Tuesday, June 26, 2018

A Tutorial on Adding a Voice Recording to Your QR Codes

Each summer when I got my class list I would begin to handwrite a postcard for every single one of my students. My kids LOVED getting mail from their future teacher. 
For many students, it was the first time ever for them to actually receive ANY mail! I strongly believe that this helps to build relationships with students and parents before the year even begins! You can read my previous post about Building Relationships Before School Starts
I recently shared an idea over on my Instagram page about adding a QR code to the postcards you send to students. When students scan the QR code on the postcard, they will hear a recording of their teacher reading the note to them. I had lots of questions on how to add your voice to a QR code so I am here to share that today!

The first thing you will need to do is download a voice recording app to your phone. The app that I used is called Voice Record Pro and it was free from the app store!

Next,  go ahead an open up the app and simply record your message! When you're done recording save your file to Google Drive.

Once you've saved your voice recording, you'll need to log in to your Google Drive to grab the URL. Here's a quick video to show you how!

Once you have your URL, you'll want to go to a QR Code Generator Website. Simply paste in your URL and then click generate QR Code. Once it's generated you can either download the code or take a screenshot of it (like I did in the video above).

Last but not least, you'll need to add your QR code as an image into your Powerpoint file. :)

My Back to School Postcards are now fully editable. Included in this file is a PDF that you can print from if you choose to handwrite your cards. 

Also included is a PowerPoint file. In this file, you can write messages to each of your students by adding a textbox and typing out your message. I have also added blank copies of EACH postcard type so that you can add in your own textbox and customize the saying on the front of each postcard. There is a total of 16 different image options for you to customize with your own text. 


Thursday, June 21, 2018

Easiest Classroom Library Checkout System

If you're anything like me, I've changed my class library checkout system quite a bit over the years. I could never quite find something that worked well, that students followed through with and that was simple. 
Today, I've finally FORCED myself to sit down and write this post. I've been wanting to share my checkout system here on the blog for the past few years...but just haven't made the time to write a post. This is the simplest system EVER and I would never go back to any other system I've used before.
Traditional class library checkout systems didn't work for me for various reasons. One of the classic systems, placing a shelf maker in the spot you borrowed a book from did not work for me because I wanted my students checking multiple books out at one time.  I also tried having them fill out a class library log, but only a handful of students filled it out consistently and accurately. Not to mention, it was just too much of a headache to constantly monitor (especially that returned column). 
The second best system that I had was when I used Classroom Booksource. 
Image from Book Source. 
I blogged about that here. When I first used it back in 2012, it was really new. Now that it's been around awhile, I'm sure it is much more user friendly and easy to use. What I liked about using this site was I had an inventory of ALL my books. All I needed to do was scan the barcode on each book. Students would log into their account and check books out. This was good because I could see what books I had on hand as well as who had a book checked out if I wanted to use it for a lesson. I could also figure out who the missing book on the floor belonged to when nobody in the class would claim it lol. 
Although this system worked well for me, my students did sometime run into issues where they couldn't find a book they were checking out in the system. It was also time consuming for students and the setup was SUPER time consuming for me. It took me forever to get my entire class library uploaded into that database. 
All you need for this NEW and IMPROVED checkout system is a phone/iPad/tablet, books, and kids. 

You good?!

I had a rotating schedule on when students could bookshop. 

Each day of the week, a different colored group would get to book shop first thing in the morning. They were allowed to choose 4 books and would keep those books in their book bags until the next time their book shopping day came around (the following week). Once they chose their books, they would simply come up to me, spread their books out and I would snap a photo of them on my phone.

Even if I was in the middle of something, it took less than 5 seconds for me to snap their photo and delete their picture from the previous week. This system allowed me to see who had what book and monitor what was checked out. If a kid wanted to keep one of the same books and get a few new ones the following week, they would just choose their new books and come to get their picture taken as normal. If they wanted to keep all their books, they would just come and let me know and I would keep their old photo.

Because I only had a few students shopping each day, it was totally manageable. I could also see this working as a class job. 

If you decide to try this system out, I'd love to hear about how it's working for you and your students. Feel free to leave me a comment or tag me on Instagram @Teachinginparadise :) 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Navigating Reading Wonders - Online

Hi Friends!

Wow, It sure has been awhile since I've last posted here. Life has me busy, busy, busy but I wouldn't trade it for the world! Hubby and I are expecting our first little one any day now. I'm both anxious and excited to meet our little guy! I'm officially 39 weeks and 1 day now...so he could literally make an appearance at any moment! Once he arrives, I'm sure there'll be crickets here again....but for today I would LOVE to share a little about Reading Wonders online components.

