Saturday, December 12, 2015

Mid Year, Made It!

It's not the beginning anymore but it's certainly not the end either. There is only one week left before winter break!!!! Here are four things that are on my mind:

1. That means after I survive this last week, with the ERD days, a field trip, McDonald's night, parent conferences, and let's not forget crazy children, I have 2 weeks off. Should I go through and organize my classroom before it's left untouched in it's current state?

2. Report cards are due right after the break...should I start them next week or wait until the break? Not that doing work on my personal break is fair either. I want to think smart but not overachieve. 

3. We still have things to cover in class that requires their full attention. Incentives need to be offered each day so they continue wanting to learn before they turn their brains off for 2 weeks!

4. I know I have "some" parents that are going to want their students to continue to practice their skills over the break. I need to start getting things together so I can make a winter break learning packet.

Phew! I'm sure there are more things that will pop into my mind before then... but for now, these are my top 4 thoughts and priorities.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2015


Thanksgiving Break: A WEEK OFF!

Lately, I haven't been feeling like myself. And I'm not talking about being sick with germs. Normally I take my job very seriously and I always want to do my absolute BEST. I'm obsessed with work in a good way. It always seems that we (teachers) work so hard to feel caught up or just getting the work done. I love my students even if they can drive me nuts. I love being able to make a difference in their lives. But this year has had so many changes and challenges: to the actual job, the county, my team, new class, etc. Things are very overwhelming and I don't want to lose my love of teaching. I always say I would love my job if I could actually "do" my job. This break I, of course, could find things to complain about, things that need to be better/changed...but I am thankful for my friends and family. I have a job, even if it is stressful and intense. Even if I am starting to lose my positive thinking and strength, I have to always say things will get better! :) Remember to give thanks for what you have.  

Check out my Pinterest page and TPT store for inspiration if you are feeling this is a needed break from school but you have a tiny voice in your head that says come on, just peak around at ideas! I know you want to see what's out there! :)

Tuesday, November 10, 2015


PRIORITY: a thing that is regarded as more important 

than another.

For teachers:

It is important that we remember to set reachable goals. Don't try to accomplish everything all at once. It's not going to happen and it's going to stress you out. I'm guilty of this. 

Pick something, anything, that you want to get "DONE" and make that your priority for the day. Either grading a stack of papers, finishing next week's lesson plans, putting in copies, etc. 

For me, I try to do "too much" all the time and it sometimes hits me worse than other times. It's a reminder that I'm not superwoman. I have to set attainable goals that I can actually accomplish each day. I try to work ahead or stay late and get things done. It is not worth the stress and extra energy. Just do the best you can that day and move on. There is no need to worry about small things that don't have to be done. Decide what NEEDS TO BE DONE and do it. The rest can wait...write it on a sticky (on make a giant list on a sticky note) and prioritize!!! 

This Week:
  1. Homework Club (Rewarding students who actually consistently do their HW)
  2. Positive Referrals (Don't forget those good kids)
  3. Parent Conferences (Now let's not forget to remind the parents they need to do their job too)
  4. As always, keep things organized. Don't leave things untouched in a pile. File it, save it for later, do what you need to do. Just keep things where they belong and add it to the "TO DO list"

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Teachers Work Hard!

New 4th Grade Team:

I will be posting ways that I am trying to manage my teacher tasks, lesson plans, copies, data, and more! :)


Friday, September 11, 2015

Managing Stress At Work

This is something I have always had a difficult time with!

  • Teacher Stress TIPS click here!
  • 15 Stress-Busting TIPS click here!
  • Interesting article click here.

The hardest things for me are SAYING NO (because I'm a helper and I like to go above and beyond)  
HAVING A BALANCE between work and personal to do lists. I always do too much "work" at once.

Sometimes I worry that I LOVE my job a little too much. I stay late EVERY DAY... just about. I put in extra activities and lessons for my co-workers. I share resources constantly and sometimes make them from scratch. I enjoy helping my colleagues, putting in extra effort for students, and organizing my materials... But I need to learn when to STOP and understand that everything DOESN'T HAVE TO BE PERFECT! 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Literacy Centers & Guided Reading!

