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Friday, January 22, 2016

Organization 101: Tips to Avoid Stacks of Papers to Check

Hey friends!  I'm home today with a snow, well more like ice, day today, so I wanted to pop over to the blog and post a new Organization 101 post today.
Today I'm sharing a few quick tips on how to manage all the papers that you have to check.  You know, just as well as I do, that your students have to do show their understanding on paper, sometimes through independent activities.  BUT, all those papers stack up and leave you with stacks of papers to check, sometimes on the weekends - no good!
However, I don't ever (well, very very rarely) check student papers at home and I would love for you to be able to do that too!  

My first tips for getting your students papers checked is all about how your kiddos turn in their papers.  I have lots of these Sterilite drawers all over my classroom - but one bookshelf is full of drawers for students to turn in their work - by the type of assignment that it is.
No - these labels are not currently in my TPT store, but they are on the To-Do List.
How does this help me?  Well, when I go to check papers during my planning time, I pull out all the papers from the drawer and know that they should all be the same assignment.  This makes it SO much faster to check papers because once I get the answers in my head, I can breeze through checking papers so much faster than if I'm checking a math center paper one minute and then a spelling paper the next minute.
Another tip - if you are doing a whole class activity, especially where you are doing a lot of guidance and are monitoring student work during the activity, why check each students' paper?  I don't check ALL papers that my students do during the day.  Some of our Letterland (phonics program) activities we do whole class and check as we go.  Since the activity is set up the way it is and students are checking their assignments as we go, I just have them file their papers in their mailboxes, rather than me check it.
Some assignments that I check, I do input grades for on PowerSchool, so while I'm checking papers, I either grade all the papers and then input grades quickly, or I input grades as I go - but usually the first way.  
Another tip for checking multi-page activities such as math tests.  Our math test are usually 2 pages front and back including a bonus, so to help me check papers faster, I grade them page by page.  So, I check the front page of ALL students' tests.  Then I move to the 2nd page and so on.  I learned this trick from my former high-school math teacher mom - she would always check papers like this.
Once student papers have been checked, I put in this Mail to File Basket that is sitting on top of the same bookshelf where students turn in papers.  I have 2 students who have the class job of Postal Service.  These students, when they have time (after finishing work, at the end of lunch, after morning work, etc) file student papers in to the mailboxes.  
Student Mailboxes
Then on Friday, when we clean out our mailboxes, all of their work is ready for them to take home.  I do have a conversation with my Postal Service children each time we change jobs about how they are just filing papers, not focusing on others' grades and talking about them with friends.  So far, I have not had an issue with this over the course of 2 school years.  Plus, I try to pick kiddos that I don't think will break this "rule".  I do however, usually file spelling and math tests myself.
Last tip - I am lucky to have 2 planning periods twice a day (one is 30 minutes, the other is 50 minutes).  Each morning during one of my planning periods, I will pull the morning (Daily 5 & ELA) papers from the drawers to check.  Some days this takes me 10 minutes or less, some days I'm pushing 20 minutes.  But then, by lunch, all the morning papers are checked and my Postal Service kiddos can file them.  After school, I check math center papers and I'm done.  I leave and all of the papers have been checked and the drawers are empty and ready to go for the next day.
I hope these tips can help you get all those papers that need to be checked under control!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Class Dojo's "Big Ideas" with Mojo!

Hello again friends!

I'm back today to share an exciting new video series from my favorite classroom management tool - Class Dojo!

So, what's happening?
Class Dojo is launching a new video series and accompanying discussion guides that can help each and every classroom learn about growth mindset and how to start developing one.  The series will be five episodes in length that follow Mojo (your favorite green monster) and his friend Katie as they explore different aspects of growth mindset.  The video series can be used in any K-12 classroom!

The first video is live NOW!  The next four episodes will be released on the following Sundays so that classroom and school communities can all talk about the core principle in each video about growth mindset.

Let's learn a little more about this program...

“Growth mindset is a phenomenally important idea that’s been proven to benefit children well into the future,” said Liam Don, co-founder and Chief Product Officer at ClassDojo. “In developing our ‘Big Ideas’ series we wanted to make these transformative ideas easy for teachers to incorporate into their classroom, and delightful for students. Our partnership with Stanford PERTS is a good example of how technology can help make big ideas accessible and exciting for students in every classroom. We’re thrilled to share this ‘Big Idea’ with our community of teachers -- the first of more to come!”

