July 26, 2015

Get Everything in Order...Before They Even Arrive

I am beyond excited to write this today! I am joining an inspiring group of upper-elementary friends to share a Back to School Survival Guide. And it is chock-full of tips and resources to help you prepare for a brand new yearalong with a special giveaway (or 22 giveaways?) as well.

I'm hoping to provide some helpful hints you can use, well before your students arrive. I'm also hoping you will be able to share your tips at the end of this post as well, so we can compile a huge list of ideas together!

One of the most important ways I get ready for each new school year is to have everything in order before my students arrive. I realize that sounds fairly obvious...but the fact of the matter is, I don't always have a finalized class list until that first day of school.

And more times than not, a new student or two shows up unexpectedly. How can I set up a well-organized classroom with all this unknown?
Not always having a class list can put things on hold. And I hate to be flapping around the room grabbing materials for the new students who arrive two days into the school year. I want to be as ready for them as I possibly can so I can welcome them warmly. So I prep everything I possibly can in advance...here are my tried-and-true tips for doing so...

Student Name Plates
I am just a little Type-A with how things should look. Have you noticed this? ;) But I've learned to let a few things go for the sake of preparation. For my student name plates, I would really love to have them printed out with a great font. To be ready for a new school year as soon as possible, I print and laminate them ahead of time, during the summer break. Then, once I have my class list, I write the students' names with Sharpies. In order to keep the names from getting erased over time, I use a piece of clear packing tape over the name.
(click here to download this name plate)

Student Materials

Since my students sit together at tables, I like to have materials ready to go for each group, right from day one. One of the best tools for this has been my Student Toolboxes. These toolboxes house all of our community supplies in an organized fashion and are perfect in case students are unable to bring some of these supplies to school.

The toolboxes are also great places to store a folder on back. These are called backpack folders and are top-loading. I attach them with Velcro and they are the PERFECT place to hold papers for the morning, or even different parts of the day. Nothing makes me feel more prepared than having all of my student papers for the morning already passed out into these folders, ready to go. I use this method from day one so I can hit the ground running, even if I have extra students arriving:

(click here to download these table signs)

Numbering the Classroom
This is one of the most important ways I get my ENTIRE classroom in order, well in advance. Numbering students and tables is something I have done for many years now...and I find that I incorporate it more and more into all areas of my room over time because it is so helpful in managing all materials.

Numbers for Group Materials
As you read above, my students sit at tables and are numbered accordingly. We have seven tables and I use numbers to keep all group supplies organized. I number any supply caddies (we use these for art materials):

as well as textbooks for each group. I store them in bins like these (they are the new black ones from Really Good Stuff...squee!). This makes it easy for a student to grab three at a time for the classmates at their table:

I also use group numbers for other supplies, such as science experiments. This summer, I have been compiling many of the basic materials we use in all experiments in those large Ziploc bags (this one is a work in progress). I use labels with corresponding clipart to make things clear, as half my class is comprised of newcomer English Language Learners...plus it's helpful for mainstream students as well:

Numbers for Reading Materials
Using student numbers also helps me get things in order for all of my reading materials, ahead of a new school year. Just as in the science supplies, I like to set up reading bags. I use coordinating stickers for these because they are fast...just slap a  sticker on  (ok, place it carefully so it looks perfect!) and cover with a bit of packing tape for longevity:

I like to use the same stickers to number my sets of class novels, for our read alouds:

Numbers for Individual Materials
If you've read my blog in the past, you'll know I am a huge fan of those Sterilite drawers. We use the extra-wide ones meant for scrapbook materials. Each of my students has two drawers to store their supplies:

One drawer is for math, science, and social studies materials. The second drawer is for reading and writing. I have used a variety of designs for labels over the years, but ALWAYS the same size and layout because it works. The numbers are easy to read from across the room and help my students keep things exactly where they should be.

Everything stored in these drawers has the student's number as well. Math notebooks have a number sticker:

 All reading and writing materials are stickered as well:

I fill all of my student drawers with these materials, ready to go, well in advance of a new school year. This is one major thing that is already done, even before I have a class list. I also stock enough drawers to be planned ahead for any new arrivals...since I have students enter throughout the school year (as I know many of you do as well!).

Numbers for Student Checklists
I am a big fan of checklists. I like to keep track of everything, from taking turns on alternative seating, to which students have passed in a permission slip, to homework checks, and so on. 
I get these checklists ready ahead of time, with the numbers already in place. As soon as I get my class list, I enter the names of my students and I am ready for a year of organization!

