Editable Holiday Coupons for Student Gifts

Ladybug's Teacher Files: editable holiday coupons for student gifts
Happy Holidays my dear readers! I hope you are already at home enjoying the beginning days of your vacation.

BUT, just in case you are still in school, I am sharing a little student gift I made for my class this week (we are in school on Monday and for a half day on Tuesday).

These editable coupons are designed for the new year and can serve as a nice Christmas gift for your class to use in January...or as a Happy New Year gift to surprise your students when they return in 2015!

These coupons are arranged in a Powerpoint slide. Simply click on each text box and type in the prize of your choice, as well as the expiration date:
Ladybug's Teacher Files: editable holiday coupons for student gifts

As an added bonus, these coupons require no cutting. I just ask my students to store them in their number drawers. As each coupon is used, we just cross it off the sheet.

Please click on the image below to download this file for your class:

If you like these coupons, you'll also love this Valentine's set...click on the preview to hop to that post and download—then you'll already be ahead for 2015 ;)
I hope you can use these files, thanks so much for reading!

Are you still in school this week? When is your last day?

Creating Default Templates in Powerpoint

Creating Default Templates in PowerPoint
 Oh Powerpoint, how do I love thee?

Well, if we're being honest, in many ways...but there are a few I could really do without.

Like those two textboxes that come up every time I make a new printable:

And this default font I NEVER use:

Oh and those horribly-colored tables...
what is with all the different font colors in one table anyhow??
But, like any faithful teacher-creator, I remain loyal to my true love.

And patiently delete textboxes. 
And reformat tables. 
Again and again.

But I couldn't help dreaming...

And it is! Because I have FINALLY learned how to create my own default templates!!!

Would you like to try it out? Just follow the steps below...

  1. Start a new presentation. Select those two textboxes and delete them:

  2. Create a new text box and type anything:

  3. Choose your favorite go-to font (mine's Century Gothic). Then right-click on the text box and choose Set as Default Text Box:

  4. Delete the textbox so you have a blank slide:
    You could save the template now and you'd have the font/fonts you'd like all set to go. But if you like to use tables as well, see the next steps:

  5. Insert a table...I just choose a couple of rows and columns to format, you can always add more in the future and your formatting will already be done for you:

  6. Select the table:

  7. Reformat the colors in the way you would like them to appear in the printable:

  8. Select the table and choose the font, font size, and text orientation you want:

  9. Keep the table selected and click on the bold button twice (otherwise parts of your text may show up in bold because of the default formatting):

  10. Type in each cell, to be sure the font appears the way you would like:

  11. Then delete all the cells. I just placed my table near the bottom of the template. I use tables a ton, but if I don't need it, I will just delete it:

  12. Now to save your new default template. Go to Save As:

  13. Name your template and save it as a .pot file:

  14. Now you can open this template and it will be all set with your fonts and layout:

  15. Once you are finished designing in this template, choose Save As (so  you can rename it and preserve the original template):
And that's it!

I seriously could not be more excited about this! And the possibilities are really endless...you can set up a series of templates for all of the printables you make.

I really hope this was of some help to you! If you'd like to learn more about designing printables with Powerpoint, please see this previous tutorial:

Save Yourself Some Merry Little Minutes...

The holiday season is here and I can hardly contain the thoughts of baking cookies, shopping, wrapping gifts, and spending quality time with my loved ones.
But wait, I’m a teacher.

I don’t have any time for these things.

I have a trillion things to do!! Trimester assessments, projects, grading papers, publishing writing pieces, report cards...the list goes on and on and I can see my holiday festivity time fading fast.

Or maybe not.

Because several of my upper-elementary friends and I are hoping you will join us in sharing a list of ways we can save ourselves some merry little minutes...and free up some time to enjoy the season!

Here is one tip that has helped me so much already this month:

I know that sounds kind of obvious (or perhaps you are thinking I’m a major procrastinator).

But it works.

Take, for instance, report card comments. They’re extremely important, yet extremely time-consuming. 

And our first trimester report cards ALWAYS fall within the middle of the holiday season (mid-December, to be exact!). Every year I find myself spending hours and hours of precious holiday time typing away on comments for two days straight.

So, last year, I decided to break it down:

I write two report card comments every day, starting as soon as I can.   Two is such a modest, UNoverwhelming number, isn’t it?

Here is why I love the two comments method:

It's Quick

I can spend just a bit of time on them each evening and then put them away for the night.
It Adds Up Fast
Though two comments may seem slow, they add up really quickly. Within one school week, I already have 10 comments done!

