Sunday, August 26, 2012

Teacher "To Do" List Freebie

I find myself with all sorts of "To Do" lists....on Post-It notes, in notebooks and legal pads, on my iPhone.  I'm a "To Do" list kind of girl.  Unfortunately, I often find myself looking all over for the particular list that I need.  Last year our principal had awesome 8.5x11 "To Do" pads printed, but it was made for his particular style, not mine.

This year I decided I wanted to try to be UBER organized.  This meant making a TO DO list with my particular needs in mind.  I've been using it for the past two weeks, and I must say, so far it is perfect for what I need.  They all have a grey chevron background, but I went ahead and changed the text to a couple of different colors to suite classroom designs and personal preferences.  I hope some of you find it useful!

I've had to change where you are able to download these from.  I had them on Scribd, which offers free downloads, however they fail to tell you that after so many months if your document is successful they start charging customers to download the files and Scribd keeps all of the money!  So, I now have them on my Google Docs file.  Let me know if you have problems downloading!

You can download the Chevron Teacher To Do List by going to the following links:

Hot Pink

Monday, August 20, 2012

Open House & Common Core

Our open house is tomorrow night, and I wanted to have parents something they could take with them regarding Common Core.  After only 9 days of school I've already found that parents are a little confused about what the Common Core will mean for students.

This will be the first year that we've had a "drop in" type open house.  In the past we've had parents run through a mini version of their child's schedule.  This has a lot of teacher scrambling and trying to figure out what to do to make the time the most effective.

I plan to have a PowerPoint scrolling that has info about classroom expectations, topics of study for the year, information on our Million Word Reading Challenge, as well as a few facts about me.  I figured this would give parents something to look at while I''m talking to other parents.

I'm also going to give them the following guide to the Common Core that I developed tonight.  Even though this might be too specific for everyone (Georgia 7th Grade ELA), I wanted to share so that you can get an idea of what I'm doing.  Feel free to use any parts if you would like.

Smartboard installers showed up at 4:00 today, resulting in a large area of my room being turned upside down.  When I left school today at 5:30 I had file cabinets in the middle of the classroom.  Did I mention that open house is TOMORROW...???  Ah, the life of a teacher.  :-)

See the entire 2 page newsletter HERE.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Classroom Ambiance

Several years ago I worked in an extremely low income school.  I taught three inclusion classes and one accelerated class each day.  It was during this, my second year of teaching, that I discovered gifted kids and kids with special needs often behave and learn the same way.

We always had our grade-level meetings in a very wise teacher's classroom.  I always enjoyed being in her classroom.  I felt calm when I was in her room, as it had an almost homey feeling.  The fluorescent lights were always off and she had no less than 8 lamps spread throughout her classroom.  One day I asked her what had prompted her to start using lamps.  She explained that just like I felt calm and at ease in her classroom, young students felt the same.  The lamps have a calming effect, making all students more at ease, while helping those with hyperactivity and attention issues to calm down and focus.

I immediately went out and purchased Chinese paper lanterns with light switches.  The lamp kits are made specifically for use in paper lanterns.  I can honestly say that I noticed an immediate difference in my students.

I always want students to enjoy coming to my room, and while they think the lamps are just a cool addition to the room, they are really a management tool.  I had a teacher on my hall come in today during planning and remark on how comfortable my room was.  I owe it all to the lights.

I have 7 Chinese lanterns spread throughout my room and a lamp on my desk.  I have changed my lantern colors a few times to match my decor, but this year I am using a mixture of all of the ones that I have.  I'm using hot pink, turquoise and black/white zebra print.  I purchased the pink lanterns at Big Lots, the turquoise at Lowe's, and the zebra at World Market.  Pier One and Ikea also carry a nice selection of paper lanterns.  The biggest thing you want to make sure of is that your lantern is made to accommodate a light bulb, and it's not just one to hang for decoration.  Many of the lanterns come with the light kit and can be found for around $7.  Pier One has their lanterns on clearance right now for about $4 each.

Lighting can make all of the difference in a classroom, which is why my lanterns are the first decorative item to go up in my classroom each year.

**Please excuse the blank bulletin board and lack of decorations.  This pics were made a few days before school started.  :-)

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Classroom Goodies

I'm all the time wanting to give away little prizes in my classroom for things like meeting the million word reading goal.  In the past I have ordered things for my classroom from Vista Print.  I've made personalized postcards to send home when students did something great, business cards that I attached magnets to the back of that I sent home with my email address, classroom website and email address so parents could easily keep up with my contact information, etc.  I recently found an offer to get a free t-shirt and only pay shipping.  I was able to get 2 t-shirts (only one free) for only $10 and that included shipping.  I got them in the mail yesterday and I LOVE them!

I ADORE owls, so I just had to get the owl themed shirt for myself.  It says, "Hanging Out in Mrs. Brown's Class".

Vista Print doesn't have the t-shirt sale going right now, but they do it pretty often.  I've been ordering from them for about 6 years and they've never disappointed!  Check them out to see what goodies you can make for your classroom!  Click the link below to go to their site.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Free Printable Binder Covers or Dividers

I was working on some binder covers and dividers for my classroom this morning and thought I would share so that you can print them off if you'd like to use them.  I have two different designs.  One is a grey chevron with turquoise text and the other is a turquoise paisley background with hot pink text.  Here is an example of what they look like:

UPDATE:  I had my downloadable files hosted on Scribd.  This site was supposed to allow you to download for free.  I have since found out that after your file is on their site for a few months and if it does well, they begin to charge to download the file and they keep 100% of the money they charge.  So, I have took all of the files down from Scribd and hopefully you will be able to get them from my Google Docs below. Let me know if you have problems!

You can download the Turquoise Paisley files from the following links:

Substitute Binder Cover
Student Data
Lesson Plans
Emergency Plans
Parent Contact Log
Meeting Notes

You can download the Grey Chevron files from the following links:

Substitute Binder Cover
Student Data
Parent Contact Log
Lesson Plans
Emergency Plans

6 Traits Post-Its

If you've already started working with the Common Core Curriculum, you know the amount of required writing is increasing.  The biggest concern I hear from teachers is how they are going to find the time to grade all of the essays the Common Core requires.

I've often told teachers to only grade for one part of the essay (introductions, for instance) or one concept (transitions), however it is difficult for most English teachers to NOT grade the entire essay.  I found a great site this morning with a lovely little resource that just might help with grading. has a template for printing on Post-It notes.  They have a Post-It for each of the 6 Traits of Writing.  They have designed this to be used by the student to rank one statement about that particular trait against the others based on that one particular writing trait.  I'm not sure that I will have students rank each statement, as I think it is important that they do all of them.  Instead, I think I will change it so that the student or teacher can rate each statement on a scale of 1-5.  The templates on the Writing Fix page can be found by scrolling down until you see the bright colored Post-Its.  You then can print out 6 per page using their template.  You can find the templates by going here. has lots of great tools and resources to use in the classroom, so this is just one of many great things you will find on their website.

I am going to work on making something similar to these to use in my classroom, but I doubt I will print them on Post-Its.  I have almost 80 students, so printing them would be a time consuming and costly process.  I think I will make them so that I can run them off, cut them out and staple to the essay or writing piece.  I'll post back here when I come up with something.