I spent the morning at school trying to finish up last minute details before heading into the weekend, and arrived at school only to find out that I got another new student.  Isn't that always the case?  So--new line order list.  New locker list.  New name tags.  New bulletin board labels.  I guess I'm glad I went in today or I would be frantically doing it Tuesday morning!

I put away all the tissue boxes and reams of looseleaf paper and all the other community supplies and then stepped back and took a few pictures--a permanent record that--for a few days--my room was sort of clean.  NOTE:  I did not take photos behind my desk or in the storage room.  There is a reason.

Perhaps I will enlarge these and print them off to remind myself of what the room SHOULD look like.  I keep reciting my mantra--"You can't be good at everything.  You can't be good at everything."

I need to spend some quality time this weekend thinking about this new batch of students I am getting.  I have more below-grade level readers than I have ever had, and I need to do some reflecting on how to best meet their needs.  I spent some time last week checking over my classroom library (MAN I have a lot of books!) and really did not find nearly enough books at the level these students are reading at, so I spent some time shopping on ebay and found a few sets of books to order.  The first 3 of the 4 sets have arrived!

I am really hoping there are some books that will really capture their attention!  The last set I am waiting for is probably the best--all cool science nonfiction stuff about carnivorous plants and other "awesome" topics. Hopefully they arrive tomorrow so I can finish reading and labeling them all!

I finally printed off my yearly plan and my list of "teaching ideas" is well underway.  Here is a photo of page ONE!  I like to do my planning for the first week or two of school in list format--I try to map out what I want to do and temporarily assign each to a day.  I have done this teaching thing long enough, however, to know that sometimes your plans and the students' reality are not the same, so I like to be flexible with my plans.  Having a list like this makes sure I get my stuff done but can adjust times and days easily.

We have a definite resource shortage, so my teammates and I do a yearly plan so we know who is teaching what and when.  That way we make sure that we don't ALL need the electricity resources at the same time!  We do teach our math and literacy units at the same time so we are always working to share books and ideas whenever possible.

So--off to work on adding to my plans, reading over the information I have on my students, and seeing how many pair of "school pants" I can still squeeze myself into.  Starting Tuesday I am going to try to watch my food intake and get my body moving--my scale "tens place" went up AGAIN, and I need it to drop by 3 digits.  My goal is to drop it 2 places by Halloween--so that's 11 pounds.  Send me your positive energy.

Monday is my next post on All Things Upper Elementary and Wednesday is another "Real Life" math link up--so don't forget to be blogging about all the cool math things you are doing so you can link up!  So. . . I'm thinking it's going to be a quiet weekend at home working on plans, making some meals for the freezer, and psyching myself up for next week!  Hope all of you have a safe and fun holiday weekend!

Every year it's the same thing.  I promise myself that I will be ready for Meet the Teacher (2 pm on our work day) and I have everything put away and be sitting calmly at my desk working on lesson plans. 




And every single year I fail.  This was going to be different, however.  I had some new systems in place, I had left my room in better-than-normal condition in June, and I just "felt" that this was my year. 


I still ended up with bins of stuff that I had to hide.  These are two of them.  I was too embarrassed to show you the other places I stashed things.

I was able to get a table set up for community supplies JUST in the nick of time. . .

And I did get my introduction letter, my "getting to know you" sheet, and an information note about our writer's notebooks ready.  "Welcome to 4th grade" pencils have name labels and are parked at each desk.

So when the doors opened at 2:00, I was ready--at least to the innocent bystander!  I love this day--former students (I like to refer to them as "survivors" in front of my new students) come back to visit, I see siblings, and get to finally place faces to names for my new herd!  Instead of getting tomorrow off, I will be back at school trying to put a little more away and getting some planning done.  Back in the trenches for good on Tuesday!  Hope all of you are doing well . . . 

Tomorrow is inservice day, so my hours of classroom preparations are coming to a close.  I thought I'd share a new of my latest pics to either make you feel better about YOUR current situation or give you hope--whatever works for you!

Can't wait to get my ipads!  They are district office now waiting to be formatted!  Saw the idea for a dish rack charging station online somewhere.  Too bad I forgot to put ipad CASES into my grant . . . found these online for about 8 bucks each.  I like that each is a different color--should be good for keeping track of things!

I don't do a "true" CAFE situation, but I do like to start the year with it and will hang up the learning targets we introduce as a class.  I can then refer to them as I work with individuals or small groups.

