Saturday, August 27, 2011

I’m Finished…Now What?

If you are a teacher you have heard these words, “I am finished, what do I do now?” It is essential to have something ready for those students who always finish before everyone else. After watching a video at Teacher Tipster, I decided I would make some chart folders for my kiddos to use when they finish their work early. I wrote about this awesome idea in a previous post, and I promised I would share some of the pages I would include in my chart folders.

The start of school has been EXTREMELY busy, but I did manage to get these made! I plan to house the sheets in binders. Each page will be placed in a sheet protector, and the students will use dry-erase markers to write on them.

I will be adding more throughout the year, but here is what I am going to start with. Feel free to download them for FREE  in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. *I used to create the addition and subtraction practice.


Have an awesome weekend!


Sunday, August 21, 2011

Do You Need A Teacher Tip?

As I was browsing around You Tube this morning trying to find a video about writing numbers in different forms, I ran across a great website! I love when I find things I am not looking for that are useful. Let’s just disregard that I was totally sidetracked, and I still haven’t found a video about writing numbers in different forms. If there is one out there that you know about, please share it through a comment or email me.

So anyway, I found Teacher Tipster!!!! This site was created by a teacher who shares some wonderful ideas for keeping your kiddos engaged throughout the day. He is so CREATIVE!!! I literally smiled the whole time I was watching his videos. I want to be a first grader in his class. I really got excited about trying some of his ideas in my own classroom.

One of my favorite management ideas that he shared was Chart Folders. Here is the video about that:

I am definitely going to get this going for my third graders. I will just have to adapt a few things. After creating my pages, I will be sharing them here.

I also love this idea for celebrating student achievement:

I am so excited about teaching my kids these!!!

I could go on and on about the great ideas Mr. Smith has to share, but head on over to to check it out.

Have a blessed Sunday!


Saturday, August 20, 2011

Are Your Binders Live?

I don’t know about you, but I am obsessed with binders. I have so many different binders in my classroom, I am beginning to think I just might be a binder hoarder. Oh no! There is just something about arranging items in a binder and having it look so neat and organized. What if you could house some of that “stuff” online? Did you know you actually can?

Live Binders are online binders where you can house information you find on the web. You can create binders for anyone to view and use. The binders can be embedded in websites, blogs, and you can even create shortcuts on your desktop that link straight to particular binders for your students. The idea of a Live Binder is much the same as pinning on Pinterest. You know how I love some Pinterest! There is even a pinning tool for your toolbar for easy saving. I am sure this is going to be one of my new favorites.

This is going to be great for keeping everything I want to show my kiddos on the Promethean Board. I don’t have to search my flash drive or anything. I just sign into the site, find the binder I want to use, and I am ready to do some teaching.

Here is one I am working on for teaching the six regions of South Carolina.

There are tons of binders that have already been created by teachers that are ready to use! So, give up trying to remember where you found that cool website or those neat pictures. Put it in your Live Binder!


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Handy Scanner App

imageOnce upon a time I had a scanner in my classroom that was the best thing coming. No more trips to the copier! I loved my scanner, and it is still used in my classroom, but mostly by my students. Why is that you ask? I discovered Cam Scanner in the Android market.

With Cam Scanner, I can scan documents and pictures and automatically convert them to PDF files right from my phone. At first, I was a bit skeptical about the quality of the document I would get from using my phone to scan, but it works just as good, if not better than an old school scanner!

After scanning a document, you can email it, send it to Dropbox, and share it via IM. I send most of my scans to Dropbox, open them on my computer and print. Love it, love it, love it! I can also add them to my Good Reader on my iPad since they are PDF files. You can read about how I use Dropbox and Good Reader here. This handy app is also available for the iPhone and iTouch.

How do I use it?

*To scan pictures my students have brought in to make slideshow.
*To scan documents I want to copy.
*To scan a page of a textbook that I want to display on my Promethean board.
*To scan written paperwork that I have to turn in to administration and keep a copy for myself.

