Sunday, July 27, 2014

2 Stars and a Wish {a back-to-school blog hop!}

Hi Everyone! I'm so excited to be participating in a fun back-to-school blog-hop this week... though it makes me sad to think that school starts in less than a month *sniff*.  I'm going to keep this short and to the point today.... the purpose of this hop is to share with you two tried-and-true "star ideas" that have worked well in my classroom, along with one "wish", or something I "wish" I were better at.
Numbering your students for a successful year:
This picture shows my mailboxes and cubbies with
their numbers printed in vinyl.
My first star idea, although definitely not my own original idea, is to always number your students!  I know it seems so simple, but it's AMAZING what a difference it makes to number your students.  Example: as a brand new teacher, I had a student get sick during recess, and was being checked out.  The secretary called into my room and asked me to send his backpack down to the office.  Ummm, seems easy enough, right? Well, his name was not written on his backpack! I had 29 students and many of the hooks on my coat rack were I had coats and backpacks EVERYWHERE. It was such a hassle to figure out which backpack belonged to him (and of course, EVERY student wants to help out, which only makes it worse)... fast forward to the end of my most recent school year... one of my students broke his arm at recess.  The secretary came to me and said she needed his backpack... I walked over to hook #8, grabbed his backpack and all the papers out of his mailbox, and just like that, he was on his way.  No classroom disruption, no scavenger hunt, just a few quick seconds and I'm back to teaching.  Numbering your students is also helpful for things like lining up for lunch, recesses, dismissal, assemblies, or anytime you need them in a line.  I got so tired of my boys fighting to be the LAST one in line almost as much as I got tired of girls fighting to be first... there's no more pushing and shoving when they are lining up, and no more scraped knees as they all race to get the coveted spots in line (I also rotate "line leaders" and "door closers" so that everyone gets a chance to stand in both places in line throughout the year, but that is the only exception to my number rule).  In first and second grade, I would also do things like "even numbers line up" or "numbers between 10 and 20 line up".... great basic number skills reviews as we get in line (and a quick way for me to see who understands even/odd and who doesn't!). Also, my students know that they are to write both their name AND number on every assignment, and I organize the papers in number order before correcting them... then the papers are in order as I enter scores in my gradebook.  The possibilities are really endless when you number your students, these are just a few of my favorite reasons to number them! (ALSO, I don't give my students their "official" number until around the 2nd week of school, especially if a few kiddos that are on my list haven't shown up yet... it never fails that a child will move in or out the day AFTER I number them, so I usually wait a week or so while the dust settles on the new school year).

My second star idea is to let the students grade themselves.  This is especially great for meet-the-teacher day, back-to-school night, or whatever you have at the beginning of the year.  I have blogged about my student-friendly reports before, and you can read more about them {HERE}, but seriously.... this is one of those things that after 9 years in the classroom, I wondered "why didn't I think of this before now?!"  This has been a great help throughout the year, and my students think it's soooo fun to make their own report card every time they come to a parent-teacher conference.  The parents also like that their child has to fill it out themselves, and set goals that they want to work on during the upcoming term.  This product is my featured freebie on TPT, so click on the picture to check it out in my store.

 My wish right now is to be more organized..... seeing as I am switching grades, I have NOTHING prepared... Denise @Sunny Days recently posted her long-range plans for the year, and I was green with envy!  I NEED to get more organized... I NEED to figure out some long-range plans... or any plans at all for that matter!!  If you click on the picture below, you can go read all about her awesome organization for the upcoming year, and even download a free template to get you started.... here's to hoping I can someday be as organized as she is!

If you enjoyed this star idea, please consider joining me on Facebook and Instagram for more great ideas.

For more star ideas more than 40 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic that interests you. Thanks for visiting!


  1. You know.... last year was the first time I ever let my students grade themselves. It was for a group project and I did it more as an experiment to see how honest they would be. WOW! The students shocked me because they were (in most cases) harsher graders than I was. Kids really surprise you sometimes :) I love the idea of having them write a report card for conference night though. I'm going to have to try that one! Thanks for sharing.

    Dirty Hands & Lesson Plans

  2. I'm going to try numbers for the first time this year. I normally haven't done them, but I see the benefits with them this year with all the technology we have! Thanks for sharing!

    And, I LOVE long range planning. I have a post that explains how I did it (see my popular posts) and it was worked out well. I plan for the year, then by the unit, then by the day.

    What I Have Learned

  3. I LOVE the self reflection report card. My students write a reflection letter to give their parents at conference time AND this would be a great addition. Thanks for sharing! I LOVE the idea of long range planning. Every year, I tell myself that I'm going to sit down and do this... it never happens. Maybe this editable version from Denise is just what I need to get motivated.
    Stellar Students

  4. I love using numbers with my kids! It makes so many things so much easier! Love the self reflection! I've been doing this sort of thing for years, but your forms are so much nicer than mine!
    Sally from Elementary Matters

  5. I love your self reflection report cards!! Great ideas!! xo