Monday, August 15, 2016

Back to School Blog Hop: Classroom Organization

Hey everyone, I am teaming up with 50 great teachersprenuers to bring you tried and true classroom management and organizational strategies that work in our classroom.  Please make sure that you hop to each participating blog!  We are also hosting a giveaway.  Enter to win one of two great prizes.  We are giving away the chance to win a $50.00 TpT Gift Card and a classroom resource from over 30 teacher authors.  Good luck and happy blog hopping!

My post today is going to focus on organizational ideas for your classroom.  I am a middle school math teacher and at times struggle on how to organize all of my supplies, task cards, centers, and worksheets/Teacher Pay Teacher purchases.  I wanted my organization this year to be accessible to my students, especially when we have math free time or Friday Funday.  I also wanted to make sure that my classroom was neat and organized for anyone that walked in.  So here are some strategies that I have found worked throughout the year and ones that I am implementing this year.  

Absent Bin
The absent bin is in a location of my room that NEVER changes!  I use this as a way for students to collect their absent work.  After taking attendance at the beginning of the class, I have one person in the class fill out an absent sheet describing the things we did in class and stating the homework or important quiz, test, or project dates.  That student also collects any worksheets, grades, or papers for that students and place them in the absent student's file folder at the end of the class.  When the student returns back to school, they know the first thing they need to do is check the absent bin and talk to the person who filled out their absent sheet for the notes or a small explanation of what happened in class.  It is a great way to make students responsible for their work when absent and keeps them from coming up to me asking me what they missed (I seriously hate that!).

Here is a link to my TPT Store in which you can find my absent bin and editable absent sheets!

Student Supply Cart
Rolling carts are often a great solution when closet and shelf space is limited. They are invaluable for teachers who must travel from room to room. When setting up for a lesson, the rolling cart offers the added convenience of taking the supplies to students' seats.:

This amazing supply cart I utilize for my student supplies.  The absent bin is usually found on this cart along with a stapler, tape dispenser, and hole puncher.  I then label the various bins with things like lined paper, graph paper, construction paper, glue sticks, scissors, rulers, markers, colored pencils, etc.  It is a great way to organize the student supplies and they students always know where to go for supplies they might have forgotten at home or do not have.

Center Cart
In addition to my student supply chart, I also have a center cart.  This cart breaks down the topics that I teach throughout the year.  It is a great place for me to organize my center items and is a great resource for my students as well.  In each bin I not only have center papers, but also card games, dice games, and review games.  When it comes to Friday Funday or when we have free time, I have my students pull out the skill we are working on, or one they need to improve on, and choose various games or activities from that bin.  It is also a great way for me to organize all my station papers that I might purchase or create from Teacher Pay Teachers.

Task Card Holder
This past year I used task cards heavily in my classroom.  I would have the students use various games or activities when utilizing the task cards.  What I found to be difficult was were to put the task cards after utilizing them in my lesson.  Of course I just did not want to throw them out.  By the end of the year, I had one counter that was stacked high with task cards.  I was so happy to find these amazing card holders at Michael's this summer.  They fit task cards perfectly and give my students and myself access to the cards.  I plan on putting these task cards near or on top of my Centers Cart.  I plan to allow my students to use the Task Cards also as a review on Friday Funday or when we have free math time.  I am also thinking of allowing struggling students sign out task cards for the weekend or before a test.  I would allow them to take the whole plastic case home so they would not bend the laminated cards.  (I am still unsure of this idea at the time.)

Teacher Binder
Last year I slowly started over Christmas break separating my worksheets from my TPT purchases and creations.  This past summer I took the time to organize my items together in binders that are color coordinated.  Therefore, when I am looking for an activity to do with my students, I know to pull out my TPT binder.  When I want extra reinforcement for a specific skill or concept, I know to pull out my worksheet binders.  I think what is going to help me most this year is that I labeled each binder and wrote specifically the topics that were found inside.  In previous years I organized my worksheets based of grade level or just with general topics like algebra, geometry, pre-algebra.  I found myself spending too much time looking through various binders for a specific worksheet.  I am so excited for all my binders to find their place on my teacher bookshelf!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you so much for stopping by!  
Please make sure to Hop over to My Math Imagination 
to take a look at her ideas for storage ideas for stations!  

 Thank you again!   Remember to add my blog, pinterest, tpt store, and instagram for a better chance at winning a product from my store!  

Friday, July 29, 2016

Five For Friday

Hey everyone!  
Okay so I used to participate in the Five for Friday by Doodle Bugs Teaching more last year but have not really had time this year with changing schools again (for the third time in three years).  So even though I have not linked up all summer, here it goes!

