Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Making the Switch: From Student Desks to Tables!


Are you thinking of making the big change from student desks to tables? I have done it BOTH ways, with primary and upper elementary kids.  Honestly, I love my tables and prefer them over desks, hands down.  HOWEVER, when it comes to tables you have to have a serious plan on how to get organized.  Students have so MUCH STUFF.  SO much.  So, so much.  I think you get the picture.:)

So, this is how I organized everything in my second grade classroom!


I liked the flexibility desks gave when rearranging the room.  However, we did more with tables than I would I have originally thought.  It just took a little creative thinking!


This  picture shows the most simple set up.  I had 5 separate tables around the room.  Each table held 4-5 students. I did not have any student sit on the end with the chairs.  The board was on that side of the room and  I didn't want any kids to have their backs to the board if possible.




This was a different set up.  Two tables were put together lengthwise at the front of the room and two other tables were behind the long table.  We also had a few students scattered around the room in desks because they either preferred to be alone (true story) or um, well, it was in their best interest to be at a desk.  Sad, but true.  With this arrangement kids DID have their back to the board. However, we did all of our instruction on the whole group carpet (you can see it in the back by the whiteboard) OR in the front of the room (out of the frame) by the Promethean board.

So where did my kids keep their "stuff?"  Lots of places!


This was not a cheap solution, but it was a good one. At the beginning of the year, I bought one of set for each table. It cost about $100.  Ouch.  However, they DID hold up all year.  I didn't use them again because that is the year I left to be at home with my girls.  However, I could have easily used them another year, if not more. I looked at it as an investment to make my life easier and it worked!

Each student had a school box for their personal set of pencils, scissors, crayons, etc. We wrote names on the boxes with a sharpie.

I was a little crazy.  I went ahead and bought a class set of pocket folders from Wal-Mart during the big back to school sale.  I think they were about 10 cents each or so?   I wanted to color code the subjects.  This made it SO much easier for my kids to find their things.

Then, I got crazier.  I assigned each subject a color.  For example, math was red. All the math folders were red.  The folders belonged in the top drawer on the right side.  The kids knew where the folders were located because the  label on the outside of the drawer, on the right side, was red.  See the little owl label below?  My kids all got this and were able to keep their materials organized.




This is the middle drawer.  It held our writing folders and science/ social studies folders.  In the writing, folder we kept our writer's notebooks.  Under the yellow folders are our Words Their Way workbooks.


In the bottom drawer, I had white boards for each person in the group.  It made it easier to ask kids to come to the carpet with the white boards to practice.  Kids didn't swarm to one area to get the boards, they were already at their finger tips!  On top of the white boards I had a shoe box size container.  


Inside the show box was the super cheap washcloths from Wal-Mart.  I think a pack of 20 was $5 or so? Kids used these as erasers.  Then, inside of a Rubbermaid lunch container was dry erase markers. Notice all of the the markers were black.  They were cheap and kids didn't fuss over them! LOL!

Like these labels?




So that is what was inside of the drawers.  I am sure you are wondering, what about the text books!??!


Truthfully, in second grade there are not as many text books.  There are workbooks, which we fit in the drawers.  


These were our science and social studies text books.  We did use these occasionally, so I kept a class set out. They pretty much all fit on a small bookshelf. The health books, which we never used, were stored on top of the cabinets.  We never used them, to be honest, so why waste the space?

Not a perfect solution, but it did work for us.


Other supplies were treated as community supplies.  Kids DID have their personal supplies in the school boxes, if they wanted to keep special pens or pencils. This is how I stored many of the extra supplies kids brought in.


The black caddies contained supplies we used all the time.  I even put a handwriting chart in there for students (you can see the paper hanging out).  At the end of the day, a student collected the pencils and sharpened them while we waited for buses.

I got the caddies during the back to school season at Wal-Mart.  They are shower caddies for college students and were only $1!


I also bought a ton of pencil boxes during the back to school season at Wal-Mart when they are super cheap- 50 cents or a dollar, I think! I made small boxes of supplies so students could carry the supplies to the table. I had 4-5 boxes of each kind of supply so that every table could have their own box of  scissors and not fight over it. Over the years, I had collected the supplies, such as scissors and highlighters, so it wasn't as expensive to complete a class set.

The boxes were kept in my writing center, so kids also used the supplies during writing workshop.


I never liked my kids to keep their book for reading in their desks.  The books always got crumpled and torn.  I kept this shelf with book boxes to store the books they were reading.

They even stored library books in there!  It made it easy to find their books, that was sure!


Do your students have desks or tables? How do you get organized?

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Summer Reading Linky Party!

I love to read.  I read every night.  Like a crazy amount.  I will easily forgo sleep in order to finish a new book...which is fine until I have to wake up with my littles! LOL!

When I saw the link up at Lucky to Be in First, I knew I had to join in on the fun!
Here are a few of the books I have read recently and love!  These are my top picks! It was actually hard to choose!

