Friday, December 26, 2014

Jump Into January Blog Hop

Hey everybody.  It's been much longer than I had planned between blog posts.  What better way to jump back in than a blog hop?!

As we get ready for a new year, I know it's very stressful for teachers coming back to school after a long winter break.  I, myself, am still wrapping my brain around planning for a new semester, but have no fear!  My friends and I over at The Teaching Tribune are here to help you out!

To celebrate the new year, we are each posting a quick and easy FREE printable product that you can use when you get back to school AND you have the chance to win an Amazon gift card.  All you have to do is hop around to each of our blogs, download the freebies, and then enter to win an Amazon Gift Card at the last stop :)

You can download my winter freebie HERE or click on the picture below.
If you want to check out this product in its entirety, it's available in my store HERE.  I hope you have all have a Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy New Year, and Happy any other holiday you may celebrate.  :)

Now head to the next stop to download your next freebie.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Using Tape to Keep Desks In Place

Are any of you as crazy as I am when it comes to organization in your classrooms?  I love things to be in the right place and neat.  My mind seems cluttered when my classroom is, so I try to minimize the "stuff" in my room.

One of the things that drives me batty is the way that my students' desks manage to drift throughout the day.  The rows and groups will be perfectly straight at the beginning of the day, and 2 hours in, someone's desk is practically in Alabama.  I've heard of zip ties being used to secure desks together, but I don't think that I'm ready to go that far and make such a permanent decision of desk placement; I'd like to be able to decide quickly (without having to cut desks loose from each other) to move someone to a different location or to shift the desks for an activity.

I decided to use a technique that we used back in my old musical theatre days to solve this problem.  You see, in a play, set placement is incredibly important because the location of the set pieces impact where the characters move.  On a stage, glow-in-the-dark tape is used to mark the corners of pieces so that during a set change, items can go EXACTLY into the same place for each performance.  Now, we aren't exactly doing quick set changes during the school day, but I thought this idea could come in handy.

I recently changed my students' seating arrangement and thought this would be the perfect time to get things in order.  Once all of the desks were placed, I went around to each of the "end" desks of a row or column or group, and placed the tape in an "L" around the outside leg of the desk.  My students watched me curiously, wondering what I was doing, and slowly they started figuring it out.  They thought it was a great idea and I often see them shifting their desks slightly into the correct spot.  I even have a student that goes around at the end of each day and makes sure that all of the desks are in their places within the tape.  (I didn't even ask her to - she just does it!)  It has worked out perfectly so far and I'm hoping it will continue.
I'm so glad that I decided to come with a solution for the "wandering desks" and I'd love to hear how you keep your classroom desks organized.

Saturday, October 4, 2014

October Chalk Talk ~ Using Student Reading Organizers

Hey everybody!  It's time for Chalk Talk with my friends and I over at The Primary Chalkboard.  We're all back to share more great tips and resources that you can use in your classrooms.

This month I'm going to be explaining about how I use reading organizers to keep track of my students' reading goals, as well as intervene whenever students are struggling to meet theirs.  Check out my video!

If you want to use my reading organizers in your own classroom to track your students' Accelerated Reader goals, or even just track your students' daily reading, you can find them **HERE**.
Now don't forget to head on over to The Primary Chalkboard to see what resources and tips my friends have for you.  I hope your school year is off to a great start.  Before you know it, we'll be on winter break!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TpT Back to School BOOST Sale ~ Wed 8/20

Hey everybody!  If you weren't able to take advantage of TpT's Back to School 2-Day Sale a few weeks ago, you have another chance!  TpT is having a 1-day Boost sale for Back to School savings.  The sale will run starting at midnight on Wednesday, August 20 until midnight on Thursday.  You have allllll of Wednesday to save!

My entire store will be 20% off, combined with TpT's 10% discount for a combined discount of 28% off!  Don't forget to enter the promo code BOOST at checkout.  Happy shopping!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Back to School Bulletin Board: Instagram

I have been back to school for 2 weeks now and I'm really excited to share my Back to School bulletin board with you.  Since social media is quite the craze and I just got on Instagram (@terrysteachingtidbits), I thought it would be fun to incorporate that idea into my new board.

Here is what I came up with:
I made a colorful Instagram profile page for each of my students (copied onto card stock for durability). I put each student's name on a piece of paper below their profile in Instagram fashion - mine is @missabromitis.   The first week of school, I took each of their pictures and put them on their profile.  I had each student go to their profile page and write a fun back to school comment with hash tags to go along with it.  Some of the hash tags they used were:  #backtoschool #WWII #math, etc.  It was pretty cool to see.  **I apologize for not posting the complete picture of my board, but I don't post my students' faces on my blog**

Are you wondering where I got the Instagram template?

