Sharing is Caring!

As we all know--it is crunch time! :) I've been in my classroom some working--but I am having to do a lot of it at home. We have a 14 month old and my husband is a HS Band Director...which means he never stops working...even over the summer! So...I get pretty crafty with doing things at home! I just love when teachers share their amazing ideas or great finds--it makes my job easy! Here are a few things I recently checked off my list!

Thanks to Fifth Grade Frenzies I got a great freebie! She was searching and founda freebie on Peace, Love & Learning -It was just what I needed. I have been searching for something to put on my pencil buckets...but hadn't found what I wanted until I saw this freebie! Thanks Ladies! Here is my finished product!

I got the cups at Walmart--they were in the school supply section for $2.00 each...I just like them because they are heavy duty! Then, I just printed out the labels, laminated them...then plugged in the hot glue gun (my new best friend.)  I am terrible with modge podge, and taping just doesn't look near as nice. Hot glue does the trick though on many things! :) Hope you can use these labels, I love them!

Item Numero Dos: Yesterday I was looking at my LONG pinterest list...and printed off these Comprehension Posters!

I love them! I plan on putting the one we are using each week up on the board and we can discuss it! I will also use them at the small group (Guided Reading) table. I did laminate them...I want them to last a while since it took a lot of colored ink! :)

And lastly, I have been reading many people's blogs that have used my idea of the paper organizer!

BUT they of course made it cuter! :) So...I just had to steal their idea and change mine! I also made another one in the process! I think these look much better! Scrapbook paper can heal anything! :)

That's it for now! I have been trying to enjoy every second with my baby before he goes back to daycare in about 3 weeks. Here is a little photo of him. :) I don't usually post personal things on here--but thought you should see the biggest part of my life!

Enjoy the calm before the storm fellow teachers--it's almost that time!


The 411 on SPED in the Classroom!

Will you have any special ed students mainstreamed in your room this year? More than likely...YES!

First and formost--let us remember that special ed/special needs children are just that...CHILDREN! They need love, support, encouragement, and they need to be taught!

Having special ed kids in your class can be challenging, but for the most part--not because of the child. The challenging part is the paperwork, meetings, and modifications. All of these are entirely necessary...I am not saying they are a nusinance...they are a challenge though!

This year, our campus has decided to place all of the special ed kids in one class (in third grade) and have a co-teacher with the classroom teacher (ME)! :) I am beyond excited! I will have about 22 kids (9 of which are special ed). I will also have a co-teacher that will teach along side me! I believe this will be a great new experience for me! I also believe God placed this opportunity in my lap and said..."here--you asked to grow!" As a teacher, we are life long I plan to learn a lot this year! I plan on embracing my ignorance and soaking in everything I can about co-teaching and special education. (check out the "ignorance" link for a great post about "using ignorance" as your secret weapon!)

So...what can I do ahead of time? Well I have grown weary of the acronyms that go along with Special Ed (SPED) but I will use them because...well let's face it, it makes things easier! :)

This past year...I had 6 SPED students in my classroom. I was at an ARD almost every week. I actually look forward to ARDs because I can talk to everyone involved with that child and see what we can do to help him or her! However, I have learned that you must ALWAYS come prepared to an ARD. Bring work samples, reading levels, notes, parent contact info, etc! So this year...I have started a folder on every child in my room (all 22 of them!) But in the SPED kids folders...I have this neat little sheet!
I ran this sheet off on green colored card stock and will fill it out on each SPED child. This is great for the classroom but can also be taken to ARDs...they will ask about current testing modifications...and we all hate those numbers that correspond with the modifications; this is much easier!

I also found this great IEP Organization Kit I did not use all of the sheets from it, but I did run off a few of them for the kids folders! So if you think you might need something like this...go take a look! (It's especially great for ARDs and parents)

The important part is to have all of your information ready at a glance! I have spent a year or two trying to tweak my IEP and ARD organization. I would love just actually focus on the child for a change! So start early--if you know you will have a few of these kiddos. If you do not will soon find out! The information I have given is simple to copy for the child and it will make a world of difference for you as the teacher!

