Thursday, March 15, 2018

Quick Rubrics

This is going to be so quick, y'all!!

I have never EVER been one to pretend that I have it "all together" in my classroom. I rarely ever do! It doesn't matter how nice something looks, it matters that it is effective for your students! As long as the guidelines are clear and they know your expectations, you're set! That's where this last-minute rubric comes into play!

I start by explaining to my class what group work we are about to begin. Whether it is a project, presentation, whatever...doesn't matter. Maybe you have a hand out of project guidelines, maybe a PowerPoint...maybe you're just explaining them out loud...again, it does not matter!

Once the kids know what they are going to be working on, they should be able to predict your expectations. This may not work as well earlier in the year, as they don't know you as well yet; however, later in the year, this becomes completely student-led. 

Kids will start to name things they think you will be looking for while they work. Usually teamwork or cooperation, effort, neatness, etc. come up first. Then, there will need to be some things you're looking for that go directly with the task at hand. In the photo above, the kids were doing some work with researching. Since we were really just practicing how to research, they were mainly expected to use both their books and the computer. In other projects, I am usually looking for more standard-based skills (the ones I am assessing). You may have the help them out a little if they don't come up with everything you want them to. I try not to surpass 5 things that I am looking for. It becomes too many after 5. These are the things listed in blue above. 

I write these things on sticky notes (however many groups I have, that's how many stickies I need) and hand them to each group. They write their names on it right away (that is what you see in pencil above).

I then tell them to GET BUSY! Haha! They start working and I go around with some sort of pen that the kids won't also have (so they can't add their own stars) and star off what they are doing WELL when I walk by or listen in to their group. It is important to go to each group an equal amount of times. This holds me accountable to really walking around and monitoring while they work. This also holds them accountable for those traits and skills I am looking for. If they are not doing something they should be, I do not give them a star. I sometimes make little notes, if I have to, for my own memory. 

Once you are done and it's time for the kids to be done (you can use this rubric over a span of a few days, if needed, just make sure you collect them each day so you keep possession of them) then you collect them and you can use them to help you when you actually grade them. You can still use a more formal rubric when grading them, but this will help you with what they actually did while they were working and not just allow you to grade their final project only. 
Sometimes, it is about the process...not just the product!

Wedding Shower by Oriental Trading

I am super duper late getting this post to you all, but I feel like I should just blame it on my 11 month old ;) haha! No, she is actually the easiest baby EVER and I am so lucky! I just definitely choose to spend my time with her, and put work second...which is great....but sometimes you gotta work!

Also..sometimes you gotta party!
And that is just what we did for my sister, Caitlin, when we showered her for her wedding in the Fall. This party was a combination of decor/supplies from Oriental Trading and decor I created on my own. 

The "Mrs. Berk" sign was just created on my computer, however, everything else you see in this picture was from Oriental Trading!  

The tablecloth, palm leaves, garlands, little donut hole tooth picks, and plates/napkins are all Oriental Trading products! Of course, the letter board was something we already had....doesn't everyone? Haha! If you look closely, you will see the pink tablecloth has a black/white cloth over it on the you see it? THAT tablecloth has lasted us through SO MANY PARTIES! My sister has had that roll of black/white cloth foreverrrrrr and it literally has decorated at least 7 parties by now! We used it for my baby shower, her wedding shower, and her super bowl name a few...and she still has more left on the roll! That stuff is highly highly highly recommended! 

When you first walk in I had a Jenga table set up. No, not for playing! This is where guests and family wrote little messages for the happy couple on Jenga blocks! They get to keep this as a married couple, and when they play the game as a family they can see everyone's sweet messages! 
(There's that black and white tablecloth again!) I made the little instructions card on my computer. 

Our little photo booth set up worked out so well! It helps that the wall in her home is BEAUTIFUL! Balloons are also from Oriental Trading!

We had the gifts set up with balloons around the TV stand. did not stay on throughout the party...haha! We changed it to a music channel. 

The garland below is actually made from bed sheets I got from Wal-Mart! I cut them into strips and knotted them around the string! I actually really REALLY love how this came out. In the future, I would have steamed this out before hanging it... 

