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Monday, August 3, 2015

Site Wide TpT Sale - August 3 & 4

Just a quick post to let my faithful followers know that there's a site wide sale going on at Teachers Pay Teachers on Monday, August 3, and Tuesday, August 4. Make sure to go and check it out because you will find savings up to 28% off site wide! 

Here's a direct link to my store

Here's a direct link to my Magic Square Puzzles.

Now I'm off to fill up my cart! Don't forget Promo Code: BTS15

Happy Monday!

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back to School Tips for the Busy Educator {plus a FREEBIE!}

It's about that time again - Back to School! Whether you are excitedly ready and raring to go or sticking your head in the sand for a few more days/weeks, it's coming! Who couldn't use a couple tips to help them start the year off right? No tips needed - then how about a freebie?! This blog post has both!

Let's face it - you're busy! So how about we keep it to five simple tips that you can easily implement. 

Here you go!

Tip #1 - Overplan!

There's nothing worse than breezing through everything you had planned for the entire day by lunch. (Been there, done that! I was a bit lot clueless that first year I taught Kindergarten!) Make sure you plan enough meaningful activities to get through the entire day. Think you've got enough? Plan some more! It cannot hurt you to over plan, but being under-prepared can be a bad thing. 

Tip #2 - Explicitly Teach Your Expectations!

Make sure you teach every.single.thing you want students to know! Do you expect them to line up a certain way? Teach them that expectation/procedure. Do you have certain rules? Teach them what they do and do not look like! Want to make sure there's no foul language in your classroom? Make sure you teach that too! I've even had to teach students to close the door to the bathroom. If you want it taught, don't assume they know it! Teach it!

Tip #3 - Reteach!

Everything you taught in Tip #2. Teach it again. Show another way. Let the students practice it. You won't get all of your procedures taught on the first day. But be ready to repeat yourself a.lot! That's ok - they'll get there! =)

Tip #4 - Introduce yourself!

Make sure the students learn a little bit about you! Whether you show students a five minute Prezi you made, bring in a few pictures, or just tell them a little about yourself - do it! You are going to be with these kiddos a LOT in the next few months. Make sure they know a real person - not some robotic teacher - is with them every day.

Tip #5 - Watch the clock!

It's not fun to be the person who has to have someone come in to remind you that your students were supposed to go to lunch 10 minutes ago. {Hand raised! Been there, done that!} Make sure you keep track of the time! Once the year gets rolling and your students are in a routine, they will help remind you of what's going on during the day. (Well, normally...unless they don't like that activity.) But on the first few days of school, it's up to you! Don't be like me and forget to take your students to lunch! =) {They got to eat, no worries!}

Quiz time! Do you remember rule #1? 

Plan and be prepared!

Since you've stuck around this long to read my rambling {and obviously passed my quiz ;) }, how about I help you complete tip #1! This great Back to School Magic Square Puzzle FREEBIE will work great in those first few days of school. Keep it on hand in the first day or two in case you run out of materials. If you don't use it on those days, then save it for when all that baseline testing begins. Students will have a worthwhile critical thinking activity to complete while you assess their peers.

The best part? This puzzle will help your students understand the concept behind Magic Square Puzzles so you can use them throughout the year! There are many great Magic Square Puzzles to choose from in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, so you can get the ones that best work for your students!

Need more back to school ideas? 
Check out my Pinterest board devoted to the beginning of the school year!

If you're reading this by 8-1-15, then don't forget to enter the giveaway going on! It's geared mostly toward 4th, 5th, and 6th grade math teachers, parents, or homeschool families. 

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

PrepToon Math Website Subscription Giveaway

A few months ago, there was a giveaway here on the blog for a PrepToon math CD. Now we are having another giveaway with PrepToon! They are offering to give away 1 teacher license subscription for classroom use for a whole year, which is a $39.99 value! Better yet - they're giving away two!

Want to check out the website? Here you go:

Check out this video to learn more about PrepToon!

Ready to sign up now? Or maybe you want to try a free trial? Then go now!

Still not sure if PrepToon is for you? Then look at the infographic before to see everything you'll be getting if you are one of the two lucky giveaway winners or in case you plan to get a subscription now.

Enter below! Anyone can enter, but only two will win! =)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Lesson Planning: Do YOU Use a Template?

There are many Sundays where I see bloggers sharing their "Plan Day Sunday" posts. I guess I was never really that person (although my husband is!). I always tried to plan a little each day so I had lesson plans done by Friday when I left for the weekend (even if it didn't always happen that way). To each their own I say! :)

Regardless of when you plan, I wanted to share with you today the how in my planning. I like to create a template so I'm not recreating the wheel each week. Let's face it, many of us follow the same schedule week after week. (Although I also realize that there's really no "normal" week. Somethings always comes up!)

