Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It's Almost Time!

Good evening, y'all! I've been busy!  NO--BUT SERIOUSLY!!
Look at all that paperwork that had to be photocopied and organized and filed!!!  Teachers report back tomorrow morning and we ALSO have our Open House tomorrow night!  So, as of right now, my students' desks are FILLED with  Back to School goodies! 
I'm  leaving my students these little goodies in addition to their regular "Welcome-back-to-school-please-let-us-welcome-you-by-giving-you-carpal-tunnel-syndrome" paperwork. (Gotta sweeten up the work load a little bit...) This is a "S'mores Trail Mix" made with Golden Grahams, mini marshmallows, and chocolate chips!  Yum!

Quick and easy--even more so for you because I've attached the labels! 
Don't teach 3rd Grade?  Don't worry--I love all grade levels!  You can also get labels for Kindergarten, 1st Grade, 2nd Grade, 4th Grade, and 5th Grade!  Wish me luck and have a GREAT night!!!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011


Well...I survived Irene!  Power's back on, cable & internet are back, and it's no longer raining inside my apartment!  I really lucked out, especially compared to those around me.  So...let's CELEBRATE!

Because I feel like a MILLION BUCKS, I decided that everyone could use something to make THEM feel like a Million bucks!  Here's a copy of the Million Dollar Project that I use in my classroom! I originally used it with my 5th graders for extra credit last year but THIS year, I plan on doing it with my entire class!  Included is an instruction page, rules, a tracking sheet, and a few pages of checks.  Download it soon though because it's only free for the next 48 hours!
Don't have a Teachers Notebook account?  You can download this item at TpT too!

Places I Love to Shop

I like to shop.  I like getting great deals even more.  I hardly ever buy anything at regular price.  It just feels wrong!  Here are some places that I LOVE to shop! 

 1. Target
Target is very versatile and I shop here often for really anything I need!  Their stuff is a reasonably priced with a decent amount of class! 

2. Vistaprint
I have a bit of an addiction to this site!  I order SO. MANY. ITEMS. for my classroom from here.  In recent years, I've learned to create my own items and upload my own images. I wait for great sale links and order TONS for my classroom.  To see (most of) my Vistaprint items, click here!

3. Bath & Body Works
This place has me totally hooked.  I LOVE smelly stuff.  They've really upped the ante the last few years too.  Their smells are higher quality and beautiful.  I buy all of my air freshners, body products, & hand soaps from them.  I love their candles too! Yeah...home and classroom are covered by this place!

4. Christmas Tree Shops

I do not have one of these SUPER close to me, so my trips aren't frequent.  You never know what you'll find as most of it is TOTALLY random...but I do enjoy browsing stores like this!

5. Just So Scrappy

I love clip art and making my own STUFF!  So, naturally, I ADORE Just So Scrappy.  The kits are HUGE, sold at a great price, and just totally adorable.  You can do so many things with the graphics.  If I ever lose my teaching job, I would love to become a professional decorator/designer/creator of anything.  Or a cupcake baker.  Or an author. (I told you..I like lots of things.)

6. H & M

Here's another place I don't get to visit often, but I could easily spend hours in this store.  I wish I had more money, because I'd be way more fashionable.  I mostly stick with basics but they do have some fun other items!

7. Amazon
This is where I get all of my digital items and the occasional item shipped.  All of my ebooks and music come from here but you really can get ANYTHING on amazon.  I love stores where you can everything in one stop! That's my kinda place! :D

Where do you LOVE to shop??

Monday, August 29, 2011

Management Monday: Daily 5 Accountability!

How many of you use the Daily 5 in your teaching?  During the holiday season last year, I read The Daily Five  and LOVED the ideas that were introduced.
So, naturally, I completely revamped the way that I taught reading. I went from whole group instruction using a basal to working with novels and literature circles. I LOVED the change!  I was able to form greater relationships with my students, they were given more independence and freedom (which they adored), and students who were usually quiet started to pipe up and talk a LOT in a smaller group setting.  Our conversations were profound and my students literally blew my mind with what they were capable of!
Where my students ROCK MY WORLD!
Because I wanted to keep my 5th graders accountable for what they were doing during group rotations, I created this accountability sheet.  Students had 3 minutes to fill it out every day after our 1-hour literacy block.  I collected them on Friday.  If I noticed students were becoming "habitual" with their choices, I asked them to do something specific to increase their other skills.
Click me to download!
This year, literature circles will not be a part of my reality (*pout*) but I'm still using The Daily Five (albeit heavily modified) in conjunction with our new Reading Series. Now I just need to design a new accountability tool.....;)

Sunday, August 28, 2011

What I Did This Summer: The Teacher Edition!

Since we're getting hit with Irene, I'm actually taking some time off from teacher tasks.  I've been working nonstop for a number of weeks now and summer vacation is SO VERY QUICKLY coming to an end. (I don't really do well with vacations.)

