September 11, 2016

Data Tracking Poster

Recently I posted this photo to my Instagram:

It's a close up of my data wall that I'm trying for the first time this year, and many of my followers wanted to know more, so here you go!

My administration is really pushing for data meetings, data-driven instruction, and data tracking by students and teachers. (I'm sure your is, too.)

Although I know data is extremely important, it can be a lot to manage. The data poster that I'm trying this year was simple to make, and will hopefully be beneficial to both me and my kiddos.

I got this idea from my team leader. I take no credit for her brilliance!

First, I printed reports (STAR scores) that ranked my students based on state standards. STAR provides like a million types of reports, but standards are the easiest to organize.

There are 9 big math standards for 2nd grade, and then we chose the 9 ELA standards that we spend the most time on throughout the year. (This is because 23 standards is too much to chart, and symmetry is a great thing.)

I found an old sticker book that has tons of those little circle stickers. Each row of stickers is a different picture.

I allowed the students to pick a row of stickers to represent them. It actually worked out perfectly that each row has 10 stickers, one for my key and 9 for the standards.

Although the colors are different, the pictures are the same for each student. (Next time, I will plan better beforehand and buy better stickers so that each student's sticker is more obvious!) For example, say Bobby picked the thumbs-up stickers. I would stick one of his thumbs-up stickers on my paper, and write his name next to it so I know that those stickers represent him. Then, Bobby and I would talk through each standard and he would put 1 thumbs-up sticker in either the below, within, or above box for each standard, depending on his scores.

Ta-da! Data at a glance.

I can easily see where my class's strengths and weaknesses are as we begin a new school year together.

Students can easily see which standards they need to work on, and which skills they shouldn't waste time practicing.

However, it's private. Students don't know which sticker belongs to who, except for their own. The teacher key that I made will stay in my data binder for referencing as needed.

I have a couple of kids who haven't taken their reading STAR yet, but I plan to start charting that data next week! 

I haven't completely decided what I'm going to do after the winter STAR assessment. My team leader laminates her chart so that the stickers peel off and restick easily. I totally forgot to laminate... but I'm *hoping* that it will still work out. If not, I'll need to come up with another system. Another teammate of mine takes a picture of her old chart. She then makes a brand new chart mid-year, and posts the picture of the old chart next to it for easy comparison. We will see!

Is this something you would consider trying in your own classroom?

Let me know in a comment below!

September 5, 2016

Team Jobs in the Classroom

Work smarter, not harder.
That's the goal this year.

I have to admit, job charts are just too much for me.

I used to have a chart where each student had a clothespin with his/her name on it. Every two weeks I had to rotate the clothespins to new places. Sounds simple right? Well, some jobs needed 1 person while others needed 3. Bathroom monitors required one boy and one girl. Some jobs were only for trustworthy and responsible students, while others were for efficient students that wouldn't forget. I would spend at least 15 minutes every other week trying to reassign jobs fairly.

It was just TOO MUCH. I didn't want to deal with it on top of everything else a teacher has to deal with.

This summer I knew I needed a solution to my problem.

I did some research, where I found the idea of collaborative or team jobs in the classroom.

I liked the idea of students working together and collaboratively towards a goal. It would mean that all jobs would get done every day, even with students absent and students who just forget. Brilliant!

But all of the team jobs I saw still required clothespins or rotating student names in some way. Nope, I don't want any of that anymore. If I'm simplifying, it needs to be as simple as possible.

Thus, my solution was to print numbers at the bottom of each team job poster. The numbers refer to students' assigned classroom numbers. I just circle 4 or 5 numbers at a time. For example, students with numbers 1, 2, 3, and 4 were the "Official Organizers" for August.

I decided that with a concept so simple, I could bother to change the jobs once a month. So on the first of September, I spent about one minute switching everyone's jobs. I use Vis-a-Vis pens to write on the posters, because it doesn't come off at the touch, but it comes off immediately with a wet wipe or a wet paper towel.

