Friday Linkies - May 31

It's been a long short week. A day and a half left after today.

We've had a lot of rain this week. Our track day was rained out on Tuesday, so we had 1, 300 of these lying around waiting to be used.
On Thursday, we finally got decent weather so we could have our track meet. Following the track meet, we put those water balloons to use during our water balloon revolution. Here we are reenacting the Battle of Bunker Hill.
We finalized our school supply list, and I made a linky so you all can share what's on yours!
Today, we spent much of the day reviewing the Donor's Choose materials we received, taking pictures, and writing thank-you notes. Gotta get those in the mail before the end of the year!


School Supply List Linky

Clipart by Maree Truelove, Background by A Bird in Hand Designs
My team and I have just finalized our school supply lists for next year. It's always interesting to discuss with them what we ended up using, not using, and wish that we had asked them to bring. So that gave me an idea for a linky. I am curious about what you have on your school supply list, what you supply out of your own pocket, and the use for each item (if it's not obvious).

Fifth Grade 2013-2014

1 3-ring binder, 1” wide
5-pack 3-ring binder dividers
5 different colored pocket folders (red, yellow, green, blue, and student choice)
1 pkg #2 pencils (at least 24)
1 large eraser or a package of pencil top erasers
1 small hand pencil sharpener
1 pencil pouch
1 pencil box to leave in locker
2 single subject spiral notebooks (100 pages)
1 pkg colored pencils
1 pkg washable markers
1 12” ruler with metric and standard, plain, to be collected by the teacher
2 pkgs wide-lined notebook paper
1 highlighter (any color)
1 pair scissors
6 large glue sticks
Shorts & t-shirt or sweatshirt & sweatpants for PE
Tennis shoes
Shower necessities (deodorant, soap, towel, etc.)
Flash drive (2 GB or larger)
Earbuds (can be purchased for $1)
2 large boxes tissues
2 large containers disinfectant wipes

Most of the things are pretty obvious. This year, we had a 3", Trapper-style binder that four out of the six teachers hated. So next year we are going to try a folder for each core class that will stay in the classrooms. Each student will carry a folder for take-home and unfinished assignments, their planner, and their pencil pouch. Everything else will be stored in their lockers. We stole an idea from the sixth grade to have a pencil box in their lockers to hold their extra pencils, glue sticks, etc.

The 1" binder will serve as a reference binder for math. Since I don't teach math, I'm not sure what the binders will contain exactly.

This year, we had the students bring Ziploc bags - Last names A-I brought snack size, J-R brought sandwich, and S-Z brought gallon. We have lots of leftovers, so we took them off of the list for next year.

Starting at the PE items, the rest of the list is standard for all four grades in my building.

I always buy extra colored pencils and glue sticks because students seem to eat those things. I also buy any of the list items that I can find on sale. And I always buy thin Crayola markers when they go on sale at Target for $1 for a box of ten. I only use the markers for the name sampler activity from my {colonial unit}, but I need to replace markers that dry out.


Featured and What I Will Do Differently Next Year

Today I am featured at Mrs. Crofts' Classroom! Tina was so sweet to ask me, so go on over when you're done reading this post and see what I have to say. I think that we'll both be pleasantly surprised, as I wrote that post a few weeks ago and I kind of forgot what I wrote :)

