Saturday, April 12, 2014

Take a Hard Look at that Book Nook!

Do you spend countless hours at the beginning of each school year organizing your classroom library with your students and ensuring they understand how books should be returned and kept organized, only to find yourself endlessly finding these same books carelessly tossed back into whatever bin seemed to be the easiest to reach in that moment? If this sounds like your room, as it once was mine as well, I am hoping that this system may help you as much as it has helped my students and I keep this area as user friendly as possible!

First things first, you need to decide how to best organize the library for student use. I have always had my students assist me in organizing ours by genre, coupled with a few books in a series baskets mixed in. I also separate the shelves by "Fiction" and "Non-Fiction" texts bins.

Each of the books in the classroom library is also labeled to appropriately match its corresponding basket. Note: The first year I decided to label the books this way, I had the kids help me to put the stickers on the back of the books and we got it done in no time! Use your resources :)! I would also recommend putting the labels on the back as it doesn't interfere with the title, appearance of the front cover.

Now, when doing their "book shopping" my students were allowed to select up to 3 of these texts at a time, but had to return the same amount of texts that they selected. This way it worked to keep their book boxes from overflowing as well as the library stocked with a diverse collection of books for all students to utilize.

When students returned books, instead of placing them back into the corresponding genre bins, there was one central "Book Return" basket where all books went. Now, I realize, that with the stickers on the back corresponding exactly to the bin in which the text should be returned, this may seem silly. But I will tell you this is probably single-handedly the best thing I have done to maintain library organization. For some reason, no matter how well the troops are trained to put the books back in the bin they belong - they will not always end up there. However, asking them to toss them all into one bin and have another sort for them - totally doable! To ensure all books were sorted properly, it was the responsibility of 2 students each week when they arrived in the morning as part of their routine to take the books out of the return bin and place them in their proper location! With two of them working on this, it took a matter of a minute or two, and they were much more meticulous in putting them back in their proper place as it was their responsibility in that job.

(I apologize I do not have a picture of my book return basket! As I am not in the classroom this year - I pulled from old photos and that wasn't one I had taken....however, I have confidence you can use your imagination!)

Now, while nearly all of the books the students read and returned followed the above expectations, there were a few I kept in designated spaces around the library that the students had to return to their proper place right after reading. These books were those that I, myself, checked out from our school library based on concepts we were studying, holiday texts, and other anchor texts that we had read as a class that I wanted students to be able to have more frequent access to and that also, I did not want or could not add a label to!

These types of "special" texts were placed on wall shelves or display stands around the library.

My students knew that they were able to pick these up at any time during "Read to Self" or free reading time, but they must be returned immediately at the conclusion of this time so that I was able to keep track of them and other students had access that same day as well!

Overall, I think the key to maintaining that "Book Nook" of yours is to make it a system that is user friendly and easy to keep up for both you and your students! I have found this to work for me, but I always love learning and incorporating new ideas from others as well! Do you have any other tips and tricks that have worked well for you in maintaining library organization? 

If you enjoyed this bright idea, I'd love for you to join me on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest for more great ideas!

And for more bright ideas from 150 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks for visiting!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

"Egg"cellent Math Activities

I am "egg"cited (insert nerd alert here) to share with you my recent egg-themed math freebie I whipped up for the month of April. 

This activity is a festive way for your students to review basic addition or multiplication facts. 
Students will role two dice to fill in the numbers to complete the 5 problems. They will then solve the problems to determine how they will need to decorate their eggs.

Grab your free copy for addition or multiplication in English or Spanish by clicking the activity image.

If you are brave enough to use real eggs, you may want to check out my "Egg Measurements" freebie that I have shared in the past as well! This activity was an authentic way for my students to put the measurement skills we had been learning about into practice and includes everything from measuring the length of the egg to its weight and its area! Click here to read more about how we did the activity in my classroom or click on the image to grab a copy for yourself.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

10,000 Pinterest Followers- Spring Themed Giveaway

As much as I wish I could claim this accomplishment, I have not yet reached this milestone friends. Someday :).