I'm going to celebrate some of my summer accomplishments by stepping away from the work world and instead share them with the internet world...mostly as a friendly reminder to myself that I have, indeed, been working hard and it's OKAY to stop for a minute. :D

What I Did During My Summer Vacation

1. Redid my ENTIRE CLASSROOM (and, of course, personalized EVERY poster, label, and sign).

2. Completed 1.4 million Pinterest and PT Projects.
 3. Wrote a Classroom Procedural Handbook.
 4. Wrote a Classroom Handbook.
5. Updated (more like completed redid) my entire classroom website.

6. Typed up EVERY Skill, Strategy, Story Title, Genre, Question of the Week, Big Question, Spelling & Vocabulary List, and Story Summary (WITH Family Discussion Questions!) for EVERY STORY in our new Reading series! (Steal some of these goodies here and here!)
7. Started a Teacher's Notebook store and made a handful of Classroom Theme Packs.
8.  Completed 2 ..maybe 3....okay 6 Vistaprint orders.

9. Shared a LOT of requested items on PT!

10. Started blogging!  (<--Hopefully no link is required...??)

...And much more!  Now, of course I squeezed in some family time and a little bit of fun as well, but the regret is starting to set in.  So, although I hope everyone is staying safe and doing well with Irene passing through, I'm taking a moment to be thankful for the day off (and Redbox)! :)  CHEERS!

Saturday, August 27, 2011


Aren't I just clever with titles?!  I've become rather addicted to my computer this summer.  Now that summer's winding down, I figured maybe I'd share with you what I've been DOING this summer!

I get inspiration from all over the place: PT, Pinterest, teaching blogs, and random internet searches.  You never know what you'll find and EVERYTHING'S available on the internet!  I worked on project after project this summer, thanks to the aforementioned items. Here's a small handful of my creations!

These two projects were inspired by both Pinterest AND PT! The Birthday balloons are just colored cardstock attached to a funky straw. I will give one of these to each student on their birthday, along with a "Birthday Banana"! (More to come soon on student birthdays in the classroom!) The flower pot is my new beautiful pen bouquet!
Somewhere on Pinterest I found a GREAT sub binder!  It was fantastic--lots of goodies inside for when you're out!  This "Sub Tub" has folders in it with the sub plans along with copies of important documents (our Procedural Handbook, for example) that may come in handy!  I also put some extra goodies (Read Alouds, Brainquest cards, etc.) for the sub, as well as a bag of popcorn, just for an extra thank you! (It's great to have everything in one location!)
One of my first pins was actually a weekly menu board created from scrapbooking paper and a photo frame.  I thought to myself--I NEED that on my desk for a Teacher To Do list!  And so, I bought a frame and threw this funky little frame insert inside it.  (I'm hoping this list miraculously takes care of itself before school starts by the way.)

These Brain Break Sticks were another great idea that I found!  They'll be a great addition to our classroom this year!
And last..but not's an example of the scratch off tickets that I made for my classroom this summer!  (I used my yuckiest one for this picture. I have some seriously poor painting skills....WHY do my circles look like ameobas?! Pseudopod-esque!!)  I actually ordered postcards from Vistaprint to make these. I was able to fit 2 on one postcard and I mixed up the prizes so that those smart 3rd graders don't figure out any patterns! I actually ordered 2 sets, giving me a total of 400 cards.  I'll be lucky if I give all of these out before 2030, but the kiddos will LOVE them! :)

There are many more projects that I have yet to complete but they'll come with time.  Where do you get YOUR inspiration??

Friday, August 26, 2011

FRIDAY FREEBIE: Behavior Clip Chart!

Good morning and Happy Friday!  Here's your freebie for the day: a Behavior Clip Chart!  This chart is a great system for behavior management in the classroom. To see how I use this tool, visit this page!
This graphic can be uploaded to posters or banners (think Vistaprint!) to make one super sweet Behavior Clip Chart for your classroom!  Use it in any way you desire! The Behavior Clip Chart graphic is also included in all of my Classroom Theme packs (with coordinating color schemes)--so check out my store if you want something groovier! :)
As an added bonus, you can also download the Responsibility Task that I use! 
 Have a great weekend!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

THURSDAY TIP: Managing Questions!

You're a teacher.  You know how it is. You plan a great lesson.  You're teaching said great lesson.  Your students are attentive and lively and learning lots. Then a student raises their hand.  You call on them because they have a lovely smile on their face.  (They MUST have something profound and interesting to say!) And they do.

"When's lunch?" 


I know--it happens daily!!  So how do you help to control it?!  Well, kids will be kids. They will always ask when lunch is, even if it's 9 am. They will always interrupt your Author's Purpose lesson to inquire about a bathroom trip.  And they'll always stop your Read Aloud to alert you that there's a staple on the floor.

In order to assist with everyday chaos control, I use the palm vs. fist strategy in my classroom.  When I'm teaching a lesson, if a student has a statement OR a response to my question, they raise their hand.
Notice question in sea of answers!

If they have a QUESTION (of. any. kind.), they raise a fist.

I ALWAYS go to questions last because it helps to control the flow of the lesson.  (Plus the question may be answered by the time I'm done.)  Also, if it's a non-related question, it doesn't interrupt the "meat" of the lesson.

