Remembering names on papers

This was an idea I learned about on Proteacher...I just modified it a bit with different clipart.

I used the highlighter system last year and it worked well for my 5th grade class (it was a big class and there were a lot of forgotten names each day). I laminated the poster to the right and hung it on the wall. I velcroed two highlighters, one on each side of the poster. It worked like a charm for that class.

When best laid plans go wrong

Ok, so this post was originally going to be about the new way I would manage my math workshop (not as exciting as it sounds, believe me). But the pictures wouldn't upload AND I just lost the post completely! Don't ask me how, but I've now taken it as a sign to give up and move on. More about that post tomorrow.

So. This made me think of when things don't work out. This happens to me all the time, but here is one example: my beautiful FLAG Binders. I was inspired to put these together over the summer by the wonderful teachers over on Proteacher and by Jessica Meacham.
It was meant to be a homework management system.

Here's mine. Looks pretty good, huh? I had it all set to go with a homework pocket, a calendar, mini word wall, etc.

The only thing was...I didn't really need it.

My class this year is amazingly organized. They hardly ever forget anything, they have their own folders...they are just the most responsible group I've ever had. Not to mention, our school has Wednesday folders, to take papers home each week. The mini word walls weren't really utilized. The whole thing just felt kind of like a waste.

I ended up repurposing (that has a red line under it--isn't it a word?! I've heard it a million times on HGTV!) them as note-taking binders. It's been pretty effective (more effective than the original plan at least). We take notes each day in Math and in Social Studies and Science. The students take notes on loose-leaf paper (from my special paper holder thing!) and then organize notes in the binders at the end of the day (so I don't have to hear binders snapping open and closed all day. Now the binders are at least being utilized more effectively. I actually like having all of the notes in one binder, rather than a bunch of notebooks too.

What items/plans have you had to change? Please tell me you've had things that didn't work out, you amazing teacher bloggers!!

PS: This post had several problems as well! I think I'm getting off the computer now!

Classroom Library: Finding cheap books

I have to be really honest. I've always admired those teachers who can find tons of cheap books at yard sales...but I've never been able to do that! I swear, I am the worst yard sale shopper! And I've tried, believe me.

Winner of the blog makeover is.... !!!

Sorry for the confusion, I didn't mean for you to think it was being posted at six, I just was closing the contest at six. And now...

the winner is....

Natalie Kay!!

I counted the names (only once, not any doubles) a million times.

Thank you all for participating and congrats to Natalie...I will be contacting you shortly.

Have a wonderful evening everyone! :)

Text to Self Connections

My students are working on a huge immigration project this year--they are writing stories about their journey to America. Because of this, we have a number of books featuring their native countries. We've been reading them together to help prepare the students to write their own stories.

I discovered an added bonus to this project last week...

New look for my blog!

I made a new look for the blog! What do you think? I'm still working out some details right now, but I think it's all set to go.


If you'd like to enter for a free blog makeover with Thistlegirl Designs, please see this previous post and leave a comment! :)

Classroom Library: Cheap way to add books!

Hi everyone! I posted about our Leveled Labels and Leveled Bins over the past couple of days. Tonight I wanted to share how I added even more books to our collection. Well, temporarily at least!

Classroom Library: Leveled Bins

Yesterday I posted about the Leveled Labels in our classroom library. Today I wanted to share how I set up the leveled bins for this section of our library. I'm also going to attach some labels for bins, at the end of the post.

Classroom Library: Leveled Labels

Like many teachers, my favorite part of our room is the classroom library. We spend a great deal of time in this location and it really is the heart of our classroom.

I realize now that organizing our library is a never-ending process...I'm always labeling and adding new books.

Blogger Tutorial: More on making buttons!

Good morning, lovely bloggers. I wanted to make a second part to the button tutorial (see the original post on Customizing your button bar) in order to provide some more information.
So, I started out creating a button from scratch. I have wonderful graphics software that I use for everything (Fireworks). But it's pretty costly so I did some searching around for something similar, but free. And I found it.

Notes to the Nurse

This is something I had actually planned on doing a long time ago, but lost track of time. While updating some of my files this weekend, I happened upon my Notes to the Nurse again and decided to put my idea into action.

This is in effort to save myself the precious time of racing to my desk to grab a pen and scrap of paper to write a note to the nurse. I plan on hanging this small sign right by my classroom door, with a pen attached, so I can just jot a note and send my student on his/her way.

The Word of the Day

I wanted to take a break from my planning and housework today to share something I just whipped up for my kids.

And because it's way more fun to blog than plan or do laundry!

I don't know if your school does something similar, but we have a "Word of the Day" each morning on the announcements. The announcers read the word, give a quick definition, and use it in a few sentences.

Tutorial: Customizing your button bar

If you'd like to have your own customized buttons on your blog, you will need to design your button first. I used Thistlegirl Designs to create mine. I made 6 buttons for my webpage and resized them to fit on my page neatly.

Once you have your buttons designed, you will need to upload them to an image site (such as imgur), which will generate code for your image.

Next, you will need to decide where you would like to place your buttons. I put my button bar right under my header (click where it says Add a Gadget, as shown in the image to the right).

Nameplates for an ever-moving classroom!

My ELL students love any visuals that can help them in their learning, so I have always been a fan of those big, fancy deskplates.

The only problem? Like many classrooms, we work in several different places around the room. From the tables to the carpets, my class is always on the move.

DIY: Dry Erase Storage

I was browsing through one of my favorite teacher catalogs the other day and saw a really nice dry erase storage rack. Currently, our dry erase boards are stacked in a paper basket and it's tough to get them out, as you can see in the image to the right. I reeeeally wanted something like this storage rack from the teacher store, but it was pretty costly. So I rigged up something (not as fancy!) that will work for our class.

Math Games Library, Part II

Hi everyone! Here is Part II (see Math Games Library, Part I) which will discuss the rest of the library: game directions and playing cards.

Game Directions
The directions are mostly for my convenience, since the kids seem to remember them more than I do! I made a binder for each grade level and matched it to the color of a particular grade level basket.

This image show the games for grade 5, listed in alphabetical order. I also listed the basket numbers, to make it easier to find specific games when needed.

Math Games Library, Part I

I mentioned our math games library in Around the Room Organization. This library is for our Everyday Math games. This was part of a summer project and I ended up making game baskets for different grade levels: 2nd (pink), 3rd (yellow), 4th (green), and 5th (blue). In case you are wondering about the photo above, I had removed the closet doors (which were old and falling apart) to free up some space.

Tutorial: Embedding Google Calendar

Happy New Year! In keeping with the holiday, I thought I would write about calendars ones, that is! These calendars are great tools to embed on your website or blog. And, if you already have a GoogleDocs account, setting up a calendar is a snap.

And in a few short steps, you can customize your calendar and let your students and families know about upcoming tests, fieldtrips, project deadlines, and more.
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