Thursday, March 22, 2012

Another Binder

My entire life doesn't revolve around binders, I promise. My classroom, on the other hand, well...

My 4th grade team makes packets for math, science, and social studies units. So everything the kids are going to need that 6 weeks are in the packet. It's kind of nice not having to make copies 3 times a week, and my students have been relatively good about keeping up with their packets (I've probably had to replace 15 throughout the year).

That means I have to keep up with my packets too. To do this, I [naturally] made a binder. Go figure.

My tabs are:
1. math (this is the student math packet, that I also use to make answer keys)
2. science (this is the student science packet, that I also use to make answer keys)
3. social studies (yeah, same thing)
4. Moose Math (this is our math homework packet, and this tab has my answer key packet)
5. Lone Star (this is our math warm up, and this tab has my answer keys)

The cover of our current math packet.

Inside our current math packet. It contains all the worksheets they'll do in class.

The cover of our current science packet.

Inside our current science packet. Contains the worksheets and labs they'll do this 6 weeks. You can see I've also made answer keys.

I paperclip all the old homework answer keys together so I can flip right to the current one.

If I lost this binder, I would be so lost. I love it. Everything I need for class in one place. When I have a sub, I just put a sticky note on the pages they'll use, and they've got everything in one place too. :-)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

DIY Bookmark Reward

I wanted to do something to reward students who had gotten no mark during the first 3 weeks of this 6 weeks. When I was at the dollar store, I saw they had foam bookmarks with other foam shapes to decorate, so I figured that'd be perfect.

I got all the above supplies for $5 - that's 10 bookmarks, 32 sheets of foam so my kids could cut out whatever shape they wanted, 248 foam letters, and some glue. It was more than enough - I still have lots of foam left over.

So while the rest of the class was working this afternoon, I pulled the 8 who had no marks aside to help them work on their bookmarks. I drew names for the order in which they picked their bookmark color, foam colors, and letters (everyone was able to get the letters they wanted, in the colors they wanted).

The bookmarks turned out really cute and the kids loved it!

Upper Grades Link Party

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is hosting a linky party for upper grade elementary blogs. Check out her's and all the ones listed!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Organization Ideas

Today I was looking through the pictures on my phone trying to decide what to post about today. I finally decided just to do a hodgepodge of ideas.

This is an idea I got from pinterest. I put an empty toilet paper roll inside a plastic cup for my popsicle sticks with student names. The popsicle sticks stay inside the roll until after I call on the student. Once I've selected a student I put it there popsicle stick outside the roll, unless I may want to call on them again.
Because I've now spent four years teaching science, and have never actually taught reading, most of my classroom books are about science. Just like I have my other books split up by genre, I split my science books based on topic.
I got this organizer from Dollar Tree. It is perfect for happy notes, nurse passes, change in transportation forms, missing work notices, and other small items.
I bought a bunch of used games and puzzles from thrift stores for indoor recess. I am storing them on a shelf hidden behind a grass skirt, also from the dollar store, that goes along with my Safari theme. Goodwill has a lot of good games and toys for decent prices. I even got a huge tub of Legos.
I do not have a closet in my portable for students to put their backpacks. I do, however, have a coat rack. To store their backpacks, I bought sturdy hangers to make use of the coat rack. Students hook their handle handle around the hanger.
So I don't have to pass everything out separately, I keep whiteboards, dry erase markers, and wash cloths in baggies. The baggies currently being used are gallon sized, which doesn't work as well. My favorite was the 2 gallon bags because the whiteboards could go in sideways and the bag could fold over. This makes it so much easier when every student is using a whiteboard.

Monday, March 12, 2012


I'm the binder queen, it's true. When I interviewed for my current job, I had a binder with me, and the teachers that sat in on the interview say that's why they picked me. :)

I have a binder for each area of science (earth science, physical science, etc), one for language arts, handwriting, warm ups, small group activities, tutoring, extended learning activities, student information and classroom managers, and of course then there's my sub binder. I'm sure there's more I'm not thinking about right now (since it's SPRING BREAK and all).

Each of my binders have a cute cover. They don't all look alike, because that's boring. Rather, the font I used is somehow related to the topic of the binder, and then I print it out on paper with a cute border.

I have my binder covers on Teacher Pay Teachers for free.  Enjoy.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Weekly Challenge

A few weeks ago I started a "Weekly Challenge" in my room. A little late in the year, sure, but oh well.

Each Monday, I post a new challenge, usually math related, and students have until Friday morning to take a guess. I make extra copies of worksheets so students can work at their desk (unless it's an estimation problem). I cut index cards into thirds, and that's where I have them write their name and answer. Once they have a guess, they put their answer in an old tissue box.

Some of the challenges I make myself, some I've found online, and some are just logic worksheets.

On Friday, I take out all the wrong answers and draw one winner from among the right answers. If it was estimation, I choose the closest answer. The winner gets something small as a prize, such as a mechanical pencil, eraser, homework pass, or small toy (play-dough, mini-slinky). When I did the goldfish estimation, the prize was the goldfish.

I put together some of my challenges into a PDF, as it's listed for free at Teachers Pay Teachers. You can download it by clicking here and going to the website.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

What I do with graded papers

Grading papers. Ugh. It's kinda like laundry - it just never ends!

Every teacher has their own way of keeping these papers organized from collection to being sent home, and I thought I'd share my method for those interested.

I have classroom managers, and one of those positions is a Pick Up Manager. The past two years I actually had my Pick Up Manager collect papers in number order (alphabetical), but this year I haven't done that. It does make it easier to input grades if they're already in order though.

Once papers have been collected (or maybe students are turning them in individually), they go to the inbox. The inbox has two shelves - the top is for my homeroom and the bottom is for my switch class.

From there, I may go ahead and grade them, or move them into another paper sorter to keep out of the way until I get a chance to grade them.

The paper sorter is 3 years old, and used to be my inbox when I taught three classes, or it's falling apart a bit. Teaching two classes, this is how I use it to sort papers...

  • The first column is for my homeroom, and the second column is for my switch class.
  • The top row is for papers that still need to be graded.
  • The second row is for papers that have already been graded, but have not been entered in the gradebook.
  • The third row is for papers that have been graded, entered in the gradebook, and are waiting to be filed to go home. My kids know this, so if they see papers in the third row, they ask me if they can take them to go file.
When papers are ready to be filed, I stack them near the folders they're filed into.

The black tray on top is for papers that need to be filed. I don't like having mailboxes, because I think they take up too much room. I value my space! So I keep hanging file folders for each student. Every Tuesday, the papers go home.

Instead of using student names, I use numbers so I don't have to change it every year. I've used these folders two years now, and I'll use them again next year. They're in great shape still. Sometimes students forget to write their number on their worksheet, so I have everyone's number typed up and stapled on the wall behind the folders.