November 22, 2016

8 Reasons Why I Love My Erin Condren Teacher Planner


I mean, just look at how beautiful that thing is. It reminds me of school and lesson planning and grading and organizing data, yet I STILL think it's gorgeous. 

This is my first year using an Erin Condren planner. I contemplated it for a few years, and I am so glad I finally took the plunge. When our teacher planners came in, some teacher friends and I had a planner party during which we stuck all of our stickers and filled in our schedules, dates, etc. It was SO colorful and so much fun! 

Now that I've been using my first Erin Condren teacher planner for four months, I am prepared to share with you 8 reasons why I love my teacher planner.


1. DATES TO REMEMBER

Honestly, I used to Google "Veterans Day 2016" and the like all the time... How nice it is to have all of this information in one place at the front of my planner. 

It even includes other dates that teachers might want to know, like Friendship Day and Johnny Appleseed's birthday. Fun!


2. BIRTHDAYS

I've never used the birthday section of any personal planner, but it completely makes sense to have my students' birthdays written in my teacher planner! It's easy reference for student passwords (based on birthdays) and to remind me when to get out the birthday treats for my students. 


3. NOTES

Each month has a set of blank pages for notes. I love using them during PD or staff meetings so that all of my notes are kept in chronological order (and safely in the same place) all year long. 


4. LESSON PLANNING PAGES

The pages are THICK, meaning that Flair pens don't bleed through if you use them! (I usually use ball-point pens because they are faster with my half-cursive sloppy handwriting, but I have tried Flair pens a few times.)



I use small sticky notes to replace plans. As you know, things change and we have to be flexible! Instead of using whiteout (ain't nobody got time for that) I just write my new plans on a little sticky note and stick it on top. It's perfectly sized!



I use skinny washi tape, thanks to a colleague's recommendation, to break apart my planning pages to show at a quick glance when my students go to lunch/recess. We have specials first thing in the morning, or else I would use washi tape to show that too!

I also use washi tape to block off the last column, which I use for notes or after school activities. 


5. CHECKLIST PAGES

I use these checklist pages ALL THE TIME. Again, it's something I used to do separately, but it's so nice to have it all in one place! So far, I have used the checklist pages for beginning of year forms (pictured above), permission slips, and homework.  I recently realized I could use a page to start keeping track of my reading and writing conferences with students. The opportunities are endless!


6. STICKERS

I'll admit, I don't use the stickers that often. I use them when we have something out of the ordinary going on so that it's extra obvious in my lesson plans (so I don't forget)! 

Your planner will come with preprinted stickers that say things like "staff meeting," "library," "conference," and "field trip." It will also come with two whole pages of blank stickers for you to use as you wish! 


7. POCKETS & 8. PLASTIC SLEEVES

I have two pockets in the back of my teacher planner that I use to store loose papers that other people give me, like speech RTI data or other things that I need to keep up with. 


I ordered a few extra plastic sleeves for the back, and I'm so glad I did! In the plastic sleeves, I store papers that I refer to all the time, like students' ID numbers, my classroom schedule, and my reading groups.

Again, it is SO NICE to have everything in ONE PLACE, nice and organized! 



Want to save $10 on your first order? 

Please use my referral link. It's really that easy!

So what do you think? Are you going to give Erin Condren a try? Have any questions?

Let me know in a comment below!


*** This post is not sponsored or endorsed by Erin Condren. ***

November 13, 2016

2nd Grade Grammar Puzzles

INTRODUCING....


I wanted to share these puzzles with you because I use them in my classroom DAILY and my students love them!

Whenever I introduce a new grammar concept, the corresponding puzzle is added to the puzzle box.


I love using grammar puzzles because...
  • it's a hands-on way for students to practice grammar.
  • students can self-monitor. Each puzzle piece only has one match!
  • students can work independently or with a partner.
  • differentiation is easy.
  • they'll last for years!

Make the puzzles easier for your students by printing each page on a different color. For example, students will know an orange piece will need an orange match.

Make it more rigorous by printing all pages on the same color.

The opportunities are endless!

Here are just some of the grammar puzzles I offer in my TPT store:






I also have synonyms, antonyms, homographs, homophones, collective nouns, and possessive nouns. More are to come! 



All puzzles are available individually or at a discounted bundle price

What do you think? 

Are grammar puzzles something you could incorporate into your classroom?



October 22, 2016

How to Create Your Own Listening Center

Yesterday I posted an Instagram story about how I recorded myself reading one of our social studies readers to turn it into an option for my "Listen to Reading" Daily 5 center. I wanted to give my students more options during that station time, and I am always trying to integrate social studies and science into our literacy block! 

I received so many questions about how I did it, so here's a detailed post to show you just how EASY it is! 


I plan to make these for all of my social studies and science readers, but the options are truly endless. You can do this with any books or book sets that you have on hand in your classroom. 


I used the Voice Memos app on my iPhone to record the book. It was very easy to trim and alter if needed, and the quality is good! Best of all, it's an app that's already on your iPhone so it's totally free!

I recorded the entire book, then I recorded individual chapters, just to give my students options. 


After recording, I used the share button to upload my recordings to Google Drive. 


I love Google Drive and use it for just about everything! 


In order to get the QR codes for my students to scan, I just used the shareable link from the Google Drive file and copied it into GOQR.me.


I use GOQR.ME, but there are plenty of free QR code generators that you can use instead. 

That's it! Just download or copy the QR code and place it on a poster or wherever you wish.

For now, I'm going to keep the QR codes posted to my wall and change them out as the units change. However, you could glue a corresponding QR code right in the front cover of the book!

What do you think? Which book are you going to record first!?

*        *        *        *        *


Hey 2nd grade teachers in Georgia! You can grab this QR code poster for free by clicking here. Just don't make fun of my reading - ha!

I plan to add the rest of the SS readers as we go through the year.  I'm also going to try letting some of my high (and very fluent) readers try recording some books. I'll let you know how it goes!


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.

CHEVRON LETTERS
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! ;)

EXPECTATION SIGNS   -    SUPPLY LABELS   -   READING SUPERSTAR

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.

ECON VOCAB POSTERS   -   SCHEDULE CARDS

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!

TEAM JOBS
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!

ALPHABET
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!

WRITING PROMPT (KINDNESS COUNTS)   -   PENCIL CLIP ART  

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!