Monday, September 24, 2012

Weekly Organizers

At the beginning of summer, I posted here very lengthily, about keeping my classroom master copies organized. This is a process that will inevitably be helpful and convenient if I ever mosey on back to second grade some day. It has already helped a close friend who moved up to second grade at a different school and didn't know where to start.

However, as I have known since I started the project, and many have commented about since, this is not a convenient process for the day-to-day organization.

I don't know about you, or your school's policies, but we are quite strapped for copy uses. This means that I try to save master copies as much as possible throughout the year. That was one of the main motivators when I found out I wasn't teaching second this year. I wanted to ditch the extra copies and condense a huge file drawer down...but when it comes down to it during the year, I want to hoard as much as possible.

Generally, I keep extra copies of things in that aforementioned file drawer. They are in hanging files organized by month and within the month are folders with subjects. I paperclip multiple copies together and just drop them in where they are needed. With 24 kids in a class, I always make 25 copies so that I can have an emergency master to go back to if necessary.

But what about the copies for each day of the current week?

This summer, I found a small rack with 6 hanging folders in it. Of course the orange rack was what sold me, but with 6 folders, I have put it to good use. There is one folder for each day of the week and one for "next week." As a team, we try to stay pretty on top of things and make copies in advance where we can. Those copies get stored in "next week" and divvied up on Friday afternoon. This makes each day simple.

In the morning, I go to the folder marked for that day and pull all the copies I will need for the whole day. I even try to put in blank writing paper, or spelling test half-sheets, etc. in the files so that those are all in one place when I need them.

All in all, so far this has proven far more convenient for me than my stacked racks from last year. I doubt that it is the rack's fault though...and rather that I am more experienced in what I need to do; however, it is nice to have everything at a glance for each day!

What do you do to keep your daily self organized?

Sunday, September 23, 2012


In my quest to become organized this year, to get to know my kids, to assess their needs, and to still be super-teacher....I have merely thought many times about blogging...rather than sitting in front of the computer and actually blogging. But! Here it is, as promised! A quick walk-about of my classroom (as it looks now, even with kids involved!) and all of its orange, polka-dotty goodness!

My wonderful friend picked me up an Ewok from Disneyland this summer, and it has a place of honor in my he also got a place of honor in all of my pictures. We talk on the first day of school about ourselves and our procedures and all sorts of things, so I like to have a couple of pieces that represent "me" on my walls/desk/etc. Last year I printed a small photo-collage and put that with a picture of my family. This year I added a little Harry Potter and Firefly reference. I found frames at the dollar store and printed "posters" from my computer. I dug out my t-pins and used them to hang the frames on my wall. Worked well with bulletin board walls - questionable with hard walls, I'm sure.

Starting next week, we will finally begin classroom Boggle. The kiddos are super excited about it, which must mean that I am a great salesperson! It will be nice, as I have many high-achievers who are naturally very quick at certain activities. Boggle will not only give them something extra to think about when they're done, but it will also be a nice, "Hey, thanks for bearing with me while we slowly learn procedures" reward.

I had to laugh at Back to School Night this week! A few parents asked if I got my ideas on Pinterest :) Must be that obvious! But these little dollar store objective frames have already been a wonderful piece in my classroom design. I change the objectives each day, and write the vocabulary up next to the frames for reference.

Covering my storage cabinet with paper was one of the best decisions this summer. It not only covers the off-colored cabinet (since everything has to match), but it also provided a nice place to do a magnetic job chart. I found my chart pictures at Teaching in Flip Flops.

Ahhh, the 9-hour birthday wreath! It currently hangs in a place of non-honor as it waits for Tuesday and the first student birthday of the year!

Last year, when I got my job, my parents brought bunches of things that were taking up space in the garage to my classroom. (not everything's out yet, sorry Dad.) This year, I spruced up some of those things. To make my drawers look a little more cohesive, I put scrapbook paper on the inside of them facing out. This way, you can't see what's in the drawers, and they look much more "together." Pardon the post-its...since I can't see into the drawers, I label them....but I haven't changed my summer post-its to the nice labels yet.

My Twitter wall! The kiddos are LOVING tweeting so far! As we get into more stories, I have ideas floating around in my head...but for now, it has been pretty subdued. They had a blast leaving tweets for their parents to read at Back to School Night though.

