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Have you used this strategy?  I use it with my 4th and 5th graders every year but 3rd graders could use it too.  For those of you who aren't familiar with SQ3R, it is a great strategy to use with non-fiction, especially textbooks.  It keeps students actively engaged while writing.

To use it, have each student fold a piece of paper in half hot dog style and give them a non-fiction text.

S - Survey - Students should survey the text.  Read headers, bold words, titles, captions etc...
Q - Question - Ask questions about the text.  I have students turn the headings and titles into questions.  These are written on the left side of the paper.  
R- Read - I have my students read one section at a time.
R - wRite - (I know, it doesn't really start with an R) Students write the answers to their questions on the right side of their paper.
R - Review - Students use their notes to review the information in the chapters.  

I made a quick template to use with your students - although you can just use lined paper too.  Click on the picture to grab your copy!  

Assessment Organization

I have been a terrible blogger lately!  The last two weeks have been spent writing IEP's, calling parents, writing 40 progress notes (still not done), and getting all of next weeks plans to my principal....All of this was due yesterday!  Thankfully, my principal gave me until Monday for my plans and the progress notes have a secret 5 day extension.   I was at school until 8 on Thursday trying to get everything done.  It has been a loooong week and needless to say, I didn't have much time for blogging!  

I am ALWAYS nervous to write IEP's and progress notes.  I like to make sure I have student work to back up what I am saying.  I keep almost every paper/worksheet my students do.  The only thing they take out of my room is scrap paper.  Storing all of this is a nightmare, at least for me.  I don't want to get rid of anything that I may need for documentation just in case some sort of lawsuit opens up (which happens in my district).  This is what I have been doing: 

All student work goes in a "finished work" basket.  When that fills up I bring everything home and sort it by student (as you see here).  Then I hole punch everything and put it in my assessment binder. 

I bought numbered tabs from Staples and stuck it in my binder.  Each student has a number.  I laminated the cover sheet so I could write names in a wet-erase marker and use the sheet year after year.  Last year, I just dumped all their work behind their tab...not very organized :) 

This year, I added a cover sheet under each tab with the students IEP goals.  All their work is then organized by IEP goal. 

I have progress tracking sheets for each goal...

and I keep their assessments/work behind the progress tracking sheets.

The problem is the binder gets way too full.
To cut down on the amount of loose paper, I started making assessment notebooks for each kid.  This is a math fact notebook.  Most of the time, math fact goals are assessed bi-weekly.  I printed out and numbered 20 addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division fact drills.  I spiraled them all together this year because my students needed all 4.  Next year, I will have one spiral for each operation.  I am doing the same thing with   word problems, and writing assessments.  This won't be totally up and running until next year but I am hoping it will cut down on the amount of paper I'm keeping.

I'm off to a baby shower...enjoy your weekend!

Complete Sentences

Do you find it hard to teach sentence writing to your students?  I did until I started breaking the sentences down into:
Who?  Did what?  When?  Where?  How?
Using this method really improved my students sentence and paragraph writing!  I made some writing sheets for my students a while ago but they weren't cute.  I bought some adorable new graphics last week and decided to use them to update my old boring sheets.  

Both of these kits include a sample lesson plan, brainstorming cards for the board, sentence writing pages (with primary and intermediate lined paper), and paragraph writing pages (also with both types of lined paper). 

I also made this mini-preview freebie for you to check out before you buy one of the other kits.  
Click on the pictures to be taken to the products!  

Pinterest Inspired Classroom

As many of you are, I am working on getting organized this year.  I don't want to just organize though..I want everything to look cute, colorful, and clean.  To keep me focused on this goal, I thought it would be helpful to visualize what I want my room to look like/feel like.  I gathered some pictures I've found on pinterest that inspire me and I thought I'd share them with you.  Click on the pictures to be taken to the original source! 

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I love this word wall!  
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Sticking with the colorful theme, I like the rainbow of binders!

I love this desk...My desk is terrible! 

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I'd like to hang something like this over the whiteboard.

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This would be a great addition to the shelves above my desk.

I like the idea of organizing materials in binders.

This weeks prompt from Clutter Free Classroom is to share pictures of your purging.  I don't have a lot of materials so I didn't do any purging.  I figured this would be my supplementary post.  

Versatile & Liebster Awards!

Two awards?!  Are you kidding?!  It still surprises me when people read what I write.  I know how much other blogs have helped me as a teacher and it's weird to think that I could be helping others in the same way.    Okay, on to the awards!  

Thank you to Ms. D at 
Carrie from
for this award!  

1. Thank the person who gave it to you. Thank you:  
Haley from 
Kristin from

2. Share 7 things about myself. 
-I have an obsession with polka dots.  I have a polka dotted rug, dishes, kittens even have polka dots on them (that was not planned)
-I also have a problem resisting bags.  When I see cute bags, I buy them and now I have way too many! 
- I live in pajamas.  If I'm home, I'm wearing pj's. 
-I love trees. 
- My second career choice was being an interior decorator. 
- I have a bunny who has his own room in my house.  He is free to do what he wants in his room and is never locked in his cage. (He is litter box trained). 
- I'm a Yankee fan. 

