Thursday, June 26, 2014

Classroom Organization - Part 2

So earlier I posted about how I organize my math binders.  Today I am back to tell you how I organize my reading binders.  Like I had said in my earlier post, I may have taken this a little over the top - but hopefully it will give you some ideas that will help you organize your classroom!

I have two sets of reading binders.  The first set includes two binders - one for informational text standards and one for the literature standards (we use the Common Core standards in my district).  Here are the front of both of my binders:

The first page of each binder is a page listing the standards for that binder (i.e. the informational text binder has a list of the informational text standards).  That way, I have an easy reference to exactly what each standard says.

Then, I have dividers, one for each standard.  This allows me to easily flip to the standard that I need.

From there it is pretty basic.  The dividers that I use have a pocket in the front.  I use that pocket for anchor charts or little books that correspond with the standard.  Behind each tab are all of the worksheets that correspond with that standard.

So here is an example of how I would use these binders.  If I am teaching the RI.1.5 standard I would get out my informational text binder.  I would then use the tabs to flip to the tab that is labeled RI.1.5.  I could pull out the anchor charts in the front pocket of the tab and then flip through the worksheets behind the tab to find some that fit my needs for that week!

Okay, now for the second, more complicated, set of binders!  My second set of binders correspond with our reading series.  We use the Journeys reading series which has 6 reading units.  So I have 6 reading binders in this set.  On the front of each binder is a sheet listing the stories that we read within that unit. 

The first page of each binder is the scope and sequence (that my district gives us) so that we know which skill to teach with each story.

Each binder has tabs to separate the stories.  If I flipped to the first tab (for the first story in the unit) here is what I would find: 
The first page is a reference page for the story.  It lists the high frequency words, spelling words and skills that correspond with the story.  On the back of that page is a list of the independent work and centers that we use during that story.
The front, which lists the high frequency words, spelling words and skills for the story.

The back lists the independent work and centers that we use during this story.
This page is a quick reference for everything that I need for that story.

The next few pages are the homework sheets that we use for the story.  These are in order (Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday).
Here is Monday's homework for this story.
 After the homework pages I have the reading test that goes with that story.

Then, I have the independent work that I use during the reading rotations.  The independent work that I use is two sided.  One side is a skill that corresponds with that specific story (high frequency word use, phonics practice, story comprehension, retell, etc.).  This is what I keep in these binders because they will never change.  The other side corresponds with the Common Core standard that we are teaching for that week (I keep these in the other set of binders because the order that we teach the skills changes from year to year and it seems like we never teach the same skill with the same story).

Here is Monday's independent work for this story
After the five days of independent work I have the centers that I use during this story.
Here is the Writing Center that corresponds with this story
Finally, the last page is the decodable reader that we use in small groups to help teach the phonics skill.

I know it may seem a little crazy to have all of these binders, but it truly does work for me.  Here is an example of how I would use the binders:

Let's say that I am planning for the third story in unit four.  I would get out my unit four binder and look at the scope and sequence to see that I am also teaching comparing and contrasting characters, so I would also grab my literature binder.

I would start with my unit four binder, flipping to the third tab (for the third story).  I have the homework for the week, the reading test, the independent work and centers all right there.  Then, I would flip to the RL.1.9 tab in my literature binder and find worksheets and activities that I want to use to teach the skill.

Yay!  Organizational heaven if I do say so myself!

My next step this summer is to make ask my husband to make a shelving unit to store all of these binders!

Please email me if you have any questions or need me to clarify anything!

I would also love to hear about the different ways that you organize your worksheets in your classroom.

In my next 'organizational' post, I will show you how I organize everything on my computer!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

More Book Love

I am linking up with Deanna Jump again for her Let's Talk About Books! Linky.

As I was sitting here thinking about which book to discuss this week, I realized just how many books there are that have a special place in my heart.  But there are a few that stand out above the others.  One of these books is one that I was introduced to while I was student teaching in third grade.

 It is called Christmas Tapestry and is by one of my favorite authors: Patricia Polacco.

This book warms my heart every time that I read it!  There is a leak in the church that ruins the wall and everyone is worried that the Christmas Eve service will be ruined.  But they find a beautiful tapestry to cover the wall.  The heartwarming part comes when an older Jewish woman recognizes the tapestry and this discovery leads to a Christmas miracle!

My mentor teacher handed me this book and asked me to read it aloud because we had a few minutes before we had to go to lunch.  Having never read the book before I was not prepared for the ending.  I got towards the end and realized what was happening and started crying as I was reading it.  I thought to myself, 'Oh goodness, these kids are going to think I am crazy!', but as I looked around the room I saw that the students all had tears in their eyes too.  Needless to say, we were a little late to lunch that day!  As soon as I got home from school that day and went online to order the book.  I also ordered it for my mom as a stocking stuffer and she loved it just as much as I did.  This is a book that will be read in my house for every Christmas to come!

What are some of your favorite books?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Sneak Peek...and a Freebie!

I just wanted to give you a sneak peek at a phonics packet that I am working on.
I finally gave in and purchased some clipart from Pink Cat Studio...and I am loving every.single.piece.   Wow!  She is so talented!

I've used the clipart to create a few different phonics packets for the beginning of the year.  In each packet are different levels of the same worksheet.  The basis for each packet is that the kids look at the picture, match the word to each picture (showing that they can actually read the word) and then color the picture based on the color code (to help them see patterns in the words).

Hmm...That sounds confusing.  How about a freebie to show you what I am talking about????
Click on the picture below to grab the packet for short a.

Check my TpT Store near the end of the summer - I'll have all of the short vowel packets finished and hopefully the long vowel packets too!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

More Books!

