Monday, September 1, 2014

Back to School Tree Map~ Freebie

Tomorrow is the big day! I'm as ready as I can be to welcome my new group of kiddos, but of course, last-minute-Lucy here is making up more things to do as my wheels keep spinning with ideas! I don't know about you, but I always have a hard time sleeping the night before because of the excitement and the fact that I have been staying up WAY too late all summer long. Hence, a blog post! Before I go try to turn off my racing mind and unwind a little, I wanted to share something we will be completing on the first day of school. We will be working on Tree Maps during the month of September so I made these for back to school!

The handwriting line at the bottom is to be used for a summary sentence.
 They're nothing fancy, but could be great as a pre-writing activity and lead to some good discussion!

You can grab this freebie from my dropbox here if you like.

We will be doing lots of Thinking Map-type activities as a school improvement strategy so I hope to keep them coming!

Happy Labor Day and good luck to all my friends who are also heading back tomorrow!
 Sleep well!

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Weekend Warriors: Parent Involvement? There's an App for That!

The key to a successful year is having the support of the parents of the children we care for and educate. We know it is just as important to build relationships with our parents as it is to do so with our kiddos! This edition of the Weekend Warriors hop is all about getting parents involved in their child's education.

I love that we have open house the first week of school. My evening always includes a presentation of what can be expected throughout the year. It's great that I have that chance to speak from the heart, to tell parents my philosophy on education, to ask for their assistance in working as a TEAM, to help to ease their anxieties about the unknown and all of that good stuff! The parents always leave happy, relieved and excited that the year will be a great one! I leave with tons of party helpers, classroom volunteers and co-teachers! Involvement at its best!

This is the parent night presentation that I use. 
It helps to have a format to keep on track so I don't forget what I want to say!

  These are just a few of the slides. You can read the full description and see it at my store here!
It has had a makeover just in time for open house!
 If you purchased it already, be sure to download the updated file!

 Parent involvement? There's an app for that!
Did you know that Scholastic has a great way to send information out to parents! 
It's called Class Messenger

I am definitely going to check it out! All of the information and phone numbers are completely hidden. You can send out reminders, photos of your class in action, donation requests and quick notes to helpers. 

Well, hopefully you were able to hop around for back to school ideas a little yesterday. I know I did and got some fantastic ideas from my clever Weekend Warriors friends. 
Be sure to go visit each of them to see what they have for you today!

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Weekend Warriors: Back to School Ideas and a Freebie Pick Sticks Pot

Back to school time can be so stressful as all of us busy teachers know! Back to school COOL for me means CALM, COOL and COLLECTED so I can be my best self for my students when they walk through the door for the first time. My Weekend Warrior friends and I are here to share some back to school tips, tricks and ideas to help make your first days in the classroom a little less hectic and a lot more enjoyable.

This time of year, we have a chance to make things better, easier or more organized and to set some goals for ourselves as teachers. I have decided to make some changes and want you to be the first to know! 
I'm making the switch from names to numbers.

 Coming from teaching at the middle school level, I always considered assigning student numbers a "big kid" thing. I just like using names for classroom items I personalize for my little ones. It seems more warm and fuzzy or something. Well, guess what? I'm over it and I'll tell you why. 

First of all, purchasing address labels to use for adding names to things like cubby tags and folders every year gets expensive. But writing them by hand is just not a good use of the precious little time I have to get set up. 

Another big reason is that there are many things that actually do not belong to or go home with the student that I remake every year and that takes time away from other things I should be doing instead.

This year, I decided to start making the transition in my room to a numbered system. It will be a work in progress but in the end it will save both time and money. 

Initially, my fear is that the kiddos will have a hard time remembering their number. Notice the 28 in the corner of the desk plate? I have 29 second graders this year (moan, groan, sigh) and quite frankly, I will not remember their numbers either, so I need a visual too. I took the plunge and created this digitally, but it would be simple to add a garage sale sticker and write in a number.

What will I do with this magic number? Well, I don't keep a grade book with student numbers yet, but later on down the road, it will make recording grades and passing back papers a breeze. The students can write their name and number at the top of their work. Then we can collect the papers in numeric order, record them quickly and pass them back in cubbies that are also labeled with numbers.

This year, my pick sticks are also numbered. I first saw this idea for a PICK ME! pot from A Cupcake for the Teacher. I thought it would be cute to add some flower toppers to my polka dot pot. I used all of the green craft sticks for stems from a multi-colored packet I got from Lakeshore. Hopefully they will hold up and I will be able to use them next year too.

 I think it turned out super cute so I thought I would share it with you!
You can grab this freebie here if you like it too! 

I created the labels with a pink and purple border too. The flowers are black and white, so you can copy them on colored cardstock or scrapbook papers.

There's lots more to do still in the great switcharoo. See my brag tags board? The students hang their award necklaces on the stars I just made for them, with names of course. 

Next year, the stars will be numbered and will stay put for use the following year. 

So...the biq question is...

If you're not a numbering teacher either, consider how many things in your classroom you label with student names and maybe give this a try! 

Thanks for stopping by today! Hope you were able to take away a few COOL ideas for back to school! 
Stop by to see what my friends have in store for you as well!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Word Walls Made Easy!

Soon, it's back to school for me. I have one one precious week left and I'm off on a trip down south as a last hurrah! Since some of you are heading back too and decorating your classrooms for the new school year, I thought I'd share these resources for making a cute and easy word wall display! I'm all about EASY when it comes to back to school set-up! Word walls are a great way to encourage correct spelling in writing as well as a wonderful resource to teach high-frequency words. I want my second graders to learn all of the Dolch words and MORE, including content or theme words to use in their writing. I'm excited to show you these versatile resources!

