Whiteboard Horseshoe Table

Did you know that whiteboard horseshoe tables exist? I didn't prior to a few months ago. Recently our principal asked us if there was something we'd want or need for our classrooms. You see, for the past ten years or so, AZ has been in a education budget crisis. We have had cut after cut which led to teachers not getting raises for years. This also meant that budgets were for supplies and furniture (much of what you see in my room was purchased by me) were cut as well.

When the opportunity came up to request something we'd like, I knew exactly that I would ask for! I asked for a whiteboard horseshoe table! It came in and we fell in love. 

Many teachers on IG were asking where it came from. You can find it via School Specialty. Click HERE for the link for this exact table. If you need one, I suggest asking your admin if there is a budget for a special request. If not, and you are teaching at a public school, I recommend trying to get one via a grant on DonorsChoose.

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Easy Valentine's Day Mailboxes

Office Depot compensated me for this sponsored post, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.One of my favorite February projects are these cute Valentine's Day Mailboxes! They are super easy and the kids love them so much! If you're looking for a craft that your kids will enjoy and is easy to get done, this project is for you!

How to make these boxes:

1. Ask students to bring in a box from home. Shoe boxes are the perfect size! It is so easy to get the boxes in now because we get packages in the mail all the time. Some students brought in a few for their friends. I just ask the kids to check and see if the box fits in a backpack to make sure they aren't too big.

2. Get some bulletin board paper and wrap up the boxes. Wrap up a few each day or even better, have a volunteer to come in to help. Parents love to volunteer for this project!

3. Get some fun supplies for your kids! I got all the supplies I needed for my Valentine's Day project at Office Depot to treat my students. AND I used the Teacher Special Savings promotion they are running right now to get 20% back in rewards toward future purchases. Shopping at Office Depot for school craft supplies can help me save money for my classroom.

4. Let the kids decorate away! I had small groups of four or five working at a time on their boxes. They had so much fun putting them together.

I typed up their names as large as I could fit on a sheet of paper and had the kids decorate them before gluing onto their box. Then they were able to add glitter and other embellishments.

5. Use a box cutter and cut an opening at the top.

Just trace a rectangular opening and cut.

They are now ready to be stuffed with valentines! This is such an easy project that my kids always enjoy!

Some things to keep in mind:

  • If you go to OfficeDepot or OfficeMax and make a qualifying purchase you'll get 20% back in Rewards to use on future purchases! Teachers can receive 20% back in rewards on select purchases at Office Depot when they shop in-store now through February 28th.
  • You must present this coupon, your teacher ID and Office Depot® OfficeMax® Rewards # to cashier in-store. Valid in-store till 2/28/19
  • Non-members can sign up online or in store at any time and be eligible to receive the offer. To learn more, visit officedepot.com/rewards

    Materials Used:

    If you are looking for more Valentine's Day gift ideas, you can find lots more here!

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    Parent Teacher Conference Tips and Resources

    It's February which means that parent teacher conferences are just around the corner! I wanted to share how I prep and get ready for PTC time.

    I like to have everything in one place to make it easy to go from one conference to another. We only have about 15 minutes with each family so saving time is crucial!


    1. Conference Report

    I fill out five or so of these each day starting a couple of weeks prior to PTC's. This gives me a chance to provide thoughtful feedback for each child. I like to upload these to my Google Docs so I can edit wherever I am. This prevents me from having to save and send myself the file over and over again. You can also print them and handwrite the info.

    What I love about these reports is that they focus on positives as well as areas of growth. I try to focus in on one or two areas of growth, otherwise parents get overwhelmed and it's just not helpful.

    These conference reports give me the opportunity to get everything out on paper that I want to communicate with families. It keeps us on track during our short 15 minute conferences.

    Teacher Tip:
    Always start out with positives. This will help parents understand that you are on their side. I've seen teachers say all negative things and that is the best way to get parents to dislike you and not take your advice seriously.

    2. Flipbook

    This flipbook gets handed out during curriculum night but we don't always have a good turn out that night so I save my extras to pass out during conferences. When I meet with families they often ask what they can do at home to help their child. These flipbooks are jam packed full of tips for parents.

    A Spanish version is included in this download and the text is completely EDITABLE!

    3. Student work

    I make sure to save plenty of work throughout the quarter. I do this by sending home every other assessment. One week I send all the graded work home and the following week I keep the graded work in their mailboxes. You want to make sure you have lots of samples to justify all grades on the child's report card.

