Friday, July 17, 2015

Five for Friday and a FREEBIE

Good morning and happy Friday!  I am linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching for her fabulous "Five for Friday" party!

Whole Brain Teaching - ever heard of it?  Are you a WBT teacher?  I am on my own WBT journey and I am looking forward to trying it out with my kiddos in the fall!

Here is my short WBT story:  At the tail end of last school year, an Instructional Methods Coordinator for my previous school district whom I had been collaborating with said to me, "You know Amber, your style of teaching really aligns with Whole Brain Teaching.  There is a first grade teacher over at such-and-such school who uses WBT that you could contact."  I already knew who she was talking about.  :)  It was my teacher friend, Heidi, who you may know from Droppin' Knowledge.  She and I went to grad school together and Heidi was also my long-term sub when I went on maternity leave.  Anyway, I had been intrigued by WBT blog posts, YouTube videos, etc. before, but I decided this was really a sign that I needed to investigate more.  I chatted with Heidi, she recommended the book, Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids (and the Rest of Your Class, Too!) by Chris Biffle, and so I got started.

Shortly after diving into the book, Heidi shared some great news - she was able to get a WBT presenter to come to our school district!  And here's the best part...wait for it...the conference was FREE!

The presenter was fabulous!  I have to tell you:  Even though I was digging WBT as I was reading the book, I was not completely "sold" until the conference.  Now I'm totally pumped to implement (baby steps, of course) WBT into my first grade classroom in the fall!  If you ever get the opportunity to go to a WBT conference, go, go, GO!

(I only took the picture above because I was so happy to be wearing teacher shoes again, LOL.)

So one of the (many) things I will be implementing in the fall that comes from WBT is the "Super Improvers Wall."  (I am also going without Class Dojo, a behavior clip chart, and some other classroom management systems I used to use.  I'm not going to get into the "why" right now though; I'll save that for another post.)  I created a "Super Improvers Wall" that would work for my classroom and you can snag it for FREE in my TPT store.

There are many awesome documents for "Super Improvers Walls" on TPT already, but nothing that was quite right for my classroom.  First, I needed it to be in black and white because, unfortunately, my new school district does not have a color printer, so instead I will be printing on some beautiful Astrobrights paper that I found at Office Max.  Second, I did not want any of the levels to be aligned with intelligence in any way (i.e. - whiz kid, genius, etc.) because a "Super Improvers Wall" is not just for academic performance.  Third, I did not want a theme (i.e. - baseball, space, etc.)  So I came up with my own!  I hope someone out there is able to use it, too.

If by some small chance you were anxiously awaiting my Periscope video last Monday that I talked up on Instagram...I am so sorry it was a fail!  All was well at home, but once I got to school, the red "Broadcast" button was nonexistent.  *sigh*  Not a huge deal, but I do worry that I will never be able to show my classroom progress via Periscope - which I was looking forward to doing.  Some photos will have to do for now.

This was my first major project in my new classroom:  my AMAZING walk-in supply closet!  Love, love, love it!  However, I did not love organizing it.  That took me days and days.  It's certainly not perfect, but it's good enough for the time being.

I just loved how organized these pictures looked with the letter cards, so I had to snap a picture.  (I know, I'm an organizational freak.)  I have mine in order by author's last name.

I know what you're thinking..."Why did she take a picture of an empty space?"  Well, let me tell you!  This is where a huge teacher desk used to be...until our awesome custodian took it away for me.  Yay!  I haven't used a teacher desk in a few years and I've never looked back.  The more space I can make for students, the better.

Brace yourself before viewing the next photo.

Aghh!  This is a "before" shot of the take-home books.  Well, that's not entirely true.  They were in tubs, but I needed them to be organized, so I started over.

Ahhh!  Much better.  Obviously I'm not done with this area of the classroom, but at least it's now functional.

Our classroom library was another project that literally took days and day to organize.  It's not quite done (I still have to hang the lantern and give it some cute touches, but it's good enough to snap a picture.)

As of yesterday, I now have access to my new work e-mail.  Yippee!

I was super excited when I found these bright colored bendy straws at Target!  I know most teachers usually have a cup similar to this one full of water, tea, or whatever you drink to stay hydrated throughout the day, so maybe you'll find this as a useful tip.  These bendy straws don't break!  I swore to myself a few weeks back that I was no longer going to invest money in cups that required straws because I always end up breaking the straws.  Well - that's no longer an issue.  Now run to Target...for the fifth time this week.  ;)

As I mentioned earlier in this (what is turning out to be a long) post, my new school district does not have a color printer, which - by the way - is about the only negative thing I have discovered so far.  So I started looking into what it would cost me to print in color at Office Max.  Do you see that price?  $14.75 for 25 copies.  That doesn't work for me.  Bummer.

Then, I recently learned about HP Instant Ink.  Have you heard of this wonderful program!?  I first learned about it when Aly from Just a Primary Girl was talking about it during a Periscope video and all these other teachers were writing comments about how awesome the program is, so I was interested right away.  Then, before I had a chance to investigate for myself, I read a conversation on the First Grade Tribe Facebook page about it...and then I was sold!  I mentioned it to my sweet hubby and you know what he did?  He ordered me a HP printer that day for my upcoming birthday!

So this guy should be arriving soon:

It is affordable, wireless, prints in color, scans, copies, will print on cardstock, and (this is the best part) if you enroll in the Instant Ink program, HP knows when you are running low on ink and they ship it to your house!  There are different levels to the ink program, so you can choose one that works for your budget.  I've been reading from teachers that they pay as little as $5 per month and it's more than enough.  I'm so excited, can you tell!?  

Alright, that's all I've got for ya.  Thanks for stopping by!


  1. How have I never heard about this HP Instant Ink program? I am so glad you shared because I will definitely be looking into it!


    1. I have heard nothing but great things! I have yet to decide which level I will enroll in, but I'm looking forward to checking it out once my printer arrives. Have fun!

  2. Thanks for sharing your super improvers wall! I'm working on incorporating more WBT into my classroom :)

    Carolina Teacher

    1. You're absolutely welcome! I am just glad someone else can use it.

  3. Love your classroom. Great organization and I wish I had that walk-in closet! Perfect for storing a bunch of things.

    Team V's Second Grade Fun

    1. Thanks Jordan! :) I know...when my principal first gave me a tour of my new classroom at the end of last school year, my initial thought was, "Man! This teacher is so lucky to have this walk-in closet!" Then, I was like, "Wait a minute, I'M so lucky to be getting this closet!" Wooohooo!

  4. Your new room is looking great! Can't wait to see it all completed!

    1. Thank you, Melissa! I just hope I'm in a "happy place" by the time Open House rolls around!

  5. SO excited that you are doing WBT!!! Now you just need to come back to our district and work in the classroom next to me! :)

    1. Ha! You say you're excited that I'm starting WBT now, but just wait until I bombard you with a ton of questions throughout the school year. ;) No but seriously...I'm excited!

  6. I am on the lookout for a new printer! My current printer uses a TON of ink. Which one did you purchase?


    1. Hi Kristen! It is called the HP Officejet 4630 Wireless All-in-One Inkjet Printer, which can be found here:


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