Saturday, August 2, 2014

My labor of love... COMPLETE!

So I've been working on the same TpT product for quite some time.... I have noticed that my dear 4th Graders, and those of my team, all have the same problems when it comes to Writer's Workshop. Since we teach in a Texas public school, writing is BIG in 4th Grade. My students take 2 days worth of STAAR writing exams. They involve writing 2 compositions (one Personal Narrative and one Expository) and answering a set of multiple choice questions having to do with grammar, editing, etc. So we get straight into Writing from the beginning of the year. While we have Writer's Notebooks to record mini lesson topics, brainstorm, rough draft, etc. my students needed another form of reference to have while writing. Flipping through the notebooks we had just didn't work. So the Interactive Writing Reference Folder for Upper Grades was born! You can check out the preview here!
I may have mentioned that I teach collab, which means I have a wonderful, spectacular co-teacher whom I dearly love, and together we have all of our grade levels Special Education students in our class. When I was first told I would be teaching collab, I was really nervous. While I already was differentiating to meet the needs of my students, now their needs would be spanning across whole grade levels. It is a lot of work to differentiate in every single plan, but with my co-teacher we make it happen. Now imagine teaching writing to a classroom who spans across First to a Fifth grade level! A challenge most definitely! Here are a few different ways to make this folder work in YOUR classroom:

1.) Use the dictionary pages!
Is it a constant "I can't spell __________!" or "How do you spell ________?" in your room? Or are students constantly out of their seats to look at a word wall, poster, or grab a dictionary? Don't let students waste valuable writing time. Pull out the dictionary pages in this Writing Folder, copy them onto brightly colored paper (so it doesn't get lost in their desk!) and have students keep a dictionary of their own!

2.) Size these pages down and glue them into Writing Notebooks!
Don't want students to bounce between a reference folder and their notebook? Size these sheets down to 2 to a page when you print and use them in composition books or journals! My pages are made for students with visual impairments in mind, so sizing them down will still make them completely readable. No worries!

3.) Print only the pages your class needs!
Select what is applicable to your class, print, hole punch, use folders with brads to insert them right in! You can even have students create a table of contents and list the pages in order, then number them, for super quick reference! See my Table of Contents freebie on TpT!

4.) Have students add pages as lessons are taught!
Don't want to overwhelm? Have these folders ready to go with the bare necessities from the start of school. As you teach mini lessons on sparkle words, transition words, parts of a story, etc. have students add them to their reference folder!

5.) Looking for something more permanent? Here you go!
If you aren't looking forward to reprinting these folders for students through the years, print the pages once, put them in page protectors, put them in folders and TAH-DAH! You can even store them in your Writing Center so students pick them up as needed. When my classroom is all put together I will share some pictures of our Writing Center!

6.) LOVE a particular page? POSTER!
You are welcome to print these pages as posters. All of the graphics and fonts should transfer easily into a larger print size. See my previous post about the Kinder "I Can Count to 100" posters to see how smooth they came out! Graphics and fonts are from the same creators.

I hope you find this product as perfect as I do! Make sure you check it out in my TpT store and share it with the 4th Grade team (or any team that may need it!!) at your school!

Love Y'all,

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Freebie Wednesday! We Can Count to 100 Posters!

I sure hope you guys are soaking up this last part of July! August seems to be creeping up faster than I ever expected! My teacher friends and I are really getting back into project mode as school nears. A dear friend of mine from college (wouldn't have survived it without her!) who teaches Kinder in my district was looking for a way to celebrate her students as each of them becomes able to count to 100. I couldn't resist whipping up some poster options for her, especially after learning how much she loves the SketchBlock font. To my satisfaction, I created one she really liked so we met at our district's activity center on Monday and turned it into a full size poster! Each time one of her sweet, little Kinders can count to 100 they will get their picture added to this poster to celebrate their accomplishment! How fun is that?! Here is the poster she liked the most all blown up into jumbo size!
 Download the whole set here and find a design you like! Lots of tips and tricks are included in the file to help you decide what is best for you with these neat posters! Hope you enjoy and don't forget to leave feedback and follow my store on TpT! :)
Here's my sweet friend who is super proud of her cute poster!

Love Y'all,

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Back to School... without breaking the bank.

