Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Classroom DIY

Here's what I've been up to in my classroom:

Monday Made-It #1: Paint chips hung on a hook on a computer with students' log-in information! The math fact fluency program we use is called Reflex. Our county bought us a subscription and it is great! Their reflex passwords are blue. The purple paint chips are for Raz-Kids and then there are green paint chips with their regular log-in information :)

Monday Made It #2: Binder clips labeled with students names and put on their "mailboxes"/cubbies instead of the number system that I was using. My messengers could never remember students' numbers.

Monday Made-It #3: I made all of my students a paint chip bookmark. I think I want to do a monthly bookmark. They love them! And there are tons of easy, free projects on Pinterest. I want to try the cereal box bookmarks next.

Monday Made-It #4: My classroom library got a makeover thanks to Donors Choose! I asked for some book bins and voila!

Also, I am having a sale on my TPT store! It's for today and tomorrow! Snag some good deals here:

Fourth -

Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Great UpperElem-Pinners Link Up!

Pinterest has completely changed how I teach. I have been "pinspired" by so many ideas on pinterest and I've found so many great freebies and products. I am loving how teaching has become such a sharing community through pinterest, blogs and other social medium.

Debbie from Rainbows Within Reach is hosting a great blog hop for upper-elementary pinners! Click and follow these lovely teachers on Pinterest. If you have a teaching pinboard (or twelve) you can add your pinterest as well!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Behavior Management: Class Dojo update

I know that a lot of you asked me to do an update on how my Class Dojo classroom management system was going. I saw this linky party and thought it would be a great opportunity to give you all an updated review of Class Dojo and how it works in my classroom. To read the original post, click {here}.

ClassDojo is a free website found {here} at that you can join as a teacher. You just input all of your students and then each student has an avatar. Then as the teacher you can assign points to teach student or take away points. Every time you give or take away points, you tell the system why. For example, if little Suzy is being super creative, you could give her a point for creativity. If Johnny is talking out of turn, you can take away a point for disruption.

After a month of using ClassDojo, these are some of my favorite things:

1. I can use this app wirelessly on my ipad or iphone. When I am sitting at my guided reading table with a group, I can add or subtract points from certain students. The program makes a sound for a positive point and another sound for a negative point. The negative sound scares the kiddos so much! It snaps them all right back to working. I don't take away points very often, but it has to be done! When I give or take away a point, the student's name, +1 or -1 and the reasoning shows up on the Smart Board if the website is displayed

2. There is now an app for ClassDojo! Before you would add the website to your homepage, basically making a bookmark. Now there is an app for FREE in the app store. Just search "ClassDojo."

3. Did I mention it was free?!! FREE, PEOPLE! You don't even have to print anything. No laminating required. And the kids just l-o-v-e it.

4. For any parent conferences, I can print out a "report" that I run off of ClassDojo that breaks down the points each student receives or loses. It would look like this:

Student Report from ClassDojo
5. You can have multiple classes. This is great for middle school or high school teachers. For me, I teach a different class for math class, so it's great to be able to have a separate "class" with a different roster to implement this classroom management plan.

Example of the main screen on ClassDojo. Just click a student to add or subtract a point from their total!

How I use ClassDojo in the classroom:

  • ClassDojo is displayed on my Smart Board most of the day (as long as we're not doing something else on the Smart Board and then even then it is minimized.
  • Once students get 30 points, they can change their avatar. I even added some cute clipart for the kiddos to use as avatars but the provided monsters and critters for avatars are beyond cute!
  • I keep the sound on. I saw some people turned the sound off, but I like the sound.
  • You can use this program with or without a Smart Board (or any interactive white board). Just display it on a computer screen, ipad or iphone for students to check periodically.
  • At the end of the month, I give students tickets for the amount of points they've maintained and they put these tickets into a raffle. Last year I didn't use Class Dojo, but I did a system where the students with the most points won a prize and then it was the same 3 students over and over again. With the raffle, even if a student only gets 1 point the whole month, they could win a prize!
  • I had a substitute yesterday. I wrote all the students names on the white board and she tallied up points for them and then I added them to the students' totals when I returned because I didn't want to give the sub my password, but that is completely up to you. You could have a generic password so that subs could log in. But overall, it's a super easy system for substitutes to understand. Just a simple point system. Can't get any less complicated than that!
I am seriously IN LOVE with this program. I am so happy that I discovered it through pinterest. It is such an easy way to manage my classroom. Just go try it out on their website now. They have a pretend roster set up so that you can start playing with the site immediately. You won't be disappointed!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Word Study / Spelling Tic Tac Toe - Freebie to 3!