You can edit the cards by typing in the words that you want~whenever you want them!
 This chalkboard set is simply black and white with a tiny bit of chevron for some cute! 
It would go great in a chalkboard or black and bright themed room.

The other is a cute and colorful polka dot set. These cards can be edited too!

You may also like some letter circles for cute bulletin board headings in your room. You can print them on bright paper, or print in black and white, cut them out and glue them on fun scrapbook papers with a triangle cut out of the center to make a banner or bunting!

If you like EASY too and want to see more images and read the full descriptions, just click on the pictures!


Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Student Name Address Labels~ Freebie

I got it! The class list! This is when things start to get exciting for me! I have 27 second graders as of now which is just shy of our max of 28. It looks to be an even balance of boys and girls but there are some with a name that could go either way. I've got a few siblings this year from SUPER helpful families and that is fantastic news! Of all of the names, I have a Charlotte and a Charlette. Go figure. Anyway, after I take a look to see all of their cute names and see if I recognize any last names, I immediately GET TO WORK! 

Read on and I'll tell you how I cut costs and save precious time!

This year, I have to throw together my room in a FAT HURRY! Before leaving for the summer, I stocked up on some colorful blank name tags from Creative Teaching Press. I slap on an address label and then laminate them to use for cubby tags. They are fun and colorful, AND I use very little ink that way. As a matter of fact, I slap those address labels on everything~ student folders, workbooks, composition books, spiral notebooks, job rotation cards, job can see my post about that and some pictures here.

Last year, I provided a link to download the template from Avery. I have found that some sites ask you to install or allow other things and that always makes me nervous. For the same Avery template from someone you can trust :), you can download a freebie from my dropbox if you like. Just click on the image to take you there.

This is what you will see when you get to the document. Be sure to click on the arrow in the corner to download it!
 Then you can make changes!

I took the liberty to start typing for you! Just backspace away my names to add your own kiddos! Reduce the font size to add last names so the text fits in the space. These fit Avery brand 8860 the 1"x 2 5/8" size.

The template freebie is very plain Jane, but I always make some for my nieces with a little clip art flower or some fancy, colorful fonts! You might try that too!

What creative, time-saving ways have you found to use address labels?

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Meet the Teacher #teacherbloggers Linky

Getting to know you...getting to know all about you! Those are the lyrics to a favorite song I used to perform on stage. Want to know more about me? Well here it is! Welcome to my about me post! What a fun opportunity to get to introduce myself to you and get to know so many other teacher bloggers I follow a little bit better! 

I'm linking up with Falling into First for this fun linky party! Read below to see my answers to some of her creative question prompts! Maybe we have some things in common other than teaching!

So that's me in the picture above as a brunette, which is my real hair color before the gray took over and I was forced to work with it! I am a forty-something, pushing fifty soon, (yikes) second grade public school teacher in a large suburban district. This marks my silver anniversary~celebrating 25 amazing years in the classroom!
Forever young, especially at heart, is how I want to stay! I still feel 21 on the inside!

I have taught middle school math and science and grades K-2 in the public schools and at a Catholic school. My first position was teaching algebra to 7th graders who knew more math than I did! 

The hardest thing I've ever done was to earn my Masters Degree in a very challenging program while working full time, getting married and having an infant along the way. I am Nationally Board Certified and licensed for private practice in counseling psychology. 

As a former middle school counselor, I enjoyed helping my emotional adolescents with the drama and trauma in their world! Now I LIVE IT with a teenager of my own. But I wouldn't have it any other way.

My most important job and greatest accomplishment, of course, has been as mom to this awesome guy! He is the love of my life and my pride and joy! 

I love to spend time as Auntie Jean with my favorite kids in the whole world! 
This is Marissa, Alexa and Abra with Stefano. 
The two big girls are my sister's daughters and the little one is my baby brother's child!


Most of all, I love~ Family things. Coffee things. Sunshine things. TV drama. Dancing. Black. Sparkly things. Pretty things. Cute things. Musical things. Panera Bread. Express. Good hair days. Travel.
 Yeah. I pretty much love everything as you can see!
I'm sure I'm the world's easiest person to shop for.

Now for some fun with a...


Hmm...I dreamed of auditioning for the Rockettes or to be a back-up singer. :)
 An orthodontist would be great. I loved my job assisting. 
Maybe I would open a dance studio. 
If I owned an Orange Leaf franchise, I could eat the leftovers at the end of the day! Now that's an idea! 

But really, when I retire, I will be a university supervisor for student teachers. I enjoy being a mentor teacher.



I'd like to use my expertise, creativity and talents to enter more data into the computer please!


I would invite my grandparents and baby angel Alex so they could meet my son.


The subtitle would be...and then go scream in your pillow.


Time travel to go back and have a chance at redos to right the wrongs and relive all of the happy times that went by too fast!


I use this one a lot! My nana used to say, "This too shall pass". It always does!


 I would belt out RESPECT! by Aretha! Teachers and mothers of teenagers need more I say!


I get so much done in the morning. Coffee helps for sure!


It's really hard to choose because I have been staring at all of them for so long! Maybe the pumpkin life cycle lunch bag book, because it is something crafty that turns out super cute and the cover matches this here chalkboard theme!


 Speaking of pumpkins, I am allergic to just about everything. I'm allergic to all fruits and vegetables unless they are cooked, canned or processed. I even have an epi pen. I can't carve a pumpkin or peel potatoes without wearing gloves. Sadly, I cannot eat apples, strawberries or melon. I don't dare eat a banana. 

 A big bummer is that I am also allergic to dairy products which I LOVE but I do cheat with ice cream. 

So, basically, I can eat cookies and drink coffee. :)

Thats about all I can think of to tell you for now and the laundry is calling. 
Thanks for joining me for this linky! 
Head on over and link up too! 

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