Thursday, August 30, 2012

Quick and Easy Passes!

It has been SOO long since I last posted! Yikes! I’m sure you all understand how crazy it is at this time of year! I have been busy creating all sorts of strategies and activities for my upcoming kiddos, not to mention setting up my new classroom, and of course: Planning, Planning, Planning!

Although I have accomplished so much in recent weeks, I have started to feel guilty for my recent absence from the Blogosphere!

So, here I am, back to share some new resources!! (Slowly but surely!)

I created some very simple passes for my students that can be easily printed and laminated. They are nothing too fancy, but they do the trick, and will save you the time of making your own if you are in a time crunch the next few days like me! Check them out below!

Walk Pass (To be used during break time)
Counseling Pass (With the 5 point scale on it)
Boy and Girl Bathroom Passes (To be hole punched and hung to be worn)


Saturday, August 11, 2012

Classroom Clip Chart

I’ve been working hard on a Classroom Behavior Management System and wanted to share!

I have seen these new versions of the Clip Chart System like the one above ALL over the web. I wasn’t really sure how I felt about it at first until I read an ebook found here. I suggest you read up as well if you are interested!

I ended up deciding this system would be perfect for me – it just needed a little modifying!

Here is why I personally love this system for my upcoming school year:
1.     Last year, the kids in my room had the traditional stoplight method. This is very similar to that, except that this is the new and improved, supped up version if you will! I think it will be an easier transition for my returning students, since this is not an entirely new concept for them!
2.     I love that this system encourages students to move above green. In the stoplight method, the kids all start out the day on the best level. Why even try harder to do better when you are already at the top? This new clip chart gives the kids something to shoot for!
3.     I also like that there is an orange level, for “Think About it,” between yellow and red. I like that extra step/chance to turn behaviors around before receiving the red and parent contact home.
4.     Students receive a tangible item when reaching “Outstanding,” (a congratulations ticket) and a tangible reflection when moving to red (a sheet explaining why the child was on red, complete with parent teacher signatures).

Here is what I will be doing different:
1.     I’m making the “Outstanding Level” Teal. For one, this matches my classroom, and two, the pink was a little too girly for me!
2.     I decided to remove the “Good Job Level.” The theory behind the system is that moving down the clip chart system needs to be very specific according to your classroom rules and whether they are being followed, but the students can move up really for any positive behavior you want to recognize. I felt as thought the 3 levels to move up may be too vague for the kids, and I didn’t want them to perseverate on why I felt their choice was “good” instead of “great.”
3.     Typically this system is for the entire day for students. I am changing it so that it is for individual periods in our schedule. At least for now! This means that at the start of each period, the kids return back to green. I want the kids to have a fresh start for each class to prevent incidents of: morning meltdown, moved to red, and now the day is ruined, why should I bother trying anymore.
4.     The kids will have a visual schedule on their desk everyday with a place to record their color for each period. This sheet will be signed and returned by parents each night.  Here is what it looks like:

And now – the best part: Here are your tools to create your own:

  1. Christina Bainbridge from Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge has a series of fantastic posts about her Classroom Clip Chart. Anyone adopting this method in their classroom needs to check her out. She is a wealth of information on the subject!  If you click on her classroom files you’ll find links to printable Clip Chart Phrases, and the Outstanding Note that is sent home when kids reach the highest level. (Mine will be printed on teal paper to match my own!)
  2. Jessica Heeren from Mrs. Heeren’s Happpenings has a fabulous post on this system as well! I loved her Clip Chart explanation sheet for parents she created and the “Why So Red” reflection sheet. I emailed her for editable versions of both to modify for my own classroom, and she so graciously responded with the attached copies for me! A huge thanks again to Jessica!

Check out my versions below! 

Now, I just need to make my recording sheet so that I have documentation of the kids behaviors and colors in my own files! 

What are your thoughts on this system?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

A New Calendar!

Part of each day in my classroom will be dedicated to Morning Meeting. Thanks to some helpful colleagues, I have a fantastic SmartBoard Morning Meeting series to go through with the kids each day. But I still thought it was important to display the calendar up on the wall as well. We’ll be using the SmartBoard so often during the day, I know the kids will need to, and should be, viewing the calendar more than just in the mornings.

I found this calendar idea from the Lesson Plan Diva (AMAZING blog!) and absolutely fell in love! What a genius idea to put your morning meeting items on rings to create mini flip books! Not only does it give you extra room on your board and keeps all of your materials together, but the kids can actually remove the pieces from the board and flip through the months, day of the week, etc., for constant practice!

For my board, I really only wanted to display the Month, Day, Year, Day of the Week, Yesterday Was, and Tomorrow Will Be. As I had already purchased this classroom design bundle from the Clutter-Free Classroom, I thought it would be easiest for me to just create my own!

