Grading Differentiated Spelling Tests

Hi and welcome to another week of Optimum Organization!! Elizabeth and I have so enjoyed reading everyone's ideas and we hope you have as well!

This week, I would like to share how I organize something that can get a little complicated...or at least messy.

Differentiated spelling tests.

During any given year I can have between 3 and 4 different spelling lists going at once. And things can get a little hectic when it comes to Friday's testing and grading.

However, thanks to a multitude of technology resources, it isn't so bad anymore!

Here's my system (please click on any of the green links for more information and files to share)...
    1. I put all spelling lists on Spelling City.
     
    I don't really know where I'd be without Spelling City! This year I splurged and purchased the full license, allowing my students to access the vocabulary games and...
    to test out as well! 

    Oh wait, that's step two...

    2. Students take their tests on their device (we are a BYOD school).

    Which means all of my students, regardless of their spelling list, can take the test at the same time. Not only does this save us tons of instructional time, but it also gives my students an instant score.

    3. Students take the Challenge Words test.
    For this part I do use paper...I like to have a place to record the score to send home to my families. Plus there isn't a way to score bonus points on the Spelling City tests. Unless I missed it.

    4. Students number and highlight their Challenge Words papers.
    5. I sort and grade the papers.

    Once the papers are in number order, I go to Spelling City and record the scores from the tests...

    and add up any extra points from our Challenge Words test.

    6. I enter them in my gradebook (this is my favorite part!)

    I know I've already gone on and on about my favorite app, iDoceo. Well, it just takes a moment to go through the lists (since they are in ordering according to my gradebook) and add the scores...
    (that's just a sample page for the visual)

    And that's it! It looks like a lot of steps written out but it takes very little time.

    The best part? Even though I'm sorting through a lot of differentiated work, this system allows it to be quick and easy for me and, more importantly, for my students.

    Would you like to link up with us? Elizabeth and I would love to have you join in the organizational fun!
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    Now on Bloglovin!

    Good morning! I wanted to take a moment to let you know I have joined many of my blogging friends on Bloglovin. If you would like to read my blog there, please click on the link below... 

    Follow my blog with Bloglovin

    Have you seen the app for Bloglovin? My sister showed it to me this morning (thanks Meliss!) and I really like this option for blog reading. Even though I usually have a hard time with change. ;)

    Thanks so much for visiting! I will be back very soon with summer projects I am working on...as we are officially on summer vacation!
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    Optimum Organization: It's All in the Numbers


    Hi and welcome to another week of Optimum Organization! 

    One more day and I am officially on summer vacation! I can't wait to catch up with everyone and their wonderful ideas for keeping things running smoothly :)

    Today I wanted to share one of the top organizational methods that has truly made a huge difference in my classroom. It's neither new or original, as so many teachers have turned to this system over the years. 

    But it did take this teacher 'til her 11th year to figure out how useful it was! 

    It was numbering my students.

    After reading so many great ways of organizing students by numbers, I decided to give it a try last summer. I didn't realize at the time how much I would end up using this system in class this year! 

    Here are some of the ways I've use student numbers to keep my class organized this past year (the green links below the pictures will take you to the original posts and free downloads for each):
    Number Drawers for Student Materials (original post here)

    Numbering and Highlighting Papers (original post here)

    Managing Pencils (original post here)

    I know we always say this to one another, but isn't it funny how the littlest thing can make such a big difference in your classroom?

    I love the numbering system so much, for so many reasons. Numbers are...
    • Orderly: students can be numbered in alphabetical order (at least, until a new student arrives!). Everything can be kept in numerical order and managed by the students. Workbooks sorted by numbers? Not a problem for my class to find their books or to put them away.
    • Easy to Remember: all of my students can be assigned a number and remember it with ease, even if they are a newcomer student just learning English. They remember them better than their teacher, in fact! ;)
    • Ideal for Management Systems: many of my management systems were ideas that evolved later in the year (The Great Pencil Challenge didn't come about 'til this spring, for example). Yet the numbers are extremely easy to incorporate into any system you might envision.
    • Eye-Catching: Ok, so this last one sounds a bit flaky, but it's true! Numbers are lovely design-wise. They don't take up a lot of space on a label and they look nice and uniform throughout the classroom.
    Do you use student numbers in your classroom? How do you use them?