Finally, PARENT COMMIUNICATION! You do not want to meet or talk to the parent for the first time in the ARD meeting. Call the parent often to ensure him or her that their child is doing okay (or what they need to work on if they are not doing okay.) Every parent is concerned about their child, but parents of a SPED child are concerned their child isn't progressing and/or being treated fairly. It is your job as the teacher to inform them otherwise! I make it a goal (at the very least) to contact the parents once every 2 weeks. (Sometimes weekly or daily!) May seem excessive, but it completely depends on the child. I've never had a complaint that I call too much! :)

Again, I will say, I plan on learning A LOT this year about co-teaching and SPED! I am sure I will do another post later in the year (hopefully full of things I have learned!) But for now--hopefully this will help you get started (or prepared) for those wonderful little babies that will come into your classroom this year!


Liebster Blog Award!

Yay! I was nominated for the Liebster Blog award! So I must give props to my fellow blogger The School Potato! Thanks for the nomination!!

Now I believe it is my turn to nominate 5 more people for the Liebster Blog Award! That's easy! I know so many great bloggers!

1. Elementary Safari
2. Peace, Love and Little People
3. Miss R's Room
4. A Bargain Hunting Teacher
5. Leaping into Third

The Rules of the Liebster Blog Award:

Thank the person that nominated you and link them!!

Nominate 5 more people (who have fewer than 200 followers)

Comment on the 5 people you nominated and let them know!!

Spread the Love!! :)


What to do About Your "to do" List!

So as teachers, we all have that ever-growing...TO DO LIST! I spend a large part of my day jotting down things on post-its, misplacing them, then trying to remember what I had written down. Can I get an amen? :)

So I made these this year for my team! I'm pretty excited about them! They are dry erase frames with the "to do list" template already on them. You fill in the rest!

Flash :)

No Flash :)
These can be hung on a bulliten board or put on the teacher's desk! Any way that suits you! :)

Here is the template for the "Things to Do." These were very simple to make! I am kind of a scrapbook I already had some 8.5x11 scrapbook paper on hand!

(This is what I bought, but mine had designs on them...I couldn't find a photo of it though! They sell it at Wal-mart for less than $5!)

Anyway--I just created a template (linked above) and then I put a piece of the 8.5x11 scrapbook paper in the printer--works like a charm! It printed perfectly! (I was thrilled because I haven't ever actually tried to print on it before!

Then I trimmed it just a bit to fit an 8x11 frame! (Frames were $1.98 at Wal-Mart) And there you have it!! I think it will be great for the teachers to put on their desk and jot their "list" on...because we all know...our list is huge!!

Hope you can do this for youself! I just love the way they look, and they are cheap to make!

Writing in the Classroom

I have had many many people ask me to do a post about writing in my classroom. While I do not feel qualified to tell others what the best practices are for the classroom, I will definitely share what I do in my room! It works for my kids, and they LOVE to write! So hang with me...this may be a lengthy post! I hope you enjoy the ideas! Children need to start from Day 1 writing. Writing can come in many forms, it doesn't always have to be journal writing. I encourage note writing, journal writing, letter writing, typing, poem writing, story writing, song writing, ETC! :) Just get the kids writing!

The first week of school, I usually just focus on writing about feelings for the first day of school! The First Day Jitters is great to get them writing. Here is a great link for some questions and a great response to have your students work on; I do it every year and they love it! It's always great to bring in literature to your students writing.

I won't take you week by week through my writing but I will list some great writing things I do in the classroom that the kids enjoy! Let your students be creative and come up with ideas on their own! However, for the first part of the year...students sometimes need a little help! are some prompts I use in my stations and in the classroom. I keep them in a notebook with the below picture as the cover! Cute, organized and easy to run off for the students!

Also I use this Journal Prompt Jar:

I created my own journal prompts on the sticks. Very simple! The students can draw one out if they are having trouble thinking of a topic or if they just want a new topic. You would be surprised though at how many students will think of great ideas on their own! (Encourage That!)

