Primary Chalkboard: organization
Showing posts with label organization. Show all posts
Showing posts with label organization. Show all posts

Making the Most of Your Planning Time

Hi friends! It's Haley from My Silly Firsties! I wanted to stop by and share some tips I have been trying to really use my planning time effectively. Like everyone else, I am constantly trying to use my time well so I can go home, be with my family, and relax! My first few years of teaching I was totally okay working all night and all weekend...but I have so much going on now that's just not feasible! 

Soo...I have been on the hunt for ways to maximize the time I do have so I can leave and really LEAVE after school! :) Of course, some nights I stay way too late...and I almost always have things to do on Sunday evening. But these things really have helped, and I hope they help you too! :) 

The first thing I would say is have a plan!! When I don't, I literally play on Facebook my entire planning time, hahaha!! Anyone with me?!?! 

Here is the plan that has been working for me for a few months! It took some tweaking at first, but this schedule really works for me! 

My bestie, Miss Decarbo, has a more detailed schedule on her blog. She's WAY better at planning ahead than me!! 

Something else that keeps me going is constantly keeping a To-Do list. This seems like such common knowledge, but I'm telling you, it helps! When you have a few extra seconds, you can check something off your list! You can grab these To Do lists and tons of other organizational forms in my Editable Teacher Binder! And when something crosses your mind but you can't do it right then...add it to the list! That way you won't forget things! :) 

This is HARD for me. But it does help me stay accountable and know when I need to stay after school. It helps with the constant "I'm never done..." feeling! I just worry about what I needed to accomplish that day! 

This is probably my biggest tip...if you don't get anything else done, get your week paced out. You don't have to know exact activities, but I promise it feels so much easier to plan activities once that is laid out. My team and I work on this every makes it so much easier for me to plan when I have more time. 

And last but not least...

I am the worst about chatting my entire time away and then being frustrated when I have to plan on my own time. BUT...if I lock myself away during my planning, get things accomplished, and THEN go to happy hour, I feel refreshed and relaxed! :) 

These are just a few tips I have for guys are the true experts do YOU make the most of your planning time? 

Organizing Math Centers in the Upper Elementary Classroom

 Hi,everyone! It is Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire, and I am very excited to be writing my first blog post here! I wanted to share with you a quick tip for organizing your math centers.

I don't know about you, but I LOVE math centers. I love seeing the students working together in small groups or with partners. I love hearing the math conversations all around the room. But, I don't love the mess that can come with centers, recording sheets, answer keys, and all of that! I recently helped another teacher with a math lesson, and I loved how she was storing her math centers from my Math Center Bundle. It was pure genius. I immediately snapped some pictures to share.

She uses folders that way she can easily (and quickly) place the directions page and the recording sheets in the front pocket. The students can actually keep their recording sheet in the folder until they are completely finished with all the problems and ready to turn their work in. The answer key could also be stored in this pocket to allow the students to check their work and make necessary corrections. The center pieces are placed in bags and stapled to the other side of the folder. I love this organization method because you can easily store the recording sheets with the math center and you don't have papers flying around. You can also easily label the centers by writing the title of the center on the front of the folder.

If you don't use recording sheets (and use only a piece of paper--like me), check out my blog post about how I organize math centers by clicking here or on the image shown.

For more ideas about teaching Upper Elementary, check out my links below:


TeachersPayTeachers Store:


Meet the Teacher-What You Should Know

Hi, friends! It's Laura from Peace, Love, and First Grade!

We've been back in school for two weeks, and I must tell you, I'm spent!

The beginning of the school year brings with it SO MUCH TO DO! 

I thought I'd try to help save you some time and stress by offering up what I've learned from 25 years of Meet the Teacher!

Let's get started!

1) Get your room in some kind of order so you aren't stressed about its appearance.

2) Prepare and print parent forms and info, whatever you plan to give to parents.

3) If you give your students B2S bags, prepare those, too.

4) Prepare and set up easy to use stations for parents to work through. There's no need to give directions 20+ times.

5) Give yourself a break and get a mani/pedi or do something else that makes you feel great!

6) Choose an outfit that makes you feel good, too!

7) Greet parents and students at the door. Offer a handshake to parents AND if your students are shorter than you, bend or squat to greet them. Tell the students how excited you are to spend the year with them. Tell parents you are looking forward to working with their children and with them.

8) Direct parents to the parent stations and suggest students explore their room. 

