July 13, 2015

Monday Made It: An Organized Classroom

Happy Monday everyone! I don’t know about you, but all the photos from the Vegas TpT conference looked amazing. One year it would be awesome to make it, especially since it’s not too far for me with living in California. It just seems like an awesome opportunity to meet and network with all of those fabulous ladies behind those teacher blogs I follow!

On another note...today I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics yet again for her linkup, Monday Made It. This week I’m focusing all on getting organized for the upcoming year and here are some of my tips, tricks, and resources I’ve used and work amazingly well year after year in my classroom.

One // Classroom Jobs

Classroom jobs are vital for any smooth-running classroom. It helps students learn responsibility and flat out helps you stay focused on bigger matters by having the kiddos help out with the smaller tasks around the classroom. In this download there is also blank cards to which you can edit and create your own jobs!

Line Leader: The obvious and most coveted of all jobs ;)
Caboose: Another obvious but necessary job
Teacher Helper: Need help passing out/collecting papers or materials? The teacher helper is there for you!
Substitute: Is a helper absent? Get a substitute to fill in for any jobs whose kiddo isn’t in school that day.
Scrap Collector: By the end of the day it’s always interesting to find all those little scraps that happen to fall on the floor. Get your scrap collector to recycle those papers!
Safety Monitor: Do you have a safety bag you have to take with you everywhere? Your safety monitor is responsible for remembering that bag during specials, lunch, and drills.
Lunch Counter: Do you have to report a lunch count to the cafeteria each day? If so, this job requires students to take a tally of each lunch choice and report it to the cafeteria.
Lunch Monitor: This helper keeps an eye on behavior during lunchtime and reports to the teacher about what happened. Our school’s lunchroom had a point system for behavior and this job correlates to that system. 
Attendance Runner: After taking attendance each morning this student runs it to the office.
Pencil Sharpener: At the end of the day this person sharpens all the pencils and throws out old ones.
Librarians: Our school had a cart that we would deliver to the library of all returning books that week. The librarians would be responsible for delivering the cart as well as making sure our classroom library was organized.
Messenger: Need to run something to another classroom or ask another teacher something? Send the messenger!
Calendar Helper: This student helps out with calendar math every morning and is responsible for preparing the calendar for the following day.
Door Holder: The obvious second most coveted job
Clip Chart Monitor: If you incorporate a clip chart in your room this helper is to put all the clips back to green at the end of the day
Trash Collector: Last but not least, this helper keeps the classroom tidy and takes the trashcans out at the end of the day for the custodians

Two // Common Core Aligned Objective Cards

This is my continuing work in progress and a resource many teachers have loved having in their rooms! I have been working on CCS aligned objective cards that are easily displayed in the classroom and represent the objectives being taught in reading, writing, and mathematics. Almost every school district requires teachers to display, somewhere in the classroom, the focus of each lesson and these cards make it super easy and quick to get those standards up there.

Three // Daily 5 Resource Pack

Launching the Daily 5 in any classroom can be overwhelming at first, but the first step is getting prepared and organized. Before the kiddos arrive on the first day it’s important to have your centers established and prepared based on what you’re introducing in each lesson. This download has all the resources you need to get your reading block running and off the ground. Let’s take a peek as to what’s included.

Colorful reading center cards grab your attention and clearly identify each center!

Corresponding posters that you can display around your classroom so students know where each center is located.

These helpful posters are perfect when launching your Daily 5 routines and expectations. They easily accompany your beginning of the year lessons and give wonderful visuals and reminders for students throughout the year.

Everyone knows that anchor charts when beginning the Daily 5 routines are a vital part of each lesson. These posters are perfect for printing or even display and write on them using your smart board!

Last but not least, have students begin charting their stamina as you build up your independent reading time each day! Stamina charts come with both a chart for the whole class or individual student charts!

Thanks for stopping by and I hope you find these resources to be as helpful as they have been for me!

July 9, 2015

Launching Guided Reading + FREEBIE

Guided Reading is a vital and necessary portion of your language arts instruction no matter what grade you teach. It's a dedicated time for teachers to meet with the little readers in their classroom, which always span multiple reading levels. The purpose of this time is to model and instruct students on specific reading strategies and skills while giving students time to safely practice these skills and learn to become better readers.

One text that EVERY teacher should own or somehow get their hands on is Jan Richardson's The Next Step In Guided Reading as it is the current bible on guided reading instruction. If not every district, most districts use this textbook and teachers model their instruction after her practices. So if you are unfamiliar or have yet to read it, it's my #1 first recommendation. She does a great job explaining step-by-step how to implement each section and includes examples for Pre-A-Fluent reading levels.

