2017-2018 Classroom Tour

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Back to school always makes me feel like a little girl again – a fresh start with shiny new school supplies and a laundry list of goals and resolutions. Of course, one of the best things about being a teacher is getting my classroom set up! 

This year, I have eliminated chairs from my classroom with the exception of my computer station. Each student table has a different seating option: standing desk, stools, cubes, balance balls, or seat cushions at a low table. I’m going to integrate my behavior management and flexible seating to make it more manageable. Students will be in teams each week and will work together to earn points. On Friday, the team with the most points will get to pick their option for the next week first. 

Our school theme this year is “Learning is Our Ticket to the World.” I have decided to use an adventure spin on my door display. I’ll probably change out the pennant banners in October and do something for Halloween. 

This is the view from the door as you walk in my room. To the left are storage cubbies for backpacks and lunch boxes. 

I post any important flyers on our news board as well as our monthly newsletter and calendar, which I purchased from Learning in Wonderland. I also have my classroom information flipbook displayed for now, which I also purchased from Learning in Wonderland. 

This is our reading nook. I use Fountas and Pinnell to level my books. The bulletin board will become home for anchor charts and old morning messages. The smaller bookshelf is new this year. I will be keeping my read-aloud books in there for easy access during units. 

Something I’m really excited about is my new lightbox! I purchased a bundle of inserts for it from Learning in Wonderland (are you seeing a trend?). So far, I’ve just printed transparencies for fall, birthdays, and student of the month. I’m so excited to use it to make my kids feel special for their birthdays and behavior! 

This is my favorite place in my room and where the magic happens! Our stools are new. Right now I have things set out for Meet the Teacher. Behind the table, I keep math centers, my guided reading toolkit, Fountas and Pinnell kit, and some other literacy resources. You can also see our objectives to the left and our Waterford clip chart to the right. Students in our district spend two 20 minute sessions on the computer, and the clip chart helps me track who has and has not gotten their time in. 

Here is our writing station! I change the cards monthly. Right now, I have different writing activities in the paper trays. As students become more independent writers, I will put in different types of writing paper and move away from generated activities. 

And these are just some views from the back of our room. Only two more workdays until go time! 


Rainy Days & Freebies

Hey y’all! It has been a while. Between regular teaching obligations, trying to meet benchmark deadlines, and half marathon training, I haven’t had a whole lot of time to blog/work on TpT products. That all changed yesterday, though, when we had off of school! The fun continues today with another day off. Thankfully, our city hasn’t been hit too much with flooding (just two weeks — literally — of rain), but some of the more rural areas around the county have been affected by this crazy flood. So far, I’m not sure when we’ll be returning to school, but in the meantime, I am keeping busy with wedding planning and an OITNB binge (currently on season 3… not sure what I’ll do with myself when I finish it).

I have to say, one of the biggest perks of not having work has been a.) not packing lunch and b.) getting to sit down, eat, taste my food, and even read while doing so. If you teach, you understand this. Every day follows a typical routine: attempt to get 20 six-year-olds to powerwalk because you’re late to lunch; fail miserably; attempt to hustle 20 six-year-olds through the lunch line because you meant to eat your yogurt during planning but then you had to copy/laminate/call a parent so you didn’t and now you’re hangry; get everyone seated only to have 8 children holding up suspiciously sticky straws, GoGurt tubes, and impossibly sealed Thermoses; remind the two at the end to stop playing with their orange slices and eat them; wolf down two bites before having to clean up a spill; wolf down three more bites then remember you need to visit the bathroom because it’s now or never; begin the hot mess that is clean-up; and BOOM. Lunch is over.

Not today. Not yesterday. My lunch yesterday looked mysteriously joyful (possibly carries a subliminal message):

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I’ll just leave that there before I say one more thing. It’s…..

Totally Free Tuesday

Are you practicing distinguishing complete sentences versus fragments with your learners, or could they use a review? I’m introducing this activity whole-group this week, then putting in my word work center next week. It’s super versatile and great for getting all of your kids involved and moving around!

You can download the file here. Please remember to leave feedback!