Of course, every good party has great food! 
It was sort of like a late breakfast, almost lunch time of it was really just food to pick at while you talked with friends and family. 

I love how the palm leaves look scattered throughout all of the different tables at the party. You have to look closely, because I did not get a great photo, but there are sweet little votive candles all over. The battery operated votive candles AND little gold glasses they are in are from Oriental Trading. I think these are my best pick because I can use them for everything! 

Cutest, sweetest, most adorable toothpicks for eating donut holes EVER!

I created the water bottle labels on my computer.
I printed them on 8.5x11 sticky label paper (made for mailing labels), cut them, and wrapped them around to stick. It really only sticks well if the water is not cold first. 

These "thanks" bags for take-away presents were adorable. I filled two different ziplocks with candy (his favorite and her favorite candies) and put them in the "thanks" bags. People loved the personal touch of the candy being the favorites of the couple!


Thanks everyone! I definitely only go to Oriental Trading for my party shopping. I have learned my lesson one too many times at the Party store in town. SO EXPENSIVE and the quality is not great. Oriental Trading always gives you a great amount of product for the price and the quality is awesome. I have never had a problem...that's the truth! The colors of things on their site always look right when they come in the mail...that is another concern when throwing a party. They also have a lot of themed stuff, but it also goes well as color schemes, too! I just love them! 

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Happy Notes for Parent Communication

No matter what method or system your school uses for positive feedback to students and parents, this organizational tool will help you keep track of which students you have given positive feedback to, and which ones you might be forgetting. 

To use this system, you simply write the names of your students down the first column. You can print as many pages as you need depending on how many classes you teach. Then you just put a tally in the box under the month you are in each time you send a positive note home with that child. You can keep track, making sure you are sending home happy notes as equally as possible with all of your students each month. Sometimes the students we forget are the ones who are actually behaving so well everyday! We forget we need to compliment them, since they are so self motivated already!

This item is not editable, so you will have to write your students names in, and will not be able to type them in. However, this is not so hard since it is not a formal document, you can usually just write their first names in each box. 

Below you can see the item cover that you will see on Teachers Pay Teachers. There are 14 different designs in total, 3 of which are black/white (printer-friendly) - those are not pictured in the photos below but you can see them if you follow the link to TPT and check out the item photos there! 

Friday, August 11, 2017

Education by Oriental Trading

For a few years now I have partnered with Oriental Trading to help me decorate and organize my classroom. They have ahhhh-mazing bins for organizing, if you haven't seen them already! However, this year I changed things around a little...instead of getting "pretty" things for a classroom, I focused more on educational tools this time around. I am so excited to share these items with you, because I have to admit...I never would have thought of Oriental Trading when I think about finding educational items. What about you? 

The first item I want to show you is the Nonfiction Close Reading Tabs. They have these for fiction, as well, but in fifth grade we focus more on nonfiction text. 

These tabs are created to target standards that common core and all states use already for teaching with nonfiction text; for example, point of view or author's purpose (etc.). I think if we gave all of these tabs to a student while they were reading a text, it would be overwhelming and too much for them to worry about. They would not really know how to use them. However, if we gave the students one or two tabs and asked them to try to find a good place for them while they were reading a selection, I think it would really help them to look for specific concepts while reading.

I often find that I teach my students a skill like author's purpose, and then we read a selection. I tell the students to read the selection and try to think about the author's purpose of writing while they read. However, when they are done, they usually only know what the story was about and did not actually focus on what I wanted them to focus on. I used to rely on the technique of reading something twice. We would read the selection to start, just for meaning. Then, we would read through it again thinking about the new concept we learned. I feel these tabs will really help during that "second read through" time. They will look for a place to put their tab because they are looking for something in particular. 

I love that these tabs are different colors, because it helps the students associate and organize...kind of like how we color code our notes with our flair pens :) right?! I don't love that they are double sided, but as long as the students know which side you want them to use, it won't get confusing. 

The second item is one that is great for a lot of grades! I would say grade 2 and up could really use these Caption This! Photo Cards. 

