Saturday, August 16, 2014

10 Ways to Use Binder Rings in the Classroom

My Bright Idea for you today is hopefully going to give you a few more ways to use something simple in your classroom and solve a problem you didn't know you had.  


Over the years I have found that I kinda LOVE binder rings (among other random classroom supplies).  I've found so many different uses for binder rings in my classroom that they are now a MUST HAVE item for me.  So here are 10 different ways you can use them in your classroom.  Some you may already do, but maybe you will find another way to use them.

We'll start out simple, and a little obvious.

1.  Key Rings
Use it to hang your recess whistle on a lanyard or a quick and easy (no pinching finger) way to add keys.  Those other ones can cause serious injury!


2.  Bind Classroom Books



3.  Attach labels to bins or directions to center bins



4.  Keep washi tape organized
(I just really love washi tape so I was trying to find a way to incorporate it :)



5.  Hold flash cards or task cards together



6.  Attach those flash cards to a student's chair or desk



7.  Hanging up Beanie Babies for a reading strategy wall


8.  Holding a clip chart together



9.  Attach pocket charts or chart paper to an easel
When I moved into a different school in my district this year I was left with a lot of old items that no one else had wanted.  One of those things was my easel.  I really wanted an easel so I would take what I could get; however, this easel had a white board, but did not have a place to hold chart paper.  I also wasn't given a pocket chart stand, so I had to make do with what I had.  Here is how I fixed that problem.



10.  Hang pocket charts or chart paper on command hooks






Thanks so much for stopping by and checking out my Bright Idea.  If you enjoyed these ideas, please consider following my blog on Bloglovin' over on the side or following me on Facebook or Instagram.  

Also, if you're looking for more Bright Ideas right now, you'll definitely want to check out the links below.  I know I'm going to!  


Thanks for stopping by today!  I hope you'll come back soon :)


Saturday, August 9, 2014

My New Bundle of Joy

Awww - did you think I had some exciting news to share from the title of my post?  

Sorry to do that to you, but this post is about some fun PRODUCT BUNDLES that I have put together that I think will help teachers.  

A little while ago I posted about my Ultimate First Grade Starter Kit which is an All-in-One Back to School bundle.  

Today I want to share the next Bundle I put together - The Ultimate First Grade Math Bundle.  


This bundle includes some of my most popular math products at an amazing price because they are bundled together.  Here is what is included:


This was my favorite thing I used last year in my classroom.  Every morning we had Daily Math and the students complete a Calendar page and a Number of the Day page with different skills each day.  I was amazed at the progress my kids made with their number sense by the end of the year.  Even my little one who struggled SO much in September were rockin' it by June.  #proudmommy #imeanteacher #butsometimestheyfeelthesame


These Number Collages were so perfect for the beginning of the year.  We talked a lot about how to represent numbers in different ways.  This showed me a lot in those early weeks about my students.  


We started implementing a little Singapore Math into our school and when I saw these number bracelets I thought they were absolutely perfect!  I knew I needed to use these to help my kiddos compose and decompose numbers.  We talked a lot about fact families.  I made two sets of these so you could still use them in your classroom even if you don't make the bracelets.  


AND Set 2

These centers are my life savers!!!  

I use and reuse these centers in my classroom ALL YEAR LONG!!!

There are so many different options that each time you use them they can be different.  These are not your one and done centers.  Although I really love using seasonal and themed centers (and have a TON of them) - these are truly my favorite.  It doesn't matter what time of year it is, you can always pull these out when you are working on these concepts and get some much needed review.  I keep meaning to make more sets - maybe this will be the year for that.  

So if you are looking for a SUPER SAVING Bundle of Math products - look no further.  

Thanks for stopping by today :)

What are math products that you CANNOT LIVE WITHOUT????
What are some centers you would like to see me put into a Set 3??

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

I'll show you mine if you show me yours...

Get your minds out of the gutter people ;-)

Hehe!!!

I'm talking about showing you what I bought during the TpT Sale.  I thought you might like to see all the FAB-U-LOUS things that are out there.  