OK . . . please tell me that  I am not the only one who has students interrupt while I am assessing or working with small groups.  I thought I'd try REALLY hard this year to teach the students what appropriate "emergencies" are--and then I made these not-so-subtle tents to keep by me as a reminder. 

I have a few students who have a little teeny tiny bit of learned helplessness, so I thought I'd try to build some independence with these 3 step wipe off charts.  I figure each should be able to accomplish three things on their own--even if it "Get your materials ready, solve problem number one, raise your hand."  

I am like Captain Caveman (if you are younger than 40ish you may not even know who this is . . . pull it up on youtube.  He was my FAVORITE cartoon character as a kid) when it comes to removing stuff from my bulletin boards.  Rather than be delicate during the process, I just sweep my turbo magnet over my floor when I am finished and VOILA!

My two latest book bins--one where students and guests can place books they recommend (I'm making some bookmarks for them to fill out to put in the book first) so students needing new books have a place to "shop".  I also am TERRIBLE about books needing repair and they end up all over.  Hopefully this will make things easier!  I am REALLY hoping a parent helper will be in charge of my book hospital this year!

Check out how I attached the signs--brass fasteners!  Worked like a charm!

Meet the teacher day is Thursday, so I wanted to get a "wish list" ready.  I think it turned out ok . . . I didn't want it to get overlooked in all the commotion.  I'll hang it right next to--

--my parent volunteer sign up!  We'll see what kind of help I can get this year!

So there you have it!  A few more accomplishments off the list.  I have ordered bunches of copies, put up some temporary bulletin boards, and started to officially panic! Hope all of you are in a good place--whether you are still getting ready frantically or are starting to get settled in. More updates soon!

Just being a little reflective tonight . . . it's going to be a busy week with classroom set up, inservice, meet the teacher day--and more.  Tonight I feel grateful for all that this blog has brought me . . . from new friends to a greater sense of reflection and, I really believe, better instruction for my students.

I felt super recognized today when I was chosen as Teachers Pay Teachers "Featured Teacher" in their newsletter and as a result got a bunch new followers and saw lots of some of my favorite resources landing in the hands of more teachers.  It was a very satisfying day!  To celebrate, I am toying with the idea of a blog redesign!  What do you think?  Should I invest in a new "look"--I am approaching my one year blog anniversary.  Maybe it's time!

I do also want to remind you of the great deal I am a part of over at Educents.  The bundle is SUCH a bargain--the product I have included, my demand writing prompt bundle, is worth $9 on its own--and the bundle is a steal at only $30.  Now Educents is offering a $5 credit on a future purchase if you spend $25 or more.  Here is the link one more time if you haven't had time to check it out.  It's only for sale for a few more days.

Also, I finished my first math centers resource this weekend and I am SO excited to get it printed off to use in my first unit on place value.  It is geared for grades 2-4 but my friend is going to enrich her top first graders with a few of the activities.  The five games are differentiated so you can adjust the playing level depending on your students' needs.  Here it is!

Have a wonderful week, everyone!

I spent a little more time in my classroom today, and things are starting to look up a little!  I thought I'd share a few of my latest "to do list checkmarks"!  I thought I'd link up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her "Five for Friday"!


1.  If you followed me last year, you might have noticed that I like to use my read aloud novels to track our thinking.  From "Wonder Board" to "Fluttermobiles", I'm always looking for new ways to interact with text.  We start the year by reading Shredderman, so I have cleared an area to do SOMETHING with . . . to be continued!

2.  This is my label maker cartridge running out of label tape.  With. 5. Names. Left. To. Make.  Grrrr.  Guess who has to go to Target this weekend now.  Bummer.

2 1/2.  Why did I need them?  Here is my plan for storing Words Their Way sorts  I figure zip loc bags, envelopes, folders, and the like will get buried and lost in their desks.  These were inexpensive and I thought students would be able to find them easily!  Names are on the inside in case they get left out.  I hope it works!

3.  I redid some of my bulletin board background papers/fabrics and decided to pitch my old faded alphabet and got a new one.  I stretched it out across the floor and it took up almost my entire room!  It was HUGE!  I decided to cut the letters apart and arrange them on the board and saved myself 4 feet of space.
4.  Student letters went out, so it's time to send post cards to my students!  I try to keep them pretty simple, but I know the students like to get them.  I also found out I'm going to have some extra teacher help in my room for a good chunk of the day.  Yay!