Just wipe, dry, and circle the next group of numbers. Ta-da!

I have the posters displayed on the side of a bookcase, where they fit perfectly and are easily seen.

I created five job crews for my classroom and made the colors match my theme.

You, however, can create as many teams as you want and change the colors to match YOUR classroom! Check out my newest product here:

I'm still so excited about this new classroom job concept and can't wait to see how it works throughout the rest of the year.

August 28, 2016

Come On In to My 2nd Grade Classroom!

Hey, friends!

Back to school has gotten the best of me, as usual, but I'm glad to finally share this year's classroom with you.

Life would be so grand if we all worked on the same hallway, but I am happy to virtually share with you my classroom reveal along with Theresa (True Life I'm a Teacher), Chandra (Teaching With Crayons and Curls), and Erin (The Elementary Darling).

This year, I had more time to set up my room. Also, I had alllll year last year to think of ways to tweak my space! I'm much happier in my room already this year. I fully believe that I need to be happy in my space - my second home - to be the best teacher I can be.

I was totally inspired by Theresa to add some giant lettering to my wall. I don't have a Cricut { yet } so I printed these and cut them out by hand!

I love how they look with my tassels from Target.

I am trying to keep my desk area super organized this year! I had a rectangular table that wasn't used very often by my students last year, so I moved it over into my corner. My former mailboxes have become my copy paper and cardstock sorter... full of Astrobright paper that makes me heart SO HAPPY!

I especially love that cute map from the Target Dollar Spot! I spy my Erin Condren planner, which I looove! (Want $10 off your first order, no strings? Use my referral code!)

Here's the view from my door. I am so happy with my switch from desks to tables this year!

I always include my "Figure Me Out" chart on my math board until I have student work to display.

I let the kids name their own tables. Maybe they'll be more creative with the names next time! ;)


My board is already filling up with anchor charts and sticky notes! I loved the twinkle lights that I added this year. I love teaching with the fluorescents off and lamps on.


Due to my switch to tables, I had to rearrange a little bit, including my beloved classroom library.

Yep, I sacrificed my library so that kids have space for their belongings. Ugh! It is messier looking than I would like, but it works! (But, WHY did #14 move his book box to the wrong side?!)

Note my team jobs posters on the side of the tall bookcase... Blog post coming soon!

I essentially swapped my library with my book boxes. I previously stored kids' book boxes on those shelves along with writing and reading supplies like paper, highlighters, class journals, etc. I'm still trying to find a place for those!

I love having clipboards and whiteboards stored in crates on the floor. They are easily accessible so kids can use them whenever they need to! I have a lot of students that prefer the floor to the table, and that's totally fine with me!

Here's a closer look at my word wall. It's just laminated cardstock! I start the year with only my students' names written on the word wall, and I add content words throughout the year. Students have their own personal word walls in their writing folders that include sight words and other common school words.

I write with Vis-a-Vis. It doesn't come off at the touch, like dry erase, but wipes right off with water at the end of the year!

Here's where I spend a lot of my day: at my kidney table. I bought a comfy office chair last year, which was a GREAT investment. Behind my kidney table is my closet!

I know, I know, I'm so lucky to have a closet. But the problem with having a closet is that you inherit all of the crap that other teachers left behind in the closet. I was beyond disappointed to find a completely FULL closet when I moved into this room.

I spent hours upon hours working on this closet last year. I purged a lot (which was easy to do, since it was never mine) and organized it the best I could. This picture is of my favorite section: social studies and science units.

This writing board is always a hit on Instagram! Students' names are attached to clothespins. I add writing all year long, and then turn it into a book at the end of the year.

We are the Bobcats, and our PBIS system is based on the acronym PURRR, hence the title of the board. It's my goal this year to keep this countertop as clean as possible!


