Organizing Files for the Week

Happy, Happy Thanksgiving my friends! I hope your day is filled with fun, laughter, and great food!

As a very small way of saying thanks to you today, I have a little organizational file to share.

First, I will be very honest and share a picture of how my table looked a couple of months ago.

Brace yourself, it's not very organized...

and PROMISE you will not pin this image!!!
Ok, I realize it's not the end of the world and please believe me, my table has been MUCH worse but that really is a totally jumbled mess of things stuck in random pretty bins. And I couldn't find anything I needed without an extensive search.

This is why I have to label literally every.single.thing in my room. 

Otherwise I tend to just throw supplies and files into random bins, just to have a clear workspace.

I finally have it under control now, with some new labels and a set of folders...
(see the sunshine all around them, giving them a glow of happiness? That's how I feel when I see my table now!)

I made labels for Monday through Friday and then folders for each subject and part of our day, for each day of the week:
This lets me file work ahead of time (if I'm ever lucky enough to be ahead of schedule!!)

and keeps everything filed away for the day, without looking cluttered:
The best part? 

If we don't get to an activity, or it must be extended to the next day, I just move the folders on down.
I have two additional bins, for Assessment Papers and Important Forms as well:
The Important Forms bin holds folders for permission slips, book orders, popcorn orders, goal forms, class lists...anything and everything I could think of to keep filed away.

I've had the bins set up like this for a couple of months now and everything is just where it should be. Now I can find my files very quickly, even at those really hectic times (which is all the time during our day, right??)

In case you would like to try this kind of system out, I do have the labels above to share, just click on the image below to download:

I hope there are some who can use this out there! And I hope you have the happiest of holidays...thanks so much for stopping by :)

Color-Coding Google Docs Folders

I swear, I have always loved color-coding. But this year?

I have gotten totally carried away with it!

I have all of my subjects sorted by color...from the signs, to the labels, to my students' notebooks, and yes...the madness even stretches to my Google Docs for school.

My district signed us all up for district Google accounts this year and it has been wonderful...but a little hard to organize first.

That is, until our lovely Health teacher told me about color-coding the folders! (thank you--even if you don't ever read this!!)

So here's how you color-code the case you didn't know (like I didn't, until semi-recently).

Click on the Create button and choose a New Folder:
Select the sad, gray little folder:
Then click Change Color from the More menu:
And that's it!

And, because I'm completely type-A (but you knew this long ago!) I had to number my folders when naming them, so they would be in order of my schedule for the day. :)

It's a little thing, but it really helps when you are on the fly during the school day and need to find things fast! I hope this helps, if you didn't know it already!!

Will be back tomorrow to share some new, reusable anchor charts my students and I are using this year...wait 'til you see how UN-type-A I had to be about these charts!! :/

Do you use Google Docs for your classroom documents?

What's the Word? (and incredible online dictionaries!)

Hello, my dear friends! I am taking a break from lesson-planning this afternoon to share a few resources I have made for my students for their homework assignments, along with some wonderful online dictionaries we love to use in class.

First up...What's the Word?

So. As part of our Daily/Weekly Homework Assignments, my students must complete the usual spelling sentences and definitions. I feel it is extremely important to know the meanings of our weekly spelling words...but, if I am to be completely honest, the basic sentence/definition format is feeling a bit stale.

As part of our morning work in class each day, my students complete a word analysis sheet, analyzing one of the words from our Morphology Dictionary in depth (definitions, part of speech, synonyms, antonyms, and more). They really enjoy analyzing the words in this way and we have wonderful discussions about their meanings and related words during morning meeting.

So I decided to use this kind of format for our homework as well. My students will be given a What's the Word? sheet for each night.

Here's an example of how it will be filled out:
The "prefix, suffix, root" and "make the connection" part will be completed with our Morphology Dictionaries...this is an important way for my students to understand the meaning of these words, as well as make connections to other words with the same affix or root.

If you would like to use this file for your class, I have it available in Google Docs, just below. I also included a different version, with a place for an illustration instead of the affix/root connection, in case this works better for you.

Please click on the image below to download this file:
Next up...some incredible online dictionaries!

I have long been a fan of's this online dictionary that has different reading levels to choose from when looking up words:
I have this dictionary linked up on our Classroom Website and my students use it every day during our word analysis in the morning--it is such a great resource!

So, needless to say, I was ecstatic to learn that Wordsmyth was offering a new dictionary edition as with visual and audio!

The Wordsmyth Kids Dictionary is perfect for my newcomer English Language Learners!
It offers a ton of words, along with audio and images for many of the words:
I just love how I can differentiate the definitions for all of my students, so they can access the meanings at their particular levels :)

I really hope this was of some help! Do you have some favorite word resources to share with us?

Thanks for visiting!

Clipart by Miss Tiinna at

Meaningful Word Study...thanks to Morphology!

One of my absolute FAVORITE things to teach each week is Word Study. Words have always fascinated me...their origins, their meanings, their power when used in speaking and writing. And, I've found over the years, it's really easy to get 5th graders excited about the power of words as well!

Which is why our Morphology Dictionary is the heart of spelling and vocabulary learning in our class.

My students use this dictionary with each new set of words we study. They just love to find common affixes and roots, as well as learning their meanings. I love how I am able to create high-level, meaningful, and differentiated word lists for my students each week.

And it's really easy to do!

I start each new unit by looking over the content we will be covering for the week...especially in Science, Social Studies, and Math.

I find all of the key vocabulary we will encounter during the week:
and find affixes and roots to support these words from the Teacher Word List resource that comes with the student Morphology Dictionary:
(there are over 7,500 words to choose from in here, so I can usually find some words to connect to our learning for the week!)

I check off the words I'd like to use and create a list for my upper-level group first (this is usually a 25 or 30 word list). This word list will be used for a spelling test on Friday, as well as a vocabulary test every couple of weeks.

After creating the first list, I eliminate some of the more complex words and create subsequent lists for my 20 Word and 10 Word groups:
I work with a very diverse population of 5th graders and we always, always say how everyone learns the material they need. But what I love the most is that we all learn the same thing, just differentiated for our needs.

So, each Monday, students receive their new list, pull out their Morphology Dictionaries, and start identify common affixes and roots they see within their lists. 

We share out our findings on the document camera and highlight those affixes and roots:
Next, we record them in our Morphology Dictionaries:
On our word list sheets (which the students take home to study) we record any prefixes, suffixes, and roots we've identified:
as well as their meanings, as found in our dictionaries:
This is my second year of using our Morphology Dictionary and it has truly transformed the way my students approach words. They think deeply about their meanings and make connections throughout the week...nothing warms my heart more than to hear "hey, this word has the root 'pop' like population!". It is the best :)

If you are interested in the spelling sheet we use, you can download it and customize it here (it's in a Powerpoint format):
If you would like to read more about the Morphology Dictionary, you can see it in store (at a discounted price) by clicking the image below:
Thank you so much for visiting! Up next, classroom tour!
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