    And!

    Would you like to link up with Elizabeth and I? If so, please join in on the fun below...

    31

    Optimum Organization: Baskets for Everything!

    I am so sorry I am late with this! I have had one of those 24 hour viruses this weekend and on top of that, we are heading in to our last week of school so it has been paperwork galore for me. 

    So, because of the paperwork mentioned above, this is going to be a very quick one for me this week!

    And it's all about baskets.

    Because baskets have really helped me keep things in order this school year. These baskets in particular...
    (from Really Good Stuff)

    I've had them for years and have loved them so much, I picked up new colors to add to my blue last year...
    What I love most about them (besides the fact they are rugged and the colors are great!) is that I can use them in all aspects of my classroom organization...baskets for my paperwork, baskets for my students' paperwork. As long as I have a basket for every aspect of paperwork I can think of, things seem to stay so much more organized (speaking as a somewhat-reformed-paper-stacker...is there ever a true cure for that??)

    Here are the ways I have used them this year:
    • Homework
     (so I had a place for homework assignments as I ran them off)
    • Work
    (where I stored the students' work to be passed out during the week)
    • Assignments
    (this is the place where my students passed in their assignments)
    • Additional Organization
    I don't have a photo for this one, I'm sorry (hate when that happens!). I use any extra baskets for organizational needs that may come up during the year. 

    Most recently, I have set up baskets to help manage the end of the year madness: Assessments, Permission Slips, and End of the Year paperwork. This has helped me keep everything in order during that last rush of paperwork frenzy :)

    If you are interested in those black labels featured in the pictures above, please click here for the free download: My Favorite Baskets

    If you would like to join Elizabeth and I for our linky, we would be delighted! Just link up below...

    Thank you for visiting!
    23

    Storing Those Plastic Bags


     Hello everyone! I'm linking up with Tara for the brightest part of any Monday:
    http://4thgradefrolics.blogspot.com/2013/06/monday-made-it-61013.html
    I tried to keep my Monday Made It simple because we're in our final nine days of school and things are getting busy! 

    So this is a quick and easy storage fix I learned all about from my kind friend Diane over at Fifth in the Middle. You can see her post about Grocery Bag Containers by clicking the green link, hers came out beautifully!
    Fifth in the Middle

    Diane showed us how she converted a canister of wipes into a handy storage container for those oh-so-helpful plastic bags you might have floating around the classroom:

    2015 UPDATE: Plastic bags come in handy when my students need to carry something extra home, when someone moves to a new school, when projects are being carried onto the bus...the list goes on and on! I've now used this container for years and it has been so helpful to have the plastic bags handy.

    I just printed the label (you can find it at the end of this post), laminated it, and hot glued it to the container. Then I removed those extra flaps on the inside (so the bags could slide out a bit easier) and voila!

    I love how the container takes up very little space and I don't have to look at my ugly grocery bags anymore! Now they are all tucked away, ready for use at any moment. Thanks Diane!!

    I have the label all set to download here, in case you would like to use it as well. Please click on the image below for a direct download:
    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2ARzMSbNzXNUFlINkNSTmc4UTA/view?usp=sharing

    And please be sure to check out all the fantastic creations below:
    http://4thgradefrolics.blogspot.com/2013/06/monday-made-it-61013.html
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    Optimum Organization: I Feel Like a New Teacher!

    ...because this is the least amount of stuff I've ever had in my classroom in 11 years of teaching! I can't wait to tell you all about it, but first I will pause to say:

    Welcome to a new week of Optimum Organization!

    If you would like to join in with our summer linky, here are the steps...

    1. Write a blog post about one or both of the following:

    An Organizational Idea
    This can be something that you've used in the past that has worked well, or something you are developing this summer for next year. One idea is fine, as this will be a weekly linky party.

    and/or

    An Organizational Find
    Share a find you scored when out and about shopping during the summer. Bins, binders, folders, containers...any of those items that make a huge difference in our classroom organization and management.