3. Pass this award on to 15 other bloggers who deserve such a great award!

 I can't choose only 15 bloggers so if you follow my blog, feel free to grab this award for yourself as well!  You all deserve it!  

Sight Word Book Freebie

Halfway through my first year, I was assigned a group of 1st grade girls.  Up to this point, I was used to working with 3rd-5th graders.  My plans for the girls were the same as my older kids - read a book and do some sort of writing with it plus a little word work.  The girls were done in about 10 minutes.   I still had 20 minutes to fill.  The girls needed to work on sight words so I decided to make a dolch kit and practice sight words during our sessions too.  Since I still had time left in my sessions, I made a simple sight word book template.  I had the girls choose one sight word from their list that they struggled with and write a predictable book using that word.  
Here is a  small picture of the cover.

Sorry that these pics are sideways - I can't figure out how to make them the correct way!  These are interior pages from a students book called "They had Animals".  Her pages say things like "They had an elephant."  "They had a cat."  The girls were able to recall & retain the sight words they made books with.  Within 2 months, they were discharged from AIS (academic intervention services).   You can grab your free copy of my book template at my Teachers Notebook store!  

Organizing Plan

Today was one of the first snowy days we have had this winter!  I don't have any other pictures for this post so I figured a nice snowy day picture would be a good addition. 

I really wanted to skip this post.  I want to snap my fingers and be organized...that would be nice, wouldn't it?  Unfortunately, I don't think that is a realistic plan so here is a more realistic one:

  1. Create permanent sub plans
  2. Create a schedule for when I write plans and do them a week ahead
  3. Re-organize my assessment binders
  4. Set up my special ed binder with all the forms I need each year
  5. Buy and keep items on hand to help me keep up with the paper piles (file folders, folders, binders)
  6. Clean up the My Documents folder on my computer and back everything up onto an external hard drive
  7. Clean out my filing cabinet...I am getting rid of
    • Duplicates
    • Items that are no longer relevant to my curriculum
    • Old student work
My organization issues do not come from having an abundance of stuff in my room.  I am still a fairly new teacher and I was not given any materials from other teachers when I was hired so everything in my room, I bought.  My rooms are pretty empty honestly so I'm not doing a lot of purging.  I need to create systems for myself to help me keep up with all of my paperwork.  This plan isn't done but it's a start!  I look forward to reading what everyone else is doing! 

On an unrelated note, I am looking for some cute math/literacy units for students at a second/third grade level.      Everything I'm finding is at a 1st grade level so if you have anything or there are any Teachers notebook or TPT stores you like, let me know!  Also, I am posting a sight word freebie tomorrow so stay tuned! 

Don't forget to link up with Clutter Free Classroom with your de-cluttering/organizing plan !

Daily Materials

This year started off so well!  I was always planned ahead...I was on top of paperwork...I made like 20 games from all of your TPT stores...It felt great!  This all fell apart in the second quarter and I'm not really sure why.  Now that I have fallen behind, my paper piles are coming back and I can't find things.  I need to set up permanent systems for taking care of all the paper.  

I stopped at staples last week for $3 file folders and $15 rolling carts.  I like to keep file folders on hand so if I find materials that I want to keep, I can quickly make a file for them.  I planned on using the rolling carts for my daily lesson materials.  My school uses a 6 day cycle and these have 6 drawers - 1 for each day!  So this weekend I started making labels and I LOVE how they came out.  

Here they are in my classroom with my new sub plans holder:  

I'm hoping that this will absorb a lot of my paper when I go to the copier and come back with a 100 copies that end up sitting on my desk for the next month.  The next project on my to-do list is permanent sub plans (I already made the cute sign).  I'm going to grad school full time starting February 1st and I really need to get my act together before then!  

Clutter Free Classroom Project

I am sooooooooooo excited to join the Clutter Free Classroom Project!  As soon as I heard about it, I knew it was something I had to do, after all it is my biggest new years resolution!  I did a whole series of posts on how I organized myself (search or use the tag Organization to find them) but I have a lot more to do.  There have also been a TON of changes in my state and district since I wrote those and I need to re-organize with those changes in mind as well.   

My before pictures: 

 Wasted unorganized bookshelf space

 Shelves behind my desk :( 

 Counter behind my desk

 The top of my filing cabinets collects a lot of random clutter.

Messy desk drawers...I really don't use the inside of my desk

Here is this weeks prompt to respond to:

What were your thoughts when you took your before pictures? Was your "current state of affairs" better or worse than you thought. What are you most excited about tackling?

I don't feel too overwhelmed by these pictures.  I think I'm better off than I thought...I feel so disorganized though!  My shelves need to be straightened but if I had 5 minutes, they would at least look neater.  I think my biggest problem is with my systems, not my room appearance.  I'm most excited about organizing lesson materials for the week and my assessments.  Visit Clutter-Free Classroom to join in!