Back to School Success: Sorting Supplies

Back to school night/open house is always a zoo!  Each year I read blogs and find new ideas of what I can do.  One tip I read about on multiple blogs was to set up bins around the room for supplies.  Genius!  This saved me sooooo much time on the first day of school.  No, not all students brought their supplies that night.  No, not all students showed up that night.  But, you know what?  It saved me from 20 students rushing me on the first day when I called out to collect each supply.  It also allowed me to have a lot of that stuff already tucked away by the first day of school.  In my classroom, I have always had things be community supplies, so almost everything was able to be sorted out.

How did I do this?  I had a PowerPoint looping through with directions of what I wanted them to do and in what order.  The directions were also printed and at each table.  Parents had to sign in, find their child's spot, fill out a survey for me (look for a future post on this!), and label and sort their supplies into bins or spots in the room.  I had signs and an actual supply already in each spot to hopefully make this run smoothly (see the picture above).  It did!  Before the students arrived the first day, I had things put away and ready to roll.

Interested in doing this for the upcoming school year?  Click on the picture below to see the signs in my TpT store.  There are three separate products depending on language.  All of the versions include signs with just clip art of the supply and no words as well as both color and black and white versions.  To get them just in English, click here.  For the signs just in Spanish, click here.  If you want both the separate English and Spanish versions as well as signs in both English AND Spanish, click here.

A bonus tip: One thing I wish I had done to make things run more smoothly was make labels with student names on for their supplies.  I had Sharpies out for parents to write names on binders, folders and notebooks.  This year I plan on having labels out at each spot with the names printed on already.

Back to School Success: Meet the Teacher Template

Something I have wanted to do the past few years is a letter to introduce myself to my new class and their families.  With the back to school to-do list a million miles long each year, that letter kept getting put off.  This year I got a super early start and I am pretty excited to share it.  Here it is!

Of course I had to make it in Spanish as well.  Color printing is a huge deal at my school, so I have to decide between printing in color at home, or printing the black and white version at school.  I plan on either handing this out at Open House or sending it home with my students the first day of school.  My only hesitation about giving it out at Open House is that I feel like there are so many papers they go home with already!

You can grab the editable template to make this Meet the Teacher note in English and Spanish, color and black and white here.

Motivate Students to Read at Home with BINGO!

I was tired of my plain old reading logs with spots for the date, title of the book(s) read and parent signature.  My students were not motivated or excited.  I only had about 75% of reading logs signed daily.  The others... I was lucky if they were signed once a month.  Were the students who had their reading logs signed daily actually reading for 20 minutes?  Probably not.  I think that, for the parents, as long as their child read SOMETHING, they signed the reading log.

Then I saw a few versions of Reading BINGO.  Of course I needed something different.  Reading logs for my dual language first grade classroom have to be in both English AND Spanish (back-to-back with the same options in both languages), simple enough for firsties, and easy enough for them to accomplish all of the tasks (keeping in mind many things including lack of resources at home and a big range of reading abilities).

I created four versions of Reading BINGO in a 4x4 grid.  Parents are only supposed to sign off on one square per day.  That doesn't mean that students can't do more than one in a day, but they need to choose which box they want to mark off.  When they have the entire card filled out, they can turn it in for a prize of the teacher's choosing.

My plan is to start this with my new group right away in the fall.  Right now I have a few very eager guinea pigs testing it out.  They were so excited to be the special testers and to show me what they had done each day. My sister, who teaches in a bilingual kindergarten class of all native Spanish-speakers, started doing this with her whole class.  She said that her students are motivated and loving it too.  Starting it mid-year, she did have to answer a few questions from parents, but it has been very well received by parents and students alike.

If you want to grab these worksheets for your class, there are three options available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can get the Spanish only version here, the English only version here, or the bilingual bundle here.  All versions also include an editable PowerPoint template to create your own Reading BINGO.  Enjoy!