    2. Grab a button for your blog post:

    3. Link on up! You can join the party on Elizabeth's blog or mine...it's all the same party so come on over. We'll be hosting each Saturday this summer!
    4. The Fine Print! We do have a couple of rules for this linky, as shown below. Please note that any links that do not follow the rules will be deleted regrettably.

    The purpose of this linky party is to provide new and veteran teachers a chance to come together and share ideas on how to get organized for a new school year.  Please join us and share your advice and expertise, but not links to products please. Please share new posts in which you are participating in the party, not links to older posts or labels on your blog. Thanks so much for your understanding!

    Ok, back to the cleaned out classroom (well, almost cleaned out!).

    I know I've blogged and blogged about cleaning out and decluttering over the years. Every June, I feel a sense of achievement...like I've finally overcome the clutter for good and that's that.

    Then I come back at the end of the summer wondering, "how do I still have SO much stuff?"

    I think I'm finally figuring it out and getting down to the bare essentials. And I want to share a few things that have worked for me in really streamlining my classroom.

    It Takes Time
    By time I don't mean it eats up all your precious planning minutes, but rather how much time it takes to weed out materials. 

    I started a couple of years back with all of my teaching books and files. I would pull out and donate the ones I didn't want and refile the stuff I thought I couldn't part with. 
    Then I went back through them again. 

    And again. 

    And again!

    I'm finally at the point this year where I look at my books and files and say to myself, if you haven't used it this year at all, get rid of it.

    I am left with very little now. These are the papers I have left to either scan and save on my iPad or recycle...
    I have a small shelf for my teaching books now and all of my files are being saved on my iPad and computer.

    Make the Most of Technology
    I never knew how digital my classroom would become in the relatively short time I've been teaching! My students can bring their own devices to school, we have laptops in class, and then there's my lovely iPad. From file storage to meeting notes to so many other things, it's my iPad that has truly helped me declutter.

    Thanks to all of the wonderful stations we can listen to for free on Pandora (the Film Scores station is a favorite with my 5th graders)...

    I've been able to get rid of my old stereo...
    (it was a huge dust-collector)

    And thanks to the technology of teacher files on Teachers Pay Teachers, I've been able to discard older games I've had for years in exchange for more modern and appealing ones that I can store digitally...

    There Can Be Such a Thing at Too Much Storage!
    You all know how much I adore my plastic storage. I can't even count how many times I've blogged about various items in my room and I certainly don't want to think about how much I spent on them! 
    We all know storage is key to a well-organized classroom. But too many containers, bins, shelves, and all of that...

    Well it just led to clutter in my classroom.

    Of course I can't part with a lot of my storage. But I took a hard look at what I really needed to keep my room sorted. I donated tons of small containers and shelves to happy colleagues...
    ...and tried to just keep the essential pieces of storage my students and I truly need. 

    Again, it's thanks to technology that I can really do this. Instead of storing tons of little game cards for activities I only use once a year during a particular unit, I just print out exactly what I need for a particular lesson and then recycle it when finished. It's stored on my computer and doesn't need to be in my classroom eating up space.

    I have so much more to share about cleaning out my room and I hope to do so in the coming weeks as we wrap up our school year. 

    Do you have some tips to share with us on cleaning out materials? I would love to read them if so!

    Or link on up with us for Optimum Organization...
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    Thanks for stopping by! :)
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    Cleaning & Organizing Signs (Monday Made It)

    Well, I'm afraid this is not a very exciting Monday Made It compared to some things I have planned for this summer...but I do have something that helped me a lot today and I wanted to share it with you.

    I'm linking up with Tara for one of my absolute favorite parts of summer...
    http://4thgradefrolics.blogspot.com/2013/06/weekly-monday-made-it-kick-off.html\
    I have been doing a ton of organizing lately as our year winds down. I know I've mentioned how I'm working very hard towards my goal of a more digital classroom. Because of this, I've been getting rid of a lot of files and papers I no longer use.

    Actually, not getting rid of, but scanning, donating, or recycling!

    That's where these little signs come in! These were a huge help as I cleaned and sorted for two hours after school today (had to take advantage of a slightly-less-hot-than-usual day!).

