Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Posters, Crate Seats, Window Valance, and Room Preview!

Oh. My. Word.  Seriously.

I have been trying to put my room together and I'm just a mess.  It's mostly done, now it's all the teeny tiny little details that nobody really even sees.  You understand, right?  It's those things that drive me NUTS.

Anyways, I plan to go back and link up with the Applicious Teacher and write posts for all the weekly link-ups I've missed.  But for now, this post is a hodge-podge of everything.

First of all, I received a sweet message from a fellow blogger/TPTer/teacher who is using my reading comprehension posters.  I just use them on my focus board, but check out what she did with them!

Stacey used file folders and glued a poster on the inside of each one.  She's going to put a correlating activity in the folder to use for practice and reinforcement!  What a great idea!  Here's the link to her blog post about it to get more info:  http://teachingeverafter.blogspot.com/2013/07/reading-strategies-and-comprehension.html

If you're interested in the posters, I have them for sale in my TPT shop.  My Reading Comprehension Posters, Reading Strategy Posters, and Grammar Posters are my best sellers!

Ok, we've all seen the cute and adorable crate seats all over blogs and Pinterest.  I decided they'd be cute and functional in my classroom at my reading table.  I love the extra storage they provide!  And they're a great height, too.  I got the directions from Ginger Snaps.

I bought the crates for $3-something at Big Lots.  I bought a foam twin mattress from Meijer for $7.99. It was enough double up the padding for 6 seats.  I bought plywood from Lowe's for $16-something and had a ton left over.  I didn't have a staple gun, so I bought one at Lowe's for around $20.  The fabric was around $8 from Hobby Lobby.  I bought a spool of ribbon from Hobby Lobby for $1.50.

I'm in love with them!  Such a cute, functional, and easy project.  Lowe's cut the plywood for me to size, so it really took no time at all.

So I have to tell you about my UGLY window shade.  It's a very old yellow color.  I can't take it.  I had to leave it up, so I decided to cover it up!

Here's how I did it:

I bought 5 yards of fabric from Hobby Lobby.  I trimmed off the white edge that was on one of the sides.  Then I spaced out ribbon every 18 inches.

I cut a slit towards the top and fed the ribbon through.

There is a metal rod that is already on my ceiling for some reason.  I fed the ribbon over top of it and pulled it around.  I tied a double-knot on each piece of ribbon and voila!  A no-sew window valance!  How easy is that?!?!

Ok, now here's a quick preview of my new classroom!  I will post pics of the final product sometime this week.  But for now, here's a glimpse into the ever-popular theme of CHEVRON!

Beanbag:  Meijer - $25

FREE Chevron Behavior Chart from A Cupcake for the Teacher:

Mini-bulletin board from Hobby Lobby: $14.99

Pen/Pencil cup from Target: $1 in the Dollar Bins:

Bucket Filler Posters from Blair Turner:

Lamp from Meijer: I honestly can't remember if it was $15 or $25?

Chevron Rug from Big Lots that I bought last year:  I think $25?

Calendar Headers from part of my Bright Chevron Decor Pack:

FREE Daily 5 Posters from Ginger Snaps:

Small tin pail from Walmart: $2.50

Sunday, July 7, 2013


I'm teaming up again this week with The Applicious Teacher to talk about HOMEWORK!

I have such mixed feelings about homework, but this is what works well for my classroom.  Fortunately, I work in a district with pretty good parental involvement.  That means I usually have 95% or better turn in their homework.  In all honesty, I think if there weren't such great parental support I wouldn't even assign homework.  It's one of those things that you just have to gauge and see.  Who knows...I may have a year where homework isn't effective or necessary.

BUT, here's what I've found works best for me.

I assign WEEKLY homework.  I send it home on Monday and it's due back mostly on Friday.  The reason I assign it weekly, instead of nightly, is because it makes grading/checking easier for me.  I can take the weekend to look over it if I need to and get it back in a timely manner.  I used to do nightly homework and HATED IT.  Plus, the main reason I do weekly homework is because it's better for the students and families.  Between music lessons, sporting events, dance class, etc., some nights are just crazy and hectic for families.  I have a MUCH better turn-in rate by doing it weekly.  I used to have kids miss nightly homework all the time because of busy schedules.  But doing it weekly has allowed them to do it at a pace that works for them.  Like I said, I get about 95% (or better!) turning in their homework.  If parents have questions, they know they can e-mail me and I'll get back to them pretty much right away (that's why it's nice to have my e-mail connected to my phone).  I send home an explanatory packet at the beginning of the school year that pretty much answers all their questions.  I rarely have homework questions in all honesty. 

