Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas: Student Supply Bags

On the first day of school, I like to have all of the students' supplies (ie: pencils, pens, erasers, etc...) ready for them so that I know they have the tools they need to function on the first day of school.  So, since I was getting things prepped for the first day of school anyway, I thought I would share this very simple Bright Idea with you!
Such a simple way to distribute school supplies to the students AND to make sure they stay organized.
Starting day one, each student entering my room is assigned a number (based on alphabetical order of last names.)  This helps with organizing everything from where they stand in line to knowing which papers have been turned in.  Another thing it helps with is knowing which supplies belong to which student.  

Now I don't know about you, but due to budgets, I know that many of my students won't come to school on the first day (or any day after that) with the supplies they need to be an active and productive student in my room.  So I go out and purchase those supplies myself.  I want to make sure that they get to the student in the most effective manner possible, so here is what I do.  Before the first day of school, I make sure that I label all of the pencils, pens, rulers, sharpeners, etc...that I give the students with their classroom number. 

I use little labels, write the number on them, then stick the label onto the school supply.  All of the supplies then go into a gallon sized ziploc and they are ready to go for day one!  Then, once students enter the room, I can hand them the bag that corresponds to their student number and they have everything they need to have a productive year as a student in my classroom.  At least supply-wise!

Doing this serves two purposes.  First, it helps to cut back on the time it takes to pass out supplies to the students.  They all get a bag and it is over.  Secondly, it starts the students on the path of using their number on everything.  I mean, they see the number 8 times as it is on all of the things I gave them!  :) 

 So there you have it.  A VERY simple and easy way to get the year started off right, fast, and organized.  How do you handle first day supplies?

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Circles INSIDE of Circles

Nothing terribly life changing today, but I wanted to share with you a little tidbit that I have been doing to make circles for some classroom signs.

Now, you are probably thinking, "WHAT?  I know how to make circles!  This girl is crazy trying to show me."  I would probably think the same thing.  But seriously, I discovered how to put circles INSIDE of circles to make some fun looking borders that will look awesome on a bulletin board.

So here is what you do.

1.  Open Power Point and select the Shapes tool.

2.  Select a circle and open that up onto your document.  Make the outline black and have "no fill".

3.  Then play around with the outline.  To do this, you go to the "Format" section on the top and click "Outline".  A little box will come up on the side of the page that looks like this.  Find "Composite Type" and, after you click it, you can choose double lines and everything!  It is really fun!!

Now, here is where I became incredibly proud of myself.  I figured out how to put a circle INSIDE of a circle.  (Do you see above how there is an outer circle that is made of the double line and then an inside dot ring?  I am going to show you how to make that now!)

4.  Follow the same steps as above for the second circle.  This time, though, right click on the second circle and the "Outline" bar will appear.  Go down to "Size and Position".  When you click that, you will be able to make the inside circle EXACTLY the right size (so it isn't lopsided and wonky!!!)  Honestly, that was the best discovery I made all day.  My circles are NEVER the same size when I try to do this, and now, knowing that I can make my outside circle 3" and my inside uniformly 2.8" is a HUGE discovery for me. 
This is the measurement for the INSIDE circle.
5.  Then, you can use the same right click to "Outline" to make the inside circle have a different outline.  I chose to use the "Dashes" and then "Round Dots".  I think it looks fun that way!

6.  Finally, place a text box in the middle of the circles, and you can add a letter.

I have no idea why the top of the E cut off on the picture.  It is there on my computer.  So weird!!
I am going to cut the circles out, using a handy dandy circle cutter, laminate, attach some ribbon, and then have a cute little saying to go on my bulletin board (and when I actually get around to putting it all together, I will take a pic, I promise ;))

Thursday, July 3, 2014

5th Grade Essentials

Every year, as summer reaches its midway point, I sit down and think about what I would like to do the same the next year, what I would like to get rid of, and what I would like to try.  This summer has been no different.

When I sat down and really thought about what programs make my year as a teacher run smoothly, four things popped up into my mind:

5th Grade Spiral Math
Calendar Math
Paragraph of the Week
Essay of the Month

Math Homework
Calendar Math

Essay of the Month
Paragraph of the Week

I can honestly tell you that these year long programs save my sanity.  Each one of them helps me to build eager, excited, motivated, and skilled scholars from my students.  Each one of them makes my day as a teacher fly by.  Each one of them lets me leave the classroom at the end of the day knowing that I did all I could to teach the standards and enable my students to excel.

How do they do that, you ask?

Well, all four of them take these big huge things that I am supposed to teach (hello, writing an essay!!) and breaks it down step by step into manageable chunks.  Kids are constantly practicing paragraph writing.  Kids are always going over those math standards that they just can't seem to master in the one lesson I have to teach it.  Kids are going back to things they never thought they would see again, and practicing, practicing, practicing.
Calendar and the Math Homework keep me on top of the math standards.  I love them for that.  I know that even if I don't get to a math lesson that day (because of pull outs, assemblies, fire drills, whatever) my students are covered for their math skills just because we do Calendar and HW.   They also cover the skills so I can focus on problem solving in class.

Paragraph of the Week and Essay of the Month (known as POTW and EOTM in my room) help my students to build STRUCTURED writing pieces so that in class we can focus on craft.  Knowing how to effectively build a paragraph, and then practicing it, has made my students competent writers who are able to then apply this structure to, say, the standardized tests where they are expected to formulate a complete essay within a given time frame.

