Thursday, July 31, 2014

Take Home Folders

Last year was the first year I used daily Take Home Folders. I've used homework folders in the past, but not a real organization/communication tool for school to home.

Last summer I picked up this set from Clutter-Free Classroom during a flash freebie. It perfectly matched my classroom theme, so I went with it. Overall, the daily folders worked out great! I bought the thick and sturdy plastic folders from Office Depot, and they held up all year. I checked them out at Walmart this year, but of course, the quality is not as good. So I paid a bit extra again at Office Depot but know they will last. Also, I used my Xyron Creative Station to adhere all of the pieces to the folder. I use the permanent adhesive and it holds up all year.

Last year I also added a plastic pocket divider to store the student's daily behavior calendar. This behavior calendar really worked out well and held the students accountable each day. At the end of the day they colored that day's square with where ever they were on the behavior clip chart. If they had a yellow or below, I made a note in the square as to why. Each night the parents initial that day's square so they can see how their student was doing at school. I had two students on classroom behavior support plans, so this was ideal in terms of communicating with home and with documenting behavior in the classroom. At the end of the month, when I replaced the calendars, I would save the old calendar and could refer back to it when needed. That's a keeper for sure this year!

Next is a page protector that holds the lunch menu on one side and the school calendar on the backside. It's very handy for the students and parents.

Last year there was also a page protector for lunch money or fieldtrip money. This was rarely used, so this year I stuck to just one page protector.

Also, there were home to school communication sheets you can add to the folder. My student's parents typically just call the classroom and I found no one ever wrote in here. So this year I also took those out.

So here are my super simple Daily Take Home Folders. Important notes home, information and homework go in the front cover. At the end of the week when we empty mail boxes, those papers go in the back cover.

These are super simple to assemble and keep the students organized all year. The students take them out first thing in the morning. I collect them and then return them at the end of the day. Knock on wood.... no one lost one last year. Let's hope for the same thing this year as well!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

File Folder Activities

I don't know about you, but I have some kiddos that really struggle with learning their sight words. For Deaf/hard of Hearing students, they cannot rely on phonics to read, they must memorize every single word. It can be very difficult for students that have memory issues and/or learning disabilities. So we do TONS of repetition and practice in my classroom.

Over the years,  I have collected all sorts of sight word worksheets for the students to use to practice their words. But frankly, they get boring very quickly. So this year I thought I'd make my own file folder activities to make practicing sight words fun.

My two little girls really enjoyed these activities. I got them out to take pictures and they wanted to do folder after folder! One of them is going into first grade, so the sentence writing and word searches were perfect for her. My other little one is going into Transitional Kindergarten. She tried them and was able to tell me if it was the word we were looking for or not on the activity page. I was quite impressed.

But naturally, the kinesthetic part of rolling out the playdoh and making the words was hands down the most fun for the girls. I can see my students enjoying this part as well.

On the front of each folder, the students use either playdoh, pipe cleaners, yarn, etc to make their word. For the Deaf/hard of Hearing students, there are circles to indicate how many signs there are for the word. After they sign each of the meanings/signs they place a little playdoh ball on the circles.

On the inside of the folder, there is a place to practice writing the word, framing the word, and then a sentence to write. The second part is an activity. Each of the activities is a little different. They might find and circle their word from a bunch of words and fonts, a word search, an I-Spy where they use a magnifying glass to find and circle their sight word, or cross out their words.

It took a little bit of prep to get these made, but I can see using them for years to come as a center activity or independent work. In my class, we learn 4 new sight words a week. Rather than the boring worksheets I used last year right after recess time, we'll be doing something a lot more fun and engaging!

I've made folders for the basic Dolch Sight Words available over on TpT. You can check them out by clicking on the picture.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It- July 21st

How is is Monday again? It sneaks up fast! I did a little back to school supply shopping yesterday and have *started* to think about school. I am in denial that it's only a month away.

I have been working on some new materials for the classroom. My students need lots of practice reading, signing and spelling their Dolch Words. I just finished up the Preprimer Dolch Sight Word File Folder Activities and hope to get it up on TpT tomorrow.  Poor Hubby is cutting out all of this laminating as I type.


 I finished up my take home folders for my students. Having only seven students made this process very quick this year! Last year was the first year I have used Take Home Folders and I really figured out what works for us. I'll tell you all about that soon. (This set is by Clutter-Free Classroom, and I love the black line design.)


I also was able to get my behavior calendars prepped, printed and copied for the entire year. Last year I used a free download from Teaching with Love and Laughter that I loved, loved, loved. I was sad to see that the file wasn't there any more as a freebie. But... I did end up purchasing her Editable Clip Chart Take Home Calendar in a Power Point version. Oh my word! This made life easy peasy! I was able to cross of dates on the calendar, mark the holidays, etc. Also, the editable version made it super simple to translate the information to Spanish for some of my families. Last year I spent too much time cutting and gluing the Spanish info onto each month. So this purchase was well worth it!