I give each kid a homework folder that they bring to and from school every day.  I stuff them with homework on Mondays and then send it back on the day it's due in the same folder.  These are folders that our 2nd grade team uses and they are AWESOME!  I've been using them for 2 years now and they're amazing. I haven't had to replace a single one and I've NEVER had one rip or tear.  You can click on the picture to go to the site.

The first thing that goes in is math homework.  We used to use Everyday Math.  I would staple the Homelinks together that we would be covering that week and they would be due on Friday.  This year we are switching to My Math and I plan to do the same thing. (By the way...SOOO excited about My Math!)

Then I put in spelling homework.  It's a front and back sheet that I created that goes along with Reading Street.  It's also due on Friday.  I don't necessarily like the workbook pages, so that's why I created my own homework.  It has 3 activities.  The first activity is always Rainbow Words where the kids write their words 3x with a different colored crayon each time.  The second activity varies per unit.  It's anything from Word Shapes to an Unscramble.  The third activity is always a practice test that they can do with a family member.  

I have 1st and 3rd grade homework available in my TPT shop.  I may work on 2nd grade this year if there's interest, but I guarantee it won't be done by the beginning of the year.  :(  Too much on my plate right now and these bad boys take a long time to create!  :(  Once again, just click on the pics to find them in my TPT shop!


Finally, I put in a reading log half-sheet.  I put them in on Wednesdays and they're due the following Wednesday.  It's just a signature sheet for parents to sign.  They're due on Wednesdays for 2 reasons.

1.  It spreads out my grading/checking a little more.

2.  It gives families a chance to read over the weekends.  :)

That's basically how I do homework in my 1st grade classroom!  :)  It's very easy and I have it down to an organized system that really works for me.

The last thing I'd like to share with you is a new seller I think you should check out.  She is a 2nd grade teacher in my building and she's wonderful!  She has the sweetest dog that she brings in occasionally to visit her students and they LOVE it!  She has taken some GREAT pictures of her dog and mixed them with her love of reading and literature.  If you love dogs or have a dog-themed classroom, you'll love her!  She's got more stuff in the works, so you'll want to keep checking back.  :)  Click on the picture to go to her "'Paws' to Read!" set!
I mean, really, how cute is that?!?!?!?!?!  Here's the link to her store:  Michele Rankin

Have a great week, everyone!  If you're closing in on the new school year, good luck as you prepare!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Small Group Instruction and some Chevron!

I'm a few days linking up with The Applicious Teacher, but I promise I've been busy working on some TPT stuff!

This week is all about Small Group Instruction.  It's my FAVORITE type of instruction, but managing it can be a pain in the rear end.  I KNOW you know what I'm talking about!  It takes skill and practice to get it down to a science.

I base my small group time off of The Daily Five.  Because of our crazy schedule, I had to modify it a bit.  Typically, I meet with 2 groups a day for a total of 30 minutes each.  I *wish* I had more time, but I don't.  Our schedule is pretty broken up during the day due to specials, lunch, recesses, pull-outs, Title I, Speech, and more.  I just make it work the best I can.

When I meet with my small groups, I ability group based on their needs.  I meet with NO MORE than 6, and I try to meet with 3-5 if at all possible.

While I work with a group, there are 5 other stations that the students go to.  I used to let them pick, but they kept picking the same one.  So I rotate them through and have a schedule of who goes where, just so I know they do all the different stations.

The one that is most excited to the kids is "Listen to Reading."  I use a set of iPads and they simply plug in their headphones.  I downloaded the Storia app and use my Book Club points to purchase Storia Books.  The app reads the books to the students and there are MANY other neat features!

Then there is "Work on Writing".  I have 6 plastic drawers full of writing templates for them to choose from.  They can also choose to write in their journal.

Next we have "Read to Self" where they read any book from the classroom library or their book box.  They get to choose where to read in the room.

Then there's "Read to Someone" where they partner up and read out loud together.  A lot of them take turns by reading different pages, sentences, chapters, etc.

And finally there's Word Work!  My favorite!  I have 10 drawers with 10 different word work activities in them.  The students choose which ones they want to do.  After they finish one, they can pick out another.  The activities are the same each week so that they can be more independent while still practicing the current skills.

That's pretty much the gist of small group time!

On another note, there are some CUTE classroom decor packs popping up on TPT right now.  Must be time to think about next school year.  ;)  I couldn't quite find what I was looking for, so I created one myself.  I have black bulletin boards in my room for next year and LOVE using bright colors to make it all pop.  AND I'm quite obsessed with chevron right now.  So I created a BRIGHT Chevron Decor Set!  I'm so excited to get it all put together in my room for next year.  You can snag it at my TPT shop!  If you check out the preview, it'll show you everything that's included.  :)