Sunday, July 24, 2016

Back to School With Erin Condren: Simply Beautiful Teacher Tools


Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
When I was asked by erincondren.com if I would be interested in reviewing and getting a sneak peek at their newest school supply line for teachers, the word thrilled does not even adequately explain how excited I was! I have always loved her simple approach to organization and the beautiful artwork that goes into each and every piece. When I sat down to open up my box of goodies, I felt like a four year old on Christmas morning! As a teacher, organization is essential. As a teacher who adores color, quotes, and cuteness, I knew the new Erin Condren line would definitely not disappoint. In this post, I'm going to give you a closer look at all of these beautiful teacher tools for your lesson planning, meetings, and classroom. If you're like me, you love shopping online but you wish so badly that you could see MORE of what you're wanting to order! I really think you'll love taking a look at the photographs for all of these different items. I'll explain how I plan to use the items and I even have an affiliate link at the bottom of this post that will give you $10 off of your first Erin Condren order! Yay! Let's take a close look at some of the new, beautiful items:

Journals
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
Aren't these journals adorable?! I love them because they are slim and would fit nicely into my purse on an inservice day. I also think these journals are the perfect size to keep beside your classroom phone, and used as your phone log for the year. Last year, anytime I called or received a call from a parent of a student, I recorded the date, time, and details of the conversation. This is always a nice way to make sure you are on the same page with your families. It's also just a great idea to make sure you are keeping in touch with all of your students' families. (I'm also pretty in love with those adorable erasers and pencils, too!)

Lunch Tote
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
When this personalized lunch tote arrived with the same pattern as my Life Planner cover, I squealed! I'm loving the watercolor patterns from Erin Condren this year! The lunch tote is on the smaller side, but I actually adore it because of that.  I am someone who does not typically pack a full lunch for school. Rather, I'll throw random snacks into my bag and I tend to snack at school instead of eating one lunch meal. This is the perfect size for your snacks and a bottle of water! The smaller size also means it will not take up much room in your teacher tote.  It zips and is stain resistant. I also love that it folds flat when it is empty. You can personalize it so that everyone in the teacher lounge knows it is yours, and it comes in a ton of beautiful designs! 

Notebooks
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
I purchased the above 8.5" by 11" notebook for the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Orlando. It is SO beautiful, that I had to include it in this post! Every year, I purchase a larger notebook and use it as my "ideas" notebook. Whenever I come up with an idea for school, a lesson plan, a blog post - whatever it is, the idea goes into my notebook. It is usually a MESS by the end of the year, but when an idea hits me, I don't have time to "organize" it. My main goal is to get it out of my head and onto the paper - and a beautiful notebook helps me do it with style! Plus, are you not in LOVE with the rose gold coil I chose?!
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
In the photograph below, I started to jot down an idea in my notebook, and I used the list feature on the right hand side of the page to list what I needed to purchase for my new idea.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Sticky Storage Pockets
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
Okay, friends. These are honestly one of my favorite things ever for my Life Planner and Notebooks! They are little sticky storage pockets that you can adhere anywhere in your planner or notebook that you would like. I'm always, always losing receipts and little notes that are falling out of my books. Well, not anymore! 
Check out how easy and FUN these little pockets are:
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
After you peel off the 3M backing, you simply stick it into your notebook or planner. I like to put one on the inside cover of all of my books. Look how perfectly these pockets hold little notes and business cards:
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Compliment Cards
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
Compliment Cards are the BEST! They are the perfect, cutest way to spread positivity to your teammates and the staff within your school building. These adorable cards already have printed positive statements such as, "Smile you are beautiful," and "You are one of a kind." Wouldn't you love to walk into your classroom one morning and find one of these Compliment Cards on your desk from a teammate? If you are a grade level leader, administrator, or just a teacher who loves to make those in your building smile, you need to stick these cute cards in your teacher tote bag and pass them out like candy! As you can see in the photograph below, I have already snuck a Compliment Card into my husband's bag. I can't wait for him to see it tomorrow morning when he gets to the office!
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

7" by 9" Notebook
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
Are you reading this closely? Because I'm about to share an idea with you that is going to CHANGE the way you organize yourself with building and district committees this school year! If you're like me, you always find yourself on 1,682 committees throughout the school year. You take notes at each meeting and by the time October hits, you already have 9 billion to-do lists and notes that are so mixed up you can't remember which committee is which or even what grade level you are teaching these days. Okay, that was an exaggeration. I hope y'all know what grade level you're teaching! ;)

