Wednesday, August 20, 2014


Hey there!
I'm back once agan today to link up with Blog Hoppin' to share my *why organization" tips. Well, let me start by saying that I am by NO means an organization expert. Try as I might, I just really can't seem to get it ALL together. But alas, the job of a teacher is never really over is it? And honestly, how is anyone really supposed to balance all those papers?
Still, today I'm going to show you a few tips that have seemed to help me hold on to the last bits of my sanity, while also appeasing my OCD tendencies.
First up, a look at my teacher books!
If you're like me, then you have a stash of books that you use specificially for lessons and units. Call me greedy, but I just don't want my students reading those books over and over again before I'm ready to use them. I absolutely LOVE the feeling of reading a good book to my students for the first time, and I always feel at least a little disappointed when one of them has heard it before. Therefore, I certainly don't leave my teacher books in an area where my WHOLE class can enjoy them before I'm ready. Selfish, I admit, but I truly think it helps keep them special.
I believe it was in my very first year of teaching that I realized my teaching books could simply not be housed in the same area as the student books. I realized that by separating my books, it not only prevented my kids from reading them over and over again and therefore killing their luster, but it also helped protect them and keep them pristine (well, almost). Since then, I have always kept my teaching books on a separate shelf, on another side of the classroom. I have my books organized by month. So, all the units and themes I teach in September are all in the same bucket. Books that I use for grammar lessons or math lessons fall into the last category of "school books". When I am on a particular unit, I move those books to this colorful little shelf (not pictured), so my students can access them while writing or researching. This system has NEVER failed me and I truly have never regretted this decision. I think if You keep the students library well stocked with equally great texts, its a win, win! Do you agree?
Next up, is how I keep student work organized.

After my first year of teaching kindergarten, I quickly realized that my sweet kinders are just like me. They want to stay organized, but they just don't know how. I tried everything! But mostly it all resulted in anger and frustration on both ends. This year, I decided I was going to tackle this problem head on, and vowed to never spend another minute frustrated about my students organization. Therefore, I developed the drawer system. Each student has a drawer that corresponds to their class number. Finished center work or seat work that is only for practice or a participation grade goes in these drawers. Graded papers are still turned in, but now my students have a place where all papers are housed, and none are flying out of their cubbies! When its time to hang up work or send work home, I know exactly where to go and what to look for! It's been a lifesaver, I tell you. My students also really adore having a special place to keep their work safe. Amen!
Lastly, I'll share my center organization with you. Let me preface this by telling you....I haven't exactly tested it out, yet. We're getting there though. It's only our first week of school so we haven't quite nailed down our center routines, but so far so good! Previously I used folders to store all recording sheets, but my students alwasy seemed confused by what sheet went with what activity, or they never put them back correctly. It was a MESS, and that's an understatement.

This year, I've decided to store all recording sheets on numbered paper trays. No more crinkled papers and folders, or mixed up sheets. Instead, students just grab the sheet after they finish the activity. VOILA! Easy as that! Check back with me in a week or two and you'll see the real results of this new design.
So, what do you think friends? Love it? Hate it?
I'm thinking it'll all work out! However, I will still be checking out all the other fabulous organization tips on the Blog Hoppin' Linky! Go check it out!
Happy teaching!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

My Classroom Digs!

Hey ya'll!
 Phew, is all I really have to say right now. Today was our second *official* day of school, and let me tell you...I am EXHAUSTED! I always forget that my cuties really do start out as babies. But, in my two short days with them, they have already impressed me beyond words and shown so much growth! 
I really can't wait to show you all the fun stuff we've been getting into, but today I'm here to link up with Blog Hoppin' and show you my classroom digs! This year, I was fortunate enough to move into a brand new and HUGE room! It has been a dream come true for me, but still I feel like I am dying for more space. I guess that's something a teacher really will never be satisfied with. Especially if you have a basket hoarding problem like I do. 

First up, I'll share a picture of my calendar, and center rotation chart board! I totally changed up my color scheme this year, and as you can see, I also totally stole borrowed some bulletin board ideas from the amazing Kindercraze.

We have already put both boards to great use, and I love how bright a cheery they look! I also got my fabulous alphabet from the one and only Kindercraze. Now if only they would invent a tape that would actually adhere to cinder block walls....sigh.

Oh and that rolling container you see? Well this lucky lady happened to win that at  PD two weeks ago, and now I SERIOUSLY don't know how I ever survived without it. I'm not sure how much they cost retail, but I swear it would be worth every single penny. 