Dollar Tree and Target are my best friends for school items! 

I'm so excited I found Elmer's paint pens on clearance for 98 cents a piece at Target. So, I bought every color. I use these to write their names on the desks instead of using name tags that are ruined after a month of school. The paint pens come off easily with Lysol and last all year long!

Center and Guided Reading BASKETS!

I have to have an organizational system for
 everything! Since I have 4 guided reading groups, I use colored bins from the Dollar Tree to make things easier on everyone. Sometimes I change the colored bins but here is what I'm using this year:
Panthers --> Red bin
Bulldogs--> Orange bin
Sharks--> Green bin
Eagles--> Blue bin

These colorful bins help the students know where they can find books at THEIR LEVEL. Each guided reading group has a specific color. When I call each group, I use one set of these bins to hold their guided reading materials and books at my table. I use a second set of these bins (on the other side of the room) for their center books. This system is so helpful because it allows me to differentiate centers and gives the students practice at their level without interrupting me during guided reading. 

Center Rotation Schedule 

I use a PowerPoint slide, that I update weekly, to help students see what center they should be working on for that day. The first few weeks it displays the students who are in each group until they remember their group name. Monday through Friday each group is assigned ONE CENTER EACH DAY. I color code the 4 groups so the students know which part of the chart belongs to them. For the leveled readers center, I use the same colors as their guided reading bins!

Here are typical weekly centers:
  1. Computer (Pearson)
  2. Word Work (Spelling)
  3. Vocabulary NB (Reading Words)
  4. Writing (Journal and other)
  5. Leveled Readers (Reading Street)
On the computer, I can assign activities from Pearson, a program we use to access their reading textbook and other resources. Word work is a front and back word sort page that goes along with their weekly spelling words from Pearson. Vocabulary notebook is where they write down the definitions and examples of their reading vocabulary. They need to practice using the glossary to find the definitions and then think of a creative sentence to use the vocabulary word. Writing is usually a journal prompt that I give them. They write down the prompt and answer it in their center notebook. Example Prompt: If you were the teacher, how would you run your classroom? Be specific and provide examples. The writing center can also be more time to work on their writing from classwork. Leveled readers are mini books that go along with the Reading Street series we use. I have readers for ELL, concept, below, on, and above level. All I would do is select the appropriate level that would go with that group and put a set of books in their COLORED center bins. 

Guided Reading Schedule 

I only have one hour of guided reading/centers allotted in my schedule. So each group would only have 15 minutes if I called all the groups daily. I try to call my below and medium level groups daily. And my high group a couple times a week. The first two weeks of school I go over how to complete the centers and what to do when their guided reading group is called. PROCEDURES ARE VITAL TO SUCCESSFUL CENTERS. I make my students tell me every day that they may NOT come up to me while I'm at the guided reading table. They can ask 3 before me if they need help. I also allow them to work with their group if they are getting stuck. It is important that they know I have high expectations for them so they are not wasting an hour of center time socializing instead of completing a valuable practice center.

I hope to keep this system going. Classroom pictures are coming soon! :)

Sunday, August 23, 2015

How to Organize Your Students' SCHOOL SUPPLIES!

I know I'm not the only one who loves getting school supplies EVERY year. Here is a great way that I organize my notebooks and folders -> Each SUBJECT has it's own COLOR! 
Red - Reading
Yellow - Writing
Green - Science
Blue - Social Studies
Purple - Math (spiral)
*Black- Vocabulary, Reader's Response, and Centers (composition). I have also used just plain black composition notebooks for all of the subjects and then had students glue on a COVER.

I also use the matching colored folders to accompany the subjects. The only color missing, if you noticed, was orange. I use ORANGE folders as a homework folder. This is where they keep their weekly math hw packet, spelling menu and list, and a reading log. Sometimes I do have extra black and white composition notebooks and I have my students keep one in their orange Homework Folder as a spelling journal. This way they always have extra paper to practice their words and can use even it if they need more space to solve math problems. I have used this system and it really helps keeps the students organized. 

