Thursday, July 30, 2015

Back-to-School Bonanza 2015

Welcome to the 3rd Annual Back-to-School Bonanza!!

Last year, over 65 talented teacher-authors joined me in sharing some of the fabulous resources we'd created for heading back to school. 

This year I'd like to share a resource that has recently received a makeover! My Getting To Know You SCOOT Game has some fabulous new Educlips graphics!
Take a look at how this product has evolved:
I love, love, LOVE how it turned out and would love just as much to give a copy away!

All you need to do to enter is visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store and find a product (other than this one!) that you think would make your year easier. Click the banner at the top of my store to find all my B2S resources in one place! Come back here and tell me your choice in the comments below. I'll choose a winner in a few days.

Now, for the link-up! If you are a teacher-author and have a great Back-to-School resource to share, join me below!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

5 Creative Ways to Use Clothespins in the Classroom

Most of us have a pile of them kicking around our houses and classrooms, but what do you really do with them?! Here are 5 creative uses for clothespins in the classroom!
One of my greatest frustrations as a teacher is managing long lines of students who require my attention. Having kids stand around doing nothing is NOT a good use of time - theirs or mine - not to mention a huge distraction for everyone else in the classroom.

A few years ago I created the solution to this problem:
I traced my arm on a piece of bristol board and laminated it. My students' names are clipped to the bottom, and when they need my attention they move their clip to the sleeve and keep working. Additional students move their name to the bottom of the sleeve. When I am finished with one student, they send the next person in line when returning their own clip to the bottom!
A few years ago, when I was teaching fifth grade, I found myself chasing students down for their writing pieces. I tracked who had handed their work in on a simple class list, and when approaching some students for their final drafts I'd sadly discover that they were still working on the first draft! To solve the problem, I began tracking student movement through the writing process on a class list, but this just felt like an extra bit of work added to my already large pile. I needed it to be student-led and visible.

Enter the Writing Process Clip Chart:
My students all begin with their clip on the very bottom page and move themselves along as they progress through the writing process. The biggest surprise for me was how incredibly motivated the students were to write! Even my most reluctant writers were excited to be able to see their progress as they moved the clip along!
Using clothespins to display student work is a very popular idea. A coworker of mine uses these in her classroom:
I don't have quite as much wall space, but I'm always drawn to the images of these setups I see on Pinterest. I may just have to find a way to incorporate these this year. Here are a few of my faves:

And take a look at these new Command clips!! Brilliant!
Clothespins can also be effective tools for engaging students during learning activities. Clip cards have become all the rage on Teachers Pay Teachers, and with good reason: little hands love manipulating them!

My friend and coworker, Christina, from Hanging Around in Primary, has these awesome task cards for addition available in her TpT store:
Her first grade students love them! Click the image to check them out.
At my school, clothespins are also used by all staff to manage student movement during recess breaks. Each of us have a handful of clips (mine stay attached to my supervision vest) that we can easily clip to a student's sweater or jacket to indicate he or she has permission to be inside during the outdoor break. Staff inside the building know to be looking for these clips when they see students wandering in the hallways.
As a bonus for sticking around, I'm sharing a great tutorial by my friend Ms. Makinson all about how to dye your wooden clothespins! Click the image to head over, and be sure to leave her a comment when you're there!
I'd love to hear how you use clothespins in your classroom! Leave me a comment below, and feel free to share Pinterest pins for your classroom photos!

Thanks to Gabby's Classrooms for the colorful frames!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Making The Most of Your Smart Board

Hi everyone! I hope you're having a super summer! I'm finally back from my vacation to Prague and Krakow and I know that some of you are already preparing to head back to class, so I thought I'd share some of my tips and tricks for engaging students using the SMART Board!

I've been using the Notebook software for several years now, and have become somewhat of a go-to person on my staff for newer users. There are so many ways to make your lessons engaging and interactive for your students! I recommend reading through this post with a blank SMART Notebook file open on your computer so you can try each of the tips as you read.

The Notebook Gallery has many images and flash files to get you started with your lessons. Click the Gallery tab to explore what it contains. Right now I am looking at the menus for Gallery Essentials. Simply drag and drop items you see onto your page and explore what they can do!

You will even find coins and notes for several major worldwide currencies in the picture gallery. SO helpful for lesson creation!

Since my goal is to make my lessons interactive and engaging, I tend to use more of the Interactive and Multimedia items rather than simple images (or I make them interactive using this software - more on that to come!).

The next thing you'll want to do is explore the toolbars. I have customized mine primarily with the features I'll need to create my lesson, rather than the tools I'd need when using the SMART Board itself. Hover over each button to see what it is called, and try clicking to see what each does. Click the gear on the far right of the toolbar to switch up the tools you see. Simply drag and drop from the options box to the toolbar to add something, or from the toolbar back to the options box to remove something.

I'll share more about some of the pen options in another post! These do some pretty cool things that are better described with video, so perhaps I'll share a Periscope video when I'm back in my classroom! :)

Many additional features will be revealed to you when you right-click on an object in your file. Try right-clicking and testing out some of the features in the top part of your menu.

At the bottom of the right-click menu you will find options to add a link or sound file when the object on the screen is touched or clicked. These features basically work in the same way as a PowerPoint or PDF file. Go ahead and try it now! The last selection in this menu will be addressed in the next section.