As you can see in the photo below, it comes in a cute little camera box. This picture shows how the cards inside of the box will look - a photo on one side, and guiding questions on the back. These guiding questions are better for lower elementary grades, so I will probably create my own. However, the photos are really great and I can use them for so many different skills/concepts!
(Below: A better look at how the cards are stored in the box)

Below I am showing you a few of the many cards that come in this pack. This is what the front looks like. You can use these for captioning when teaching text features; however, my brain is really wanting me to use them for inferencing! What about you? You can also have them at a center because they have given guiding questions on the back, so technically the kids don't need you to question them regarding the photo and they can use the questions given. I would actually like to hear what some of their answers are regarding the pictures, and it may be fun to use this as a partner activity. I really like how many reading standards can be taught using a simple photo! You can even use these for creative writing purposes!

The third item I received from Oriental Trading is this pack of dry erase paddles! I just love the idea of being able to use these for quick checks for understanding within my class. I've thought about some fun ideas for using them while teaching idioms, alliteration, and fact/opinion, too! My only wish is that they were double sided ... they are not! I think it would be great to have "fact" on one side and "opinion" on the other, or "true" on one side and "false" on the other; however, I am just going to get enough so that each kid can have two paddles! That solves that problem! They are inexpensive, so it really isn't a problem! The erase, well, too. I know some of you are probably wondering that! 

This next item will help me a LOTTTT! I love love love nothing more than science experiments; however, we ALL know the struggle of making groups for science experiments. Especially when you have a lot of materials and steps involved. I love these because they are 1) dry erase!!! and 2) large! I can change the groups as much as I want because of them being dry erase. The kids can see them from their seat AND I can fit the child's name and job title inside the box (example: Johnny: recorder). These are definitely going to be used a lot. It comes with enough for 6 groups. 

The last item I want to tell you about in my recent order from Oriental Trading is this board game called Tri-FACTa. 

I have never played this game before, but when I received it in the mail I 'pretend played' it immediately! It was so fun! I can imagine getting really competitive and heated while playing! SO FUN! I will explain a little about the game below...

You receive 6 number cards (triangles) and sit them on your tray, kind of like what you do with your letters in scrabble. Your goal is to make a fact family in the center of the game - the product must be on top, with the factors below it. They cannot be in any other format (as you can see because of the multiplication and division symbols). You use your pieces to exchange pieces from the fact family that is already in the game board. You can trade out one piece, two pieces, or all three, depending on what you have available on your tray. If you don't have something that will work, you will need to pick from the deck. (It is very similar to scrabble in a lot of ways!)

Let me know if you have any further questions about any of the items I have told you about in this post! I absolutely love everything and it is one of the few times I have ordered and know I will definitely USE every single thing with students. I will try to update you all on Instagram (@littlelovelyleaders) with pictures of my students using these products in class! 

Link to shop these items and MORE: click here

Monday, May 22, 2017

Mini Math Packs!

5 activities included!

Can be bought as a pack OR individually as activities
ALL links below

Skills covered:
1. factors and prime factorization
2. place value
3. mental math - multiplication, addition, subtraction, division
4. metric conversations
5. higher level multiplication (still mental math; example: 2 x 15)

Explanation of activities:

Students receive numbers and blank tree to work with. They choose numbers that will correctly create a factor tree. For students who need help, you can choose the large number they are working with for the tree. For higher level students, tell them to be creative and make more than one tree and record them on paper to turn in. Maybe challenge them to make as many trees as possible.

To make this a craftivity, have students color their tree and glue their numbers down. 

At the bottom, the students will put the prime factorization of their number once they are done with their tree. 

Place the clues all around your room and give the students the recording sheet (also given in black and white for easy copying). The students walk around and find the clues. They then record their answers on their recording sheet. Once they find all of their clues, they are finished! 

3.  Math - O!

Just like BINGO! 
There are teacher cards (pink in the below images) and student cards (orange in the below images) for each of the 4 games included (multiplication, division, addition, and subtraction). The students place the answer cards on their board wherever they want to. I have my students glue them down. Then, you call out the expressions and they can mark off the answer on their board. We don't use letters at the top, because that would just never end up in a winning game and would take forever! Once a students gets 5 in a row in a line (however you specifiy - diagonal, horizontal, vertical, etc.) or something fun like 4 corners, etc. then you have a winner! They tell their answers to make sure they covered only ones you called out, and then if they are correct - they WIN!