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Totally Free Tuesday

Totally Free Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! The thought that tomorrow is hump day and the week half-over is lovely. This Tuesday I’m bringing to you a new product: my Writing Assessment Bundle for the Primary Grades. I talked last Friday on the blog about how intimidated I was by planning writing lessons for my grade level this quarter. After sitting down with the standards and district pacing guides and perusing the teacher blogosphere, I dove into it headlong and haven’t looked back since. My class’ motivation is my motivation here. 🙂 Each week, we delve into a new writing project. The first two weeks of school were devoted to creating biography class books about different students in our class. This week, we jumped into our first big project. After reading The Apple Pie Tree by Zoe Hall, we are working to write five steps for making apple pie. Each student will then make a mini-book with step-by-step directions. My hope is that on Friday (Grandparents’ Day!), we will be able to make our own apple pie. I still need to check if I can bring in my toaster oven for the project. Fingers are crossed! I know the project would bring writing, science, and math to life for the kiddos, so hopefully I can get the go-ahead.

Anyway, back to the (rather fast) evolution of this bundle. I needed a way to assess the students’ writing in a developmentally appropriate way that can play to each child’s strengths. At our school, first grade is the first year with numerical grades, and I didn’t want to use a rubric with a confusing format or weights that pretty much guarantee failure for the typical six-year-old. I also needed a quick conventions checklist to use for our SLO (Student Learning Objective) required by the district. Thinking I’d just go ahead and use what I had already created to develop checklists for use throughout the year, I made a list of the major writing projects primary students encounter. And that is what brings my bundle to you!

Writing Rubrics Cover

The bundle includes checklists for the following projects:

  • How-to
  • Persuasive/opinion
  • Personal narrative
  • Story
  • Informative

Each form also includes a student self-reflection. The bundle has a printer-friendly format of just student reflection sheets as well as a more broad conventions checklist for use across the curriculum. Also, you’ll find two checklists for each project. The first of each is for writing booklets of 1-3 sentences per page. The second is for all other projects.

Please download the product TODAY–it might not be free forever!–and please, please leave feedback so I can learn how to better serve my customers!

And remember what tomorrow is….

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Classroom Tour 2015-2016!

Whew! It has been a whirlwind two weeks. The beginning of the school year is sort of like Chinese takeout rice: the more you finish, the more there seems to be left. I started casually working on my room two weeks ago, but last week I got Back to School Fever and devoted all of my time to my classroom. You know how it is. I was squeezing in an hour here and there after district workshops, printing and Pinteresting until all hours of the night, questioning my life/classroom choices. Tomorrow is my last day of pre-planning before the kiddos arrive on Monday, and I think I’m pretty much set. All that’s left to do is prep for my lessons, put together backpack tags, and type up some beginning-of-year paperwork. I’m waiting to put nametags and number labels on my tables until Tuesday when my roster is set.

Our school is turning 80 this year, so we’re celebrating with a Hollywood theme! I figured since I have a totally clean slate in my room, I’d coordinate it with the school theme. Some of the products you’ll see in my pictures are ones I made using personal licenses (so they aren’t in my TpT store), and some I purchased from other teacher-authors. You’ll find the link to each product below the picture showing it.

And now… Lights, camera, action! 
Previously, that back wall in the picture above was a green chalkboard with a hunk of showerboard bolted in the middle. With the help of one of the veteran teachers on my AMAZING team, we tore that down and repainted with black chalkboard paint!     Students, parents, and families stopped in yesterday after registration to check out our room, fill out interest inventories, and grab a wishlist star. 🙂

Small group/intervention table…Where the magic happens!

I have a fully functioning SmartBoard. It’s a beautiful thing.
  My behavior/control center board has a transportation clip chart, rules, rewards, noise control and question sign language banners, and popcorn bags to hold good behavior tickets (more on this later). I noticed after the picture was taken that the banner on the left’s parts are out of order. Oops. That’s summer brain for ya.

I ❤ Dollar Tree.
Our reading nook and writing center. And some of my lovely storage.

Yeah, still need to put paper in those trays…
  The view from the rug.