By the way, sidetrack for a second, does anyone else notice that sometimes it is a teensy-weensy bit hard to find what you are looking for on TpT?  Well, Jen over at Simply Kinder wrote a great post about some things you can do to sort through the thousands of amazing ideas to find exactly what you are looking for.  Check it out by clicking HERE.

So, I am linking up with Blog Hoppin' and their Show Us What You Bought Linky.  

I love seeing what everyone else out there finds useful in their classrooms because I get some great new ideas.  So hopefully you will see some things that you like too.  

First up, I needed some items to start off my year.  If you are a 1st grade teacher you know you need to ease these kiddos back into school.  Even though they have had at least a year under their belt, they have also had a nice long summer to relax and are not used to what it feels like to get back in the swing of things.  Therefore, I like to start out slow and build their confidence early.  These were some things I picked up to help me do just that.  These items are perfect for beginning of 1st or for Kindergarten.  

First up is some morning work for September from The Tutu Teacher.  This is perfect because it is easy enough for me to put out in those first weeks of school, but will also help me identify the struggling students right away.  I also love the layout of the pages.

The next thing I got was this All About Colors pack from Crayons and Whimsy.  I love starting the year with a quick little unit on colors.  I use Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you see? by Eric Carle and we do some fun little activities.  This unit has SO many amazing ideas that I can't wait to use.  I know my firsties will love it too!

The next thing I wanted to get my hands on was this Apple Fun unit from Aimee Salazar of Primarily Speaking.  
She has some really fun activities in this pack for both ELA and Science.  This was the perfect pack to add to what I already have.  I have my Johnny Appleseed Guided Reading pack and a fun math pack called Ten Apples, but I needed to add some science and writing to the mix.  Problem solved!  

My next purchase was this Ah-mazing Interactive Notebook from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers.  So here's the honest to goodness truth.  I have been working on a Grammar INB (Interactive Notebook) since January and I'm STILL working on it.  I really wanted to incorporate this into my classroom this year because I needed something to spice up my grammar instruction.  Luckily Jaime came to my rescue!  This is just perfect!!!  I may or may not continue working on mine, but with hers - I probably won't need to.  

My last purchase (for my classroom) was this bundle of Phonics Printables by Deirdre from A Burst of First.  This bundle was exactly what I needed to add to my classroom and Deirdre nailed it with fun and interactive printables.  I won't feel bad giving my kids some much needed practice and review time because they will be having fun while they learn.  Which I LOVE!!!  

 You can buy these separate or in the bundle.  Which, why would I spend more money when I can save money by buying the bundle.  No brainer!!!
 

And last but not least I had to feed my clip art addiction.  These are just a few of the adorable things I picked up.  

Let's just say I went back to shop 3 separate times!!!  Yowza!!!  Shhh!  Don't tell the husband.  

I hope you found some fun things you can try yourself.  And maybe, just maybe you can snag them before the sale is over.  Hurry, run!!!  Maybe I'll see you there ;-)

Heading Back to School

Ok, friends --- there is still time to get your shop on at the TpT Sale.  
Here are some things you can get at my store for 28% off when you enter the code BTS14.  The First Grade Bundles are a HUGE savings during a sale.  Not only are they already discounted together as a bundle, but the sale makes them an absolute steal.   Don't forget to also check out some other seasonal items like my best seller Reindeer Unit while it's on sale too.  



I also wanted to link you back to my two posts from last year in case you are starting to get yourself ready for school starting or (GASP!) if you've already started.  My heart goes out to you if your summer is already over.  

So here are some Flashback posts to read over that also have a couple freebies:



I am on my way back to clear out my wish list at TpT.  Well maybe not clear it out quite yet - I have a TON of awesome things I want to buy and I think my eyes are bigger than my wallet.  :-)

Have a great day friends!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guided Reading and Some MORE FUN!

Yes, that's right!  I'm baaaaaack!!!

Before I get to the fun, I'd like to share today a little bit about guided reading.

Not to say that guided reading isn't fun, of course.

