Sunday, May 26, 2013

Optimum Organization Linky Party!

Yes, yes, YES!  When I saw that the amazing Kristen and awesome Elizabeth were hosting a Linky Party called "Optimum Organization," I just knew I had to join the fun!  Anyone who knows me knows well that I live for is what keeps me sane.  Without to-do lists, Post-It Notes, and my computer, I would go absolutely bananas!!  And really I cannot hide it, I LOVE organization!  (Does that make me a nerd?  I think so.  But I'm alright with that.)

My plan is to share with you several organizational "systems" that I use frequently.  None of them are unique or particularly amazing, but they work for me and my hope is that you might pick up a organization strategy or two.

(Update:  Yeah, so I started this blog post on Monday and here I am, almost a week later, finally finishing it up.  Such is life!)
1 - Post-It Notes:  No joke, I do not go anywhere without them.  You just never know when you are going to need to write something down.  For example, if I run into my principal in the hallway and he asks me to do something, but I am on my way to teach a class, I can simply write myself a reminder and then I do not have to worry about remembering the task.  I like that you can stick the notes where they are needed and you can rip them up when the task is done - man, do I LOVE that feeling of accomplishment when I rip that little paper in half!

2 - Photos Embedded Into Lesson Plans:  I am mostly definitely a visual learner and I know I do not stand alone in this.  This year, my first year as an ESL teacher, I have been handwriting my lesson plans.  Long story short, what I can do with students in a 30 minute (or less) period of time is minimal and, therefore, I do not need to write much.  Furthermore, my lessons depend greatly on the needs of my English Language Learners.
However, prior to ESL, I typed my Kindergarten lesson plans.  Anytime my students would create something or if I got a great idea from Pinterest, I would actually copy and paste a photo of it directly into my lesson plans.  This helped me SO much, especially when I would pull up my lesson from the previous year and try to remember what we did.
(See the picture of the raccoon paper bag puppet?  We made those after reading "The Kissing Hand.")
3 - Days of the Week Bins:  I have been using these bins for a couple of years now.  I used to put photocopies AND books in them, but my copies were getting crushed and the bins were overflowing, so now I only put papers in them.  (I put my books that I am using for the week in seperate bins.)
I bought the bins in the dollar bins at Target (though I think they were a bit more than a dollar) and I used foam stickers to write the days of the week on the front.
4 - Book Organization:  If you did not catch my post about the app called "Booksapp," be sure to read about it HERE!  This app will change your life!!  Okay...well, maybe that is slightly extremely dramatic, but no joke - it is amazing for organizing your books.
Another tip:  Organize the books you use for teaching purposes by topic by sticking rulers (or other stick-like objects you have laying around) between each topic.  As you can see by the date at the bottom, this picture is super old - but you get what I mean.
5 - Keep Your Cabinets Clean:  Yes, this is something I am striving to do myself.  It has been an ongoing project for me this year.  Here is something I just did this week...
This was a Pinterest idea - shocking, I know!  I poured my tubes of glitter (which the kids were dumping all over their projects) into small salt and pepper shakers.  I found them at a local odds and ends store called "Nelsons" for $2.19...each - which was more than I wanted to pay, BUT I am glad to have my glitter more organized and easier for the kiddos to use.
Side note:  I love to reuse.  Do you have any creative ideas for how I can reuse these leftover plastic glitter tubes??
I am totally bummed as I had taken a bunch of pictures this week and left my school camera in my classroom!  Oh well.  I guess I will have to write another blog post again soon.  :)  As always, thank you for stopping by!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Flat Stanley, Photos, and a FREEBIE!

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mommies out there!  It is midnight here in Wisconsin, so I am officially beginning my very first Mother's Day celebration (which, apparently, involves taking some "me" time to blog).  :)
Throughout this school year (my first year as an ESL teacher), I have found it extremely challenging to keep my lessons cohesive.  After all, I see most of my students only a few times a week in small groups for about 30 minutes.  Then, you throw in intersessions (our school is on a year-round schedule), holidays, early release days, professional development days, sick days (on my end), absentees, etc.  It can be quite difficult to keep everything "glued" together!
Something that has been working though, specifically with my intermediate groups, are chapter books.  In the Fall, I browsed our school library for chapter books that I figured would be interesting for the students and appropriate for their reading comprehension levels (I read aloud to my English Language Learners).  Oh yeah, and I looked for books with SHORT chapters!  (Did I mention I have limited time with my groups?)  Nearly every session, we read a little bit of our chapter book.  That way, we all have common background knowledge that we can move forward with in order to engage in activities that meet our district standards.
One of my 3rd grade groups (that I only get to see twice a week) is finishing up the second book in the Flat Stanley series.  Earlier in the year, we learned about "Fact and Opinion," tying it all in with the story.  We also created our own Flat Selves and wrote letters to some friends in Australia.  A few weeks back, we received a special package in return!  My students were pretty darn excited, to say the least.  :)
Our Australian friends asked us to take their Aussie Stanley on a tour around our school and snap some photos that we could share with them, so we grabbed my camera and off we went!
So now these awesome kiddos are working on the following Common Core Standard:
CCSS.ELA-Literacy.W.3.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
I created a simple graphic organizer to help them brainstorm ideas and get started.  (Side note:  Our Reading / Writing Coordinator for our school district visited our schoon on Friday in order to do a Writing PD.  She emphasized the use of graphic organizers as a pre-writing tool.  Yay!  Don't you just love when you are told to do something you are already doing!?)  Anyway, if you would like to grab this FREEBIE to use in your classroom, please click HERE to visit my TPT store.  (P.S. - I always appreciate comments on my always free products.)

Are you interested in finding a school across the nation or even across the globe, so that your class can also take part in the Flat Stanley project?  This is the place to go:  Flat Stanley!
Okay, I am off to bed.  Enjoy what is left of the weekend!  As always, thank you for stopping by my little blog.  :)