I hope these tips will help you with your preparations for a new year, so everything can be put into the right place, as soon as  your students arrive....

If you'd like to try these methods to get your entire classroom numbered and organized, I have all of the number labels above (and a lot more) available in this resource. It has over 1,900 pages of labels in different shapes, sizes, colors, as well as editable checklists. And the best part? Student Number Labels has a  TON of techy shortcuts to help you navigate right to the exact labels you need to print. Please click the image below to learn more:

And now to the giveaway! My friends and I are each giving away two gift cards to Teachers Pay Teachers, to help you get ready for a brand new year:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And there's more...a TON more! Please be sure to stop by these incredible blogs to read their Back to School Survival Tips...just navigate the icons to get you on your way. You can also enter their giveaways for more chances to win those TpT gift cards:

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July 19, 2015

Carson-Dellosa Blogger Summit 2015 (Giveaway)

This winter I had the great fortune of being asked to join several incredible blogging friends for the Carson-Dellosa Blogger Summit for 2015. What is this summit all about? Why, the dream of so many teachers...classroom decorating!!

We were asked to use one of many adorable sets from Carson-Dellosa's decor line:
 ...and set up a mini-classroom showcasing the line!

My theme was Parade of Elephants. And I have to tell you something  about elephants. I absolutely ADORE them! I have all these elephant figurines I collect from different places...they are such a wise and incredible animal. But enough about my love of elephants. Let's talk Carson-Dellosa's elephants.

As an upper-elementary teacher, I was delighted to find these elephants are perfect for a range of elementary students (not too young-looking, just fun!). Each elephant has these beautifully-patterned ears that reminded me of a Moroccan-look, which is so trendy these days.

I decided to use a beautiful gray at the main color in the "classroom", to really let those elephants pop:

One of the best things about the Parade of Elephants set is the variety of elephant cutouts. There are so many things you can do with these cutouts, from decorating bulletin boards (such as this Exit Slip board):

To decorating your teacher desk:

To dressing up all of your plastic storage!

The elephant cutouts were also the perfect little tool to display anchor charts! I glued a clothespin to the back of each elephant, then clipped the anchor chart for an easy way to switch the charts out.

There are so many bright color options with this set, so I did a little bit of color-coding as well. All the orange charts and elephant cutouts for reading information and green charts and elephant cutouts for math (this is also something I like to do in my own classroom...you have noticed I'm crazy about color-coding, right??):

Finally, I used these beautiful pennants that accompanied the elephant set to create a reading genre tree for the classroom library. Each pennant features a genre's name and definition:

I only wish I had more time to spend with these elephants because this set has so many options...the possibilities for decorating are endless!

But here's the exciting part:

YOU may have tons of time to work with this set because one lucky reader will be winning the Parade of Elephants Classroom Set (a retail value of $100)! Please see the Rafflecopter below for more details.

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Open to US residents only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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May 5, 2015

Getting labels ready BEFORE the next school year...

As many of you know, I have worked with the black, white, and brights scheme for several years now (since 2012!). Even after all this time, I still love how the colors pop and they have remained trendy enough to appeal to my 5th grade classes over the years.

I do like to evolve my room scheme a bit each year and add a few new elements into the mix...different posters and labels to change things up slightly. But I always try to do this in a small-scale way, so I'm not spending the entire summer redecorating my classroom.

Which is why I love getting my organizational labels ready BEFORE the next school year. It's actually a very easy process, as I find myself madly spring cleaning around this time each school year!

I start with the toolboxes. I have two for myself and six others for student supplies at their tables. 

I usually don't need to change much with my toolboxes...unless I find I didn't use a particular drawer that year and want to add in a new supply.
 click the photo to see these Editable Teacher Toolbox Labels

The student toolboxes I do keep pretty consistent because they have worked so well for us over the years. The only thing I will be changing out next year is the dry erase marker drawers...I have a different idea for that storage I'd like to use instead. So I will be adding a different supply, to have more options right at my students' fingertips:

click the photo to see these Student Toolbox Labels

Library labels...well I've had SO many over the years that I have loved. I usually change them out at the end of the school year as I weed through and re-sort my library. 

I will not be changing my labels from this year however, as I absolutely love them and they were so easy for my students to read from far away. They kept everything in order and really helped the traffic-flow in our library.