I'm linking up with Deanna Jump again to talk more about books.  There are SO many that I love!  It was hard to narrow it down, but this time I picked one of my childhood favorites:

                                                            Product Details
Make Way For Ducklings by Robert McCloskey

I love this book for many different reasons:
  • The pictures - They are so simple and so well done.  They add so much to the story and I have always loved looking at all of the pictures throughout the book.
  • The story - I have always enjoyed reading this story (:
  • The statue.  Yep - there is a statue!  My husband and I went to Boston last year and when we were walking through the park I about fell over when I saw the little ducks from this story right there, in statue form!  And what made it even more precious was that it was during the hockey playoffs (Go Chicago Blackhawks!) and each little duckling was wearing a Bruins jersey.  So, of course I had to have my picture taken with them!!!  
Me with the statue of Make Way for Ducklings

I had this picture framed and I keep it in my classroom library - right next to the book.  How fun!

Take a minute to share your favorite book over at Deanna Jump's linky party!

Monday, June 9, 2014

New Blog Layout....I'm In Love!!!

So I spent hours (literally!) searching for a blog layout that I loved.  If I found something that was reasonably priced I didn't love it.  But if I found something that I loved it was too expensive for my budget!
What's a girl to do? 

Keep searching, that's what!  And I am so thankful that I did because I found Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs.   I was looking through her blog at all of the layouts she has created and absolutely loved  So I emailed her and she replied right back (yay!).  She has something called "Build Your Blog".  It is so easy to follow - you just pick out your favorites (colors, designs, fonts, etc.) from her easy to follow PowerPoint, fill out your request form and then she puts it altogether into this fabulous design that I could never have dreamed up.  Not in a million years!

What do you think?  :)

Check her out!
                                                    A Bird in Hand Designs

Friday, June 6, 2014

It's a Slight Obsession...

I have a slight obsession with books.   (:  Especially children's books!  I love finding books that capture the students' attention while teaching important skills at the same time.  That is why I am so excited to link up with Deanna Jump for her Let's Talk About Books! Linky.  I have so many favorite children's books but my absolute favorite is Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen.
I read this book at the beginning of the year and for the past four years that I have used this book, I have teared up every time! 

This book is about a lion who finds his way into the library.  At first, everyone is in an uproar over it - but the librarian says that as long as he follows the rules, he can stay (this is where using it at the beginning of the year fits in -- following the rules!).  But then, the librarian falls and hurts herself and the only way the lion can get her help is by breaking the rules.  He knows that he has broken the rules so he leaves the library (heartbreaking!) but then he is welcomed back because sometimes it is okay to break the rules.  

The kids love this book (and so do I!).  When we are finished reading this book we have a discussion about it.  I ask the kids if they think that it was okay that the lion broke the rules.  Then, it leads perfectly into what our school rules are!  

What are some of your favorite books to use at the beginning of the year?


Monday, June 2, 2014

Classroom Organization - Part I

One of the biggest challenges that I have faced as a teacher is finding a way to organize all of the papers that I have collected over the years.  I have tried filing cabinets and milk crates and have found that it is still hard to find the papers that I need quickly.  So last year I decided to jump on the binder bandwagon and I am LOVING how organized it keeps me.  Now, I may have taken this a little over the top, but this is what works for me.  Hopefully you can find a way to fit it to your needs.

I'll start with my math binders since I just finished those this week.   My school district creates a 'scope and sequence' for us to follow.  It tells us what standards to teach and when.  Last year our math scope and sequence had 6 units, so I had 6 binders.  It worked perfectly...that is until they changed the scope and sequence and now there are 18 units.  There is no way that I can have 18 binders just for math and still have it be an effective system.  So after many failed attempts I decided to create a binder for each group of standards.  We use the Common Core standards so I have four binders, one for each standard.  My binders are: operations and algebraic thinking, numbers and base ten operations, measurement and data, and geometry.

The front of my four math binders.

Within each binder I have every worksheet that goes within that standard set.  For example, within the measurement and data binder there are worksheets for measurement, time and graphing.

Here is a closer look at the inside of the binders.

A) The first page of each binder is a page of the Common Core math standards (this is something that I just printed off of the Common Core website).  This allows me to have quick access to the all of the standards.

B) I have tabs that divide the different standards.  These are just Post-It tabs that I found at Wal-Mart.
I somehow found a way to print on them (that took a lot of trial and error).  
In my measurement and data binder my tabs are:
  • Standards
  • 1.MD.A.1
  • 1.MD.A.2
  • 1.MD.B.3
  • 1.MD.C.4
These tabs are from a different binder, but you can see what I am talking about.
C) Finally, I went through all of my worksheets and put them under the corresponding tab.  That way, when I have to teach a standard, all I need to do is flip to that tab and there are all of the worksheets!

If you look back at the tabs I just listed here are examples of what I have under each:
  • Standards Tab - all I have under this tab are the list of all of the Common Core standards for math
  • 1.MD.A.1 Tab - Under this tab are all of the worksheets for this standard (ordering three objects by length and comparing two objects indirectly by using a third object)
  • 1.MD.A.2 Tab - Under this tab are all of the worksheets for this standard (measuring length using non-standard units)
  • 1.MD.B.3 Tab - Under this tab are all of the worksheets for this standard (telling and writing time)
  • 1.MD.C.4 Tab - Under this tab are all of the worksheets for this standard (graphing)

Now I have all of my worksheets together and organized and they are easy to find.

Organizational heaven if you ask me  (:

I will post about my reading binders (which are a little more intensive) as soon as I finish them.  Please let me know if you have any questions about these - or if you need me to clarify anything.

Do you have an organization system that works really well for you?  I'd love to hear about it!