If they buy spiral notebooks in the different colors instead, it can still work! Even if they buy only the black composition notebooks, I have them glue a cover on the front and label the bottom pages so they can easily select the proper notebook and/or folder. 

Where do you buy these?
I found these colorful composition notebooks at target for 50 cents a piece. I know Staples or Office Max will also have back to school sales with notebooks and folders for super cheap! Another great way to get supplies is to ask your office manager to see if their is left over money in your grade level budget or any extra supplies around the school. I would also make sure the parents have the supply list on Meet the Teacher night and let them know your expectations. 

Each Subject:
  • Reading: 1 RED folder for reading handouts and centers, 1 Reading Interactive Notebook, 1 Reading Response Notebook, 1 Vocabulary Notebook, and sometimes even 1 Center Notebook. = 1 Red folder and 3-4 composition notebooks that can be red or just a plain composition with a cover.
  • Writing: 1 YELLOW folder for handouts and lined paper, and 1 Writing notebook that can be yellow or just a plain composition with a cover.
  • Science: 1 GREEN folder for handouts, and 1 Science Interactive notebook that can be green or just a plain composition with a cover.
  • Social Studies: 1 BLUE folder for handouts. *I don't usually use a notebook for social studies because in 4th grade they use a consumable workbook to write in.
  • Math: 1 PURPLE folder for handouts, and 1 Math notebook that can be purple or just a plain composition with a cover.
Group Table Bins:
I like to have a GROUP BIN for each group of students. I also use a three-drawer organizer for when I have my second block of science or math come into my room. At my school I departmentalize and so their is a double block of science or math depending on what you will teach.

Divided 3-Compartment Plastic Caddies                                            3 Drawer Cart                                   
Found at Target or Walmart
Found at the Dollar Tree

I use the colorful caddies for group supplies: colored pencils, crayons, scissors, glue sticks, markers, etc. And the cart for text books or workbooks from the second class. This helps keep supplies out of the individual student desks and off the counters while allowing everyone to use what they need. I like this because I have two classes for science and we are always using supplies. This way they don't take anything out of someone else's desk and the bins stay organized.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

What Does it Mean to be Gifted?

What TEACHERS Need to Know:

What does it mean for a student to be gifted? How to identify gifted students? What are the best instructional practices?

One main thing that I want to point out is "gifted" does NOT mean your student is above average in every academic area. There are many different types and levels of giftedness. Don't assume gifted students know everything or that because they are academically advanced in an area, you don't need to worry about them. If they go unnoticed/unchallenged, you will hinder their learning experiences and may cause them to lose interest in school or become a behavior risk. As the teacher, you have the ability to modify the curriculum to meet their needs. Your gifted students should never be put on the back burner because they deserve your attention too! 

An effective approach to programming for gifted learners should be seen as a combination of three elements: accelerative approaches, in which instruction is matched to the competence level of students; enrichment approaches, in which opportunities for the investigation of supplementary materials are given; and individualization, in which instruction is matched specifically to the learner’s achievement, abilities, and interests.” (Feldhusen, 1998)

What are the Florida Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners?
In each of our advanced learning classrooms, teachers of the gifted work to develop the depth and quality of their students’ learning experiences. The Florida Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners serves as a road map to assist the development of those goals.
Advanced learning opportunities can be accomplished by offering students the following:
• Pursue topics of study using greater detail;
• Tackle a wider range of tasks that applies real world work; and
• Advance through activities at a faster pace.
These advanced learning experiences are addressed in a differentiated curriculum that involves the modification of content (topic), process (activities), product (outcome), and/or the learning environment (classroom setting).
The seven goals of the Florida Frameworks for K-12 Gifted Learners can be applied to each subject area. In our middle schools, each of the advanced courses has extension activities to support the curriculum and extend the advanced learner beyond the state standards.  Every summer, teachers of the gifted work to develop thought provoking and engaging activities that not only enrich the students’ learning, but also enhance the learning process. These various extension activities are aligned with the Florida Frameworks and take place throughout the district.