  • Angel Fall by Susan Ee- SO good!  This is actually a trilogy and I read them all!
  • An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir- Wow!  This is a new book that will be a series.  I was hesitant to read it because the author is relatively unknown...but I am on pins and needles waiting for the next book now!
  • The Many Lives & Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland - I am not a huge fan of historical fiction, or the French Revolution, or even Napoleon, but THIS book, ya'll!  Oh my word!  SO good. Josephine is fascinating in this book.  I had no idea how interesting she was.  You totally get sucked into her world.  The book is pricey, but worth every penny.
  • The Beautiful and The Cursed- By Page Morgan- This is another trilogy ( I am seeing a pattern here). I loved this book.  It is a little dark and Gothic, which normally does not interest me.  The story line was inventive though!  I totally pre-ordered the rest of the trilogy, which are now all available.
I don't generally keep  to read list, which is kinda of odd for someone who loves books as much as I do.  I guess I read too fast before moving on to the next book! Here are a few I do want to read!


  • House of Ivy and Sorrow interested me.  It was on my Amazon Recommends list and I liked the cover.  I am a magpie for interesting! LOL!
  • Guided Math by Laney Sammons- I think I may have read this book awhile back, but I am doing some presentations on Guided Math and wanted to brush up on the research for the framework.
  • The Last Great Dance on Earth- This is the last book in the Josephine trilogy from above.  I am in the middle of the second one right now and can't wait to see how her life plays out!

That is what I am reading right now!  Want to link up?  Go hop over to Lucky to Be in First and join in on the fun!

                



Monday, June 22, 2015

Favorite Pins of the Week!

I love browsing through Pinterest.  I wish a had a few more hours in the day to browse AND actually MAKE the stuff I pin! LOL!  I am beginning tot think that Pinterest is my "someday" board!

These pins really jumped out at me this week.

***Please do NOT pin these pins directly from my blog (since they aren't mine!).  Please click on the the picture and pin from there or the direct link.  Let's give credit where credit is due please :)!***


Whenever Miss DeCarbo speaks, I listen!  Her ideas are always so pretty AND practical!  Love her binder set up!  It is similar to my own, but I LOVE the groups page pictured above. So smart for flexible grouping!


This desk planner is brilliant!  However, I don't think I would laminate it.  I know I would smear it and cry!  Or even worse drag my hand over it and erase all my important meetings! LOL!  But it is all on one page, so printing one hard copy page a month wouldn't break the bank!


I love the book Ish.  I actually used it as a mentor text when we began writing workshop.  This post has some great ideas for all three of the books- and I didn't even know about the last book!  Love!


Isn't this hall display adorable?!?!? Love the quote!  AND it would be super easy to change out!


Love this word family map.  This would be really great when teaching kids to spell by generalizing at the beginning of the year!


This is a high school teacher, BUT any teacher could use items from this list.  A great basic, stock up list.  It would be perfect for a new teacher!


Last, but not least, this is actually a pin from MY blog!


This is actually one of my most popular posts ever!  It is all about cheap and easy bulletin boards!


Find anything good on Pinterest lately? Happy pinning!



Sunday, June 21, 2015

Teachers Prepping Teachers Workshop

Hello friends! I am so excited to share my next adventure with you!! 

I teased this little picture awhile back on Facebook!


Now it is time to spill the beans!

I am teaming up to prepare you for the best school year ever! Amanda from Collaboration Cuties, Jessica from Ideas by Jivey, and I have collaborated to bring you a day filled with three awesome sessions to enhance the core subjects in your classroom! We selected very current, high interest topics with LOTS of buzzwords to make you feel more comfy starting back to school!


This session will take place at Chattahoochee Tech in Marietta, Georgia. It will be a fun-filled, full-day session (9:00 AM-4:30 PM) with a lunch break. When you register, you can order a Firehouse boxed lunch for a few extra dollars, or you can bring your own lunch. It's your choice! Please buy your box lunch ticket by July 21 if you want the Firehouse lunch!
We will have some awesome swag for everyone who attends, fun giveaways, and of course, super-informative sessions that will get you in the perfect mind-set to get your school year started off on the right foot! There will also be discounts offered on our products the day of the workshop!

Ready to register?
Prices will go up July 5th,
so make sure to sign up to get the early bird discount!

Space is limited so make sure to register as soon as possible! 

We are so excited to get you prepared for your new school year! We hope to see you there!


Saturday, June 20, 2015

Make Over Madness: Week One Challenge

I am thrilled to be taking part in the TpT Seller's Challenge hosted by these awesome ladies!



What a creative way to  get myself focused and organized?!?!?!

One of the first things they asked us to post was our stats.  I decided a long time ago that I would only focus on a few social media outlets.  Twitter and Instagram are great, but it is just too much for me to handle (when you toss in things like family and kids! LOL).


So, my Instagram and Twitter look super sad! I am okay with that.  I am just trying to build up the rest!  I have been blogging and TpT-ing for about 4 years now (I think), so it a slow and steady process.


