Saturday, May 17, 2014

Organize Notebooks With File Folder Bookmarks

I can't wait to check out all the amazing ideas posted today for the May Bright Ideas Link-up!  Here is an organization tool that I use with my interactive science journals.

This is one of my "go to" organization strategies for starting the school year off right.  I pre cut the folders in June and they are ready to go as soon as I get my class list during the summer.  I seriously could not run my science class without these gems!

What you need:
File folders (1 folder for every 3 students)
Paper cutter or a steady hand with scissors
Bold and Bright Permanent markers

Cut each folder into thirds.  (When cut perfectly students can use them as a straight edge too.)

Write student first names in large bold letters on the front.  Add student last names (smaller) near the folding part.
Above: Here is the bookmark displayed on a student desk (used as a name tag).
Below:  The front of the bookmark rests on the front cover of the journal, while the back tab of the bookmark reserves the current page.  

Student last names are visible when the notebooks are stored in our classroom crate.  This makes it easy to grab journals!

Students hang their bookmark on the side of the bin to signal the teacher. 

There are a variety of glue-in items that you can create for the inside of the bookmarks.  Pretty much anything that will be handy to reference works.  Here are a few suggestions:

These bookmarks serve SO many purposes in my room.  Here are a few tips on using them:

- Display the bookmarks/name tags on student desks the first day of school.  They make it much easier to learn names because you can see them so easily from the front of the room.  For the first few weeks of school my students come in, grab their journal and put up their bookmark so that I can see their name.  I have 130 students to learn and seeing their names clearly is super helpful.

- Teach your students to put them up on their desks whenever there is a substitute teacher or a new student.  (Subs love this!)

- Use the inside and back for recording/displaying important information.  I like to change this up year to year, but here are a few things that have worked well:
  • A list of commonly misspelled words for your grade level
  • Classroom procedures/rules
  • An exemplar of a science drawing/observation (This one is very helpful since students are asked to record a lot of drawings in their journal throughout the year.)
  • Directions/tips on how to keep an organized notebook
  • Behavior management "punch cards
  • Lav pass tickets (This one is helpful for secondary teachers who deal with the revolving door!)
  • Allow students to record goals for each marking period or keep a personalized list of spelling words to reference.
  • Student interest survey (This can be helpful in getting to know your students and helping students make social connections with each other.  My 6th graders are coming from 4 different elementary schools so having them share their interests can help break the ice.)
  • Leave at least one side blank for kids to doodle.  Yup...I said doodle!  I don't allow my students to doodle IN their notebooks, but having a special spot for doodling seems to help some of my fidgety kids.  Also, you can tell a lot about a student by what they doodle :) 
- Use bookmarks for random drawings.  Have all students drop their bookmark in a bucket at the start of class and pull names from the bucket as needed.

- These bookmarks are great for test taking too.  Students use them to keep track of which question they are on and/or as a mini-blinder to stop wandering eyes.  

- Have students place their book mark in a special location to signal the need for extra help from the teacher.  I have a spot on my desk that students can drop their bookmark at the end of class to let me know that the are feeling confused about the topic we are studying.  Students also know to place their bookmark hanging on the side of the storage bin if they are taking their journal home.  I also use them as a "take a number" system.   Students drop their bookmark off when they are waiting for me to meet with them.   I keep them in the order received and call students up one by one.  This has alleviated the line at my desk!

I could go on and on folks, but I won't because I have papers to grade and lunches to it summer vacation yet?  Thank you for taking the time to stop by Kate's Classroom Cafe and I hope you are leaving with some inspiration that you can apply to your own classroom.  If you enjoyed this practical classroom tip, consider joining me on Facebook for more bright ideas!

For bright ideas from more than 130 other bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you.  Thanks for visiting :)

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Week Freebie and Sale


I'll never forget my first week teaching in my "own" classroom with my "own" class of students. What an whirlwind that first week on the job was! I came home on that Friday and fell asleep on my living room floor still dressed in my work clothes.  I'm pretty sure I even still had heels on (rookie mistake to wear heals huh?)...or at least that is the way my roommate at the time still tells the story.  Needless to say,

I've been working on some science root word mini posters for some time.  The chaos of my daily routine has left this file on my desktop for months.  I really wanted to get them done in time to do some vocabulary work before state testing but it just didn't happen.  Well, I finally had time to finish them tonight and I'm printing them to use next week.  As I finished I got to thinking about all the extra hours teachers dedicate to planning lessons, creating materials and providing students with meaningful feedback.  I don't think about it too often, because I get such pleasure from my job that the extra time just flies by...but tonight I'm stepping back and thinking about all the other teachers who are probably grading papers or creating materials on a Saturday night as well.   Soooo...I've decided to give these posters away for free for the entire week.

Happy Teacher Appreciation Week Friends!  

(Click the image below to download)

40 words- 20 Pages  (2 words per 8.5 x 11 page) plus a few graphic organizers too!

40 words- 20 Pages  (2 words per 8.5 x 11 page) plus a few graphic organizers too!

Wait...there is more!  (Someone has been watching too much late night TV)

Stop on by all these amazing teacher stores for 28% off during the Teacher Appreciation Sale this week!

Here are some stores on TpT that bring you awesome secondary teaching materials for grades 6-12.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Snapshot Saturday: Scooby Doo Party and some Compass Fun!

I've been dying to share these adorable snapshots from my son's birthday.  I know....these have nothing to do with teaching, but Snapshot Saturdays are about LIFE and I certainly do not live in my classroom (even thought feels like it sometimes).

Scooby Doo...Where are you?  So here is a little something for my teacher visitors who could care less about Scoobs.  My students recently built simple compasses.  This is a super easy lesson to put together and the kids loved making and testing a simple working compass.  Here is a snapshot of the basket of materials that each pair of students was given, and then a simple working compass in the second picture.  Let's just say we "solved the mystery" of Earth's magnetic field.... Zoinks!

Easy for me, a great challenge for my students.   If you haven't tried this as part of a geography and/or science lesson, it is a must.  Here is a link to get you started:

Happy teaching folks!


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