24 August 2015

Zip Ties are a Girl's Best Friend

Hi there!!! Hope you're off to a great week so far! 

I thought I'd combine some of my most popular posts with great back to school tips that might help you out as we all get ready to head back to school. (I know so many of you are already there! Eeeek!) 

Here they are! (So sorry about the poor photo quality of some of the photos- these posts are pretty old ;-) 

Glue sponges!!!!! The answer to the always clogged glue bottles! Find directions on how to make these over at Kindergarten Smorgasboard! Seriously- best idea EVER! 

Tape the bottom of the crayon boxes before school starts! This eliminates the mid-year/January crayon spills all over the place!! Eeeek! 

Diamonds Zip Ties Are a Girl's Best Friend

Zip tie the desks together!!!! This'll keep 'em all in nice, neat rows!!! (Just the way we like 'em!) ;) 

MAGNETIC TAPE!!!! Yes please! This was an impulse buy at Lakeshore and it really works!!! I used it on my door for our class helpers board!

(I'll add their names to each airplane!!!) 

I've eliminated the kiddos' constant need to bust into my small group time with this. I am working on teaching the kids that if they need help or anything while I'm at my small group table with a kid, they need to ask their table for group for help. Here are my rules for the X:

1. Only one kid at a time on the X.
2. While waiting, no talking! (Or flailing your body around like crazy. Or making noises. Or whistling. Geez!) 
3. I will call you over when it is convenient for our group. 

We also talk A LOT and REPEATEDLY about acceptable reasons to stand on the X. To tell me your cat threw up last night is NOT an acceptable reason. If you are bleeding or are about to throw up are

I must thank my bloggy BFF Lisa at Fourth & Ten for this magnificent idea!!!! The kids turn their homework in here first thing in the morning according to their class number. I can quickly see who has it and who doesn't. The key here is quickly!!! MUCH easier than pulling it all out of the turn in tub, sorting it, checking it off, etc. This has eliminated at least 10 minutes of wasted time out of my days! That's 50 minutes all week!!! Love it!!! Thank you Lisa!!! You can find the chart HERE. And the cute numbers are from Kristin at Ladybug's Teacher Files. You can find them HERE

Duh!!! Now they know where to line up!!! And they're actually in a straight line!!! Yipeee!!! 

Whoever thought of this was also brilliant! These little trash cans (I found them at the Dollar Tree!) have saved us from HUGE paper messes all over the floor! And from traffic jams around the trash cans!!! (We were working on Hadar's School is Cool activity! You can find it HERE!) 


Do you have any tips or tricks for BTS time!?!?! Please share!!!!!!!
And have a great week! 

16 August 2015

What is a teacher?

People just don't understand 

For whatever reason lately, I've come to a clear understanding that people (who aren't teachers) really have no clue about what a teacher is. When I tell people I'm a teacher, the response I almost always get is

"That's so cute!!!"

If I hear this one more time about being a teacher.... Yes, the kids are cute (sometimes). Yes, they say cute things (sometimes). But for the most part, I wouldn't use "cute" as the first word to describe a teacher's job. Maybe amazing, or incredible (not to brag or anything), or even neat would be okay.  When I think of things that are cute, I think of puppies. Or babies. Or fonts. But I don't think of my profession as cute. I work extremely hard. I'm well educated. I have two degrees, a Masters, and two teaching credentials. I can multitask like no other, and I leave work everyday feeling exhausted and fulfilled. Cute just seems, well, not right. Not enough.

Then I had this question just the other day: 

"You don't feel like you do more work than you get paid for, do you Sandy?"

Okay. Really? Does anyone (in any profession) really feel like they get paid enough for the amount of work they do? Teaching is interesting though, because it's clearly not a 9-5 type job. It's a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week kinda job. We never stop thinking about our students. And our classrooms. And our lessons. (Even over the summer.) And how we can reach that one kid. And how to tweak things to make it better. How to give our students amazing learning experiences (usually using supplies we purchase with our own $$$)... Bringing stacks and stacks and stacks of work home to grade and cut and laminate and prep and plan which cuts into our family time. It's not like any teacher I know leaves at 3:00 everyday and is done for the day. Not even close.  On top of that, if I could come to school at 7:00, and say, just worry about, ya know, teaching, that might be nice. But teaching is so much more than that.................. 

We do all of this because we love them. (The kids- not the meetings). And when I say love, I really mean love them- the kids. Over the course of the school year they become our family and we would do anything for them, just like we would our own family.

So we bear through the meetings, the report cards, the paperwork, the angry parents, the recess duty, the new curriculum, all the extra stuff that comes with teaching. Because at the heart of it all, it's the kids. Do I get paid enough? In light bulb moments and sloppy hugs and silly smiles, yes.

And then there was this question at my hubby's work party: 

"What do you actually really have to teach them?" 

Hmmmmmmm. Now there's a loaded question. 