It's Not Overwhelming
Instead of being faced with the overwhelming task of writing all of the comments in a weekend (and my subsequent avoidance tactics, such as laundry, vacuuming, and other pressing things!) the two comments is oh-so-easy to achieve in one sitting.
It Helps Me Maintain Focus
I know which two students I will be commenting about next. Which gives me all of that driving-to-work, drying-my-hair time to think about my meaningful comments, on just the two students. In all seriousness, this is very important to me. I want to make sure I have given ample time and reflection for each child.

So it sounds simple but it has worked like a charm for me...and I hope it may be of some help to you!

And here's something exciting! Many of my upper-elementary friends are also sharing their time-saving tips on their blogs:
Do you have any tips to share in regards to report card comments? 
Or other times savers? I would love to learn from you!

Thanksgiving Morphology Resources to Share

Happy-almost-Thanksgiving everyone!! We are in school for a few more days and I've been working on a couple of resources to keep my class following the usual routine, while celebrating the upcoming holiday a bit.

And I'd love to share these new resources...as a small token of my thanks and appreciation for you!

First up, I have some special spelling lists planned for the week. These spelling lists focus on four to six different affixes and roots that all have a Thanksgiving tie-in. These differentiated, editable lists can be found in my store...just click on the image below to download:

I also made a little graphic organizer to help students examine one of these Thanksgiving-themed words in depth:

There are places to fill out the usual components...the word, definition, part of speech, a sentence:

There is also a part for students to tie the morphology to the meaning of the word:

As well as a place to create an illustration and make a holiday connection:
(Perhaps I should have warned you first, I am not the best artist!! 
My 5th graders are always kind to me about it though!)

If you would like to grab this graphic organizer, please click on the image below:

I hope some of you might be able to use these resources!
Unless you are already on your break...which leads me to my big question:

Are you in school this week? Or has your Thanksgiving break already begun?

Teachers Thanking Teachers

It's almost time for my absolute-favorite holiday of all! And it's not just because I am totally craving mashed potatoes with gravy already (and that's the truth!).

It's because the sheer beauty of a holiday where we take time to share what we are thankful for.

And you know how thankful I am for all you, right? 

I've said it before and I'll say it again and again...I am so grateful for the blogging community and everything it has done for my teaching practice. I have learned an incredible amount from all of you and I am deeply appreciative.

So, as a way to show thanks, I'm joining several of my favorite upper-elementary bloggers to bring you a little Thanksgiving treat:
For the next two days (today and tomorrow!) we will each be sharing a brand-new product...for free!!
* * This offer is now over, thank you so much for joining in with us! * *

My product is the first in a new series of resources I am working on for my classroom. 

I am extremely fortunate to work with an international class of mainstream students and English Language Learners...all fifth grade. It is a wonderfully unique and exciting classroom environment!

This year, I have a large number of ELL newcomers who are just beginning to speak English. So I have been working on resources to help teach them grade level standards (most recently, the Order of Operations) in a scaffolded way, to help them gain confidence and an understanding of the academic language they will need to succeed:

(click on the image above to download this resource for FREE!)
And it just gets better! You can grab more free resources from these amazing teachers...

Thank you...for your readership, your friendship, and everything you have taught me over the years!!

Notice & Note: Student Bookmarks

Hello my dear friends! I'm stopping by to share a little something I've made for my students...

And I hope it's something your students can use as well!

This past summer I read Notice and Note: Strategies for Close Reading. Have you ever read a book where you find yourself constantly nodding your head and agreeing? Or saying "oh my gosh!! I needed this LAST year!". 

This is one of those books.

The authors, Kylene Beers and Robert E. Probst have identified six major "signposts" we see so often in children's/young adult literature. From "Words of the Wiser" (where an older character offers advice to the main character) to "Aha Moments" (where the main character suddenly realizes something important)--all of those key moments in a text that our students tend to breeze right past while reading.

At each signpost, students learn to stop and ask themselves a key question. These questions are designed to help students make inferences, determine theme, discover the conflict, and so much more.

The best part?

It is SO simple. Six signposts. Six questions. Yet applicable to all student texts.

The students catch on very quickly and begin to make signpost observations and ask these questions right away, thanks to this simplicity. And it makes it so easy to start "creating a habit of mind" as the authors say, to help students notice and read closely in all texts they encounter.

My 5th graders and I have been going through the introductory lessons so far and I'm looking forward to sharing much more as we learn to read closely together.

Today, I wanted to share the bookmarks I'll be giving my students this week...please click on the image below to download them:
(there are two versions...I'm using just "Contradictions" in my class, but I included the "Contrasts and Contradictions" bookmark as well)

I also have matching anchor chart printables to share, if you are interested in those...just let me know and I will share them here in the next blog post.

Have you read Notice and Note yet? Have you used these strategies in your class? We would love to hear what you have learned!

Inbox Overflowing?

