MLK Day and Classroom Organization

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Hello all and happy MLK day! I want to share a few free resources about Martin Luther King, Jr. with you today, in case you’d like to use them later this week in your classrooms. Last week, we read a really cute (and short n sweet) reader’s theater script about his life. It was great for repeated reading, and tied in holidays/social studies as well. Coming up this week, my students have a busy week with MAP testing (computerized norm tests, given through the company NWEA) in both reading and math for 2 days, and then I am gone for a day since my hubby is having some minor surgery. Do you ever have times when you feel like you don’t have a full week with your students for weeks at a time?! It is tough to plan for, but my kiddos are awesome for dealing with the craziness when I am away at math meetings or other events.

Anyway, here are a few free word puzzles that I found on Pinterest:
MLK word search
MLK crossword
There is also a video on Brain Pop and Brain Pop, Jr and I (think) they are free to view.

The other half of my post is devoted to classroom organization! I wanted to put 20 exclamation points at the end of that sentence because I love organizing my classroom. The beginning of the year is probably my favorite time because I get to set up the room and the materials! However, this year, my supplies have been going missing a little more often than in past years. By going missing, I just mean that my students borrow supplies from the “group” materials bins and either use them up (glue, pencils, colored pencils, stickies) or accidentally misplace them in their desks (scissors, dry erasers, markers). I stumbled upon the most amazing blog post yesterday and you can access it here. The idea of color coding everything in a group supply bin seemed so simplistic, I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it earlier! I love the way Kim from Finding Joy in 6th organizes her groups’ materials to the max, with color coordinating dots, scissors, tape dispensers, staplers, and rulers. I don’t put that many supplies in the group bins, but I was excited to at least use a few of her ideas.

In my fourth grade class, I have 24 students in four groups of six students each. The tables are red, blue, green, and yellow. I also have orange and purple bins in case one year I decide to make six groups of four students each! (Always planning ahead…) My four groups have a color coordinated bin (the red group’s is pink because I have not yet found the perfect red bin), and a recycling bucket (for small scraps while making interactive notebooks) in their team color. Their desks each have a small colored dot on it (again, the red table has to be pink because I lack red circular dots…) which has been one of the easiest and best decisions I made to start the year in August. But now, I am so excited to add color coordinating scissors to each group’s bucket of supplies! I am going to have our “library checker” take on an additional job of “supply checker” to make sure the colored scissors do not walk off at the end of each day. I bought the scissors today at Office Max for $2.49 per pair ($4.99 each pack, since there were 2 pairs). See my attached photo for the new scissors! If you need pink, they also had pink. I’d also like to start putting colored dots on the glue sticks and crayons too, in order to keep the buckets more organized. I am guilty of saying, “Oh your group is out of glue? Just borrow nicely from another group’s bucket for today” – but that made me realize I was adding to the madness of supplies going missing/switching bins! I hope this new update to my organizational system will be positive for my students and for our class! Tell me some of your favorite classroom (or home) organization tips!

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Potato Pork Chops

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I am trying to write more blog entries in the new year! My next one is about a delicious recipe that I literally *does anyone else watch Parks & Recreation and love that word now as much as I do?* made up on the spot! I was home on Monday, enjoying a snow day (our second one in less than 4 days) and decided to change our dinner plan to include the slow cooker. I usually can’t make crock pot recipes during the week because I would have to set it at about 6:30 am, and sometimes I don’t get home until 5:30 or 6:30 at night. 12 hours is far too long! I do not have a delayed start on my crock pot, so the time I start it is when it starts to cook.

I still had to attend graduate class on Monday night (the roads were fine where I live, but my school district, which is almost an hour away, had to cancel due to snow), so I set the crock pot at 2:30 for 4 hours. That way, the hubby would have dinner ready for him and I could eat later! I did end up eating later and it was delicious, and then we went out to watch the OSU vs. Oregon game! Anyway, here is what I threw into the crock pot to create a new recipe:

4 boneless pork chops
1 can cream of potato soup
1/2 can 2% milk
1/4 can water
Salt and pepper to taste

It turned out to be so delicious, and I liked it even better than using cream of mushroom or golden mushroom soup, like I have done in the past. In the future, I would love to add chunks of potato to it, and I had some in the pantry but didn’t even think about it. The recipe is super simple, but that is what makes it great — what would you add to it to make it your own?

I’ve included some pictures of our dinner, along with some beautiful snow pictures from Monday! Enjoy.

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A New Year!

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Happy New Year and welcome to 2015! I am writing this from my couch, holding a glass of wine, and thinking about all of the lesson plans I need to write! Oh well, we had one snow day this week, so I can carry some of my plans into next week. It has been snowing this week here in Cleveland and many schools were off yesterday and today, due to weather. My school was off yesterday but we were back today. The roads were pretty bad, but I made it to work! The temperatures tonight are supposed to drop to negative 20 to negative 30 degrees with the wind chill! Brrr. ❄️⛄️❄️

I want to share a resource from a TPT seller – a FREE – resource that I am about to use with my students. With only 3 days of school this week due to teacher records day and a snow day, we did not have time to squeeze it in, but I look forward to taking the time next week to complete it with my class! They love evaluating themselves and their own work. We frequently graph our math timed test results and our test progress over the course of a unit. The resource is a goal setting worksheet about making New Year’s Resolutions. It is not necessarily about academic work or specific subjects, but that’s what I like about it! I want the students to be able to think about how they want to better themselves in the new year, and reflect upon some goals they can set. I will probably require that at least one of the boxes is related to academics. If you download the resource, you can see four boxes that are flaps that the students cut, to make a type of flap book. I LOVE the cute patterns, too! You can find this awesome freebie here from The Applicious Teacher (love her name, too since my classroom is apple-themed!).

If you are interested in another way to use the cute “2015” flap book, see the pictures I’ve attached! I meant to do this last year but just never got around to it. I saw it on Pinterest and just loved the idea of remembering all of the good times from throughout your year. You display the container in your home and add to it each month, or whenever positive things in your life occur. Then, on New Year’s Eve, you get to go through the bucket and read your collection of memories from the past year! I created my bucket from a simple plastic pretzel container (upcycling!) and I printed the 2015 cover on plain paper, then decorated with highlighters. Printing on colored paper would be fun, too! I’m sure you all can get much more creative than me, but my goal here was to keep things as easy and cheap as possible. I already had the zig-zag chevron index cards, so they were free, but you can find them at any teacher store or probably Target. I look forward to all of the great memories my husband and I will add to our 2015 bucket this year. Can’t wait to write my blog post at the end of the year to reflect on how this went!

Have a great New Year and if you are already back in school, give us some of your teacher tips or a great resource you like to use in this “back to school” time!

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