Yes, we teach reading, writing, math, social studies, science, P.E., art, and spelling. But it's so much more than that. Most  days I feel like a teacher plus a counselor, a doctor, a therapist, and a cat herder (and usually all at the same time.) 

In Philip Done's book "Close Encounters of the Third-Grade Kind," he starts the chapter titled 'What is a Teacher?' like this: 

"Mark Twain once wrote that teaching is like trying to hold thirty-five corks underwater all at once. But What I'd like to know is- who drank those thirty five bottles of wine in the first place? My bet's on the teacher." 

He goes on to say "Teachers are like puppeteers. We keep the show in motion. When he help children discover abilities that they don't know they have, we are like talent scouts. When we herd kids off the play structure at the end of recess, we are like shepherds." 

He compares teachers to conductors, waiters, a tree trunk, a bee keepers, doctors, actors, and so many other things that will ring so incredibly true to anyone in the teaching profession. 

But he adds (and this is my all time, favorite passage from any teacher-book I've ever read...) "Teachers are memory makers, too. We know the stories, paintings, and plaster of paris handprints that children make at school will someday become family treasures. Each day we create experiences in our classroom that our students will someday look back on and laugh over and talk about and perhaps even try to re-create in their own children's lives. We understand that kids are like wet canvases. We help paint the background." 

You can find Done's book here if you're interested: 

And the next time someone tells me my profession is cute, I'll smile and nod. Because I know it's so much more than that. 

09 August 2015

Google Forms Tips for Teachers

Google Forms Tutorial

Last week I did a post on how to create a Google Form to share with your parents to fill out during Back to School time. You can check out the post {HERE}. This makes it easy to collect important information from your parents and store it all in one, easily accessible spot! You can read the post by clicking the picture below: 

Once you have all of your information, here are a few tips and tricks to help get you organized as we all head back to school (bleh). Here's a video tutorial. There are also step by step instructions and you can download the instructions at the end of the post! 

Google Forms Tutorial
 This can come in handy when you're trying to alphabetize your students by first or last name, and assign them a number!

Google Forms Tutorial
 Share your spreadsheet with your teaching team! (And have them share theirs with you too!) They'll be able to access any changed you've made to your spreadsheet in real time (like if a child moves away or you get a new student in your class). If there is ever an emergency, your teaching team, secretary, and principal will have access to your student's important information!

Google Forms Tutorial
Google Forms Tutorial
Google Forms Tutorial
Okay- this is probably one of my favorite features of Google Spreadsheets. Color code! Anything you want!!!! And as much as you want!!!! In as many colors as you want!!!!!

Download this tutorial by clicking the picture below: 

Do you have any favorite Google Forms/Spreadsheets tips or tricks!?!?! Please share in the comments! I'd love to hear from you!!!!! 

02 August 2015


Heading back to school can be completely overwhelming. With everything that is expected of teachers- PD, meetings, setting up a classroom, meetings, PD, getting ready for your new class, meetings, meetings, and more meetings.... It's incredible we even make it through the month of September. 

Usually for me, the paperwork can be the most headache inducing part of Back to School season! 


Google Forms can be a great way to eliminate *some* of the paperwork, and get yourself organized without having to do a whole lot of unnecessary work. 

One way to use Google Forms is to have parents fill out all of the Back to School information you need via Forms! It's easy!

1. You create the form. (I'll help you with that below!)
2. You share the form with your parents through a link (I'll help you with that too!) 
3. Viola! Parents just need to fill out the form and ALL of the information you need is organized and housed in one spot like this: 

No more piles and piles of paperwork. No more organizing the piles and piles of paperwork. No more sending it home and receiving 12 out of 25 papers back, and of the 12, eight of them are incomplete and sending those back home... No more throwing yourself in front of cars during bus duty to ask parents where their information sheet is... (Yes, I've done that...) 

I'll take you step by step through the process- there's a picture tutorial below, a PDF tutorial you can download and print at the end of this post, and here's a video tutorial to get your started!

You'll need to make sure you have a Google account set up first. Once you do, go to drive.google.com

Google Forms tutorial

Google Forms tutorial

Google Forms tutorial

Google Forms tutorial

I always give parents TIME to fill this out during the first few minutes of Back to School Night, which is like our orientation. 

You can click the picture below to download the PDF of this tutorial! 

Once you've got the hang of creating Google Forms, there are endless possibilities. Here are a few other ideas! 

Get to know your students by creating a Back to School survey for your students to complete!
Set up a form for parents to sign up to volunteer!
Take class survey's about books! (We used this during March Book Madness last year!)
And when you really feel like you've got the hang of it, you can even have students create their OWN forms!!! (HELLO Data and Analysis standards!!!) 

Have you used Google Forms in your classroom??? I'd LOVE to hear how!!!

I'll be back soon with more tips and tricks for Google Forms.