Multiplication Math - O! (below)

Addition Math - O! (below)

Students create the caterpillar using the tracing pieces given in the pack. They then label the pieces with the short hand, trick version to help with the metric system (King Henry, Died, Unusually, Drinking, Chocolate, Milk -OR- Kilo, Hecto, Deka, Unit, Deci, Centi, Milli). 

I have students create this on the first day we learn the metric system. Then they use it to help them convert for the first day or two. After that, I try to have them convert without the help of the caterpillar.

Cards and recording sheet given in the pack. I suggest printing the cards on colored copy paper so that the students cannot see through them.

The students play memory, as they normally would, and then they record their expressions and answers on their recording sheet, as well as those of their partners. This makes the students responsible for their own work, as well as accountable for the work of their partner. 

The student with the most matches at the end is the winner!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I may have mentioned being slightly Type A in my last post...well...that part of me is at it again! 

Get Your Centers Organized  - pack link HERE
This document is a PPT (Power Point) file, so you can edit it however you'd like to suit your needs!

So...what is it exactly?! I'll explain...

The print outs come in 3 different formats; however, they basically all do the same thing, it just depends on how you want to organize your centers - by standard and subject, just by standard, or by the week for your plans. 

Reason for creating this product:
I seem to always forget what activities, craftivities, and games I have for each standard I teach. I teach a skill, and then stumble upon this great center I have AFTER I taught it and moved on...SO ANNOYING! Now that I have these papers, I can refer to them every time I teach a new standard and then I can get the center/game ready ahead of time!

If you organize you centers by standard, you simply fill in the chart with the standard, the skill/concept, and the center/activity description. You can also use the same form for organizing it, except one form has a subject line. If you teach all subjects, it may be helpful to have different papers for each standard. The last paper allows you to write out your centers for the week. This is helpful for those of you working at schools that require centers on some days or require to see them in your plans. 

This document is a PPT (Power Point) file, so you can edit it however you'd like to suit your needs!

Monday, May 15, 2017

Get Ready for Back to School Before Summer

If you're anything like me, your room is already packed up 2 weeks before school is out and you are already making your plans and getting organized for the next school year! There is nothing I hate more than coming back to a mess after the brain is never fully turned on and I have trouble getting organized after giving my mind a rest over the summer. Anything I can get done before break is super helpful to the me that comes back after break! Haha! (Yes...I am maybe sometimes type A!)

Link to the Back to School pack is HERE
or click on the image below

There are more activities in the pack than what you see below, I just wanted to highlight a few :) 

1. All About Me - brochure

Just like I love the end of the year brochure made by my students, I love the beginning of the year one, as well! This brochure lets me get to know my students better, as well as see their level of effort. I tell my students the first day of school that this is their way to show me how much effort they put into their work. I love to compare these to the ones they do at the end of the year to show their improvement!

2. Mad Libs!

Everyone loves mad libs! This is a great way to review parts of speech early on in the school year! 

3. An About Me Inventory

There are many question on this inventory that help me to get to know my students on a deeper, personal level academically. They share things about school (their likes, dislikes, strengths, weaknesses) that I don't think they would share if asked aloud or in person. This photo below shows you my favorite part of the inventory - I find this section the most useful! It's always funny how honest they are!

4. Goals bookmarks

As a Leader In Me school, we are big on goal setting. This is a great, easy way to goal set for something academics related because once the students color them, you can laminate them and the students can keep them all year long! They can keep checking back at their goal if necessary. I like to require them to make a reading goal here, this way the bookmark is usually out on their desk somewhere in their novel during that subject area where their goal applies. I can ask them to refer to their goal when necessary. 

*Side note: The goals bookmarks go really well with the application from the end of the year pack (in previous blog post). If your students from last year filled out the application, they can look back at it to see what their goals should be for the new school year. I love pairing these ideas together. It makes for great discussion! 

I hope you find these activities useful! Let me know if you have any questions!