Category Archives: Organization
I loved coming home bone tired last night and logging on to Google Reader and learning so much about my favorite bloggers who were a part of Blog Hoppin’s teacher week. I was too late for Monday, but I wanted to join in the fun for Teacher Talk Tuesday!
I am in my third year of teaching, not including a year of subbing, and I still feel like a new teacher! I find it refreshing though, to always feel a little bit of anxiety at key times- first day of school, parent teacher conferences, report cards, meetings with the principal! Feeling like I don’t quite have it down yet is what drives me to put in so much effort outside of the classroom. Thinking like a new teacher helps you grow every year no matter how long you’ve been doing it.
Here are some thoughts on how to prepare like a new teacher, even if you are not one!
1. Read and Research! Some of you are lucky enough to have schools that offer professional development that is inspiring and useful. Even though we would all rather be in the classroom, really get involved in the training and be enthusiastic about attending. ( both physically and mentally!) Never feel like it is a waste of your time, if nothing else, you can store it in your teaching toolbox until you need it! Sometimes we are not lucky enough to be a part of great Professional development. My school offers very little. But, there are so many great books out there on teaching and inspiring kids. I was very jazzed after reading The Book Whisperer and I know many of you were as well. And if you are reading my blog right now you already have the next part of my advice down pat- search for ideas and inspiration from other teachers, in your building or online.
2. Take any donations offered to you! When anyone says “Juli, would you like…” I always answer an enthusiastic “YES!” Do your best to store and save it. You’ll need it soon. A huge part of teaching is improvising and it will don on you that you really could use 10,000 drinking straws to teach geometry. You will end up spending a huge amount of your own money over time, but collecting “trash” can really save you time and money in the end. I can not tell you how many times I have run to my odds and ends craft closet to find exactly what I needed for an activity. Heck, I even had a mom offer me a case of Emergen-C! We as teachers always need that!
3. Talk about work with your coteachers everywhere but the lounge. And eat lunch in the lounge- not in your room even though you have papers to grade. Teachers get such a small amount of time to spend together during the day. Take a break from work to recharge your batteries. Take the time to talk to your peers about what they do outside of school. You will feel so much more comfortable in school if you get to know people on a personal level. And don’t eat in your own room, or with one or two people in their room. I have worked in schools that do it both ways and the ones with the most comfortable cultures are where all teachers eat in one place. Schools are the perfect breeding ground for cliques, so don’t let yourself form one!
4. Become friends with the administrative assistant and the janitor/ maintenance man first! If you have these two people on your side, you will get the support you need to make your classroom run smoothly. Sure you will want to please your principle, but these are the two people you do not want to cross! Find what they love to eat and bake it, haha! But in reality, go out of your way to get to know the support staff too. No school can operate without them!
5. Let your students know you. Naturally I don’t mean that you should tell your students about marital problems or your body issues. But let them know your insecurities and your mistakes, they need to know you are a lot like them. Depending on the culture, SES, income level, geographic area of your students- you might fit right in, or be polar opposite, but they still have to relate. You might not know what it is like to sleep in a shelter, or live in a country where you do not know the language. But you might know what it felt like when you went on a trip to another country, or how you felt when you lost your grandma. Students don’t need to see that you overcame the same struggles they did, they just need to see that you overcame some of your own. I turn myself into the fifth grade me all the time to get across a message, “Well, when I was in fifth grade I could not remember which was the tibia and which was the fibula, so I made up this rhyme…” You can relate to them on a personal level, a school level, or simply a human level. Just let them in, let them be a part of your triumphs and failures.
I recently acquired two brand new books that I have duplicates of, so I thought it would be a perfect time for my first give away! Comment below and click to follow Teaching In Pink on Facebook, and I will enter you in a drawing for one of the books. State which book you want to be entered for and there will be two random winners on Friday!
The first book is Classroom Management in Photographs. I have mine filled with sticky notes of things to try or rearrange. This is where I first saw a version of the crate seats that have been so popular this summer. I wanted this book for a long time and was very pleased when I got it!
