Monday, July 18, 2016

My New Teacher Planner- Create 365 "The Happy Planner"

Over the years, I've experimented with different kinds of teacher planners. I like keeping all of my important information in one place. It's convenient to grab my planner and take it to all of my meetings for planning and note taking. One year, I tried keeping my calendar on a calendar app, but that didn't work too well. I prefer to have a full calendar view of multiple months at a time and a place to record things to do, along with other notes.

Two years ago, I ordered a very nice planner from a well-known website that lets you choose the cover and purchase other upgrades for the planner. While I thought the planner was beautiful, it was not very useful. It had an entire section for recording lesson plans that I did not use at all. In our school district, many teachers create electronic lesson plans. I ended up tearing out all of these pages, which was like throwing away money. My planner was over $70 (planner, shipping, extras). I didn't mind paying the high price, IF the planner would have met my needs.

Last year, I decided to create my own customized planner in Power Point. Then I took it to an office supply store to print it in color and bind it. I loved the final product, but it still cost me $60, even with a coupon. The color printing made it expensive.

This summer, I planned on creating my own planner again, but then while I was out shopping at Michael's Craft Store, I came across a beautiful planner from "Me & My Big Ideas" in the paper crafting section. It's called "The Happy Planner".  There were so many choices of covers and this planner met all of my needs. There's enough space within the planner to use it for school AND home. Here's a list of what I love about the "Happy Planner":
  • interchangeable and trendy covers (laminated)
  • different sizes- large and medium (CLASSIC)
  • two-page monthly calendar spreads, with room for notes
  • tabbed dividers for the months
  • many versions available: 18-month planner, customizable 12 month planner, student planner, and a specific teacher planner (with pages for lesson plans); I purchased the 18-month planner because I do my lesson plans on the computer.
  • pages within each month- for recording notes, to-do lists, lesson ideas, etc. 
  • colorful dividers with inspirational quotes
  • durable plastic binding
  • area to record monthly goals, birthdays, what you're grateful for, and important dates
  • ability to add more pages using the "Happy Planner Punch" tool from "Me & My Big Ideas". Click here to see
  • extra accessories available for purchase- coordinating sticky notes, notes pages, magnetic bookmarks, stickers, pens, pocket envelope pages, plastic pocket pages for photos, stampers, washi tape,  more!
  • extension packs are also available
  • BEST PART- It's only $29.99! I used my Michael's 40% off coupon and got it for $19! What a deal!    

Here are some pictures of my planner, but the website does a much better job of showing the contents with video clips on each planner's page.

 Here's a picture of the one I purchased.

Inside the cover

Tabbed divider on the right side, left side has the section for goals, birthdays, gratitude section, and important dates

Another inspirational divider

Two-Page Calendar spread with notes section on left side
Monthly tabbed divers along the sides

Left side- pocket folder, Right side- note paper
These were part of an accessory pack I purchased for $10, and 40% Michael's coupon made it $6

The full pack is pictured below.

Here you can see how the cover is easily removed to change for a different cover. When you snap it back into place, it doesn't move or slide an inch. 

These are sample planner pages that the packaging had on the back. I thought these pictures made planning and organizing look like a fun way to express some of your creativity, release some stress, and help you enjoy the art of organizing. 

Screenshot from the Me & My Big Ideas website, click here.

If you're searching for the perfect planner, head out to Michaels (since they have a coupon) and purchase the Create 365 planner - The Happy Planner from "Me & My Big Ideas", click here to purchase. You can also find it online at Amazon, here. I'm so excited that I've finally found a planner that doesn't break my back-to-school wallet and is so customizable!

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Chalkboard Paint Project in the Classroom

I had one portion of the wall in my classroom that was too high to reach and use on a regular basis. I couldn't post student work or anchor charts without getting out the big ladder. Other teachers in my building painted this space in different colors and with chalkboard paint, so I decided to give it a try. I picked up some Rust-oleum chalkboard paint and searched for some of my favorite quotes to write on this space.
This is my wall space before painting. Plain and boring!

I have the best mom and sister who come help me set up my classroom every year. They helped me buy the supplies and paint the wall.
The paint can be purchased on Amazon, Wal-Mart, or home improvement store.
Click here to buy.

Supplies: Rust-oleum Chalk Board Paint, paintbrush, paint tray, paint roller

My sister and I painted two coats in just a couple of hours. Together, we finished quickly. 
After two coats of paint, we were done. I love the solid opaque black finish. 

Next was the hard part, deciding on the perfect inspirational quotes to write on the wall. I collected quotes on Pinterest and in my Evernote Notebook. Here's a link to my Pinterest "Quotes I Love" board. I included quotes from Dr. Seuss, Winnie the Pooh, Maya Angelou, Michael Jordan, Shel Silverstein, and the "Wizard of Oz". My teacher area faces this wall, so I love looking up at my favorite quotes. When I'm feeling overwhelmed by the everyday stress of being a teacher, these quotes lift my spirits. This was the perfect project for "dead" space in my classroom. Start searching for some quotes and give this project a try.

Here's the Finished Project!


Thursday, June 18, 2015

No More Pencil Drama!

I don't know how many times I've told my students that I don't want any more pencil drama! Lost and unsharpened pencils are one of my pet peeves. I've tried collecting all pencils and sharpening them myself (too much work). I've tried a student sharpening all of them (time consuming). Then I tried keeping a can with sharpened pencils in it for students to take when needed, but then students started only using my pencils. They became less responsible with sharpening their own pencils. I was always having to refill the can. I've also had students write their student number on their pencils with a Sharpie. That idea helped with lost pencils on the floor. However, we still had pencil drama!

