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Saturday, January 28, 2012

Daily 5 Center Rotation

I was reading a post at the Wise Guys blog, when I was inspired to write one of my own.  If you haven't checked out their blog, you should:

I was finding that when students were given the choice of centers, they were picking their favorite and never completing any of the rest.  So when I came across these Daily 5 rotation bookmarks, I was ecstatic! 
You can check out the originals at

If you laminate them, you can have the students check off the categories as they complete them with Sharpie.  It wipes off easily with rubbing alcohol.

The "Must-Do" at the top for our class is to read for 15 minutes from their buddy books.

As I mentioned in a previous post, I keep the literacy center activities stored in hanging pockets beneath my chalkboard.  I got these pockets from Really Good Stuff.  They're pretty sturdy and they keep the centers visible.

I keep the Daily 5 labels in the front of each pocket so kids know which activity they are completing.  I also staple one of those labels onto the activities so they make it back into the correct pocket.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Center Organization Linky Party

Two things I've really been working hard to try to incorporate in my classroom this year: The Daily 5 for intermediate grades and organization.  So, when The Lesson Plan Diva started hosting a linky party for center organization, I was more than happy to participate.

Check it out for yourself:

So far my organization isn't fancy or ingenious, so I'm happy for any suggestions you might have.

These are the color codes I put on my classroom library books. This is based off of Beth Newingham's system.  Check it out at

I also use her basket labels that help students find different book genres more easily.  It's kind of hard to see the labels, so you can check it out at
The double copies of books (buddy books) are in the baskets on top.  They're organized by the last name of the author.

This is the rack where I keep my "Hot Reads" (the books I've recently read and enjoyed). 

This shelf is half listening center (the white and blue baskets) and half student supplies.  The white baskets are portable tape players (known as walkmen for all us products of the 80s) and the blue are the portable CD players.  I wrote numbers on the CD/tape players in Sharpie, and hot-glued the corresponding number on the basket.  That way, students know which players belong in which basket.

This is a close up of the table that houses the hanging bags that hold the books on CD and books on tape.  Both the book and the CD/tape are in the bag.  I try to keep the CDs and tapes on seperate hanging racks.  There's a pull-out drawer on wheels below.  I keep the extra books and listening equipment down there.

I got the hanging racks at for $20.00. 

Here's my "Literacy Center."  I'm trying to divide the pockets into various Daily 5 categories, but I'm not all done with that yet.

This is a close-up of some the cards I'm using to help the kids differentiate between the stations.  I also try to include these on the activities themselves, so everything returns to its rightful home at the end of the day.

Here's where I store extra center materials, particularly the bulky ones.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Clutter Free Challenge Week 4

My personal goal goes along with this week's challenge extremely well.  I got rid of my desk, and so far I'm not having any separation anxiety.

I know it doesn't look like I did a ton of work, but let me assure you that I did.  Today was a TWD, and I spend about 85% of it decluttering and arranging this area.

I also fixed my "big honking cord across the middle of the room problem!"

The cord is now covered by the rubber strip that I was apparently supposed to have when the Fire Martial came last month (oops!).  It also travels a much shorter distance, and over half of it is located under a computer table.  Booyah!

Also of note:  The cubbies are sorted, labeled, and decluttered.  The top of the cubbies contains the bare essentials.  Love!

While I'm sure I'm not completely done here, I have made a huge step in the right direction.  I still plan to put a semi-table skirt around the table and to spray paint/polka dot the tin cans I've been collecting as pen holders.  Alas, that will have to wait at least a couple of weeks until I'm caught up on other things.

Here's the next disaster area I'm tackling:
Can you tell what it is?  I'm not sure I would be able to if it weren't my own little monster.  That, my friends, is a closet buried under a sea of there's-nowhere-else-to-put-it-so-I'll-shove-it-in-here.  I have no misconceptions, this is going to take some serious planning and time, but I will do it!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Teaching Elapsed Time

I need to teach a basic understanding of elapsed time to my fourth-graders. 

While there are many excellent center-type games, what I'm really looking for is word problems or activities I can put on the interactive whiteboard.

Here's an example of something my kids would have trouble with:
Kyle started his homework at 4:05 p.m.  He has football practice at 5:45.  How long does he have to complete his homework before he has to go to football practice?

Do you have any good word problems, web sites, or whiteboard activities to help with this?

Thanks in advance for your help!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Peer/Buddy Conference Posters for Writing

I made some posters to display during writing time because my students seem to zip through the editing/revising stage of writing without giving it much thought.

Here's one for the student who is getting edited (the writer):
It's available in my TPT store for free:

Here's the one for the student who is the editor:

Clutter Free Challenge Week 3

Visit for the details on this and previous blogs.

Here are the prompts for this week:
How much were you able to escort out the door this week?
The biggest achievement is that I got rid of the desk!




Here's a pic of the wonderful new "filing" drawers that will further help me to get rid of that clutter behind the table.

How did you feel while you were purging?
In a word, accomplished!  I was hot glue gunning the heck out of my classroom labels and donating unused materials like crazy.  It kind of felt like the beginning of the year when I run around and try to organize everything.

Now here's where I need help:
What do I do about the big honking cord that HAS to run underneath my newly located table?

If I put the table skirt on as I previously planned (see below), I'm worried that the kids will kick the cord out of the wall accidentally.

Is there an easy fix to the cord problem?  Any ideas?

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Liebster Award!

