I had the best time last night with the Senior II Seminar at Pembroke University. They invited me to come talk with them about “the real world” and using technology in the classroom. I promised to share my notes, so here we go!
Are you looking for a quick, easy and secure way to message your parents and students? Try Remind 101. In just a few seconds, set up a class distribution/messaging list that you can send as a text message from your computer. Quickly remind students of homework assignments and due dates, share information and reminders with parents, and even send out notes of emergency delays or early releases without having to fight with the busy school phone lines. The messages will be coming straight from your online Remind 101 account, not your personal phone, so you eliminate sharing that personal information. By the way, it’s free!
Robert the Reader hangs over my small group lesson area, remind students about things their brain is doing while they are reading.
“Be a STAR today!”
S – sign in
T – take time to organize for the day
A – attitude check
R – read any notes/directions on the board
My classroom library has all of our novels sorted by level and picture books sorted by topics. There is a “Book Return” box. My students help me to keep it organized by returning there so things can be re-shelved properly. I don’t have a “check out” system. We establish trust and responsibility and hope that our books get taken care of and returned in a timely manner!
I keep my desks in groups through the year, but I change my groups often. We share supplies with the buckets on each table to keep things readily accessible.
I think every year about my school supply list. I try to be considerate of kids and their ability to tote things back and forth to school. I am very conscious of parents and the financial burden of back to school time, especially with multiple children. I also want to be sure that the things I’m asking for are true necessities. Here’s what I’ve come up with…
- 2 sturdy pocket folders (yes, I’ll use more than that, but I got 100 of them for a dollar, so I can color code those like I want. These 2 are for homework folders.)
- 5 one-subject notebooks (I believe in teaching students to be good note-takers)
- lots of wooden pencils (I don’t allow mechanical pencils in my classroom – too much fuss)
- 3 highlighters
- 2 dry erase markers
- 2 packs of loose leaf paper (I don’t use a lot of looseleaf. If I’m giving a short quiz, we use a half or a quarter of a sheet. Who needs all that paper if it’s not necessary?)
- a basic white t-shirt that is at least one size too big (I’ll explain this more later)
The following things are helpful if parents can send them in, but they are not required.
- glue sticks
- crayons or colored pencils
- a few clean socks to use as dry erase markers
- boxes of facial tissues
- zip lock bags of any size
- disinfecting wipes
- hand sanitizer
On the first day of school, we spend a bit of time sorting the supplies into the storage totes that I have for each item. I explain to my students that we will be operating as a family throughout the year, and we start by sharing. I have a tote at each table that I keep stocked with sharpened pencils, highlighters, crayons, glue, scissors, etc. We replenish the totes from the stock of beginning of the year supplies throughout the year. Those items don’t belong to any one person and are shared. As we start to run low on a particular item, I send a quick note home and often receive plenty from parents who are able. I have found that this is the best way to keep the supplies that I need for my room, manage the items, not single out students whose parents are unable to send in items, and have students take ownership in managing their items. At first I anticipated having students who might be upset about the idea of sharing, but I’ve never had an issue. It just makes sense to them to look out for one another, and it’s a relief that they know they will have pencils, paper, etc. always available.
The day before school starts, I always print multiple labels for students to use with their names on them. I print ones for HW folders, math notebooks, weekly take home folders, etc. On the first day of school, I hand out the students’ labels and we spend a few minutes organizing the folders and notebooks they’ve brought. It’s much quicker, not to mention neater, than hand labeling everything. And, with all the zany colors and designs that are out there now, the labels are much easier to read!
As crazy as it sounds, organizing supplies on the first day of school is essential for me to get things off on the right foot. It’s a great way to establish some routines and expectations in the classroom, as well as communicate the idea that I am organized and no nonsense from day one. Chaos on the first day as items come in may not set the best tone, so have a plan. All those plastic grocery bags get overwhelming pretty fast!
Teacher workdays start in two weeks, and I am counting down the days. I am one of those people who is ready for school to start just a few days after we finish up for the year. I can’t help it! Over the summer, my family and i moved to the Greensboro area, so I’ve taken a few weeks off from the blog in order to get re-settled. As I see that isn’t happening any time soon, I figured it was as good of a time as any to get started again. Over the next days and weeks, I will spend some time blogging about the things I do to get ready for a new year and activities for the first days of school.
The first thing I do every summer is stock up on school supplies. I try not to spend a ton, but there are things that I just can’t resist. This year I’ve taken advantage of Walmart’s price matching, and I’m loving not having to run all over the place for the best deals. Here’s a brief run down of the things that I always get to start the year…
1. 3 prong, 2 pocket folders (about 100) – at $.01 each from Office Depot, I can’t complain!
2. 1 subject spiral notebooks (about 50) – I can usually find these for under $0.10 each at some point.
3. Elmer’s glue sticks (about 24) – you can get the cheap ones all year at Dollar Tree, but for craft projects, you can’t beat Elmer’s for $0.25 or less.
4. Pencils (oodles) – I hate mechanical pencils, so I make sure that I have plenty in the classroom.
5. Highlighters (20-30) – these are something else that is worth stocking up on when you can get the high quality ones for a low price. They don’t bleed through and last a long time.
6. Crayola crayons (15) – at $0.25 or so, they are worth the money for the quality. I always make sure to stock up on some Crayola ones because they are the brand that includes white crayons. We don’t use them much, but when we need them, they are impossible to find for a decent price!