9) Now, this is super important! 
Make sure you find out the following (especially for the first day):

 *Tranportation: am and pm
Get specific bus numbers or day care names.  You need to know this info before parents leave your room. Most schools have a street list of buses.

One of my students rides the bus home every day except Friday. 
On Friday, his grandparents fetch him. This is something I need to know.

*Meals: How will the child eat? Will he bring a box or purchase a tray from the cafeteria? It is imperative to find out this info before Day 1.

Some students may bring their lunches most days, but get a tray on pizza day or soup and sandwich day. I suggest a check in system in your classroom for children to use each day indicating their lunch preferences. 

*Allergies: Does the child have an allergy? If so, is there a plan in place? EpiPen, etc.
Now, I have a student whose younger brother has a peanut allergy, so Mom doesn't allow my student to eat peanuts. This is not life threatening to my student. It is not HIS allergy. If someone has a peanut near him, I won't panic. However, a few years ago, one of my students had a red ant allergy with an EpiPen in the office. THAT was an allergy to watch. 

*Medical Issues: Asthma, Epilepsy, Diabetes, etc. What's the plan and what are your responsibilities? Does the child take medication at school?

I've had students with all of these diseases. You have to know the plan here. 
Does the diabetic have an insulin pump? Can she check herself? What are you required to do? 
A few years ago, I had a diabetic in my class. She was able to check herself and wore an insulin pump. I texted Mom after she checked, and Mom let me know what numbers to punch into the pump (how much insulin to deliver). She also had an emergency kit on hand if her count was off. 

**If you have a student with a life threatening disease, it is imperative you meet with the parents or a medical professional to learn as much as you can about the disease, including your responsibilities.**

*Behavior Disorders: ADHD, ODD, OCD, etc. What's the plan? Does the child take medication? If so, at home or at school?

Oh, behavior! Some students will come to you with a behavior plan in place. Others will require a behavior plan. Beginning a behavior plan is tedious on educators, but in some cases, absolutely necessary. Learn the laws in your state. DO NOT tell a parent you think his child has ADHD. Find out how your school district handles these issues and move forward from there.

I keep a fidget bag for ADHD students who need something in their hands during whole group lessons-Wikki Stix, connecting cubes, pipe cleaners (I still call them that), etc. Fidget bags really work to help students focus and remain calm.

Are there any adults who ARE NOT allowed access to your student? This one can be tricky, but today there are many divorced families with court orders, and we must know and honor those orders. Find out if you have a case like this. Usually, parents will let you know, but not always. Check those cumulative folders.

*Siblings at School: Does your student have siblings at your school? 
Sometimes you may need to send home info/homework/etc with siblings, or if your student checks out early one day, you may want to let the siblings know. Especially younger siblings who may panic if they don't see their older brothers/sisters.

*Religious Preferences:
Now, I'm going to say this, and it may not be PC, but... it's truly up to the parents to let you know if they have religious objections. Most parents will make you aware. I've taught many students whose families were Jehovah's Witnesses. They were all very up front with me, and I appreciate that so much! I don't want to offend any family, but I also need to be aware of religious preferences so I don't offend. 

*Parent Objections:
Do you plan any activities in your classroom of which parents may object? Here are a few examples.

One of my students is not allowed to have temporary tattoos. So, when cheerleaders start selling promo items, this child doesn't need to purchase paw print tattoos. I need to know this. Get my point? 

I've taught students whose parents didn't want them to go sock-footed. 
Just be proactive. Let parents know your intentions before beginning an activity that may cause objections.

Whew! That's a lot of info, and I'm sure I left off something!
But... if you're still around, here's a freebie for you to use at MTT.

If you need resources to help you with Meet the Teacher, 
I offer 33 different themed Meet the Teacher packs in my TpT store. 
Click the pic to take you there.

Middle Grades Classroom Set Up and Organization

Well, hey y'all! It's so good to be back blogging here at Primary Chalkboard! I'm Heather from Brainy Apples, and today I am going to share how I set up my classroom for the new school year. I officially go back tomorrow, but I went in every day this week to get my room ready. Please don't throw tomatoes! I know you elementary peeps go in MANY more days than just 3, and, on those days, you spend close to 8 hours each day. I know. I was elementary for 13 years. I don't even know how many days and hours in the summer I would spend setting up my classroom. This will be my 2nd year in middle school, and I spend way less time getting my classroom ready. It's a lot easier when you teach just one subject. Last year I taught ELA. This year I get to teach social studies, and I can't tell you how stinkin' excited I am about that! So, when you see my classroom, you will definitely be able to tell I am a one-subject-kinda-gal now. 
  I wanted to write my blog post about middle grades classroom set up and organization because last year was my first year in middle school....and I was so worried I wasn't doing something I needed to be doing because I had my room set up in less than a week. Going from spending probably 80+hours setting up a room to less than 15 hours was weird. Definitely weird, but weird in a good way (well, weird is always good). There are some things I do the same, but there are many more that I do differently.

