Saturday, September 24, 2016

The Morning Cart!

I noticed that mornings in my room were a tad bit chaotic and, well, loud! Mornings can be a stressful time. Some kids arrive at school after staying up late due to dance class. Some kids come to school hungry and from an unhappy household. Some kids are just not morning people! I want morning to be calm and peaceful in my room.

Previously, kids would come into the classroom in the morning after I greeted them. It was up to them to pick up homework for the night, file the previous day's homework in number order, then write in their agenda. There is a whole lot to get done and organized in the morning. Part of the loudness came from a large group of kids congregating near the homework turn-in and pick-up.

My previous morning to-do list:
1. Unpack & unstack
2. Take out homework folder from backpack. Put homework into folder, take out previous night's homework.
3. Go to homework turn-in box. Highlight name & number. File in number order.
4. Sit down and write in morning agenda.
5. Put away agenda & homework folder
6. Read quietly.

WHEW. That is a lot going on, and a lot of unnecessary movement in the classroom that can easily turn into too much noise and potential rowdiness.

Introducing... the morning cart!

I wheel this cart outside my door every morning. It is from Amazon, take a peek at it here! It is called the Indoor or Outdoor Folding, Metal, Rolling Serving Cart. It's a steal at $54. This thing is super durable and lightweight. There are cheaper ones on the market, HOWEVER, most of those you need to assemble. This baby pops out of the box all folded up... just open up, quickly screw the wheels on with your hands, and you are ready for action!

What I include on my morning cart:

- Inbox - This is where students drop notes from parents, lunch money, office forms, permission slips, etc. Anything important is put in here!

- Tribe Pick-Up - I put the homework for the night here.

- Homework - Kids place their homework from the previous night here. I used to have them file it in number order to make sure that everyone brought it in. BUT because I stand near the door to greet each child, I know exactly who doesn't have it, no time spent filing necessary!

- Copies - I put the copies for my copy parent here. This cuts down on parents coming in and class time taken up. The parents know right where it is, can grab it, make copies, and leave it there!

- Wednesday folders  - Our school sends home important papers and grading in the Wednesday folders. I have a classroom parent file these. The parent knows right where it is, so it's quite efficient! No coming into the classroom and searching for the file box.

What's nice about the morning cart is that it keeps the hustle-bustle OUTSIDE the classroom. It cuts down on kids waiting for a while to file their homework, or madly scrambling inside their backpack for a note from mom. After the initial work outside the classroom, they enter a peaceful and serene setting. I set the chill mood with classical music and all the lights off. No harsh, fluorescent lighting is needed in the morning!

I started the morning cart this year. I already have seen a world of difference since last year! Kids come into the classroom relaxed, hang up their bookbag, write in their agenda, and then relax/read/eat breakfast. Life is stressful enough, mornings in the classroom should not have to be!

How do you keep your mornings relaxed?

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Hopes & Dreams

Hopes & dreams! What are your hopes and dreams for the school year? Do you dream of your students being happy? Safe? Optimistic? I dream that my students will come every day to class ready to learn, and to create a warm and safe environment to learn in. Not only teachers have hopes and dreams for the school year- students do as well!

Hopes & dreams is a very fluffy way of saying a goal. So creating hopes & dreams is really just goal-setting for the year. My school follows Responsive Classroom, so student brainstorming & creating their hopes & dreams is expected in the first week of school. Some of the benefits of creating hopes & dreams the first week of school include:

  • A student connection to the school and other students ("you want to improve at your math facts? Me too!")
  • The student gets excited about all the fabulous things that they will conquer this school year
  • Helps students look forward to learning
  • Gives students a sense of belonging and significance

I start off by reading "Dex: The Heart of a Hero." This is an adorable book about a cute, little weiner dog that is made fun of. He wants to be a superhero, but other animals are constantly putting down his dreams. He works hard, and finally becomes a superhero. The book finally comes full circle with him saving the animals that used to make fun of him. The kids are a big fan!

Dex with his not-so-nice neighborhood pals
The kids love the little dog and the comparison between their own hopes and dreams and Diego's hopes and dreams. We talk about the difference between short-term and long-term dreams. The kids easily come up with long-term, but find short-term a little more difficult. I try to zone in on the question: "What are your hopes and dreams for this school year?"

We create an anchor chart together for our hopes & dreams. A lot of the kids have a very tough time communicating their hopes and dreams, and often freeze up when prompted. The anchor chart helps them come up with various options. You can see in the anchor chart below that we divided the hopes and dreams into academic possibilities, and social/emotional possibilities. Some academic hopes/dreams include showing work/thinking during math, paying attention when editing, reading different genres, and finishing books. You can see in the chart below that some hopes and dreams straddle both academic and social/emotional (such as taking care of materials & showing self-control with ones body). 

After our discussion and anchor chart, the kids start brainstorming what their hope & dream will be for the year. It is really fun to see what everyone comes up with! I print out clouds, and they write their hopes & dreams on the cloud and cut it out. We finish Monday- so I'll post the finished product up in two days! :-)

I love doing hopes & dreams because it gives the students a responsibility over their learning. It helps them understand that they are in charge of their future, school is what they make of it. Displaying their hopes & dreams year-round reminds them how important that their goals of, and serve as a fabulous reference point throughout the year. Did we accomplish our goals? Surpass our goal? Change our goal? I create one as well! It's important for students to see that teachers have their own hopes and dreams for the year as well.

What are your hopes and dreams for this school year? Do you use Responsive Classroom at your school?