Nevertheless, here's my organizational idea. The 7" by 9" notebook is the perfect size to take to all of your school meetings. With 124 pages, it isn't too thin or too thick for your tote or purse. Erin Condren also makes these amazing notebook dividers that can be clipped into your notebooks and planners. What?! It's true. It's genius! Use a divider to separate each committee you are on for this school year. So, if you are on four different committees, you will want three dividers for your notebook, in order to split it up into four sections. Now you can take ALL of your committee notes in ONE binder, and stay SUPER organized!  Eeekkk!!! You're welcome.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
I love the notebooks even more, because they have a built in "list" feature on the right side of the pages. The 8.5" by 11" notebooks have this feature, too! Whenever I sit in on committees, I always end up leaving with a small (or sometimes a large) to-do list that I have to tackle after the meeting is over. By using Erin Condren's notebook and dividers, your notes and to-do lists are organized into one notebook that you can easily keep track of.  Of course, as you can see below, I also had to include a sticky storage pocket into the inside of my committee notebook. :)
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Designer Pocket Folders
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
These folders are precious! The designs are beautiful and don't you just love the pretty scalloped edges on the inside pockets? The touch of metallic on the covers of the folders add that perfect glam and sparkle for your school meetings and paperwork.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Teacher Planner
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
This is probably the section many of you were waiting for, so here we go! Let's take a closer look at the 2016-2017 Erin Condren Teacher Lesson Planner. Now, I will start by explaining that my building requires us to upload our weekly lesson plans to the computer, so I actually use a digital template for my lesson plans. However, my mind has always worked by needing to see the larger picture for our school year. That is why I LOVE using the Teacher Lesson Planner to "map" out our year. It makes weekly lesson planning so much easier! If you do use a paper based lesson planner, this one is an amazing choice! Let's take a look:
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
The planner includes all kinds of helpful pages in the front. Holidays and dates, a page to list your students' birthdays, contact info, absent charts, student lists, and pages you can use for graphs and notes.  Below, is my favorite part of the planner. I love these year-long planning pages. I can jot down the main themes, standards, and units for each month of the school year. It helps me to "know where to go" when writing my weekly lesson plans.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
You can write the dates in for reach month if you prefer, or, you can use these cute Designer Dots to customize the calendars within your planner.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
The 40 week lesson planning pages are colorful and easy to organize. 
I love the sectioned off areas for different subjects and the color-coded days of the week.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
The student checklist pages in the photograph below can be used for anything you'd like: field trip permission slip forms, beginning of the year forms, student goals, homework, etc. (I also really love her bright highlighters!)
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
The planner comes with these awesome stickers that you can use within your planner. This will keep you organized and make important days and dates pop off of the page.
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
The sticker book is filled with a huge collection of stickers that you can order to match your notebooks and planners.  A lot of the stickers are cute, inspirational quotes that I think would be uplifting to spread out throughout your planner or notebooks. Plus, what teacher doesn't like stickers? 
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo
I hope you loved getting a closer look at some of my favorite Erin Condren teacher tools. Everything is as beautiful in person as it is on the website! If you have never ordered from Erin Condren before, be sure to first click my referral code below, in order to get 
$10 off your first order!


Thank you again for stopping by my blog today! As always-

Happy Learning,
Beautiful Back to School Tools for Teachers: An Erin Condren Review by Miss DeCarbo

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization

5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo
There is nothing quite like an organized classroom! Today, we're going to talk about some simple tips & tricks for technology organization in your primary classroom. There is no doubt about it - technology is a pure blessing to have available to our students. However, with little ones who are still learning how to use and understand technology, it can also be a source of headaches for the elementary teacher. 

Let me take you back to my first two years of teaching, and paint a picture in your head. I have a feeling my story might resonate with many of you:

I'm sitting at my small group table, surrounded by six eager first grade readers. We are deeply engaged in a conversation about the differences between lions and tigers. We're working on comparing and contrasting, and a student has just started to explain a comprehension question I have asked the group. "Hold that thought, Riley," I say to the student. Across the room, I have a student on the computer with a raised hand. The screen is frozen and he has resorted to turning his computer chair into a spinning amusement park ride instead of working on the website I had assigned. Another student has placed a tablet back into the tablet basket and grabbed a different one because hers ran out of power. I'll have to sort through which tablet is dead at lunchtime. They will surely be all mixed up by the time I get around to ringing the bell for our next round of small group rotations. Sigh. After restarting the frozen computer and checking on my friends using the iPad, I head back to the small group table. The kids have all forgotten where we were in our comprehension discussion and are now chatting about recess. 

Sound familiar? Some of you are thinking, "Been there, done that!" It was not until my third year of teaching when I decided to get strategic about how I was going to organize the technology in my classroom. Let's go through five simple, easy steps I took to make our classroom run more smoothly.  Here we go!

#1:Number or Label Your Computers
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo - Number or Label your computers to make it easy for students to identify which computer they are to work on.
I have four student computers in my classroom. At the beginning of every year, I assign each computer a number. I use a velcro dot and place a bulletin board cut-out on the corner of my monitor to attach the number. (Sticky tack works, too!) The numbers are helpful for quite a few reasons: 

First, it helps YOU because your students can quickly and easily tell you, "Computer 3 is frozen." Or, "Miss DeCarbo, I can't log onto Computer 4." If something goes wrong with the computer,  you can jot the number down on a sticky note and remind yourself to attend to the problem at lunch, or after school.  I have found these numbers are also helpful for my technology coordinator. For example, if a computer needs attention, I can email her and explain that "Computer 2 needs updated." If she visits my room after school and I am not in my classroom, she instantly knows which computer I was referring to. 

Next, numbering your computers also allows you to assign students to a particular computer when they choose Listen to Reading or Math on Computer during your literacy and math workshop times. I'm not sure if your students are like mine, but there always seems to be that ONE computer that ALL of my students favor (even though there is nothing special about it). By assigning students to a numbered computer, the students know exactly where to go when they get started during center time. This leaves no room for wasted time in your classroom and helps with smooth transitions within the room. 

#2:Color Code Your Tablets Using Tablet Covers
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo
Remember my hot mess story at the beginning of this post? About four years ago, I purchased six Google Nexus tablets for my classroom. I had saved and saved to purchase those tablets, so naturally, I wanted to do everything I could to keep them in excellent condition so that they will last as many years as possible for my students. Six tablets means that I was frequently updating apps, installing new apps, and performing regular maintenance on them. My students were always good about telling me a tablet ran out of power, an app wasn't working, or the tablet needed updating. But the problem was that by the time I would attend to the tablet in need, I couldn't figure out which was which! This tip is similar to the one above: color coding the tablets makes your life easier! I could have stuck numbers on the back of the tablets, but since my computers were numbered, it was easier for the tablets to be color-coded. My students would simply tell me, "Orange and Green need charged," and we would easily be able to fix the issue! 

#3: Train Technology Coaches Within Your Classroom!
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo: Technology Coach Badges FREEBIE - Student technology leaders help other students troubleshoot tech problems within the classroom
I LOVE utilizing my Technology Coach badges within my classroom to greatly reduce the amount of interruptions to my small group due to computer needs. At the beginning of the year, I keep a close eye out for 2-3 students who seem "tech savvy" to me.  You  might be thinking, "Ha! Yeah right, my kids are in first grade. None of them are tech savvy!" I urge you to keep looking for those future tech geniuses. They are the ones that can "x" out of a website without help and you can just tell they have used a computer at home before. I promise every classroom has at least one or two. After I have identified who my Technology Coaches will be, I schedule a few "lunch bunch" days with them. We eat lunch together and then we practice troubleshooting the most common problems we will see in our classroom. My first grade Technology Coaches learn skills such as how to:
*shut down and turn on the computers
*restart the computer
*CTRL+ALT+DELETE to bring up the task manager and close out of programs if the computer freezes.
*turn sound up, down, and off

We practice, practice, and practice these common troubleshooting skills. My Technology Coaches LOVE it! After they feel confident in their abilities, they get to wear the Technology Coach lanyard every time we have our reading and math workshop times. (They don't wear it to the small group table and they have to prove they are responsible enough to not let it be a distraction.) If a student has a computer problem during our work time, the student must ask one of the Technology Coaches for assistance instead of me. I would say about 8 out of 10 times, the Technology Coaches are able to help the student resolve the computer issue and then both students go about their work again. Ta-da! It's a win-win. The student gets assistance, and I do not have to stop my small group instruction. (If the coach is not able to fix the problem, the student must make another choice for their center work. They are absolutely not allowed to interrupt me anymore for computer problems.) Try it! I am sure you will LOVE this little organization and management trick!