Hot off the press! I just added a new product to my TpT store.

We do word study at my school, based off of "Words Their Way." Every Monday through Thursday, my kiddos have word study homework.

Last year, I had a list of activities in the front of their word study notebook that they can do. Some are fun, some are lengthy. Obviously by the second week of the school year, my students were doing hangman and the other fun activities every week. It was all fine and dandy, they were still learning their words, but I wanted to brainstorm an idea to encourage them to try all the different activities... even if writing sentences isn't their fave.

So! I came up with word study tic tac toe, but this could also be used with any spelling words for the week too. The students need to have at least 10 spelling words. Then they just pick a row that they want to do for that week and they complete all four activities (homework for Monday through Friday). I created 8 different tic tac toe templates. They all have the same activities so that the students are used to the activities and you don't have to explain new activities every week, but the activities are all moved and jumbled up so that they're not doing the same ones every time.

You can find this product in my TpT store {here}. I am also going to give the first three commenters a copy. Please leave your email and follow my blog and I will send you a copy for you to use in your classroom. I can't wait to hear how it goes!

Fourth -

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

I'm linking up with Rowdy in First Grade to tell you something good!

My something good from school:
My class this year is amazing. No, like really. Amazing. I love them all. I have had zero problems with them. I am so excited about this year. They have been so helpful and great!!! I don't want to let them go already. They are just beyond sweet and they are super hard working. I couldn't dream of a better class.

My something good from home:
Right now my fiance and I are planning our wedding. We have a venue and a date! September 21, 2013!!!

Monday, September 10, 2012

My favorite purchases!!

My name is Caitlyn. And I have a TeachersPayTeachers addiction.

I have downloaded many items from TpT and today I want to feature some of my favorite purchases from various sellers on TeachersPayTeachers and Teachers Notebook.

1. Yearly Binder from Little Lovely Leaders
My goal this year was to be more organized. This binder is severely underpriced for its worth. It really includes three different binders and all the cover pages and inserts you would need to have a Yearly Binder, Parent Contact Binder, Sub Information Binder and Student Information Binder. Not only does it include all the pages you would need for these binders, all the pages are super adorable in chevron and super colorful!!
Can I just say that I love everything by Little Lovely Leaders? I featured her Math Alphabet freebie in another one of my blog posts. Check it out {here}

2. Classroom Supply Labels in Chevron
I am obsessed with anything chevron this year. So I bought these the second I saw them. She has tons of different supplies on here (sharpened pencils and unsharpened pencils to dry erase boards and dry erase board markers) but she also provides four blank signs for you to customize. This purchase was a no-brainer!!

3. Place Value Through the Millions
I got this place value set from Layla at Fancy Free in Fourth. For the third, fourth and fifth grade teachers teaching place value, this is so worth it! There are so many activities included in this packet from I have, Who has to a Place Value Dice Game. It also has all the place value vocabulary words for your word wall! Check it out by clicking one of the two photos below. You can also see her blog post about it {here}.

This is my favorite activity from the pack. I used it for morning work every day last week with a different number!
4. Chevron Name Tags
Ok, so every year I buy cute name tags and they're destroyed by November and then I have to go out and buy more. So I got smart this year and purchased these off of Teachers Notebook. Now every time they get destroyed, I can print out a new set!! Brilliant, right?? And they were only $2 which is so much less than the name tags at my local teacher store. Most importantly, they are so CUTE! And in chevron.

5. Memory Games from Danielle at Scrappy Teaching in Florida!
I have two of Danielle's memory games right now- the Prefix and Suffix matching games. I just got them and I am so excited to use them during centers. They are color coded and are going to be great for the kiddos to work with independently. She has a ton of other products and a lot of other great matching games.. idioms, homophones, cause and effect, etc. You should definitely follow here TpT page {here}.

So go ahead and add all of these products to your wishlist and follow these teachers' TpT and Teachers Notebook pages. Enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Favorite Freebie

Cynthia from 2nd Grade Pad is having a great linky party today! The idea is to feature your favorite freebie creation and then link up. So here it goes..

My favorite freebie that I have is my How We Get Home Organizer.

I use this in my classroom and it is displayed near the door. I love it because right now it's helping me remember when each student gets dismissed. It will be super useful when I have a substitute because he or she will be able to reference it with ease. But the part I think works best is that the names are not permanently written on a list so they can change. I know I've had a few students change their method of getting home halfway between the year. Instead of printing out a whole new sheet (which I would never remember to do!) I have each of their names taped near the title for how they get home. So if I need to move Sally from Car to Walk, I easily can!