When my school first adopted this program back in  2014 I was completely OVERWHELMED. 
There is so much that this program has to offer.....but I had no idea where to begin or how to wrap my head around it all. During that first year, I pretty much relied on and utilized my TE because that is what I was used to....and let's face it, that was all about what I could handle. 
The following school year I stepped out of the classroom into a curriculum coordinator position. During the 15-16 school year, I really had the opportunity to explore the online components of Wonders and found some great things I wish I had known about during my first year of using the program. Check them out below!

Not sure about you but I know that THIS sure has happened to me on a few one too many occasions. 

Ever felt super motivated at the end of the day to get a ton of work done when you go home? You pack your bags with all your work....not to mention those HEAVY Reading Wonders TEs.

Then this happens......

I have lugged that heavy TE to and from school almost every single day during that first year of implementation. My teacher bag was always bulging and extremely heavy! I sure wish I had known that I could just pull up the entire TE online!! If your school has given you access to the ConnectEd website, I'll show you how to find that resource. 

Next, I'd like to share the amazing Tier 2 Resources that Wonders has available. The resources are broken up into different books based off of The Big 5 (Phonemic Awareness, Phonics, Fluency, Vocabulary, and Comprehension). 

These resources are great for those kiddos who come to you behind grade level and have many pre-requisite skills they need to work on before being able to do grade level work. This is perfect to use in small groups and/or with those one or two students that you may pull individually. The best thing about these resources are that they are super easy to implement, all your resources are provided for you and each intervention lesson only takes about 15-20ish minutes.

That's it for today friends! I'm off to get a little Netflix time in. :) 
I sure hope that I was able to share at least one useful/new thing with you today! If you are new to the Reading Wonders Program, give it some time. I think it's a great program once you've found your groove with it. If you'd like to see how I organized my Wonders materials, you can check that out here. I also blogged about my weekly plans here.

If there are other topics you would like me to cover, leave a comment for me down below :)


Sunday, September 11, 2016

Building Fact Fluency

Aloha, Friends! 
Today I'm here to share a tip with you on building fact fluency with your students.

I'm not sure about you..but my students always seem to struggle with their addition facts when they enter third grade. Don't even get me started with the subtraction facts either! lol. I also hear from the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade teachers at my school that it is a never ending battle. Each year the kids just DO NOT know their facts. 

As teachers, if we expect our students to know their facts, we need to allow them the time to practice their facts! In an ideal world, they would actually be practicing at home, but we KNOW this doesn't happen at home for most! 

In my classroom, each day of our math block begins with Math Drills. This seriously only takes about 5 minutes of our block, and I see improvements daily. Rather than making copies and having them pile up on my desk wasting a ton of paper, I print one copy of each drill and insert them into clear sheet protectors. 

Then all of the sheet protectors go into their math drill folder. 

The students use their dry erase markers to do their drills. I quickly go over the answers and the students correct their own drills. We don't log our grades anywhere. The students take a mental note of how they did for the day, and they are challenged to beat their scores the next day. 

I get my drills from this awesome site: math-drills.comhttp://www.math-drills.com .
You can print addition, subtraction, multiplication an division drills. I begin each year with addition. At the start of this school year, most of my kiddos couldn't even get through half of the page (50 problems on each page). After about a month or so..almost the entire class was whizzing through the entire page-with accuracy! 
Now, we are currently working on our subtraction facts. Eventually, we will add in multiplication drill pages as well. I usually add in 4 different sets of each operation. This way we can change it up each day. The drills from the website are already labeled 'drill a', 'drill b', and so on. This makes for easy reference to which drill set we will be working on.

The best thing about is this is that it's easy and the kids WILL get their facts down! 
I recommend getting thicker sheet protectors, because they will last longer. I am still using the same drill folders from 2 years ago! 

I've also got a little treat for you today :)

I've created some labels for you to add to your math drill folders! All you need to do is print, laminate, and tape onto the front cover of the folders. I have included a black and white version to save on ink. You could easily print on colored paper for a pop of color. Also, there are red, orange, yellow, green, blue, and purple labels in this file. 

You can pick these labels up in my TpT Store for FREE! 

If you decide to use these drill in the classroom I would love to hear about it OR see it!  Tag me in a photo (@teachinginparadise) on instagram so I can check out your math drill folders!! 

