Target Classroom Organization Finds!

Today was the day I've been anticipating! My trip to Target to get ready for next school year. =) I had taken measurements of certain areas of my classroom to be sure to get what would fit properly. Here's some pictures and descriptions of all the things I decided to get!

As you walk in to Target, there's the awesome dollar spot. I decided to take a quick peek into the aisles and see if anything struck my fancy. Amazingly, I found these really nice magazine files for only $1 each!! I've been reading a LOT of Fountas and Pinnell lately for grad school, so I decided to get them for the students' browsing boxes. I may end up only using one per guided reading group, but we'll see. I think the kids would like to each have their own box. How do you do browsing boxes?
I bought these paper filing racks (4 of them) to organize my Writing Workshop. I'm going to start that this year, and F&P recommend a central location at which students can get all their paper and supplies they need. These were fairly cheap and stack nicely. I may need to zip tie them together so the students don't "accidentally" take them apart. We may need to have a mini-lesson on taking care of the WW areas. =)
In addition to the filing system, I purchased these really nice 3 drawer units to store crayons and maybe markers. We will see. I want to have the crayons organized by color instead of just tossed into a scary crayon tub of mystery. That would help the children learn to clean properly AND it would minimize the amount of time spent searching for the correct color crayon.
I discovered this super cute shower caddy in the home and organization section! I couldn't resist! There's a hot pink one and a black one there, too. I plan to use this to store important items to use during guided reading/writing so everything is handy and ready to roll!
I found these pretty "Sterilite" drawers (in case you are wondering...no, they're not Sterilite!) to put underneath my computer desk in my classroom. Since I am combining my kidney table and my computer table, I thought it would be a good idea to have a place where I could store necessary office items and teaching tools nearby. I'll probably have to label them nicely so I can make sure to put things back in the proper spot. (Knowing my own lack of organizational skillz.)

I hope you liked seeing all my organizational finds! I will be posting more about how I use these when I get back into my classroom and start setting up.

I'm linking up with Ladybug's Teacher Files' and Fun in Room 4B's Optimum Organization linky party. If you want to see more organizational tips and tricks, head on over to their pages and see what they have in store for you. =)

What's a resource that you absolutely cannot live without during guided reading or writing time?

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Easy to Use Math Assessment

At the end of the school year, my principal asked us to either find or make a benchmark for our grades to assess math skills. We tried the DMA (Developmental Math Assessment), but found it very time consuming because we do not have aids or people who administer testing for us. It all has to be done in small groups.

SO, I got tech-y. You know I love to use technology. :) My "co-teacher" (she teaches the other K class next door to my room!) and I decided to look online and on Texas TEKS to figure out what all we need to put into the assessment. We gathered information and I got to work.

I created an easy to use assessment that can be given in one large sitting or in several small sittings with students one-on-one. It covers all the Texas Kindergarten TEKS, and it is very hands on for the students. I put all the manipulatives into a dish pan from Walmart and had it sitting on a shelf behind my kidney table. Then, I would call a student to my kidney table and work with him on a portion of the assessment.

It contains the basics, like addition, subtraction, and just plain ole' counting. I even had to put my thinking cap on and create sections to assess graphing and area and measurements. It was a challenge, but I think it all came together quite nicely. It really showed me how much my students had learned throughout the year. I wish I had this assessment to kick-start last year so I could really help my littles reach maximum potential by the end of the year.

If you would like a copy of this assessment, please hop on over to my TpT store! This is my first really BIG product, so I would love any feedback or thoughts on it. Even though this test is not "Common Core" I believe it really is hands-on and can meet a lot of the standards found in Common Core.

Hope you like it! The first three to leave a comment below with their email address will get a free copy of the assessment!

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All About Running Records Coding!

Lately, I have been working very closely with Misty from Think, Wonder, & Teach. She offered me the chance to guest blog on her page! I wrote a lovely post about running records over there. If you would like to go check it out and get a freebie, please make your way over there by clicking this link here OR the image below. :)

Do you use running records? Or does it seem like a scary mystery to you? Let me know in the comments below!


My Teacher ALWAYS says...

I saw this linky from Forever in First, and I couldn't pass it up! During my first year, I realized that I repeat some of the same things over and over to my students. As the year went on, the students were able to say my quotes before I even got a chance to say them! It's amazing what they pick up.