I am honored to have been given this award by Jan at Third Grade Etc!  Check out her blog at

Since I also recently blogged about receiving The Versatile Blog Award, I won't repost all my information (the rules for that award are really similar).  You can check that out at if you would like.

I'm going to repost five "newer" blogs that I follow (even though they're listed in that posting).  Check them out, they're pretty cool!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Clutter Free Challenge Week 2

This week's topics:

What do you plan to do with your "stuff" that you no longer want?
I cleaned out several desk drawers in the effort to get rid of my desk entirely.  I found boxes and boxes of paperclips (yikes!) and "sticky" pads that weren't sticky anymore. 

I cleaned out several of the cubbies behind my desk.  I found teacher materials I collected in college (double yikes!) and themed lessons from the previous teachers who had my room.

Top four places to send clutter or organize:
  •  Put it in the teacher break room with a "Free to a Good Home" note
  • Recycle bin
  • Trash can
  • Relocate it to an organized, yet less visible area (closets, high shelves)

What are your rules for purging?
  • How often do I use it?  If I haven't used it in THREE years, it needs to go.  Why three?  Well, because I have had three entirely different classes with three sets of entirely different needs in the last three years. 
  • How often do I access it?  If it's only once a month or year, put it in the back closet.  Only keep daily/weekly accessed materials within close reach.
  • Can I repurpose it to make it more useful?  I'm working on amping up my easel, which has sat in the back corner (practically unused) for the last three years.  I want shelves underneath, and I also want to use it for my writing center/anchor charts.  Stay tuned for that project...

What have you gathered to make your decluttering task easier?

  • Dollar store small containers with lids
  • Sticky labels (for small containers listed above) made via Vistaprint.  I love my polka dots! 
  • Small clear containers that can hold miscellaneous office supplies

  • Labels for the containers above (also Vistaprint).  I get my other love: buttons!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012


Do you use Pinterest?  If not, you might want to consider it.

I have several different boards dedicated to all those wonderful teaching ideas I have that I want to pursue in the future.  No more scraps of magazines lying around.  I just look it up on the Internet and "pin" it.  I love the fact that you can also write a description of how you plan to use it.

I have most recently discovered a love on Daily 5, and am working on a board called "Literacy Center."

These ideas mostly came from educational blogs I follow, but some come from the Internet or from searching Pinterest itself.

You have to be "invited" by a member to be able to join.  If you need an invite, just let me know and I'd be happy to help.  Happy pinning!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Reading A-Z

Does anyone else have a subscription to Reading A-Z (  My school paid for one for everyone this year, and I've not used it much.  I was just wondering if anyone has suggestions, especially for the intermediate grades.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Clutter Free Challenge Week 2: It's in the bag!

My little sister and I took JoAnn Fabric's offer of 20% off the entire store on Saturday. 

We went and bought the fabric below. I love, love, love polka dots! This will go around my round table once I replace my desk.

This is the ribbon to go around the top of the fabric on the round table.  I'm hoping I can call in a favor with one of my friends who knows how to sow!  So, that fabric and trim on the table below.

I also picked up these nifty plastic snap lock containers instead of using the baby food jars (see below).  I figured the less glass I have in my classroom, the better.  Plus, they're a little bigger (bonus!).  I'll still use the ribbon and magnets, though. 

Then, I walked next door to Big Lots and picked up these lovelies.  The containers were only $1 a piece, and the mini organizer was less than $10.  Yes, please!

Then I saw this cute crafting bag for $2.  Perfect for hauling my new finds into work tomorrow!  Yep, it's in the bag!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Winter Poetry Unit

Part of this unit was inspired by Becky at Dots-n-Spots (the haiku part).  Check out her post on this at

If you'd like to pick up a FREE copy, go to my TPT store:

Friday, January 6, 2012

Nominations, but Not for President!

Awww.  I was nominated for the Versatile Blogger Award by Scipi at Go Figure!

It certainly is flattering to be called versatile since the people I admire the most are also the most versatile.  You know, the teachers that wear so many different hats (educator, significant other, philanthropist, volunteer, crafter, exercise guru).  I'm nowhere near that versatile outside of work, but I sure do love hanging out with people who are!  They inspire me to try new things or keep up good habits. 

Speaking of versatile, you should check out Scipi's blog.  What a great teacher!

Now, on to the serious stuff.  Here are the Versatile Blog Award rules:

A. Thank the person who presented the award to you and link back to them.
B. Tell seven things about yourself. Hmmm.  This may be harder than I thought, but here goes:

1.  I worked in an ICU as an Administrative Associate (AA) for almost eight years before I got my teaching degree.  This may be where I became obsessive with organization.

2.  While going to college, I usually had two or three jobs at a time.  In addition to the AA job, I also worked as a babysitter, Sylvan lead teacher and private tutor.  Whew!  That makes me tired just thinking back on it and it was only four years ago!

3.  I have a wonderful boyfriend of 3 1/2 years. 

4.  We just bought our first house together in March of 2011.

5.  I despised (with a capital D) math class when I was a kid, but I love teaching it now.  Funny how time and something other than drill and practice will change a person, isn't it?

6.  I have been part of the Big Brothers Big Sisters (BBBS) program since 2001. 

7.  I have a "little" sister through BBBS who is now 16.  We've been matched for eight years!  Oh my, it's bitter sweet to think of how the time has flown by!

Now, I am to pass the award on to 15 newly discovered blogs and let them know they have received this award.  Since I'm new to the blogging world, many of these blogs aren't new (just new to me).
Why don't you check them out, and if you like what you see become a follower?