27 July 2015

10 Sensational Set-Up Suggestions with Erin Klein

One of my favorite parts of getting back to school is setting up my classroom! I love, love, love organizing materials and thinking of ways to use my decor to inspire my students. Here is a little peek at my classroom. I will be sure to post additional pictures once it is complete! Or, you can check out my classroom tour video right {HERE!}

I am beyond thrilled to be joining my sweet friend, Erin Klein, to share 10 tips for setting up your space. If you missed our Periscope on Saturday, no worries! You can check out my 5 tips right now! 

...and here is another look...

Tip #1: Splash pictures of your students all over your walls and your room. It's a great way to make students feel comfortable and excited about being in the classroom environment. You can purchase inexpensive frames from Michaels or Hobby Lobby when they are running sales and paint them really fun colors. Then each year, all you must do is replace the photos. Easy and the kids absolutely go crazy over it! 

Here is a look at one of our picture walls at RCA: 

This is one of the biggest "take backs" from RCA. I love that other schools have incorporated their version of a photo wall in their school! 

Tip #2: Create a V.I.P. area to reward your exceptional students. I found this idea on Rachel Lamb's blog and just can't get enough of it. Other teacher's love it too! Check out these posts {HERE}, {HERE}, or {HERE}, or watch my video to learn more about the V.I.P. area! 

Tip #3: I had a "Desire to Inspire" my students each and every day. I didn't want decorations to be just that...decorations. I wanted my decor to be symbolic...to serve as representations of why were are here each day and what we are trying to achieve. These quotes did just that. Each month, we would reveal a new quote. We would discuss the meaning and how it could be applied to our lives inside and outside of the classroom. The kids would journal about each quote which was the perfect higher level activity.

 I would even give them bracelets on each reveal to serve as a reminder of striving to be the best YOU that you can be! The kids LOVED these! 


If you are interested in incorporating these quotes into your room, you can check my three sets out in my TPT shop! 


Version 1: Original (includes quotes and rules)
Version 2: Chalkboard brights and pastels (includes quotes and rules)
Version 3: Chalkboard & white primary 
(includes quotes, rules, note cards, and journal pages)

Tip #4: Surround your students with plenty of literature and resources that can grow and expand the foundation that you are teaching them. It is essential that we model and teach our students how to go beyond what we are teaching in the classroom. It's time for them to take control of growing their knowledge and expanding their learning. In order to do this, we must have reading materials readily available for our students...even if we don't "teach" reading. Let's be real...we all teach reading. Stock your classroom with reading materials that your students won't be able to put down. I promise...you won't be sorry! 

Clutter free is the way to be! Cheesy? I know, I know! But...it is so important to keep your teaching space free from the clutter. If we want our students to be organized, we must practice what we preach. Schedule consistent "clean outs" and give away materials that you haven't used to new teachers or other teachers that will put it to use. It doesn't do you a bit of good just sitting in your room or closet. 

Now be sure and head on over to Erin's blog {Kleinspiration} to check out her 5 sensational set-up tips. I am telling you, you won't want to miss out on her brilliant ideas! Also be sure to follow her on Twitter and Instagram @kleinerin. She always posts great ideas that can be directly implemented into your classroom. 

Thank you for joining us! Happy decorating! :) 


Math Centers Made Easy: Organization {Post #2}

It's time to talk organization in math centers. If you missed my first post where I broke down how you use my math centers, you will definitely want to check that out right {HERE} first. It explains how I almost lost my teacher sanity with centers, and how I found a way to reach every level of learner in my classroom in one sweep. Or you can read more about them right {HERE} or {HERE}

Now let's move on to how I organize these in my room. If you are interested in finding out how you can prepare an entire month of centers in your classroom in about 30 minutes...you don't want to miss this! 

 If you missed my periscope where I explained the deets...you can check that out right here: 

Clean Up & Set Up

To attach the file folders to my bookshelf, I used Velcro. This made taking them down super duper easy. I would pull those bad boys right off and they would be ready to go for another year. Then, I would stick the next month's theme right on the Velcro. This made setting up for centers each month a breeze! 

I would toss all of those folders, along with a master copy of each response sheet in a container like this for each month. If I laminated the cards to keep for use the following year, I would place those in here as well. Boom. Set up and clean up...done and DONE! 


At the beginning of each month, I would organize playing cards for each student. You could do that in several different ways: 

1) Allow students to cut out their own cards (at least 3 sets) and place them in a Ziploc baggie to keep in their cubbie or folder. The students would have these ready to go during centers. 
2) Place 3 or 4 sets of cards in snack containers and keep these in a accessible location in your classroom. I found these containers at the Dollar Tree. 

Student Response Sheets

The students were each given a pocket folder. There were two sides: Must Do & Can Do. Each week, the students would receive assignments from me that must be completed before the end of the week. Once they finished the required assignments, they could choose which activities they would like to work on. Student choice...check! Be sure and check out the video to see how and why these centers kept my students engaged and motivated. 

Inside the student's folder, they would receive an assignment sheet. You can either create individual assignments for each student depending on their strengths/weaknesses, or you can require each student in the class to complete a certain number each week. For example: Every student must complete one of each center. Or, every student must complete 5 activities of your choice. Decide what works best for your classroom and run with it! 

You don't have to set out every center. If you teach a primary grade, your list may continue to grow as the year progresses. 

Easy enough? Just in case you missed the first or last post, click the links below to check them out: 

If you would like to check out these centers in my TPT shop, click on any of the pictures below! These show each theme beginning with August...to May! Or you can buy the bundled set and have them all in one place.  

Slide146[1]  Slide147  Playing-Card-Math-Centers3
Slide13  Slide149  Slide152
Slide151  Slide153  Slide148

24 July 2015

Math Centers Made Easy: Low prep, no stress, more time!

Do math centers make you want to pull your hair out? The prep? The organization...or lack thereof? What if I told you that you could have one set of centers that will challenge every learner in your classroom? Nope. It's not too good to be true! Check out my latest Periscope video below to see how it all goes down! 

...and just in case you are a visual person, I've got ya covered. Or you can read more about them right {HERE} or {HERE}

The set-up is simple! You place the center title {skill} on a file folder, laminate, and cut the top open. Attach to a cabinet or they could even be kept in hanging files in a crate. The response sheets work for every single level. Goodbye hours of prep to reach all of your students different ability levels. Hello hours of free time to create other killer lessons! 

For each center, the students simply need a response sheet and playing cards. #boom

It's as simple as this. The students create their own numbers with their playing cards. If they are level one, they may be working with one or two digit numbers. When they advance to level three (three digit)...and so on. Then they complete a variety of activities with those numbers depending on which skill they are working to perfect. Drill and practice...it's necessary. Especially in math. But why make extra work for yourself trying to change up centers and numbers each week, when your kiddos can do it themselves? 

Plus, they are super motivated to master a skill...and fast. Why? Because they get to work with greater numbers once they are ready to move along. For some reason the kids get super competitive (with themselves) to see how quickly they can reach greater numbers. Intrinsic motivation...check! 

There are activities for pretty much every basic math skill. Here is a look at how addition would work. 

Well, that's all folks. I will be back next week to talk about how I assess and organize these centers. Don't worry. It's coming! :) 

Click the links below to visit post #2 & 3:

If you would like to check them out in my TPT shop, click on any of the pictures below! These show each theme beginning with August...to May! Or you can buy the bundled set and have them all in one place.  

Slide146[1]  Slide147  Playing-Card-Math-Centers3
Slide13  Slide149  Slide152
Slide151  Slide153  Slide148