And this freebie is great for all grade levels, which makes it even better IMO :)

I don't have a picture of the finished product with the names hanging beside the bigger circles, but I do have it hanging on my wall from before school started. All I did was cut out all the pieces and glue the four circles and the title on the ribbon. I also have different titles on the freebie download through TpT.

Click {here} to download this freebie from my TpT store.

Pinterest Debut!

I just set up a pinterest page solely dedicated to teaching. I have tons of pins in all different categories for a variety of grade levels, so please follow! Just click the button below-

I know that I am addicted to pinterest and it has completely changed my classroom throughout this past year. It is such a great tool for us teachers. Much like Pinterest, Teaching Blog Addict has been a source of great ideas and inspiration for me. I have found so many great blogs through their site. They are my one-stop shop for giveaways, blogs, pinterest boards and more. If you haven't yet heard of them, click the button below-


I'd love to follow all of you on pinterest! Leave a comment with the link to your pinterest page.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Parent Handouts for Open House

Open House Week

Today is Parent Handout day with the TBA Open House linky party... Our back to school night is tomorrow! These are some of the handouts that I will have for the parents to sign up and take home. These handouts are for Open House, Back to School Night, Parent Night or whatever your school calls it!

The first handout is our e-mail newsletter. I send home a monthly newsletter and this year I want to make that an e-mail newsletter for our parents who sign up. I just think it would be more efficient and effective!

So here is my cute monster-themed email sign-up. You can download it by clicking {here}.

This next handout is just your standard sign-in sheet. Click {here} to download!

I am going to do a raffle this year at the Open House. The lucky winner will get a small prize package of fun school supplies! So the parents will fill out their name and their child's name and then put it in a bowl and I will choose the winner after the Open House. The raffle sign up sheet can be found {here}.

Finally I always have parents write their student a letter to put in the student's desk. I remember my dad did that when I was in third grade while he was waiting to have my parent conference and it was so special. This handout is {here}.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Classroom Photos pt. 1

Open House Week

Day 2 of the Open House linky party from TBA! I meant to take better pictures, but got caught up grading things after school and forgot. So this is part one of my reveal!

My desk and our science bulletin board
The science bulletin board was 100% copied inspired by Jordon from Life is Better Messy Anyway, which I found off of Pinterest! You can see the original post {HERE}. Thanks, Jordon!

The library area with my homework pocket chart!
 This was taken before the first day of school... the library looked so much better before the kiddos came! But I guess that's a good thing! They're reading!!

The A.R. Clip Chart that keeps track of students' A.R. points
 If you want an AR Clip Chart for your own classroom, you can get it {here}
Where the kiddos hang their stuff!
My room is sooooo small and there's no wall space (because of built-in bookshelves and the computer counter) so this is my only wall to shove stuff against! It works though.

Homeworkopoly board, lunch count and calendar area.
Homeworkopoly is my fave. If you haven't tried it in your own classroom, you can find it {here} to print out or {here} to use on your Smart Board.
The computers, laptops and word wall

The frames that I made in one of my Monday Made-It's
 If you want to read more about how I made these, click {here}.
The view from the doorway
I got the bunting on the window from Target's party section! And the paper lantern in the back corner was like $4 from IKEA.

I only have 18 kiddos! But you would never guess that because my room is so small. I love it though. Last year I tried to make it more boy-ish, but this year I just went all girly with a pink and green theme.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Meet the Teacher

Open House Week

I am linking up with Teaching Blog Addict this week! Today is Meet the Teacher Day.

Me and my fiance

Day 1: Meet the Teacher
Hi! I'm Caitlyn! I'm a fourth grade teacher in Northern Virginia. This is my second year teaching; I graduated from Penn State last May.

Grade you teach: 
I am teaching fourth grade now and I was a student teacher for a third grade class in rural, central Pennsylvania (near State College, PA) two years ago. I always thought I wanted to teach K-2, but I have fallen in love with fourth grade and can't picture myself in any other grade for now.

What is your teaching "style"? 
I want my students to enjoy school. That means that I try to make my lessons fun, engaging, hands-on and memorable. I used to hate math, and it's surprisingly my favorite subject to teach because I put so much effort into making it fun. I consider the day a job-well-done when a student tells me that they used to hate math and now they don't anymore. I have always loved history, so teaching Virginia history is fun. I also used to be a journalism major so English & Language Arts are a joy to teach. One of my main priorities is to foster a love for reading with my fourth graders.

