Whew! I made it through my first day of the year! It was exhausting and my feet are killing me ( two months of sandals means my feet were out of shape for closed toed shoes!) It doesn’t help that the swamp cooler at school is broken as well so my classroom is more like a sauna. But all in all it was great to meet my new students. I am excited to get to really know these kids and get into the fun part of teaching. Our first day is only a half day for students so we literally have no time for fun stuff, it is a whole bunch of organizing materials, going over school procedures, and classroom expectations. I am looking forward to tomorrow because I will have a break when the kids go to music and PE, plus I can actually do some fun lessons with the kids. The best part is I think I got all the names memorized already!
This was my first second year at a school ( how’s that for English?- it’s the first time I have had a second year at a school) so it was so cool to see everyone a year older. My students are now down the hall in the middle school, the little second graders are now third graders and have joined us upstairs. And the little PreKers are now Kindergarteners. Naturally this one hit me close to home as my own little one donned her uniform and entered her first day of Kinder!!
Here is my beautiful girl all ready for her big day:
And here is my new First Day of School Dress that I am just in love with. It is so comfortable and easy breezy. It took me about four episodes of Mad Men this weekend to sew it up. * Yes, I count my sewing time in Netflix episodes rather than actual time!* I thought it perfect since St. Therese is known as “The little flower” and the fabric is a graphic rose print. I’m like a kid- I love to pick out something special to wear on the first day.
Excuse the totally dorky picture!
Okay, I referenced my game pieces in an earlier post so I thought it was about time I sat down and wrote out a tute. I know many of you use some form of Homeworkopoly or some such game, so hopefully someone finds this helpful. Since I keep my game on a chalkboard instead of a bulletin board, I have always had a hard time with game pieces. So I made my own version of the little marble magnets many people have made!
First you need small round sticky back magnets, flat bottomed clear marbles, and stickers that are round and smaller than the marble. You will also need a sharpie!
I used some book dot labels I had in my drawer. I did not have modge podge at school so I improvised and am very happy with the result. The trick here is that you are writing on the wrong side of the sticker! Use the sharpie to write a number for each of your students on the white sticky side of your sticker, then attach the sticker to the flat side of the marble. You should be able to clearly see the number though the marble.
Next, you take the paper backing off the sticky magnet and adhere it to the flat side of the marble as well.
Simple. As. That.
You now have a sturdy set of game pieces that can be used over and over again throughout the years!
Also, check out what I did to my dice! I simply put adhesive magnets on a clear plastic box so my dice could hang right on the gameboard!
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!
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!
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!