So I will just be adding a couple of new genres from my library resource based on my numerous book purchases this year (Dystopian for one!):

These old labels are in still in great shape. I have found if I print them on cardstock, laminate them, and hot glue them to the bins, they can last for years. And that helps a major part of my classroom to be sorted and ready to go for next year BEFORE next year...always a relief!
 click the photo to see these Editable Library Labels

I might have a lot of library labels in store, but I also have a ton of alphabet lines. I keep my various sets for a couple of years, again printing them on cardstock and laminating them for longevity. We are not allowed to keep things on our walls over the summer, so I always pack them up in order, so they are ready to display as soon as I can get back in my classroom:

 click the photos to see this Alphabet Line

It may not seem like a lot, but by organizing and prepping these labels and posters in May and June, I save myself so much time over the summer...some major parts of my room are already decorated, organized, and ready to go!

If you'd like to get a jump start on your decorating and organizing, now would be the perfect time to stop by my store! All of my decor items are on sale right now. If you are looking for an easy-to-use and customizable resource, my Classroom Organization Bundle features toolbox labels, schedule signs, and library labels (with many editable options to make the exact signs you need for your classroom):
Don't forget to use the promo code ThankYou when checking out for maximum saving! Thanks so much for stopping by...Happy Teachers Appreciation Week!!!

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May 3, 2015

❤ You Are Appreciated ❤

**Winning Name Announced**
 Congratulations Miranda, please check your email!

This is one of my favorite weeks in the entire school year...because it's all about saying thanks to the educators who make a difference each and every day. And there's nothing I love more than celebrating the incredible teachers I am privileged to speak to and learn from every day online...

All of you!

So, as a token of thanks and appreciation, several of my intermediate friends and I are joining together to send a teacher care package to one of you! Each package is unique and all were lovingly made with all kinds of teacher goodies, classroom resources, and a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers.

I am bringing a bit of my classroom to yours in my care package:

What can you win?
A Black with Brights Cursive Alphabet Line, all ready cut and laminated for you:

A beautiful chalkboard sign with a liquid chalk marker (I LOVE these markers!):

A chalkboard bucket (you can really write on it!) filled with highlighters, a pair of scrap booking scissors, and a star hole punch (perfect for marking student work, like those interactive notebook pages you've checked):

A vase of flowers to brighten up your desk (with a coordinating sign):

A container to organize your mentor texts (already labeled for you):

A set of bright chevron cards and envelopes (to match the Consistent Colors Decor Line):

A digital copy of Classroom Organization (over 550 pages, with many editable options):

As well as digital copies of these morphology resources:
And, last but not least, a gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers (just in time for the sitewide Teachers Appreciation sale!):

Would you like to enter? Check out the two easy options for entry below:
(Please Note: Due to shipping, this package is only available for citizens in the US and Canada)

And here's the best part...there are more care packages being given away right now! Please stop by my friends' blogs to check out all of their care packages here: 
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April 19, 2015

Making it Stick (Adhesives that Last in Class)

Have you spent countless minutes carefully hanging your classroom signs, only to find them slowly slipping from your walls?

They're tricky, aren't they? 

Sometimes they seem like they are perfectly attached and then, three months later, you walk into your room to find this:
It's so frustrating, isn't it? And we just don't have the time to keep re-hanging the signs and labels our students (and we) rely on! 

So I'd like to share a couple of adhesives that have worked very well in my classroom over the years. And, believe me, it's a great test site for adhesives. We have no air conditioning and VERY humid weather each fall and spring. And these two adhesives last!

My first and most favorite is hot glue. If I could write a love poem to an adhesive, it would be an ode to hot glue.

Hot glue works very well on any classroom surface that is smooth and shiny, especially those plastic containers so many of us use. If your label is laminated, the hot glue will hold it flat against the container and last through years of classroom wear and tear:
    You know what the best part is?

    When you want to remove the labels, they come off cleanly! Well, sort of. It requires a bit of tugging, but the label usually stays in good shape. The container may have some glue left behind:

    But this glue can be peeled off and the container will be unharmed. The same is true for the back of the label:
    Another adhesive (a newer love of mine!) that works so well during the changing temperatures and humidity is sticky tack (also known as Blu-Tack or Fun-Tak). You know, that blue sticky stuff your students might think is gum.  ;)
    I've been using sticky tack for my anchor charts this year and it has worked so well. None of my anchor charts have fallen, despite temperature changes in our classroom. And this is the best adhesive for moving things easily, so it is ideal for moving those anchor charts to make room for new ones.

    Well, only on a teacher blog could you go on and on about classroom adhesives. Which is really why I love blogging! I hope this was of help to some of you...and I hope it saves you time in picking up signs and labels that have fallen on the floor! 

    Do you have any favorite adhesives you use in your classroom?
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