Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Teacher Tips Tuesday!

It's Tuesday again (can someone please slow the summer down!). 
 I'm super excited to have yet another fabulous blogger!  Today I have April from The Idea Backpack here!  She has some great organizations tips for you!

I am excited to help in Tori’s Teacher Tips Tuesday. My name is April Walker and my blog is the Idea Backpack (ideabackpack.blogspot.com). I taught for almost 4 years. For the last few months I have been working as a technical writer because teaching jobs are so difficult to obtain! It has given me a new appreciation for writing, formatting, organization, and editing though. I live in Dallas, Texas. My teaching experience is with grades 3-6 for English and Social Studies.

My natural bent is too over-think and make lists for everything. In my several years of teaching, I did learn a few things about organization though. I have seen lots of teacher-bloggers making really cute binder covers for a main teacher binder. I have been making binder covers myself, mainly because I want to move most of my files over to binders. Here are a few tips on a teacher binder, though.

A Teacher Binder

1) Dividers!

Get dividers in different colors and sizes. I love the dividers with pockets. Why? Well, as much as having the perfect binder with all the right sections sounds perfect; the truth is in the middle of the chaos of your day, you don’t always have time to hole-punch things. You can always throw lessons and handouts in the pocket to be hole-punched later. I also love the dividers with pockets because they are larger. This allows you to also use normal dividers to allow for even more sub-topics of organization. For example, I might have a pocket divider for the first six weeks and then behind it other dividers for tests and lessons or a divider for each subject.

Avery Multicolored Plastic Insertable Tab Dividers, 8-Tab

The picture of the purple folder/pocket thing is great, too, to throw in your binder. You can store all sorts of extra whatever in there. It closes up too, which can be helpful.

2) Make it your own

Just because someone else has one set of categories doesn’t mean that is right for you. I have tried having dividers for each subject, reading groups, and even a divider for each six weeks. I like keeping my lessons and copy of all activities and tests in the binder. It makes it easier when I have to run and make a copy of something. When I taught multiple grades and subjects, I had a binder for each grade. Then within each grade, I had a section for each subject. I always include a general section at the front for school info, field trips, parent logs, etc.

3) Put sections for things you will really use

Some years my sections were based more on what I was told had to be in my binder than what was really useful for me. Make sure you re-evaluate as well. If it's not working, change it up.

A Teacher Notebook

I would also recommend having a college-ruled notebook. I like having a 3 subject notebook. I didn’t like taking my teacher binder to staff meetings because it was too bulky. I found a notebook to be easier. I use the first section for meeting notes, the second section for writing lesson planning ideas and to-do-lists, and the third section for professional development.

It is a little pricy, but it comes with a little calendar, pockets for all those meeting handouts, and post-it flags. You can find them on sale, too.

My biggest struggle was probably taking and storing anecdotal student notes on reading and other types of conferences. How do you organize your teacher binder? What sections do you find essential? If this has been helpful at all, I would love to hear from you at ideabackpack@gmail.com.

Thank you so much April!  I LOVE learning about new tips from others...especially things that have worked out well!

**Remember to stop back tomorrow as I will be reviewing some products of a blogger friend as I link up with Jessica Stanford's Product Swap!!  I'm excited!**

Last thing... I'd love to have YOU be a part of Teacher Tips Tuesday!  Please email me for details...it's super easy!
Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Monday Made it with Freebies!

I'm super excited to link up with Tara @ 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made it!  My projects today were inspired by some fun ideas floating out there.

#1...The Scratch Card...
Last week Lynn @ Inside this Book posted about her Vista Print scratch off cards.

I decided to make my own...but realized quickly that I didn't have any card stock to print them on.  Hmmm... instead I found... scrapbook paper!
I LOVE scrapbook paper... I use it for so many things!!
I printed the set and realized that I really like the scrapbook effect..
This one is clouds.
Here I discovered that printing with the white on the front
made the back super fun! 
I then realized that I didn't have contact paper (man, I am SO unprepared this time!)...so I'm trying out Scotch tape.  Just cover the area that you will be painting.
cover the part you will paint
To make the scratch off paint... you need paint (any dark color) AND dish soap... not too much (as I realized! About 2 parts paint and 1 part dish soap)

Paint enough to cover your wording - you may need more than one layer.

It does take a few hours to completely dry.  Let's see if it worked...
You can see where the tape overlaps... for the perfectionist~this is not a good idea:)  For the quick and unprepared... works great!;)  To do it properly, I would just cover my square with contact paper and paint that area.  I'm off to Target to get some now ;)

Yippee I got No Homework! :)

If you are interested in using these scratch off cards... click {here} :)

#2... The Lantern...
A few weeks ago I posted about these great lanterns...

Well I splurged and got them!  They are a bit pricey but will give my room just the look it needs...I think... I hope!!

Here's how they come....
Lots of fun colors...6 total.

Here's what I did to the orange one:
I added ribbon at the top where I will hang it from my ceiling.  I then added the ribbon at the bottom and added the table cards that I made.  I had to do some finagling to get the bottom on.  I added paper clips to create loop holes:
Before I do the others I will find some white paper clips which won't look so tacky ;)
If you are interested in the table cards, I have them {here}

#3... Visa Print Share...
I just got a few things that I wanted to share...

This is vinyl and it was FREE! It's hard to tell how HUGE this thing is!
It will match my newly painted blue wall perfectly!

These are magnets and they were FREE!  I plan to either give them out
at curriculum night OR use them in the classroom.  There is a space
to write the child's name :)
I also got a pad of paper (free!), a pen (free!), and note cards also free!  If you don't get caught up in all the "extra" stuff they try to add then you can get a good deal! 

Thanks SO much for stopping by!!  Please stop back as I have some GREAT things coming this week...