I simply laminated the cards, punched two holes at the top, and used curling ribbon (or any ribbon) to create the lanyards. Easy and super effective! If you would like to grab a copy of my Technology Badges for free, simply click HERE to grab your free copy. 
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo: Technology Coach Badges FREEBIE - Student technology leaders help other students troubleshoot tech problems within the classroom

#4: Use a Dish Rack As A Tablet Organizer
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo: Tablet Storage Idea
If you're having a difficult time keeping your tablets tidy and organized, a simple wooden dish rack works GREAT! They are cheap and typically the perfect size to store your tablets while they charge! Students can quickly grab what they need and then place the tablets back into their "home" when it is time to clean up. They also work nicely because it allows for easy access for your charging cords when you use a USB power strip! 

#5: Keep Technology Rules Consistent and Prominently Posted
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo: Tablet Rules FREEBIE
Keep your technology rules posted throughout the entire year, and refer to them often. Technology organization will mean very little to your students if they do not know the correct way to treat the computers and tablets within your room. I love using my FREE tablet rules posters with my students. We spend a lot of time learning each of the six rules. Throughout the year, I ask students to praise their peers who they notice are following the rules and being great Technology Leaders within our classroom. 

You can grab these posters for free in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE.
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo: Tablet Rules FREEBIE
I hope you enjoyed this post about technology organization and are able to take a few tips and tricks away to use in your classroom. I LOVE sharing organizational posts with my readers. If you enjoyed these tips and tricks, you might be interested in checking out some of my other posts that focus on organization within the classroom. You can read about each post by clicking on the pictures below:


Feel free to use this photo below and add this pin to your Pinterest Board so you can refer back to it as you are setting up your classroom this fall! Simply hover your mouse over the picture and click on the red Pinterest button in the top corner. :)
5 Teacher Tips for Technology Organization by Miss DeCarbo: Management, Organization, and Freebies for the primary classroom
Thank you again for stopping by my blog, and I hope you come back soon! :) 
Have a wonderful rest of the week! As always -
Happy Learning,

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Assessing and Differentiating Sight Word Recognition

Assessing and Differentiating Sight Word Recognition
Sight words. Sight words. Sight words.
As a primary teacher, how many times a week do you think about sight words?
I don't know about you, but for me, it's a lot! 
We know that in order for students to achieve quality fluency skills, they need to be able to instantly recognize sight words when they read. We start sight word recognition in kindergarten, and for struggling students, sight word instruction continues to be a need through fourth and fifth grade. Today, I'm not going to talk about how I TEACH sight words to my students. I'm going to talk about how I assess sight words within my classroom, so that I am differentiating all students' words based on their individual sight word needs. So, if you're looking for an easy and organized way to assess sight words, while keeping your sanity, you've come to the right blog post!

(If you are looking for sight word practice, you might want to check out some of my sight word curriculum, such as my Sight Word Reading Intervention Passages, Sight Word Fluency Practice Packs, and my Fry Sight Word Practice Spinners.)