The second book is Ancient Egypt History Pockets Grades 4-6+. I teach Ancient Egypt in fifth grade and these pockets were awesome. They are so fun for the kids and really add to our dry textbooks. Yes, teachers are creative people who can come up with stuff just as good as you can find in any book. However, this is one of those books where the activities really great and students love them! Plus you don’t have to stay up all night Googling fifth grade Ancient Egypt projects.
Well, now I am off to glean all the great advice from you on your blogs! Good luck on the giveaway!
I feel like I’ve been working so hard on my room the last few weeks, but I don’t feel like my room is close to done! I stayed at work until 6:30 last night and I only have one corner of my room actually complete. Luckily, it is my library corner and most likely the most labor intensive part of the room. I was hoping to have the room done by now though, because I only have one day left in my room before Check In Day!
I still need to cover my chalkboards, and organize a lot of my stuff. I was really hoping I would only be working on curriculum and planning tomorrow, but that is not likely to happen. I know it will all come together in the end though!
I took a few pictures of things in my room that I did accomplish this week so far. Maybe writing about them will make me feel not as far behind!
First, I decided that I did not want my Read the Rainbow as a bulletin board that was stagnant. I only have one true bulletin board in my room and it seemed a waste to put something up that didn’t change. So I made a poster to hang instead.
And here is a picture of my Pot O Gold. When a student completes a rainbow, they get to pick a prize. I keep trendy books, book related cards or trinkets, book lights, etc. I like to keep it literature related so it feeds into the excitement of reading.
Since I wanted to make my bb more interactive, I made a Reading Takes Us Places bb. This concept has been around since I was in school and probably before, but I think its a fun idea. When I student finishes a book, they will write their name, book title, and place on a card and then hang it on the board. Then they’ll put a pin on that spot on the map! I want to find a way to include all the made up places book take us too. Any ideas on how to incorporate that?
For my PI Club, I’ve been on a hunt for a briefcase to use to keep all the mysteries in. While searching at the teacher supply store, I came across this expanding file system on clearance for $2.50 and I thought it was perfect! I added cardboard at the bottom to keep it upright, and made a little cardboard handle to make it look like a briefcase.
And the PI Club advertising board:
I also make new game pieces for Homeworkopoly. I will share more info about those later, I’m late for a softball game!
I’ll leave you with one last shot of my finished library! Well almost finished… I still want to make pillows and finish my crate seats. I also spent almost a whole day sorting my books by genre. I usually want kids to figure it out themselves, but i thought this might make the Rainbow easier to accomplish!
I must apologize for my crazy pictures the last few posts. I am having trouble getting them from Photobucket into WordPress without them getting distorted or sized incorrectly. Hopefully the odd photos aren’t too distracting!
I woke up this morning feeling awful. Achy- nauseous- head throbbing- grouchy awful. So like any good mom I put a Disney movie on and curled up on the couch until I started to feel a little like a human being. By the time I felt me enough to have a cup of coffee, it was too late to go into my classroom and still make it to my daughter’s doctor appointment. So instead of spending the day cleaning my messy house like I should have, I made a few little things for my classroom!
I was really inspired by this picture I found on Pinterest. I generally have students who need me write their names on the board while I am meeting with a student, but the names don’t move themselves up the board and before I know it the names are out of order. So needless to say the “take a number idea” really appeals to me. So I made up my own version. I used a wooden oval I bought at Dollar Tree, painted it brown, and modge podged letters I cut out of fabric scraps. I added a small nail and made five paper circles that I numbered 1-5. I will laminate the circles when I get to school.
There are certain class times where I am not working with a designated group, but still have the ability to work with students one on one. During times like this, I will ask students to take a number. After they have met with me, they can return the number to the sign, and another student can get their number.
I found this cute little bin at Target in the dollar spot and knew it would be perfect to hang by my door for notes from students. I simply added some sticker letters (clearly I am down to the end of the sheet- I used all different fonts) and mp-ed it on for good measure. I also bought darling suction cup hangers that had big pink flowers on them. I am going to fit it into my pegboard and hang the note basket from it!