Try it out! Cam Scanner has saved me loads of time and has freed up some desk space!


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Apps I Can’t Live Without

I’m back!!! The real world has crept back into my life this past week with the start-up of school. Teachers went back this Wednesday and the new lovelies join us this coming Wednesday. I enjoyed meeting most of my students on Friday night during Meet The Teacher. I have to say, I am quite excited to get this new year started!

I thought I would share some apps I use on a daily basis for personal organization in and outside of the classroom. I would be L.O.S.T. without them!

Dropbox is my all-time favorite. I have it on my PC, iPad, and Android phone. Dropbox allows you to upload files to a web-based folder (cloud), and then access that folder anywhere there is internet access. Did I mention this app is FREE!!!

How do I use it?

  • My grade level team plans, so we have a lesson plan template that we all share via Dropbox.
  • I store pictures to share with my kiddos in class.
  • Pretty much everything I want to bring from home to school, or vice versa, I drop it in the box!

Good Reader is an app for the iPad that I use to view PDF files when I don’t have internet access. Dropbox can be synced right to Good Reader. You download the files you want to have handy anytime, and voila!

How do I use it?

  • I always download my weekly lesson plans in PDF format to Good Reader from my Dropbox. No printing lesson plans required!

Pocket Informant is my BFF!!! This handy app is a daily planner that syncs with most web-based calendars. The possibilities for planning your time are endless with this one app.

How do I use it?

  • I have all my Google Calendars synced with my Pocket Informant. I have a school calendar, grade level planning calendar, family calendar, and personal calendar all synced in one spot!
  • I also use it to make Task Lists.

Teacher Pal is a great friend to have! This little app allows you to organize classroom contacts, attendance, and grades. You can also enter notes about behavior. This app syncs with Dropbox to backup information as well! Yay Dropbox!!!
This will be my first year using it, so I will have to let you know how I use it effectively.

I hope you check some of these out if you haven’t already!


Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Worthwhile Classroom Website

I am fortunate enough to work in a district that provides a teacher website for every teacher. Even though the website editor may sometimes leave a bit to be desired, I am very glad to have a FREE place where I can connect with my students and their families on the big ol’ WWW.

If your district doesn’t provide you with a website, or you are not satisfied with your district site, there are other places where you can create a site of your own for free. You can use a blog, or Google Sites, or a wiki site. All can be done for FREE.

The most important thing to remember is to make your site worthwhile! Don’t just create a site where the same information stays dormant all year long. Make your site a place where parents can depend on you to keep them informed. You should also make the site user friendly for your students, and a place where they can go for classroom extension. Also, use the classroom website IN THE CLASSROOM! Create pages that you can use while teaching. This is a great way to get students to revisit classroom teaching at home.

So how do you make your website worthwhile? Here are a few things that I do on my site to really make it a place my students and their families want to visit.

1. Post the most important information on your homepage. I update my homepage weekly with vocabulary words, spelling words, and an explanation of what we will be learning in the classroom every week. I also post important reminders, and a link to view and print the weekly newsletter. My contact information is given on the homepage as well. Click on the picture below to check out the homepage.


2. Create a classroom calendar! Events happening in the classroom are not listed on a district wide or school wide calendar. Keep your parents informed. I use a simple list calendar that I update weekly. You can also use Google Calendar or Local Calendar if embedding is possible.


3. Create pages especially for parents. List important information regarding how they can help their child be successful in your classroom. Also include a link to your syllabus!

4. Create pages especially for your students. I have many pages dedicated to my students. These pages include:

AR Stars: A little place on the web to celebrate AR points. Students names (first only) are listed on the AR Stars page throughout the year. They love seeing their name online.

Fun Links: A place for my students to safely browse the web with given links to great kid-friendly websites. I have also listed sites here that I use while teaching so my students can easily access them at home or in the computer lab.

Homework: The week’s homework is posted here. My students actually copy their homework into their planners straight from the website everyday. This is great for absent students. Can you believe that students will actually visit the homework page and still have their homework completed when they return to school after being absent. It is AWESOME!!!

