Saturday, July 14, 2012

A Summer Nerd

I have been a bad blogger. I haven't blogged once since school got out except to blog about something that happened BEFORE school got out. Please accept my most humble apologies! Somehow, though, I managed to get some new followers anyway! Welcome to all of you!

Even though I haven't been blogging, TRUST ME - I have been working. See?

This is my desk as of this morning!
To make it up to all of you, I thought I'd write a REALLY LONG post to show you what I've been working on this summer. Be astounded by my nerdiness, if you please <wink, wink> (KIDDING!)

So, my room was ugly last year. I'll admit it. It wasn't cute because I didn't really try last summer to make it cute. I was busy in workshops last summer, so the cute factor totally slipped me by. I was determined not to let that ugly mess happen again, so I started looking for something fun and new for my room.

I have always been a black, red, and white kind of gal. I've had that color scheme for years. So imagine my TOTAL surprise when I was inspired by a classroom that was turquoise, green, and yellow! Yikes! But the room I loved was POSITIVELY GORGEOUS!!!! Take a peek here at the blog post that inspired me from School Girl Style. This woman is pure talent. She creates the most beautiful and welcoming classrooms, and even though I don't know her, I'm proud to know that she's recently teamed up with Carson Dellosa to create even more beautiful classroom projects! Yay, Melanie! (I kinda hope she reads this.)

Here's one of the pictures of her classroom. Just fab.
Well, mine WON'T look like that. Not even in a million years. Partially because I'm lazy. Well, that's probably the major reason. But I was worried that I couldn't fully embrace such an earthy-toned classroom because it's so far from my color comfort zone. So I looked until I found something similar that I loved. And I found it at Creative Teaching Press!

This is the Dots on Turquoise theme!
I love, love, love this! It's got the greens and blues. It's got orange. And it's got my favorite color ever - RED! Woohoo!

So, here are the things I've created this year to go with that color theme.

The 4 stools there will be joined with a black and a gray one for my reading table. I'll be able to store guided reading materials in them. GEEKING OUT OVER THESE!!! I'm basically too lazy to make the create seats from the tutorial I found on Pinterest. There are also fabric bins here. The bins have labels on the front (I have like 18 of them - not joking). I have big black cubbies from Target that these will fit in. It'll be so pretty :)
A rolling cart for each table to house their independent reading books, folders, composition notebooks, and markers/supplies. Each rolling cart will slide under each table. This makes me so excited that you have no idea...
I LOVE these! Paper lanterns from Target with a table number suspended from each one to hang over each table (I've replaced the metal with something blue and prettier to attach!) I also have turquoise lanterns.

Pretty calendar. Sorry for the glare.

Really crooked shot of the birthday chart...?

and bulletin boards!

I love puns. This one just cracks me up. *sigh...
I made a few posters in Word and had them blown up at our local school supply store. I went to school, hot glued those bad boys to the walls, and - ugh. Boring and stupid looking. So I just added some border. I had the curly border and the pennant border, so I used both. I used the pennant border over bulletin boards that already had the pennant border.

Using ASL as hand signals, and alternatives to the ever-dreaded "IDK"

Gigantor version of the Guidelines for Critical Thinking printout that students will get for their reading notebooks

Then I wanted to create some other things in that color scheme, but I needed some straight border and couldn't find any. So I found another border that has the same colors in it. I'm not 100% thrilled with it, but we'll see how it looks overall.

Hanging by the front door with forms the students will need to access. Got this bad boy for 40% off at Michaels - woot!

I love these things. I just sliced the straight bulletin board border to fit the front of the drawers, attached 2x4 Avery labels with what will go inside, then used double-stick tape to adhere them to the drawer from the inside. Bam. Looks neat, plus you won't be able to see all my CRAP inside.

SO. That's the pretty stuff. Now on to the business side of things. I've made some binders. I love binders. I made 3:

  • A Guest Teacher Binder (aka sub binder) based off something I pinned from Pinterest (here's the original link)
  • My "Everything Binder" - it has pretty much everything except lesson plans and grades 
  • My Reading Binder - it has my reading stuff in it (shocker)
Here are photos of the insides of each:

The Guest Teacher Binder
I keep a sub binder handy just in case it's needed. Usually, it's on a shelf and my students know where it is in the event of emergency. I read on a few other blogs that teachers lay it on their desk each day when they leave, just in case. I like that idea!

I keep emergency sub plans in big manila envelopes in a Sub Tub. Each envelope has every form, worksheet, magazine, or whatever in it that a sub would need for each day. It's got behavior forms, nurse forms, a lunch and attendance form, student name tags, an extra copy of the schedule, plus all the plans. I have several days worth (I try to keep a full week in case of a big emergency) in the tub at all times. The tub is just a fabric bin (from above) that will go in my big black cubbies that I got from Target. It's got a label on the front that says Sub Tub.

I already had a sub binder, but it needed a revamp. I found Ms. Ogletree's blog on Pinterest and thought I'd just set mine up the same way she did. Here's a look.