I also had this box from a Bare Minerals purchase that I loved to much to get rid of. It has a nice flap lid and is pretty and sturdy. But the front said something about beauty and didn’t work for the classroom setting. So I covered the flap in paper and wrote Idea Box on it. This will be on my desk and will allow students to share ideas about anything they think we should do in the classroom- new projects, free time activities, etc.
So all in all, I felt it was a pretty productive sick day! I will try to get into my classroom for a few hours tomorrow to get my boards covered in paper and sort my textbooks.
Then I have one last official weekday of summer that I really do get to spend cleaning (guests coming this weekend!) Then into the classroom on Monday!
Does your school district provide you with a curriculum map? When I worked in a public school, we had a pacing and planning guide for every subject that laid out exactly what to teach and when. Many of our subjects were even scripted! I am not a huge fan of scripted lessons because it takes all the creativity and fun out of teaching (hmm… sounds like how I felt with many assignments as a student!).
At my new school, I have been given standards and textbooks, but no map of when to teach what. I flailed a little last year as I tried to lay out what I could, but I was constantly getting frustrated that I was not keeping up the pace I had set for myself. So this year I took a large piece of copy paper (11″x 14″) and drew a million lines! I filled each subject in vertically and across the top, broke the year into weeks. Then I penciled in what I needed to be doing each week in every subject. I drew dark lines to represent a mid term or trimester, and at the bottom added what school events would be happening at this time. I am a HUGE believer in cross- curricular teaching. You will easily walk in during Math and see us writing, or doing algorithms during literacy! The curriculum map lets me see where I can combine themes or subjects. We do not use every textbook from chapter one to chapter twenty one. We skip around according to what we are working on in every subject!
Here is a view of my overall map while I was still working on it:
Up close you can see a few more specifics:
Yes I realize I could make this look nice and tidy on Excel, but I am a paper and pencil girl. Plus this is only my second year teaching this grade and nothing is set in stone (or in type in this case). Perhaps after this year I will enter it all nice and neat, but for now, this snapshot of my year makes me feel accomplished and prepared. Just like any map, it gives my direction of where to travel.
Do you plan your year on your own? How much flexibility do you have in your teaching?
I remember being one of the first to finish my assignments, ready to delve into something fun and exciting. Then being told to read at my desk. Now, I love to read so it didn’t bother me until I raised my hand to tell me teacher I was done and needed a new book. Then I often saw a quick look of exasperation flash across her face because she was trying to work with kids who needed her undivided attention…
As a teacher candidate in college I was well versed on how to work with my ELL students, my low readers, ssn students, and many other groups of students to differentiate for. But I really felt that my education was lacking in how to help my high students. There are several levels on that scale too. From competent students to the truly gifted and talented, they all need added challenges that don’t include busy work. I did my senior thesis paper on how to address those needs. However, being at two new schools in two years, I was concentrating most on learning the basic curriculum! Well this summer I have been brainstorming my new plan!
Anyone else have a potty training toddler that interrupts every blogging session at least twice to sit unsuccessfully on the potty?? haha
I really like the Mastery Club idea, but I wanted to make it more challenging. I don’t want my students to be able to google and answer or grab an encyclopedia and be done. Plus as a kid I was mildly obsessed with being a detective and this is my way of living vicariously! So I have spent the better part of my week googling, scouring bookstores, and brainstorming ideas. I do not have it all ironed out yet, but I will get there as the weeks go on. I spent so much darn time on my printables that I am happy to share them to save you some time! i considered using Vistaprint, but honestly I don’t have the money to pay shipping even for free cards! So I just made a pdf file that I will copy at school on cardstock and laminate!
So this is how it works:
When students have NO missing or unfinished work, they can work on a mystery. I have six subjects that they can pick from. There are challenges that range from easy to very difficult in each subject. They must correctly complete 5 challenges in each subject. They can have two tries at any challenge.
