Saturday, September 20, 2014

How do you Calendar?

 I guess I can be considered a veteran teacher at this point in my career—16 years—however, I don’t really like that word. It sounds like I’ve been through combat, when in reality I love what I do.  Yes, some years have been harder than others, difficult students, changing standards, but that comes with the territory right?  I’ve learned that education never stays the same, so you might as well just roll with it. Over the years, I’ve taught many grade levels and just like wine, I know I’ve improved with age. Like many of you, I take what works, and what doesn’t – I revamp, reuse and refine my plans and classroom each year to make them the best they can be.
I’m going to be completely honest with you. My Calendar Bulletin Board has always been my bane, my weakness—
bane (noun): the bane of somebody’s existence or life. Somebody or something that is a constant source of trouble or annoyance.
—When I first began teaching I didn’t look at the calendar as a tool for learning. It was there to tell the date.  What day is it?  Oh yeah, it’s Monday—again!
As I changed grade levels, schools and states, the calendar became a more integral part of my math curriculum. So, for me, looking at the dark green pocket chart with the same boring red and blue number cards was torture. Every year I would tell my class to remind me to do our calendar because I never do it out of habit or routine or free will. There was no way for my students to come up and be involved. Don’t get me wrong, the pocket chart calendar is great for some—but for me……like I said BANE!  I tried snazzing it up with a Charlie Brown and Snoopy I had made years ago, but that only helped a little.
Fortunately, (for me and my students) I found a calendar and add-on pieces to make it work for me in my weakness.

This calendar has transformed my teaching weakness. I actually ENJOY standing to the side of the calendar and watching as my Student of the Day writes in the date and tally marks. We count, we add, we learn the days of the week.  Most importantly we have fun!!!  The months of the year, days of the week, calendar # cards and weather were all a part of the Dots on Turquoise calendar Set.
I laminated the Chevron cutouts, and paisley poster, so my students can write directly on them daily.  What’s nice about using the blank cut-outs and posters is that I can change the content as I change topics and chapters in math.  All of the borders coordinate great with the calendar as well.  I used the chevron and paisley across the top of the space to make it look like water for the handmade boat holding Charlie Brown and Snoopy. The borders define the space as my calendar wall. It also coordinates with the adjacent wall, which houses my word wall—with coordinating borders. The 100 chart came from an old math series, and is actually out of date—it should be a 120 chart—but I don’t have 1 big enough right now.

We are going strong with our calendar!!!  Yay!!  Too keep it interesting, I’ve changed out the number cards with a Fall set for the next month.  My class was so excited to see the new numbers. They came in the room and were all standing in front of the calendar oohing and aahing! The color really pops on these Fall numbers and truly reminds me of the colors of fall.
To make it functional on a day to day basis all the poster pieces were stapled to the wall. I use the blue sticky tack for the moveable pieces, ie; Number cards, weather cards and days of the week cards. I like to make my calendar grow throughout the month, so my students can identify the date. They can easily add the next number on the calendar, without worrying about staples. Each day I choose a “Student of the day” as evident above on the Chevron Cut-out. That student gets to then Write the date on the laminated poster, lead the class in counting, stating the date, month and year, completing the tally chart, weather-person, leading the class in the days of the week and / or whatever other task that needs to be completed for the calendar that day.

I am thrilled to report, that the calendar portion of my day is no longer my bane. I am excited to use it on a daily basis, and my students are eager to learn. I have learned that sometimes our greatest weakness just needs a little tender love and care, as mine did. The thing that I like best, is that I can keep it interesting by changing the number cards and make it meet my needs as we change topics throughout the school year.
I hope you can make your calendar board as fun and functional in your own classroom!

This post was also published at Inspired In Style...

The Following items were used to create this space:

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Creating a Desktop Organizer for your computer!

Hey hey, y'all! It's Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd!

Sooooo, if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I just got a brand new MacBook Pro!! If it's possible to be in love with a piece of technology, which, I, for the record believe to be true, I'd have to say that I AM IN LOVE WITH MY NEW MACBOOK PRO!! <3

So why am I shouting that from the rooftops on The Collaboration Connection? Well, the first thing I did on my new computer after getting my files transferred over to it was made a pretty desktop that I posted on Instagram and Facebook....

