Classroom Reveal

I have been absolutely overwhelmed and blessed with the amount of support I've gotten from readers this past year. So many of you have reached out about my classroom and asked questions or decor advice. You have given me the experience of a lifetime!

I feel it's important that you know before continuing on that it truly takes a village to create my classroom each year. Behind the scenes there are many people who come together to make this possible. Friends and family members help me laminate, cut and even take pictures.  I wouldn't have been able to do it if it wasn't for them and I am forever grateful for them for making all my classroom dreams come true! You know who you are. xoxo


Like most schools, at the end of each year, we are required to pack everything, stack up our bins and take everything off our shelves so that the furniture can be removed from the classroom to be cleaned and floors washed and waxed. I'll admit, it was a difficult thing for me to do last June after spending so many weeks setting it up last summer. I had felt like I finally found a classroom set up that suited my teaching style and a color scheme that allowed me to return to school each morning ready to start the day! That's why you may find most things in my classroom reveal will appear the same but if you take the time to notice the small details, some changes are there. :) 

First up, my desk and small group meeting area. These bins featured here are from Big Lots. They can be found each summer during their college line release, but are not usually restocked. You know what that means, when you buy them- go big or go home! Last year I wasn't able to get all the styles in the bright colors. I was late to the party haha! The green and pink bins on the lower shelves are actually spray painted. I was pleased with the coverage but I have a feeling there will be some chips by the end of the year.

I'm also sure you're wondering where these gorgeous supply labels are from. My good friend Maria Manore Gavin is a creative genius and has a true eye for design!!! They come in an editable pack (also available in white and brights) and can be found here.   



I was excited to add some additional teacher storage to my desk area. Is it just me or does it feel like you have constant piles of paper everywhere you turn, no matter how organized you think you are?  Everything now has it's own specific place. Well, at least for now.... :)

If you're looking to create a space like this, my tip for you is think about your use and practicality. The bins that you will have easiest access too are those on the top. Therefore I chose to store things I am frequently using throughout the day. 

Each year my good friend Chandra Jayne's Teacher Anchor becomes an absolute staple in my classroom!! You'll always find it within reach at my desk. This year's color scheme truly brings out all the colors of my teaching supplies (it started ever since I was a kid and has kind of become an addiction at this point ha!).  More than it's beauty, The Teacher Anchor's effectiveness and practicality is something you can't even put a price tag on. I highly recommend you check out her products over here a C. Jayne Teach !

My favorite spot in my classroom is most definitely my library! It's a place that feeds into my teacher soul and allows me to "get lost in a book." This year I was lucky enough to be able to add to my library space. Previously I had computer tables behind my library. This year, the computers and tables were removed in exchange for Chromebooks. WIN- WIN! :) I ended up pushing my library back closer toward the cubbies and extending the shelves along the wall.


How the bins are organized in my library has stayed the same. The top shelf is home to all the holiday/seasonal book bins (Fly Guy and Mo Willems in the picture to the right has since been moved). The middle and lover shelf are the leveled and chapter books. The shelves to the left feature the theme book bins.

The organization of the additional book bins also comes with purpose.

The top shelf of the addition features author book bins, while the lower incorporates characters. I feel it's important students have access to learn to "shop" for books by theme, season, just right level, character and author. 
These library labels also include a matching sticker to place on the books in each bin to ensure student organization. They are one of my favorite products purchased on TPT and can be found in Maria Manore Gavin's store here. Trust me, they are worth every penny!!  
They can also be purchased in white. *Please note they do not include the author and character labels however, it does include an editable template for you to create your own.


My library area is usually my meeting area for reader's and writer's workshop, as well as shared literacy, science and social studies. Therefore I have a chart stand that doubles as a white board. Some weeks I co-teach science/social studies so I find it's important to include enough space to add a space for teachers (or students who share) to join me up front (stool to the right). The stool is from TJ Maxx.





Since our reader's and writer's workshop monthly curriculum units usually go hand in hand, I find it's effective to group it together as one larger bulletin board.  It allows more space for anchor charts and posters.






My  writer's workshop area also includes my writing process posters. This is used as a class clip chart as we move through the writing stages each unit. The pack includes many color schemes to suit your theme. You can find them in my store here!


My library area is separate from my student book bins for reader's workshop. I find this to be effective when we transition from our mini lesson at the mat to independent reading around the room. Students can easily and *quietly* retrieve their bin. The student book bins labels can be found in Learning in Wonderland's store here
With the additional wall space from my library being pushed back, it also allowed extra counter space for me to display themed books. 