Perhaps this post would better titled as "Confessions of an Email Hoarder" because that's exactly what it felt like every time I opened my school email over the years!

But now that's all in the past.

Thanks to four easy steps, I've whittled my inbox down to one of the most beautiful sight a teacher can behold:
And though I know there are so many of you who are way more organized than I am, I wanted to share what has worked for me...just in case there is a fellow email hoarder out there ;)

Step One: Answer Anything You Can Immediately
If there's any email I can respond to right away, I do. I scan my inbox for parent and administration emails and take care of those quickly. 

If I answer emails from my administration or colleagues right away, I delete them. This clears a lot of mail very quickly! For parent emails, well, that leads me to the next step...

Step Two: File in Folders
Folders are wonderful for all of those emails you would like to keep throughout the school year:
I have folders set up for parent emails, assessment information, EL student information, professional development, and more (as you can see above).

This keeps my inbox empty of those emails I don't need right at the moment, but will need in the future.

Step 3: Flag Emails to Answer Soon
What about those emails you don't have time to answer as your students are streaming through your classroom door? 

Or the ones that require you to sit and think for a bit over a cup of coffee on the weekend? 

These are the emails I flag, to deal with as soon as I can in the near future:
(I actually do email myself all of the time, with links and documents to print!)

Step 4: Copy Information in Your Planbook
This is a newer step for me and has quickly become my favorite trick...it has already helped me so much in the few short weeks we've been in school!

As soon as I receive an email with any upcoming events, I add it right to my plan book (I use planbook.com, you can read more about it here: Make a Digital Plan). This allows me to instantly delete tons of emails. 

Band Demo on Monday? Added to my plan book and deleted the email:

Workshop agenda sent by my principal? Copied and pasted right into my plans, deleted the email right away!

And that's it! With these four easy tricks, I have maintained an organized filing system for important emails and an empty inbox which makes me feel SO much more zen. 

What are your favorite tips for keeping up with email? I'd love to learn some new tricks from you!

Classroom Sneak Peek and Desk Plates to Share

I know so many of you are already back to school and I have been admiring your gorgeous classrooms! We don't head back until after Labor Day, so I'm still working away on my room. I did want to share a little sneak peek of what's going on though.

I am keeping the black with brights theme I've had for a couple of years now. There is nothing I love more than fine-tuning a classroom scheme and evolving it a bit each year...plus my students love those colors so I am committed for another year (or more??).

Here are a few things I've been tweaking so far...

New Contact Paper
If  you've followed the blog for awhile, you will know I love to cover my mismatched tables with contact paper. Last year, I went with black paper and it looked really sleek and modern...but in the end it was a lot of black along with my bulletin boards and I knew I would change it up a bit in the future. Here's a picture of last year's tables in black:

The tables in our classroom have about five different wood grains, so I decided to choose the...well...for lack of a better word, prettiest one to use this year! Three of our round tables are a warm, maple color. So I found some contact paper that matched really well at a local hardware store and have been covering all those mismatching tables with a new shade this year. 

Here's a darker table being transformed with new maple contact paper:

New Carpet
I found a new carpet back in June at Target for a nice sale price and I actually purchased two because they are my students' favorite alternative seating (besides our little couch, more to come on that later!). This is a messy-work-in-progress shot that shows the carpet design:

New Library Labels
The carpets actually led to a new library label inspiration. I knew since the spring I wanted a black and white label with an icon look this year... and I tried out a different shape as well. These labels are from my Simply Iconic Library Labels set and they have a regular rectangle shape as well (plus a white with black option):

New Dry Erase Features
I've also been having a lot of fun using dry erase shapes to tie in with that icon-looking layout for my morning meeting area. 

I used my circle cutter to make this calendar, so my 5th graders can write the date each day:
I realize it is still slightly askew (it's that Thursday column!!) but it was about 9,000% humidity the other day and we don't have AC at school...I will fix it next time.

And then I tried to this one look notebook paper-ish...

I have a couple of others I'm working on as well--they've been a lot of fun to make and they really stand out on the black contact-papered boards!

New Desk Plates

I've also reworked our desk plates since last year, after careful observation of how my students (especially the ones who really need these references) use them each day. 

I've always made my multiplication charts alternate colors in columns like this...it really helps students track the numbers with their finger and not get confused. I enlarged the charts as much as possible for the best readability and left a small space to write the name...since it's 5th grade and the name is more for substitute teachers.

I have a copy of the desk plate to share below...please click on the image if you would like to download:
I have tons more to share but I don't think I'll have a full classroom tour until a couple of weeks into September...I hope you'll have a chance to visit the tour then, I feel so behind everyone else!

Are you still setting up your classroom? Or have you been back to school already? Thanks so much for stopping by!
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