Well, I have a surprise for you :)  You can download it free HERE.  I took a screen shot of my actual Instagram page and put white text boxes over all of the personal info.  You could use this in so many ways and I'm hoping to think of another idea for these later in the year.  I hope you like it!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Make Your Students into Human Task Cards

Hey everybody.  I wanted to share a fun tip with you on how to shake things up in your classroom when it comes to having your students work on a new skill you've taught.  Worksheets can get pretty boring after a while and my students often get antsy.  I have been using task cards with my students for the last two years now.  It's a great way to add some movement to their activities.  For my 5th graders, though, sometimes even task cards become a little monotonous so I wanted to try something different.

In my newest product, Divisibility Detective, I have an activity where each of my students becomes a number.  They walk around the room and meet other "numbers"and complete the divisibility task.  How do they know their numbers?  To give them their numbers, I actually printed them onto shipping labels so that my students could wear them just like name tags.  The shipping labels are 2" x 4" and come 10 to a page.  I had to format my page to make sure they printed correctly.  I decided to give it the detective theme to make it a little more exciting and fun.
Once my students had their name tags on and were given a recording sheet, they set out to find friends in the room, write down their number, and then test each one for the divisibility rules of 2, 3, 5, 6, 9. and 10.  I also gave some students a recording sheet that included 4 and 8 to challenge them.

Here's what it looked like in my classroom today:
The best part about this activity is that it can be done with ANYTHING.  You can create other math task cards (or language arts) and print them onto labels.  Instead of having students going to a desk for a task card and working alone, students have to approach each other and interact.  They also have to go up to students in the class that they may not normally speak to.

We had a lot of fun practicing our divisibility rules today and I'm excited to use this approach in some upcoming activities as well.  To see the rest of my Divisibility Detective activities, check out the product HERE.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School YouTube Party!

Hey everybody!  I am PUMPED (and a little bit nervous) about this post.  I have ventured into something I have never done before and I'm ready to share it with you.  My blogging friends and I at the Primary Chalkboard wanted to do something HUGE for back to school for you.  I'm talking gigantic.

We decided to throw a party.  Hint:  it is a YouTube Partaaaaay! We are here sharing lots of tips -- organizational, DIY, helpful ideas-- lots of things you can do RIGHT NOW to make your back to school run smoothly!  That's not all.   We are having a huge giveaway!  How would you like to win….a $100 Amazon Gift Card or $100 TeachersPayTeachers Gift Card or A fabulous Michael Kors bag (you know, the one you want but can't justify spending the money for, especially on a teacher's salary)?

Yep.  I thought so.  If you're like me, you've spent some money at the TpT Back to School sale and maybe forgot to purchase a few things or have run out of money to get more.

So what do you need to do?
Did you see that? You can EVEN gain EXTRA entries in the giveaway by watching our videos and entering our SECRET WORDS into the Rafflecopter - that means more chances to win!  We will be linking up 5 new videos every day this week... so you can come back, watch, and enter every single day!

Now for my YouTube debut...In my video, I will be showing you how I organize student textbooks in my classroom.  Check it out!

Now that you've seen my video and found my secret word, don't forget to head over to the Primary Chalkboard to watch more tip clips and gain more entries to the giveaway!  You won't want to miss all of the amazing tips that all of my friends have to share with you.

 And be sure to enter our Rafflecopter giveaway.  I think this is going to be an incredible new school year and I'm so excited to share more with you soon.  Good luck!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Class Careers ~ Jobs to Help Your Classroom Run Smoothly

I don't know about you, but one of my favorite things about teaching 5th grade is the level of responsibility you can give to your students.  Our days are packed with curriculum and there is so much to do that I just can't do it all myself.  In order to keep my classroom working efficiently I have come up with a jobs system that I call my "Class Careers".

On the first week of school, I hand out a "Careers" packet to my students.  This contains a list of class jobs that we need for our room, along with a description of each job, and an application for the students to fill out.  I call them careers because I actually have my students perform one job for the entire year.  For those of you who can easily implement a job rotation weekly or evenly monthly, I applaud you.  I just don't have the stamina to keep track of that and, quite frankly, I like having my students learn one job REALLY well so that I can depend on them in any situation to complete (unexpected absences, etc.).

Once I hand out the Class Careers Packet, I go over all of the job descriptions with my students and get them excited about each and every one. If you make every job important in your class, you will have at least one person that will want to do it.  One of my favorite jobs that we have is called "tech support".  I started this job in my class because I was struggling to help students in the computer lab when there were about 12 computers acting up and only one of me to help my kids.  I always happen to have many quick, computer-savvy students who are eager to jump and help their friends, so this is the perfect job for them to have.  They feel such a sense of pride in fixing things for their classmates and it truly helps me during stressful technological situations.