My students write every day, multiple times. They respond to reading, they write journal entries, and they work on writing during station time (when it is their day for the writing station.) But for writing instruction time (after a teach a lesson) my students work on "seed topics" which are just small topics. For example...I hit my brother in the face with a snowball. They write only a few sentences about it. Then we do another seed topic, then another, then another. Our journals are full of them; from there, the students choose one to expand on; this is the piece they take through the entire writing process! Conferencing is a huge part of that process. I want to know where my students are in their process and how I can help! I use these conference sheets:

They work great for the students and they are super easy for me to use as the teacher!

Writing for students needs to be enjoyable, and risk free. They students have to know they can make mistakes. (Mistakes are ALWAYS okay, but we want to learn from them!) Spelling is a huge deal in my classroom. My students have such a hard time with after spending weeks spelling things out loud to students...I finally realized they need to SEE the word spelled correctly! So, how did I fix this?? POST-ITS!!

No more...

Teacher: "aquarium? a....q....u..."

Student: "a....what??"

Teacher: (sighs) "a...q..." get the point.

Students need to learn to use dictionaries, but we work on that in 3rd grade! I do not however want them jammed up on looking things up in a dictionary when I am giving them 10 minutes to write. :) However, if you allow kids to spell however they want...they will continue to do so! The kids will ask me how to spell a word, I write it on a post it, stick it on their desk; they write it in their story, then stick the post it in the back of their journal! The students love collecting words, and they refer back to them later! :) (This is for hard words...not words such as "went" or "then" more like..."aquarium." :) I love using this in my classroom--the kids get excited about spelling things correctly!

(Oh and they love to share the word when I friend has trouble with the same word...very handy around HALLOWEEN! :)

Something New for this Year: As you have probably seen in my last post, I am going to do Whole Class Journals as well this year. I'm excited about this! The students will work on these when they are finished with work or have extra time! The students can also read them!!

Which brings me to my last point--SHARE SHARE SHARE! Have your students share daily!! (If they want.) I never make my students, but I encourage it. Students can share to a partner or in front of the class! Regardless, it's great to have them share their fabulous work! (Then of course cheer for them!)

Writing may seem simple, but it should be a very important part of your students day! Make it fun, and make it often! Stay involved in it, and be interested! Everyone has a story they want to share! :)


Early Bird Solution!

I haven't been teaching that long, but over the few years I have been teaching--I have noticed that when you are blessed with those 22 (sometimes 25) children that will be in your classroom for the year...they come from VERY different homes and they are at VERY different levels of learning. Some of those students can be done in 5 minutes with an activity...while some take the entire time and need a lot of help. (that is okay!)

Be cautious--do not get frustrated with the ones that take a while, chances are they are learning and sometimes they may even do better than the ones that finished quickly. (Because they actually took their time and read carefully.) I also do not praise the ones that finish early--kids want to be praised, but praise them for working hard or taking their time, this will instill endurance, patience, concentration, and appreciation for their own work.

HOWEVER--we still have those students that just can't help it. When they get it, they get it! They are done in five minutes...and inevitably, they come up to you and say..."What do I do now?" So, I was reading a blog of a Kinder teacher and she had a fabulous idea called, "Fast Finishers." I decided to use part of her idea. However, I didn't want to call mine that--fearing that it would instill a bit of praise in just the title for rushing through work.

I've decided to call mine Early Birds. For any one that finishes early; they will look on the board and see what the Early Bird assignment is for today. I simply made a few signs to put on the board, I will just rotate them each day (or even every other day). The students will know exactly what is expected of them. The first week, I will spend explaining these assignments or activities so the students will know where to go and what to do from Day 1. Here are my different assignments and activities:

The students will be allowed to go to the back of the room and play my BOGGLE board. Here is another picture of my Boggle Board. :)

I got this idea from a fellow blogger. :) But the students will go select a class journal and write in it! Here is a picture of the journals! Go visit her link!

This one will not be done as often...but maybe as a reward for great class behavior. :) But the students will not get to go do something "more fun" than the students still working. These will be "by yourself" games at your seat. Such as matching synonyms, homophone sort, etc.