Our Wallwishers: A page dedicated to wallwishers I use in the classroom. Students can access them at home or the computer lab without having to remember a URL to get there. You can read about how to use Wallwishers in your classroom here.

I also add pages throughout the year that go along with our units of study. For example, when we are learning about the American Revolution, I have created a page that has links, pictures, and Power Points I use in class to teach the material. Once again, use the site IN THE CLASSROOM!!! As the school year goes on, I will be sharing the pages I create for this purpose on this little ol’ blog!

5. A place to tell about yourself. Your parents and students want to know that you are human! Tell them a little about yourself outside of the classroom.

6. A page for Class Photos! This is a MUST. This is a great way to highlight what you are doing in the classroom. Make them fun to look at by using Photo Bucket or Picture Trail to create slideshows. You can embed them right into your page for a polished look. It is a lot better to use a slideshow than to put a bunch of pictures in a row on a page. I will be posting a tutorial on how to do this as soon as I have my new class next week! I do not currently have any pictures on my personal site because I don’t have any students, but you can check out how I use slideshows on our school website. Click on the image below to visit the site. The slideshow on the homepage was created using Photo Bucket.


7. Make your website appealing to your visitors. Here are a few tips:

    • Nothing too flashy! You want your visitors to focus on the important information you are giving them, not the flashing school bus in the middle of your page.
    • Use your “real estate” wisely. Your homepage is prime real estate. Say what is most important there, but not with a picture that takes up the whole screen so people have to scroll to get to the stuff you really want them to see.
    • Highlight your students! They love seeing themselves on the site and so do their parents.
    • Use fonts and colors that are easy to read.
    • Don’t make them go searching. Include links to other pages on your site if you want them to visit another page. Don’t just say, “On the Parent’s Page”, actually link to that page.

If you make a website worthwhile, your students and parents will visit and will thank you for providing them with a tool they can use at home to stay informed and engaged.

I hope these tips have been useful. So sorry for the long post! Some people scrapbook, I create websites! Please feel free to browse around my school and class site to get ideas, but keep in mind that school hasn’t started here yet, so my class site is bare bones right now. If you have any questions, please comment or email me.

Have a blessed Sunday!!!


Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You Tube in the Classroom

This past school year, our district decided to unblock You Tube for teacher use. I can’t even express how excited I was about this. There are soooo many wonderful resources on You Tube that can be used in the classroom. While planning, I always take into account that today’s children are growing up in a media driven world. They are constantly stimulated by “iGadgets”, television, video games, the internet, etc. Why not bring that into our teaching?

You Tube is one way to do just that. There are so many fun, educational videos that can be used to keep kids engaged. Okay…I am not saying let You Tube teach your class while you sit behind a desk. NOT AT ALL!!! But, when planning a lesson, check it out and see if you can find something that might “hook” your students at the beginning of a lesson, or find something that will explain a concept in an entertaining way.

For example, when I was teaching money last year, I used this video/song I found as a review at the beginning of my lesson. The kids LOVED it, and they would ask to see it everyday!

I used this one during my geometry unit. I embedded into a Promethean flipchart that I created for the unit  so it would be easy to show at anytime.

My kiddos walked around singing this one FOREVER! They also used the Flipcam to make their own Geometry videos after seeing this.

I also used You Tube as a reward or motivational tool throughout the year. I had a very active class last year so I made sure to take breaks throughout the day for movement. One day, I decided to pull up the ever famous, “Double Dream Hands”, for my students. Oh my gosh…they got out of their seats and started doing a flash mob dance. It was fantastic!!!! This ended up being a reward throughout the year for good behavior. By the end of the year, they knew it by heart…even the words. Hilarious and a great movement activity!

Here it is if you haven’t seen it.

So, the next time you are planning a lesson and you really want to keep your kiddos engaged, check You Tube. Just make sure you watch the videos before showing them to your class! I have to put that disclaimer on it. You never know what could happen in the middle of a video, but overall, this is a great tool to use.