It has been nice having the kids highlight their name as they turn in papers. While it hasn't cut back on unfinished work, it has cut down on nameless work. Since we did a lot of text highlighting in second grade, I didn't anticipate having any trouble with name highlighting in third grade...which means that I have now had to backtrack a smidge and teach the class that "highlight your name" does not mean "trace every letter with a highlighter."

Over at Clutter Free Classroom I found the idea of putting up student work with a scrapbook paper backing. Last year, I had to measure and level everything I put up. This year, I already have a place of honor for each student's writing, and will never have to level anything! Plus, it leaves a nice space for a name label and a picture.
Right now, we have first day of school pictures up :)

As I mentioned before, I have the 4 C's of common core posted in my room. Collaborators, Communicators, Creators, and Critical Thinkers. These are the four things that we should be teaching our students to be by the time they are out of school. On top of that, I am in love with my orange polka-dot ribbon that I used to make the frames! So much fun! The only ribbon I bought this summer that was not from the dollar bin...and totally was worth it!

Finally, my wonderful and amazing new backpack racks! I am in love with these things! They have made my life easier on so many levels and I get a smile on my face every time I look at them! Last year, we kept backpacks on a bookshelf at the back of the room, and later on the backs of chairs. In the shelf, they were more often on the floor than put away; and on the chairs, I was more often tripping over them than anything. This year, I was given these beautiful racks and the organization factor is huge!

So that seems to be it for the classroom walk-about. Probably there is more...I know that I am always adding more...but for now, it still looks like it did before school started (a feat which I am proud of now that kiddos are in the picture). With luck, things will stay nice and organized all year...cross your fingers!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Orange Polka Dot Love

Many, many apologies, Blogging world! My absence has no excuse...except, wait...I redesigned my whole classroom.

I think I have mentioned before that we turn in our keys in June and don't get them back until the end of August. This means that all of the 150 hours I did over the summer for my class work was in no way actually about putting my room together.

It probably isn't an exaggeration to say that I spent like 120 hours in my room when I got my keys...

But it worked out! I did this:

I marked everything that was from Pinterest....There will be a whole tour of the room coming soon, but above is only pieces.

Over at Clutter-Free Classroom there is a wonderful post from the summertime that inspired classroom jealousy in my heart. Because of that post, I spent an entire eight hours stapling sheets to my walls! And man, oh, I happy with my sheets! As you can see from the photo above, the sheets go precisely from ceiling to floor. Anyone who has their classroom in a portable understands how difficult (and annoying, and time-consuming, and patience testing...I could go on) it can be to "define" your bulletin board space. If anyone is as OCD as I am, then they likely have a leveling app on their phone or perhaps an actual level in their classroom handy to do boards....the sheets took all of that away!
Following her directions though, I did let the sheets go through the dryer first to get the wrinkles out. My sheets were so successful that they seem to have inspired sheet-usage in friends' classrooms :) To additional great successes!

At the moment, the front of my classroom is my favorite thing to look at! I borrowed the idea for a homework hotline (under the whiteboard) for this year. In the new world of Thirdgradia that I have entered, we collect homework most days. This is different from Second Grade Land where it was only on Fridays, so checking things in was not a difficult task. In order to keep up with the homework papers, I have the kids clip their work to their number on the ribbon (another OCD moment where a ruler and a level were involved), which allows me to immediately check and see who did their homework and who did not.

Note: If one of my lovelies did not turn in their homework, they take a little field trip to the back of my room and write to me why it isn't at school in my "No Homework Folder." I foresee this being a valuable asset at conferences next month.

I also am proud of my magnet board that I made by putting bulletin board paper over the ugly tealish-blue of my storage cabinet. This made a perfect wall for my job chart, since I made all of the pieces magnetic.

Finally, I am really proud of the common core C's up above the board. My wonderful coworker came up with the idea of listing out the over-arching concepts now (before we fully turn over to common core) to really ensure that we are leading our students to be communicators, critical thinkers, collaborators, and creators. Plus (even though you can't see from this picture), I found orange polka-dotted ribbons to use as boarders around the 4 C's! How could that ribbon not be purchased?

I will do detail pictures and a whole classroom tour next week, now that kiddos are coming in and getting settled.

After three days of school, I am so proud of my class that I am gushing about them all the time! This should be a wonderful year!

Oh, and a quick P.S.

If you're looking for a great blog to follow, check out my lovely friend over at Musings from the Foreign Teacher! An American teacher in England who is quite possibly the reason for my love of polka dots <3