Lightbox Inserts and a FREEBIE!

Are you a lightbox fan? I love them so much that I own all three difference sizes! They are just so much fun :-)

A few months ago I released some inserts for the lightbox mini. Shortly after, I started getting requests from teachers that needed them for the standard size box. I had time this summer to resize and redesign them and I'm loving how they turned out! You can purchase this fun new set by clicking HERE or on the image below:

Lightbox Inserts for the Classroom

Want to see what is inside? Take a peek below:

Lightbox Inserts for the Classroom

Lightbox Inserts for the Classroom

Lightbox Inserts for the Classroom

Lightbox Inserts for the Classroom

Lightbox Inserts for the Classroom
Pre-made and editable designs are included in this set. 

Want more info about how you can use a lightbox in your classroom? Check out my post loaded with info by clicking on the image below: 
Lightbox in the classroom.
Have a lightbox and want to try an insert? I have a freebie that is perfect for back-to-school time! Click HERE to pick up a copy.
Free lightbox insert for the classroom! Perfect for back to school time!

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Monday Made It Hosting

Guess who's hosting Monday Made It this week? I was so excited for the opportunity because I have always loved this link up so much!

Here is a little peek at my projects for this week:

Check out this post and link up with Tara by clicking on the image below:

P.S. there *may* be a little freebie in it for you ;-) 

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Teaching and Assessing Writing in the Primary Classroom

I have always loved reading my students' writing, but knowing how or what to teach during writing was a different story.  That was until I realized that I could use my students' writing to guide my lessons. After a few years of experimenting I found a system that worked well for my students and myself and created a tool that has been a game changer!

Each day, I teach a 5-10 minute lesson and model writing.  The lessons are focused on a big idea for the week.  Then my students write in their writer's workshop journals.

I do not grade these journals.  I want them to be a place for my kids to explore their creativity and experiment with the concepts we are learning.  While I do not grade these journals, I do grade their writing assessments.  The assessments are where I get future lesson ideas.  This is where my writing templates come into play.

These templates are perfect for grade 1-4 and I've received a lot of feedback from fifth grade teachers that said that the templates without drawing space work well for them too! 

Over the past years I received requests for a landscape version of these templates for K-1 students. I reworked it and came up with this template below.

The rubrics are editable. So you can change all the text on it. I use the FAME scale because it is what our district uses. What is FAME? Here is the breakdown:

  • F= Falling Far Below the Standard
  • A= Approaching the Standard
  • M= Meeting the Standard
  • E= Exceeding the Standard

I find that using this grading system is much more accurate than giving an A, B, C etc. I don't think I was ever given this much clarity about my grades, even in high school or college. How many of us remember being given a A, B, or C without any explanation? None of us liked that. Clear criteria eliminate that whole scenario.

When I grade them I look to see what concepts my students need to work on. This is where I get my lesson skills to focus on to during whole group or small groups.  I take that idea and focus in on it for the next week or so. The skills can range from sounding out our works, using the word wall,  spacing their words appropriately, using commas in a series, etc.  Prior to handing out the assessments,  I enlarge the rubric on the Smartboard so that we can go over the criteria prior to their writing.  Going over the rubric is vital because it makes the expectations clear to my students.

Children write at different ability levels.  Differentation is so important in writing, just like any other subject area. This is why I provide my students differentiated writing templates when needed.  My beginning writers use a template with a larger drawing area and primary lines.  My more proficient writers use paper with a small drawing area that allows for more writing.  I also make them double sided so that they can continue writing on the back.

Now let's zoom in on the rubrics themselves. Each group has an individual rubric that is tailored to the specific skills they are working on.  My beginning writers are working on different skills than my more fluent writers. There are also levels in between.  Here is a peek at some of the different leveled rubrics I have used:

I originally embedded the rubrics to save myself time (no more cutting and stapling them onto my students' writing), but those rubrics have been a great tool for my kids! They look over their rubrics and try to make sure that they are using the skills they have learned. It adds a whole new level of accountability.  They make grading writing a little easier because the rubric takes the guess work out of grading.  Another benefit is that my students' parents have a clear snapshot of their child's writing ability and a clear understanding their child's grades.  So many benefits from one sheet of paper!

There is no right or wrong way to teach writing. What is important is that we get our students writing every single day and we focus on their needs. If you are interested in my writing paper with editable rubrics, please click HERE for the link or the image below:

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Calendar for the Primary Classroom

I have been on the hunt for the perfect calendar for my classroom for the last ten years. I pretty much had given up the search and then I had an idea a few weeks ago. Why not create my own? Not just any calendar, but a LARGE calendar that would be visible from anywhere in my classroom! I got to work and created this:

This large calendar is perfect for first grade, second grade, or any primary classroom!!
To say I'm in love with this calendar would be an understatement! 

The first thing you might notice is that it's big. It's two feet tall and about 27 inches wide. I posted the above picture on IG and I got lots of questions about printing. Back in the day I used to print things at Office Max and Home Depot and it cost me a lot! Well, last year they introduced COLOR engineer prints and that is what made me realize I could finally put this idea into action! If you go and get this calendar printed at Staples, it costs around $5 for a full color print. You can see the details below.
The months are large so I got those printed at Staples also. Those can just be printed on 11"X17" inch paper. I then laminated the calendar and months at Lakeshore for 49 cents a foot (it will fit in my school laminator but my school is closed right now). The dates and the holiday/school cards can be printed at home. I'm planning on using StikkiClips to slip the cards in and out. So easy!