After we have gone over all of the jobs, I have them fill out an application so that I can be sure they understand the responsibilities of the job they apply for, as well as explain to me what qualities they possess that will make them perfect for that role.  Each year I am impressed by the responses my students come up with.  Here are a few from this year:

Since we start school on a Monday, I have applications due Friday and I have all jobs chosen the following Monday.  In order to help decide, I created an organizer where I can write down all the names of people who applied for each job, along with their choice ranking.  I try to fulfill all first choices first and then make my way down through second choices.  I haven't ever really had an issue with someone not getting a job they wanted (knock on wood!).

I'm so excited to reveal my students' jobs on Monday and I'm truly looking forward to a fantastic new year with my incredible 5th graders.  I hope you all have a great year as well!

You can get my Class Careers Packet HERE.  It is also available as part of my new Classroom Organizational Materials Pack.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Collecting Back to School Forms

Hey everybody!  I wanted to show you a quick way that I organize and collect back to school forms from parents at the beginning of the year.  

At the end of our pre-planning week, we have an event called "Celebration of Learning" where students and parents meet the teacher.  I have all of my forms ready for them at the event and ask them to fill them out there if they have the time so that I have as many collected before the first day of school as possible.  This especially helps with knowing students' transportation!  

On my white board, I have large envelopes that I tape the form to the front of so that they can visually see which form goes where, and then place that form inside of the envelope.  I keep all the forms in these envelopes alphabetically to easily locate them.
I hope this helps!  Happy new school year!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Classroom Reveal!!! 2014-2015 School Year

I think we can all agree that summer has absolutely flown by this year.  I can't believe my week of pre-planning is over and the first day of school is on Monday!

This week I've been hard at work in my classroom getting things organized and ready for my students.  Check out what my classroom looks like this year:
I changed my desk organization from the way I had it at the beginning of last year.  I tried this out at the end of the year and I really like how it allowed my room to have a lot more space.

I also love how I changed my reading corner this year.  I used to have a bookshelf that came out from the wall to close off the reading corner, but it ended up becoming a blockade and I was unable to keep an eye on students from my desk.  I solved this by placing a large table there which will function as an area to work with a small group.  Now I can see through the table to the reading area.  I also moved the other book case into another corner of my room to make a quiet reading area for another group of students.
Organization is huge for me.  I've come up with a few methods of organization over the last couple years that have really worked.  I like having paper trays for students to turn in assignments and notes.  I also have great new supply cubbies!  I put all student textbooks into cubbies to save room in their desks.  My bulletin boards are always a struggle for me, so this year I wanted to try something fun.  I created an Instagram bulletin board.  I'll show more about this another time so stay tuned...
I also designed some labels to make a schedule that I can hang up.  This year my schedule will be changing daily, so I need something that is functional for me to be able to move times and subjects around.  I keep all homework written on the board by subject so that students can easily write it into their agendas.  Putting felt on the bottom of my desks and chairs will hopefully eliminate some noise as students move about the classroom.  Finally, one of my most exciting additions to my classroom….I'll call it….my shade puller???  I don't know what I can really call it, but this handy device is going to assist me in pulling my shades up and down.  We have really high windows and I'm 5'1", so usually my shades are completely up, or completely down.  This year I don't have to worry about that anymore and I can change them as I wish!
I hope you like my classroom as much as I do!  I can't wait to show you more as the year continues.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wordless Wednesday - My First One!

This is my first time participating in Wordless Wednesday!  I'm really excited.  

My friend, Mrs. DeCarbo from Sugar and Spice does this weekly on her blog and anybody can join.  Here are the rules:

Where is your favorite place to work?

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Two For Tuesday ~ 7/22

It's time for another Two For Tuesday!

I'm so excited to introduce my first Two For Tuesday deal because I just finished it last night.  My brand new Back to School Activities for 5th graders has all different kinds of math practice your incoming 5th graders.
The standards in the activities are from 4th grade so that you can see what skills your students have retained over the summer and what you may need to review before jumping into the 5th grade curriculum.  There are activity pages and 3 sets of task cards.  Regularly $4.50, today it's $2.25.

My second Two For Tuesday steal is Multiplying Decimals with Visual Models pack.  This contains several mini lessons for teaching your students how to multiply decimals, and also includes models to help illustrate this skill.  In addition to the mini lessons, it also contains a quiz and task cards for practice.  This $3.50 product is $1.75 today.

I hope you enjoy this week's Two For Tuesday!

Monday, July 21, 2014

TpT Takes on Vegas!!

