thing we did today?  (or if it was Friday - this week?)

How can you solve this math problem?

What is something that you are wondering about?

What is something that you are noticing about your learning?

I created a Focus Wall.  Each week I hung 2 anchor charts that highlighted our BIG skills for the week.
It really helped the kids focus on learning the skill and they referred to the chart during our lessons.  I used a big bulletin board - covered it with fabric and border.  Above it I made the words - Focus Skills...  And that was it.  I didn't get a good picture before I took the room down, but I will be sure to get one for my class reveal.

We focused on understanding numbers in depth!  This was a goal for me.  We worked every morning on ripping a number apart.  It was a random number each day, but we worked it over with fact families, place value, number lines, arrays, and writing story problems with it.  I can tell that it made a difference when I listened to our last math task of the year.  The way the discussed their ideas and the use of so many different strategies let me know it was time well spent.  We used my Number of Day packets and the only thing I am going to change is that I'm going to make them over the summer this year so that I don't have to make them each grading period.  Anything to save time during the year.

My school is HUGE into AR.  I did terrible with it in the past, so it was a goal this year.  We kept track of our progress on our board and moved our pieces every Friday.  We did AMAZING!  So much improvement over my past years kiddos.  We had a BUNCH that made it to 100 POINT CLUB!  I haven't had any in years....  HAPPY TEACHER!

Point values to 300!  
 A sweet buyer asked to points from 1 to 10 to help her lower kiddos.  I'm going to add these to my board next year so they can move a little faster.  

We built a better sense of community.  These kids really do care about each other.  One of my kiddos has been with me for two years.  It was hard to say goodbye to all of them, but especially hard to say goodbye to him.  He has made so much progress over these two years and I will truly miss his sweet little face each morning.  Something tells me that he will sneak down our hall every now and again!

Now for the WRONGS!

I didn't use the Remind program this year.  I wanted to try good old email....  EPIC FAIL!  If you haven't used Remind yet, sign yourself up now!  Texting parents reminders is so much easier than running to the computer and sending an email that you hope they read.

Reach students and parents where they are.

Send quick, simple messages to any device—for free.


My class library was a DISASTER!  I've already begun researching some new ideas and when we go back it will be organized leveled and BEAUTIFUL!  I'm going to divide it into leveled bins.  On each book I am going to put the AR quiz number, level, and a colored sticker to keep them organized.  I can't wait to post the pictures.

My biggest wrong....  enjoy the kids even more!  It is so easy to get caught up in paperwork, curriculum maps, and all the crazy stuff that you forget why we do what we do.  We love kids!  We care about our kids!  We want the best for them.  So my number #1 goal.....  enjoy my kiddos even more!

I hope everyone is enjoying SUMMER VACATION!  Time to recharge and get ready for the best year ever!

Happy Teaching!