In order to get their PI card, they must first complete two of the introductory Brain Teaser Mysteries. I found a slew of thee FREE here. I saved all kinds of worksheets to use for these challenges. I love that they include some easy ones so my lower kids can still participate. I was extremely excited to find these and I had some fun solving them myself!
Since I teach at a Catholic School, I also included some Bible Mysteries. I found these investigations here. I plan to type about three up per challenge so in reality they will complete 15 total!
I found some great books from Scholastic that I will use for Math and Comprehension. As soon as Scholastic opens for the year I will purchase these. I am still researching the best books or websites for printable science and history mysteries. I might end up coming up with some of these on my own! Do you have any suggestions?
Now for the fun part- FILES!!
Pupil Investigator Club Card (I think I will hole punch through each symbol when they have mastered that subject)
As they complete a challenge correctly, I will fill it in on the certificate. When five challenges in that subject are complete, I will present the following certificate to them:
I will share more mysteries as I come up with them. Hopefully you have enough here to get you started if you want to start a PI Club in your classroom too!
I was given the green light to get into my classroom today. I was very excited to get the big items back in their places so I could start to focus on the little things. I packed my two girls, a picnic lunch, and those sweet furniture slider things. I thought I was really going to make a dent today…
However, my principal seemed to overlook some little things of her own. The trim around my new carpet is not complete so I couldn’t move any of my furniture against the wall! So basically I got nothing accomplished today. It was so very nice to see my new carpet though. Granted, it is brown and not so pretty, but my old carpet was blood red and over 30 years old! I also discovered that the movers put several of my filing cabinets and desks into the wrong classroom and I can not move those myself, so hopefully we will have a maintenance person in soon. I would hate for the sixth grade teacher to come and set up er room only to find her classroom full of my stuff!
Here is a picture of what my classroom looks like right now:
And my teacher closet is a little overwhelming for me as well:
I was pretty excited to find a pilot reading curriculum set waiting in my room though. We use Open Court Reading and I am just not a fan of using this in the upper grades. I prefer novel studies and guided reading to the anthology books. I am interested to look though the books and see how I like it. We are up for a new literacy curriculum next year, so I am happy to give this a try. Do any of you use Reading Street? If nothing else it feels good to have some shiny new samples to read through!
Also waiting for me in my box were the two books I asked my principal to order for me over the summer. I think these will both fit very nicely into my reading program. I love finding resources that are already created that supplement what you are already doing!
And just for fun, this is how I spent my weekend!
So tell me, if you have not already started your year, how does your classroom look right now? Are you ready for all the back to school goodness?
This is a very basic tutorial that anyone who has beginner sewing skills can master! You can see the way I use my ETBT below in yesterday’s post. If you are not a sew-er, you can purchase a custom one at my etsy store!
- 1/2 yard fabric (I prefer oilcloth for this, but any heavy fabric will work) A directional print will require more yardage.
- Additional 1/8 yard matching or contrasting fabric or webbing for handles
- 18″ coordinating ribbon
- 3 or 4 inch binder
- a swivel hook
Sewing Tools/ Supplies you will need also
- Matching thread
- measuring tool
- chalk or dressmaker’s pen
To begin, lay your fabric out flat wrong side up and place your binder on top of it. Measure 1/2 around each edge of the binder. Mark with chalk or dressmaker’s pencil. Remove your binder and cut along your markings.
Put the binder back on your fabric. Lay the remaining fabric out on top of the binder to measure the inside of the tote. You will want your fabric to end about 1/2″ to 1″ away from the binder fold. You can finish the inner edge with a hem, or leave it raw if the fabric doesn’t fray. I like to use my selvege edges here for a fun finished look.
Cut the inside piece to size. Then cut another piece the same size. Now you will need the right side inside piece (this will be the back inside cover of your binder) and your ribbon. Gather up various pens and pencils here too. Take your ribbon and thread your swivel hook onto it. Place the hook at the middle of your ribbon and pull the ends until they meet. Sew the two pieces of ribbon together at the top and bottom edge.