Lastly, here's my hallway display. I decided at the very last minute to go with a football theme for my faux bulletin board this year. Names on clothespins are out here, too! It's a quick and easy way to change out work.

Thanks for stopping by! Make sure to check out these super cute 1st and 2nd grade classrooms. Just click on the door to see inside!


August 13, 2016

The First Week of Second Grade

I DID IT! I survived the first week of second grade, again!

It was actually probably my best first week yet!

I spent lots of time at the end of the year preparing for back to school. Opening my Back to School box was such a relief, because so much work was already done!

Of course, those are the perks of staying at the same school and teaching the same grade level in the same room. Life doesn't always work out that nicely.

But as for this year, it was wonderful!

We started off the year with First Year Jitters and "jitter juice." I know this is a popular first day activity, but I had never done with before. After researching "jitter juice" recipes, I ended up going with knock-off Sprite and rainbow sprinkles. Although I loved the sprinkles, next year I plan to add some color somehow, probably by mixing in a little punch.

I continued to use First Day Jitters as a mentor text all week, because I am trying Jivey's mentor sentences this year

Another favorite first day activity that we did was a snowball fight! I start off by getting the kids thinking about their summers. Raise your hand... if you went to the beach! ...if you went to the pool! ...if you went to a different state! ...if you watched TV! ...if you read a book! ........ if you had a SNOWBALL FIGHT! Of course not.

I got the snowball fight idea from another teacher a few years back. Students write 3 facts about themselves on a piece of paper but do not write their names. Then they make "snowballs" by crumpling up the papers. I usually give students the length of one song to have their snowball "fight." When the song ends, they unroll and read their snowballs aloud one at a time and we try to guess who wrote it. My kids this year did such a great job that I gave them another chance to throw their snowballs afterwards!

Another favorite that I always do it graph our first day feelings. I did it at the end of the day this year, and I allowed the students to come up with the feelings. We had had a fantastic fun day, so they were feeling good! (And I am totally flattered that someone came up with "lucky!" Be still my heart!) Results in the morning are always a little different. I saw that a good friend of mine had her students graph their feelings in the morning and then again in the afternoon to compare. I'm doing that next year!

We jump into writing quickly during the first week. Students always love doing Me & We Books, which I have done since my first year teaching (thanks to my amazing first team)! I pair up the students to work on the pages together. I always make sure that lower-achieving or ELL students are in groups of three in order to eliminate pressure during the first week. When they are done, we turn them into a book. I used Astrobrights this year and our book is gorgeous!!

These books always take forever for some reason, so I give them a few days to work on it. While my students were working on their pages on our first day, I called them individually to take first day pictures!

I've never done pictures before, so I have no idea what I'm going to do with them... ha! Any great ideas? They sure are cute, though!  This chalkboard apple is from the Target Dollar Spot. (I have a love/hate relationship with that place.)

Here are some other things that we did during the first day:

1: First Day Feelings - I promise that sticky note above "afraid" had "lucky" written on it, so I moved it! Scouts honor!

2: We reflected on all of the day's activities, then the students voted on their favorite.

3: After I introduced Class Dojo and my behavior management system, we talked about what makes a good student and what makes a good teacher.

4: Also after discussing behavior, we wrote and signed our own Class Constitution.


This year, I saved some of my favorite activities to do throughout the week, instead of stuffing them all into one day. It made our first day a lot less chaotic and a little more enjoyable!

Students ALWAYS LOVE playing All About Me Four Corners! It's a great way to get the students up and moving. You also get to observe reading/comprehension skills as well as who can follow directions and maintain self-control during a game. It's very telling!

This year, I totally STOCKED UP on these back to school books, recommended by Theresa from True Life I'm a Teacher. I totally trust her and ordered about 8 new back to school books from Amazon to add to my collection!

Some of our favorite books that we read this week are Maria Dismondy's books that are all about character education and promoting kindness. We haven't read them all yet, but so far, Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun is definitely the favorite!