The “Big Ideas: Growth Mindset ” series follows Mojo, ClassDojo’s much-loved monster mascot, as he and his friend Katie explore the importance of a growth mindset and how to develop one. Each of the five growth mindset videos will be paired with a lesson guide so teachers can reinforce growth mindset thinking with their students through activity-based learning.

New episodes will be found HERE each week.  Discussion guides will also be available as new episodes are released.

I've linked the first video for you here, but make sure to follow the link above to get more information and discussion guide(s).

Sunday, January 17, 2016

So In Love With Books Giveaway!

Welcome blog hoppers!
I'm Allyson from Going Strong in 2nd Grade and I teach at a public charter school in North Carolina.  I've been teaching 2nd grade for 5 years and blogging for a couple years now.  I'm excited to be teaming up with 11 other AMAZING bloggers to share some of our favorite Valentines  books in a fun So In Love With Books Giveaway!
Along with FREEBIES for each book, we are also giving away a copy of each book. Make sure you read all the way to the end of this post to find out how to WIN!

This year I introduced my kiddos to Amelia Bedelia (the original) during a week-long study of Amelia and literal/figurative language.  They thought she was so silly and were quick to stop me and explain what was really said and how Amelia "messed it up".  This Amelia Bedelia is a younger version of the original Amelia Bedelia and is written my Herman Parrish, the nephew of Peggy Parrish, the author of the original Amelia Bedelia series.

In Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine, it is Valentine's Day in Amelia's classroom and she is so excited for what the day will hold - but, getting her first Valentine card might be the most exciting part!  But, come time for the party, Amelia realizes that all of the cards she had spent time making for her friends, were left on the school bus, under her seat, where she tucked them that morning.  Luckily, young Amelia is quite resourceful and finds a way to solve her problem.  Even better, after school she finds a great way to use the valentines that she left on the bus that morning to make someone's day a little brighter.

So, I've got a little freebie to share with you that goes along with Amelia Bedelia's First Valentine.  This sampler pack includes 2 printable activities - parts of speech search and idioms.

Want more Amelia Bedelia activities to accompany this sweet book - I've got you covered!
This set includes 7 printable activities (the 2 from the freebie, plus 5 more), 2 center activities, and printable valentine cards.

Thanks so much for stopping by! Before you hop onto see my sweet friend, Shelly at Smiling and Shining in 2nd Grade, don't forget to grab my number!
Each blogger will have a number at the end of his/her post. Collect all the numbers along the way, and when you're done, add them all up and enter the total number in the Rafflecopter below!

Click on the image above to hop over to Shelly's blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 1, 2016

Organization 101: Avoid the Sunday Planning Blues!

It's January 1st, which means everyone is setting New Years Resolutions for how to make their lives better in 2016.  Have you thought about what yours will be?  Many teachers I know are unorganized and scrambling to get things done in time - for whatever reason.  For me, I am naturally organized, and so is my classroom - so I have teachers in my building coming to me to help them get organized.

So, if teachers in my building are wanting organization tips - that must mean my sweet readers would too,  right?!?!?  I would love to start a series of organization tips that can help you get more organized - at school at least!

First up, how to avoid those dreaded Sunday afternoon planning blues.  Oh, you know them, and I used to too!  You settle down with your lesson plan book, school resources, and probably your laptop to get planned for the week.  You find some awesome activities that you have to make copies for - and you need them Monday morning - which means you are racing off to the copier Monday morning and probably have to wait in a line.  Don't start your week off stressed!

Let me help you do a little planning each day so that your weekends are last-minute-stress-planning-free and you can feel more organized!

My grade level plans together on Tuesdays while our kiddos are at specials.  As a grade level, we plan our phonics lessons/unit (Letterland) as well as our math lessons together.  For Language Arts, we try to cover the same topics and/or books each week, but that can fluctuate based on each classroom.

So, that means on Monday, I pull out my pacing guide and see what is on tap for Language Arts for next week.  I then grab my quarterly ELA binder with resources of TPT products I have purchased to use throughout the year and begin to make a plan for ELA for the next week.
Having a hard copy of my TPT resources in a binder (in sheet protectors), helps make it so much easier for me to see what I have and then I lay it out across my table by what day I'm going to use what.