Now you will create the pen holders. Place about 4 of your favorite writing utensils on the fabric. Place the ribbon on top of them, pinning between each pen.
Remove pens carefully so as to not pull out the pins. Sew where each pin is.
You can create handles by cutting two four inch strips the length you want your handles. Then fold each length wise and iron. Fold the raw edges in again and iron. Your finished handles will be one inch wide with four layers of fabric inside. Sew close to both long edges to finish the handles. You can also use webbing or ready made purse handles.
On right side of inside piece, measure two and half inches from the bottom and top edges. Pin your handles aligning the raw egdes. make sure that your handle is not twisted.
Now sew the handles down using 3/8 in seam allowance. Back stitch several times to add stability.
Now place large piece of fabric right side up (the front of your binder tote that you cut). Place the inside pieces on top, right sides down. Make sure that your finished edges face the middle. Pin all the way around making sure not to catch your handles in the top or bottom seams. Sew.
Clip corners then turn tote right side out.
Carefully push corners out with the a bone turner or capped pen. Smooth all edges out. Then fold down 1/2 at the top and bottom between the two pockets. Sew.
Slide one side of your binder half way into one pocket.
Fold Binder open backwards and slide other side into pocket.
Fold your binder closed and try on your new tote!
Fill it up with your teacher goodies and enjoy the ease of toting it to and from!
Feel free to comment and or ask for clarification if I missed a step!
I have a deep seeded desire to be organized. I don’t always succeed, especially by Halloween when things have gotten pretty hectic. But I feel that if I give a home to my most important information, I’ll do okay. I am a little binder obsessed as well. I love how easily you can add things to them, and switch them around. However, I hated that I had to carry a bag big enough to carry a large binder, plus pens, pencils, sticky notes, calculator, keys, and all the other things teachers can’t live without.
So being the crafty diy-er that I am, I came up with the perfect solution. I made a fabric case for my binder that included everything I needed- even handles! Now I can head to a staff meeting with only my binder and I am the organizational envy of my coworkers! (I don’t know this for sure, but I would be envious if I saw someone else with my cool system!)
Supplies to make a ETBT
3-4 inch binder
5 plastic binder pockets
Binder 3- hole punch
Binder Sticky Note sheet (Dollar Tree!)
Binder pencil case
ETBT cover (tutorial will be posted tomorrow! or order a custom from etsy)
At the very front of my binder I keep my pencil case. I made my own, but any 3-hole case with a zipper will work. In this I include many essential items:
pink grading pens
whiteout correction tape
Calculator that fits into three ring binder (if you can not find one like this, you should be able to fit a calculator into your pencil pouch)
Sheet of sticky notes that fits in binder. I found mine at Dollar Tree and want to go back and buy a lifetime supply. It is so handy! http://www.dollartree.com/school-office-supplies/Desk-Supplies/School-Supplies/Sticky-Note-Sets/291c434c428p308540/index.pro?method=search
Next, in front of my first tab I keep the monthly calendars handed out to me at the beginning of the year by my principal. I also include my daily schedule and any schedules given to me by specialist teachers, such as Title I Math or Reading.
First Tab: Plans
I print out my plan book that I made myself.Naturally I copy my pages on pink paper. Here is my plan page one, and here is page two. I type only the permanent things in. I write my daily plans in pencil a week at a time. Things come up often and its easy to erase and change plans! I will include a separate post soon on the ins and outs of my planning.
In pocket at end of section: My yearly curriculum map and lesson
plan book masters. I print my masters in white because it is easier to copy.
Second Tab: Class Info
I still keep a paper gradebook, even though my school requires us to use Thinkwave. I realize this is more work for me. But my classroom internet is shotty at best and I am a pencil to paper person at heart. This allows me to see quickly who is missing what assignment if I haven’t graded it yet. I will describe more about my grading system next week. At the beginning of the year after I assign numbers, I add the names into my checklist here, and run copies for each subject as needed.