This technique also requires student metacognition. They have to first decide if what they have to say is a statement or a question.  During the beginning of the year, you will have LOTS of "jerky arms" and scrunched up foreheads as they figure this out. (Hey, I get my fun in when I can. :D)

But that's not all!  Because kids are "naturally curious," I also use this in my classroom.
Meet Perpetually Pondering Pig. 
Perpetually Pondering Pig (or P.P.P, for short) is a fun little tool that I use in my classroom!  He is, essentially, a question jar.  Any of those RANDOM questions that students LOVE to ask while you're teaching go inside of P.P.P.  He can also be used as a great motivator for students who need a little confidence boost when they're working on an extra hard task.  Sometimes I just set him on the corner of their desk (he IS Perpetually Pondering after all).  Whenever we get some free time (we all know how often that is), I pull the questions out and answer them...assuming that a) I can and 2) they're appropriate!

I'd LOVE to know how others help to control the questioning chaos in THEIR rooms!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

GIVEAWAY Winner and Classroom Tour!

We did it!  We officially hit 25 followers!  Now I know all you other cool bloggers out there use number random generators, but I went with a tool that can be used in the classroom too!  (Mostly because it has a great cheering noise in the background, which really got me PUMPED UP to announce the winner!) SO..our winner is....
AMY!! Send me a quick email Amy to claim your winnings!! :)
Teaching Blog Addict is holding a Classroom Photos Linky Party! Click to visit!
It's getting close to crunch time and we start back in 7 (very short) days!  On the bright side, I think my classroom is FINALLY done, so now I can focus on the more important project of planning lessons and learning the new curriculum! 
As you enter our classroom (and turn slightly to the left) you'll see this!
 And if you turn slightly to the right instead...
 Here's our Behavior Clip Chart that I use for behavior management!
 This is what I basically see all day!  (Minus my kiddos' bright, smiling faces, of course!)
Here's the view of the front our classroom!
 In the back, by the cubbies, there's this area!  D.O.T. Binders get handed in on Friday in the crate on the left, Writers' notebooks get kept in the crate on the right, and the student mailboxes are down below.  This is where I store their graded work and papers to place in their Friday Folders.
 The side wall---a little different from the preview you saw a week or so ago!
 Here are the students' cubbies and our small group table.
A view of lots of stuff: The Homework Hangout, our Great Work Wall, our library, Specials schedule, Reminders board, and student work area!

For more detailed photos and descriptions, check out Caffeinated Conclusions on Facebook

Now because you were all such GOOD sports during the giveaway, I figured everyone could use a little somethin' somethin'. Here's a sign that I put in my classroom that I just love and many have requested!

Download and do with it what you wish! :) Thanks for stopping in!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!

So the ALL-TOO-FABULOUS Clutter-Free Classroom is hosting a Back-to-School Linky Party!  I love the topic so OF COURSE I have to join in!
 The beginning of the school year is indeed an exciting one for many of us (parents, teachers, and children alike). Here's why I personally LOVE the Back to School season:
  1. Everything is so new and clean! The colors are brighter, the table tops are clear and the students' desks look immaculate.  Nothing is broken, smeared, smelly, sticky, greasy, or smudged.  
  2. I have an excuse to drink massive amounts of coffee! 
  3. I still look GREAT during the first two days of school.  I'm still rested, my eyes and clothes are bagless, and my clothes still fit!  I even still have the ambition to walk around in heels!
  4. I get to see my FABULOUS coworkers on a daily basis! 
  5. And last, but CERTAINLY not least...The hope and promise of a year of excellence is still in full swing! I will never ONCE feel exhausted or unmotivated this year! I will meet every need, entertain while simultaneously motivating my students to change the world, and every student will master every skill because I will have the time and resources to offer them the support they deserve. I will do this all while serving on multiple committees, helping other teachers, blogging daily, and smiling and laughing often!! And I will most certainly never forget that my job is important and that I love it so.
(Hey, no one ever said our "like" list had to be rational!!)
 Venture on over to the Linky Party to see what other teachers love about this time of year! :)

Monday, August 22, 2011

Management Monday: Homework Organization!

I feel like every single teacher I meet does homework differently.  They assign it differently.  They check it differently.  They grade it differently.  I could go on about homework forever, but I won't. (Mostly because I like you and I want to keep you coming back.)  This is how I personally organize and check my students' homework.
This is The Homework Hangout! ("Where all the cool homework comes to unwind.") Every student in my class is assigned a number.  Their number is tied to their status alphabetically, making it easier for me to track, record grades, organize papers, etc. As a part of their morning routine, students hand in their homework from the previous night here.  Their workbooks go in the appropriate bin and any worksheets that get assigned go into their designated pocket. 
Click me to download! :)
As the students finish up their morning work, part of MY morning routine is to check their homework.  I keep a clipboard hanging in this area of the classroom with our Homework Tracker on it.(You can see it hanging there to the right!)

I should also note that this Homework Tracker is a NECESSITY when completing the students' Friday Folders too!  It gives me a quick visual as to what was completed for the week.  (I put checks for a completed assignments, circles for incomplete assignments, write "Oops" in the box if they used their "Oops!" card, and, occasionally, write a 1/2 in a box if something is only half done!) 

How to you "do" homework?!