Saturday, December 29, 2012

A New Year, A New Way

Let's Get Organized, Organized...(sung to the tune of Let's Get Physical) My room has become a dumping ground. Changing grade level assignments each year leads me on the path to disorganization. Yes, I chose to loop with my amazing class, but I lost 2 floor-to-ceiling cabinets and several feet in the length of my room. You don't think it sounds like much until you're in there and using it! So, like most, I've taken to look at all those lovely classroom organization pins I have pinned (you know, the ones I had planned to implement, but they remain just on my pinterest boards). Ta da! I am pretty proud that I did a few of them...maybe, not the most productive ones, but baby steps, Melanie, baby steps.

I saw E.V.E.R.Y.O.N.E. making "Teacher Toolkits" in the summer so I set out to make my own. I am a pack rat so I need 2. Now that the school year is on, I need about 10. :) Here are my first Pinterest projects.

Next, I pinned and actually made these after seeing them from Charity at The Organized Classroom Blog at the start of the school year for my cubbies. I always labeled with their numbers, but I liked the aesthetic appeal so I made these in DJ ChunkM font with their name and number:
I also pinned and sorted my bulletin board letters this from Marg at MargD Teaching Posters which really helped me see how many of each letter, what patterns or colors, etc. I had.
I also pinned and organized -- but does this really count? Yes, I think so since it was a pinned idea and I actually followed through! Something so basic I never thought of from Jami at Two Things in Common was simply sorting construction paper by color. The best part? My fast finished frequently replenish this so I use slave student labor to help keep the class creativity flowing with momentum. :)
I used these cute money for school notes from Angela at Hello, Cuteness in my P.I.R.A.T.E. notebooks this year and it has helped SO MUCH and kept most kids from bringing in pockets of coins and not knowing why they have to give it to me. *smile*
And hey, I even bought the bag from Thirty-One Gifts (below) and had it monogrammed...but that's about as far as I got....with this pin from A Bowl Full of Lemons.
I attempted these after pinning them from The Frugal Teacher, but they were a nightmare since we have to stack chairs at the end of the day -- E.V.E.R.Y.D.A.Y.! Great idea if chairs could stay down or could be stacked on the desks, but we can't at my school. Boo!

So for the New Year, this is what I want to do...
  1. Get my guided reading area organized
  2. Find 18" x 12" baskets for my class library
  3. Organize lesson materials, scan more often, and save them to save me TONS of time
  4. Force myself to enter CSCOPE test answers the same day
  5. Start MY way of charting the scope and sequence for next year with links to YouTube videos AND which books based on skill, etc.
I am taking baby steps here. I could rattle a list off that's 40 miles long...but I want to be able to accomplish it! How about you? How is the organization in your classroom? Is that one of your teaching resolutions for the new year?

Saturday, December 22, 2012 - Free Stuff for Your Class

Free stuff for your class! Yes, you read that correctly. If you're not new to teaching, you know how much money you have spent on your own classroom resources, materials, and supplies. I know I have spent thousands over the past 9 years. I then learned from an advertisement that I was spending money on things that I could be getting for free from DonorsChoose.orgI continue to put money into things I need, but now some of the higher end items are supplied and it has saved me tremendously. allows you to post projects for classroom needs. When you first register, you are supplied with 2 points. The amount of points a project costs you depends on the project's total cost to donors. They make it super easy with easy to fill in boxes, a "shopping mall" for you to shop online at specific vendors, or once you earn additional points, you can post items from outside sources, class visitors, and even field trips! If you haven't checked them out, be sure to go now. It doesn't take much time, but you will be amazed at the support you will receive from outside sources! They often have $1 for $1 donor matching and you can link it to your Facebook page for additional promotion. I mean, could it be any better? 

Want to see some of the 17 projects I had funded? Check them out HERE. Everything from Leap Frog Leapsters, Hot Dots, headphones, flash drives, digital cameras, Apple TV, headsets with mics, color printers, a laminator, digital microscope, hand lenses, and more. Did I mention I just had a project funded to take all 22 of my kiddos and 8 adults to Sea World during our animal unit in April??!!

Have any of you ever posted a project? What are your experiences with DonorsChoose?

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Elf on the Shelf

Have you seen this?
Let's just say it is A.W.E.S.O.M.E. for behavior management prior to the winter break. So, my students are not original at all. As you know, I looped with my kiddos and our Elf on the Shelf has been the same both years. Well, I always introduce it with the book and video (the video helps A LOT with non-believers). In the video, the elf's name is what do my kids name our Elf? You guessed it, Chippey.

Chippey has been taking some amazing adventures and the kids look for him the second they enter the classroom. Where has he been? What has he done?

He's gone ziplining....
He got caught in our net....

He peaked out of one of my kiddo's stockings...

He goes fishing for our beta Flipper...

He hides out by our learning games...

He eats popcorn and watches a movie on our class projector...

He does Christmas seek-and-finds (notice the name of this page is searching in the "Elves' Workshop")...

Now, the best one was when they were riled up and Chippey left for a day. He left them a note clipped on the Christmas tree naming each child and how they've either clearly been on the "nice list" or if their behavior should improve to be on the "nice list". It helped get them ALL back on track. :)

Where has your Elf gone? What has he done? I saw adorable ones with pepperpint "patties" in the toilet and toilet paper wrapped trees. Did you do anything creative?