Thursday, August 21, 2014 {Giveaway & Review}

This is my first week back at school, and I've spent most of my time in meetings and trainings. I'm almost ready for my big classroom reveal.... But first I wanted to tell you all about

Ever since I started teaching ten years ago, Utah-Idaho Supply has been one of my favorite places to shop locally for school supplies and classroom decor. Their website recently got a big makeover and I loved being able to find everything I needed for my classroom this year all in one spot!

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I decided to go with a chevron theme this year, and I loved the huge selection of chevron things they had on their site (here's a sneak peek that I posted on instagram last week:)

Here's a few things I chose for my classroom this year:

Black chevron calendarWelcome bulletin board (which also doubles as my helper chart), Chevron style Bulletin board lettersFirst day name tags, and no pink classroom would be complete without pink chevronborders (these borders were sold out all around the valley, so I was so excited to be able to get them!)

In honor of their new website design, has offered to give one lucky reader a $25 gift certificate to shop on their new site!

All you have to do is visit their new website and let me know what you would buy. Comment below telling me what you would buy, then use the rafflecopter below to confirm your entry (which will make choosing the winner easier :) )

Thanks and good luck! Giveaway closes at midnight August 29th.

I will post my classroom reveal next week when I announce the winner :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Bright Idea: Homework Crate

Today's bright idea is all about homework. Does anyone else just dread this word as much as I do? I feel like no matter how much or how little I assign for homework, I can't please everyone. Additionally, homework is a pain in the rump to keep track of. Although I don't have kids, I know that sometimes Friday mornings can be hectic and homework doesn't get put in the folder, planners don't get signed, etc. etc., so I came up with a system that has been working well in my classroom. Now let me quickly explain one thing - this homework crate is only used for my spelling and fluency homework, as it's not really time-sensitive homework. I have yet to find a perfect solution for math homework, so suggestions are gladly welcomed.

Every Monday morning, I send home 2 pieces of paper - one is their spelling list for the week (which includes a variety of activities for them to choose from, and a box for the parents to sign off the assignment each day). This page is nothing fancy - just something that a teacher in my district made. If you search TPT, you can find lots of free spelling homework pages :) The second page is a fluency sheet (again, you can find many on TPT, or your reading programs might have some included - any fluency sheet will work.) Now, the reason that I don't feel like these are "time sensitive" is because when we take the spelling test on Friday, I will quickly be able to figure out who actually studied -- I don't need to see their homework to know that they practiced (or not, as the case may be). Same thing goes with fluency, as they are progress monitored on dibels every week (thanks to a fabulous parent volunteer!) If they are making progress on dibels, I know that they are practicing their fluency at home.

My homework assignments are always due on the last school day of the week (which is usually Friday)... But my students know that it is not marked late if they forget, or their baby brother spills his dinner on it, or the dog eats it.... I give them a new paper or their parents just write a note. It's all good :)

Here's where the crate comes into play. Each Friday, my students line up and put their homework in their assigned folder in the homework crate. The first few weeks this takes a little bit of practice (maybe my third graders will catch on faster than my second graders did?!) I bet you can see where I'm going with this.... The KIDS are organizing their papers for me!!! Do you know how much easier my life is now?! THEY are responsible for putting into THEIR folder :) Which means less papers for me to sort through and keep track of from week to week. I check the crate at the end of each term and simply count how many pages they have turned in (our terms are usually 9 weeks, so they should have 9 of each papers in their folder). I make each page worth 10 points, for a total of 90 points for spelling and 90 points for fluency (give or take, depending on how many weeks we have). I only have to check homework 4 times per year!

To make your own homework crate, all you need is one file crate (Walmart and target always have them on sale during back to school time), then a hanging file folder and a Manila folder for each student. If you number your students, then you can just number the folders and use them year after year (and if you don't number them, maybe THIS POST will convince you to!) If you don't number your students, or if you think it will be too confusing, you can use the clear tabs that come with the hanging file folders and put the students' names at the front of each folder. Ta-da. Your life just got 10 times easier.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook or Instagram for more great ideas.  For more bright ideas more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you. Thanks for visiting!

Monday, August 4, 2014

New vocabulary set, product updates, and more!!

 First thing's first -- in case you haven't already heard, the big back to school sale starts today!! It seems so early to be thinking about back to school, but the first day will be here before I know it! I'm actually going to go into school today to switch some bulletin boards, so stay tuned for some pictures when it's all done!

Speaking of the sale, I've been hard at work the last few days trying to get one last product finished in time for the sale. A sweet teacher from Texas contacted me recently, and asked if I would be willing to make some language arts vocabulary cards similar to my math ones. I was both flattered and overwhelmed at the request, but set out to work on it and hoped for the best. Let me just say, I think I outdid myself!! Even I couldn't have dreamed that it would turn out as well as it did. Because the request came from Texas, I wanted to make sure that all the TEKS specific words were included in the packet (along with all the CCSS words since that's what I teach with.) What started out as a simple request turned into a 50 page, 134 word download with all the words necessary to teach language arts in the primary classroom. Unlike my math words walls, which are grade level specific, this pack is made for first, second, AND third grade classrooms. So many of the words overlap that it would have been very hard to narrow them down by grade level without having a great deal of overlap, so I have bundled it all into one big packet of awesomeness!  Click on the picture below to check it out in my TPT store :)

In addition to making this new packet, I also updated all of my math word wall packs to include an editable PowerPoint template in case you need to make your own cards for words that might not have been included in the packet. This template is included in the new ELA pack as well :) The second grade word wall pack also got a big makeover, so if you already own it, you can download the update in your "my purchases" tab on TPT, and if you don't own it, you can click on the picture below to check it out on TPT. This was the first word wall set that I made, and a thicker version of the font was released AFTER I made this packet.... So I tried it on my first and third grade word walls and really liked the style, so I finally updated the second grade pack.  I think the bold font really makes the words POP!  These are also available for first grade HERE, and third grade HERE.

And finally, here are the winners of the Math Mania packet from Third Grade Tidbits. Congrats ladies! Check your email and be sure to tell Gina thanks :)

Okay, it's time for me to start focusing on school. As I've mentioned before, I am switching grades this year, so I can't promise how often I will be checking in here or making new things... (I do have a few things up my sleeve), but I love posting on facebook and Instagram, so make sure you're following me there so we can stay connected throughout the year!!