Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Wonders Pacing Guide

Hi Dear Friends!

If you've been following this little ole' blog for awhile now, you'll know that my school district adopted the McGraw-Hill Wonders curriculum last year.  Now that I have one full year with this series under my belt, I feel better prepared for what I NEED to do/ WANT to do with this series to help it blend with my teaching style.

So.. I sat down and created a pacing guide that I could follow this year. When we first began the series last year, each week for me was more like 10 days.  Everything was so new to our kiddos and they needed extra practice and a slower pace.  This year it is much different.  I LOVE to use stations and more hands on activities with the Wonders series to change things up a bit.     I created a 7 day pacing guide for each week in our series.  I'm still making sure I get in the skills, vocabulary, and stories, but I'm making it fit "me" and my teaching style.   ( I should preface this by saying the district I teach in does not require that we teach things exactly from the series, but make sure we hit the skills that are with each week.)   I also have been teaching a novel/literacy unit at the end of each unit.  The kids love it!  AND... it's a nice break from the reading series.      By the end of the school year, I will have completed 4 Wonders Units and 4 literacy units.    (My admin. asks that we get through 4 units of the Wonders during 1 school year.)

So, here's the  7 day pacing guide I created for myself.  I simply copy one for each week, pencil in the information with stories we will read and the activities that we will do with each skill.  Then I 3 hole punch this pacing guide and place in my lesson plan binder. 
You can click HERE or on each picture above to download my 7 day pacing guide.

I have also created Wonders supplemental units that include fold-its with comprehension and skill strategies over the reading stories.  These work well in an interactive reading notebook.  There are also vocabulary activities that work well in stations, spelling tri-folds, and my favorite are the daily morning warm-ups.  These review the language arts skills that are taught in each week.  I also send home weekly focus walls to my student's parents.  These include the vocab words, spelling words, and skills taught in reading for that particular week.  If you are interested in finding out more, please click HERE to find these units in my TPT store, or on the photo below.


I would LOVE to hear how you use Wonders in your classroom, and what supplemental resources you would love to see for this series.

Enjoy your week!

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Creating a digital Danielson Evidence Binder

Hi Dear Friends!!!

My school district is embracing the Danielson model of teacher evaluations.  There is still some dispute in our district on what types of items should be included for showing student growth, so that part is missing right now.  This year our school district was simply asking for volunteers that would be willing to pilot this model.   I volunteered.  I realize it would require more work, but it's something that will be expected in the future years.

I created a binder with sections for Domains 1-4.   In this binder I have things such as copies of parent e-mails and communication and district logs of activities.  That is all that I have in this binder!!!  My administrator is a proponent of less paper, so I decided to keep the rest of my evidence in a digital file.  I love it, especially since I did away with most of my paper files in my classroom this past summer.   I keep most everything on my flash drives in files labeled with each subject area and month.  

First, I had to get my desktop of my Mac organized.  I would have many files, so I created this screen saver for my desktop.

The graphics are by Ashley Hughes.  You can grab this screen saver by clicking on the photo below and saving it.  Then go into the preferences on your computer.  Go to screen saver, and upload this photo.
To create my Danielson Digital Binder, I first purchased a flash drive.  I would load my file from my laptop onto the flash drive to give to my administrator.    Then I created files on my desktop so that I could easily copy my "evidence" from my other flash drives.  Here's a photo of the files I created.  I created a language arts, behavior management, writing, social studies/science, lesson plans and newsletters, parent communication, and reading.  You can include whatever files fit for Domains 1 and 4.  I could have also included a student data file with samples of student work.  Rather I decided to make a file within each subject area for uploading samples of student work.
Once I created files on my desktop, I simply began copying my "evidence" from my flash drives into the files.  This was easy since I have already have my information organized on my flash drives.  For reading, I included things I had created to go with our reading series and other products I have purchased to go along with our reading series.  I also had copied student work and uploaded these samples into an area called " student work".  I included rubrics created, photos of bulletin boards created,  and research projects as well.  I did this for each file area.  In my behavior management, I included copies of my rules, clip chart, classroom coupons, information handed out to parents, and etc.  In my parent communication, I included notes that I've sent home, information with passwords for various online tools students have access to, and my parent handbook that is given at the beginning of the school year.  In my lesson plans and newsletters, I included a copy of my online digital lesson plan book, lesson plans that I daily have out on my desk just in case a substitute is needed, and copies of newsletters that are e-mailed to parents on a weekly basis.