Because some things, like our Letterland lessons are such a routine each week, I don't always fill in the boxes when I'm doing my initial planning - I just have to the change the unit number when I type my lesson plans.  D5 is Daily 5.  Our schedule is different each day because of our Recess/PE schedule, so I've got to make sure I get to the right place on time!

I pencil (or pen in) my ELA plans in my Erin Condren lesson planner and put my papers to copy in my "To Be Copied" basket for my next trip to the copy room.

Tuesday during my 2nd planning period, when my kiddos are at specials, I meet with my grade level to plan our phonics and math plans for the next week.

Once again, I am just penciling in my plans into my plan book, because later, I'm going to type them up and make them pretty!

Tuesday after school, I usually try to hit the copy room to get my copies prepped for the next week.  I am also the designated person on my team to do grade level copies, so I get those done then as well.  Now, let me say this - I am blessed that we are able to work it out on our team to have "carpool planning days" twice a week and I have a carpool parent help with my carpool duties in our school gym (we are a charter school - so we only have carpool!).  This is when I usually hit up the copy room - since most of the rest of the teachers are in the gym, I usually don't have many interruptions.

Either Tuesday night, or sometimes Wednesday during my planning, I get my lesson plans typed up into my Erin Condren Lesson Planner Template.  

So, my lesson plans go from looking like this...

When my typed lesson plans are done - they get trimmed and taped inside my plan book.
To this...

Now, I have pretty and organized lesson plans, plus I have a digital copy should I have to email my lesson plans in case of an emergency or for planning purposes next year.  Plus, ever since college - I've typed my lesson plans - so it's just my thing.

Here's a closer look at each page:

Wednesday is kind of my catch-up day, if needed.
I use Wednesday to finish up ELA plans if I didn't finish them on Monday, finish any copies I need to make, and check student papers (I'll blog about how to help you with that soon!).

Thursday is also a catch-up day.  Occasionally, if I'm feeling really caught up, like, I have nothing much to do (this doesn't happen very often!), I'll work on pulling and copying monthly resources (keep reading for more info on this).

Thursdays I also begin working on my weekly newsletter with HW for the week, need to know news, important dates, etc.

Friday - ahhh, I made it to the end of the week.  Friday afternoon, I have carpool planning again, so I get extra time in my room from 3-3:25, to get prepped for next week. 
A few years ago, I got a set of these book bins in the Target Dollar Section ($3 each then) and I use these to sort my papers for the week - by day.  During the week, when I may copies, I put them in the Next Week Box, which has a file folder for each day.  Copy, file in daily folders, and they are ready for me on Friday to move them to the correct box.

I then go to my awesome box in my closet where I keep my copies that I made "in bulk" (see below) and put them in the correct boxes, some around the room, prepped for things like Daily 5 for next week.

Once I get all of this sorted, I'm ready for next week, and it's not even leaving time yet on Friday afternoon.  We get out of school at 3PM, but are supposed to stay on campus until 4PM.

In recent weeks, I have been able to get my weekly newsletter finished and emailed out to parents on Friday afternoon before I leave for the weekend as well.  All these things I used to do on Sunday afternoons are no more!

Now, once in a while, I will stay late and have a date with the copy machine.
Since a lot of the teachers in my building are leaving around 4PM, I try to wait until then to head to the copy room for my massive copy session.

What kind of things do I copy "long-range"?
-Weekly comprehension passages for Daily 5
-Monthly mClass math practice booklets
-Monthly BAT (brains always thinking) booklets - my version of "I'm done, now what?" booklets - activities from Sunny Days in Second Grade

Now, when I get back to my classroom from my massive copy session, I file all my copies in this big box with weekly file folders (by quarter) so I have the papers on the weeks I need/want them.  Where'd I get this awesome box you ask - it's actually an ornament storage box(they call it a light box now) from Target.  It has a hinged lid and is perfect for file folders!  I have a few of these boxes all around my classroom - great for storing student files and my mClass reading assessments!

1.7 = Quarter 1, Week 7, followed by the dates.  I update these sticky note tabs towards the end of each quarter as I begin to prep for the next month/quarter and need a place to put my copies.

Here's to an organized new year!
Making resolutions with your kiddos when you return next week - I've got you covered!