These four things have truly revolutionized my classroom.  I am not a stress case about teaching.  I know it will all get done because I have the simple basics covered.
And now I want to help you get it covered too.  I have bundled these four things....all four YEAR LONG programs....into one big bundle, the 5th grade ESSENTIALS pack.  Getting it this way saves you about 20% off the price of all four individually.  Now, I know it is still expensive, but I know that you will find it worth it in the end.   But to help ease the pain just slightly, it is on sale at an even bigger discount!

I am also going to give one pack away.  All you have to do it pin the link from tpt, write on your pin why you would want this pack, and leave the link to the pin in the comments below (with your email address so I can contact you if you win).  Because this is such a big pack, I am going to be checking the pins closely.  I will chose the winner using a random number generator at 8pm PST on July 5, 2014.   Happy pinning and good luck!  (and if you can't wait because you want to get started NOW, it is on sale for you!)   

Monday, June 30, 2014

Keeping Track of those Behaviors: Monday Made It Style

For behavior management in my classroom, I use a classroom economy.  Students earn classroom dollars for doing their job as a student and they use those dollars to buy privileges in class or to pay fines that they have incurred for improper behavior.   Usually, if a student is misbehaving, I ask them to pay the fine, they do, and it is done.  However, if a student is having a particularly trying day, I ask them to start writing the infractions down on labels so that I can have a future record of the behaviors for report cards and parent conferences.  I then keep these in a tabbed record book that can be pulled out whenever I need to refer back to it.

Today, I wanted to share with you how I made the record book :)  I am linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for her weekly Monday Made It linky for the first time this summer!  Yay!!

I like to keep the labels in a spiral notebook.  It just makes things easier for me.  But finding one with 34 sections just isn't going to happen.  So I make one myself.  You will need:

A spiral notebook with about 120 pages

I place the first tab on the first page of the notebook.  Then I count about 3 pages, and place the second tab.  Count 3 more pages and place the third tab.  Count 3 more pages, place the fourth get it.

Now that I have a nice little book, all organized, I can easily flip to the student's section when I need to recall certain behaviors.

And how do I know what the behavior was?  Well, if a student is behaving in an unacceptable way, I have them record their behavior on a little label.  They write the date and what they did to incur a fine.  This takes about 2 minutes of their own classtime.  At the end of the day, one of my classroom monitors has the job of peeling off the labels and putting them in the book.  Done and done.

(these labels are a few years old, so they have a space for the card color.  I used to use a flip a card system.  I don't any longer but I used this same label system for both the flip a card and the classroom economy.)

So there you have it!  My little behavior recorder.  It cost me about $10 because I just *had* to have the fancy book.  But the labels were $5 or so, and you can get a spiral notebook from the dollar store, which will cut down on the cost for sure. 

How do you record the behaviors going on in your room?  Please share your ideas! 

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

I have to cook dinner now???

I don't know about you, but I am usually done by the time school is over.  All I want to do is go lay down on the couch and relax.  However life has other plans for me (as do three little kiddos and a husband, plus a house and well, you!) so laying on the couch eating bon bons is just not really an option for me.  Things must get done, one of which is dinner.

Making dinner.  Ugh.  The bane of my existence.   Can't we just eat cereal every night??

I suppose not.

So I have discovered something that has changed everything in my household.  Wait for it......


Why has no one ever mentioned how incredibly amazing and fabulous (not to mention easy!) this machine is in all of my 38 years????  It really is a teachers' dream.  Set it and forget it as they used to say :)

Because I am now officially obsessed with my Crock Pot, I thought I would share a few recipes with you that my kids and I enjoy.  They are easy to make and taste so yummy!  Plus, they make dinner a breeze at home.  I just put everything in before work, set the timer, and leave.  I come home to a nicely cooked meal.

Salsa Chicken

This is the easiest thing on the face of the planet.  You need:

1lb chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 jar salsa (any kind...I like medium)
1 packet of taco seasoning (generic is fine.  I like low sodium)

Place all ingredients in the slow cooker.  I tend to only use half of the taco seasoning packet.  Cook on low for 5 hours.  Shred chicken and serve with "taco stuff" (tortillas, cheese, sour cream, guac, tomatoes...whatever floats your boat on taco night)

Parmesan Chicken

This is a nice one because it is a self contained meal. You can eat just this and have all of your bases covered (although, we do usually serve with a salad or veggie in my house....something looks pretty on the plate.)
This tastes better than it looks, I promise :)

1lb of chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
1 packet of onion soup
1 cup of uncooked rice
1 cup of Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cup milk
2 cans of cream of chicken (actually cream of anything will do....I used cream of potato once and it was fine)
6 tbsp of butter

Mix everything except chicken and butter in a bowl.  Lay chicken breasts in the slow cooker and place the butter on top of them.  Then pour the mixture from the bowl on top of that.  Cook on low for 8 to 10 hours or high 4 to 6 hours.  You can add salt and pepper if you want, but I find it to be plenty salty with the onion soup and parm in there already.

Brisket this isn't a Crock Pot recipe, but it is so so so so so easy that I had to share it.  You can actually cook this the night before, put it in the fridge, then pop it back in the oven for an hour right after you get home from school.

1 3lb brisket
3 cans condensed french onion soup

Place brisket in a baking dish fat side up.  Pour the cans of soup over it.  Add water to the baking dish until the brisket is completely covered.  Cover with tin foil.  Bake in the oven at 350 for around 3 hours.  When the brisket is tender, cut it into slices and you have a nice main dish!

What are some of your EASY go to recipes for school nights?  Please share in the comments!!!