Good news! I have finally solved the pencil drama! Actually, my teacher friend, Abbey Myers, solved it for me. She showed me her idea for pencils. She said she found it somewhere on Pinterest, so I don't know whose original idea this is. Abbey took some decorative Duck Tape and put it
around the top of a pencil, creating a little flag. This flag lets students know that these pencils belong to the teacher, but they can borrow one at any time. I keep about 10 flagged pencils in a can on the counter. Students borrow, but the little flag reminds them that they need to return it at the end of the day.  The Duck Tape brand has super cute patterns and colors from which to choose.

I also have students sharpen their pencils at dismissal time. This helps reduce time wasted in the mornings when they first arrive. I can't count how many times students walked around the room for 5 minutes in the morning trying to sharpen their pencils.

Here's to no more pencil drama!

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The Phonics Dance

A few years ago, my fabulous friend and colleague, Madalyn Lanni Ketron, introduced me to the Phonics Dance. She learned about it during her student teaching in Ohio. After her first performance, I was hooked! For years, I've been searching for a way for students to remember phonics patterns.

The Phonics Dance is a quick and easy way for teachers to teach phonics using rhyme, movement, and chants. The Phonics Dance helps develop decoding strategies and build stronger writers. This use of "junking and chunking" word patterns helps students become more fluent readers

My students LOVE doing the Phonics Dance! We do it about four times a week at the beginning of reading. I introduce two chants per week. I call on a different student every day to be our "pointer" during the dance and point to the cards. Even my quietest students get involved. Boy or girl, they ALL enjoy the movement and are highly engaged. When the chart is almost full of cards, I let the pointer choose two or three rows for the class to do.

Some example chants:
s-h, s-h, sh sh sh (point to lips)
a-r, ar ar ar, a-r, ar ar ar, Stick your arm in a jar of stars (make a hook with fingers like a pirate)

During small group reading, I use the chants to help students decode words during guided reading. It works! Students are also able to apply the hunks and chunks patterns to spelling unknown words. The Phonics Dance is great for struggling readers. The movement engages them, and the repetition helps students retain phonics skills.  I also notice growth in student writing and spelling.  THE PHONICS DANCE HAS CHANGED MY READING INSTRUCTION AND STUDENT LEARNING! Check out the photos, links, and video below. I added a link to the official Phonics Dance video. It shows students doing the chants.

I asked our school Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) to purchase the manual and cards. The manual is $45 and the cards are $15 per set. 

 You Tube Video

Sometimes we come across a certain sound or phonics chunk that is not included in the official Phonics Dance. So I create my own cards to meet our needs. See the two pictures below. I made these.
When you see the letter y, there are three sounds you can try: y-y-y, i-i-i, e-e-e

a-n-k, a-n-k, Thaaaaank You!
a-n-k, a-n-k, Thaaaaank You!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Where in the WORLD . . . ?

Do your students get confused about where they live? No matter how many times we go over "What state do we live in?", I always get the wrong answer. Nashville! The United States! Clarksville! At this point, it's a guessing game that my students lose every time. I get it. It's a difficult concept for a seven year old to understand where in the world we live. So to solve this problem, I created these posters to make a flow chart that shows where we live. I  keep it posted in the room and refer to them often. Hopefully this visual will cement the concept. Best of all, it's a FREEBIE on my TPT Store!

Use these posters and  arrows to create a flow chart to show where in the world we live. The display shows: city --> state --> country --> continent --> planet --> solar system --> galaxy.

Blank pages are included for you to create your own city, state, country, and continent posters for your place on the planet.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

Olive the Other Reindeer Reader's Theater

I searched all over the Pinterest, TPT, and Google to find a Reader's Theater Script for "Olive the Other Reindeer" by Vivian Walsh and J.Otto Seibold. I couldn't find one, so I created my own version. Check it out on my TPT. This holiday book makes a perfect Reader's Theater. The script is for 8-10 parts. Of course, parts can be combined for fewer parts. The script is 3 pages in length. The text level is created for 1st-3rd grades. However, 4th and 5th graders would enjoy performing it as well. Add some adorable props like reindeer antlers and a Santa beard. Your students will LOVE performing this Reader's Theater.  And Don't forget to play "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer"!

Olive, the Other Reindeer Reader's Theater

You Must Follow This Literacy Blog!

I follow a lot of blogs for ideas, materials, and inspiration. However, there is one blog that I subscribe to for researched based information on literacy. While I'm always searching for ways to engage my students, I'm also searching for research-based ways to increase student achievement. His content is up-to-date, references common core, and full of advice on teaching reading.

The blog is called "Shanahan on Literacy" by Timothy Shanahan. His research emphasizes reading-writing relationships, reading assessment, and improving reading achievement. He is past president of the International Reading Association. In 2006, he received a presidential appointment to serve on the Advisory Board of the National Institute for Literacy. He was inducted to the Reading Hall of Fame in 2007. He is a former first-grade teacher.

Some recent blog posts are: "What is the Proper Sequence to Teach Reading Skills", "Planning for Close Reading", and "To Teach Comprehension Strategies or Not to Teach Them". If you are a reading teacher of phonics and/or comprehension in any grade level, I urge you to follow this blog!

 Shanahan On Literacy Blog