First Things First

Before I even begin decorating my room, I still write down every function I need my classroom to perform. I want to make sure I have a designated area for everything. AND that everything will actually fit. Nothing makes me a sad panda more than decorating most of my room, and then realizing that all I wanted to include won't be possible because I have run out of space. Even though I am still a rookie when it comes to middle school, I know I will definitely need the following:

A place for students to turn in (and store) their work 
Since I am teaching social studies, I know my students will be working on a lot of projects. These will most likely stay in my room, so not only do I need a place for students to turn in their work, I need space for them to store their work. Did I mention I teach 5 classes? So about 150 students...I need to have space for their work...ALL of them...during projects. 

Supply corner
My students will be coming to me with all the needed school supplies (pencils, pens, highlighters, markers, scissors, glue, etc.). However, there are always a handful who somehow forgets their supplies. Um, yeah. So instead of wasting time having them go to their lockers to get said needed supplies, I want to have a corner of my room with everything they need, so they can quickly get a loaner (and I know most will go missing because loaners become theirs. That's why I have tubs of extras in my closet. And I have been known to ask students for a shoe when they borrow a pencil from me because they give it back every single time...sometimes sticky...sometimes not).

Storage for extra supplies
Since I will be needing to replenish my "I forgot my supplies" corner, I know I will need adequate space to keep all the extras that will eventually make their way to that corner...and I need storage for my own supplies.

Absent work
This is a biggie. One reason why I love middle school is because the responsibility of completing classwork, getting work missed, etc. falls on the STUDENT. Not me. The STUDENT. So when someone is absent, it is his/her responsibility to get missing work. We use ItsLearning, which is an on-line platform, and I post what we are doing in class. However, if a student does not have access to a printer or a computer at home (which families can actually check out a laptop from our media center and get a broadband card for FREE so they do have the needed technology at home), or their Internet broke (which is an excuse I hear...a lot....) I need a place to neatly keep missing assignments so students can get it on their own without asking me. HEAVEN.

Word Wall
Even though I teach middle school, I am going to have a word wall in my room. It's non-negotiable. This year my word wall will consist of social studies vocabulary because there is a LOT of content-specific words in the curriculum. I am going to create my own word cards, and I will be putting a visual representation on each card to help students make connections. This will be an on-going project for me this year.  *Update! I finished my Social Studies Word Wall and you can get it by clicking {HERE}*

When I taught ELA, I had a Greek and Latin roots/affixes word wall. There are SO many students are responsible for learning, and I found that they were forgetting already learned ones. I created a word wall specifically for students to refer to all year long. I put this word wall on a bulletin board. During the year, students would write words that contained a specific root/affix on a notecard and then tack onto the board under the word wall card. Students were on the lookout for roots/affixes without me having to ask! You can also use this word wall during science because several vocabulary terms have these roots/affixes. My students were referring to my word wall to remember key science terms! You can see this word wall by clicking {HERE}.

Maps, maps, maps.....and more maps. I will be teaching Europe, Canada, Australia, Latin America, and islands in the Caribbean. We are literally all over the world. So I will be hanging up a lot of maps in my room. Good thing I love maps :)

A place to display student work 
Even middle schoolers like to have their work hanging on the wall! I don't have wall space outside my classroom (darn those lockers!), nor do I have wall space for 150 kiddos. I can, though, have a dedicated space on my wall and rotate out student work, so they know I appreciate and respect what they create. And, even though they may not admit it, they are proud when they know their work is important enough to display.

I love quotes. Wen I coached basketball years ago, there were 2 girls responsible for finding a quote to read to the team before our game. They had to explain the significance of the quote and how it pertained to our team and the upcoming game. It was amazing to hear the message my players heard from those quotes and the impact it made on them. So I knew I wanted a wall space for quotes for my middle schoolers. I also decided that since there are specific people I will be teaching, most of the quotes will be said by those people (yet another on-going project for myself this year!). Not only will these quotes hopefully give my students something to think about, but the quotes will also help my students remember the significance of each person.