 I'm really excited for this space! There are so many possibilities with the extra shelf space. It is also home to our writer's workshop paper choices and writing supplies. Once again, student materials are removed from our meeting area to allow for a smoother and quieter transition from the mini lesson.


If you've been following along since the beginning, you know I'm a HUGE fan of math workshop. I am alllll about making math fun and engaging for our little learners. In order to make this successful in your classroom, you need a special space. I have created a student centered "number corner." Here you will find plenty of anchor chart space and math posters, manipulatives, games, tools and models. 

 I spend a lot of time allowing students to explore this space before moving into teaching into the rules and routines for using our number corner. The key to making it effective in your classroom is clean and clear organization. Share with your students the names on the labels and the purpose for where things are. Don't be afraid to mess it up one day to model how things should NOT look and have them work together to put things back in their place. This will build their comfort with this environment so that students know where to find things. Be sure to encourage them to get and return materials on their own.

The pink bins are our math tubs. To the left are where I store games and math models in pocket protectors. The games featured here can be found in a Math Game Bundle in my TPT store.  They are my most frequently sold product because they are easy to prep and can be used all year long! The small teal bins to the right are where students can find their "tools." I printed Reagan Tunstall's Math Tools on colored cardstock and laminated for durability. They have lasted from year to year and are the perfect support for our little learners! The teal bins and drawers are home to math manipulatives. The labels can be found in Amy Groesbeck's store here.



Many of our math routines are also seen in calendar. If you're looking to find our more about how I run calendar in my classroom, you can find a post on it here. Many of the materials here can also be found in Maria Manore Gavin's store.  What I love is that it includes many different size and colors options for you to create your own calendar space.



To the left you will find my objectives board. You can find these resources over at Amy Groesbeck's store on TPT here. It also is where I am trying out a new class goal setting system, also in her store here





 Next to calendar you'll find my FUNdations space, along with student material bins. As I mentioned last year, I attempt to spice up the FUNdation decor as much as possible. If you teach it, you know what I mean and I'm sure you may fee the same way. Guilty... :) It is not pictured here but I include and interactive word wall pocket chart for students to be able to take and return word cards as need.






If you're wondering how I run and organize my classroom community supplies, view my post here.



Student seat sacks are my savior! They are going on their third year here and are holding up well! Don't worry, they are washed after each year. 



I have created editable name tags to match my theme to use in my seat sacks. They can be found here! They can be scaled to size if you're looking for additional uses for them as well. 


By accident, I was playing around with the size and printed the name tags too small BUT found that they actually made great cubby tags. I wouldn't have ever thought of using them for that purpose but was pleased to see how they came out.  They were printed on card stock and laminated for durability. If you're still reading this and not just window shopping through pictures, I truly appreciate all your support!!!!




Back to School Styles with a Maggy London Giveaway


Creativity, style and expression is something I look for not only in my classroom, but also in the way I dress. If you know me personally, you know how much I enjoy accessorizing and styling outfits as a way to express myself. I'm thrilled to be teaming up with Maggy London to share some of my favorite back-to-school styles and a big giveaway! Be sure to enter at the end of this post.


Maggy London is a dress company that was created 35 years ago by founder Larry Lefkowitz. They strive to create beautiful and timeless dresses for every type of event, from work to weekend or desk to drinks. Their aim is to leave women looking and feeling incredible in the dresses, no matter their age or style. Today I am going to be sharing with you two styles from their 2016 Summer and Fall Collection. I find that I tend to lean towards more of a classic and preppier style, with clean cuts and solid colors. This lends itself well to pairing with a variety of accessories and shoes with pops of prints and colors. Wondering what your teacher style is? Head on over to Maggy London to take a pop quiz here!

The first dress I am going to be sharing with you is the Jackie Midi style in navy. As soon as I saw the lookbook for the fall collection, this immediately caught my eye. It's a classic cut and color- you can't go wrong with that. In fact, it brings out my inner Jackie O and Audrey Hepburn- my absolute favorite style icons! 
The accent bow is perfect to suit a younger demographic. This would be the perfect option for a Meet the Teacher, Back-to-School night or parent teacher conferences. It's professional and more importantly, comfortable. I would pair this dress with a nude heel and/or nude teacher bag to compliment the navy. This style also comes in black! What a staple for your teacher closet!
The second dress I am going to be sharing with you is the Long Sleeve Wrap dress in sea wave. I've always enjoyed the comfort of a wrap dress. The material is soft and will fit to any body type. I also find this is the perfect style for transitioning from summer to fall. 

