New Year's Writing Project

I didn't think I would be posting again until the new year. But I had an idea for my class that I was eager to share with you.

When I start a new idea, I get a little out of control. One minute, I'm calmly drawing something up on my computer (I use a design software called Fireworks). Next thing you know, I'm printing out templates, cutting papers up, and my work area is a total mess in about 2 minutes flat! I'll deal with that later though.


Label Organization

I wanted to use this post to share a few labels I've had stored over the years. In January, I'm looking forward to sharing my classroom library book box labels.

For now, I have some assorted ones that will hopefully be of use in your classroom or perhaps for a colleague.

The labels in the image to the left are primarily for math, with a couple of supplies as well. I made these labels to fit on those Sterilite drawers I am so fond of!

Important Files Organization

Yesterday I said I would talk more about the organization of my important teacher documents. My files for different lessons and units are in drawers, but the important documents are kept in binders on my desk.

I have one binder specifically labeled "Important Documents" for anything that I need to keep close by.

New Student Organization

My students come from all over the world--and can show up at any time! I know that we all get new students throughout the year and I wanted to share something new that has helped me greatly this year.

I grabbed this crate at the end of the summer on clearance. I filled it with everything a new student would need when they first arrive...the stuff I'm usually scrambling around the room to find!

Here are some things I've included in the crate:

Homework Organization

So the blue baskets I got for my students' desks have been really useful in other parts of the room as well. I used them to make a sort of homework station by our Homeworkopoly gameboard. I have a basket for Reading Logs (I check them off each morning), Spelling Homework, and Math Homework.

Desk Organization

I was inspired to do this by many other teachers out there on the Internet. I spent a lot of time researching the best plastic storage available. I finally decided to splurge on these baskets. I'm so glad I did this, as they have held up really well to the wear and tear of daily use.

Supply Organization

Our class shares community supplies. I keep these supplies in small baskets from the Dollar Tree (I bought these baskets a few years back). The baskets are stored in an easy-to-access location, by the front entrance to the classroom.
There are four baskets for each type of supply. I put plastic cups inside the baskets to keep the markers, colored pencils, crayons, and scissors standing up. The students keep these pretty organized and I find I only have to replace the colored pencils and crayons a couple of times over the year. I don't mind this at all.

DIY: Homemade Black Pocket Chart

I am always on a quest for something and this summer was no was the elusive black pocket chart. I needed the pocket chart for our Daily 5 rounds (actually Daily 3 in our class). I really wanted black, rather than a primary color, to tie in with our classroom color scheme. Plus, I wanted the choice cards to really stand out.

After much searching around on the Internet, I finally started to give up. Then, by chance, I was struck with inspiration in Target when I saw these business card holders. They were the perfect size and I loved how they had the black strip at the top. I decided I would hot glue the black strip on a black sheet, like this one. I believe I paid about $8.00 for a single panel.

Homework can be fun with...

In our class, one of the most anticipated activities each week is Homeworkopoly, which you can learn more about at This is the only reward/incentive system I use in class. This summer, I adapted the gameboard to meet the needs of my class and to match our room. There are two files if you are interested...

Book Bags

One of my many quests this summer was to find the perfect book bag for Read to Self during Reader's Workshop. Thanks to the help of a colleague on Proteacher, I came upon black bags at this site. They were affordable and a good size for our books in class. My students keep about 8 books in their book bags after each book selection. These bags have worked well for both picture books and chapter books.

Math Vocabulary Cards

I made some vocabulary cards over the summer to go with the Everyday Math units. These picture cards tie into the vocabulary for grades 3, 4, and 5, as I'm often looping with my ELL classes within those grade levels.

I put the cards into a Word document, so the pictures can be resized. This has been very useful as I have been able to make the images pretty small, to fit on a page of notes for our interactive math notebooks.

Tutorial: Customizing your blog header

I made my header with Thistlegirl graphics, using a design software I've had for years.

It wasn't hard to put the header together, but it took a bit of time to find the right size so it would fit on the page nicely.

To change the header, you must go to this screen on the Design page

(this image shows my site title with the word "Header" in parentheses).

All you need to do now is to upload your image and choose "Instead of title and description" under Placement.

If you choose the Ethereal template, as described in Making your blog look more like a website (Part III) , the header will need to be 904 pixels, to fit neatly at the top of the page.

Tutorial: Customizing your blog background

First, you will need a small background image. You may have already purchased graphics that have a background image, or you can design your own. I made my background image in Fireworks, but you can use any image-editing software to do this.

I kept the image small and simple, as it will repeat many times in the background of your blog. This image is 125 x 125 pixels. Next, you will need to upload your image to a file host, such as imgur. Once you upload your image, you will get a screen that gives the code needed. Keep this screen open, as you will need the code for the next step.
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