Interactive notebook table of contents
I will be using an interactive notebook this year. There is SO much content I will be teaching, I have to make the material engaging for my students. I will do this through INB and projects. I need a place where I can display our INB table of contents so if students are absent or get behind, they can see what they missed and what they need to make up. This won't take up much space at all either...thank goodness!

Word Splash
I love word splashes. I consider a word splash to be a group of words associated with one term. Because we will be studying 5 different areas, I want to help my students recognize key terms associated with each area. I need a large enough area to display the current splash as well as previous splashes (and I really need to think of a cuter name). I am going to color code each region's splash because color can help some students with remembering word associations. 

Fun social media board
We are a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) district. Our kids come to school with different types of devices. I know they use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I am going to bring those social media platforms to my classroom. I need a space where I can have an interactive bulletin board that they students will be responsible for updating. I have several ideas floating around in my head, but until the school year gets going, I am not sure which path I will take. As soon as I figure it out though, I will be blogging about it on my blog, so be sure to check in with me regularly!

This day in history...
I love trivia. And I love to know what happened today in history. This will be another interactive display my students will be responsible for updating. It won't need much room, but I do want a space where students can easily switch out events that happened in history, and I hope they find really obscure or interesting, little known facts! I just want them to become fascinated by history because I did NOT like social studies when I was in school. AT ALL. I am trying to think of things that would have helped pique my interest in hopes that it carries over to my students.

A place for students to sit
I guess this is important :) I do not like desks. Nope nope nope. These are the adjoined chair and desk, and they are so cumbersome! I like to have my students sit in groups, and those desks would move all over the room! They drove me crazy. I wasn't keen on the idea at the beginning of last year, but thought I would give them a try. I nixed that the 3rd week of school. So, over the span of several months, I replaced desks with tables. Now I have 5 rectangular tables and 1 circle table for my students. Not only do these tables not migrate, I have way more space than if I had 30 desks. I want my students to get on the floor and spread out, and easily do group work without having gaps between the desks. 

Once I knew what all needed to be in my room, I could begin moving furniture and decorating! Did I mention I love how I teach just one subject? I don't remember how in the world I fit everything 5 needed for multiple subjects in one room! I am going to eventually need storage space for social studies games and centers that I will be making this year (add some more projects to my ever-growing on-going to do list!), and I made sure to leave some blank space in my room for my new creations (and now I have Taylor Swift singing in my head).

Get Your Decorating (and Furniture Moving) On

Here's the fun part! Now, my room is not totally complete. I know there will be things I didn't think of that I need to add to my room. I learned in years past to NOT decorate every square inch of my room. Not only do ideas hit me out of nowhere, but I also want students to feel like it's THEIR room, too. It does make it look a little blah at the beginning of the year, but by the 3rd month (if not sooner), it becomes more colorful with the help of my students!

So, here we go with my classroom set up! I will address each item on my "Must Have" list:

A place for students to turn in (and store) their work 

Supply corner

Storage for extra supplies

Absent work
(the absent work display is behind my door)

A place to display student work, Interactive notebook table of contents, & This day in history...

Word Splash, Fun social media board, & Word Wall


Quotes & A place for students to sit

My quotes will go above my board, and I didn't take pics of the tables because there is still a lot of crap supplies on them :) 

I am going to be doing another blog post towards the end of August/beginning of September about how I have tweaked my classroom to fit the needs of my class (because you know it happens.EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR.) Be sure to head on over to my blog in a few weeks to check it out! I am also going to be blogging a lot more this year because, in case I haven't already said it, I am SO excited to be teaching social studies! I would love to share my journey with you! 'Till next time! -XOXO


Classroom Set-Up - A Look Around My Dream Classroom

Hello, Friends!  It is Autumn from The Primary Techie.  I am super excited to be blogging about one of my favorite places - my classroom.  Here is a very nerdy confession: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE setting up for the new year!  It is actually one of my favorite parts of being a teacher.  I love the anticipation of the student's reactions, planning how the room will function, and organizing all of my teacher treasures.  Have you started setting up?  I bet every teacher is at least thinking about it.  It is a big job!

I have been in the same first grade classroom for ten years and last year, I did a complete classroom make-over.  Don't anybody tell my husband, but I spent entirely too much of my own money on this project!  The way I see it, I spend more than half my life there.  I want it to be the best it can be for my students and myself.  Some ladies buy Coach purses and Louis Vuitton shoes.  I bought my DREAM CLASSROOM! No regrets!  Here is a look at my room and some of the reasons why I set it up this way.  I hope it gives you some ideas and excitement about setting up your own room.