I am in love with Chandra's Kindness Counts unit. Her unit, along with my new books, have definitely improved our classroom community already. Look how cute!!!!

I used this prompt, after reading Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, as the first narrative writing of the year. It was a pre-assessment that also allowed me to get to know the students all in one, and I love how it looks on my writing board!

I also love using my Back to School news writing activity during the first week. This week I did it kind of unofficially, and the students worked on their pages, as they desired, during morning work. I use a choice board in the morning, so it was optional. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to spend on this project this week!

I'm using tables this year instead of desks (for the first time) so we, as a class, spent a lot of time talking about how we were going to organize our supplies differently than they did in first grade.

These caddies aren't mine (because mine aren't cute enough) so can we please take a moment to admire how adorable The Elementary Darling's caddies are?! (Sigh!)

Lastly, I introduced Daily 5 this week with my students. The first lesson we teach is that there are 3 ways to read a book: Read the pictures, read the words, and retell a familiar story.

I always use Peter Spier's RAIN to teach about reading illustrations, but I bought a new book this year to teach reading the words. My students ABSOLUTELY LOVED The Book With No Pictures. Why did I wait so long to buy this book?! It's hilarious and so perfect for this lesson!

Other than all of that, we filled the rest of our time with learning and practicing behavioral expectations and classroom routines. I taught lots of PBIS lessons (given to me by my admin) and made sure my students know that I have very high expectations for them. 

Did I miss anything? 
What are you favorite first week activities that I should add to my repertoire? 

Let me know in a comment below, and good luck with your first week!

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing an item from Amazon using these links, 

I will receive a small commission on your purchase.**

August 3, 2016

Simple Back to School Student Gifts (with a FREEBIE!)

It's about that time. My Sneak Peek (or Meet the Teacher, whatever you want to call it) is on THURSDAY MORNING. Eeeek!

I truly cannot believe that it is already time to meet my next batch of babies. I can't wait, but I'm also on edge! What a crazy time of year this is, filled with so many emotions!

At my school, we are encouraged to have treats at Sneak Peek for students to take home with them.

I prefer to do treats that are practical and not annoying, that was parents don't immediately hate me, and affordable for me!

The past few years I have done Goldfish with a cute tag glued onto them. This year I decided to be a little more exciting and I bought the RAINBOW goldfish instead of the original orange Goldfish. Crazy, I know!

You can download the printable card HERE for FREE! They are available for grades K - 6. Print the ones you need, and sign your name on the bottom. Buy some boxes of Goldfish, and ta-da!

What are you giving your students this year?

I'd love for you to follow along, especially on Facebook and Instagram, to see all of my back-to-school ideas and adventures!

July 29, 2016

Back to School Team Gifts (with a free printable!)

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links.**

My team is AWESOME, y'all.

I am so unbelievably lucky to work with them, honestly!

So like so many of us do, I wanted to give each of my teammates a small back-to-school gift.

Well, this idea stemmed from necessity. Our doors are HEAVY, the cheap plastic door stops don't work, and apparently decent door stops disappear in the night. We are all running out of wooden triangular prisms to steal from our geometry kits.

So I decided to give my sweet coworkers a gift that is cute AND practical.

I took to Amazon and chose these door stops because they are white and the sides are smooth - perfect for decorating! They come in packs of two and the price is reasonable, I think! But you can also buy door stops at the Dollar Tree and hardware stores.


Next I bought some Sharpie paint markers. I bought the pack with basic colors because I wanted to match our school's colors, but I love the neon pack, too!

I also saw at Target recently that they were selling Sharpie paint pens individually!

Here's the final product:

Want these printable gift tags for yourself? You can download them for free - in a variety of colors -  here!

Ta-da! I hope my teammates absolutely love them!

What do you think? Will you be buying or making gifts for your co-workers?

**This post contains Amazon affiliate links. By purchasing an item from Amazon using these links, 

I will receive a small commission on your purchase.**