For the sub to fill out at the end of the day. I have several copies in here.
The Everything Binder
The everything binder pretty much has, well, everything. Except for grades and my general lesson plans. That's because I bought my Erin Condren teacher planner! LOVE!!!!!!!! Here's a link. They're expensive, so that's why I bought mine in May - she gives a 10% discount then for Teacher Appreciation. Woot! (She does more than just teacher stuff, too.)

Here's the cover and Table of Contents for my Everything Binder. It's pretty self-explanatory, except for perhaps the Happy File. EVERY TEACHER NEEDS A HAPPY FILE. It contains positive notes from administrators, parents, or anyone else that reaffirm WHY you teach and why you love it so much. Every time you get a great evaluation or a nice note, hole-punch it and stick it in your happy file. When you have a bad day (and we all know those happen), you can flip back and realize that you do a great job and that all your efforts are worthwhile. We all need those reminders!

I did go back in and add a section with all the new Common Core standards at the back. But I didn't change my Table of Contents. Told you I was lazy.

The Reading Binder
I keep all my forms in here, and this binder GROWS more than any other of the ones I have ever had. It starts as a 1" and graduates to a 3" every year. I don't start with a 3" because it looks lonely and weird. I enjoy "graduating" my binders :)

Note: I would LOVE to offer a download of all of the forms I use, but most of them are copyrighted :( HOWEVER, I can give you a couple of them. Scroll down to the bottom and I'll provide a link!

I haven't used this before, but I thought with the new Common Core standards, I'll use it just to get myself in the habit of planning lessons the way I want them so they match the standards. I don't know how long I'll use them, but I think they'll be handy to start with.

This is on the back of the Status of the Class page divider. It's just a list of questions I can use to determine comprehension each time I do a Status of the Class 

Status of the class is one of my favorite things in the WHOLE. WIDE. WORLD. Each day (or so), I go from student to student, asking them the title and page number of their book. I get to half the class each day during their independent read time. I can tell what page they were on the last time (about two days prior) and tell if they are reading enough or not. I'll ask a question or two to determine if they understand the book (see a list of sample questions above). If I need to write down any notes about what they said, I'll just use the line(s) underneath. If they don't seem to understand, we have a conference right there about book choices! It's WONDERFUL. (Thank you, Franki Sibberson, for that!)

A Miscue Analysis sheet. I only use this for kids who are struggling with decoding. It helps me pinpoint their weakness. You can google this and find a variety of them to choose from.

Another piece of Franki Sibberson gold. Give this out once a quarter as a story elements assessment. It asks good, in depth questions.

This is an Informal Reading Inventory form. It looks scary. I don't do them frequently, but it's good information to have, especially for below grade level readers and on grade level readers.
 The two FREEBIES I can give you are the READ! Questions and the Informal Reading Inventory form. Enjoy!

So, I have been working hard this summer. Sorry for not blogging more frequently! I have had several amazing teacher bloggers leave some awards on the blog, so my next blog post will be devoted to thanking them and highlighting other teacher bloggers.

Happy summer, everyone! Three weeks left for us. How about you?


  1. You are so inspirational!! You've accomplished so much and everything looks great!! :o)

    1. Jen, you are sweet! I will say that I did all of my bulletin boards during postplanning before we left for summer so I'd have one of the biggest parts already done! BTW, I love reading your blog :)

    2. Thank you :O) summer goal is to blog more frequently! It's slow but steady.

      I usually like to have my bulletin boards done before school ends as well, but I moved rooms this year, so all my effort was on getting that all done before the last day of school. Not to mention, the third floor rooms are used for summer school, so those teachers use the bulletin boards too!

      Don't sell yourself short...binders are an undertaking all by themselves! Yours look very professional and I can't wait to see what else you do this summer :o)

    3. Moving rooms is hard! Good luck to setting your room up this year. I appreciate your compliments. I need to blog more frequently too. I've made a blogging ideas sheet to keep up with all the ideas I have so I can check them off when I blog about them... the list is made, haha, and that's about it! I need to get on it :)

  2. You have posted great ideas. It is awesome that so many can benefit from your teaching.

  3. Can't wait to see your room when it gets finished!

  4. WOW! I need to get to work! I have so many thing running through my head, but haven't produced anything yet! And that classroom inspiration--me oh my! So gorg!

  5. Can I hire you to come design my room and help me stay organized between gifted and ESOL? :)

  6. I love the colors scheme and how you've organized your sub binder.

  7. Your classroom decor is so cute! I think pretty makes every job more fun! Thank you for sharing your ideas and inspiration. I can't wait to see your finished room : ) Your organizing tips are very helpful. Keep up the great work. And your new owl planner looks great!

  8. Thank you for sharing your ideas. This inspires me a lot. I am a 4th Grade teacher in South-Africa. Though my resources are limited, I'm going to try and apply some of your ideas in my class. I love the "guest teacher binder", it's a great idea. No need to e-mail lessons, plans or things through to the school last minute.You don't have to constantly worry about your kids what the sub is busy doing to keep them busy.

    Thank you once again ;)

    Adriaan Steyn


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