CCPS TEACHER Gifted Resources:

The best way to learn instructional practices and the process for identifying gifted learners is to take the 5 gifted endorsement classes (see link below).

What PARENTS Need to Know:

CCPS Parent: Gifted Resource and More Resources

How do I know if my child is Gifted?
There are many clues that can tell you that your son or daughter is gifted. For example, your child may: Be highly motivated Be very curious Have a good memory Use advanced vocabulary Be a good problem-solver Be creative and imaginative Have many hobbies and interests Have clear learning goals Have a highly developed sense of humor. (Frasier, 1997)

How are gifted children identified in Florida?
In Florida, the Department of Education defines a gifted student as: One who has superior intellectual development and is capable of high performance, including those with demonstrated achievement and/or potential ability.
To be eligible for gifted program services, a student must:
  • Demonstrate a need for programming beyond the regular classroom
  • Exhibit a majority of gifted characteristics
  • Display superior intellectual ability as measured on an intelligence test given by a certified psychologist
A gifted student may also be a member of an under-represented group who meets the criteria specified in the approved school district plan for increasing participation of under-represented groups in gifted programs.
Students may be referred to the school team for screening by teachers, parents, or student self nomination. A student is then evaluated through a screening process using the Kaufman Brief Intelligence Test, Second Edition (K-BIT2). Those students who demonstrate outstanding potential are further referred to the school psychologist for an individual psychological evaluation using the Stanford-Binet V; the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children, Fourth Edition; the Reynolds Intellectual Assessment Scales; the Universal Nonverbal Intelligence Test; or a similar test.
According to the State of Florida Criteria for Gifted, students must show superior intellectual development as measured by an intelligence quotient of two standard deviations or more above the mean on an individually administered standardized test of intelligence.

What if my child has already been identified as gifted in another county/state?
If you are moving into the district from out-of-state or from another county within the state of Florida, it is important to know about the Gifted Programs and the services that your school will provide.
Please bring with you all records indicating the services that your child received and contact the individual school for assistance. If your child has not been administered an individualized IQ test by a school or licensed private psychologist, a temporary placement can be made if they have been attending Gifted Programs in another state, but an IQ test will need to be done at a later date to show that they qualify according to the Department of Florida state rule.
Your child must also demonstrate the characteristics of a gifted student and show a need for programming beyond the regular classroom.
Collier County offers a continuum of services for the gifted from Kindergarten through 12th grade.

RESOURCES About Giftedness:

National Association for Gifted Children

Supporting Emotional Needs of the Gifted 

Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page 

Davidson Institute for Talent Development

Resources and information from Visit for more information. 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Keeping My Classroom Stocked and Organized!

Personally, staying organized is key to relieving stress. Teachers have enough to worry about each day. Why stress over all the stuff you may or may not have in your classroom. I thought it would be nice to create a list of all my classroom supplies. I have a system for how I organize my room. Because there are cabinets, cubbies, filing cabinets, and counter tops... I like to have a specific place for all my STUFF, for lack of a better word. I have been known to be a "hoarder". But I don't like that term! I just like to keep a lot of different resources in the event that I change grades, schools, subjects, or whatever. I think it is great to have a plethora of things on hand in case I need something. I try to go through and check what I have and what I still need. I "donate" & get rid of things that are no longer relevant to me

My TPT Store was calling my name on this one! Since I just made a checklist of things that I have in my own classroom, I figured other teachers might have a use for it. It is hard to try and remember what supplies you already have, where they are located, and what you still need. So then you end up buying something you already had to begin with. I have spent WAY TOO MUCH $ on school supplies in the past 2 years. This product is just a list of my items and where I store them. I am not going to sit there and count how many markers I have. I will just check off what I have and the rest will be things I need.

For this FREEBIE click the on the picture. 
(NOTE: You should first download ABC Teacher font if you want to keep the formatting nice and neat!) -->

Happy organizing!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Summer is coming to a close

How many times do teachers say, "Oh yes! It's SUMMER TIME BABY!" and then after they get to sleep in for a week, it's all like, "Hmm, what do I do now?"

This happened to me this summer. In fact this is what I accomplished:
  1. The week after school was over I took a very long gifted class.
  2. Slept in - EVERY day after that. Except for the week I helped my best friend move!
  3. Went nowhere in particular. No fancy trips. Nothing but stayed home.
  4. Missed my classroom. Wheels were turning about how to re-organize things again Pinterest!
  5. Secretly enjoyed having nothing that I "had" to do.
  6. Got back into my art and drawing passion. Drew 4 really exciting 11 x 14 doodles. Then was inspired to open an Etsy store to sell more work. Then updated my Lindsey's Design Studio artist page social networking on Facebook
  7. Then enjoyed watching YouTube videos. Then updating my cover art there too!
  8. Finally realized I needed to promote my TEACHING Facebook page so people can share creative ideas! And my TeachersPayTeachers PFT store.
Basically, I've had a very productive nonproductive summer. Clearly, I've had a lot going on in my head. I have many passions and I always get random bursts of inspiration for a little bit and then I come back to it at other times. It was a wonderful feeling to re-explore my passion of creating art (it became buried to the bottom of the list since I started teaching). Then becoming inspired to create my own design for both my teaching and art loves.  

Here's hoping that, even with all the change this school year, I will stay organized and inspire my students too. And, above all else, not overly stress over nonsensical things. Life is quite a journey! 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

End of the YEAR --> 2014-2015

Teachers can feel that sigh of relief when:

1. Your students are ready to move on to the next grade level
2. Your classroom is all "cleaned" and packed up
3. You complete all the things on your checklist
4. And, you can finally take a moment to realize all your hard work, stress, and passion has made a difference and now you can finally relax. Well, until you start professional development by starting gifted classes next week.

I have enjoyed the past two years at SLE (Shadowlawn Seahawks)! I feel like with my first two years in the bag, I can now focus on what I want to improve for next year. I also have a million resources that I may need to start going through to make room for the "NEW"... Hopefully I will continue to stay organized. Honestly, I'm glad that I HAVE TO have everything in a particular way (might be a little OCD) because if I didn't keep things together, I would have stuff flying out of cabinets!!

Here is to change! I have LOVED working with the same 4th grade team for two straight years. This picture shows that we "rocked" the FCAT in 2013-14 and made it through the first year 2014-15 with FSA testing. Our team works so well together and we truly are a school family. It has been a journey for me to join these incredible ladies. Now we have some transitions: we will have three new teachers join the 4th grade team, one of us is moving up to teach fifth, and our lovely team leader is leaving our school. Mixed emotions: happy for them but sad to see them go. I think change is going to be a good thing! I am hopeful and excited to see what next year has to offer. I feel like I am meant to be at my school with these students. The staff at SLE is different because we are like a community. I'm proud to be a part of this school. I'm ready for a break for now though!! ;)

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Let the 4th grade teacher handle it

Nicely put shirt! Teachers are the first to admit that we are not perfect, even though we sometimes try to be. I have passion and enthusiasm every day, even on days where work is that last place I want to be. Sometimes I even think, "Why did I choose to be a teacher, why do I put extra hours in, or why do I care this much?"

There are so many posts about the hard work teachers have to endure every day. This is not a rant and rave about the crazy amounts of work teachers have. This is a reminder that sometimes I need to take a step back and remember that even though this might not be a stress-free job, there are 3 things I remind myself:

1. I actually HAVE a job and I make a difference in the lives of many children (that moment when you connect with your class is incredible).
2. Teaching helps me grow as a learner too (maybe I don't have memory loss after all).
3. It keeps me on my toes (even though my feet hurt) and allows me to constantly share my own knowledge.