The Library
Metal door to was used to create book display with magnetic shelves

Above all else, I want my library to be inviting and comfortable.  I also want it to fit lots of kids since reading is such a focus in my little world.  My library is almost one fourth of my classroom.  There is easily room for 3 groups of 4 students during stations.  I have used storage benches that I purchased from Wal-Mart to form one corner.  These create comfy seating and also store seasonal books.  There is a cart for my leveled books and several book baskets full of books we love.  There is a table with listening center activities and a comfy corner for audio books.

The Writing Area

Dry erase board on the back of the cabinets in writing area
Close-up of clear paint cans used to sort supplies
Paint bucket stools store seasonal writing supplies
I added "shelves" to crates by using old dry erase boards.  Perfect fit!

I am a crafter at heart and I think this really influenced my writing area.  I have a round table with paint bucket stools.  Inside of each paint bucket, I have seasonal supplies for the writing area (Halloween stamps, Christmas gift tags, etc.).  I hung milk crates all over one wall to store the writing area materials.  I love this option because I was able to make it exactly right for my needs.  On the other wall in my writing area, I hung clear paint cans filled with art supplies.  Writing center is always a station and my students have a specific task.  On Fridays, we have free choice stations and this area becomes PACKED with kids!  They make the coolest, most creative things.  Although I am a hoarder, I share all my fun goodies with them because I know how much I would have loved this as a kid.  (Let's face it, I still love it now!)  I use the metal door (which leads to my bathroom) to hang a magnetic board.  Here, I write their spelling words or weekly writing task.  I also have turned the back of a cabinet into a dry erase board.  This is a fun way to practice spelling, writing sentences, labeling drawings, and so much more.

Teacher Work Area

One of my favorite drawers.  Can you ever have enough rubber stamps?

At my small charter school, every classroom has a full-time aide.  I KNOW, RIGHT????  It is a pretty cool lil' school.  I never sit down, but I needed a place for my aide to be productive.  I have created my dream work space, but I only get to visit it before and after school.  The rest of the day, my aide uses it.  There is plenty of counter space, a coffee maker, fridge, microwave, and even an ice machine!  I had a custom counter top made to cover the desk.  It is long on one side making a perfect spot for my aide to work one-on-one with students.

Table Groups

Pegboard attached to each table for organizing resources.  
Over-the-door hooks create storage solutions for our backpacks right on their desks!

I have always placed my kids in groups and labeled them by color.  I started acquiring more and more "stuff" that matched my table colors.  This past school year, I added the most exciting piece of all - CHAIRS!  I think they look so good.  My old chairs were mauve and they just really bugged the snot out of me!  My new chairs make my room more colorful and cheerful than ever before!  I love to frequent the home improvement stores for ideas and inspiration.  One day, I walked down the pegboard isle and thought "That looks like something I could use!"  I started trying to figure out how and where in my room pegboard would fit.  My number one need in my classroom is storage and remember all the stuff I acquired that matched my table colors?  I decided the pegboard would fit nicely on the edge of each table and give me a place to keep these colorful treasures.  I measured the end of the table and had my board cut at the store.  (Did you know they do that?  I didn't know until I found the pegboard isle!)  I spray painted my pegboard black and used zip ties to attach it to the table legs.  This also makes the tables more secure so they don't scoot around the room as much.  I used more zip ties to hang the baskets on the pegboard.  Backpacks hang off the other edge of the tables.  I like having them at the desks so that transitions go quickly.  I found these over-the-door hooks at the dollar store (2 per package).

Extra Storage

Close-up of clear paint can storage
Working pay phone!  My absolute favorite!

I have A LOT of stuff in my room and I really needed storage solutions.  I purchased bookshelves from Target last summer and they have helped so much.  I love the uniform look and the contrast of the black with all the bright colors I have used in my room.  I used clear paint cans to store supplies on the shelves.  I wanted a small counter on the end.  It seems like I am always walking in my room with something that I need to put down quickly and this gives me a place to do that.  There was a piece of leftover counter top that fit perfectly.  I also replaced my school phone with this pay phone!  It is SO much fun!  It really takes money, although you don't have to put money in to make a call.  It has a great ring, too.

Thanks for letting me share my room with you.  I would LOVE it if you would share pictures of your room with me, too.  Click here to head over to The Primary Chalkboard's Facebook page and share your pictures.

The Chalkies are busy bloggin' every day this month!  Here is a peek at what we have got planned: