Saturday, August 30, 2014

A Few of My Favorite Things

Imagine it: May rolls around and I know I am moving. And not teaching (so I thought). With limited space to store all my prized possessions (6 years worth of classroom "stuff") I had to make some cuts. I gave a ton of stuff to my friends thinking I wouldn't be needing it for a few years. Well here I am, needing just those things...and more.

Not many people understand that amount of time and money teachers spend in their classrooms making things go smoothly for their students (unless of course you are a teacher or know one). Office Depot gets it. They launched a program called Teachers Change Lives to highlight classroom successes of educators. As teachers, we know that we don't just have what we need when we need it. And a lot of times it is up to us to get it or we don't have it at all.

Now being that I left a ton of stuff (or lost it in the move... I am convinced there is still a bin of "stuff" missing) I was ecstatic when Office Depot contacted me to see if I would be interested in sharing how I use these materials in my classroom. Now, I don't know one teacher who doesn't love some school supplies. And the ones I received are high up there on my list of favorites!

The first thing I took out was the Sharpie markers. I had a lot of labeling to do once I got my class list and I LOVE the vibrant colors and how easily they write. 
I also labeled some paper bags for extra supplies. Each student will put all their extra pencils, erasers, crayons, etc in a lunch bag. This way when they need something, they can walk over to the shelf and get it out of the bag. Hopefully 4th graders can handle this!

The next thing I HAD to try was the Sharpie Clear View Highlighters. How many times have you been highlighting and this happens...
You highlighted too far. It happens to me ALL. THE. TIME. Seriously. And almost always when I am trying to highlight which standards or parts of a standard I have covered. And then I have to get out a pencil and circle the part I haven't covered yet so that I can remember that I have no done it yet. These highlighters are not only fun... but they solved that problem for me!

You can see THROUGH the tip of the marker to see where to stop highlighting. Genius idea!

The last thing I want to show you is the inkjoy pens

Now, I am sure most of you know about these pens. And if not, I highly suggest them. They are very affordable, write nice, and are such pretty colors. I am a sucker for a good pen and this one is on my list of favorites for sure. I don't ever grade papers in the same color. What I mean by that is, I don't ALWAYS use pink, or purple, or red. I don't want to associate one color with "bad" marks (in college we were told kids associate red as bad because teachers always marked up papers with red... even if the markings weren't always bad.) So I use different colors. And I love these pens for grading. But I also love to use them in my gradebook. I write the grades that are a C or better in purple and anything below a C in red. This helps me to see at a quick glance who is having a hard time. 

So what does one do with ALL of these supplies? Well, put them in a teacher toolbox of course! I just made a new one for my new classroom (so I could keep my old one at home) and was so excited to fill it with brand new supplies! 

I didn't feature a couple things but want to make sure you know how amazing they are too. Expo dry erase markers I am sure every teacher with a white board knows about. I LOVE using colors on my board and am always buying these markers. I love being able to draw attention to certain things I am writing and will often grab a color to circle or underline on the board... I have been known to draw a thing or two on the board for my lesson too... even with my awful art skills. I also use the Paper Mate Flairs for grading papers but I left those at school and forgot to take pictures. 

Thank you so much Office Depot for supplying me with these AMAZING products.  Make sure you check out the special offers on the deals I received in the mail. You can click the image below to be taken to the offer. 

*I received these items from Office Depot to help facilitate this review. For more information about these products, please visit Office Depot.* 

Monday, August 18, 2014

Monday Made It- and a BIG announcement

So all summer I wasn't doing Monday Made It. And I was sad, because linking up with Tara is so much fun! But I had nothing to make. I wasn't going back into the classroom and I was doing so much organizing in our new house that I sure wasn't making anything for my house. But that all changed on Friday....

Because I GOT A JOB!!!! I will be teaching 4th grade this year! And since I got rid of a lot of stuff before we moved (remember, I didn't think I would be teaching for a while so I got rid of it) I had to get to remaking. I also had one home project I was planning on doing (before I even interviewed for this job) so I will share that too.