I took one of the name plate labels from the kit, made a template in word to match the size of the name plates, and printed out the days of the week, months, and year. I purchased these binder rings from staples to create the flipbooks, and my work was done!

Well, almost.

Although I LOVE my kit from the Clutter-Free Classroom, there was not a label included in the kit that I wanted to use for my calendar numbers. I’m being supper matchy-matchy with my board, and I had a particular vision in mind!

So, I created my own calendar numbers to match my new classroom palette of beach colors! Although I am not as computer savvy as some of my blogger friends and the items they are able to create, I thought this wasn’t bad at all for my first shot at creating! It certainly does the trick for me! I also plan on using some of these numbers to show the periods in our class schedule on the board as well!

Click HERE to download your own!

And let me know what you think!

Monday, August 6, 2012

My New Classroom Color Palette!

I am DETERMINED to make my new classroom this year "cutsified." Yes, that is a very technical term meaning organized, neat, and of course – Matching!

When deciding on a theme for my room, two things I knew for sure:

1.     It would NOT be gender specific
2.     It WOULD be age appropriate

As I’ve mentioned before in My Welcomed Challenge, my new kiddos are 6th, 7th, and 8th graders, at varying academic and social levels. I have to admit, I fell in love with many classroom design bundles waiting to be purchased in the world of Pinterest and teacher blogs, but many of them included clip art images that I knew would be more "Kinder"than "Cutisified" if you will. So, I decided it was best for my classroom to create a design based on more of a color palette, instead of a classroom theme. Besides, I knew if I had a range of colors in my room, it would be easier to purchase other materials that would match my plan.

For whatever reason, I am in love with what I like to call, Beach Colors: Aquas, teals, tans, light greens…similar to what you see in my image above (and in my blog!) What I like about these colors is they are cool and calming, but also carry a punch of color.  I knew these colors would NOT be gender specific, but WOULD be age appropriate. This HAD to be the design of my room, but now where to find it?!

I am an avid follower of the Cluter-Free Classroom and was ecstatic to see this design bundle for a very reasonable $9.99.

It matched my plan perfectly! I purchased the bundle last week and I am SO glad I did. There are all different styles of labels that are perfect for my schedule, labeling supplies, student materials, and work areas. And the Welcome Banners are so cute too! What’s nice is that once you purchase and download, you can continue to print and reprint as many as you want! I also suggest printing your labels, measuring their size, and creating a template in word that matches your measurements to print over your labels. It eliminates having to hand write on the labels which ruins their "cutsifiedness!" (Another very technical term).
So, if you are new to teaching this year, or just looking for a new way to spice up your classroom, I suggest you search for and purchase a bundle like this one from the Clutter-Free Classroom! It will save you time and energy, and you’ll be on your way to cutsifiying in no time!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

New Download!

I have received some requests recently for a downloadable version of my Student Cheat Sheets!

This template will allow you to create a one page summary of the most significant snapshots of your student's IEP’s including:

·      Student Information
·      Special Alerts
·      Related Services
·      Daily Living Skills
·      Reading, Writing, Math, and Social Skill Levels
·      Modifications and Management
·      Testing Accommodations

I guarantee these sheets will help you stay organized, plan differentiated lessons, and ensure your team members have a quick understanding of who your students are!

Click HERE to download! Enjoy :-)

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

A Teacher Binder Makeover!

I have always felt that a key tool to being an organized teacher was to have a Teacher Binder! You know, that one binder that has all of the important information you need to have right at your fingertips on a day-to-day basis. I consider my teacher binder like my 3rd arm. And I pride myself on carrying it with me back and forth to meetings, and back and forth to school. It’s perfect for my over prepared, over structured self who needs to constantly plan for and review what I need to do and will be doing in the coming days and weeks of my classroom.

Yet, when I entered the Blogging community, my Teacher Binder Pride starting crumbling! Not only am I not alone in my Teacher Binder creation/obsession, but I realized my teacher binder was the outdated, over simplified version compared to all of my blogging friends!

(Purposefully not inserted photo of my old binder here!)

Yikes! Time for a makeover!

I like to save time creating resources myself when necessary, and luckily for me, I realized there were already dozens of Teacher Binder Resources on TeachersPayTeachers made by other Teacher Binder Lovers!

So here is a glimpse into my new and improved Teacher Binder for the 2012-2013 school year! A combination of my own, and other teacher’s creations for the MOST efficient Binder for me!

The Binder:

1.     First I picked up a traditional 1 1/2 inch binder like this one at Walmart (in pink!)
2.     I purchased a pretty pack of 8 binder tabs like these (again from Walmart!) The tabs came with an easy to follow instruction guide for how to use an online template to type and print your own labels. No chicken scratch in my binder this year!
3.     I used this pink border that perfectly matched my new binder to create my binder cover. I simply inserted the border in a word document and added my name in the center with some cute fonts, courtesy of!