Fanatics of Jonathan London's Character Froggy

My students are Froggy fanatics!  I have been teaching Jonathan London author studies the past few years, usually in Spanish.  This was my first year teaching it in English and my students were so excited to learn that a new book, Froggy Goes to the Library, was coming out while we were doing our Jonathan London author study (March 2016).  They could not WAIT for me to get it from the library.  It did not disappoint.

Being a dual language classroom, only about an hour a day is in English in the classroom.  Most of the year we focused on extending the previous content unit studied in Spanish.  We took a break from that to do an author study and even the normally quiet students became active participants.  All four language domains were being used and their language took off.  I started by spending a few days on a book, but quickly ditched that idea and went to a new book a day when possible.  I did this so we could get through more books (think of all the new language!) and to keep their interest since they could not get enough of Froggy.

Some days we focused more on oral activities like sharing a prediction, retelling the story, sharing our favorite part or a talking about text connections (text-to-text and text-to-self).  Other days I read a new story and they did a quick partner share before writing on some of the worksheets I made to go along with their books.  I do not teach writing in English, so keep that in mind when you read their examples. :)

Worksheet to go along with Froggy Bakes a Cake

Worksheet for favorite Froggy book - Their reasons were so funny!
If you want to grab these and the other Froggy worksheets, click on the images above or click here to see the product in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Addition and Subtraction Board Game

At my school we have a special kind of parent-teacher conferences where we have "team meetings" with all of the parents.  We show them class data and teach them an activity that they practice and then bring home to their children.  When my first grade team met to decide what activity we could give the parents that the students would be excited about too, we decided on a board game.  Since we had already given the parents an activity to practice fact fluency to 10, we made this game to 20 (to meet CCSS).  After a quick search online, for something to use, I volunteered to create one.

We know that our students are not fluent in their facts to 20, so we included in our the directions that students may use manipulatives or paper and a pencil to help solve the equations.  If we are going to tell parents that, then we also need to show them that.  So, to go along with the game boards, I also created manipulative mats.

I like to teach my students the activities the parents will get at the meeting beforehand to get them excited about it.  Knowing the addition and subtraction to 20 games will be difficult, I also created versions to 5, 10 and 15 and introduced the lower boards first.  They absolutely LOVE them!!

I glued each level back-to-back (addition/subtraction) with construction paper in between and laminated them.  We used beans as counters because that is something that might be used at home when they play.  Click on the images above or here to see this product in my store.

Little Known TpT Tips for Buyers

For years before I finally decided to become a seller on Teachers pay Teachers, I was solely a buyer.  Here are a few things I learned over the years that I feel like many buyers don't know:

1.  Feedback = TpT Credits

That's right.  After you buy a product, make sure you go back and leave some love for the teacher-author!  For every dollar you spend, you will earn one TpT credit.  They even round up for you!  It seems like nobody does that anymore in the buyer's favor!  Don't believe me?  Click here to read more.

2.  Leaving Feedback vs. Product Q&A

Believe it or not, sellers love to hear from the people using our resources.  We love those warm fuzzies!  BUT, we are human and no matter how many times we look something over and even our colleagues look things over for us, sometimes something slips by.  If you do find a mistake of some sort in a product that you download for free or purchase, please let the seller know!  This is not done through leaving negative feedback.  If you find something in the product like a typo or a flat out mistake you should contact the seller through the Q&A first.  Give him/her a reasonable amount of time to respond.  Most sellers I have contacted with a problem have been very quick to respond and have been so gracious.  One even let me pick another product of hers for free for pointing out a few mistakes!

3. Check your My Purchases for updates

Products are updated for a number of reasons.  Sometimes sellers choose to update the style of the product, add pages, update content, etc.  Since you already purchased the item, you can simply download the updated version at no additional cost.   Next to the product icon, you will see a note in red font saying "Newly Revised Re-Download."