Thanks for stopping by today! 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Weekly Homework Routine in my 3rd Grade Classroom

When I first started teaching, I was all about giving homework. I truly felt that homework helped to reinforce what was learned in class and that it gave parents the opportunity to see what their child was learning in school and the chance to help them with things they were struggling with. 
Little did I know, homework would become the bane of my existence. I spent so much time tracking down assignments that weren't turned in, talking to students about the importance of them doing their own homework, and not their parents doing it for them. I also became frustrated with parents trying to teach kids the 'easier way' of doing math, the way that we all learned when we were younger when I was trying so hard to build the conceptual understanding during school. Homework was becoming a waste of time for me because my intentions of assigning it were not being met. Those students who needed the extra help at home, were the ones not getting it. 
I also began to reflect on the amount of time my homework was taking up. I began asking parents how long it was taking their child to complete their homework. What I imagined would be a 30-40 minute homework routine, was taking up to 2 hours for some kids. This is NOT what I wanted. My students work extremely hard during the day and I want for them to have time to be a kid and unwind after a long day at school. 
Since I knew that my purpose of assigning what I was assigning was not having the outcome I had hoped for, I decided to scrap it all. I came up with an entirely new homework routine that worked amazingly well. 

Each Monday I assign a new reading log. Students are required to read a minimum of 100 minutes week. They can choose what days they would like to read and for how long. Reading logs are due every Monday  morning.

Students are given a reading log each week. The minimum requirement is that each student reads 100 min. week. Students can self pace their reading throughout the week and choose a day that works best for them to answer their ONE response. 
Before assigning these reading logs, I always model what a quality response looks and sounds like. We practice writing responses together as a class before I send these home. 

I believe that reading should be enjoyable, and I highly encourage my kids to read books that they love and are interested in. I require just one response because I do want to hold them accountable for their reading and I also feel that this helps them with their writing and provides me with a check in on their comprehension. Logs are collected on Monday mornings and a new reading log is issued. 
You can find these reading logs here. The product contains 4 different reading logs. You can give a different log each week so that students are not always answering the same question. 
Photo from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad
On Tuesday and Thursdays I assign Text Evidence homework. I hand out a double sided sheet every Tuesday. One side is a fiction reading and the other side is a non-fiction reading. On both sides, students are practicing finding text evidence to answer 5 different questions. 
These text evidence passages are quick, simple, but effective. When my littles come to me at the start of the year, locating text evidence is always so difficult for them. These sheets as homework really help to build proficiency with locating text evidence. Here is a GREAT post from Jenny, the creator of the Text Detectives product I use on how to get kids to refer back to the text. 

Students are given the option on how they complete these assignments. They can do one side and turn it in on Wednesday morning. This will get returned to them by Thursday morning. Thursday night, they can complete the other side and turn it in for credit on Friday morning.
The other option is for the student to complete both sides on Tuesday night, turn it in on Wednesday and be done for the week.  To see how I manage collecting homework, you can read all about it here.

The only other homework that I assign on a weekly basis is online homework. The first is Kidbiz3000  and the other is typing practice. The reason I assign typing practice is because at the ending of the year, our 3rd graders are required to take the SBA. It is so important that students know how to type as they are required to give many extended responses for their answers. I started to practice giving my students their weekly Reading Wonders Assessments online and I found that the quality of their typed responses for #21 were so weak compared to their handwritten responses when given a paper pencil assessment. I realized that the reason for it was because it took them way too long to type, so they wrote as little as they could. 

I don't collect anything to check that they did their typing homework, no do I have them log minutes. I can tell who has practiced typing by watching them on the computer during class. I just continue to encourage them to practice on their own as it will truly benefit them in the long run. I also used to try to schedule lab time so that students could practice playing games on various typing programs. This is key as this is often a 'hook' for them to realize typing practice is fun! 

What does your homework routine look like?? I'd love to hear about it in the comment section below! 

Thursday, July 21, 2016

5 CHEAP & Easy Hacks that will save you TIME

That photo says it all. 
For all the teachers out there reading this, you know exactly what I mean by the words Beginning of Year Teacher Tired. There is no other tired like it. 
Today I'm here to help you by sharing some CHEAP, SIMPLE, and EASY hacks that will help to save you time, keep you a little more organized and hopefully help you keep some of your sanity as you're kicking off this school year. 
The best thing about the things that I'm about to share with you today is that you can implement them ASAP. You won't need to head out to buy much because I'm sure you have most; if not all of these supplies lying around your home AND classroom. 
Let's get to it!
This hack is easy peasy! All you need to do is print out student names on address labels. You could also hand write them, but that would definitely take a LOT longer...we're all about saving you TIME in this post ;) 

You can use these labels to quickly and easily to label student supplies! For me, it was always crazy and hectic on the first day of school. In 3rd grade, parents still like to walk their kiddos to class...and talk to the teacher about how Johnny is going home. Also, students are still nervous. As a teacher, we are always busy calming those first day jitters of both student and parent. We get TONS of supply bags handed to us. AND lets face it, even though we ASK nicely for all supplies to be labeled (or even the bag)---they aren't. What I do is just slap a label onto the outside of the bag of supplies. This way, I won't accidentally give Johnny's supplies so Sarah :/ At the end of the day, I can quickly look at the outside label and put Johnny's supplies into his cubby. <--I usually don't waste any time on the first day having students unpack their own supplies. I wait until the end of the day to do this. 