You can see the detail of the wrap feature and I can assure you that it's well made with a button where the dress is wrapped and tied at your waist for extra support. I would pair this dress with a simple necklace to draw the neckline as well as a watch, cuff or bangles. This style also comes in navy, black and garnet. 

I couldn't be more pleased with the quality of the material and how all Maggy London Dresses are made. My favorite part is that all the fabrics are wash and wear- no dry clean needed because ain't nobody got time for that! Ha! ;) 

The fashion fun continues! On September 5th I will be sharing additional back to school styles from the London Times collection. Be sure to enter the giveaway below to enter to win one of the four Maggy London or London Times dresses I share with you on my blog. Enter before midnight EST on September 7th. Winner will be announced on Thursday, September 8th. 
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WAIT...there's more!! Head on over to Maggy London to enter their own teacher giveaway where they are selecting 9 winners for various prizes! 




Organizing Community Supplies


I'm trilled to be teaming up with so many fabulous fellow teacher bloggers to give you an inside look at the favorite part of our classrooms and of course, a giant back to school giveaway!!!  Be sure to enter for your chance to win gift cards to Target, Hobby Lobby, The Container Store and Really Good Stuff, as well as Sterilite storage and Wall Pops at the end of this post!

Today I'm taking a look into how I organize community supplies in my classroom! If you're looking to make the switch to community supplies, I highly recommend it in a primary setting. I believe more than just the connivence of not having to worry about students losing any personal materials- especially when you're just about to start one of your super crafty projects ha!- it promotes social skills. All year long students need to work together to share the supplies and my personal favorite- *organize* them. :) Over the course of the year, I see them take pride in and become responsible for their materials, which is something very valuable at a young age... or any age rather. 

Just a few tips and tricks to get started!! Community supplies starts on day one. In my welcome letter, I provide families with information on how to have a great first day back. This includes letting them know specifically HOW to pack their student's supplies and informing them that I will be collecting them for community use. I know, you're probably thinking this girl is *nuts*!! But trust me, after my first day of teaching ever, I still have nightmares of all the time I spent collecting the supplies. This will make it seamless! More over, I also believe it's important to notify parents before school begins that you will be collecting them for community use, since they are the ones supplying the materials after all. 

In case you're wondering, my letter states to put all the crafty items to be collected in a large gallon size zip lock bag with their child's name (glue, crayons, markers, colored pencils, scissors and erasers etc.). These can be collected and you or a parent volunteer can separate them into bins at a later date. I store these bins will all the supplies on top of my cubbies for easy access. All other materials (folders, binder, notebooks, etc.) I have the students come up table by table to put in bins themselves to show them where they will be stored around the room. This helps them create a map of where to find things! As they come up, I check to make sure their name is on everything. If not, I have labels with their names pre-made.

Last year was the first year our school had an open house. I decided to give families the option to bring and drop off their student's supplies at the Open House so that I didn't have to spend time collecting them on the first day. I set up bins in the front of the room with labels for the students to place the supplies in themselves. You can click on the picture to get the labels for FREE! This was amazing and I am thrilled to know our school will be hosting an Open House again this year! Here is a link to my Open House blog post from last year. Be on the lookout for one coming soon- with a Giving Tree Apple supplies tag freebie!


If you are collecting supplies on the first day however, it's a good idea to already have community bins prepared at each table. I have also found that keeping a bin with pencils separate from the crafty supplies is most effective. That way if the students are completing work or an activity in which they don't need the remaining supplies, you can simply remove it from the table to allow for more space.

Another important trick I found this year is keeping the colored pencils and markers in their box in the bin. This allowed students to ensure they still have each color and they can easily access and find other materials in the bin (scissors and erasers).

I find that after a month or two, the markers will need replacing and the crayons and color pencils may need to be replenished. This is of course one of the most exciting events in our classroom! LOL! Miraculously their coloring and work becomes neater... that is until they need replenishing and replacing again. You know the deal!

I usually use this as an incentive in the classroom. I tell them if they are showing responsibility with their materials, they are showing me they can handle getting new ones. :)

Community supplies in our classroom extends to more than just the supplies we use to color and cut with. It also moves into the materials we need throughout our day. This includes our math notebooks, writer's workshop folders, FUNdations materials and so on!