Tuesday- Teacher Tips Tuesday
Wednesday- Product Swap
Thursday- Math and Giveaway!!

Thanks for your support! :)


Have you heard of MathRack?  I know, I hadn't either until I took a class this past spring!  It's a great way to teach the knowledge of 10, number sense, problem solving, skip counting, addition and subtraction.. you name it!


After the initial video... click on others to REALLY learn more!!

I love the 100 one!

As soon as I figure out how to do it, this is going to be my first Donor's Choose request!

Have you used this?  Do you use something similar? I'd love to hear your ideas!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Tell Me More Linky!

As I saw this little linky pop up more and more on my screen I caved and decided to join :)  Thanks Amy for the great linky idea :)

Here's my little ditty...
(there are a few from a previous post that I thought I'd share again :)

1.  I am HUGE people watcher.  My husband thinks its fun to watch me watch other people.  Sometimes I will watch how people interact (like a husband and wife) and try and figure out what they are saying to each other based on their body language.  I know it's weird.  I took a writing class in college and the teacher told us to go to a public place and write a story based on people you watch... I thought I had died and gone to heaven!! :)

2. I am a reality TV junkie!  You name the reality show and I probably have it DVR'ed! (Ok, except those housewives shows- not a fan)  I guess this is a spin off of #1 as I LOVE to see how people interact!  I always thought that my dream job would be to cast for a reality show because I would be the one who could analyze how people might get along with each other (or not get along :).  Again, weird. ;)

  3. I had blue eyes until I was 3. So the story (as my mom tells it) ... I had blue eyes when I went to sleep shortly after turning 3 and I woke up the next day with green eyes! I am the only one in my family with green eyes. Many people tell me they are like "cat eyes," and they get greener if I wear something green.
Ok, they are not that green, but you get the idea! :)

4. My husband and I have been together for 12 1/2 years (married for 7).  We actually met in another state and I gave him my number even though I had no idea where he was from (AND I was dating someone at the time).  When he finally called I found out he lived 30 minutes from me!  It has been an amazing 12 years with a lot of ups and downs.  At the end of the day, I always know he is there for me.

5. Speaking of my husband... he's an ice sculptor. Yes you heard that right. We met because I was visiting a friend who is a reporter and she was doing a story on him.. I was tagging along. He and I talked more than she talked to him! He owns a sculpting business in Chicago and can make pretty much anything you can think of .... in.... ice. The bad part? It melts! For our wedding he made a pretty "cool" ice bar with ice shot glasses. People are still talking about that. :)

6. One Easter my sister thought it would be fun to get me an egg to hatch (I was probably in sixth grade). She brought the incubator and the whole nine yards. Well a little chick did hatch and I loved that thing until one day at 2 a.m. it started crowing... cock-a-doodle-doo... yep that chick was not a chicken... it was a rooster! So now I have fun telling my students that I once lived with a rooster. :)

7.  This is the toughest for me to share... my son is my miracle.  He was due May 1st, 2008 and he came into the world on Feb. 8th, 2008.  He was 2 1/2 pounds.  He spent 75 days in the NICU (I know because I was there every.single.day).  It was a very long road but I am very happy to say that he is a completely healthy and happy 4 year old! :)  Here are some before and after pics... 1st one is 8 days old....second is 4 1/2 years old.  Notice the dog in both pics :) 

Now I have to go and read all the other ones! :)
Thanks so much for reading mine!!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Winner and Daily 5 odds and ends

And the results are in....

Here is her awesome winning pic one last time :)  Congrats Heidi... you'll be getting some good stuff shortly!!  


Thanks to Jessica, Lisa, Kelley, Lori and Michele for their donations and help throughout this linky journey :)


I was so excited to get an email yesterday asking about some teaching things that I have/do!!  I LOVE those kinds of emails!!  I thought I would share them with you so you can all benefit!  Please do email me any time with questions!!  (grab my email on the upper right)

So the question was regarding chimes in my classroom.  This was a great question, one that I started researching when I knew that I would be doing Daily 5.  I finally found this:

It's from www.musicwands.com and I LOVE it.  I use it for all my transitions (and it's only $4.99!).  There was also the question of was it loud enough for entire 'busy' classroom to hear... and the answer is YES.  That's what I love most about it is that it is so light and you wouldn't think it had any umph to you but it is loud and makes a very nice chime sound.  They also have these shapes too...

I was also asked about book boxes (I should just do a whole Daily 5 segment... I LOVE D5 so bring your questions!!).  Here are some options and then I'll share what I've done.  Target has plastic ones that would last you forever IF you can track down enough for your class- up side is that you won't have to worry about the kids destroying the "box" the down side is that you can't customize it for that particular kid.  Another idea (cheapest version) is to use cereal boxes!  There was a teacher at my school that sent home a newsletter requesting parents to send in a cereal box.  She cut the tops off and the kids had fun decorating the box.  Up side... totally kid friendly.  Down side... not too big and not sturdy enough.

So... here's what I do.  I take a trip to IKEA each summer (planning my trip next week!!) and grab their "magazine files."   What you see below is their best deal and you CAN order this online....

FLYT Magazine file IKEA

Magazine file, white

$1.99  / 5 pack

These are just white but sturdy and perfect for fitting 8+ books in it.  AND CHECK that price!!  That's like 40 cents a piece!!
I get something VERY similar to this except its like $2.50 for 4 and they have some cute stripes on them (to add some color to the room).  
Notice the cutesy box :)

I know a teacher who likes to the get white above and have the kids decorate them (totally cute idea).  I, on the other hand, am pretty anal about that kind of stuff and with so many of those boxes in the room I wanted something more uniform (and color).  When I make my IKEA run I will post pics of what I find :)

Thanks for reading!