Let's face it. Back to School is upon us and it can be an expensive season for teachers no matter where you live or where you teach. If you're like me, some of your sweet, new students will show up without a single supply on that first day. Some of you may start teaching at a new school and the supply list didn't cover what you needed for your classroom routines. Some of you may love to be hyper organized, and therefore you have to put some of your own pennies into those organizational bins, labels, color coded tape and favorite pens.
All this stuff adds up and if you're a teacher on a budget, here are a few ways to make your dollar go as far as possible this school year:

Make sure you get all the way to the bottom of this post for some awesome digital savings tips!

1. Shop your local dollar stores (Family Dollar, Dollar General, Dollar Tree...)
I have to say that these places are not my favorite, but sometimes they seriously come in handy. For simple craft and school supplies, you can't really argue with $1. Most of these locations even sell headphones so if your room is in need of some of those, these stores could be your place! Here's a sneak peek of something I worked up for my classroom thanks to Family Dollar...

2. Target Cartwheel App
This place is dangerous. Pretty much everyone in America is guilty of going into this store and walking out with carts full of things they don't necessarily need, myself included! But this awesome app is a great way to generate some savings, instead of just pure spending! Check out the website for it here. The app can be downloaded through the Apple Store and GooglePlay. It's free, so find some wi-fi and download it! You can scroll through hundreds of things that are on sale, add the ones you need to your personal list, and have the cashier scan your barcode at checkout. Instant savings! I snagged a neat 50 piece set of Crayola markers for my classroom a week or 2 ago for 20% off. I've also saved on Keurig K-Cups (ahem... coffee lovers, here ya go!), an outdoor rug (think classroom!), and other various odds and ends! Also keep an eye out for Target school supply sales. They're popping up weekly!

3. Wal-Mart
Have you heard about what Wal-Mart is doing this year?!?! Maybe they have done it in the past, but it's the first I've heard of it! You go buy what you need for back to school before July 31st, you take your receipt and register it online by August 15th, and they'll send you back a gift card for 10% of your purchase! If you have kids and a classroom, this could be some serious savings! For more info, read about it here.

4. Michaels Craft Store
For the crafty teacher, this place offers an abundance of savings! Your entire purchase is 15% off everyday, just because you chose the greatest profession in the world. Click here for details. Make sure to check out their online coupons before you check out, too. You can snag a coupon from anywhere between 25% and 50% off. If you already belong to their program, expect the ad pictured below in your mailbox! I can't get over how cute it is!
 For those of you who don't craft, Michaels also sells Crayola brand supplies, awesome organizational baskets, drawers, and cabinets that are almost always on sale. For those of you who love these 10 drawer carts, they're 50% off already! I have one that I keep my materials for each day of the week in, a drawer for extra copies, math aids, printer paper, and more. It's pretty sturdy for the price, too!

5. Hobby Lobby
While they don't have a teacher program that I know about, they do have 40% off coupons available every single day! Just download one on your phone before checking out and the discount gets applied to your most expensive item. Keep an eye out for their particular sales too, the discounts are always nice!

6. The Container Store
We talked about this amazing mecca in my last post! Make sure you sign up for their Organized Teacher program. If you have before, remember that you have to RENEW every year! Sign up here!!

7. Jo-Ann's Fabric and Crafts
Another crafty-licious store I love. Just like Michaels the whole store is on sale for a teacher every time they shop! Sign up for their card (you must renew yearly here, too) here! For more than the daily 15% off, they'll send you coupons just about every month and you can apply those to all kinds of purchases. I find this store to be the best choice for fabric if you need it in your classroom. While my classroom lacks windows, I do put up little curtains over a section of our cubbies. Makes my whole room look more organized!

8. Office Depot & Office Max
Both of these stores offer discounts for teachers (have your ID handy!) as well as some amazing discounts on classroom items like folders and spiral notebooks. Ask your local store about specific details on teacher-only sale items. Great way to stock up for your classroom! Check out what they have to offer over here!

10. Staples
While they offer teachers 5% back on purchases and free shipping online, I stop here for their store brand color coded binder clips. They also have some pretty sweet savings in their weekly Ads when Back to School season kicks off.

11. Barnes & Noble
There isn't anything quite like the smell of a bookstore. It's got to be a teacher thing... Sign up for a Barnes & Noble Educator Card and get 20% off purchases for your classroom all year long. If they don't have what you need in the store, make sure you check online!

Needing teacher clothes? Check this list:

12. J. Crew
This place is great for some solid t-shirts and professional looking, but still stylish, tops and bottoms. You get 15% off your whole purchase. Just show your ID!

