Saturday, September 27, 2014

October Planning Mat Printable and Back to School Snapshots from my Classroom

My desk seems just a little neater since I started creating these desktop planning mats a few weeks ago.  Seeing all the fall-themed decor out and about has inspired me to make October's printable and post for you all to download and use!  (You can download it by clicking the photo.)

And now for some quick snapshots from my classroom...

I've been meaning to post some back to school classroom photos, but September has been insane.  Better late than never!

I use homework record sheets with my students, which are stored by last name in these three binders.  I learned last year that one binder caused an issue on days when multiple students forgot their work.  Hoping this works out better!

Returning papers to over 125 kids can seem impossible when you need every moment of class to teach!  I use these folders and assign students to check them daily and pass out any papers inside before the bell rings.  

I saw post-it exit ticket boards all over Pinterest this summer and decided to use the chalkboard near my classroom door to create my own.  I used BRIGHT STICKS (see below) to create squares where students can place their post it as they leave the room.  These markers are great because they don't wipe off the board unless you use water.  I bought this pack in seriously I DID... and I still use them every year to add pizzaz to my chalkboard.  

Thanks to a Vista Print Groupon offer that was too good to pass up, I have new car magnet learning goal and homework board signs!

Here are some science root word posters that you can find in my TpT store.   They make a nice "all year long" display.  

Our first unit is Ecology, so here are the dragonfly friends that I created to add a little color to my walls..  

I hope your school year is off to a great start.  Thanks for stopping by my blog and remember to follow to get updates!

Happy Teaching

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pocket-Sized Class List Idea

Pocket-sized class lists.  Why didn't I think of that?  Thankfully my colleague Ann did and she graciously shared this with me so that I could be just a little more "with-it" this year!  I have over 125 students, plus 15 home base kids and these mini-lists have been SO helpful in keeping it together as I start this school year.

On each mini class list I included:

- Student names
- Number of students (Quick head count!)
- Class period
- Class start and end times (Yup...I'm that teacher who lets her class out late on occasion...whoops!)
- One confidential set has bee, nut and other allergies/conditions.
- One set has a place to write notes at the bottom.  (I paperclip these to class sets of collect papers.)
I took each of my five classes outside yesterday for a schoolyard habitat survey.  I loved having my class lists handy, plus all the information I needed regarding bee allergies...etc just in case!

When I typed up my miniature class lists, I made a few versions.  One version includes medical information that is coded by letter.  I only made one copy of this and it stays around my neck for obvious reasons.  The lists are covered, so that kids can't see them when I'm wearing my lanyard and with the letter coding, it would be difficult for my 6th graders to figure it out even if they did catch a quick glance.  I just feel better knowing I have this information at hand.
I keep the lists clipped on my lanyard which also stores my teacher ID, room keys and extra flash drive.  I pretty much NEVER take this off at school! Note:  I don't actually use the little cover "class lists" because I like to use a small binder clip to hold the cards together with my ID badge as the cover.  I wasn't about to show that here....Well, because my photo is me plus 60 pounds of pregnancy weight and a really bad pixie short haircut.  Let's just say, last year was NOT my best school photo year! 

I also made a set of class lists that did not have any medical or other information which I use a few different ways.  I keep this mini set near my door so that I can grab it and put it in my pocket if we are heading out for a fire drill (if for some reason my lanyard is at home or connected to my computer).   It is also right near my classroom phone so that I can reference it when the secretary calls and asks what class period "Sarah" is in.  (Hmmm....I have 6 Sarah's and 5 teaching blocks...lets see!)
The last super handy use I have for these pocket-sized class lists is collecting student work.  I copy a bunch of these for each class and keep them handy when collecting assignments.  I personally struggle to keep late/missing assignments straight.  This strategy really helps me remember the specific situations for each missing assignment so that I can record them in my electronic grade book later. 

If you are addicted to new, BRIGHT ways to improve your classroom instruction please to follow me at TpTFacebook or Bloglovin!
This month's bright idea comes from the most dedicated teacher in my school.  I see her car in the school parking lot late at night when I'm driving to the grocery store to buy the snack I forgot about for my son's preschool.  She's the one who remembers everyone's birthday (including my own children).  When I see her students' returned papers, they always have such thoughtful remarks, not just numbers...but real feedback.  Talk about "with-it-ness"...this women is an amazing teacher!  I'm so thankful to call her my friend and colleague.  So Ann, this bright idea is all yours babe.  Thanks for sharing!

I hope you enjoyed this bright idea post.  Please browse the link-up below for more bright ideas from over 100 other teacher-bloggers.  There are ideas for all different grade levels and disciplines.  

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Taming Desktop Clutter with September Desktop Freebie

Two days into the school year and I already couldn't see the surface of my desk.

How can I possibly be drowning in paperwork so soon?  I've got the Erin Condren life planner.  My plans are meticulously typed into (Both of which I LOVE by the way.) However, I still have about 6-7 post-its stuck all over my desk reminding me of IEP meetings, field trip permission slips and phone calls to make. What gives!

I created this September desk mat to help tame the chaos that is my teacher desk and I'm sharing it here in hopes that it might help one more busy teacher be a little more organized this school year.

Here is how I used this mat in my classroom:

Whenever I had a "note-to-self" moment that didn't fit in my other planners, I wrote it either on my September Think Mat or on a small post-it to attach to the mat.  Just placing all these random reminders in one spot seemed to keep my desk looking less cluttered.

Want to give this organization strategy a try for free?  Click Here to grab this freebie from my TpT store.  Remember to follow me so that you can be updated when I post the other monthly think mats that I've got in the works!

I hope this desktop think mat brings some cheer to your classroom this month!  Stay tuned, I plan to post the other 9 that I am working on SOON!

Happy Teaching


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