After I had copied all the information I wanted,  I then created a file on my desktop called " Mehrtens' Digital Danielson Binder".
Before I dragged and dropped all of my files into this one file, I created an introduction that I placed in each file for my administrator to look it.  I basically just mentioned some of the things my administrator was going to find in each file.   Here's a look at one sample of this:
If you would like this cute little format, you can snag it HERE for free from my Google Docs.  The graphics are by the amazing Ashley Hughes.
Finally, once I had created and placed these introduction pages into each file, I was ready to drag and drop all the files into my "Mehrtens' Digital Danielson Binder".   Then I was able to insert my new flash drive and drag my file onto the flash drive.  Voila!  It's ready for me to give to my administrator tomorrow.

I would love to hear from all of you on any suggestions that you have.   This is my first time with this type of evaluation, and so I'm on a huge learning curve right now.   What are some things you have included and have you created a digital binder rather than a paper binder? 

Thanks so much for stopping by friends!!!

Thursday, July 31, 2014

A Little Secret About my Classroom Reveal.... A Welcome banner FREEBIE

Hey Dear Friends!
Since it's just you and me reading this post.... I have a BIG Secret to tell you.
*** I didn't redo or change my classroom this year.***
I JUST couldn't do it.  
1.  It gets too EXPENSIVE to change everything.
2.  Too time consuming. ( Seriously.... why didn't I listen to my family and friends who said that when your kids get older you actually have LESS free time than when they were younger.  It's TRUE, I tell you!   I'm in the middle of finding that out now.  I have 2 teenagers, a 9 year old, and a 4 year old.  Our Nissan Armada is now officially a taxi to sporting events, piano lessons, gymnastics, and so much more. ) Life is hectic and I don't have a lot of time to redo it all. 

 I FINALLY said it.  I feel better.

I did move to a new classroom this year, so my bulletin boards and etc may be in different places.  I even purged so much stuff at the end of the year.  ( Like those all those bulletin board pieces from 15 years ago!)  My filing cabinet no longer holds files.... I purged all of my paper files too.   I went digital!  My filing cabinets are the new home to games and activities that I use in stations.

Just for memory's sake you can check out last year's Classroom Reveal HERE.

I'll leave you with a few pics I took of my completed classroom for this year and a  Welcome banner FREEBIE I created with graphics from Melonheadz Illustrating.

Of course, with all the photos I took of my classroom, I forgot to take a picture of the Welcome Banner I created for the outside of my classroom.  You can grab this Welcome Banner Freebie HERE or by clicking on the photo collage below.  Enjoy!!


ONE more secret..... Did you know that TPT is having their BACK To SCHOOL Sale on Monday, August 4 and Tuesday, August 5?  
Everything in my store is 20% off.  If you use the TPT promo code BTS14, you get a total of 28% of everything you purchase.  Now is the time to stock up!   Just click HERE or on the photo above to check out the products in my store.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Adding some SUNSHINE to a school year and a FREEBIE

Hey Dear Friends!

I've had a chance to get back into my classroom this week and begin preparing it for a new group of 3rd graders.  As I've been working in my classroom, I have time to reflect upon the new group of students I will have this school year, and how to make our learning community a positive and FUN  (yes I said fun) experience for every student.   

Do you ever feel like teaching at times is like the postcard below?
As a third grade teacher, in the state that I teach in, I do at times.  I feel like the the bar is constantly being raised for our students ,and that they are missing out on some important life lessons such as social time with others and just having time to be a "kid.  It makes me sad for our kids.  I LOVED going to school and enjoyed 2 recesses a day to talk with my friends.  I remember my 5th grade teacher teaching us how to make these little bunsen burners out of a coffee can for a day camping trip we were going to take. We even got to repel off of a small, small, cliff.   ( I know.. it's been decades since I've been in grade school.)

When I look at my empty classroom that is soon to be filled with new students, it's important to me to  incorporate activities throughout the year that will put a smile on their face and great memories from 3rd grade.   

Life has changed so much for the society in which we live and SO quickly it seems to me.  In my little learning community, I have had students who have parents with cancer, parents who have passed away from cancer, students who are  homeless, students who are home alone for long periods of time after school, students who come from broken homes, students who are being raised by their grandparents, students who may have a sibling that requires lots of extra care and assistance, and the list goes on and on.     Can you imagine being a student with one or more of those worries weighing on their little heart?  It breaks my heart, AND then we expect them to come to school and leave all those worries at the door and LEARN?    I don't know about you, but if I were going through some of these things I couldn't do that.

SO it's time to put some FUN back into learning.  For many of the students mentioned above, school is a "safe" place from those problems.  It's a place for students to visit with their friends and just be a "kid" for a little while each day anyway. 