My new teacher orientation begins next week followed by whole school orientation the following week.  Therefore, I have been trying to get everything that I need for class ready.  I have already started looking at lesson planning my first week of school (which is less than a month away).  I worked on creating a new lesson plan set-up and experimented with several different things.  I would be curious to see what other middle school teachers do for their lesson plans?  I prefer to just do them on the computer than write them in because with snow days and spur of the moment assemblies, I hate rewriting out plans.  I find it so much easier to copy and paste.  So this is what I currently came up with. 
I find it easier to read when I have the days of the week as my columns so that I do not have to look on two pages to see what my lessons are for the week.  I usually have my classes going down the side.  What I added this year (which I added late to mine last year) is the weekly notes section.  It is an area that I use to write down any school social events and usually I put any tests or quizzes on there so that I know to inform the students and when to make them in advance.  

The second thing that I have done this week is created a sample of the project that I am going to have my students complete the first two weeks back to school.  I know a project due a week into school starting, what a mean teacher!!  Hey it involves math, learning about my students, and will be a great thing to display for back to school night which is the third week of school.  Check out this personalized Back to School Dodecaehdron.  

So of course it is a 12-sided polygon (for those non-math teachers) and each side has the students say something about them.  Things include facts about me, goals for the year, summer vacation memories, strengths, family, etc.  I must say that I did enjoy creating it, but gluing it all together was very difficult (even for me), so I am going to make one more and see if I can come up with a short cut on how my students can put the pieces together easier.  

In the beginning of the summer, I spent much time organizing my binders and color coordinating them.  As I was beginning to look through my boxes (which fill my front porch), I stumbled upon file folders that contained worksheets, tests, and TpT products from the fourth quarter. Of course, I could not begin the school year without filing them into the correct binders.  I spent last night (with a movie and wine of course) filing all the important paperwork into their designated binders.  It was a lot easier since all my binders are now organized to find the binders and sections much quicker.  I only have one more binder to complete and that is my ISN/Foldable binder which contains all the original foldable templates and examples of each foldable.  

As the summer ends, my car needs to be prepped for the school year.  Of course my inspection is always due at the end of the summer.  Last time I got my oil changed, they told me that the tread on my tires looked low and to get them checked.  I went to SAMs Club to get my tires rotated and looked at and of course I had to get new ones.  When replacing my tires, SAMs Club was so nice to break my tire stem valve and wanted me to fix it.  Seriously, you broke it, you fix it!  After arguing with the sales associate and the manager, they finally told me that they would reimburse me, but that I would still have to fine a mechanic to fix it.  So I told them to put the spare on and off I went trying to find one that was open and had my part.  Firestone to the rescue!  After getting the stem fixed and going back to SAMs Club to get reimbursed, they made me wait 30 minutes until the manager was off her break to give me my money back.  Let me tell you, I was beyond furious after spending 6 hours of my day dealing with the mistake SAMs Club made.  See if I am a customer there anymore.  After a long, upsetting day, I decided I needed ice cream and headed to my favorite place to indulge in a bowl of Teaberry and Butter Brittle while watching the sunset.  

Lastly, after dealing with my car issue and spending three hours on the phone the next day dealing with doctors about getting a physical done before school starts, I was surprised to arrive at my friends house to see a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  I am watching his cat while he is away coaching at a baseball tournament.  Earlier in the week, he helped me deal with my car issue, and was there to listen to me vent about the medical issue as well.  The flowers were his way of saying thank you for taking care of his cat and a way to brighten up my week.  In the end I can tell you that my last week of summer vacation was beyond stressful.  I am hoping that my weekend is at least enjoyable before classes/orientation starts up on Monday.

I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend as we move into one of the most busiest months as teachers, August.  

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Monday Made It

Hey Everyone!  

I am a little late linking up to 4th Grade Frolics for the Monday Made It!  I did not have much time this week creating things for my classroom because for once I was spending with the family.  So here is what I got done this week!

 As you see in my previous post, I created a starter bundle for an interactive student notebook.   Over the five years of utilizing the ISN in my math notebook, I have experimented with the proper setup, rubrics, and organizational strategies.  This product gives teachers the best starting materials to get their Interactive student notebook together.  The ISN Starter Bundle contains a total of seven main items that come in both color and black and white.  These items include: notebook setup, table of contents, teacher evaluation rubric, peer evaluation rubric, student grade sheet, student reflection form, and teacher planner.   All the pages are designed to best meet the needs of the students, while assisting the teacher to perfectly setup the ISN.  This bundle can be geared towards any grade and any subject since it is used just to get your ISN started.  If there are any questions, suggestions, or requests for a different color, please feel free to contact me!