Have a great week everyone!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Monday Made It- July 14th
This summer is flying by! Why does the school year drag while the summer flies? Since it's pretty early in the summer, I haven't really focused on school yet. But I was able to get one little project done. So I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It series.

I have been struggling with storing my iPads at school. I only have two of them and usually they are stacked up on the computer desk and end up under a pile of paperwork. The cords are everywhere. I'm pretty limited where I can store them because of outlets and those darn short cords. These plastic drawers are the perfect solution to my problem. I can store the first two iPads in the drawers. The last drawer I plan on creating a few QR code activities for fast finishers.

I had my husband drill holes in the back of the drawers so the cords can plug into the iPads and charge while they are in the drawer. Now my students won't have to go hunting for the iPads under a pile of papers! Quick and easy solution for iPad storage.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Special Educator Bloghop

I am linking up with Tales of a Carolina Girl tonight for a Special Educator Bloghop. I am on a quest to find other Teachers of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing out there. We are few and far between, but I know many of us are out there!

So here is a little bit about me and a few pieces of advice:

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Tech Storage in Small Spaces

I was very fortunate to get a small technology grant this past school year. I spent the money on supplemental tech stuff like iPad covers/keyboards, an iPad adapter to hook to my Elmo, external USB port, wireless mice for all the laptops, flashdrives for each student, computer cleaning supplies, and supplies for our Computer Lapbooks. It was like Christmas!

Also, due to the extra funding from the change to SBAC I also got four new laptops for my classroom. This meant with the two older ones, I had enough for each student in my classroom. And a brand spankin' new one for this teacher! That worked out really well for our Friday tech skills lessons and for completing our Computer Lapbooks project

But with the new addition of four laptops, I had no idea how to store all of the laptops. I don't have enough space to set them all up on a table, nor for a tech cart. Plus, I needed to store them next to a power strip for charging. Pretty much, every available inch is used in my classroom.

So I looked around, assessed what I had and decided to move some old binders off of the top of this filing cabinet and utilize the power strip that was already there. I broke out my old Cricut (I am lusting after a new Silhouette Cameo, but that will never happen) and cut some vinyl numbers to label each of the computers.  If you haven't used vinyl in your classroom, you should! It adheres to nearly anything and peels off without any residue. I have used it on my white board and love it!

The laptops are numbered 1-5 and the teacher computer has a K.  This made it easy to do a tech check out poster. The students come up, pick a computer, then move their magnet onto the tech they have chosen. This lets me see who has what, and every week it's a random draw of who gets to select first and so on. So sometimes you get a new laptop and other times you don't. The magnets are flat ones I found at Target. I printed out the student's initials then used a circle punch to cut them out. I adhered them to the magnets using my Xyron Creative Station with permanent adhesive. This system worked really well this school year and I will keep it for next year.

For the storage of the laptops, I needed to use the space I had available. So I re-purposed this sorter that I already had. I used more vinyl numbers to label each section to match the computers. That makes it easy for the students to return the computers to the right place. The computers slide right in and sit upright. It's perfect for the small space I have. I used an old basket to hold all of the power cords. I made sure to label the cords with my handy dandy label maker so the students are then also responsible for plugging them back in.

To be honest, the cords drive me nuts. I wish they went on the inside and didn't hang out all over the place. (In case you don't know yet... I'm pretty type-A and everything has to be neat and tidy.) But it didn't work out that way.

Now the laptops are stored neatly out of the way when they are not being used. Re-purposing and re-evaluating what you already have available saves time and money!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Hello Summer! I've Missed You!

I swear we have the best jobs around! Sure, we work our tails off for 183 days... but then we get a nice long vacation. I live for summer every year! This year was no exception. It wasn't a horrible year. It actually flew by much faster than in the past.

But I live for flip flops, sleeping in (as much as my girls will let me), and a flexible schedule. I really enjoy these few weeks of being a Stay At Home Mom.  Honestly, I couldn't do it year round, but a short stretch is perfect. Park days, swim lessons, and picnics in the backyard. My kind of summer!

This weekend I had the opportunity to meet the sweet and talented Alison from Rockin' and Lovin' Learnin'.  She's the first blogger I have meet since I started this little blog over a year ago. Blogging certainly brings people together from all over! She was all the way out here in California from Florida and I just had to meet her! Seriously, I swear we were long lost friends! My girls swam in the pool while her and I chatted. We talked about our classrooms, families, blogging and TpT. I had a million questions for her. We could have chatted for hours, but I was crashing her little vacation. =) Mostly, she inspired me to get my bum in gear to get some projects finished and to be more active blogging. Summer is the perfect time to do that!

Let's hope this summer moves nice and slow and there is plenty of time for everything!