I am finishing up my first year in my new building. I gave up math (boo-hoo - Well, actually, I personally enjoy math, but it's so frustrating to me when kids don't know their facts!) and added another section of social studies, so that makes three sections of social studies and one section of literacy. There are a lot of things that I need to/have to change, but these are the ones to which I'm going to commit.
I am using very little of my front wall for instruction. Between my desk and a four-feet-too-short whiteboard, I am wasting good space. Plus, I'll need to add at least four more desks next year. I'm not ready to give up my teacher desk, but I think that I can shift some things around and make more efficient use of my space. We will see.
My school-issued laptop from 2010 is SSSSLLLLLOOOOOOWWWWW. Yesterday I found 16 GB in the trash. Eep! I also need to backup and take off all of the math files I no longer need. I also need to figure out what I haven't used in years and get that off as well. I'll keep the files on my external drive, but there are many things that don't need to be on my laptop. I also need to organize and file all of the goodies that I've downloaded this year. Right now, they are all sitting in one folder on my desktop.
We are going to purchase a new reading series. We are going with the Journeys series, which is all aligned to the Common Core, so this should be an easy task. I just need to do a better job of posting I Can statements.
Since there are no Common Core standards for social studies, we have to get our power standards (I think that's what they're called - it's still a little fuzzy for me) from the Iowa Core. It will be nice to have a little focus for each unit, but coming up with the focus 

Visit {Finding JOY in 6th Grade} to see what others are committing to next year!


Tried It Tuesday - Completed Together in Class Stamp

This post will be short and sweet. We all have those assignments that we don't want to check. Whether it was something that was done together in class or it was busywork or whatever, actually sitting down to check it is the last thing that you have in mind.

This happens to me a lot in social studies. Since my students range from IEP to ELP/TAG kids, we do a lot of group work that we later go through as a whole class. Often times it will be packets with various activities and foldables. I want to collect it to make sure that it was done and give it a score, but I only glance through it to see if everything was completed. I don't check every single blank and answer. I wanted to mark it somehow so parents would know that I looked at it and everything SHOULD be right, but we all know that students don't always pay attention when it comes to checking their own work. So before I hand it back, I stamp it with this stamp that I found from Really Good Stuff:
This stamp has two purposes. One, if a student only has and assignment half done and gets a score of 20/40, the parent will know that we did it together and there's really no excuse why the student shouldn't have a perfect score. This, of course, assumes that the student takes bad papers home ;) Two, if a parent actually goes through an assignment and wonders why something wasn't marked wrong, then I can restate that the assignment was done together and their student must not have been listening when we checked it. Either way, it takes the heat off of me.


TpT Sale and SS Mentor Text Linky

First of all, even though I only have ten paid items, I am throwing a 20% off sale and donating a portion of the proceeds to help the victims of the tornadoes in Oklahoma. At the end of this post, there will be a blog hop showing the other participants. Click {here} to go to my TpT store.
I am also linking up for Collaboration Cuties Social Studies Mentor text linky. While all of the If You Lived... books are good, I'm linking up the one about the Revolutionary War because that's what we're studying right now. I know that Amazon has some negative reviews of this book, so I would check it out before reading it to your class.
All of these books do a really nice job of showing what it would be like if they were children in that situation. What would you eat? What would you wear? What kinds of games would you play? What kind of work would you do? It is really easy for students to visualize what their lives would be like. I often hear comments such as "That would be fun!" or "I wouldn't like that at all!" while we are reading them. I usually read them out loud together as a class, and each student has a copy to use to follow along. Sometimes I will have them become an "expert" on a particular subject and teach us. Sometimes I will have them vote on the ten that they would like to read, since time can be an issue. In addition to this one, we also have a class set of all of the Native American ones, the colonial times one, and the Williamburg one. The Native American and colonial times ones are my favorite.


Fridays Linkies - May 24

I know. It's my second post today. My bad. But in my defense, my {earlier post} about my beloved sticker maker was supposed to be done last night. Anywho...