Obviously, the title says it all. I just get tired of telling my kids to "Go read a book." It becomes a phrase that makes the kids feel like they are bothering you. I like this phrase better. :)

You can make any signs you want that fit your class or the activities you already have made. I chose these because I knew they would work for me. Another choice is PUZZLES, I chose not to do that but plan on using puzzles as one of my "GAMES" components.

Be cautious of choosing activities that are "more fun" than what they other students are working on. I am not going to make a big deal out of the EARLY BIRDS--but simply have something educational for them to work on when they finish. My rewards will come for hard work, and taking your time; that is SO important!! Also, in your own class you might want to create a rule for when it is no longer EARLY BIRD time. (For example, when 14 kids are finished, that's not really EARLY BIRD time.) Just something to think about. :)


Reading Responses created by Yours Truly!

Reader's Responses are very important in the classroom. For me, they help me understand what my kids are taking out of the story. Are they understanding what they are reading? If they are, are they understanding the different components of the story? The list goes on...depending on what type of response you have them do.

So, I was in a teacher store the other day, looking for a book of responses that I can just run off for my kids. However, most of them were story specific (I want ones that will fit with any story) and the books were pretty pricey. I already think it's very unfair that teacher's have to pay for their own things to educate children...BUT I won't get started on that. :) However, if it is cheap, I never mind purchasing some things here or there...otherwise, I make them! So...I made a few reader's responses that I think you may find useful! Feel free to click on the links--they will take you to my TpT Store. (If you are not a member, simply create a username--it's free!) Click Download and you are done! mine are completely free--yes, FREE! :)

Here are the Fiction Reader's Responses!

Beginning, Middle, End!

Character, Problem, Resolution!
Somebody, Wanted, But, So, Then!

Here are the Non-Fiction Reader's Responses!


 So hop on over there and get to downloading! :) I hope these help you and your wonderful kiddos!


Station Games 'R' Us!

Back again with another station game idea! This one is definitely more hands on, but I think it will be fun! It can be used with just about anything--but I did mine for antonyms! So I am going to start you with the finished product! Here it is!

I know what you are thinking...what the heck is it? Well it is a matching game--of sorts. :) Start with a $.92 Cupcake tin from Wal-mart and 12 Ping Pong Balls! The Cupcake tins range from $.92-$11.98. Get the cheap one!! You may want to do this for another game as well!

Then get some address labels. I used Avery 5167 (they are tiny) but you can use whatever you have on hand! (Sorry I couldn't turn it in Blogger--but there is a picture of the number.)

Then I just typed up the words I wanted on Microsoft Word! (You could do antoynms, synonyms, math facts, homophones, ANYTHING!) --I also did a set for synonyms and homophones. Then stick one match to a ping pong ball and the opposite to the cupcake tin. :) The labels don't lay exactly flat on the ball, but I tried to write on them and was terrible. If you want to write on them though, that works for some people. I would suggest the labels for at least the cupcake tin--if not both. (They both worked fine for me-just push down the labels on the ball.)

Then...there you have it! The kids match then up and place the ping pong ball in the matching cupcake slot. :)

To take it a step further though...I made an activity sheet for my kids to fill out when they are done. As I have said before, I need a product from my kids. I don't always grade them, but I use them to see if the kids are understanding the skill or not. :) Here is a picture of the simple page I created! Here is the link for it! It is free, of course! Hope you and your kids enjoy this activity!



Got another thing crossed off my list today during Rex's nap time!--I find this is when I am most productive--other times I just want to play with him. :) Or change diapers, feed him, etc. Anyway, on the the point...I got my OBJECTIVES board(s) done today! One for Reading/Writing/Social Studies.

I did the dry erase frames like the ones I had already done in a previous post! I color coordinated them with my classroom though! I was just going to write the word "Objectives" above them once they were hung on my dryerase board but I decided this "Our Objectives" sign was way cuter! :)
Here is a close up of what the top frame looks like. :) I just used colored cardstock for the blue, pink and green frames. Then for the "Objectives" frame I used white scrapbook paper (it had to be longer and I already had some) then I used scrapbook letters!