Making Space with a Bookshelf Reading Bench

I mentioned in my first post about how my hubby is very handy and I often put him to work on projects for my classroom.  This is one of my favorite projects he has done for my room, and the most recent.  I absolutely LOVE this bench!  Finding a spot for all of the browsing boxes each year was challenging.  This summer I was looking at classroom setups on Pinterest and found a few things I combined into THIS:

The maximum number of students per room was supposed to be 18, so I had him make it to perfectly fit 18 boxes.  Well, you guessed it... that rule changed without us being told and now I have 19.  That one little box floating around really bothers me.  If only I had known!  My mom helped me with sewing the cushion cover for the top of this bookshelf/bench.  Of course it is removable in case of any accidents, etc.  The students LOVE laying on it during Read to Self.  I like that it has a purpose in holding all of those boxes, which has now freed up space on other shelves.  Win-win.

Differentiated Scrambled Sentences

When I first discovered cut and paste scrambled sentence worksheets in Spanish a year or two ago I was in LOVE. I liked the idea of reinforcing the basics of sentences like starting with a capital letter, leaving spaces between each word and ending with a period. They could even label the simple pictures that went with the sentence! I started to design my own to go along with the integrated units we were working on like seasons and organisms. All of the worksheets had the same format. Students were expected to cut out words and organize them into a sentence that made sense. Then they wrote the sentence on the line below.

What became more and more of an obvious problem was that this was not really beneficial for the lower students. First of all, they struggled to even read the words. If they couldn't read them, how could I expect them to put them in a logical order? When I worked 1:1 or in a small group to help them complete the worksheets, they often had to be reminded that the sentence needed to start with a capital letter. It just didn't work.  My students needed the activity to be differentiated.

I started making three different versions of the same worksheet.  Version 1 is for my lowest students who are really struggling.  They simply have to cut the words and glue them in order to match the sentence that is already written (made with both a regular line and ruled lines).  This is more of just a matching.  Version 2 has the students copy the sentence that is already written.  This gives them practice with handwriting, leaving spaces, starting with a capital letter and ending with a period.  Version 3 is the original version where students have to cut the words and organize them into a sentence before gluing and then writing.  These have been working much better.  I am working on a 4th even higher version now that it is nearing the middle/end of the school year.  Here are some student examples of versions 2 and 3 from my students (from the Spending & Saving Money pack found here in Spanish).

My higher student chose to go above and beyond by labeling her picture as well.  She carried this over from the beginning of the year when we really practiced labeling everything.

I did it!

Yikes!  I finally took the plunge and became a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers.  After 7+ years of being a bilingual teacher and having to create countless resources to use with my students, I decided to take things to the next level by making items available for others in the same situation.  I'll start with an introduction and a little about my teaching journey.

When not at school, I love to scrapbook, play volleyball, travel, and spend time with my family.  I am busy at home with my wonderful husband, two stepdaughters (12 and 14) and 3-year-old twin daughters.  My husband is very handy and often gets put to work making things for my classroom.  I am sure I will show off some of his handiwork in the future!  The older girls are busy with sports and always keep us running.  The younger girls love to play outside and with dolls.  Twins are amazing and it has been so fun watching them grow up together.

My first year teaching was a difficult one.  The first half of the day was spent teaching literacy to a mixed group of kindergarteners and 2nd graders.  (Yes, literacy for K/2. At the same time.)  In the afternoon I taught literacy to third graders.  Not being part of one grade level meant I didn't really have a team to work with.  The next year I switched to teaching a bilingual first grade class and joined a team with 3 others bilingual teachers.  Collaboration is a beautiful thing!  The following year I had to switch roles again and was moved to the dual immersion program.  I have been teaching dual language since then and love watching the students learn from one another.  At my school I am lucky enough to work with two other first grade bilingual teachers who are very willing to plan together and share resources.

I am excited to become a member of the blogging community and to share some of my classroom experiences with you!