Our school really focuses on teaching students to be helpful, kind, and considerate of others. Many of you have probably heard this called "being a bucket filler." Whenever I see a student who needs to be reminded that he or she should try to be kind instead of yelling back at someone, I would say, "Be a bucket filler!" Works like a charm. I even had a time at the end of the day where the kids would share who filled their buckets that day!
This one just popped out of my mouth one day when I was explaining an activity they were going to work on. One of my boys asked, "Ms. Adams...What do you mean 'a piece of cake?'" I thought they all knew that idiom already! From that day on, anytime we had an assignment, they would go, "Will it be a piece of cake?"
Every time we would come back from out class or lunch or recess, I would get their attention in the hallway and tell them where to go. They got to the point where I didn't have to say it anymore! I switched it up sometimes and asked, "Where do we go?" They all would say "GO TO CARPET!"
When things weren't going their way, I would pull this one out. I would shrug and say, "It's cool," if I couldn't find something I was looking for. When the kids had to leave recess early, I would say, "It's cool" to show them that they don't need to get all worked up about it.
This was a hard one! Whew! Some students love to report to me. I would always ask, "Did you talk to him first?" to see if the student had tried to solve the problem before reporting to me. If they said no, I would have him go talk to the person and explain what bothered him. Usually, the problem worked itself out. If not, I'd step in and guide the confrontation. I need a recording of this quote so I can just click play instead of wearing my voice out repeating it!!

Let me know what some of your most used quotes are! I'd love to know what you tend to say often. :)


Twitter Chats - My Latest Obsession

It began with a little curiosity. You know what they say about that. I wanted to know what was so unique about Twitter. I thought it was just a bunch of people proclaiming their random thoughts into the world. I was wrong. #mindblown

I decided to participate in Really Good Stuff's #teachchat on a Wednesday evening, and I was hooked. I had to go to ALL the chats related to education. If I missed one, I was sad because I didn't get to be a part of the joy of conversation. Many people's schools have even allowed their teachers to use Twitter to receive PD credits! Can you believe that?

In case you're confused, here's the low-down. Twitter has this magical world of "chats." You can participate by typing in the correct hashtag (this symbol # plus a word) into the search bar at the top. Some people use Twitter programs to follow multiple streams of hashtags. 

Say you really enjoy gifted and talented education...there's a Twitter chat for that. What about kindergarten? Yeah, you guessed it, there's one for that too! If you decide to participate, all you do is write out your message and attach the appropriate hashtag to the end of the message! #easypeasy

Click the image to take you to a Google Doc that has all the Twitter chats that I follow and participate in, just in case you would like to join me! If you can't click the image, just click this link.

Word of caution: Every message you post will be seen by your Twitter followers AND the people watching the chat. Also, be careful what you say because it can be viewed by people in high places! (Such as Scholastic, Really Good Stuff, and even state Senators) The other warning I give is that most times, these chats are high-intensity and very fast paced.

Let me know in the comments if you have ever participated in a Twitter chat! If not, which education topic interest you most?


Thank you!

I just wanted to post a quick "THANK YOU" to all of my lovely followers and viewers at home. ;) I reached a staggering 30,000 views today! Oh wow!!

When I reach 300 blog followers I maaay consider doing a giveaway, so I hope you're excited about that! Today, I started planning out future blog posts for this blog. I have a few updates to technology tutorials, and hopefully I can teach you some new technology tips to use in your own classroom. Summer is a great time to try out new things, so I hope you join in with me as we learn together.

I've been reading a LOT of professional development books recently, and I can't wait to share some of my knowledge with you. I may need your help in figuring out ways to implement what I'm learning. You all are amazing, so I'm sure you can help me out!

I have a really cool product created and almost ready for launch. I think you will like it a lot!

Again, thank you for all your views, comments, and joys you have brought me throughout my blogging journey. I can't wait to kick this blog back into action! It's been far too long since I posted frequently.

Post in the comments below if you have a suggestion for a tech tutorial that I can do for you!


First Day!

At the beginning of the school year, the children are anxious, worried, excited, and pretty much every emotion possible.

Today is like that for me! It's my first day of grad school, and I'm anxious, worried, and excited! I've got all my textbooks ready to pack into my bag. I still need to take off my chipping nail polish so that I can meet everyone looking much nicer. I may even paint my nails for this week!

I was introduced to a computer program called Evernote this past week. It's a place where you can take notes and pictures, and then the content syncs to all connected devices (like your iPhone or iPad!)