I realize I may sound like I'm on my soapbox.  I apologize!  It's so important to me to  make sure my learning community is a safe, caring, and fun place for my students.

Here are just a few easy things I do/ plan to do  in my classroom to help encourage a positive and caring classroom environment:

1.  I LOVE to share with my students a funny story from home or maybe something my family did over the weekend.... Believe it or not... Students LOVE to see this "real" side of you.  I often have parents that comment  or e-mail me about these little stories as well because their child shared it with them after school.     I think it also helps my students feel more comfortable and at home in our learning community.

2.Sunshine notes

While it would be extremely difficult to give each and every student in my classroom a personal handwritten note about a success that day, I do pick 5 or 6 students daily to give handwritten sunshine notes.  These notes are short little notes from me that might compliment them on something that day, praise them for working hard in a particular area, and etc.  If I do 5 or 6 a day, by the end of the week each student in my room has received a personal handwritten sunshine note from me.   It's amazing what these little notes do for some of these students!   ( I just need to be a lot better about fitting these notes in on a weekly basis this year.  These notes do make a big difference.)    You can snag these little "Sending you some Sunshine" notes for FREE  HERE or by clicking on the photo below. I've included a color and black and white version.

3.  Warm and Fuzzy Jar
 A.K.A. marble jar

This works similar to the marble jar except that students get to put in those pom poms  for doing something kind for someone else.  Once the jar is filled to the top, the class gets a "classroom filled with kindness" party.
To make this project all you need are:  some pom poms- I purchased mine from the Dollar Tree
ribbon to go around the top of the jar
a jar- I stocked up on the plastic jars from Dollar Tree
the "warm and fuzzy" printable- you can download it for free from HERE

4. Brag Tags
 I started using brag tags on a regular basis with my students last year.  It was such a hit!  They looked forward to getting a new "tag" on their necklace.  I had a special place in the classroom in which all of the necklaces were placed.  Students could wear their brag tags on Fridays.  This was so great for inspiring a positive learning environment.  Students would give out compliments to others on the "earning" of a new tag.

These fabulous tags came from Corinna at Surfin Through Second and Miss Nelson from Run Miss Nelson's Got the Camera.  Click HERE. and HERE. for the links.

5.  Brain Breaks
I find my students start asking for these once the school year is just a few weeks in.  These are a great way to take a "break" for just a few minutes between subjects.  Students often have the opportunity for movement and social interaction during these brain breaks.  You can find them anywhere..  I LOVE using Go Noodle also for brain breaks.

Here is one of the  brain breaks I have in my classroom:

You can find this in my TPT store by clicking HERE or on the photo below.

These are just a few easily manageable things I have added to my classroom to promote a positive, fun, and caring learning atmosphere.   I would love for you to share some of your favorite activities to promote a fun and positive atmosphere for your students!!!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

2 Stars and a Wish.. A Little Back To School Classroom Organization

Hi Sweet Friends!
If you are like me, you are gearing up for another school year.
I couldn't want to link up with Mandy's Tips for Teachers for

I'm ALL about staying organized in my classroom.  I feel like I teach better when my classroom is organized and runs efficiently.  SO I wanted to share with you 2 things ( my STARS)  I feel help me stay organized and  something I wish I could do better.  ( I'm hoping you all will have some tips to help me with this WISH.)
Use magazine boxes labeled with the days of the week to keep your needed copies and other items needed for that particular day.

( My magazine boxes are located on the right hand side of this picture.)
I used to keep my copies and needed items in a file folder in my desk.  I LOVE these magazine boxes.  They hold so much more material, AND they are easy for another teacher to access if needed.  It also helps with those last minute emergency plans for a sub if one of my little ones wakes up and is ill that morning.   My parent volunteer comes in every Thursday or Friday and makes the copies for the following week.  Once the copies are made, I quickly refer to my teacher plans and place the copies in the corresponding box for the following week. 

Forgot My Homework Binder

A teacher on my team introduced this to me last year, and I LOVED it.
I am forever trying to keep track of students who have forgotten their homework, didn't do their reading assignment and etc.  The school in which I teach does a monthly Homework Club Reward, and I have a Homework incentive in my classroom as well.  I used to keep track of missed reading assignments and etc in my teacher planner.  BUT with all of the other notes I jotted down, the student names and assignments missed were hard to find.  I needed something easier and more organized to help me keep track of missing homework.   The "Forgot My Homework Binder" has a tab with each student's name.  Inside of the Binder, each student has a homework sheet.  Each student simply writes the date, assignment that is missing or not completed, and I initial the entry.   I have it sitting by the homework basket in my classroom.  Each morning I check student's planners while they are working on their Daily Morning Warm-Ups.  If a student is missing an assignment or did not complete their reading minutes, I ask them to sign the homework binder.
To create the homework binder, I purchased a 3 ring binder along with enough of the tabbed file folders for each student in my class.  I wrote each student's name on a tab.  Then I made a homework sheet that included a column for the date, item not completed, and my initials.
You can download the cover for the "Missing Homework Binder" and the 'Missing Homework" sheet for FREE from Google Docs by clicking on either photo above or HERE.
Classroom Library Check Out System