5.  The custodians took down my lanterns to clean this year (although secretly I'm afraid they are going to make me take them back down due to our fire policies).  They have been up for 6 years and some were a little faded so I replaced a few.  I love them.  I need them.  How flammable can they be anyway?  I mean--won't they just go "poof"?  Shouldn't I be more worried about the prolonged burn of my classroom library?  Just sayin'...

I hope all of you have a wonderful weekend!

Today I spent most of the day in my classroom trying to make sense of the chaos.  Why is it that some people getting their rooms ready appear to be in complete control and my room looks like a crime scene?  Sigh.  I thought I'd share a few pics of what's been going on--and I have deliberately left out shots of the entire room so you don't call the authorities.

This is the shelf I am using for my "self-service" math supplies.  I want it facing into the room so students can access it easily.

Here it is now!  I have my set of drawers with math counters so students can easily take a drawer to their work space, bins of other important manipulatives that a small group might need, calculators, dice, and more.  Notice the sign above--"Help yourself!"  I want students to know WHEN they need "math tools" to help them and not have ME tell them or pass them out.  Building independence will be a big goal this year!

Here's our "What's Happening" wall . . . I may need to tweak it a little, but it has our specials schedule, our lunch menu, our job chart, our birthday graph, and our "questions, comments, and concerns" mailbox.  

This is new for me this year!  As I've been reading about and planning to implement the "Genius Hour" this year, many teachers I have seen have a "Wonder Wall" in their classroom for students to post interesting questions, photos, articles about cool stuff, and anything else that might trigger an idea for research.  I want to add some things to it before school starts to model it.

Here's where I posted my mini posters (only 4 of the 8 shown) about becoming independent readers.  I can take them down as needed to highlight for minilessons.  These windows are right in my reading area.

I printed, laminated, and "magnetized" these headings for my daily schedule.  I haven't used these for years and have just written out the entire schedule.  Because our schedules are the same each day now, I thought I'd go back to this approach--and it gives me a chance to use some of the cool digital paper I bought the other day at the sale.  Wink.

So . . . what I am NOT showing you is the decision to tear down a huge section of bulletin board paper that stretches ALL the way across the top of my room.  I've had it up for 6 years and it is looking a little rough. I have avoided dealing with it for about 3 years because it is a huge undertaking.  I bit the bullet and only got it 1/2 finished.  My classroom was sweltering, and I simply gave up.  My desk groups are loaded with tubs, bins, boxes, piles, scraps, empty soda cans, snack wrappers, and the remote control.

Today I am home doing some volunteer work for my son's band and dealing with some other "home stuff", but I'll tackle some more tomorrow.  For those of you back in your classrooms--I hope your first days/weeks are going well.  For those of you who are organized and feeling good about your progress, please refrain from judging me.  For those of you who can relate, crack open a can of soda and grab a bag of chips and know you are NOT alone.

Just a reminder about the great Educents bundle for sale for the next week or so!  I have gotten to see MANY of the products, and they are fantastic! Here is the link again in case you are interested.

Have a wonderful day!

Hello!  I am very excited to be teaming up with these 18 other amazing bloggers and Educents to provide you with this great back to school deal!

This bundle of 27 Back to School items for 4th and 5th grade students is available for only $30 ($140 value!). This is quite a bargain--and I feel very honored to have my product selected from among the many applicants!  Click the image above to take you to the site that allows you to purchase the bundle to see if it's a good match for you!  Hope everyone is having a good week. . . working hard in my classroom and on my lists!  Updates tomorrow!

OK.  It's official.  My procrastination ends today.  Right now.  Over the weekend I generated a multi-page to do list where I separated all the stuff I could think of into different categories.  I "glammed" it up a little to make myself believe it would be a fun and cool thing to work on.  Apparently I'm smarter than I think I am because it isn't working.  Check these bad boys out . . .

It's ridiculous!  Now do you see why I've avoided them?

I do have a little helpful tip today as I know lots of you are buying stuff from the big sale over at TpT--which, by the way, is still going on today!  (Please remember to use the code BTS13 to get your additional savings!!!)  If you are buying game cards of any kind and don't have colored cardstock, you can still make the backs of the cards different by using sheets of colored/patterned scrapbook paper.  I wanted to keep some number sets I made separate, so I ran a line of scrapbook adhesive (our glue stick) down the middle of each row, stuck them on different paper, THAN cut the cards out and laminated them.  They are thicker AND students can easily keep the groups of cards separated.

It was really pretty fast.  The cards had enough glue/tape on them to hold them together before laminating.