Use StikkiClips on your calendar!

Another printing option I'm super excited about is that I can print everything on sticky notes! The spaces are large enough to hold 3"X3" stickies! 

This kit comes with pre-made school event and holiday cards/sticky notes, but an editable template is also included so that you can create your own! When something pops up, like an assembly, you can jot it down on a note and put it directly on the calendar. 

A couple of teachers suggested that the cards could be printed, laminated, and attached with Velcro! Great ideas! 

After sharing this kit, I received some requests for add-ons that coordinate. I got right to work on those and here they are:
The perfect calendar for the primary classroom!

You can use the large back cards with the thin cards, or write directly in the space with a dry-eraser marker.
All these cards are now included in the set.

If you are interested in this cute colorful calendar, please click HERE or on the image below to find it in my shop. 

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My Planner for 2017-2018

Hello! Last year I purchased an EC planner for the first time and I didn't know what to expect. They are pricy and wasn't sure if I'd get my money's worth. I'm here to report that I absolutely loved my planner. I grew to rely on it and it kept me on track and organized at all times!

I got requests to show the inside pages, but last year I had already written student info and I couldn't show it. This year I decided to show you before I write in it :-) So here we go!

EC always does such a great job making their packages special! Look at how nicely wrapped everything is!

I went with this cover this year. I LOVE it! I choose not to put my school year on the cover so that I can reuse it in the future. Since the covers are removable, I can change them up and reuse older ones. I don't see myself getting tired of this beautiful cover, but just in case, I'm glad I can change it up when I want to. 

When you open it up, you'll find a teacher info sheet. I love the password info on the bottom. I'm horrible with remembering passwords. Now I can check right here!
Next up are these two pages. One with volunteer info and one page for sub info.

The year-at-a-glance is a great tool for me! I like to jot down our authors of the month, thematic units, and special events for each month.

And here is one of my favorite additions. Right before the monthly calendar, you have this sheet that can be used for all sorts of things. I'll be writing special events, goals for the month and important reminders. Love how the birthday list is right here too!

Check out the bottom left hand corner! All important dates are there AND author birthdays! Such a great idea! 

Below are the calendar spreads. Every month looks like this but with a different color way. I love the bright happy water colors they choose for this year. These are some of my most used pages.  I take my planner with me everywhere I go, so when a last minute meeting pops up, I can quickly jot it down and not have a chance to forget. This seriously made my life so much easier! 

One of my favorite improvements they've made over the past year is the new note pages for each month. I'm SO happy that they left them in place for this new design. As I mentioned earlier, I take this planner with me everywhere I go. I like to take meeting notes in here for committees, team meetings, staff meetings, and most importantly IEP/parent meetings. I jotted down my info that I wanted to share and wrote down notes from the meetings along with goals for the next time that we meet. I referred to these pages while I worked with my students and was able to reflect for the next meeting. Game changer! I used to jot them down in a separate place and guess what happened? I lost those notes. I don't have to worry about that anymore.

Next up are the lesson plan pages. It has a full seven time slots for different activities. I'm loving the new look. The old design had colored boxes and that limited the colors I could use when I planned. I like to color coordinate each day with a pen and it didn't work so well with colored boxes.

After the planning pages, you'll find checklists. It comes with seven but you can add more. I decided to add a few more because I did like using these to track my student data. 

And here are some things I like to use with my planner. One of them is my weekly checklist. I pop them into the planner using EC Coil Clips. I like to move this checklist from week to week. Mine is laminated so that I could use it over and over again. This checklist is a FREEBIE in my shop :-) Click on the picture to pick up a copy.
Free teacher checklist!

I also love to use this checklist with my planner. I realized that whenever I made a list of things I needed to get done, the list was pretty much the same. One day I realized I could just type all my info and have it ready to go each week. All I have to do is check things off as I get them done. I use EC wet eraser markers with my checklists. They work beautifully! You can find my editable pack in my shop by clicking on the image below.
Editable teacher checklists to stay organized throughout the year!

More fun stuff:

Throughout your planner, you will find these beautiful teacher quotes!
One of my favorite improvements are these stickers! Look at how fancy they are!

The back pocket is still there. I love this pocket! When I'm at a meeting, I just stick handouts in here so that I can't misplace them.
Right behind the pocket divider you'll find a page protector. I choose to add an extra one. I use one to hold our schedule and the other one for our school calendar that I can use while I plan.

I ordered early and got this free pin! So cute!
All planners come with this pouch. It comes with a coil clip so that you can decide where to put it in your planner.
I'm a sucker for pretty pens. I saw these new ones and just had to get them!
These super cute sticky notes were a must also!
If you'r looking for that checklist freebie, just click below:
Free teacher checklist!

Would you like to save $10 off your first order? Just click below and create a new account. You'll be emailed a discount code to use to save $10.

I hope you got a good glimpse of the EC planner :-) Let me know if you have any questions!

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