Product Giveaway! & Favorite Freebie!

I recently blogged about how I opened up a Teacher's Notebook store! I am super excited about having a TN store and have decided to host a giveaway.

My first giveaway is for my class schedule cards. If you're interested, all you have to do click to enter this giveaway. Teacher's Notebook will automatically pick 3 winners on September 15th!

In other news... I am ready to go back to school tomorrow because I had such a great weekend. Isn't it nice when your weekend is perfectly refreshing? I'm about to have a pizza and movie night too. My idea of a perfect Sunday night, except it's Monday, which means we only have four days until the next weekend!!

Back to School night is on Thursday so I'll be meeting parents and giving a presentation. I already have my outfit for that night :)

One thing that I'm super thankful for this year is the Math Alphabet signs that Bridget at Little Lovely Leaders created. I cannot believe that these signs are free! These are perfect for the upper grades.. they feature the vocabulary in our curriculum in fourth grade math perfectly and they are so much cuter and much more useful than the cursive alphabet I had hanging above my front board all year last year.

For example, B says "B.. Bar Graph"

Here is the beginning of the math alphabet in my classroom that I posted on our front wall.

So super cute, right?!

Grab your Math Alphabet freebie {HERE}

September Currently!

Happy Labor Day! I hope that everyone is enjoying their weekend! Even after only 5 days with the kiddos, I needed a long weekend. The first week of school went by flawlessly. I am beyond excited about this year. My students are just so sweet and fun! I am so glad that I'm a second-year teacher and not a first-year teacher. So much less stressful already!!

Here is my Currently September from Farley at Oh'Boy Fourth Grade.

I am so excited about college football season but I'm even more excited for Fall! I love corn mazes, pumpkin patches, caramel apple spices from Starbucks, scarves, and boots. Such a happy time of year!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers vs. Teachers Notebook

I have been on TpT for a while now and I am loving it. I can post the materials I make for my classroom to share with other teachers. I love how the world of teaching has evolved into a such a sharing environment and I am so thankful that websites like Teachers Pay Teachers are allowing us to do this.

Now, I haven't yet purchased the premium membership for TpT. I am not making thousands of dollars through TpT, so I can't decide if this would be worth it. But I have been contemplating becoming a selling member over at Teacher's Notebook. After a morning spent researching, I have decided to pay the $20 to set up a Teacher's Notebook lifetime seller membership. Here are the pro's and con's of each site as I have gathered from my research:

Teacher's Pay Teachers-
-Free to buy and sell under the non-premium memberships
-More traffic than Teacher's Notebook

Teacher's Notebook-
-Sellers get 100% of their sales immediately (minus PayPal fees)

Because I get more back as a seller, I am going to make my TN products cheaper! So I feel that this is a win-win for buyers and sellers of my store. You can find my Teacher's Notebook store here:

Remember, it's free to sign up as a buyer!

I will keep you all updated about how my membership through Teacher's Notebook goes. Anyone else have feedback about a preference for TN or TpT? I would love to add your thoughts to this blog post, so opinions are welcome!

If you'd like to sign up to Teachers Pay Teachers, click here:

UPDATE: Teachers Notebook has changed their policies since this was originally posted in 2012.

Please read this comment from this post (original comment below) from a representative from Teacher's Notebook-

"Hi there all:

Full disclosure, I am writing as a representative of Teachers Notebook, in hopes of clarifying. Jennifer, above is correct. Teachers Notebook made some big changes in January to last year's pricing model. You can now open a free shop, and everything is completely free. You take home 75% of your sales minus a 30 cent transaction fee.

Or you can choose to upgrade to a premium shop at anytime. You pay a one-time $49.95 fee, but you bring home more in sales profits -- 90% mins a $.15 transaction fee.

We usually recommend starting with a free shop and upgrading when you feel you are making enough sales to justify the $49.95 fee. Or if you are already confident in your sales on other sites and your materials, then start with the premium shop, because your take home profit is higher than on a free shop.

If you are considering the time involved in trying Teachers Notebook, our customer service is hands on -- we can advise you where to start, based on what kind of products we know sell well, and based on knowledge of our inventory. We are very sensitive to your time, and pride ourselves on reaching out to help new shop-authors maximize their time to make sales

Sorry for the marketing. Just wanted to clarify how Teachers Notebook works now in 2013. We also have video tips, clipart and other really cool new tools. Check us out!