View My Product HERE

Interactive Student Notebook Starter Bundle Interactive Student Notebook Starter Bundle

I joined in on the Task Card train and went to Michael's to get the task card holder!  I then went to target to get the adhesive square label pockets.  I had a great time searching, printing, laminating, cutting, and arranging my task cards into categories to place in my new bin.  I am still working hard on finding or creating task cards for all the skill concepts that I will be teaching this year.  I am very tempted to buy another task card holder from Michael's and another set of label pockets from target thinking that I will need them later on in the year!  

I am excited to read up on what everyone else has done this past week!

Thursday, July 14, 2016

Interactive Student Notebook Starter Bundle

Good Morning!  

Last night I was extremely hard at work creating what I thought was the great Interactive Student Notebook Starter Bundle.  Over the five years of utilizing the ISN in my math notebook, I have experimented with the proper setup, rubrics, and organizational strategies.  This product gives teachers the best starting materials to get their Interactive student notebook together.  The ISN Starter Bundle contains a total of seven main items that come in both color and black and white.  These items include: notebook setup, table of contents, teacher evaluation rubric, peer evaluation rubric, student grade sheet, student reflection form, and teacher planner.   All the pages are designed to best meet the needs of the students, while assisting the teacher to perfectly setup the ISN.  This bundle can be geared towards any grade and any subject since it is used just to get your ISN started.  If there are any questions, suggestions, or requests for a different color, please feel free to contact me!

Visit my store HERE

Interactive Student Notebook Starter Bundle Interactive Student Notebook Starter Bundle

Monday, July 11, 2016

Monday Made It

Hey everyone!  So I must say that I have been busy at work trying to change my classroom theme, and get everything for my new school year.  I was just recently hired at the inner city charter school.  I am so excited for this new adventure, but extremely nervous as well.  
I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It.

Since I am moving to a new school, I thought what better way to start my new year than with a new classroom theme.  I am making a small change to my bright blue and black chevron theme classroom to add lime green, bright blue, and black chevron.  Here are some of the new changes!

The first thing that I did to update my new classroom theme was to change my teacher toolbox.  I was so excited to get rid of some of the bins that I really did not use that often and create missing ones for things that I would constantly put in my desk.  I loved the new lime green and bright blue chevron backgrounds with the large print that pops off the toolbox.  It makes it so much easier to read and find!  I am thinking of creating one of these for my students to use and place it in the student corner with all of their supplies.  Any teachers use student toolboxes and does it work?

I then took my lovely file folder bins and updated these to go more with the classroom theme.  I got rid of the black chevron and added more color and changed the font to get the new look on the right.  I had to create a sixth grade bin this year since I will be teaching sixth and seventh grade math.  I use these bins for student work (portfolio) and it allows them to place all their graded work in an area that they are able to find if they want to take quizzes or tests home to study.  My students enjoy having their own personal spot with all their work.   

 The next thing I wanted to do was add more spunk to the overly used white board and cork board.  I use the cork board near my desk so that I can tack up my schedule, the student's schedule, and any other important things that I need to know about for that week.  The whiteboard I place near the front of the room and write all the objectives on it for the day.  As you can see the white board gets used heavily and needed to be cleaned up a bit.  Since I was repairing both of these items, I thought I would give them more color.  I simply took bright blue duck tape and taped the edges of them.  I had to make sure not to have any bubbles and that the tape was straight, but they were fixed up in no time.  I took some nail polish remover to my white board and instantly it was all white again.  I cannot wait to see what my new students say about the Michigan Football magnet!  As always, I will make sure to keep track of their record  right between my two magnets!


This was by far one of the most exhausting thing that I have done so far to get my classroom ready.  I sat down with all my binders and all my paperwork and wanted to make sure that I figured out some type of system so that my binders, unit plans, and tpt purchases were organized.  I hated the fact that I had things in different color binders.  I sat down and looked at what I had the most of and what colored binders would fit the items the best.  I ened up with all of my tpt products in the white binders and all my worksheets in the blue binders.  I then created other activities and my teacher binder in green and pink binders.  I still need to go through the rest of my worksheets and papers for the last month of school and file them correctly in the binders, but I can save that for a rainy day.  I found keeping my worksheets and tpt items separate to be easier than putting together everything by unit or skill.  I tend to use my tpt items as review or math centers.  Since I was working with center things, I decided that I had to come up with a way to organize my centers.  