When I saw the first challenge was a make over, I was thrilled.  I have SO MANY old products that make me cringe.  From cover design to font choices, some of my products needed some serious love!

I knew I had to work on my tic-tac-toe series.  They look so sad!


See, isn't it sad?  This was one of the first games I ever posted (and it shows). I even made the game in Word, rather than Power Point (on the horror!). The game uses word problem cards.  Students create a tic-tac-toe board using the cards and then solve the word problems to play.  It is a great idea, but  there were only 9 cards.  So, once the kids played the game...they answered all the questions and were done.  Boo for a game that can only be played once!


I updated the cover, cards, and fonts to match and be more stylish.  



I also added 9 more word problem cards to give students a chance to play the game more than once.  The game now has 18 word problems! Finally, I also included a recording sheet if students need to provide evidence during math centers. I even made the cards easier for the teacher to make!

I am SO glad I got this done!  I am now actually working on updating ALL the tic-tac-toe games in this series!  Area is almost ready to post!

Thank you so much, ladies for creating the TpT Sellers Challenge!  I am loving this!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Getting Organized: Blog Edition



Even though I am no longer in the classroom, summer still seems to be my "catch up" season.  I have no idea why, truly.  But I am TOTALLY embracing it! One area I am working to improve is this poor little neglected blog. How am I getting it all organized? I have a plan!


I try to use a lot of graphics in my posts- even when I don't have photos. That is just a personal preference, really.  I am a highly visual person and I like text to be broken up with pretty pictures. Unless it is a trashy romance.  Then, I don't need any visuals, just the trashy words please! Because, um...


Yes. So ...moving on!

I like to get the stock photos that I use from Dollar Photo Club.  The images are actually $1 each, which is pretty cheap for stock photography.


There are tons of choices, too.  To make the actual buttons, I cheat :).  I just make them in power point.  Then, I save the entire file as a png and insert them in to the blog post as images!  Boom! #lazygirl

This is a snapshot of the images from this post when I was creating them in powerpoint.  Crazy right?


Hello!  Favorite teacher word!  FREE and it's cousin, FREEBIE!  When I blog I try to include freebies as much as possible.  I like them when I read, so I figure you might, too. The problem with freebies?  Ugh, keeping them organized.  

I have freebies that I would love to actually go back and use, BUT I CAN'T FIND THEM.  How sad is that?  My computer is so full of my junk that even using the search feature doesn't always cut it. 

So, to make sure I can find my stuff  I added a new folder.


You see it among all my thousands of other folders?  It is my "to blog about" folder.  If I have images I want to blog about, I can just go ahead and drop them in there so they don't get lost.  When I am short on ideas, I can also go look through the folder to see if there are any ideas I have't blogged about yet in there!


I create a folder on each blog topic. 


Then, any images, power point files, or freebies are saved in the file.  So, if i want to find a freebie that is about Christmas parties (like my parent letter), I can just find my Christmas party blog post folder and there it is!

I didn't start this until about a year ago, so many of my files from older posts are just a hot, hot mess.  I wish I had done this from the start!  SO much easier to find things!


Right now, my goal is to get better about planning ahead.  I want to start doing tasks in "batches." For example, sit down and knock out several blog posts, schedule Facebook posts, or create products.  Right now I just skip around like a crazy lady.  And it shows.  I have about 4 unfinished products right now and my Facebook posts (in my opinion) have been real hit or miss as far as getting things out. Did I mention that summer is my down time? LOL!

I created a blog and TpT planner to get myself organized.


I may be biased, but so far I am in love!


It has tons of stuff in it to keep me on track.


It has a separate file included with just a tour on how to use the planner and assemble it if you want to buy just the digital file.  

The planner  contains the following pages:

• A cover and back page
• log in/ passwords page
• monthly goals page
• notes and sketch page for each month

There is a 2 page spread for each month.



The left side of the spread has a place for linky party information, giveaway information, an area to record TpT product ideas, social media stats for the month, and a to do list.

The right side of the spread is a month calendar. The calendar has four check boxes per day to mark off scheduled Facebook posts, a check box for a blog post, and a place to record the number of pins pinned per day. The notes include any special holidays or school events, such as Red Ribbon Week, to help plan blog posts in advance.

You can see I am already breaking mine in above!  I am LOVING it!

I also included a bunch of extras! I have already referred to and used mine!




The extras include:

• 2 pages of ideas for possible blog posts
• A blank page to record blog post ideas
• 3 pages of possible ideas for a monthly newsletter
• 3 pages of a Teachers Pay Teachers Data at a Glance
• 2015 Reflections

You can snag your own digital copy for $6 here.  If you want yours to look like mine (pictured) I am also shipping them as a hard good for the first time ever! It costs only $18 and shipping is FREE! Click here to order one!  Please order soon- I only have a limited quantity!

I am thrilled to be linking up with Meghan over at Keeping Up with Mrs. Harris for Plan with Me Sunday! Hop on over to check it out!