Friends on the Fives - Performing in Fifth

Hello everyone! I'm Mrs. Smith from Performing in Fifth, and I'm super excited to be guest posting on Fifth in the Middle today! In my teaching career, I've taught grades 4-7 and been a reading interventionist. I currently teach Language Arts grades 4-6.

I began experimenting with interactive notebooks several years ago when I taught 5th grade, and I've fallen in love with them. When used correctly, you will see a huge jump in student achievement because they will remember these hands-on activities and love their notes so much that they will actually use them! I'm here to talk to you today about procedures you can implement in your classroom to ensure that you have a pleasant notebooking experience!

Procedure 1: Setup and use a Table of Contents

Walk your students through how to setup a table of contents before you do any lessons in your interactive notebook. Having a printed page with all of the standards for that subject/grade level makes it easy for students to add page numbers as they complete each lesson. I model this procedure for adding the page numbers to the table of contents after every lesson. It's important that students are reminded to do this, so that they can easily access information in the future!

Procedure 2: Efficient Cutting Strategies

The first part of this procedure is to have supplies ready. I keep the scissors in a bin in the middle of the desks. My students have 60 seconds to have supplies out and pages open and labeled. We've used post-it notes, ribbons, and other items to mark the next page in the notebook, so that students can open to that page quickly. Check out my bookmark freebie at the end of this post for a nice way to bookmark your notebook pages!

The second step of this procedure is the cutting. If you have younger students, you will have to set more time aside for this step, or you may want a parent volunteer to pre-cut some of the pieces. With my 4th-7th grade students, I set a timer for 5 minutes. I prefer to use a digital timer that I can project onto the board so that students can see how much time they have left. If you have a student with special needs, assign them a partner or provide them with pre-cut pieces.

What do you do with all the trash? I have two medium shipping boxes that my helpers take around the class to pick up all of the pieces. They empty the shipping boxes into my large recycle bin, which I take out once a week. These helpers also look for scraps on the floor that need to be picked up.

My class can have everything cut out and a clean working area in less than 6 minutes because I consistently remind them of our procedures. Yours can too with practice!

Procedure 3: Glue Use

With proper procedures, you will very rarely have a mess to clean up after notebooking. If you want these pages to stay put all year, you must have your students use liquid glue. It's a necessary evil. An important procedure to teach is how much glue to use. I tell my students to follow the "5 dot rule". They put four total dots of glue close to the outer edges to form a rectangle, and one dot of glue in the middle. I very dramatically demonstrate the difference between a dot and a glob the first day of school. Once everything is glued in, I have them leave the pages open to dry on the corner of their desks, just in case there is some stray glue. The last thing you want is to have two pages glued together!

Procedure 4: Absent Students

I keep a binder with several copies of each printable, organized by standard, as well as copies of my own notebook page so that they know what to do. They know to take a copy of everything they've missed, and stay in during lunch to finish it. It's also possible for them to take it home if lunch time doesn't work for you. Absent students are required to have an extra notebook check 24 hours after they return to school. I keep a list of absent students on my calendar that I check daily, and I highlight their names once I've seen their completed work. Keep yourself organized and it will be easy to ensure that absent students don't miss important notes!

Procedure 5: Using Interactive Notebooks

This procedure is key for the success of interactive notebooks in your classroom. Your students will learn a lot while they're putting their notebooks together, but they'll learn even more when they refer back to their notebooks daily for information. I love interactive notebooks because my students can use them as a reference to show them anything from step-by-step how to do a math problem, or a model of how to do a summary of their reading. That means less work for me AND more in-depth learning for them!

Before we do group work or independent practice, I tell my students which section their notebook should be open to for reference. Throughout the year, we play the Table of Contents Race, where I show them a problem or question, and they race to find the notes they need to complete/answer the question. If we're reviewing for a unit test, I teach the students that they have to show an effort to find the notes in their notebook before I will help them locate the correct information.

Model using your own notebook from time to time, and always praise students who use theirs correctly!

Are you planning to use interactive notebooks in your class next year? Download my interactive notebooking bookmark to remind your students of the procedures, and to help keep their place!

Thank you Diane for allowing me to share my interactive notebooking tips!

Bright Idea - Assignment Cover Slips

Assignment cover slips can help you manage your classroom assignments.
I blogged about cover slips last summer, but a pin from that post has been sending so many people there, that I thought that I would expand on it and make it this month's Bright Idea.

When I was pretty much self-contained, I put my kids in numerical order and had 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 once I put them in numerical order. I would put a sticky note on the key with the names of the students who didn't hand it in, noting who was gone or excused or whatever.

Since I moved to the middle school, I had three different classes to memorize and an associate often checked my papers. So three sets of class numbers didn't seem to make sense since it would take me forever to memorize three different rosters.

So I developed a checklist cover slip that had the list of students for each class. Here's how I did it.

 UPDATE: Click here for the template
UPDATE: Click the image above to download the template.
I printed out a bunch on red paper for my first period/seventh period students, yellow for third period, and blue for fifth period. You wouldn't need to color code, but it made it easy to find a particular class if I needed to double-check the grade that I entered. It was also handy for grouping assignments by class that were ready to enter into the computer.

For each assignment, I created a key and paper clipped it to the student assignments. I put a cover slip on top which noted the assignment name, due date, and points possible. This was helpful if I needed to refer to it when it wasn't attached to anything. At times I would also forget when I told students when it was due, or if I was only going to count it as a certain number of points. So it was handy to write down all of that information right away.