The Tabs:

1.     Calendar
I stumbled across a LOT of printable calendars online in my searches, until I finally found the perfect one! Check out this FREE monthly calendar from Terri Thornton! I love that it is a generic template that you can customize, and that there is room to write in each day, as well as along the side for To Do's and Notes. And let's not forget to mention the cute rainbow theme. LOVE! 
2.     To Do's
I found this To Do List Template from Farley at  Oh Boy Fourth Grade. (This blog is a must see!) The
template is for a week's time and includes room for a To Do List, Meetings List, Notes, and Next Week's Notes. Aaa-mazing!
3.     Lesson Plans
This is where my week's lesson plans live. Of course the template I have included in my last post has already been modified. Ahh, the joys of summer planning and adjusting!
4.     Centers
This section includes my Center Schedule as well as my center rotation schedule (TBD!)
5.     Curriculum
Not only will this section house all things standards and objectives for my classroom, but also the FREE Curriculum Map found in this bundle by Colleen Zehr that so wonderfully outlines my year planning at a glance!
6.     Cheat Sheets
Here is where those handy dandy IEP Cheat Sheets I created will be. I love that these are a one page reference tool, and that it eliminates me having to bring home stacks of student paperwork each night!  
7.     Parents
I had been searching for a template to use to record my contact and communication time with parents. If you check out my Classroom Miscellaneous Pinterest Board, you'll see a few examples. But I just couldn't seem to find one that was just right for me, so I created my own template! The border in my file is courtesy of Digital Swirls Creations! Click here to download!
8.     Meetings
Last, but not least, space to record and track my Meeting Notes. Check out this FREE Template I'm using from Chloe Campbell!

A special Thanks and Kudos to the teachers on TPT who offered their FREE Downloadable Teacher Binder Resources to help me start off next year in an organized and much more stylish fashion!  

Good Luck creating your own Teacher Binders!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Planning My Way Into Fall

In my former life as an Inclusion Teacher, my Type A Personality was always sharply glaring through my lesson plans.  What do I mean by this? Well, my lesson planning was very prepared, very detailed, and very meticulously constructed. This was in part due to personality, and part strategy, if I may defend myself!

I can’t help it, but I’m just not a “fly by the seat of my pants” kind of girl. I have never been able to just walk into my classroom and “wing it.” I always had to overthink things in advance, and expect the unexpected. And talking through my lessons via a detailed plan really helped me cover all my bases and know best what I was going to do.

So what did my planning look like? Binders and binders filled with 1-2 page lesson plans that were completely scripted out. For very lesson. Yes, it’s true.

If you’re not already thinking I’ve lost my mind, let me point out there were some positives to this:

1.     Anytime I had a substitute, there was no question as to what they were going to do that day, or how to go about doing it.
2.     My scripted plans were a great reference for others and myself. My lessons could easily be shared with colleagues, were set to go for observations, and were perfect for when I wanted to look back over time and remember how I did something in the past.

The problem, as I’m sure you can imagine: This was incredibly time consuming. 

And as I transition to my new classroom in the fall, I know that this will need to change. Next year I will just simply need to be more flexible. My day will be more about creating interactive activities that are engaging and that students respond to, than it will be about whether or not my lesson was scripted and executed perfectly according to plan. I also have more adults to collaborate with and more meetings, meaning my planning time will be more limited, and the plan will always be changing to fit the needs of my students.

So does this mean I will toss away my lesson planning obsessiveness? Of course not! Type A Personality, remember?

But, fear not, I will be tweaking my lesson planning!

As I blog hopped around the Internet, I found a lot of teacher planning tools that were similar to this:

A simple, blocked schedule with just enough room to jot down objectives and a few quick notes. I know this plan works for a lot of teachers, but, honestly, it gives me anxiety. So unless I wanted to experience a serious shock to my system transitioning from scripted lessons to a 1X1 square, I knew I had to find something else!

Luckily, I found this planning page from The Ladybug’s Teacher Files!

This is perfect for me! I love that this template shows you a day at a time, not a whole weeks plan or month. This is much more manageable for me, and is also helpful considering my schedule is different each day of the week; a one size fits all schedule just won't work for me. I love the simple schedule outlined on the side to reference, and of course, that there is still room to write for those subjects or activities that may need more then a casual note or two!

<Insert gigantic sigh of relief>

Type A personality gratified, more flexible 2012 teacher in effect!

Here is a peek at my lesson plan template, adapted from the Ladybug's Teacher Files!

 Here's to a better lesson planning year - and to The Ladybug's Teacher Files!