Yes teachers should be recognized for doing what we do. But we are not doing our job for the money (I'd happily accept a daily bonus!!) Speaking from experience, teachers have A LOT to deal with on a daily basis and we are constantly being thrown more to put on our plate. But at the end of the day, I feel like I can handle anything. It gives me a sense of power and accomplishment. I am proud to call myself a teacher because I truly have experienced what that means.

So the next time you run into a teacher at the store, or if your own child has a conference at school, please remember to thank a teacher. It is such a wonderful moment when you feel appreciated for spending every moment of your life trying to change someone else's.

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Classroom Management

I wanted to create a classroom environment where my students are excited and ready to learn. Here are a few things I have implemented in my classroom:

1. Class Dojo
  • Has a built in TIMER for those times you want to use one in your lesson or keep them on task for a specific amount of time. (I use it as part of my morning routine)
  • Keeps the students engaged by MONITORING BEHAVIOR. Sounds will go off for positive and negative points.
  • Tracks behavior DATA to show the parents during those fun parent teacher conferences or student meetings.
  • EASY TO USE! Even if you are not a technology guru, you can use this website! It is a stress-free reward system so you won't have to write down who was good/bad that day.
  • APP for mobile devices. (I walk with my phone in the hallways and award points for specific students in line. Or I control it if I am away from my computer.)
How I Use Class Dojo:
I've found this is the best way to keep my students engaged! It is FREE to create an account and easy to use. First, you set up a class by making a list of your students. I did this for my "homeroom" students. It will give you a code to print out so the students can update their avatar on the screen. You can also print out parent codes/letters for them to stay connected with their child's behavior that day in class. Since my school departmentalizes for math and science, I have shared my class with the math teacher (and visa versa). This allows me to add or take away points for any student I teach at any time of the day. The best part is when you want to randomly select a student to see if they are on task. They hear a timer and it selects a name. If they are on task it gives them a positive point *DING or a negative point *BONG if they are off task. It always makes the class go super quiet so they are listening for the positive sound! Sometimes I choose to keep the screen hidden so they don't see who is awarded the points. But it is also nice for them to see how many points they have earned that day/week. The great thing about this is it calculates the total points for EVERY student. This way I can keep track of what students have a certain amount of points.

Why would my students WANT to earn points? At the end of the week/month (it depends) I allow them to spend or save their points. If they save their points, they know they will get to "buy" awesome prizes at the end of the quarter. If they choose to spend their points, I have a treasure chest (read below) labeled 25, 50, 75, and 100 points. They get to look at the rewards chart and choose if they want to earn a prize from the bin or save their points. They know the more points they have, the better the rewards they can get. This keeps my class focused and working hard!

2. Treasure Chest

  • Rewards good behavior!
  • Keeps my students excited about learning!
  • Easy to manage! (depending on how you want to use for your class)
How I Use My Treasure Chest:

I created labels for my 4-drawer organizer to separate the points. The higher the points the better the rewards! I started by finding a few things from the dollar store or target "dollar section" and placed them in the bin. I also have decided to let it gradually run low so I don't have to replace anything. I use a chart to let the students decide how they want to spend their points. If you don't want to buy items to put in a treasure box then you might like the chart I use:

Or you can use this idea and roll with it. Check out my TPT store for a template you might like.

3. Table Group Points

  • Gives cooperative learning a chance to thrive.
  • Instead of individual students being praised, it gives the WHOLE group a point.
  • Easy to keep track of!
How I Use Table Points:
I like to award my groups for working together. I created a template that I laminated (or put in a sheet protector) and posted it on the whiteboard. It is a way to TALLY points for each group I have in the classroom. For example: If all the groups are ready with materials everyone gets a point. If one group was talking instead of taking out their materials, no point. The group with the highest amount of points gets a special reward. It could be: come in for lunch with the teacher, first to get to the treasure box, etc. That all depends on what you think would be an appropriate reward. I have usually done the lunch with teacher every other week. It is such a motivating reward because they students LOVE to come in for lunch and watch kidsnippets videos or listen to music while they eat their lunch.

You can customize this to fit your needs. But it really is simple and works great! Grab this FREE printable from my TPT store and enjoy!

More photos coming soon!