Honestly, I do find it fun!  I just love working with small groups.  I love the conversations.  I love the growth I see.  I love the way they open up.  It really is such a great time of the day.

For me, it all goes back to Fountas & Pinnell.  I KNOW they don't need any introduction, so I will just carry on.  Since I began teaching 12 years ago (when I was 10 of course ;)  I have always taught reading in my classroom using the guided reading approach.  I honestly wouldn't even know how else to teach it really.  This is just what we did and what we still do.

Long story short, I begin the year by taking a running record of each child in order to find his/her instructional level (the level at which the child can read well, but not too easy).  I group my students as best I can into 4-5 reading groups by level.  I set up my reading block so I am meeting with my lowest kids everyday and the higher ones at least 3 times a week.  Truth be told, I feel too guilty not meeting with all my groups each day so I always pull every group even if it's a quick check in, a game, or something.  The kids just love this time (especially the higher ones) and I feel bad leaving them out of all the fun we have at that kidney shaped table.

While I am meeting with groups, the rest of my class is working on centers.  That's a completely different post that could probably be updated and changed every year.

Moving right along...
In my reading groups I try to change it up a little each day.  We have a basal program (Treasures).  If you have a basal then you know that they are jam-packed with STUFF to help you teach ELA.  I like the program, but to be honest I don't always like all the STUFF.  Which is why I decided to start making my own stuff a few years ago.  This past year I found that by the end of each week I was struggling to find worthy activities to do in my groups.  I had used the leveled readers and decodable readers.  We did some guided writing, word work and phonics practice, and sight word review games.  But I still wanted something more and definitely more reading.  It is guided READING after all!  Then this whole phenomenon of Close Reading hit the Common Core scene and upped the anty a little.  I found myself at a point where I knew I was ready to try making some materials to help with this.

So when I finally had the time (just two weeks ago) I sat down and got started on the first of what I hope will be many Guided Reading Packs for my classroom (and hopefully yours too).

   

I stayed true to the idea of having leveled texts to accommodate all readers in my class.  I have 3 different levels of text in each pack that are the same topic and generally the same content.
Each book has coordinating activities to go with them for Pre-Reading, During Reading, Post Reading, and Word Work.  Every page is labeled with the stars so you know (even after printing and dropping them on the floor and then they are all out of order - not like I've ever done that before ;).  

 Leveled sight words from each book with cards and activities to go with them.

Differentiated word work/phonics practice.


During Reading - I love using post-it notes to help my kiddos keep track of new information, questions they have, etc.  We use these sticks for when we are sharing in the group.  
And these bookmarks are perfect for keeping track of our post-its.  
These are both from my Be a Fact Finder pack.  

The post reading components are where I see Close Reading fitting in.  I've included comprehension questions as well as finding proof in the text.  In the Johnny Appleseed pack, I even pushed that higher group a little more with a Making Inferences page. 

And you never know when you need one more assessment for your students, so I included running record sheets for each book.  

I designed these packs to be very user friendly.  You could use these in many different ways even outside of guided reading, including homework.  Imagine how happy the parents will be if you are sending home leveled work with very clear instructions.  You could send them a pack on Monday and have it due back by Friday.  You could have parent volunteers work with a group when they come in.  I'm even considering sometimes allowing my higher group to work on theirs during centers while I spend a little more time with my lower groups.  We'll see if I can let go of the guilt on that one.


I'd love to know more about what you are looking for when it comes to your guided reading time.  As I continue to make these packs I am open to including a variety of activities to go with each book.  So drop me a line down there and let me know what you'd like to see.

And now before I let you go, I think it's important for me to tell you about the BEST SALE of the YEAR.  Yes, friends!  The Back to School Sale at TPT is here and it starts tomorrow!  


My whole store is 20% off with extra savings when you use the code BTS14.  You could grab my guided reading packs while they are on sale, or of course anything else you've got on your wish list.  I did make some super saving bundles that are an absolute steal during a TPT sale that you might want to check out, too!

  

Happy shopping everyone!  
I'm off to load up my wish list!!!


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