    I just had to print, cut, then set up areas for each pile...
    After I sorted and cleaned, I used the Free! sign to advertise my items up for donation in the teachers' room.

    I know many of you are out of school, but I would like to share these signs...just in case they can ever be of use. Please click on the image below to download if interested:
    http://sites.google.com/site/ladybugsteacherfiles/Cleaning%20Signs.pdf?attredirects=0&d=1
     
    What are you up to right now? Cleaning, organizing, creating...or just relaxing? I hope your week is off to a nice start!
    13

    Optimum Organization: a Scanning App!

    Happy weekend everyone!! I am so excited to be hosting a new weekly linky party with my dear friend Elizabeth!

    Would you like to join us? 

    Here are the steps...

    1. Write a blog post about one or both of the following:

    An Organizational Idea
    This can be something that you've used in the past that has worked well, or something you are developing this summer for next year. One idea is fine, as this will be a weekly linky party.

    and/or

    An Organizational Find
    Share a find you scored when out and about shopping during the summer. Bins, binders, folders, containers...any of those items that make a huge difference in our classroom organization and management.

    2. Grab a button for your blog post:

    3. Link on up! You can join the party on Elizabeth's blog or mine...it's all the same party so come on over. We'll be hosting each Saturday this summer!
    4. The Fine Print! We do have a couple of rules for this linky, as shown below. Please note that any links that do not follow the rules will be deleted regrettably.

    The purpose of this linky party is to provide new and veteran teachers a chance to come together and share ideas on how to get organized for a new school year.  Please join us and share your advice and expertise, but not links to products please. Please share new posts in which you are participating in the party, not links to older posts or labels on your blog. Thanks so much for your understanding!

    We want everyone to feel welcome to participate! Don't have a blog? Please stop by and leave comments each week sharing your tips with us...we can learn so much from each other! :)

    Here is my Optimum Organization for the week...
     
    Not trying to be dramatic or anything, but I really think my iPad has saved my life organizationally! I know I've told you about my gradebook app and how much I adore that. I take meeting notes on it now. I no longer lose important information. AND! It's all in one place, which I just love.

    I want to continue utilizing my iPad in the best way possible. My latest goal has been to reduce the paper clutter I have accumulated.

    I started working towards this goal last month when I purchased a scanning app called Genius Scan+ (the green link will take you to the app store for more previews...there is also a free version if you would like to try it out).

    This is a cool little app that lets you use your iPad as a document scanner (this isn't a review, I purchased the app awhile back).

    And it's very easy to do...

    Just open the app and take a picture of your document:
     (this is an old snowflake coloring page, just for an example)

    Once you've taken the photo, you will see these orange lines:

    You can drag these lines to select the document to have it scan just as you would like:
    (this allows you to select the best parts of the document...like dragging it past that black copier line on the right hand side)

    Once you have the document selected how you would like, you can hit the Use button on the bottom of the screen, then save the document:

    You can save it in the documents section of Genius Scan+ itself, or choose from other options. I have been organizing and saving my scanned documents in Dropbox.
    This is where the optimum organization part comes in for me! 

    I have been saving documents from meetings with this app. So all of those awesome articles we get at our PLCs? The ones that I, ahem, misplace accidentally every so often (or very often, if I am to be completely honest with you)?

    Well, thanks to this app, I have been scanning them, saving them in a folder, and then discarding the paperwork. I love this because it is reducing my paperwork clutter and I no longer lose any important papers...they are all right there in my iPad. I couldn't be happier with this!

    The only slight drawback to this app is the print quality. 

    Since it is a photo scanned digitally, it does create a less high-quality document when you print it out. I don't mind this however, since most of the documents I am scanning are for professional reading and I don't need to print them. 

    The other documents I am saving are older papers that don't have such wonderful quality to begin with, so I'm fine with the print quality for these.

    We are  in school for three more weeks and I am decluttering paperwork as I get cleaned up. Actually, I should say I am scanning and throwing out paperwork as I clean up. And that, my dear readers, is a wonderfully organized feeling!

    Thanks for visiting and please feel free to link up and share your Optimum Organization for the week!

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