I plan on using it today to take notes in class, but you can use Evernote in many different ways, such as:

  • Making and checking off your grocery list
  • Planning supplies needed for a classroom party
  • Writing your classroom inventory (so it doesn't take up computer space!)
  • Storing all the fabulous ideas you find on teacher blogs!
  • Keeping notes during Professional Development workshops
  • Collaborating with your co-teacher next door to you and sharing documents with them
The list could go on and on! It has voice record, video record, and photo capture options as long as you have a webcam/microphone on your device. Very helpful!

You can go to their website by clicking here, and while you're at it, go download the free iPhone app!

I'm sorry I haven't blogged in a while. I have had something extra awesome occupying my time! I'm not sure if I'm allowed to tell about it at this point, but it has to do with design. I'm SO thrilled about it, and I have been working nonstop on projects for the team that I haven't stopped to think of new blog post ideas.

Let me know in the comments:

  1. Do you use Evernote?
  2. How do you or would you use Evernote?


Quick Tech Tutorial - Pin It Button!

I'm back with another technology tutorial! Have you missed those? I know I have! This time, it's not a web 2.0 tool. It's all about our favorite site, Pinterest!

Have I piqued your interest? :)

I hope so!  Here's the video tutorial to make it super easy to understand.

Here's the link to the Google Chrome Pinterest app: http://tinyurl.com/kl2s9rl

What do you think? Easy enough, right? I hope this was something that you can use. If you would like for me to make a tutorial for a pin it app button for the Firefox browser, let me know! Thanks for watching. I'd love to know what you would like to see next. I'm thinking of remaking my Prezi and Beeclip tutorials, so be looking forward to that!


The "Mini Clip Chart"

Last summer, it was all the rage on teacher blogs to use a clip chart for behavior management. There were so many options and colors and themes, and I was on board. I even made my own that I wanted to use! (Click here if you would like to see it.) I appreciated the concept of moving the clothespins up and down the chart depending on behavior, and I liked that students can improve and clip back up.

The only concern that I had was that the whole class was able to see it from everywhere in the room. Also, if parent volunteers came in, they would be able to see certain students always toward the bottom of the chart. I wanted a more positive learning environment where students were not ashamed of their behavior, but took ownership of their mistakes.

I started off the school year with whole group management. I had a small, plastic container and some river rocks. Whenever I caught someone being good, I added a rock to our collection. If the class was not following the rules, a rock came out. It worked very well at the beginning of the year! We filled that jar up and got to have extra recess. :) Fun!

Towards October, I realized we needed a little more...motivation. I really wanted to have a clip chart because I could see some students who needed the individual behavior plan, but I couldn't think of a way to do it so that it was not a page or chart on the wall. After much brainstorming came the idea of a miniature clip chart.

As you can see, it's a much smaller version of the clip chart! I used the four colors red, orange, green, and blue. Here's what they mean:

  1. Red means teacher's choice. It means parent contact of some sort, whether it's a phone call, office visit, or just an email. The child  may not move the clip back up if it gets to red.
  2. Orange is a warning. The students can move up from orange. There will be lots of movement between green and orange (hopefully!). If a child asks to move back up, they are not allowed to move back up yet. I have to actually see the students making good choices, not just begging for green.
  3. Green means ready to learn. The students start their day off at green. I have them change their clip back to green at the end of the day so that we can start fresh the next day.
  4. Blue means the child is making super choices! If you see that child who is staying on task, working hard, and helping others, move him or her up to blue! You can even find a way to reward that behavior. (Such as a positive note home, a positive phone call, etc.)

All you need is a large craft stick, some markers, and a clothespin.

First, I labeled the clothespins with my students' names. I also put their name on the craft stick so that they can be sure to keep track of both pieces. Next comes the messy part. Word of caution: Your hands will get marker on them. We're teachers, so we're used to messy hands, right!? Get the four colors you want to use and hold the very end of the craft stick. Start coloring the stick with the magic marker in small rectangles with each color.

Yes, the color will stay on.
Yes, it will dry.
And yes, the color will come off the stick if it comes in contact with water. Believe me.

That's it!

I did not need to use treasure box or follow-up incentives for this tool (mainly because I didn't have ideas on how to manage that). I loved that it sat at each child's table instead of in plain view on the wall. I believe it really made our classroom more positive because they really had the chance to move back up when they made good choices. I didn't ever hear, "Robert is ALWAYS on red!!" :) I count that as a success.

If you have any ideas on how to extend this tool to make it more interesting, please let me know in the comments!

Do you use a clip chart? What is your go-to method of behavior management?


Third Time's a Charm (I hope!)