The frames were $2.56 each at Wal-Mart. They had cheaper ones that would have worked, but I just liked the frames on these! Oh and obviously for the "Objectives" frame it was a different size and shape. (Same Price)

I am going to stick 3M hooks to my dryerase board (they work great) and then hang the frames on those! I have already done this with one of them in my room, it works like a charm! No Nails!

That is about all I have gotten accomplished today! My in-laws are coming over for dinner tonight, so I have been cooking and cleaning. :) I was pleased with how the boards turned out though!

What are Homophones Anyway?

Homophones? (insert puzzled look **here**)

Yes, that is what I get from my kids the first time they hear me say "Homophones." However, it is one of their favorite things to learn! Once they get it--they GET IT! Then you can't keep them from pointing one out ot you when they see it--I love it! :) But what is a homophone anyway? A homophone is a word that sounds the same, but is spelled different and has a different meaning. (For example--Won and One.) I have been on the search for some games to put in centers for homophones and even some fun activities to do in lessons. And can you believe it? I found some! (Big shock? Nah.) But none-the-less, I'm excited about them so I thought I would share!

The Perfect Match

I thought this (it comes with many more pages) would be an awesome book to put together for the kids. (Well, they would illustrate it and put it together) But I love the samples it gives you and then blank pages for the students to create their homophones on!

Cooking Up Homophones

This one has cards and a task sheet that comes with it so the students can cut them out and glue them on the task sheet.

There are 3 more "card" pages, I just didn't want to show pictures of them all. :)

Homophone Baseball

This activity has glove cut outs and ball cut outs for the students to match up!

It also has a little "pocket" task sheet for the students to record their matches.

I am in the process of printing/cutting and laminating all of these for stations! I think my kids will enjoy them! :) I hope these links help you--shocker, they are not on Pinterest! I found these goodies on my own--so get to printing. :)


My New Guided Reading Notebook!

I have been working on a few notebooks to help make my life a little easier! One of them is my guided reading notebook. I decided to "revamp" it this year. Here is the cover I used for my notebook! I wanted to set it apart from my others!

I also wanted to include a system for assessing my students. I came across this Guided Reading Rubric. I highly recommend using this! It comes with the rubric and the student grid for marking their progress. I placed dividers in my notebook (which I will label later) and then behind each divider I placed 3 student grids. (There are six students per grid, so that will be enough per group for about 2 weeks, then I will print more.) It is perfect, there are enough students per grid that one sheet can equal a whole guided reading group! I love having it all on one sheet! Each (of the first 5) dividers will be a group--but I let them name their own groups when school starts--so I will label them then!
Oh and I placed the actual rubric for the checking system at the front of the notebook.
Here is a copy of the checking system. The link above will take you right to it where you can print it off though!

The next part of my notebook are my Reader's Responses for my guided reading table. Now I might use some of these outside of Guided Reading, but for the most part...these are to assess the students knowledge of what we have covered that week. There are a ton of them at the link I listed...but I took a picture of a few of my favs in my notebook! I have a blank page protector in each group's section so I can keep their work (the responses) they complete in the notebook too; this will help me see their progress over time and what they are still struggling with. (The work will not be graded, it is just for practice.)

Oh and I love this cover sheet! :) I put it in a page protector right in front of it's own divider!

I added a few other things as well! I have address labels, I will use these for Rigby's. After a test a student (if he or she moves up) I will write the new information and stick it on my Rigby Record Sheet (over the last information); this keeps me from starting a new sheet each six weeks.

I also placed a copy of this Text Feature Guide in my guided reading notebook.
I will pull it out when we read non-fiction at the guided reading table--and we will go over text features and see which features we can find in our text! I also purchased a set of text feature/non-fiction responses and graphic organizers from here. It was cheap and they are great!! I plan on using some of those as well, I just haven't added them to the response section of my notebook yet!

Again I say, organization is key! I hope all of these links and pictures help and you can do something great that works for you!
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