I got SO many questions about how to create a desktop background organizer, so I thought that today I would share a quick tutorial with you of how to do just that! It's really easy, and SO simple to customize to meet YOUR needs, AND.... IT KEEPS YOU ORGANIZED! Win!! :)

If you don't want nor need to learn how to create your own desk top organizer, but you still would like to organize your desktop files, you can snag my desk top organizer (which comes with a template with the categories filled in AND a blank template for you to fill in your own categories), you can click {HERE} or the image below to snag my FREE desktop organizer in my TPT store. :)

If you would like to learn how to create your own . . .

I've got a video tutorial for you! Click play below and you'll be able to follow right along with me to learn how to create a desktop background organizer for your computer!

Thanks so much for stopping by, today! I hope this helps to get your desktop organized in no time! :)

Monday, September 8, 2014

Things I've Learned

Happy Monday!
Teacher Humor
Another week begins, and I'm really excited!!  Today marks the 5th week of school, and my classroom is starting to run like a well oiled machine.  I'm so proud of my kiddos!  Today I wanted to share some things that have been working, and some things I have changed from previous years.  Hopefully it will give you a glimpse into my classroom.

  Data Wall

This year I started a data wall as a way to keep track of our class averages.  It doesn't have individual student info., but rather what we achieved together.  The board has morphed into a place to hold student award rings... that's another thing that has changed this year - NO MORE NECKLACES!  I still love the award/brag tags, but this way they aren't getting lost (and they take up less room on the wall).    


Workshop got a major overhaul this year - for the good!  I moved it to the last hour of the day, and decided to organized my groups using colored stickers on their name tags.  So simple compared to the pocket charts that I have used for years.  I also decided to use pencil boxes to keep my task cards organized.  

Done/Not Done

My magnets finally gave up after the past 3 years... so this year I put velcro circles on an extra Checkers board and just pull them off when needed.  It's so simple!

Morning and Afternoon Class Carpet Meetings


I've had a Morning Math Meeting for a few years now, and I absolutely still love the review that happens during that time.  It seems to get them going without having to run off copies for morning work.  The kids use their whiteboards and work on it when I'm checking in homework, then we go over it full class.  After lunch, after our daily read aloud and silent reading, we have Word of the Day.  The kids come back over to the carpet, grab a dictionary and their yellow Word composition books, and look up the chosen word.  We define, use it in sentences, and then go over another word - either a homonym, character trait, prefix, root, etc.  All in all it takes about 7-10 minutes, but it's a chance for them to get out of their seats.  After the afternoon meeting we jump into our workshop time.  I really love how the schedule has transformed this year.  

Team Points

I still use team points in class - but I've whittled it down to 4 teams no matter the desk arrangement.  I give team points mainly for transition times, keeping their area clean, etc... though last Friday we also played an organization game "Find Your ___" and I gave out team points for the fastest team to pull out their word book, or binder, science book, etc.  It made them all want to keep everything nice and tidy.  :)   

Behavior, Helpers, and Rules

This year I moved around some of my boards.  I consolidated my rules, behavior, helpers, and calendar all on the same wall (instead of spread out).  It has made it easy to keep track of things.  I'm still getting used to using popsicle sticks for helpers, after years of everything on a pocket chart.  I did change helpers to being changed only 2x a month instead of weekly.  I LOVE IT though!  

Color Coded Composition Books

This year I decided to color code my composition books - and totally forget about spiral notebooks altogether!  It's working great!  I gave my students 5 composition books already tabbed with the sections:
Black/White - Reading Log (Classwork and Homework)
Yellow - ELA Notebook (Parts of Speech, Word of the Day, Mentor Sentences)
Red - Math (Skills and Problem Solving)
Green - Reading Notebook (Strategies, Themes, and Open Court)
Blue - Social Studies and Science
Yes, it took a couple of movies to get through all 165 notebooks, but they are holding up great!

Teacher Bag

I splurged with my Educents paycheck and bought myself a "real" teacher bag this year.  I even put the file system insert inside to keep things extra organized.  I absolutely love it!  I have learned though that even how wonderfully deep the outside pockets are, well you can't bend over to pick something when it's on your shoulder... pens fly, hair clips fly, washi tape will roll away.  Learn from me...  

Copies Made

I usually get all my copies done before summer begins, but this year I even got all the "little" things made up and prepped.  It has been so easy to just pull out the half sheet of this standard, or that one.. Highly recommend!

I Love My Classroom

I hope this gave you some ideas!  Come over and visit my FB page, I'm celebrating 3,000 likes over there.  A $25 TPT Gift Card Giveaway starts today, and will go for the next week.  Good luck!

Have a wonderful day!