Let's get started!
You all know I am ORGANIZATION OBSESSED. I want my students to know exactly where to find things and exactly how to help themselves within our classroom. In order to do that, organization is a must. I put together a filing bin with 5 file folders. Each folder is labeled: Fry's First 100 Words, Fry's Second 100 Words, Fry's Third 100 Words, Fry's Fourth 100 Words, and Fry's Fifth 100 Words. In the future, I may add words 600-1000, but for now, this is where we start! 
Inside each file folder are copies of word list sets (see picture below) that my students can practice during word work. (If you want to learn about what my students do during word work,  my word work organization post and my differentiated word work post will be helpful.) The students work their way through each set of 10 words until they have mastered the entire list of 100 words. Then, they will move onto Fry's Second 100 Word List, and so on, until they have mastered all 500 words in our filing bin. To keep myself (and the kids) even more organized, I print the word lists for each folder on different colored paper. Sometimes, I find that it's easier for my students to say "I'm on the pink words," instead of "I'm on Fry's First 100 Words" haha!! You can see below that the word lists are a half-sheet of paper, making it more efficient for class copies.  
Sight Word Recognition Editable Templates
In my classroom, we have a bulletin board titled "My Word Work." If I shrink the word lists down a bit, they fit perfectly into these library pockets! The picture below is an older picture and my students or myself would write the words on the list themselves. Now, they just stick whatever word list they are practicing into their library pocket, and that is where it is stored. When it's time for word work time during Daily 5, the student simply grabs his or her list, and gets started practicing, using our various word work materials and activities for the week
How To Differentiate Sight Word Recognition
In my "Making Word Work Powerful" post, I explain that while students are working on a word list, they also get to decide on two or three words from "anywhere in the world" that they want to learn how to spell. These student-chosen words can be written on the back of the word lists, or at the bottom of the word list they are working on. 
Differentiating and Assessing Sight Word Recognition
Inside the Sight Word Filing Bin, are also copies of the sight word assessments that I will use once the student has mastered his or her word list.  As you can see below, these assessment lists are SIMPLE, NO-FUSS templates.  The student simply brings me or my parent volunteer (or a partner) their assessment list when they are ready to take their "test." He or she reads the word list and the teacher checks off the words he or she instantly recognizes. There is a space at the bottom of the template to mark how many correct words the child identified. Sometimes (if the student needs it), I will even point to the words randomly on the list so that students cannot simply "memorize" the word list order. ;) 
Differentiating and Assessing Sight Word Recognition
Once the child has mastered reading (or spelling - you choose!) all ten words on their word list set, the student colors in the cute, coordinating game board to keep track of his or her progress. Yes, you read that right. The STUDENT keeps track of his or her progress. I'm all about student-led initiatives and student-led data.  It helps the student take pride in his or her progress and holds the child accountable.  This is much more meaningful and powerful than if I kept track of the grades myself.  (However, if you do desire a whole-class progress tracking form, this pack has editable pages for you.) 
Differentiating and Assessing Sight Word Recognition
Here is a closer look at what the game boards look like. We keep them in our Daily 5 folders, and after a student has reached the finish line on their game board, they get to take it home to share with their parents! You could also make a cute bulletin board out of these, however, I prefer the students to keep their sight word progress private, as this is an individual challenge that they get to work at and conquer! :)
Student Friendly Tracking Sheets for Sight Word Recognition
Once the child has reached the finish line on his or her game board, I send home a Congratulations Certificate! The pack includes black and white "printer friendly" certificates, and a color version.  The students love collecting as many certificates as they can throughout the school year! 
Differentiating and Assessing Sight Word Recognition
The various word lists allow my students to work at their own pace. Students are not limited by a word list the entire class is practicing. Differentiating, although we know it is necessary  can be tough! Here are a couple of questions you may be asking yourself regarding how I manage all of this:

"When do students practice their word lists?"
Students practice their word lists during Daily 5 time when they choose "Word Work." They also act as fast finisher activities. Students can grab their word list from the bulletin board or their folders and practice the words when they finish an activity early. They can also keep the word list in the back of their Take Home Folder to practice at home each night.

"When do students take their sight word assessments?"
I've honestly changed the day and time (and how) I assess sight words every year in my room! This often varies depending on our schedule from year to year. I found that the easiest way for me to keep up with the assessments is to allow students to take their sight word assessment tests on Fridays. I've done this two different ways: I've set aside one round of Daily 5 time on Fridays and used it as "Assessment Time." This could mean sight word assessments or other report card and district "one-on-one" assessments I need to accomplish. However, the EASIEST way, and the one I will stick to in the future, is to get a parent volunteer, or an aide, available for just 20-30 minutes every Friday during Daily 5 time. This seems to be enough time for all students to get assessed (since the word list only has 10 words at a time, it goes FAST!!!).  The student brings the teacher the assessment list and reads it while the teacher checks off the ones that were read correctly. Then, since the STUDENT is the one doing the tracking, she simply sends the child off to color in their game board, OR, tells the student "That was a great try. You are working hard. Keep practicing and we will try them again next time!"  (Sometimes, if I have a few minutes during morning work time, I'll also have kids read their lists to me.  Truly, it is a QUICK process!!!)

All of the materials explained in this blog post can be found in the pack below: 
Click HERE or click on the picture below to check it out in my shop. 
I also have a money-saving BUNDLE pack that includes the Sight Word Assessments & Word List pack AND my coordinating Sight Word Spinners that your students can use to practice their word lists in a fun, engaging way! 
Find the bundle pack by clicking HERE or clicking on the picture below:

Thank you so much for stopping by and learning about how I organize and assess sight word recognition in my classroom! 
Happy Learning,