Another way you could use these labels is to label expo pens, sharpies, or markers. In my classroom, we used our Expo pens all the time....and there were ALWAYS Expo pens all over the place! The worst thing about it though was that 1) nobody ever knew who it belonged to and 2) I always had at least 3 kids who were out of/couldn't find their pen. This way, anytime one ends up on the ground, whoever finds it can easily return it!

This next hack will also save you TONS of time with prepping for back to school. 

One thing that I always do is that I laminate everything before I write anything on it. I wrote student names on the lamination so that if there are any changes, I can easily change it (rather than having to make a new item and laminate again). 

These erasers are magical!

They take sharpie off on any laminated materials with so much ease! 

When my students turned in their notebooks, I always hated having to flip through all the pages to find the page I was looking for. I started to have them leave their books open to the page...on my kidney table. The thing I didn't like about that was that it took up so much space. 

A saw this genius idea in a 1st-grade teacher's classroom at my school. She uses rubber bands to mark the spot in student notebooks. 

This way, you can still collect your notebooks in bins (and have it be nice and organized). 
All you'll need for this next hack are envelopes and washi tape. All I did was cut the corner off of the envelope (you could 2 bookmarkers from each envelope).  Workbooks were also another things that I hated thumbing through. Since workbooks are flimsier than notebooks, the rubber band hack won't work for this. Instead, you could create bookmarks for workbooks. All students would need to do is slip the marker onto the page they just completed. 

If you use student numbers in your class, you could also go ahead and number each marker. This way, if any of them happen to go missing you'll know exactly who they belong to AND when that infamous No Name paper comes along, you won't need to thumb through and inspect the handwriting to figure out who it belongs to! 

This next hack is to help keep track of your disappearing supplies. Teachers spend so much of their own money buying school supplies--so that their students can use them if when they lose their own supplies. If your classroom is anything like mine, pencils disappear before my eyes! I finally got fed up with having to open up new boxes every other day......

Use Washi Tape to 'mark' your pencils. This will help teachers to keep track of their own stash--so students can't claim the pencil as their own! 

I simply use washi tape to make little pencil flags on my personal stash of pencils. This way, I can lend them out and easily see which are mine. I require all of my pencils to be returned at the end of the day---so that I can sharpen them. 

One of my follower on Instagram suggested also writing student numbers on each flag. That way, the student would borrow their designated pencil. She said that she does pencil checks throughout the day, to ensure that students still have it!

I hope that these tips I shared today can help you in this upcoming school year. If you decide to try out any of these hacks, I'd love to see them in action! Tag me on Instagram @Teachinginparadise

Until next time,

Monday, July 18, 2016

Oceans of Steals, Deals, and Giveaways {Week 2}

Aloha everyone and welcome back to a 2nd week of some great deals!!

If it's your first time here, this is how things are going to work:
 Each day of the week I (along with others) will be highlighting special deals in our TpT stores that will run for that day only. All you need to do is search the given #hashtag for the day on Teachers Pay Teachers.

Here's a sneak peek at what I'll be offering this week:
On Monday I'll be slashing prices on Unit 1, Week 1 of my Reading Wonders resource and my August Morning Math.  Be sure to search TpT for #MondayMadness to find all of the other $1 deals!!
Whale of a Sale on Teachers Pay Teachers.  A different sale each day.
On Tuesday it'll be 2 for Tuesday. You will find 2 products from my store listed for half price! This week you can get a steal on my Rounding Task Cards and my  Elapsed Time Task Cards 

On Wednesday, I'll post random flash freebies on my FB Page! I'll be setting certain goals for each flash freebie--if we can meet them, I'll continue to post new flash freebies throughout the day!! 

 Thursday is thrifty Thursday! When searching the hashtag, you'll be able to get some MAJOR steals on BUNDLES!! I'l be marking my Unit 1 Bundle down to only $12.50.

Last but not least, the best day of all will be FREE Stuff Friday! 
We will again be giving away $350 worth of gift cards. By entering in the Rafflecopter below, you have the opportunity to win a $50 gift card (from one of the places below).