However, my dear friend Tabitha over at Flapjack Educational Resources has, and I am so thrilled for her and excited to be a part of the celebration!

See all those little headshot and blog button pictures above. There are 84 to be exact, and that is how many bloggers have decided to jump on board and donate a spring themed resource for the party. There will be 7 winners in all that correspond to the 7 rafflecopters below. To enter, you simply need to follow the TpT stores of these amazing donators. Winners will be announced on March 20 (the first day of spring!). Could it be more fitting?

Congrats again, Tabitha!

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas - Student Desk Organization

Welcome hoppers! So glad you're here, and I hope you are enjoying collecting all of these "bright" ideas from some seriously "bright" bloggers! 

So let's hop to it..

We've all had one or two or three in our rooms. Those pesky, paper eating desk monsters!
You know them well I'm sure - they are those desks that just seem to scarf down student assignments so that they are hopelessly lost, never to be seen again (or at least until the student spends 10 minutes of precious learning time searching for it to find it in a crumpled ball). 

So what can we do to assist our students in slaying these "desk monsters"?

1.) First, start the year off with some expectations and explicitly lay out with your students what an organized work space looks like. (Note: Even if you didn't do this at the beginning of the year, it's never too late if you feel there is a need!)

To start the process, I like to get the students thinking about what an organized vs. disorganized space looks like. I did this concept attainment with one of the classrooms in our building this year, and it was a wonderfully, easy way to get their wheels turning. To begin, I simply had the columns titled "yes" and "no". I then slowly began adding pictures to the columns as an example of each category. When I finished adding the examples, I asked the students to discuss what they thought the photos represented/what may be a good title for our poster. "Organized Desks" of course!

After the sort, we began to discuss some of those ever-so-key expectations for an organized desk and worked through this diagram. The students then set off to organize their desks accordingly, and the diagram can be hung in the classroom as a constant reminder of our expectations!

2.) Students shouldn't keep everything they brought with them day one in their desks.
It's too much stuff! 
If your students' "desk monsters" are having trouble closing their is probably because they are being asked to keep too much inside them. Find alternate and purposeful spaces around your room for some of their supples. For instance, in our building, we have cubbies for each of the students in all classrooms. This is where I had my students keep art supplies like crayons, markers, glue, etc. This eliminated a lot of those little items floating around in their desks and they simply grabbed their cubby and brought it to the table whenever we were working on a project and all of their supplies was there at their fingertips.
I also recommend either collecting and storing or having your students place extra pencils and erasers in a space like a cubby too. Otherwise, they begin floating around in the abyss, and really, they aren't going to use them all at once anyhow. My students kept 2 pencils in their desks and one eraser and when one was gone, then they could go their their cubby to grab another. 
Furthermore, I recommend having some sort of book boxes or book bags for students to place books they are currently reading. Particularly in the upper grades as their books get a bit thicker, I start to see the desktops rise, as they just can't seem to fit them all! My students used numbered book boxes I purchased at Ikea that we had lining one of our counters to store books they were currently reading. It was handy, because they could pick it up and take it with them easily to another room too! One of our teachers even created these boxes out of cereal boxes this school year, which was a great green way to get them together!

3.) Storage baskets are your friend. 
Now while I know many student desks are equipped with that lovely little pencil ledge, I have found that to be not quite enough to keep the little things together. One of my colleagues shared this idea with me a few years ago, and I have never looked back. My kids stored their nametags, scissors, post-its, and other items that we used all the time in these lovely little finds. They fit perfectly in the left over open desk space too! I got them at Big Lots for $1.20 for a 3 pack and can reuse them from year to year! (Note: They aren't added to the diagram above, as it was done with a class this year that did not use them...but it was always a part of mine :)).

4.) Don't assume your students will put things away in their proper place. Every single time, without exception, that I asked my second graders to put an activity in a folder to save for later, I specified which folder and monitored to see that it went in there. It saved us a lot of time waiting for students to hunt for missing papers later.

