Tuesday, June 26, 2012

White Board Erasers

As I was out and about, I found these cute car wash sponges on sale at the drug store. I thought they would make really fun white board erasers. I bought three colors to match my classroom for just $2.50 a piece. After I purchased them, I realized I needed new student erasers. Each year I purchase cheap sponges from the grocery store or dollar store, and I cut them in half. The students keep these with their dry erase boards, and they work great! I usually replace them once during the year because they start to look dirty. I hope these inexpensive and cute ideas are helpful as you prepare for next school year :) 

I also had to share... I just got back from a girls trip to Florida with my sister and mom. Although we got caught in tropical storm Debbie, we had a WONDERFUL time. I hope all of you other teachers are taking time to relax with your families over the summer! Check out the beautiful view from our room :) 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Random Classroom Organizational Tips

   So...basically there isn't an easier or better way to say it....I'm pretty much anal retentive when it comes to organization in my classroom.  I'm pretty particular about how things are organized, and I am always looking for ways to be more efficient, so here are a few organizational things that have helped me stay organized and SANE in a classroom of 20+ first graders! :)
 TIP #1:  Extra/Missing Crayon Organizer

  Never hear, "But I don't have a (INSERT COLOR HERE)!" again....  When a student finds an unclaimed crayon on the floor, he or she automatically puts it in the crayon organizer (two 5-drawer sterilite containers from Wal-mart labeled with each color).  Then when a student realizes he or she doesn't have a certain color, they know NOT to come and tell me!  They go straight to the crayon organizer and pick out their missing color from the appropriate drawer.  To the right I also have an organizer for extra glue tops and dry erase markers (when a marker or glue stick dries up, I take the top and put it in here) so when a student can't find a glue top, there are extras!

TIP #2:  Individual Student Water Bottles
    The school I was at previously was a brain-based learning school and they provided water bottles for all the students, because research shows that when the brain is sufficiently hydrated, students have better attention spans and are more productive and alert! The school I'm at now does not provide them, but I got so used to my kids having them every day and not having to get up and down to go to the water fountain that I just buy them myself now! The students fill their bottles up in the morning when they come in, and I send the bottles home with a parent to be washed on Fridays.  Then the parent sends the bottles back to school on Monday! I got these blue bottles at Wal-mart for 98 cents apiece for my kids this past school year, but for this coming school year I found some cute green BPA free bottles at the Dollar Tree that I like even better for $1.00 apiece. LOVE THEM!

TIP #3:  Organizing Computer Files 

One thing that has helped me tremendously to keep my files organized, is grouping everything by unit.  Whether I find it online, purchase a unit on Teachers Pay Teachers, or make a resource myself....I put it all in a folder with that unit, so when I am teaching it the next year it will all be there.  I usually keep a Math folder, and an ELA folder, and a Science/Social Studies/Holiday folder with tons of subfolders all titled with the name of the unit I used that resource for. It has been a great system!              - Beth


Friday, June 22, 2012

Dominie/DRA Reading Level Tracking Chart

     If you teach K-2, it is probably safe to say that you are tracking your students' reading levels  throughout the year in some way.  At my school we teach balanced literacy, so we use the Dominie benchmarking assessments (running records).  If you are familiar with DRA reading assessments, they are very similar to Dominie, they just use a different scale for the reading levels.  But whether you track your students reading levels with the reading scales from Dominie, DRA, Fountas & Pinnell, Reading A-Z, etc.....it is a very good idea to keep a chart that is visible to you as the teacher so you can group students and make informed decisions about student instruction at a glance.  In the Dominie benchmarking system, students are supposed enter first grade on a level 2 -3 and leave on a level 7. So for this chart, I divided the levels that students must go through in our entire first grade group into 4 different color bands on my chart.  The Red is Levels 1-2B, Yellow is Levels 3 - 4B, Green is levels 5 - 6B, and Blue is Levels 7 - 9 (because 9 is the highest we can test students before 2nd grade). 
     At the beginning of the year, I put students names on a little crayon cut out matching the color of the level they started on.  So for instance if "Lily" comes in to my class in first grade on a level 2B, she would have a red crayon.  But if "Tim" comes in on a Level 3A, he would get a yellow crayon. Then, as I assess students throughout the school year, I move their crayon up as they move to a different band of reading levels.  So basically, the purpose in not using all the same colors for the little crayon name movers is so I can see who has made the most growth over time.  So if at the end of the year I have a student who had a redor     yellow crayon but is now in the blue band, I can see that he or she made a TON of growth!  
     Some teachers feel differently about whether or not students should be aware of their own reading levels.  If you don't want them to know, then put the chart somewhere where only you can see it. If you want to use the chart for student goal setting, etc. you can display it out in the open.  Or another idea is to not put student names on the chart, but use numbers instead so you can keep it out in the open, but no one knows whose number is whose.  - Beth
                        Click the picture to download a FREE copy of the Reading Level
                     scales for 1st Grade to make your own Dominie OR DRA tracking chart.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Classroom Supplies Organization

      Summer is going by so fast!! I can't believe it!  My husband and I just celebrated our 1st anniversary yesterday.....yay!  We had a great time eating our wedding cake and thinking back to all our fun wedding memories.  Anyway...now I've kind of taken a break and taken care of "home" stuff and am ready to get back to thinking about school!  