 I’m totally excited about this. I had two of these carts last year in third grade for our interactive notebooks. However, first grade will be different, so I chose to put a cart at each table this year that will hold all the materials for each day. I’ll have six students at each table. I hot glued a plastic cup in the center of a pencil tray (another idea from a different veteran teacher on my AWESOME team!). Each child will have one pencil and one pair of scissors in the cup and one glue stick on their side of the basket. This way, no one is playing with their scissors and making confetti in/under their desk. 🙂

I made a few changes after these pictures were taken, starting with my messed-up sign language banner. I also hot glued number tags for my backpack hooks and hung paper hangers from my ceiling tiles for an activity we’ll be doing on Monday. I’m sure I’ll be making more changes to it in the coming weeks, but this is a great room. I don’t have an attached bathroom, so in its place I have extra storage. Right now, it’s mostly empty, since I haven’t amassed a lot of “stuff” yet, but that should change this year. I also LOVE, LOVE, LOVE having flooring instead of carpet. The awesome maintenance team put tennis balls on the bottom of all our desks and chairs, so we’ll be quiet and scratch-free! 🙂

If you’re interested in the products you saw above, here they are! The majority of my classroom decor is from one of Clutter Free Classroom‘s decoration bundles, which I highly recommend.

My classroom decor resources:

Clutter Free Classroom Bundle

Writing Center Bundle

Daily Five Clip Chart


What theme are you doing in your classroom this year? Do you change your theme yearly? I’d love to hear your two cents in the comments below!

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Five for Friday

Happy Friday, y’all! It’s my last official Friday of summer break. Next week, I have a long-term planning day with my new grade level team on Monday, then volunteering at an early registration day on Tuesday, and then new hire orientation on Wednesday and Thursday. I’m hoping to squeeze in some time in my classroom to work on my displays. I have all of my furniture arranged and everything I moved in with me organized, but I still need to do all of the fun decorating and not-so-fun binder organization.

But, it’s Friday, so there’s only one thing that means… Five for Friday Header



I went out for pizza twice this week. At the same restaurant: Mellow Mushroom. Am I ashamed? Nope. I used to try to steer clear of pizzas made using bases other than tomato sauce, but I really took a leap of faith and branched out this week, ordering not one, but TWO pizzas with an olive oil base. Daring, I know. What did I choose? Mellowterranean and Thai Dye, both of which were equally amazing in their own ways. I’ll try to chill next week, but the place has also trivia, so I don’t know if I’ll prevail…


Summer Reading

Am I going to have time to read anything other than 6-year-olds’ paragraphs after this week? The thought makes me misty eyed. My last book of the summer is going to be The Rumor by Elin Hilderbrand. I haven’t gotten as far into it as I would have liked, but time has really flown this week. While not mind-numbing, it’s definitely what I’d call a fluffy beach read; I don’t think I’d be too into it during any other time of year than summer. If you’re a fan of Gossip Girl, I’d say it’s similar, only with grown adults. Whatever.


The Knot

Have I mentioned before that I’m an obsessive planner? As in, each item on my to-do list has its own to-do list. It’s like to-do list inception. I told myself I wouldn’t even think of wedding plans until after the first few weeks of school, but I’m literally incapable. I need to be juggling approximately 17 different causes of stress in order to function as a productive human being. So, after extensive Googling of the best wedding planning websites, apps, and binders (because I don’t actually have time to be Googling such fluffy stuff, but it’s summer, so…), I settled on The Knot. I’m sure I’ll regret saying this later, and someone please remind me when I’m sitting in a corner, crying over flower inspirations and nursing a bag of gummy worms, but I don’t think that this whole wedding planning thing is going to make me want to tear my eyeballs out like every other person I’ve spoken to who has gotten married recently. I mean, I plugged in our tentative date and budget, and I magically got an itemized checklist in chronological order, a countdown according to days, weeks, and months, and even an itemized budget. This is a list nerd’s dream.

Again, someone please remind me of this little soliloquy five months from now.


This Article

WeAreTeachers shared an article this week from Chalkboard Connections about something called deep data, and it truly gives perspective during this time of year when it’s so easy to focus more on door decorations than the munchkins who are about to walk through that door. I did not keep written data about each of my students’ preferences last year, but I’m going to try it out this year. I think this will be especially insightful and grounding during the time of year when I feel my energy and patience start to slip.


TpT Sitewide Back to School SALE!

Back to School Sale

On August 3-4, TeachersPayTeachers is throwing a sitewide sale to help you get ready for the upcoming school year. Everything in my store will be 20% off! To make things even easier next week, go ahead and wishlist your favorite items for easy access during the sale!

Have a lovely weekend!

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Erin Condren Teacher Planner Review + A FREEBIE!