5.) Hold your students accountable to the expectations set forth. While it is all fine and dandy to organize and set expectations at the beginning of the year, it won't be worth the time if your students are not held accountable for them. Think about it - when you set classroom rules, there is a system in place for making sure all are following them, is there not? 
Same should be true for staying organized. 
I have seen so many great ways teachers have positively reinforced this student resposibility. The infamous "desk fairy" is always a hit. I have used this before and my students loved the unsuspected surprise when they opened their desk tops in the morning. If you have a PBIS type system in place in your building, you may be able to tie it in to that as well. Our building uses something called an "honor badge" that students can earn for displaying a variety of positive behaviors- one of which being responsibility. Thus, my students would receive an "honor badge" from the desk fairy for demonstrating their responsbility in staying organized!
Did you know there is even a book out there for intoducing this organizational pixie?

Alongside the positive reinforcement, I may suggest having your students also self-reflect on how they are doing in this area. If your students keep data binders, have a page in there for them to highlight how they did with staying organized each month and create goals for improvement and/or create a class "Way to Organize - Wall of Fame" and highlight student accomplishments! The possibilities are endless!

What do you do in your classroom to help your students slay the "desk monsters"? I'd love to hear from you!

Next up on the hop is Stacey from Funky Fresh Firsties. Stacey has a great post for you all about how to organize students with classroom numbering! Just click on the button below to check it out!

Funky Fresh Firsties

Alternatively, you can search by topic using the link up below and move along to any other blog on the blog hop!

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Spring has Sprung

Well at least at my TpT store :)!
The ground is still covered in snow here, but hey we hit 40 here's to progress!

For those of you that are familiar with my vocabulary building packs (grab winter here or fall here), my spring pack is up and ready to go just in time for the season.

It includes:
20 word wall cards with illustrations 
Memory game cards (illustrations and words) that your students can use to cut and play
A "My Spring Words" printable list for your students to practice writing and drawing examples of their newly learned words

All of course comes in both English and Spanish.
Click on the image below to head to my store and pick up your copy :)!

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Differentiation Across the Subject Areas

We had another class Monday night with our new dual/ELL staff members, and this time we focused on differentiation and what that may look like across the subject areas.

As we have done in the past, we had the teachers participate in a gallery walk and thus rotate around with their groups to add to a series of posters focused on this topic of differentiation. Yet again, our wonderful staff did not disappoint and came up with a wide assortment of ideas as to how instruction can be differentiated for our students!

I typed up their ideas on a nice one page spread for them, and thought you all may find it useful as well!
Click on it to grab a copy for yourself or a friend.

Graphics/Fonts: Scrappin' Doodles, Rowdy Fonts, My Cute Graphics

Also, (as if you haven't already heard ;)), I wanted to let you all in on the big secret. 
TpT will be hosting a "3 Million Teachers Strong" sale February 27-28th.
In using promo code TPT3, you can get up to 28% off at my store along with so many more!
How exciting is it to see this community of teachers growing and working together :)!

Monday, February 24, 2014

Spanish Subtraction Poem

I have always seen that lovely little poem to assist students in remembering what steps to take when encountering a 2-digit subtraction problem that goes along the lines of "More on top, no need to stop. More on the floor, go next know the rest I am sure of it!

However, for a teacher who has always taught math in Spanish, as much as I adore the chant, I haven't ever been able to use it. 

Thus, last year, I worked hard to create something similar in the other language, so that my students could have a piece of the "fab poem pie". It was a hit with them and after adding a few actions to go along side it, I think it definitely helped them to nail down the steps to these types of problems. 

This past week, I had the opportunity to share and model this same chant in one of our 2nd grade dual language classrooms. We had so much fun, and I even recruited some model students to share the actions with all of you!

And now for the fun. Here are the actions (or TPR as we prefer to call it) to go along with it!

Once we rehearsed and learned the poem and actions quite well. We put our learning into practice and the students completed a sort in which they needed to determine whether various 2-digit subtraction problems needed to be regrouped or not. After cutting and sorting, the students solved then glued their work.

You can grab the sort page and the problems by clicking on each of their individual images below. (Note: Each student will only need a half sheet of problems.)