Category Archives: Planning

Teacher Talk Tuesday and my first Giveaway!

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!


Read the Rainbow- My Reading Program

I just finished reading the book The Book Whisperer because I had heard such good things about it. It was a very inspiring book about reading instruction, but more than that, it validated so much of what I already do in the classroom. My students read silently for long periods throughout the day, share books among themselves, and we talk about books a lot!  I took over a page of notes from the books of new things to do or try, and it made me more passionate about the method I use to get my students to read! I occasionally question myself when I people are surprised to come into my class to see students reading silently. I feel like I am not doing my job if I am not constantly talking to my students at a whole! But then I remember that they are learning a great deal about people, places, grammar, English, emotions, science and so many other new things!  And of course my students do not sit and read for 8 hours, so I do impart a little of my own knowledge for part of the day!

I did not completely invent this idea, my own fourth grade teacher used it in her classroom. I really have no idea where she got it! I used what I vaguely remember from her along with the requirements of my school to teach genre. I drew a rainbow and filled it in with genres that my students need to read. I also have a pot of gold filled with books, fancy bookmarks, and some treats that they can choose from when they finish a whole rainbow. ( I forgot to take a picture of my pot today at school, but I got a large plastic cauldron at Wal-Mart one year around Halloween.)

When I started doing this I had students complete a review worksheet on the book before I would initial the rainbow  square and let them color it in. I think I am going to phase this out and concentrate more on our reading response journals and conferences.

This is where I keep the reviews along with each student’s folder. It’s likely I’ll get rid of this system and instead glue the rainbow into their response notebook. Then I could store more book here!

I start the school year with several mini lessons about genres and we continually discuss it throughout the year.  The rainbow helps the students visually see how much they are reading and feel the accomplishment of coloring in each square when they finish!

Here is the rainbow each student fills out. I scanned it in as a picture, but I can try to scan it in as a PDF or text document if you are interested in using it for your classroom.

I have always required one rainbow per school year, but after reading the The Book Whisperer, I wonder if I should set the expectations higher and have one complete before Christmas?  What do you think?

As for the reason I didn’t get much done at school today? Well this little helper had something to do with my lack of productivity…

Curriculum Mapping. It only takes a year or two…

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?

The Everything Teacher Binder TOTE Tute

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
  • scissors
  • pins

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!

The Everything Teacher Binder Tote! ETBT

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!)

From Binder to Tote!

Supplies to make a ETBT
3-4 inch binder
5 dividers
5 plastic binder pockets
Binder 3- hole punch
Binder calculator
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
pink highlighter
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!

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

Summer’s End

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!