Today's job?  Go to school and TACKLE. THAT. LIST.  I also have to do my OWN shopping at the big sale! I have a few things on my wishlist to take care of!  This is a great time to buy those bigger items that might have seemed out of price range earlier, so I have my eye on some new digital paper bundles!  For those of you who are interested, ALL my bundles are not only discounted (like they always are) but ARE a part of this sale, so you can get a great deal on them.  For those of you who followed my fraction journey last year, that huge unit is also a part of the sale--at only $12.80 (my editors had wanted full price on that one to be $25 but i just couldn't do it . . .).  Here are the links to a few of those bigger bundles if you want to check them out today!  I'll report back later on my progress on my list at school! Have a great day.

Christina Bainbridge over at Buntings, Books, and Bainbridge has created the most adorable linky party to help our followers see some of our best and most popular products.  Because there is the BIG SALE over at TpT, this is a great way to "shop" for some wonderful products at a great price!

Check out the "high school yearbook" themed images that let us showcase some of our faves!

Isn't she clever?  I know many of you have seen these products explained on my blog before, but I wanted to give you the links since they (and ALL my resources!) are all on sale August 18 and 19 only!  If you do go shopping, make sure you remember to enter the code for the sale when you check out.  All the information is on the button at the bottom of this post.

I picked my "Getting Ready for Reading" as my "Teacher's Pet" because it reflects so much of ME and how I teach reading.  Getting independent reading up and running in a seamless manner is so important--and I have had fabulous response on this product and it is rapidly moving to the top of my best seller list!

I picked my "Using Entrance Slips to Guide Your Instruction" as my "Most Likely to Help Your Students Success" because, as you know, formative assessment is KEY to finding out what our students know so we can take the best approach at moving them forward.  This resource has been selling like crazy!  I have also included the link to the exit slip pack and the bundle . . .

For my "best couple" I chose my "Math Journal Prompts" resource which can really help you see that using math notebooks can be more than just answering questions from a math book!  I paired it with a set of Back to School word problems that would fit perfectly together!  If you visit my store, you will see TONS of other word problem resources in two different formats!

I hope you have fun shopping the big sale--I know I have a bunch of stuff on my own wishlist that I am going to be buying!  Check out all the details below!

Just thought I'd give you a little sneak peek at the VERY little work I have accomplished in the last week!  I think I've finally come to the conclusion that THE SCHOOL YEAR IS COMING and I better get in gear! 

I have been puttering away at the computer making some different classroom signs, name tags, and so on.  Just thought I'd share what I do for name tags--I know a lot of you do similar things.  First of all, I divide my class into groups of three.  Each "team" of three gets a certain colored background.  The name tags below represent my pink, green, and blue groups.

I then add some sort of other feature to my name tags to "rearrange" my class into different sized groups.  This year I added a colored stripe to the middle of the name tag.  There are about students in each of my different colored "stripe" groups.  Here you see that my 3 fictitious students are each in different trios but come together as a part of the "blue stripe" group.  This is one of the many ways I can quickly divide my class into groups without picking popsicle sticks or booting up my "random group generator" on my Smartboard.  I used to add other symbols onto the name tags to have even more grouping options, but I found I didn't really use them and I found I liked a more "streamlined" name tag better!  So, to start this year, my students will have their desk groups of 4, their color groups of 3, and their stripe groups of 5.  This is more than enough "groupings" for us to practice all our group skills this fall!  We, of course, do pairs, random groups, and a bunch of other groups as well!

I put up my first two bulletin boards--one of which I'm keeping secret for now because I'm going to blog about it later, but here is my first one.  It is SO easy and the parents LOVE it when they come for "Meet the Teacher" day.  I keep this up for the first week or two of school until I have some good content area work to put up!  It isn't fancy but does lay out the year and what is coming up with our learning.

OK . . . I thought I'd share one more classroom picture.  A few years ago these were all the rage so I jumped on the "I am a terrible organizer and this will solve all my problems" bandwagon.  Here it is.  

I refer to this as "My spinning vortex of organization".  Unfortunately, I not yet figured out how to really use this beauty.  Any suggestions?  I would LOVE to start this year in an organized way--and this looks like a good place to start!  I just KNOW there is a great use for it!

I plan on going in to school this weekend, so hopefully I can make some good progress on my "blank slate"!  Watch for a fun link up tomorrow morning with all sorts of fun products highlighted--because if you haven't heard, there is a HUGE back to school sale happening Sunday and Monday at TpT!