My first project was to make new dry erase boards. Mine were 6 years old and I was limited on space so I gave them to my students. (Cue excitement from every single one of them!) I needed new ones so I went to Lowes (I needed something else there but Home Depot carries the same material) and got some of their white panel board (also called Thrifty White Panel Board or Shower Board). I think it was around $12 for a sheet. I had them cut it into rectangles (I was going to do 12x12 squares but I wanted a little extra room this year) and got 24 boards out of the $12.

I also bought some duct tape to put around the edges for around $3 a roll. After cutting the tape by hand for a couple boards I decided to use my cutter instead (warning- the blade WILL get gunky from the tape, but nothing a little elbow grease won't take care of). 
And I ended up with some pretty nice boards for under $20. (Please excuse the few boards with different tape, I ran out of the pink and didn't want to go back out, so I just used what I had at home.)

The second thing I needed to make was a new teacher toolbox. I didn't leave mine in Memphis but I got so used to having it on my desk in my office that I had to make a new one for my class. Plus, I wanted one that would match my colors anyways. So I got the 22 compartment storage container from Lowes (my home depot didn't have them so check before you go) and some black spray paint (for plastic). I made my new labels (which you can find under my freebies tab here- the first thing I am loading on my freebies tab!) and got to working. I decided to arrange the labels on my computer before deciding on colors so I knew I liked the way it would look in the drawers. Once I got that done, I printed and cut them out. I used double sided tape to tape the labels to the inside of the drawers (rookie mistake on my first set a couple years ago- I have the labels on the outside and they are a mess now). I just stuck a strip down each side of the label and stuck it to the drawer. You can't even see the tape!

My final craft was a home craft. I have wanted a white desk for my office but I couldn't justify buying a new one when the one we had is in perfect condition (despite being really old- it was my parents'). So I finally got the courage to paint it white. Here is what I needed for this project...
Paint Samples (I used Valspar white) and paint brushes
and some Polycrilic

I started with the primer. After that dried I painted the desk white. Once paint was dry I added the polycrilic finish. No sanding needed. Super easy (minus the fact that I kept stepping in paint splatters and had paint all over me).

Here is the before and after...
(disclaimer- the desk before is a picture from our old house when we first moved in)

With the new job, and being a different grade, I have decided to change my blog name. Be on the lookout for a new look and name with the same great content later this year (once I make a final decision on the design anyways.) Now, if you will excuse me, I have a LOT to do to get ready for a new grade in a new school!!!

Monday, August 11, 2014

Take a bite out of shark week!

All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers have come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love!
One way that I keep my students engaged is to allow them to have choice (when appropriate) and explore their interests (again when appropriate). For example, last year, we were outside for recess and I noticed a few of my boys digging into some hole with a stick. I got a little worried and called for them to come over to me. They told me that they had thought there was an animal burrowed in that hole and they wanted to what it was. After me warning them not to put their hands ANYWHERE near that hole (hey- I am not about to be responsible if something jumps out!), I told them they could investigate with a LARGE stick. When we got back inside, this group of boys decided to form their own research group. They even came up with a name for themselves (but for the life of me, I can not remember what it was now). Every single day when they had free time and/or finished work early, they were rushing to the computers to research animals that live underground. They even checked books out of the library. Did it have anything to do with what I was teaching?! Absolutely not. But, they were engaged and working on researching skills, which made me happy.

And while we are talking about topics students are interested in... how about a shark week
Slide 10.png
For some reason, kids love sharks. (Me, not so much..) and because of that one of the first passages I wrote for my compare and contrast passages was about sharks. If you haven't seen this product, it includes 6 original nonfiction passages that students can use to compare and contrast. And it just so happens that the shark one is FREE!

Click HERE to try it out!

Now- Just keep swimming, just keep swimming... right through the rest of this blog hop! Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a fishy freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, August 17th  :)

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