Thursday, August 16, 2012

Back to School Countdown- 2nd Grade!

So, I thought that I would share with you some of the things that I have been getting ready for the school year to start in my classroom.  At the start of the school year, PlaceValue is a HUGE focus for our new second graders. One way that I like to focus on place value is by showing the different ways to display a number. This is a big skill for the common core and sets the stage for the more difficult skills that come throughout the school year.  I decided that I would make some place value practice for us.  My husband is a HUGE soccer fan, so it was only appropriate to make a Soccer themed Place Value pack.  I am excited for us to use it this coming year and I hope that you'll be able to use it as well!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Sweet Summer Bag Tags

At the end of the school year, I gave my students a packet of work to complete during the summer.  I told them that I would have a special treat for them if they brought the completed pack back to me at the beginning of this school year.  As I have been planning for this year, I remembered this little promise I made and began thinking of something fun I could do that wouldn't cost a bunch of money.  I decided the easiest thing would be to make goody bags filled with candy and give them to  my students.  To be honest, I don't expect many of these packets to come back to me, so I figure I won't be making that many bags.  If I make more bags than I need, I can just add the leftover candy to my candy box in the classroom.  So I decided to make the bags a little cuter by adding this little tag to the bag.

Cute, right?  Click on the picture or click on the link to the right to my TpT store to pick up your own tags to print!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Not School Related!

Have you stopped by my TpT store and picked up some goodies with the sale?  Don't forget to check it out, the sale ends tonight!  I am so excited about all of the fun stuff I have picked up already!

Heather and I both stopped by school today for a short amount of time.  The tasks to get ourselves ready for the upcoming school year are extremely overwhelming!  We will get there, no doubt, it is just a little frightening at the moment!

So after I went to school this morning, I decided to work on something that is NOT school related.  I was proud of my work and thought that maybe you'd be interested in seeing some of the other things that I have been working on besides school stuff!  I blogged about it at my personal, family blog and just wanted to pop in and share.  It was a nice activity to get my mind off of the to do list activities that are making me feel slightly anxious.  Sometimes you just need an easy task to clear your mind for a few hours.  And this was just it...Freezing corn!  Intrigued?  Well, pop on over and check it out!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Sale

Have you seen that Teachers Pay Teachers is having a sale beginning tomorrow?  I am so excited to stock up on some things that I have been eyeing!!  I don't think that whole site sales happen very often, so I am SO excited about this!  In honor of the big sale, I am going to be marking down all of my products 20%.  Plus, if you use the code BTS12, you can get even more savings.  Thanks so much to Amy for this cute graphic!!!  Head on over to my store and stock up on some cute stuff!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Back to School Countdown- Fourth Grade!

Today, I am so excited to introduce to you, Mariko.  She has been a fourth grade teacher at our school and is now moving into a fabulous new job as a reading facilitator!  She has AMAZING ideas and reaches students in so many creative ways.  She was also the Teacher of the Year for our school AND our county this past year and we are so proud to work with her!  Take it away, Mariko!

Aloha!  My name is Mariko and I’m a fourth grade teacher and colleague of Juli and Heather.  When they invited to be a guest blogger, I was more than happy to contribute.   It’s the beginning of August and the “school dreams” have begun.   I think most teachers have them around this time. My latest dream or maybe I should say nightmare, is the same one I have every year, the one where I wake up and realize that I’m late for work.  As soon as these dreams begin, I’ve entered school mode and I sadly consider it the end to my summer.  I’ve been teaching for a while, 14 years to be exact. Each year I fine-tune what I’ve done in the past to meet the needs of my new group of students.    One thing that I’ve done year after year is to have my students take a learning styles inventory.  I’ve used several different ones, both paper and electronic.   I’ve realized that I prefer an inventory which has less than 20 questions and has a limited number of answer choices.  Having too many choices becomes overwhelming for the student.  The one that I’m sharing with you today was adapted from Instructor Magazine by the University of South Dakota.   Don’t expect anything fancy.   It’s pretty straightforward and there are three links to click on.  You’ll be clicking on the first link appropriately titled, “Take the inventory.”  This inventory has 16 questions and the students have only three answers to choose from.  I think it works best for grades 3-5 but it could easily be adapted for the younger crowd.  This is what it looks like: 

You will notice on the website that there are also two separate links that give a summary of the different learning styles and a guide on understanding and identifying them.  I found these to be helpful. 

So what do you think?  You may now be thinking about how you’re going to organize this information.  Well, I’ve created a worksheet for you to use once the students have completed the inventory (click the picture to download).  It will help you to organize the results on one single sheet.  Hopefully this information will aid in classroom management and to guide instruction. 

I hope you give it a try this school year.  Your students will enjoy completing the survey and you’ll have some valuable information to better understand your students.  It’s a win-win situation.  

Thanks for reading!  
Have a great school year!  

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Back to School Countdown- 3rd Grade

Our Back to School countdown is going to skip 2nd grade for the time being.  Both Heather and I have things we want to share on the blog, but we are anxious to showcase our friends!  Today, we bring you a guest blogger from 3rd grade, Susan.  We LOVE Susan and her amazing ideas.  Heather and I both had the privilege to work with Susan in her first year of teaching.  She taught second with us on our grade level.  She has WONDERFUL ideas and we learn so much from her.  We are excited for her to show you some awesome ideas!  Take it away Susan...

The first and last 5 minutes of the day……

There are certain simple skills that we know are important for kids to know, but don’t always get the time they deserve because, well, we have a lot to do!  One thing I like to do with my newbie third graders for at least the first quarter is to use a small daily journal to practice handwriting, proper use of capitals and commas, spelling of the months, days of the week and basic forms of a number of the day.  I know that they leave second grade knowing these things but summer has a magic way of fogging their memories.
I had some composition books cut in half at OfficeMax (for $3!) and put a label on it for each student.  Inside, I made a template for them to follow each day as part of their morning work.  As you can see in the photo, they write the current date in word and number form and then show the number of the day in expanded, word and base 10 block form.  They also have to add and subtract 10 from the number and then add 100.  I may start but 2-digit numbers but quickly get into 3 and 4 digit numbers as well.   It doesn’t take them long to discover how they can use the 100 grid on their desk and later, place value, to quickly add and subtract without writing out the equation vertically.  I always go over each of these quickly during out morning meeting.
At the end of the day, they write two things…..can be something that they learned or something they enjoyed that day or something different that happened.  They may also write me a note if they want to.    This helps when they get home and their parents ask “What did you learn today?” or “How was school today?”   At the end of every week,  students turn in their journals  and receive a grade for a complete week of journaling based on a rubric that assesses  correct spelling, punctuation, number forms and calculations and complete sentences on their end of the day wrap-up. 

After I feel that students have mastered the first page, usually by October, I have them use both sides for journaling at the beginning and end of the day.  Morning journal is usually about anything they want but must be legible, make sense and follow basic capitalization, spelling and punctuation rules.  Sometimes they want to tell you all about their sick cat and it’s a great way to connect with them and what’s happening in their lives.   A simple but effective use of those few minutes …… 

Journal entries are expected to become more detailed as the year goes on.

Have a wonderful school year!
Third grade

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Back to School Countdown- 1st Grade!

Next up for our Back to School Countdown is our friend, Morgan.  She also happens to be my son's first grade teacher, so I think she's pretty spectacular.  Morgan brings something a little different to the table as some of the other teachers.  She not only teaches full time, but also works for an Educational Supply Store called Education Express, and also in her "spare" time works for Scholastic.  She has put together some amazing videos for Scholastic showcasing some amazing new products and how to use them in the classroom.  We are so excited to hear about what she is using in her classroom this year!  Take it away, Morgan! 

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Back to School Countdown- Kindergarten!

Now that August is here, the back to school countdown is on!  As much as I don't want to admit it, school is around the corner and it is time to start getting ready.  We know that getting ready for a new school year is something that spans every teacher and classroom k-12.  Heather and I are so lucky to teach in a school with AMAZING teachers.  We thought that it would be fun to showcase some of our K-5 friends in our own school and have them share some of their favorite things they like to do in the classroom that helps them prepare for their new class of students.  Each of these teachers will be guest bloggers for a day as they share their fantastic ideas that will help you as you prepare for your own classrooms.

First up is our friend, Melissa!

Hi there! My name is Melissa Culp and I teach Kindergarten at Heather and Juli’s school. I am so proud of them and their cute and helpful blog. This is my first time gettin’ my blog on so go easy on me!
Our Open House is a ‘drop-in’ for typically three hours and we usually have a REALLY good turnout.  Like, it’s unusual if a family doesn’t show up. Our Kindergarten families are so excited that they usually all come bunched into the first hour, then tour the school, then come back again!! I love it! But, it can get very hectic when there is one of me and 24ish families that all need their special time with me. I find that they are also all ready to share some important information with me.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t remember A THING unless I have it written down where I can refer back to it. I used to keep a notepad to jot notes on clipboard during open house but I found that my notes got jumbled, I was concerned about keeping some info in confidence, and it took too long to write down the child’s name then jot some notes. That led me to create my anecdotal notes folder. Here is what the finished project looks like:

To begin use any old standard size file folder and a 4x6 size index card for each child. Some years I have used pink for girls and blue for boys, but this year I am just using alternating colors. It would be helpful to write your students’ names on each card before you put it together. I don’t know my kiddos yet, so I’ll be adding their names later. You will need to turn the card upside down then write their name below the red line – like I have written Mrs. Culp in the pic above. 

Then just line up your first card upside down – with the red stripe on the bottom – being careful to leave ample room on either side for the folder to close. Then put a small piece of tape on the top of the card. 

Then place the next card on top, lining up with the red line and tape again. 

Then continue until you have enough cards. This one has 13 on each side. I wanted to do a total of 24, then I added two more to be for me to write misc notes.

I LOVE using this folder. All my notes stay together, I’m able to write notes on one child without letting parents see notes about another child, it is compact and slides right into my bag, and it gives me a good quick snapshot of a child’s strengths, needs, loves, etc. I continue to use this throughout the year when having conferences, speaking on the phone and email. I can document everything in one place!!! It is very simple, but I’ve found that the more simple and streamlined I can keep things, the more time I have to devote to my students and the more smoothly my classroom runs.
Yes, I have run out of space on the card before (several times – you know about this teachers!!). In that case I begin writing on the back of the card, just slip in a second card behind the student’s first one or I use a post it note to add to the card. I have used this folder as a reference several times in a parent/admin conference and love the confidence it ensures when I am able to reference a particular situation.
I hope you find this helpful!!


Thursday, August 2, 2012



We are very excited to get the Liebster from Jean from Diving Into Second Grade!  Thank you Jean for spreading the blog love!  The rules for this award are:
~Link back to the blogger who nominated you
~Post the award to your blog
~Give the award to at least 5 bloggers who have less thank 200 followers
~Leave a note letting them know that have been nominated

We would like to nominate the following blogs for the Liebster :
1. Jodi at Southern Sweetie in Second
2. Beth and Katie at Simply SWEET TEAching
3. Kristen at iTeach 1:1
4. Linda at Around the Kampfire
5. Jane at Learning in the Little Apple

Thank you again Jean!