This feature is my go-to for lessons and activities simply because it is SO easy to do! You can animate the objects in your file using the Properties menu. You can access this by right-clicking the image you wish to animate, or by clicking on the object and then on the Properties tab on the left side of the screen.

This is the feature I use when creating my attendance files for my students. (More on this in tip #6!) Try animating your image using a couple of different animations.

(Note that if you have something disappear or fly out of view you should be able to reset it by clicking forward to a new page then back again. To change the animation you will have to right-click on the image because simply clicking it will start the animation again!)

Another great way to engage students is by hiding objects. This is perfect for having answers to your questions revealed. There are many ready-to-go tabs available in the Gallery! Simply click on the Gallery and type "tab" in the search bar! Choose a color and drag it onto your page. Follow the directions to edit the text on the tab. You can even change the font and font size if you wish. Follow the directions to edit the text. You can even change the font and font size if you wish.

After you change the text you will need to GROUP the text box and image together. Do this by highlighting both with your cursor (click and drag across the screen), right click, then select Group. When this is done, simply "hide" your answer off the side of the page, leaving only the pull tab visible!

Once you're comfortable with the Group/Ungroup feature you can do this with ANY combination of text and images, easily creating your own fun and creative tabs!

You can also hide text under an image by layering. Kids love this!

To accomplish this, you will need to find the Order selection in the right-click menu. This will allow you to bring the image to the front, or send the text box to the back.

Once you've figured this out, you can combine layering with animation to make your lessons POP! Let's use the example above with the addition problem. Once the image is layered over the text, I click the image, open the Properties menu and animate the owl to Fade Out when clicked.

When I create my SMART Board attendance files for my students I use the Fade In selection. The image is layered over the text, but is invisible so the name can be seen. When the student touches his or her name they are really touching the invisible image triggering the animation to fade in!

When I'm using the animations I'm always sure to Lock my objects and text in place on the page. This prevents them from moving around when touched. Just be sure that if you're intending for something to slide you shouldn't lock it! (Been there, done that! lol)

Now that you are familiar with the basics, do some EXPERIMENTING!! The best way to feel truly comfortable with this software is to USE it! Try creating your own lesson file, or try downloading a ready-to-go file from SMART Exchange and examine how it has been put together.

What are you waiting for? Go, go, GO! Don't hesitate to leave me a message or send me an email if you have any questions!

Note to TpT Sellers: Be aware that there are restrictions on the use of the Gallery objects and files in your paid products. Also, most clip artists do not allow their images to be used in a SMART Board file unless they can be secured. Be sure to play by the rules to respect their TOU!

If you're not up to creating your own lessons from start to finish, there are TONS of ready-to-go lessons and activities for the SMART Board out there. I mentioned SMART Exchange earlier in this post - it is a free site full of files that have been shared by teachers just like you and me. They tend to be very basic - no frills or pretty pictures here.

If you want something really great try Teachers Pay Teachers! There are so many awesome resources there, and great news... TpT has removed the $3 minimum for purchases!

I've also started a linky below full of SMART Board resources! Take a look at what's there now, and come back often to see what has been added! I'm sure you'll find something you will love!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Throwback Thursday: Word Work In Action

Thanks for joining me for this Throwback Thursday! This was originally posted in November of 2013, but is a popular one, and so handy as you start thinking about setting up a word work routine in your new classroom! Hope you enjoy it!

I FINALLY have the last part of The Daily 5 up and running! Most of my Word Work centers are ready for use!
I got them organized in this great organizer that I grabbed last spring when another teacher was purging her new classroom! Score! :) It is perfect for these!

Alphabet Stamps

I grabbed these at Michaels. They weren't cheap, but I did use a 40% off coupon!
The students have been keen to use them. I understand why... I would have loved using these at school when I was a kid!

Chunk Magnets

I inherited these with my new primary classroom.
Did you notice the blur to the second photo? That's because this student was so animated with these that I couldn't catch him in a still position!!

Rainbow Words

A simple one to include, but this one really speaks to the artistic students in the class. My girls especially seem to love it! :)


I knew this would be one of the most popular choices, and I was right! So far, I think it is the first to leave the drawer!

I have three additional centers planned that I haven't formally introduced to my students. Alphabet magnets may be the first to hit the chopping block... do these seriously not get made anymore? I have been all over and can't find them anywhere (except school supply stores that want nearly $10 per set!). The white boards are pretty much good-to-go. I purchased a class set of these from Scholastic. They are the double-sided kind - good for the neon dry erase markers on the back side - but the first time the kids used them the black side became extremely scratched up. I'm glad that wasn't what I purchased them for! Finally, you may have already seen the Boggle board I have in my room:
I've added a recording sheet and some instructions, but otherwise this is how it looks! Some of the students have played this already, and they LOVE it!! It will be joining the list of choices next week.

And what are the rest of the students doing while a handful are involved in Word Work? I am amazed...

They are SO engaged in all parts of The Daily 5 program! They love it, but I love it more! I don't think I've ever felt so in-touch with how my students are developing their reading skills!

All these centers PLUS the storage labels and activity sheets are available in my TpT and Teacher's Notebook stores! You can get them from TpT here:

or grab them at Teacher's Notebook by clicking HERE!

Are YOU using The Daily 5 and CAFE in your classroom? I would love to hear about how it is going! You can also grab a copy of my Daily 5 & CAFE bulletin board resource completely FREE right here! :)