In order to manage these supplies, I have a team table captain (one student from each table), who is responsible for going to get the bin and bringing it to the table or retrieving supplies from the table drawers.  This is just another way to promote leadership, responsibility and organization in your classroom. It is the perfect classroom management routine as well. I am sure many of you have something similar to this. :)


A tip to managing the team table captains is that I select the same students in the corresponding seats at each table. For example, if you are sitting on the left side, facing the window, each spot that matches that direction at each table will be the team table captain for the week. Then I move clockwise from there. This give students a routine and expectation for when it is their turn and limits the amount of times your will receive, "when is it my turn?" Haha! Once each person has been team table captain at the table, that means it's time to move seats!

In addition to the supplies at their tables, I also have a supplies station. This will give students access to anything their table may be in the need of, as well as additional materials they may not necessarily need all the time (i.e. stapler, paperclips...for math games ironically ha!, highlighters, pens (indoor recess specialty), etc.).

I also have a pencil drop bin for any pencils that need sharpening. In full disclosure, I have a tight grip on my pencil sharpener. Only I am allowed to use it at the moment. Guilty....

I typically place the supplies station near my writer's workshop paper selection as I feel that it flows nicely. I will be moving my math center as you can see here so stay tuned for updates to my classroom.

Below you can find how each supply has it's own space in my room.


 If you're looking to purchase supplies to help organize community supplies in your classroom, I will share with you where I found some goodies! Below to the left are my supplies bins. I purchased them at Michael's... with a coupon and teacher discount of course. The taller bins are last season from Big Lots and the labels are from Maria Manore Gavin's Editable Labels set. You can find them here. They come in the smaller size seen in the picture below, as well as the larger size seen on my teal drawers from Target.

I also found some great materials from the Dollar Spot at Target and Dollar Tree that were featured earlier in the blog post. Be on the look out!

When purchasing materials or organizing student materials, I do my best to color code to match the bins. This helps the organization and management as well since students know where to return supplies based on color!


Who doesn't love Target?! I have contributed at $25 gift card to Target for our Back to School Giveaway! There you will be able to find great community supplies management tools in the dollar spot, as well as the Sterilite drawers.  Plus, I have also seen some great school supplies steals in early September when everything goes on sale!! I have scored post-its for as low as 30 cents! :)

Hop on over to the other blogs to get a look into their classrooms and for additional entries to our giveaway!!!!


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Math Tools and Models to Support Numeracy and Math Literacy


How many of you have gotten this response when your math curriculum asks your students, "Solve this problem and show me your thinking."? If you're raising your hand and laughing... you're not alone! Even I have gotten my fair share of those answers and as cute as they are- because my word they are too cute and one of the many reasons I love the primary grades :) - what are we going to do about it?

When conferring with students in math workshop, one of my favorite questions when they are working is "pick your tool or model show me how you're using it." This requires students to use a conceptual understanding of the math skill in order for them to demonstrate whether they know how to use the tool or model. This is ultimately the mathematical literacy we are all now striving to achieve in our classrooms. It also encompass many of the CCSS Standards for Mathematical practice. 

I'm not sure about you but I am always looking for a way to spice up my math workshop games and centers! Math tools and manpulatives are an easy and effective way to support engagement and mathematical literacy. Math is a subject that is so important to foster a positive growth mindset at an early age. Over the years I've collected some fun and engaging tools that support my math instruction that I'm excited to share with you!!

Before I do, there is something I would like to share with you that I learned after recently attending a Mathematics in the City summer institute in NYC. The presenter brought to my attention something that has completely transformed the way I think about math manipulatives. Ultimately, there is a difference between math tools and math models.  A math tool is a physical object that a student can manipulate to help them solve a problem. I like to think of this as your typical math manipulative. For example, dice, calculators, pattern blocks, base ten blocks, money, etc. 

Here are some of my favorite math tools and where you will be able to purchase them!


One of my personal and kid favorites are my jumbo double dice from Lakeshore! They are a great way to differentiate your centers. I have purchased a few sets of double dice before and this is my favorite because both sets of dice are large enough for not only our tiny finger in primary land but also so that both sets of dice are large enough to see. :) You can find them here


 A calendar favorite is definitely our magnetic tens frames to build the calendar date each month. We also use the green and blue dots to make various partterns each month throughout the year. It is the perfect way to build fluency with composing numbers through 30-31. These particular colors are discontinued however, they still have them in red and blue. You can find them here.

We also have magnetic money and base ten blocks. Each day we add one penny and one "one." Their magnetic ability makes it easy to manipulate on the board during our discussions when we may need to regroup or make a different combination of coins. Plus lets be honest, anything magnetic is more fun!  You can find them here.
I also keep quite the collection of Target Dollar spot erasers so that they can be changed from season to season. At the start of the year, they may simply be used as counters to represent numbers. Then we transition to becoming fluent composing and decomposing numbers 0-20 and eventually we link this to addition with two or more addends. Tens frames and counters also make a great visual for subtraction.  