    Teacher Tip:
    You do not want to surprise parents by keeping all the work and have them see F's on their child's report card during the conference. They will question why you have not let them know their child was struggling. If you see a student is struggling, make sure to send graded work home and preferably give parents a phone call to let them know what is going on. Report card grades should not be a surprise.

    4. Reminders

    Prior to meeting I send a request for preferred conference times via Remind. My school community is largely paper based so I send home some sign up sheets (my templates are included in my PTC bundle) for the families that have yet to sign up. Once they have signed up I send home the reminders. 


    On the day of each child's conferences, I pass out these stickers with their names and scheduled times. For some reason my kids are excited to get these and that helps them remind their parents. I use that to my benefit!

    5. Lightbox

    I made some conference lightbox inserts last fall and included them in the file. They are perfect to have outside your classroom. You can turn the light on to let parents know that there is a conference in progress at the moment.

    6. Sign in Sheet

    Last, but not least, I use a conference sign in sheet to keep track of all the parents that did show up for their scheduled time. We are required to meet with 100% of parents. We call or make a home visit with parents that do not show up. Teachers then submit their sign in sheet to admin.

    Teacher Tip:
    Have parents sign in as soon as they enter the room. I used to have them sign when we were done but I would sometimes forget all about it. This simple tip will save you a little stress when you have to submit it.

    Bonus Tip:

    Do you have any students that work with teachers outside of your classroom? Let them know when that child's conference will be. Our interventionist and resource teacher love to meet with parents and share progress that they are seeing. 

    To recap:

    • Have your conference forms in one place
    • Have plenty of work to support grades
    • Provide some resources that parents can use at home
    • Schedule your conferences electronically or on paper (both if your community needs that)
    • Get your sign in sheet ready to go and have parents sign it at the beginning of conferences

    I hope this post helps your PTC night run a little smoother! If you would like to pick up these resources, they are bundled together for big savings! Click on the image below to get conference ready!

    Some feedback from teachers:

    Don't forget to pin this image to refer back to during PTC time!

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    Easy to Maintain Classroom Jobs

    It's going to sound crazy, but I have never had "official" class jobs in our room. Don't get me wrong, my kids have had jobs, but nothing was actually displayed. We kind of played it by ear and it worked well but I wanted to be more consistent on changing them out in order to give more kids an opportunity to take on some responsibilities. In the past, I just couldn't find the right way to organize and mange them but this year I found a solution to that! 

    I'm a fan of keeping things simple. I wanted to create a job chart that was easy to maintain and that my kids could refer to when they weren't sure what to do. These charts have detailed but easy to understand descriptions right under the title. If a child forgets what their job is, they can walk over to the chart and read the description. Here is my set up:

    I've received some questions about this jobs chart and wanted to address them here below.

    How are the kid cards held in place?

    I made the spaces the size of the Target Dollar Spot Square Adhesive Pockets and my kid labels fit right in there. Target brings them back every summer and sometimes in the winters. Don't have any of these pockets? Just use some velcro or tape. 

    How do we rotate jobs?

    I introduced these this year and my kids are so excited on the Mondays when we rotate. They are so eager to take on new responsibilities. Every time that we rotate jobs, we read over them as a class to make sure that everyone understands their new responsibilities. When it's time to assign new jobs, it is a piece of cake! All I have to do is rotate the cards down. 

    How long do the kids keep their jobs?

    I like to have my kids keep their jobs for a full two weeks. I realized that this was the best for them because one week was just not long enough. By the time Wednesday rolled around, they were barely getting the hang of their job. Now they have a few days to learn and remember their responsibilities and several more days to do the job well.

    What jobs does our class have?

    For now, our class has 8 jobs. I might add some more depending on our needs. The beauty of this set up is that I can add or take away a job pretty easily! Here are the jobs:
    • Line Leader
    • Caboose
    • Lights Tech
    • Librarian
    • Helper
    • Substitue
    • Door Duty
    • Clean Up Crew
    • Chrome Tech

    I included my job descriptions in the file as a sample, but you can create as many as you need for your class. Some teachers prefer to just have a handful of jobs while other teachers choose to have a job for every child in class. The way that you run it is completely up to you! 

    I love to see the creative spins you all put on my resources! I loved this idea that @kaitys_classroom shared on IG. She used my book bin labels to keep track of where her kids are at all times. Just genius!

    If you are interested in getting these jobs charts, they are included in my book bin labels set for FREE! Yes, you read that right! They are a free bonus file! Click on the image below to check them out.

    Custom book bin labels for the primary classroom.

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