I have been back from Vegas for a week now and I'm finally getting around to writing about the AMAZING time that I had while I was there.  I can't wait to tell you all about it!!
{The picture on the bottom right is me outside of the Venetian on the way to go meet my friends.  The picture on the bottom left is actually from Saturday night after the conference ended.  I saw the TpT sign and loved all of the messages on it about what TpT is all about and who we are.}

I made it to Vegas on Friday night and headed straight to meet my bloggy friends from The Teaching Tribune.  I have been working and collaborating with these fabulous ladies for a year now and I'm just finally meeting some of them!
On the left, in black, is Cyndie from Chalk One Up for the Teacher, Michelle from Well, Michelle? is in the striped dress, and Christina Marie from Sugar and Spice is in the adorable sparkly gold top.  Cyndie and Michelle gave me that sweet "Welcome to Vegas" bag filled with lots of Las Vegas goodies.  Aren't they awesome?!  We even had our own version of TpT Amy (TpT Community Manger) to bring around with us.  I had such a great first night meeting my friends and couldn't wait for the conference to officially get started on Friday.

Friday morning rolled in pretty quickly and we were up and at 'em to head to the morning's Keynote with a special inspirational speech from TpT extraordinaire, Deanna Jump, from Mrs. Jump's Class.  She has inspired so many of us to get out there and set high goals for ourselves and she has truly given me the motivation that I need to continue doing what I'm doing.
We also had Paul Edeleman, founder of TpT, start off the morning by telling us how TpT came to be.  He is amazing, humble, truly loves teachers, and has given all of us the opportunity to expand our creativity in the classroom while also helping others and making some extra $ - something teachers have desperately needed after the many years of frozen pay scales, cutbacks, layoffs, and furlough days.  How many people get the opportunity to have their success in their own hands while doing something they love?  The morning speakers amped us up for an incredible rest of the day of informative sessions and opportunities to meet old friends and make incredible new ones.

I learned some fascinating new information on Pinterest, something I plan on using more this year for getting ideas for my classroom.  I sat in on a data session and was able to see how product descriptions can impact search results.  I finally met Rachel Lynette, task card queen, and learned how to build my brand and market myself better.  It was an informative day and I definitely learned a lot!

After the day was over, I was able to have more time to socialize with everybody.  I was so excited to meet people in person that I have received so much amazing advice from in forums and Facebook groups.
On the top right, I was able to see two friends that I met last year - Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasboard, and Heather from 2 Brainy Apples.  On the left I met so many other incredible ladies that I am so excited to continue working and collaborating with this coming year.  They are so talented, creative, and sweet and their enthusiasm for teaching is quite infectious.

Words cannot describe how much fun the TpT Conference in Vegas was.  I am so happy that I went and I'm already looking forward to and planning for next year's conference.  I hope that I will get to meet many more people and, if I'm lucky, I will stay away from the roulette table!

None of this would have been possible without TeachersPayTeachers.  Thanks, TpT!

Monday Meet Up ~ Kristen

Hey everybody.  Monday Meet Up is actually over, but there was a Meet Up that I didn't get a chance to do, so I've decided to bring it back just on my blog today.

This week I'm introducing you to my friend (and fellow Jersey girl) Kristen over at Kristen's Common Core Creations.
Kristen teaches 5th grade ELA and Spanish and has been blogging since early on this past school year.  She has some great resources for Novel Studies, ELA assessments, and more over at her TPT store.  Head on over to her blog and check her out!

I hope you guys have a great start to your week!

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Pinterest Board Makeover!

Summer is almost over and I have a small amount of time to get things organized before I head back to school in just under 2 weeks.  One of the best things I learned at the TpT conference in Vegas was that my Pinterest page was a hot mess.  Thanks to the advice of Mr. John C Hughes of Created by MrHughes, I have decided to give my Pinterest board covers a nice makeover and really work on the content inside of each board.  (**Caution - I am still working on the content of each board - it takes a while!**)

To get my boards looking beautiful, I used a tutorial from Ladybugs Teacher Files on how to make and post cover pages.  If your boards need some help, I definitely suggest checking out her post.  It's a very easy step-by-step guide to making new board covers and it's fantastic!

Here's what mine look like now:
I wanted to try and keep my blog and logo colors and also keep them somewhat clean and clutter-free.

If you have any fantastic blog posts of ideas for your classroom that I can pin to my boards please leave them in the comments section and I would love to share them.  I would like to avoid product posts, so please comment with some unique things that you do with your students that are not product-related.  This could be a game, classroom procedure, etc.

I look forward to checking out some of your ideas, especially as I'm getting ready to head back to school!  Enjoy these last few precious weeks of summer :)