 Two math manipulatives that are always such a hit are magnetic numbers and magnetic dominoes! They grew to become so popular that they turned into indoor recess games rather than just "math centers." :) The magnetic numbers can be used at the beginning of the year to order and compare numbers when counting. Eventually we used them to make up our own addition problems to solve on the white board. This is a great center than can be easily differentiated based on the numbers given to the students or the number of digits to add (ed. double and/or triple digit addition). Its important to teach into the concept that these are a TOOL not a TOY. Ha! I won't be shy in admitting that we usually need this reminder more than a *few* times. :)  They can be purchased here.

The magnetic dominoes are my newest addition and I'm still coming up with some effective ways to use them in my classroom. If you come up with any ideas, don't hesitate to comment below! As of now we use them to compare numbers, part-part- whole addition problems as well as to build fact families! You can find these on Scholastic Reading Club and purchase them with your teaching points. :) 


Unifix cubes are a great tool for one-to-one correspondence as well as a visual aid for addition!


Foam dice in an assortment of sizes are a teacher favorite because of how quietly they roll. Ha! These pictured here can be found at Five Below. I have also purchased smaller versions at the Dollar Tree. I am currently on the hunt for dice with dry erase sides... wish me luck!


 These number cards here are a part of our tool kit from Everyday Mathematics. They are a great tool for subitizing. I have also purchased tens frames cards from Lakeshore that can be seen here. It is also easy to print pictures of tens frames on card stock, cut and make your own cards if you are looking to be savvy with your money. :)
Jenga and cup stacking is not necessarily a math tool but a great way to practice math facts.  If you are looking to see how I use these games below in math centers, please read my previous post here

I love providing students with ample opportunities to practice using manipulatives in an engaging way. While there may be times where students interact with manipulatives without a worksheet, I believe sometimes it is important to have an accountability piece. I have created a Math Games Bundle aligned to the CCSS for first grade that allows students to practice math skills with manipulatives. These are the perfect centers to use all year long! They can be found in my TPT store here


Now that you are up to date on math tools, lets transition to math models. A math model on the other hand shows structure. It demonstrates student thinking in an organized way. For example, tens frames model numbers and have a structure of ten. Math racks or rekenreks are another great math model that can be purchases with different structures based on what grade level you teach (structures of 5, 10 and 20). Number bonds and part-part whole models various number compositions. Tallies, dots, number lines and hundreds grids model number space. They are focused on the distance between numbers- which is less and which is more.   

I have created math maths to be used as reusable math models to build math literacy in the classroom. I plan to print them on card stock, laminate them and place them in pocket protectors. When I teach a specific skill, I will teach into each model as a strategy to solve and model one's thinking. Then I will add them to our math center in a place where students can access them whenever they need during math workshop. 

                      
This is the perfect mat for students to organize their base ten blocks when adding two digit numbers. It will allow them to organize and visualize the different places and their values.









Tens frames are perfect for subitizing, number recognition, combinations of ten, decomposing numbers, adding two or three addends, modeling subtraction and of course modeling numbers and their value.

Open number lines are perfect for modeling adding and subtracting single and two digit numbers, comparing numbers, skip counting and finding the distance between numbers.

Number bonds are perfect for number composition which eventually leads to addition and subtraction. They can be filled with numbers or manipulatives in order to help with one-to-one correspondence, hierarchical inclusion of a number (aka 1 and 2 fits inside 3- think of the Russian dolls :) ). This is a great tool for numeracy and that numbers have values when connected to real objets or measures





You can find these in color and black and white in my TPT store HERE

When teaching math in the primary grades, it's important that we must remember the math is not in the tool or the model. Therefore, we can not just give students a tool or model and expect they know how to use it. We must provide opportunities for students to mathematize the tools and models. This is just a big fancy word for teach into the math. Then you must provide opportunities for them to contextualize it. In other words- When is it appropraite to use this model? In what context? 

In order to do this, I spend time in the beginning of the year exploring the tools by asking questions, "what do you notice?" or "What do you see?" Then once students are using them to solve problems, I move to asking, "Did anyone do/see anything different? or "How could that help you?" I also create anchor charts for the different tools/model we can use to solve addition and subtraction problems. Eventually these questions and strategies will lead your students to be able to respond to the "show me your thinking."