In the first column, I marked any student who was absent since I wouldn't necessarily remember that on the due date. As the assignments were turned in, the associate or I checked them off. We could quickly determine who hadn't turned it in yet, or if there was a no name, it helped to narrow down the possibilities. I also noted if someone handed something in late so I could code it correctly in the computer.

In the second column, the associate or I wrote the score after checking. I often just put a checkmark if they got full credit so I could just scan to see who didn't get full credit when I entered the assignment in the grading program. It was very quick and easy to enter since all of the information was right there and in order. I also kept the cover slip and handed back the papers before entering them if I wanted because all of the information I needed was on the slip. I kept a little basket for the entered cover slips and rubber banded them together and stashed them at the end of the quarter.

This cover slip also works well for anything that you need to collect - permission slips, picture money - or if you needed to write down t-shirt sizes, keep track of who has been the person of the day, tally the number of times students ask to go to the bathroom, or really anything that requires a class list.

Use assignment cover slips to help with your paper management

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Throwback Thursday/Back to the Archive - Laminator Tip

I'm sure that many of you (not me) are prepping materials for back to school. Today I'm going back to August of last year to share a laminator tip with you. Enjoy!

Laminator Tip

So it seems that many of you jumped on the laminator bandwagon this summer. I know that you're very happy that you did. As soon as you print something out, you want to laminate it immediately. Am I right?!

I'm right there with you. I just got these clock numbers cut out and ready to laminate. Look at the genius going on in this laminating pouch.

And as you're aware, there are twelve numbers on the clock, thus...

So, I either wait until I have something else or just do the whole page and waste the rest.


Run it through the laminator. When I'm sure that my little bit has been laminated, move the release lever and quickly take it out. Cut off the unused part (make sure that you cut through a part that has been laminated so you leave a new sealed edge) and it's ready to go for next time! I just blew your mind, didn't I?! You're welcome ;)

Disclaimer: I'm not sure if Scotch would approve of this technique. You could also turn off the machine and pull it out that way. I leave it on, however, in case my things didn't get totally laminated so I can run them through again and wait a little longer. Plus, I feel that I need to be quick to maximize the unused pouch.

Friends on the Fives - Susan from Passion in Portable Land

Today I am happy to have Susan as a guest blogger. She is a fairly new blogger and has a bunch of great ideas since she has taught in a wide ranges of areas. I won't give it away, but she blew me away with a little INB tip that she shares in this post. Enjoy!

Hello Fifth in the Middle Friends!  I'm Susan from Passion in Portable Land!

I would like to start off by thanking Diane for allowing me the opportunity to reach out and hopefully connect with more people through her blog.  Diane, you are amazing and a true blogging inspiration to those of us who are just starting out!  THANK YOU!!!

I recently joined the world of blogging on 1/20/14, but I've been teaching since 1994!  Gosh, that's almost 20 years!  I've taught every grade level from Kindergarten all the way up to Seniors in High School!  If you really want to know more you can read all about me and my family here!

I was introduced to the world of blogging last year by Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching!  For those of you who know her blog I'm sure you would agree that Joanne is extremely motivating and inspiring!  Am I right?  

I started blogging because I love sharing ideas and collaborating with fellow teachers.  I only have 30 followers and would like to spread my wings and meet new people!  I can't even imagine having over 1900 followers like Diane! I'm a long way from that.  My most popular post was: Five for Friday-Because I'm Happy Link up!   I revealed my new blog design during that link up party.  

I just LOVE LINKY PARTIES!!  Don't you?  Well, I think it is time to start one of my own and you know what people say...There's no time like the present! 

 So without further adieu....

Ladies and Gentlemen I give The Weekly Interactive Notebook Linky Party Button!

That's Right!  I'm starting my own Linky Party for Interactive Notebooks!  I love them and want to share my ideas with you.  I also want to learn more ideas from others.  I know many of you have experience using Interactive Notebooks and have super fabulous ideas that you are just dying to share with me, Right?  Well, I hope you are because I am ready to learn from YOU!!

To start this party off let's start by sharing what we use for Interactive Notebooks.  Do you use Composition Notebooks, Spiral Notebooks, 3-Prong Folders, or 3-Ring Binders?  

Diane asked this question on her blog back in April or May...
"Do you prefer spirals or comp books for ISN's?" 

My Answer:
 Well,  I prefer spirals because there is less cutting involved!  Many prefer comps because spirals can become twisted, and catch on everything.  I have the perfect solution!  DUCT TAPE!!  Yep!  See pictures below!  

My students loved adding duct tape to their notebooks!  You can read more about this here.

Grab a cup of coffee, OJ, Wine, or what ever you are drinking these days and head on over to my blog, Passion In Portable Land, and link up to Week #1 Interactive Notebook Linky Party!  

I hope you link up!  

Monday Made It Meet Me Eating - July 7 {Caramel Crunch}

My husband found a deal on cereal, so he bought a lot of it. Translation - There's a decent chance that it may go stale. So before we went out-of-town for the Fourth, I whipped up a quick batch of caramel crunch. Similar to caramel corn, it can be made with things you may already have in your kitchen.

Caramel Crunch

15 oz. box Corn/Rice Chex or Crispix
2 sticks butter
1/2 cup corn syrup
2 cups brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda

Pour cereal into large roasting pan. In saucepan, combine butter, corn syrup, brown sugar, and salt. Bring to rolling boil for 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Add vanilla and baking soda. Stir well and pour over cereal. Put in 250˚F oven for 15 minutes. Stir every 5 minutes. Spread on waxed paper and cool.