I was really excited about Oh' Boy 4th Grade's Currently linky party. I made my graphic all nice and neat. I posted up the blog post...and as I was browsing my posts, guess what I did. I deleted it. Yeah. So now the link on the linky party goes to empty cyber space. Sad face. I reposted AGAIN and realized that even if I changed the permalink title, it wouldn't connect to that deleted page again. So I deleted again....

Third time's a charm. Here's my currently!

Lindsey Stirling is a violinist that covers lots of pop songs, but also does original songs. She is fantastic. Pentatonix is really good too :)

In case you've never heard it, here's the video:

She's wonderful. Go check out her YouTube videos!!

Thanks for posting this fun linky, Farley! :)


My Lesson Plan Experience

I spent a lot of time last summer visiting lots of awesome teacher blogs. From what I saw, a teacher binder was a sure-fire way to succeed in being an organized, efficient teacher. I put a lot of work into making one -- I made customized weekly lesson plan pages, added monthly calendar pages, a student info section, a birthday list page, and so on and so forth. It was FULL before school even started!! I was thrilled, thinking I'd be so organized and that I would keep up with it every week.

Want to know what happened?

I didn't!

I got so many new handout pages from faculty meetings, and I just shoved them into the binder without even hole punching them! It was a mess in there. Around November, I had given up on the binder and it was just laying on the giant pile of junk in the corner of the classroom.

Judging me.

With it's judgmental binder pockets full to bursting.

So since that was a complete and utter failure, I decided that this next year I would simplify. I decided to create a simple lesson plan book that was just for that -- lesson planning. Not for student info, not for birthday lists, not for anything except the basic essentials. And especially, no pockets. None. Zippo.

Here's how the cover turned out:

2013-14 Lesson Plan Book

Nice huh? I thought it was cute as could be. :) I had my school laminate the front and back cover pages so that it would be a little more sturdy, and I printed it on heavy cardstock paper.

On the inside, I only have 4 sections:

1) A page for continuing education-
If you're a new teacher reading this post, here's something that I did not know about until almost the end of the school year. You will have to turn in your CPE information and certificate copies! OH MY GOODNESS. I had no idea, so obviously I just put the workshop certificates into the giant corner pile of doom after every workshop. My suggestion is to write down the name of the training, the date/time, and the location of the event. Also, keep a file folder of all the certificates handy so that you can add to it as you go along. Sorry for the rant. Here's a picture. :)
Lesson Plan Book CPE Page
Lime green! Lovely :)
2) A page for DRA Scores (because it's helpful to keep track during the year for grouping) -
DRA Scores page
Sorry for the retina-burning sensation caused by a ridiculous amount of orange.
3) Weekly planning pages -
I chose this setup because I prefer the days to be vertical instead of horizontal. It is easier for me to follow. Also, I put just the subject because my old planning pages had the actual time there, which really messed me up on days that did not follow the routine. I was looking into getting a cute Erin Condren planner, but she puts the lesson plan days horizontal. Sad :(
2013-14 Lesson Plan Book
Purple is my favorite color, so obvs I picked purple for these pages!
4) Monthly calendar pages -
2013-14 Lesson Plan Book
The blue color is WAY prettier in person. Silly iPhone. And yes, I did already fill the calendar out through to next May. Don't hate.
My goal for the summer is to really get myself organized and get everything to have its own home in my classroom. I learned from my mistake, and I am not going to let it happen again!

If you would like a copy of the documents shown above, just click any of the photos!

You can also CLICK HERE for the link, if you haven't figured it out otherwise. If the link doesn't work, please, oh please, let me know so I can figure out what I did wrong. Thanks!

I hope this was interesting to you in some way. Maybe it will give you the motivation to minimize like I did. The coil binding was done at Office Depot for only $3 and some change. Not too shabby.

My next challenge? The scary cabinets in my classroom.
Math and Art and random junk closet. The math items are organized by concept (geometry, counting, time, money, weight)

Literacy and Fine Motor. And random junk. This one needs lots of help. I need a professional organizer to come help me!!!
Looks like I will be one busy woman this summer! Thank goodness I have the Optimum Organization linky party that helps me keep my mind focused on a goal. I will need all the support and encouragement I can get. Cleaning/organizing is NOT in my nature.

I'm also linking up with Manic Monday and Monday Made It...because I made my lesson plan book! :) Also, I made a huge mess of my cabinets. Does that count?

If you want to check out the linky parties, click the images below.
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

How do you manage your lesson plans? 
Do you have any advice on how I should tackle the scary cabinets??