Anyway, here's some of the methods I've used:

  • My first year I wrote everything out by hand in my handy dandy lesson plan book. Each week. The same thing. No thanks! Not again! (Try doing that for two grades! Eek!)
  • The second year I created a paper template with blocks that had the subject in them. I still used the same plan book, but then I used glue sticks to paste my typed templates in each week. Better, but I wouldn't go back to that either. (I was teaching three grades that year, so I had wised up a little bit.)
  • The next year of teaching I used mini post-it notes. Yep, I have teeny-tiny handwriting when needed, so I put each of my Reading Recovery lessons on its own sticky note. These were put into my lesson plan book, and I wrote in my lessons for the groups I taught during Title. It worked, but it wasn't ideal for my Type A personality.
  • During my fourth year I finally created a template that I could use day after day. It was an electronic template that was about 60% filled out. I wrote the other 40% by hand.
  • My fifth year of teaching was a little different. I was a co-teacher for a 5th grade classroom. The regular ed teacher did 90+% of the planning, and - as the special education teacher - I did more of the accommodations and pull-out planning. I honestly didn't write any plans that year. I just did more documentation than anything. 
  • During my sixth year I finally went completely electronic. At the beginning of the year, I created the same template that I had during my fourth year. But this time I filled it in electronically, saved it as a pdf, and uploaded it to my classroom weebly. You can look at those plans here to see what I mean. I simply used Microsoft Word. 
  • My seventh year lesson plans looked very similar to those of year six. You can see them all online here
  • The eighth year as an educator, my district went an entirely different route. Several of our teachers had heard about PlanbookEdu, so the district bought licenses for everyone. It was AMAZING! Setting up a template at the beginning of the year took some getting used to, but then you were good for the year. The teachers loved it! Of course we had a few glitches - as you do with anything new - but the ability to track the standards more than made up for any small annoyances! You can try it out here

Here's a picture of the lesson plans I used during my sixth and seventh year. 

Remember you can see all my 6th grade lesson plans here.

Or click here to see lesson plans from the year I was departmentalized and taught reading and writing to grades 4, 5, and 6.

Click here or the picture below to sign up for PlanbookEdu.

How do you lesson plan? What template do you use?
I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

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Sunday, July 19, 2015

Laminating! Who knew it could be so fun?!

During my first two years of teaching the school I was at had one of these small little, personal laminators. Granted, it wouldn't do large items - but I loved it! Then I moved to a new school that had the standard, huge school-size laminator and I was disappointed from then on out because the laminate simply wasn't as durable. Things that had lasted me 2+ years before were falling apart in a year. Sad.

I guess I pretty much dealt with it, until I started reading so many teacher blogs. {You ladies are killing me! ;) } I saw that people could buy their own laminators, and I finally broke down and got one! I.LOVE.IT! Seriously! Best thing ever!

Here's the first round of lamination that took place in my home recently.

Who seriously laminates 100+ sheets in ONE night? Yep - all laminated and cut out in one night! (I think I enjoyed the mindless task after a 7-hour day of working at the school. I didn't have to think!)

But I didn't stop there. I decided I "had" to have some more posters for my room. So round 2 started....

Have I mentioned how much I love this laminator? I think I'll be working with it even more before the school year starts. :)

You can get your own pretty reasonably through Amazon. I've heard Sam's Club has amazing deals on the thermal pouches, but I have to drive 200+ miles to even find that store, so I mostly just buy them online

It's all because of the amazing teacher blogger community that I have such an addiction! (It may sound like I'm complaining, but really I'm not! ;) The amazing blogging community also just recommended I buy this printer, and I haven't been disappointed with it yet!

What addictions do you have thanks to the online blogging community? =)

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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Have a "BRIGHT" School Year! {Fun Gift Idea!}

As some of you start to gear up for the new school year, I wanted to share this little item I whipped up last year! It simply states "Have a BRIGHT School Year!"

There are five different types of tags to use - each with four different, "bright" graphics! Choose the one that works for you and your style. 

Attach is to a pack of highlighters to use for colleagues at the beginning of the year, OR pair it with some fun {dollar store} sunglasses for your own children or students! Either way - it's a fun, "bright" idea! ;)

Click here or on the picture above to get your FREE copy from Google Docs!

And if you're interested in more beginning of the year (or back to school) gift ideas for your colleagues - try these!



If you do a gift for the beginning of the school year, I'd love to see a link (or just share your idea) in the comments below!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Back to School Ideas for the Elementary Classroom

There are so many neat ideas floating around the internet! However, there are just as many neat ideas floating around our own schools! Last year I walked around our campus at various times and just took pictures. I love the things I saw!

This second grade teacher took a large sheet of paper, traced a large number two, and cut it out. She then cut it into various puzzle pieces so each new student in her classroom could decorate one. When the class put the puzzle back together, they discussed how all the pieces were needed to make a whole. They also discussed how every child in the classroom needed to participate to make this year a great one. I love this!

Our fourth grade teacher had each of her students cut out a t-shirt. She then hung them up outside her door with the saying "Our Class Fits Us to a T!" I happened to have some extra mini clothespins lying around, so she used those as well. Don't they just make it that much cuter?!

The last idea probably isn't quite as elementary friendly, although I suppose upper grades could complete this. Remember we are a K-12 building all housed under one roof. Anyway, our high school art students each decorated a ceiling tile. This was one of them that was put in the ceiling of the elementary hallway. I love it! It adds color and keeps the little ones guessing. I remember hearing some Kindergarten students chatting about this one over a month after it had been put up. They never thought to look at the ceiling when they were walking down the hallway! =)

What awesome ideas have you seen in your hallway?