We spent a lot of time watching Liberty's Kids. Someone gave me a DVD set with all 40 episodes. I feel kind of like I'm phoning it in for the last few days, but the kids ARE learning. They are very engaging episodes. Here and there, I am sticking in a foldable :)
This week we started our {ABC Year in Review} packets. First we brainstormed a list of things that we did/talked about this year. I think that they will have plenty to choose from! If you are interested in doing this activity, click on the picture below to take you to my TpT store.
We also put the finishing touches on our homophone packet. Whenever we came across a homophone pair, we did a quick sketch and definition for each. Here is the W/X/Y/Z page. The natural lighting gave the picture a nice blue tone :) If there's interest, I can upload the activity to TpT. Of course, I'll have to pretty it up a bit first. Maybe that will be my weekend project.
Since we are working on adjectives this week, and my kids are really negative right now, I made them write one positive adjective for each person in the class, and they could not use the same adjective twice. That prevented twenty-one "cool"s. To help, we generate a big list of positive adjectives that we could use to describe someone. I will use Wordle to put them into a printout that I will laminate and give each student. To sum up my year, these are the types of questions I got:
"I don't like ________________. Do I have to write one for her?"
"Is 'annoying' a positive adjective?"
"I can't think of anything nice for __________________. Can I skip him?"

Here's what one student did:
Also blue from the natural light...

And an obligatory shot of what's blooming this week. My purple ones are probably waiting for me at home right now :)
Happy Friday! Six more days for me :)


Must-Have Sticker Maker

On Wednesday {I blogged about some of my organization things}. I mentioned my sticker make as one of my must-haves. I decided that I need to expand a little more on my description, because it seems that many of you didn't know what it was.

This is the version that I have from Amazon:
Clicking on the picture will take you to (affiliate link)
I think that there is a newer version. I don't remember paying that much for the one I have. I think that this is it:
Clicking on the picture will take you to (affiliate link)
I have also seen them at Michaels.

Inside is a cartridge that has the paper backing, film, and sticky stuff. You can choose permanent adhesive, temporary adhesive, or even lamination or magnet.

Take whatever you would like to put adhesive on and feed it through the machine. I used it to put adhesive on the backs of these labels that I laminated.

So let's say that I want to put adhesive on this label.
When you feed it through, it will sandwich your item between the paper backing and cover film.
Cut it off after it comes through the other side.
Peel off the film and throw it away (careful, it's sticky!).
Then you can peel off your item and affix it to whatever you want. Sometimes you might get some adhesive that makes spiderweb-type things on the edges, but you can rub it off like you can with rubber cement. Notice this on the edge of the hole.


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Optimum Organization Linky - I'm in Heaven!

Tips, tricks, and must-haves for organizing your classroom

I'm linking up with two of my favorite bloggers for their Optimum Organization linky party! I LOVE organizing. It makes me feel accomplished and efficient, even when I don't feel like I'm being an effective teacher. Other teachers often come to me for organizing advice and help. I may be the only person who registered for (and received!) a label maker for my wedding.

I'm going to share some of my favorite techniques and tools for organizing your classroom.

First off, I DETEST filing cabinets. Pages sag and curl up. Things get out of order. Pages end up facing different directions in the file folders. In my opinion, the only thing that file folders are good for are lapbooks.

So I put practically everything in binders.
Binders with clear pockets on the front and spine help you find exactly what you're looking for.
I prefer the ones with a clear pocket on the front and spine. That way I can make an insert and quickly see what unit it is. I also prefer the ones that have the rings attached to the back cover instead of the spine. I think that helps protect the punched holes. And I prefer several smalls binders as opposed to one large binder. I think that the larger binders start to rip earlier because they are used more often. Half-inch and 1-inch binders are about perfect for every unit that I teach. Last summer, Costco had a pretty decent sale on packages of binders.

Click on the picture to go to Amazon - affiliate link
I have also found that I'm picky about how I three-hole punch my papers. Not all punches are aligned the same, so I bought my own. Then that one jammed a lot because I was also punching transparencies. I think that the punches were getting dull. So I bought one just for punching transparencies so it stays nice and sharp. This year, my coworker rocked my world by telling me that a parent bought him an {electric three-hole punch - affiliate link}. Guess what went on my Christmas list! I'm pretty sure that my family had a good laugh about it, but that wasn't the first office supply that appeared on my wish list. I love this thing. It has made assembling my binders easy. It has also helped with the four different notebooks that each of my 65 students assemble.