Next up, a little snip of my rug area. I was lucky enough to have enough space in my classroom this year to position a rug right in front of my Promethean board, and still enough space to have another massive rug in my classroom library. Blessed, I know. 

The pocket charts on the back of the bookcases are for center use. On the other side is where we store all of our math tubs. The buckets of clipboards are also used for center work, and the bucket of dry erase boards are used daily in a variety of subjects!

My next area up for show is our classroom library. Almost all of the books and tubs are labeled, but it's still a little bit of a work in progress. I'm realizing it's actually impossible to have every aspect of your classroom entirely done before school starts. If you are one of those lucky people who are able to do so, I don't wanna know about it. ;) I prefer the comfort of the idea that I am not the only one still scrambling to get it together!

My library definitely got quite the upgrade this year, and I was so thrilled to be able to add that sweet little tent of mine! All of my bookshelves were donated to my class via Donor' s Choose, and boy are they a lifesaver! They take up just the perfect amount of space, and have plenty of room for my ever-growing library. The buckets you see on the shelves to the right house all of our "word work" centers. This picture was taken prior to the numbering of each of the tubs. The paper trays above each correspond to a word work center, and house the recording sheets for each activity. 

Well, friends! That's all the pictures I have to share with you today! I realized after getting home that I have absolutely NO pictures of my student tables, small group table, writing center, or computer center, so that will have to hold off till another post! In the meantime, I'm going to make myself mighty busy checking out all the other wonderful classroom digs over on the Blog Hoppin' linky! 

Thanks for checking in and, as always, happy teaching!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Back To School

Believe it or not, back to school is officially here! With the first day of school right around the corner, I am working like a maniac to get everything ready. I am sure most of you are going through exactly what I am, but every year it still feels like it's my first. Will it ever end?
But, despite all of the hard work, I truly look forward to the start of the new year, and can't wait to meet all of my new babies next Monday. Until then, I have made use of my hard earned money and bought myself quite a few things during this weeks Back To School Sale on TPT. Did ya'll participate? I sure hope so! There were killer deals, and I definitely racked up. So tonight, I am so excited to share some of my recent purchases, as well as a few of my newest products, with you!

As you can see, I was feeling pretty ambitious at the time. I can't wait to put all of these great new units and clip art packs to good use! If any of the products I've posted tickle your fancy, just click on their picture and it'll lead you write to their product page!

Up next, I have a few fulfilled promises for you. If you remember, I recently posted my math homework packet with the assurance that a phonics and reading comprehension packet would be following shortly. Well guess what folks?! I am proud to say I have officially finished and posted both units this week, and I absolutely cannot wait to use them!

All three of my packets (math, phonics, and reading comprehension) were made to be used together or individually. My phonics packet includes practices pages for every phonics skill addressed in 1st grade, and includes enough practice pages to use for homework and extra to also use at school. If you've got homework covered already, no problem. This packet is absolutely PERFECT for small group instruction, intervention, or assessment. The best part about this packet is that it assesses decoding, fluency, comprehension, AND writing. It is balanced literacy at its finest.

Here's a peek at just one of the fun pages included in the packet. There are several pages that are found repeatedly throughout the packet, but each phonics skill also comes with uniquely themed practice pages to help maintain student engagement!

For an even better look at this packet, you can click on the picture above to view the product page.

My next unit was definitely a labor of love. It really stretched my creativity and allowed me to really take a long hard look at the comprehension skills my students need to acquire. And thus....Read Your Heart Out! was born. Just thinking about this newest packet gets me excited! 

In this comprehensive unit, I included enough close reading passages to last all school year. The passages vary in genre and theme, and are just wonderful for homework, small group, or whole group instruction. Each passage contains activities for 4 days of reading. This set-up encourages students to read, and most importantly, RE-READ! Then, students are challenged to ask and answer questions, identify story elements, retell the stories, analyze vocabulary, identify synonyms/antonyms, search for phonics chunks and SO much more! What I love most about this packet is that it was created in conjunction with my phonics packet and reinforces all of the skills. In addition, the texts gradually increase in difficulty. Early passages focus on CVC words and sights words, and gradually move to more complex texts.

These packets have truly been an answer to my homework prayers. I'm sleeping easier knowing that I will have one less "to-do" off my list each week. For a closer look at my close reading packet, you can click the picture below! And, as always, both products will be on sale for the next week! Hooray for back to school!

I'll be back again soon to show you how I organize all these papers to go home! Until then, I will be busy printing and laminating all the new goodies I purchased! To see more fabulous finds from the TPT sale, check out BlogHoppin's linky!


Happy Teaching!