7. White address labels (2-3 packs) – I can usually find these at Dollar Tree and stock up whenever they are there. They can be used for everything! I start by making a name label for each student and printing 5 of them. They are awesome and so convenient!
Truthfully, for under $30, I can make sure that my students have a lot of the things that we need for various learning projects throughout the year. I try to get things that are multi-functional and can be used as needs evolve. Obviously, I ask my students and their parents to help us out by sending in a lot of these materials, but I will never let a student go without something that he/she needs. It’s much less of an issue if I can just grab the item from my cabinet and let them “pay me back” when (and if) they can so that I can do the organizing that I want on day one!
A few months ago, I received an invitation from a friend to try out Pinterest, a content sharing service with allows users to share things they’ve found on a virtual corkboard. I liken it to visual bookmarking. I have to admit that the service is a bit of a time-suck. It’s easy to spend hours browsing what others and pinning in every area imaginable. I like the organizational component of it, and the visual piece really fits into my brain framework. I have boards for everything from different school areas to funny sayings/quotations to fashion to DIY projects to recipes. I think I get a bit over ambitious when it comes to projects, but it’s definitely a big girls’ wish list. I’ve been thinking about how to use this with students, if that would be possible at all.
Reviewing the Pinterest Terms of Service, it states that this service is for children ages 13 and over, but I would still be very careful about encouraging student use. There is no “child friendly” filter that allows you to review content that others are pinning, which is the default when you log in to your account. There is a possibility that images may appear on the child’s home screen that are not appropriate. If you are using Pinterest, or your children or students are, please just be mindful of this. This is my main red flag. That being said, here are some ways that I can easily see educators using Pinterest in their learning!
- Pinterest is an endless supply of educational inspiration. You can easily follow all pinnings in the Education Category. This is a great way to find new people to follow.
- Another great way to find people is to check with the blogs that you follow. Many bloggers are now adding buttons to their blogs to make it easy to follow them on Pinterest, too.
- When you read or find something that you like or that inspires you, use the Pin It button to add it to one of your boards. That way you will remember to revisit it later. Remember to use the direct link to a site though (for example, a specific blog post, not just the overall blog).
- Organize your boards in whatever way works best for you. I have boards for books, reading strategies, writing, Daily 5, vocabulary and more. I started out with Literacy, but that became too big, too fast.
- Find blogs to read based on pins that you see others are posting. These sources for inspiration and ideas can lead to others, especially if you find a blogger or pinner with whom you find a connection. It’s easy to find kindred spirits on Pinterest.
- Create a shared board for students in the same research group to access. Students can each add resources and ideas that they find to this group space, making it easy to access one another’s work.
- Students can start independent learning and research on a topic. They can link their research boards to a class website, where others can see what they are learning.
- Teachers can create different boards for topics that they are teaching in classes. These resource boards can be accessed by students at home or at school (if filtering allows) for enrichment and/or remediation.
- Students can create a “book shelf” board, where they post pics and reviews of things they are reading.
- Students can organize resources about their school or community for others to access to learn about them and their area.
Educators around the USA are transitioning to Common Core national standards in Reading and Math, and we are all learning more about how these new standards will look in our classrooms.
Check out this awesome collection of Common Core resources from a public Symbaloo example.
Symbaloo is a great organizational site that allows you to pull together thumbnails from favorite websites. Check it out for all possibilities for your school and home lives! It’s definitely a whole different blog post!
Last night, I had a total “geek out” moment when I discovered this site on Pinterest. It’s Classroom Organizer! The title is obviously fabulous in and of itself, but Classroom Organizer tackles a part of my classroom that I’ve been struggling with for years… my classroom library. Over the past 13 years, I have sought out every yard sale, Scholastic clearance, used book store, Friends of the Library sale, and clearance rack that I could find. I choose not to reflect on the amount of money I’ve spent on these books, but I also can’t put a value on them either. Having a huge collection of books for students is essential, in my opinion. But, I digress. Classroom Organizer is a web-based application, with Android and iDevice apps, that tracks your classroom library books and has a check out system built in for the students. The smartphone app scans books by ISBN (or you can import a csv file if you are already super awesome like that) and imports it automatically. I have some more playing to do with this site/app, but it looks more promising than others that I’ve seen. I love the fact that it offers reports on student books, the fact that students can enter reviews, etc. If you’ve tried it out, please share your thoughts. If you haven’t tried it, will you?
Hi. My name is Kelly. And I love a foldable.
There are so many awesome things to do with foldables in the classroom at any age and with any curriculum area. Here are my top five reasons why.
1. Once the kids learn how to make one style, it can be used a hundred times in a hundred different ways.
2. They automatically allow for differentiation.
3. They can be made with whatever kind of paper or materials that I have handy at the moment.
4. They are a meaningful “back pocket” activity, meaning that when you have to change things up at the last minute, you can always go to a foldable.
5. They work even when the copy machine does not.
Here are a few resources on foldables that I have pulled together.
Yesterday in my post about Super Bowl math, I mentioned Livebinders as a resource I use quite a bit. If you haven’t seen Livebinders before, check out their website at http://www.livebinders.com. This is an online source that works like a virtual 3-ring binder. You can organize websites, text, documents, etc. using tabs and subheadings in an easy-to-use and easy-to-share format. Creating your first Livebinder is pretty self-explanatory once you sign up. By the way, i’s totally free! Here are some of the Livebinders I’ve made and use with trainings and my students.