The next step after familiarizing yourself with Jan Richardson is to begin organizing your binders and materials for your groups. At the beginning of the year you receive your class list and current independent reading levels based on assessments (typically DRAs) from the spring the year prior. Use that data to help begin setting up your groups or dedicate some time at the beginning of the year to assess your students as they are at the beginning of the school year. Every teacher is different so find what works for you and what your school district requires.

I typically like to have about 5 or 6 groups made up of no more than 6 students per group. More than 5 even can begin to be too much of a hassle, but again, go with what is comfortable for you and accommodates your class. Give your groups a theme! I used Dr. Seuss characters when I was teaching kindergarten and it stuck even in second grade. I used these characters to create my reading center board and listed the students in each group so they always knew what group they were in and what centers they'd be doing that day. You can kinda see the poster I made on the bulletin board near the table.

{sorry for the old picture!}
Setting up your reading table is another organizational hurdle you're going to have to jump. My guided reading area consists of:
1. kidney table
2. student chairs
3. plush rolley chair 
(your buns will thank you!)
4. magazine holders for each group
5. caddy or plastic drawers 
with guided reading materials
6. strategy posters and room 
for anchor charts

This photo depicts what my classroom looked like at the beginning of last year. Of course, things changed and I moved things around once the students arrive...but always be open to adapting and changing your environment to fit your and your students' needs!

Assessments are another necessary evil and can be quite overwhelming, at least I thought when I was in my first year teaching. Your assessments, whether they're anecdotal notes or running records and DRAs, they're all wonderful data points that all teachers need to collect throughout the year. There are a million different ways to collect and record your data so this is another time where I recommend you find what's comfortable and will work for you.


I keep two binders for my guided reading table. First is my main binder where I have dividers labeled with each of my groups, lesson plan copies for that group and day, and multiple pages for anecdotal notes and assessments. This helps me keep everything together and easily accessible. However, it would be a recommendation to keep all assessments in it's own binder so you have all your data in one place for each child. Just a thought ;)

My second binder is my lesson plan binder. Here, I keep all copies of my lesson plans for each book at different levels for throughout the year. I write a basic template that will never change (such as the introduction of the book, vocab words, etc.). That way I all I have to do is make copies of that original and input the info for a specific lesson for that day, for that group, and with that particular focus. It helps me save time so I don't have to constantly write out the same lesson over and over again. Plus it's a way to save all your lessons and use them again in the next years.

Lesson Plans:
So how do you plan for your groups? Well, thanks to Jan Richardson she provides you with the template for each reading level: Pre-A & Emergent, Early, Transitional, and Fluent. These lesson plans will carry you throughout the year as your students continue to make progress and move up in their reading levels. Allllso lucky for you I have taken all of her plans and put them in easy to use templates that I have used every year. Here are the previews:

Breathe and remember to have fun with your lessons! After all, that's why we're teachers! Be rest assured that all of your students WILL make progress and even if it's your first or thirtieth year teaching, there's always going to be ways to improve. Don't fret when lessons don't go exactly the way you planned it...just remember...

{Pick up my Guided Reading Resource Pack FREEBIE
that was featured in this post here!}

July 8, 2015

Creating the Classroom Culture

The beginning of the year is both exciting and exhausting all at the same time. I always describe the beginning of the school year to my non-teaching friends like this: imagine being given 24+ puppies one year and spend all your time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into training them and molding them to be the best little puppies they can be during that year you had them. Then turn around and receive 24+ new puppies the following year and start all over again. That’s kind of like the first few months of the school year when trying to establish rules and routines in the classroom.

Today I am excited to share some of the beginning of the year activities and resources I use to introduce my classroom to my new kiddos. I incorporate a lot of fun read alouds, activities, and engagement to model to my students the expectations I have for the year. I’m always surprised as to how quickly my kids pick it up!

Launching Routines & Rules

This packet has everything you need for the first week of school and getting your rules and routines established. Of course, it takes longer than a week to practice and revisit your rules, but this resource allows you to introduce your students to the framework of your expectations through reading and discussion using some of my favorite books. 

Engage students by handing them the GOOD CHOICE, POOR CHOICE banners and throughout your reading have students participate by deciding whether or not the character made a good or poor choice and how that incorporates to how they should treat each other in the classroom.

I love developing the rules together through a classroom contract that every student gets a copy of. After reading, discuss the main four rules and have students draw a picture and write their understanding of that rule in their student workbook also provided in this packet. Once finished students may keep them somewhere visible in the room or take home. Also, laminate and hang the classroom rule posters somewhere in the classroom where students can be reminded of the rules they created together as a classroom community.

Take a peek...

Discuss with students how organization leads to preparedness and a readiness to learn. This skill is often overlooked and this packet helps students realize that keeping a clean workspace is important and is expected. After all most report cards include this skill each quarter. Why not teach them about it?