13. LOFT
Another 15% off all full price items, savings! Show ID at checkout. 

14. The Limited
Following in the footsteps of the last 2, they offer 15% off their whole store! Don't forget your ID or a valid paystub! 

15. New York & Co.
On trend, they offer 15% off your whole purchase. 

16. Banana Republic
Last but not least, Banana offers 15% off of their entire store, too!

Don't forget the DIGITAL savings! 

17. TeachersPayTeachers 
Do you know how to get the best discounts on TpT??? While you can find tons of great freebies (look on the left side of your screen after you've searched- you can click FREE and only see the items that won't cost you a penny!) you can also stretch your money even further by leaving positive feedback on all of your purchases. Taking just a second to leave feedback earns you TpT credits. You get 1 credit for each dollar you spend (they even round up for you!) Every 100 credits is $5 you can use on a product you want! And no, it doesn't hurt the seller of the product! TpT still pays them even if you choose to use your credits to pay for it. So be sure to leave feedback to get your credits!
Also, take the time to follow your favorite sellers on TpT, Facebook, or via their blogs if they have one. Many sellers have regular sales and their sales will pop up on your "TpT Newsfeed" so you can save even more from your favorite sellers!

18. Teacher Made Freebies 
Not too long ago, one of the sweet teachers who runs this Facebook page featured my "VIP- Very Important Parent Awards" on here! They seek out the best TpT freebies and share them right to your regular Facebook feed! Be sure to find their page and check it out! They're busy finding all the best Back to School freebies!

19. Craigslist or your local Teacher Swap page
Need a piece of furniture for your room or something big that's sure to cost a ton? Check Craigslist for different deals in your area. You can also look for a local Teacher Swap Facebook page in your city. Teachers post things they are getting rid of or that they are looking for. Great way to save money, and even make a little on the side!

For a country-wide list of stores that give a discount, click here! Happy Shopping!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A new take on the "Teacher Toolbox" plus a Craft Room update!

EEK! What's left of July is running out quick and you know what that means... Summer is almost over and it's about time to go back to school.
I will admit I am a bit of a freak when it comes to back to school and new school supplies. There is just nothing quite like the smell of new crayons and a pack of pencils! (Weird... I know.) I thoroughly love weaving through the aisles and looking at everything for B2S even though I am completely content sleeping in, relaxing, going to the bathroom when I need to- you teachers know what I'm talking about- and eating a lunch that wasn't leftovers, microwaveable, or a sandwich.
So, needless to say I've been prepping for this B2S season. I am mixing up a few things this year and aiming to be more organized on a personal level. While I anxiously await my new planner that I ordered off of Etsy from PlumPaper Designs, I stopped by my local Container Store for some desk organization.
For those of you that teach and LOVE the Container Store... they have a teacher appreciation program that sends you coupons via Email! If you're anything like me, you love a coupon or a sale towards a store you love!! Sign Up for The Organized Teacher here! 

Back on topic... I purchased this cute little thing while I was at the Container Store. I have seen so many precious pictures of full size Teacher Toolboxs all over Pinterest, but they're just too big for the tiny space I have in my classroom! My school is almost 50 years old and at one point, didn't have walls to divide classrooms. So some time in the 80's they added walls and left us teeny tiny little classrooms. So every single square inch is precious space and for that reason, organization is key!
So here's what I found.
This sweet little thing is called a Livinbox! The draws are roomy (great for me because I have a serious obsession with those gigantic binder clips they sell at Staples... use them on everything!) and they slide out! Need a student to pass out paper clips or post-its? Slide out a drawer and away it can go! It needed a little love when I got it so I had purchased precious chevron labels to put in the little windows but they were a tad to big! So I took the easy way out and used the provided labels and my "classroom font" for the year to make it look a bit snazzier!
End product! Only took me a few minutes and I know it'll fit in perfectly on my bookcase. If I decide I need a bigger one, it has slats on the side that make it easier to slide 2 together into 1 bigger unit! You can even stack them rather than putting them side by side! I have a deep love for The Container Store buyers.... they find the neatest, most functional products!
On another happy note, my craft room table (My husband jokingly calls it the Crap Room) is finally finished and I snagged an adorable turquoise colored chair to use in there!

I have moved some things around but am absolutely loving not sitting on the floor when I am crafting away! If you are looking for something like this, check out the Recollections brand at Michael's Craft Store. I waited for the pieces to be on sale (got them for 50% off!) and sometimes they let you use your 15% teacher discount, too. Such a steal! Sweet hubby helped me put it altogether and frankly I think he's glad I gave him his office back!