I took this amazing rolling cart that I had in my classroom, which I really had no purpose for, and separated it into center categories.  By the end of the school year last year, I was putting my laminated centers, task cards, and I Have, Who Has games into random draws.  I feel so much better having things in bins.  I am going to work on creating file folders to place the different laminated games in.  I already placed the I Have, Who Has, and sorting cards into zip lock bags. I am really looking for ways that other teachers organize their center games, task cards, and flash cards.  I want to make sure that my students have access to it in case we have a free day or a game day or if they want to spend time after school reviewing using one of the centers.  What other ways do you organize center games and pieces?

I hope everyone has a wonderful week and I am excited to see what I create over this week.  I know I already have a huge to-do-list with preparing for my new school!

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Teacher Pay Teacher Update

Hello Friends!  

Today, as I recover from a stomach virus, I decided to create a new game that turned into three new products.  Recapping my past school year, I noticed that my students thoroughly enjoyed playing games to review concepts we were learning.  When the students would figure out who went first, most of them would play rock, paper, scissors.  I thought, what better way to review than by creating a game that included those concepts.  With that, I came up with the Rock, Paper, Scissors Game.  I created my products around the skill of measurement conversions.  I created a product using metric conversions, another product with customary measurement conversions, and then a bundle to include both of them.  I am in the middle of the process of creating a mixed measurement product as well.  Each of these products come with three leveled game boards to review basic skills, to challenge those students that are at a higher level, and a difficult game board for any enrichment group.  Please feel free to check out my new products and tell me what you think!  

Customary Measurement Conversion Rock, Paper, Scissors Game Metric Conversion Rock, Paper, Scissors Game
Measurement Conversion Rock, Paper, Scissors Game Bundle

Have a wonderful week!

Thursday, June 16, 2016

2016 Updates!


I am so excited to have finished my first year at Saint Ann's and my fifth year of teaching.  I am hoping to have new adventures awaiting me in the future.  Currently I am interviewing at a variety of school in the area.  Do not get me wrong, I love where I work now, but there is no way that I can live off what I make.  So I am excited to see what awaits me in the future.  As for my summertime, I am going to continue to work on my TpT store and expanding it to include more games, task cards, and would like to open it up to see what customers are looking for in the middle school math field.  Here are a few of my new exciting products that I just created.  If you have any suggestions or requests, please feel free to message me or send me an email.  I am up for a challenge!  

Math Vocabulary Word Search
Geometry Vocabulary Word Search
Geometry Vocabulary Word Search
Real Number and Properties Word Search
Real Numbers & Properties Word Search
These word search puzzles are a great way to integrate math vocabulary in the classroom. There are two versions of each puzzle.  The first version is when you introduce the vocabulary terms.  It gives the students a word bank with all the words and then asks them to create sentences with half of the words on the back.  The second word search is for those students who are more advanced or when you want to review vocabulary.  The second word search gives only the definition or an example and the students must find the words in the puzzle.  My students loved using the definition word search in our review math centers!  They would race to see who could define and find the word in the shortest amount of time!  Check back later for more word search products!  

Beginning of the Year Materials
Middle School Mathematics Vocabulary Cards
Middle School Vocabulary Word Wall
Beginning of the Year: All About Me
All About Me
Classroom Job Chart - Black & Pink
Classroom Job Chart

I added some new beginning of the year materials to my store as well.  To go along with my geometry vocabulary word searches, I included my middle school mathematics vocabulary word wall.  It contains 64 vocabulary words that are used in the 6-8 math classes.  The vocabulary cards are color coordinated based on pre-algebra and algebra 1 classes.  The second item that I added to my store is the All About Me worksheets.  I created three All About Me activities for various subject areas (history, math, english).  I use the math one as the cover of my math ISN.  The students have to use numbers to answer various questions and then draw a picture that relates to it.  History and English are very similar.  The History All About Me Worksheet has students using history (past, present, future) to explain certain things in their lives.  The English All About Me Worksheet asks students to use various parts of speech to explain certain things in their lives (goals, summer activities/hobbies, recipe for success).  It is a great way for teachers to learn about their students given the content area they are teaching.  Lastly, I took my very popular Classroom Job Chart and created it using various backgrounds and font colors.  It is one of my highest selling product and through it would be great for teachers to have a variety of choices to choose from since many of us use themes in our classroom.  Please check the various colors and backgrounds on these products.  If there is a color you would love to have for your classroom, please feel free to email or message me!

Math Games/Activities
I am going to continue to create task cards for my students.  They really enjoy using these and moving around the classroom.  They know that as the number on the task card increases, so does the difficulty of the questions.  This allows students to move throughout the room working at their own pace and challenging themselves.  Another item that I will be adding in my store are the Yahtzee games.  My students are always asking when we will be playing Yahtzee again.  If you have not checked out any of the Yahtzee games, I highly recommend that you do!