After a main lesson and read aloud, students are to discuss and fill out each page of their workbook that highlights the rule being introduced. This is an example of rule #1 which is to make good choices. Good choices come in all forms and it’s fun to see how students come up with different ways in which good choices can be made!

Acknowledging Awesome Behavior

Too often we are guilty of recognizing problem behavior and having to nip it in the bud, but sometimes it’s the positive behavior that can slip through the cracks. Students, even the ‘problem’ kids, want to be recognized and sometimes the easiest way to do that is through acknowledging the positive behavior being represented in the classroom. 

These Positive Behavior Notes are quick ways to inform students and their parents of positive behavior, especially on those days when it seems there were a full moon the previous night. Simply jot down a quick behavior you noticed and give them to students to take home. Every year these are a hit with parents since it’s so often parents are only contacted for poor behavior.

How do you begin the school year and establishing those classroom rules and routines?

July 7, 2015

Thinking About Behavior Management

Establishing a good behavior management plan is vital to a successful year regardless of how long you’ve been teaching. It’s taken me a few years to figure out what works best for me and always having to keep in mind that this plan may change from year to year based on the kiddos I receive. 

One aspect to my plan that never changes and works with almost every child is a Think Sheet. A think sheet is a simple form that students fill out that describe, in their words, what happened and explain how they’ll change their behavior next time. It gives them responsibility over their words or actions, forces them to be accountable for their behavior, and cuts down on time taken away from teachers during the day. Also, it’s a super easy way to keep parents in the loop as to what’s happened at school and how it was handled.

Because how many times have parents asked their child about ‘what happened’ and they’re response every time is: ‘I don’t know.' No longer with these Think Sheets!

One of my most popular product since the beginning of this blog has been my Behavior Management: Think Sheets. I was inspired a number of years ago when I was teaching at a before and after school program out of my church who used a similar method. This think sheet process works for many reasons:
  1. gives the child time to calm down and reflect on their behavior
  2. the teacher facilitates the discussion and help bring the child to understanding why their behavior was wrong
  3. places responsibility and accountability back on the child by having them think and write out exactly what happened and caused the behavior
  4. note is signed by the teacher, student, AND parent....then returned to school to be kept on file by the teacher

These forms have been extremely helpful in my classroom and I’ve found that parents love them too! It’s the perfect tool for students to talk about their feelings and subsequent actions because it’s written by them and checked by the teacher before going home. Parents are able to see how the child reflects on their behavior and notice if they understand what they did was wrong or not, a common problem with just a talking-to. It’s amazing to see the difference when students actually understand and can communicate what they did and how to improve next time. Most importantly, students learn that mistakes are made but that one can learn from them and always be given a second, third, fourth....chance.

This bundle differs from my previous Think Sheet because it includes forms that are appropriate for K-6th grade! It’s perfect for those teachers switching grades or for differentiation within your own classroom. We all know children mature at different ages and grades and their Think Sheets should reflect this, even with discipline. 

June 26, 2015

Five For Friday Linkup 6.26

It’s Friday and finally I am linking up for the first time in forever with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly linkup! This week was the home stretch for our preschool summer experience and today marks the very last day of camp! It’s been such a great time working with my fellow teachers and assistants, meeting the newest kiddos to come into preschool next year, and get to do some pretty fun stuff each week.

ONE //

This week has been our American week and we’re celebrating with all things America! We did this fun little flag craft, made an Uncle Sam hat, and yesterday we decorated boxes for today’s parade!

TWO //
Yesterday was my little man’s birthday and he turned one years old. You can read my letter to him here. I can’t believe how fast a year went but I’m so blessed to have such a loving dog in my life.

And of course he had a birthday bone ;)


I am hosting a giveaway for my Pledge of Allegiance packet for those beginning of the year objectives in Social Studies. I’ve always loved this activity because it really introduces those important vocabulary words and finally gives meaning to what students recite everyday. You can find this giveaway and download in my original post here.


The summertime can be a very transitional time for some teachers; I know it was for me last September when we moved. Some might be changing schools, moving states or even counties, or taking time off from the classroom entirely. This is also an important time to skim over your teaching portfolio and add to it with any new experience or PD you’ve gained. Here is my original post that outlines how to set up an easy to use teaching portfolio that prepares you for those job interviews you might find yourself in. Having a portfolio will automatically set you apart from the rest!


If you’re a Daily 5ver like me then this is will help you with those resources you need to set it up and be prepared on the first day of school. See my original post to find the download here!


Be sure to stop by my lifestyle blog, Primarily Inspired, and enter to win a $50 gift card to Stitch Fix!