For each unit, I made a coordinating tag to stick on a Sterilite tub or two. I like how these are clear and I can see the contents. I usually have one tub for books that I have out for students to read and another tub for my review games, bulletin board stuff, and things like that.
Plastic tubs hold bulky books and materials for your units.
To make the labels, I printed them out on a patterned cardstock, cut them out, laminated them, trimmed them, then ran them though my sticker maker so I could stick them neatly to my tub. These two wonderful products, in addition to my electric three-hole punch, are the inanimate loves of my life. I should really name them, as they seem like part of the family. I will be adding the the family with the new {personal binding machine} that I just ordered! My coworkers think that I am a little crazy, until they need to borrow them...

Last summer, I also took a few canisters (formula and Pringles) and Mod Podged some scrapbook paper onto them. The shorter formula ones I use for random things - remotes, tickets, Ziploc bags to be used again. The tall ones I use for rulers.
Use scrapbook paper and Mod Podge to repurpose formula containers and chip canisters.
My crate seats double as storage for writing journals and social studies interactive notebooks. One class has red folders that go in the red seat, one class has blue, and one class has yellow.
Crate seats provide extra storage.
These cans work perfectly for holding sharpened and unsharpened pencils. The cute black and white labels came from linky hostess Kristen :)
Metal cans labeled to hold sharpened and unsharpened pencils.
Still reading? Great!

If you want to know more about how I made any of these projects, check the sidebar for my most popular posts, as most of them are included in my top five.

Last year, I started using Sterilite drawers to store assignments and materials for the upcoming week. These replaced pocket folders for each day. Although the folders were cheap and simple to use, I found that they weren't always big enough for what I wanted them to hold. And of course, they started to rip and tear and wear thin after twelve years of use!
Sterlite scrapbooking drawers organize papers and materials for the week.
I have two three-drawer Sterilite sets stacked together. I made the labels in the same way that I did for my tubs. I really like them. Each drawer is 12x12 and 2 1/2 inches high, so they can easily hold anything I need for the day. I made the bottom drawer to hold papers for upcoming weeks, in case I get ahead on my planning ;)
Assignment cover slips help with assignment management.
My last organization tip is for collecting/grading/entering assignments. I used to put my kids in numerical order and have them write their numbers on their papers. Eventually I would learn their numbers and would be easily able to figure out who had missing assignments. Since I have three different classes this year and an associate does a lot of my checking, I developed a checklist cover slip. For each assignment, I create a key and paper clip it to the assignments. I put a cover slip on top noting the assignment name, due date, and points possible. In the first column, the associate or I can check off who has handed it in so I can figure that out quickly if the assignments won't be checked right away. I also note if someone was absent or handed something in late. In the second column, the associate or I will write the score after checking. When I go to enter it online, I can quickly type in the assignment information and scores because they are already in order. I can also keep the cover slip and hand back the papers before entering them if I want because all of the information I need is on the slip. I keep a little basket for the entered cover slips and rubber band them together and stash them at the end of the quarter.

UPDATE 7/22/14 - Due to the popularity of these cover slips, I have written a more detailed post on how to set up your cover slips {here}.

Wire baskets for papers in various stages of grading.
This is what my baskets look like for papers that are ready to grade and papers that have been graded. Sometimes the bottom basket will just contain the different cover slips if I decided to return the papers before entering the grades, like for a test.
Wire baskets keep different sections of papers separate. 
These are my hand-in baskets by class. I still get a ridiculous amount of no-names, so I need to separate them by class to help figure out from what class they came. We also enter grades by class, so it makes sense to collect assignments by class.

I look forward to seeing what other organization techniques work for you! I'm looking to getting some ideas for some fun summer projects!

And I'm also going to link up with Sabra for her Must-Have Monday (even though it's Wednesday). So, to summarize for her linky, you must have:
  1. binders
  2. a personal laminator
  3. an electric three-hole punch
  4. a sticker maker
  5. Sterilite tubs

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Tips, tricks, and must-haves for organizing your classroom

Disclaimer: Fifth in the Middle is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to
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