Well, that's all for today! I need to get a few hours in on classroom stuff. Writing Folders and better organizing my Reading Centers is in the works! Pics to come!

Love Y'all,

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

It's been summer for HOW long??

Well, I swore to myself that I wouldn't let FOREVER go bye without posting something... but it appears as if I did! To catch you up on the past few months... The last few weeks of school were pretty trying for my co-teacher and I but we survived! We had a very "active" class, for lack of a better explanation. 
On some happy notes, I spent my first week of summer attending some really wonderful Continuing Education courses that my district provides. My district is HUGE so they provide something for everybody- new and veteran teachers alike! My team lead and I were curious about this whole flipped classroom bandwagon so we each attended a seminar on it and compared notes. Definitely something I am interested in implementing in my classroom considering that in a collab class I have so many different levels of learners. 
On my second week of summer, my husband and I flew to Brazil for the World Cup! Everyone was very concerned (clearly we come from worry wart families but neither of us really have that gene...) but we had a fantastic time. We saw 2 matches- 1 in Belo Horizonte and 1 in Recife. We got to see the Netherlands team on their way to practice, including the VERY handsome, Robin vanPersie, who I jokingly call my second husband. We also got to see Team USA coming back to their hotel from practice, the day before they played Germany. It was totally a right place, right time kind of thing! After about 8 days in Brazil, we were happy to make the trip back home but sad vacation was over for my hubs! He will have more time off in November when we head to Vegas with some friends! Can't wait for that! Can you believe I've never been?!?! 

On some school related notes, I am happily preparing for next year (off and on, of course! After all, every teacher needs to spend a good chunk of time relaxing!). I am revamping my math centers, classroom library, and how I manage early finishers. I really want my students to utilize every single minute of their day wisely, especially since teaching in a collab class means that the unexpected (meltdown, panic attack, anger episode, etc.) can and will happen on occasion. The one thing my co-teacher and I were very proud of was the fact that our students were great at going with the flow when one student, or sometimes more than one, needed some one-on-one attention that occasionally included administration or behavioral support coming into our room. They kept on chugging with whatever they were doing, and didn't bat a lash! 

Well, I think I'm going to say farewell to my laptop for the day- I just finished up a really neat unit of Decimals Centers (lemonade themed!!!) that I will be posting to my TpT account shortly. Make sure to check it out!!

Love Y'all! 


Saturday, May 10, 2014

Tah-Dah! A first blog post!

Well, I've done it. After alllll the time I spent telling myself I wouldn't sink into blogging... here I am, blogging. Some of you are saying I BLOG, WHAT'S HER PROBLEM? Let me assure you, it's not you- it's me! When I find a new hobby I love, it becomes a piece of my heart! I thoroughly enjoy reading people's blogs. I think it's the miniature sociologist/anthropologist that is inside of me- not to mention the giant serving of teacher! No blog can beat a good, hearty serving of fellow teacher blog!

So for those of you sinking into my first blog post, here is a bit about me! My name is Lindsey, I teach 4th Grade in the Lone Star State of Texas. I was born and raised here and have A LOT of pride for my state, y'all. But don't worry... I have a deep appreciation for the rest of the world, too! I married my very best friend, Joseph, in October of 2013. We don't have any children yet, but they'll be here shortly, I'm sure! We love to travel together although our time for adventures is relegated to long weekends, school breaks, and summer vacations. We have traveled to tons of Caribbean islands, the Bahamas, Mexico, Puerto Rico, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland (Joseph swears this doesn't count because it was a layover in Zurich when we flew back from Italy... they stamped my passport so I say it counts!), and we will be in Brazil in June for the World Cup. We have 3 dogs and a mysterious cat named Audi (yes, like the car). We just bought an amazing house- which I am sure you will hear LOTS more about. My sweet hubby was kind enough to provide me with my very own craft room, so I spend plenty of time in there crafting up all sorts of things. I have a passion for curriculum and design, as well as sharing my works with others through the fabulous TeachersPayTeachers (Lord knows I spend enough on that website, too!). Hubs and I are Christians who have found a wonderful church in our city that we attend every week. I have a wonderful family spread all over the place- all the way to Denmark and Australia.

That pretty much sums me up for now- watch out for future posts! I have a plethora ideas of things I would like to share with the blogging world!

Much Love,