Oh my, I need SO much help with this one.  I would love ANY and ALL ideas that have worked for you.  I have YET to find a system that keeps my students responsible for classroom books that they check out of our library.  What do all of you use?  I WISH for a system that is easy for the students to use, helps keep the responsible for returning the library books back to the classroom library, and helps me keep track of my classroom library books.  I loose OODLES of books every year.  I also don't want to have to spend a lot of time managing this system.  

I have entered all of my classroom books online into LibraryThing. I've even reorganized my books by subjects. Here's a little peek into my classroom library.

 Thanks so much for stopping by.  Good luck on a new school year!!  I would LOVE to hear your suggestions on my WISH. 

For more STAR ideas, please check out the links from my FRIENDS below.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Five for Friday... AND You're invited to a party in which you could win it ALL!

Hi Sweet Friends!

I really wish the summer would just SLOW down!  I know I've said it already, but goodness time does fly!!  Our first day of school is August 13.  Anyone else begin a new school year around then?

I couldn't wait to link up with Doodle Bugs  for another  Five for Fraturday.  Sorry!  I'm a day late.


1.   My Classroom  Before/and a work in Progress photos

Every teacher in my building had to move classrooms over the summer.  Our 6th grade is moving out to the Middle School, SO we will have more room.  This is my NEW room.  Notice my stack of boxes along the window.     After 4 hours of hard work this past week....my room now looks like this
The boxes are all unpacked, my classroom library is put back together, and I was able to hang the curtains.  Progress!!  I have lots more to do.... but at least everything is now unpacked.  I am LOVING all the storage in my new classroom. 

2.  Classroom Decor
I decided not to change the color scheme and pattern of my classroom this year.  I've had the black and white polka dots with yellow accents for the last 2 years.  Maybe I'll change next year....  Here's the classroom pack I created:  "Classroom Decor:  At the Lemonade Stand- Chalkboard and Chevron Themed.
You can click the photo above or HERE to check this out at my TPT store.

I needed new paper lanterns, locker tags, and bulletin borders SO I ordered these from Teacher Created Resources.    Just click each photo below to be taken to the link on this product.

AND this I found on Amazon

3.  21 Day Fix

I've heard so many awesome things about this program, that I thought I'd give it a try.  I'm on day 5, and I LOVE it.   Summers get so busy that often I forget to eat, and then I'm starving and reach for food I shouldn't be eating.  Especially this summer... I had braces put on at the end of the school year and eating salads and etc has been quite an adjustment for me. 
Click HERE to learn more about this program.

4.  Family Pics from the week....
This week has been packed with baseball, baseball, baseball, swim lessons and gymnastics.


This is my daughter's half smile after having to go to another one of her brother's baseball games.

5. You are INVITED!!!
I am hosting a Jamberry Mystery Hostess Party that begins on Wednesday, July 16 and ends Saturday evening, July 19.  If you love Jamberry, you must stop by and participate.  It's all ONLINE and you can drop by whenever and how often you want at this Fun Facebook Event.  There will be door prizes of Jamberry products and games each day of this event  AND the best thing is someone will be the Mystery Hostess.  This means that ONE of you will be selected to be the hostess at the end of the party and the hostess gets ALL of the hostess rewards and FREE stuff.  How awesome is that?!  I host the party and post games and give away door prizes and one lucky person gets the hostess rewards just for participating in the games, inviting friends to join, and SHOPPING.

I promise it will be fun, and I guarantee you will find some cute nail wraps or nail lacquer to wear for a Back to School Night or Meet the Teacher Night.

Click HERE for the link to this Mystery Hostess Event.  Please make sure you hit " Join" or "Going" so that you get the event notifications and posts when the party starts.  I will be posting more on this event page later this weekend to give more information about how you can be the mystery hostess.  If you share this link with a friend and they "join" the party, please let me know. You can just comment on the Mystery Hostess Event to let me know. You get MORE party points for inviting a friend.

I can't wait!  I hope to see you there!

Enjoy your weekend Friends!