     One of the things that I think all teachers have a strong opinion about is how they organize their classroom supplies.  EVERY teacher does it differently it seems, and different systems work better for different people.  Over the last 4 years of my teaching, I have found that doing community supplies works FAR better for me, minimizes organizational issues because supplies are stored out in the open and not tucked away in individual student pencil boxes or desks, and I am able to easily monitor when supplies need to be replenished, etc.  Up until 2 years ago, I had bought several different materials organizers, none of which I LOVED....  so finally during my 3rd year of teaching I decided to make my own organizer that met my own needs, and this organizer is what I came up with.  It truly gives me the best of both worlds.  The center four sections has room for supplies that are community (scissors, pencils, dry erase markers, glue, rulers, etc), and the outside sections have individual supplies (crayons or glue sticks.... since some kids are picky about how neat they keep their crayons and glue and don't want to share with others....totally understand!!).  To make the organizer, I bought craft wood from Hobby Lobby/Michaels and cut it using a small saw, then glue the pieces together using wood glue.  Then I spray-painted them.  They measure 12" x 12". They were time intensive....but if any of you ladies have a handy hubby, I'm sure you could get them to make you some!!  If any of you have other ideas for materials organization, I'd love to hear from you!!
     - Beth

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Summer Project ONE

I just got back from traveling to see my niece's dedication at church today. I just LOVE being an Aunt! I can spoil my two nieces all I want, and then send them back home. :) Anyway, I worked on my first summer project this afternoon. I always have a list a mile long of "Things to do before schools starts back." Anyone else make one of those lists?? Well, I know I won't make it through everything, but I did finish one thing. :)  I have been trying to think of a way to display the standards in my classroom. My white board gets filled up with Essential questions, I Can statements, Standards, etc, so I made these cute little signs to hang where you just slide a print out of the standards in the sign.  

I actually laminated a sheet protector on the sign. I then used a razor blade to cut where the open side of the sheet protector was. The top layer of the sheet protector will stick to the lamination, so its SUPER STURDY and EASY TO SLIDE in new standards as often as needed :)  I plan to print off all the standards and keep them in a notebook right next to my display so I can easily change out the standards throughout the year. I can't wait to find a cute place to put them up in my room! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Favorite Fonts Linky Party

We are so excited to join our very first Linky Party with Natalie at Teachery Tidbits!  Her Linky Party is about favorite fonts, which is something we also LOVE to use in our educational resources and units.  Here are some of our very favorite fonts!  Click the picture above to join Natalie's Linky Party. You will get some great ideas for new and different fun fonts!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Common Core Galore!

As I started thinking "How am I going to start implementing these new common core standards into my classroom," I realized that I needed to make new math tubs/centers for my flexible groups. I designed a unit of EASY TO USE games based on the standards for Numbers and Operations in Base 10. Last year I spent hours cutting and laminating games (along with many ink cartridges), so I decided to create games that were PRACTICAL and PURPOSEFUL :) All you need to do is print these recording sheets and provide your students with basic classroom/home supplies such as base ten blocks, dice, dominoes, popsicle sticks, buttons, etc. Your students will love these HANDS-ON games and so will you because they are all READY TO GO!

I can't leave this post without saying a big THANK YOU to my blog partner Beth!! My old computer can act crazy sometimes, and she helped me re-format a few items and added some extra borders and designs to make the unit super cute. I am so thankful to have a wonderful teaching partner, co-blogger, and FRIEND :)  

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Common Core Math Assessments

I have been on summer vacation for 2 weeks here in Georgia!! Wahoo! So now that I have relaxed, it's time for a little common core planning :)  I know some of you have already started teaching with the common core standards, but I will be working to implement them into my classroom next school year. I have created a few UNIT ASSESSMENTS for math that correlate with the common core standards. It's not exactly how I would normally organize units, but I created them to follow the CCGPS (Georgia) curriculum map and units. Hopefully this is helpful for some of you! Enjoy your weekend :) 

Click on the links below to check out the units! Let me know what you think.
Unit 1    Unit 2    Unit 3    Unit 4