The Planner

Last week, I got an exciting delivery in the mail:

Erin Condren PlannerErin Condren Planner

My Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planner!

I wasn’t sure if I could justify spending that much on a planner, but there was a sale. How was I supposed to turn that down? I’ve always been a Lilly girl, but I found last year that I just didn’t have enough space for everything. Enter Erin Condren. Let me just say, I am in love with this planner and the school year hasn’t even begun yet. I am an obsessive organizer and I don’t go anywhere without my precious planner… which will be especially true this year with wedding planning! Eek.

So, without further ado, here is my review of my beautiful little delivery.

Erin Condren Planner

The cover of the planner and the coils seem extremely durable, which is great because there is nothing more annoying than your coil unravelling and having your pages and/or cover half-hanging on for dear life. There is also a plastic ruler attached to the front, and you can customize the cover with your name and school (which I photoshopped out for safety reasons). I ordered the Bloom pattern in yellow, which is my favorite color.

FullSizeRender (18)The inside of the planner is super colorful and bright.

Erin Condren Planner

It also came with some cute little stickers.

Erin Condren PlannerThe tabs also seem sturdy and include:

  • Dates
  • Absent
  • Graph
  • Tabs for each month
  • Lessons
  • Checklists

Erin Condren Planner

This is a sample of a monthly spread page for December. The planner comes with sticky date dots, organized by month, for you to put in the planner. This can be helpful if you end up not using the planner during the year you ordered it in, but you do need to be careful putting the dots down. I accidentally started March on the wrong day and didn’t realize it until after I had put down all the other dots for that month.

Erin Condren Planner

This is your weekly lesson view, organized across the top by subject/period and down the side by day. I type my lesson plans, but I’m planning on jotting down my daily walkthroughs in this section for quick referencing throughout the day.

Erin Condren Planner

There is a full-sized, double-sided pocket folder at the back of the planner.

Erin Condren Planner

At the very end of the planner is a zipper bag for hanging on to smaller items. It came filled with some freebies and samples from the company.

I opted to have two clear plastic page protectors and an extra set of checklists inserted at the back of my planner, as well (not pictured). Also not pictured are the colorful stickers you can use on your monthly view. Three pages of stickers were included:

  • assembly
  • IEP
  • duty
  • staff meeting
  • furlough
  • holiday
  • two pages of blank stickers for you to customize

I plan on using my monthly view pages to keep track of work and personal commitments, and if I have an extra section in my weekly lesson planner view, I may use it as a “personal” column for scheduling wedding planning, half marathon training, and social events.

So long as the planner hold up well during the school year, I definitely think I will be sticking with Erin Condren next year. If you’re interested in ordering one for yourself, here is my referral link. If you order, I will receive $10 towards a future purchase. If you’re not a teacher, don’t despair! There are a ton of other adorable products. I have my eye on a desktop calendar, clipboard, and the wedding planner (so cute)! I haven’t bought a wedding planning binder yet. Other brides I’ve talked to said they never used theirs and instead opted to use WeddingWire or The Knot. However, I am very much a paper-and-pencil type of girl, so I might buy one anyway.

The Freebie 

Totally Free Tuesday

(On a Wednesday…oops.) 

When I got into my classroom, I was delighted to find that I have a sink at the back of the room. However, the paper towel dispenser has a not-so-kid-friendly poster about hand-washing on it that looks like it’s been water damaged from years of splashing.  I put together a differentiated poster packet for other teachers in the same boat. I plan on laminating the primary level poster from my packet and covering the old poster.

Click the picture below to grab your freebie today! There are options for primary classrooms (Pre-K–first) and older elementary (2-3)! Please remember to rate the product after downloading!

Posters Cover

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Totally Free Tuesday, Meet Makeover Madness

Totally Free Tuesday

Happy Tuesday! Totally Free Tuesday is colliding with Makeover Madness today to bring you a very special, limited-time only offer!

Chevron Cover 2

I could have done this clip chart’s makeover and created a new freebie, but let’s be real here. There’s only three precious weeks left before school starts back up, and I’d like to maximize my pool time. This bundle includes:

  • Clip chart with seven sections
  • Weekly Behavior Log
  • Better Choice Form
  • Superstar Status Certificate

This bundle is typically priced at $3.00, but I’ll be giving it away TODAY ONLY for FREE! All I ask is that you please rate it so I can better my future products!

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