I also keep a student at a glance sheet that includes vital information on one sheet. Name, birthday, guardian names, phone number, first language, allergies and photo release information. I also record which students have IEPs, etc, but I do not keep the actual paperwork in my binder.
In pocket at end of section: Master of student checklist and several extra copies.
Third Tab: Procedures
Here I include all the paperwork I send home in my Family Handbook. My procedures are detailed and by the end of the year, covered in penciled notes of what to change for next year! I also include the list of textbooks that my school uses for each subject.
In pocket at end of section: Master of procedures that don’t have my pencil scratches!
Fourth Tab: Professional Development
I keep a log of all the professional development hours I accumulate. Since I am now at a private school, we get a lot less of this than when I was at public school, but it is helpful for induction programs and licensure. I keep a record of notes and handouts from these PD meetings as well. However, if it is an ongoing PD then it usually gets its own folder in my filing cabinet. Our ELL trainer usually hands out an entire ream of paper by the end of the trainings!
Our principal hands out agendas for every meeting. I love this! All I have to do is hole punch it and stick it in this section. I take notes on it during the meeting for my own information, and transfer any event dates from it straight to my monthly calendars or my plan book. One staff member takes minutes from our meetings and emails them to us, so I always have an official back up file on my computer as well.
In pocket at end of section: Master of Professional Development log
Fifth Tab: Forms/ Passes
Many of the forms and passes I use have been downloaded from the internet over the last few years. I do not have sources for all of them, but I will give credit where I can! I mark each master with an M in yellow highlighter (this way I do not use my last copy of anything, and the M will not copy!) The forms I currently include are:
- Bathroom Passes (I copy these on bright yellow)
- Restroom/ Water log checkout
- Wow report (I copy these on bright orange) upload
- Oops report (I copy these on light blue) upload
- Student Behavior Log
- Parent Contact Log
- Absent Folder Work List
- Substitute Teacher information
- Passes to sharpen pencils, get a drink of water, play games at recess, or have lunch with teacher (I sell these with behavior points)
- I’m Telling sheet (I wish I could find the origin of this paper- I love it!)
- Weekly and Daily behavior contracts for students who need them later in the year!
- Material Check Out List
In pocket at end of section: copies of new forms or passes that I have not started using yet- that I download from all of you!
End of Binder: Misc
Anything that comes my way through out the year that does not fit in any particular section gets stuck in the back of my binder. Also my extremely handy binder 3 hole punch lives here too.
My binder tote includes a loop for a mechanical pencil, stick eraser, grading pen, and highlighter. This way I have my essentials handy at all times. I also have a key clip here. So when I go to staff meetings or trainings I can clip my keys on if I don’t want/ need to also take my whole purse.
The End, for now. That’s my work in progress for how I stay organized. I usually have to replace the binder after a year or two, but the cover has lasted longer than any binder inside it. It is very easy to make if you follow my tutorial. If you are a non sew-er or prefer to have it asap, you can check out my etsy store and order on for yourself.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s tutorial! Read the rest of this entry
Okay, well I still have a few more weeks of summer left, but once August 1st comes, I sure do feel like summer is over! From the outsider’s (non teachers) point of view, three weeks off is still huge. But as teachers we know that three weeks left of summer means days filled with lesson planning and bulletin board making and fine tuning all the things that didn’t quite turn out right last year! I was blessed enough to get new carpet in my room this year, but that means that I have to go back even earlier since every single piece of furniture from my classroom is sitting in my hallway! I keep having dreams of going in and someone else set it up for me, or that my materials are missing from the hallway when I get there. Or dreams that I show up on the first day of school and my room is still a mess. Once the dreams of school come, I know my summer vacation is over.
I am currently working on my teacher binder. This is my everything! I carry it with my at all times. Sometimes I even sleep with it. (I’ve been known to plan late into the night and doze with my binder on my lap). I have seen many similar ideas on other blogs, but as with anything else, we each have our own way of doing things. What makes mine special is a surprise that I will be showing a tutorial for tomorrow! I will also include some uploaded documents that you can edit and use to your liking! Stay tuned!