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Classroom Reveal: 2016-2017 School Year!

My favorite part of every year are the first couple weeks of school. I LOVE meeting the news students, decorating my room, starting a fresh planbook, and taking in the dynamic and buzzing atmosphere around me. 

My room this year is very similar to my room last year, just with a few minor tweaks. Read on to check it out!

Panoramic view!

Looking at my guided small group section, and my CARES board.

A peek at the bookshelf which holds the kids' folder bins and notebook boxes.

Moving over to the front of the room! You can see the Hopes & Dreams board here, all ready for the students' aspirations!

The front of the room! That dinky rug in front is driving me crazy- I have a big one coming soon from Overstock!

Book bins

Classroom jobs and birthdays! 

Supply caddies on the sink area.

MY NEWEST OBESSION. This cart gets wheeled outside my door everyday. The kids turn in their homework, important papers, and pick up their homework here. This ensures that they never forget to pick something up in the morning, since I stand at the door and can remind them. 

If you're interested in picking up the cart, it was fairly cheap (less than $100, and shipped for free with Prime!) on Amazon. It's called the Indoor or Outdoor Folding, Metal, Rolling Serving Cart, and it comes in lots of different colors to match your classroom! 

Classroom library!

What colors or themes are you doing for your classroom this year? How are you feeling about the new school year?

Monday, August 29, 2016

GIVEAWAY: A set of 8 Reading Tubs from Elizabeth Richards School Supplies!

In May I had a giveaway for a fantastic set of Elizabeth Richards School Supplies Reading Tubs. There is one last giveaway to end out the summer! These functional Reading Tubs are an awesome organizational tool to add into your classroom.

blogged about how in love I am with these Elizabeth Richards School Supplies Reading Tubs! These boxes are durable, colorful, and a great deal. I am using these Reading Tubs in my classroom this upcoming school year for style and functionality.

Elizabeth Richards School Supplies is a company that is new in the US school market, but have been designing and creating products for Australian schools for over 30 years! As a classroom product junkie, I was stoked to get to try out some of their products!

These Reading Tubs are perfect for organizing lessons/assessments/worksheets for the week, holding your students' personal books, displaying read alouds for the week, holding your guided reading books, storing manipulatives, or organizing the books for your classroom library! Functional and cute- does it get any better?!

I am raffling off TWO sets total of these fantastic Reading Tubs. Each set contains eight bins. You will receive one of each color (red, green, yellow, blue, orange, purple, royal blue, and pink!).

Elizabeth Richards School Supplies provided me with an exclusive promotion code to save you money! Use the code glitter10 to receive a 10% discount of any purchase, valid until September 30, 2016. Simply enter the code in the discount area to check out!


Want to win a set of your own? To enter, there are a few choices! You can "like" Glitter in Third on Facebook, follow Glitter in Third on Teachers Pay Teachers, follow Glitter in Third on Pinterest, and/or just shout out how you would use these awesome Reading Tubs in your home or classroom in the comments section of this post. You can enter up to four times.

Feel free to email me at if you have questions concerning how to enter :-)

Enter using Rafflecopter below. You can enter up to four times by either commenting, liking my Facebook page, following Glitter in Third on Pinterest, following Glitter in Third on Teachers Pay Teachers, or leaving a blog comment!

Winners will be announced here on September 12th! (Winners will also be contacted by email.)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! Thank you to Elizabeth Richards School Supplies for providing me with these Reading Tubs to raffle off and share with my readers!

Saturday, July 23, 2016

My Erin Condren Teacher Planner for 2016-2017 arrived!

My friends and coworkers know that I am Erin Condren OBSESSED. Something about these planners make me so darn happy! Feel free to use my referral link to get $10 off any Erin Condren purchase! 

Since these planners are personalized and made-to-order, it took about two weeks for it to arrive. What did I do while I waited? Something productive? NOPE. I watched lots and lots of YouTube videos of people unboxing their planners and talking about them. I'm sure the hours that I spent watching these I could have learned a new language or how to waterski. But instead I know way too much about planners. #priorities.

Seeing this box in my mailroom immediately made my heart jump! It is GORGEOUS! Opening it up is like a mini-Christmas in a box. As you can see, the company includes lots of fun freebies too. My favorite freebies are the ones shown on the right. These are gift stickers to put on presents or bags to add some extra cuteness and pizzazz!

The planner also comes with a mini-sticker freebie book. It gives you a glimpse into some of the fun planner stickers that Erin Condren sells. I am personally not a sticker person- I love all the clean white space of a planner. Gives me inner piece. But if you like to add some color to your planner, these stickers are definitely a fun way to do so! The "do-it-all dots" are super cute and have symbols like a hairdryer or a hair appointment, dumbbell for working out, etc.

And then we open it up.... and here is this beauty! I chose the lace pattern and I am obsessed. I am even more excited that it has a "Mrs." on it.... two weeks until I get married! So excited, and this is making it seem even more real. It comes with a see-through plastic ruler that serves as a bookmark so you always know your place in the planner.

The inside of the front and back cover are dry-erase. Now personally, I would never use dry-erase markers on this. I love my planner too much to be happy with smudges all over it from the dry-erase markers! However, permanent markers work just fine on this thing and don't smear. To remove, just grab a Clorox wipe and get rid of it. I'll be using this as my dashboard with my guided math and guided reading groups on it.

You will get a set of date dots to put the dates on the Teacher Planner. Okay, I understand the point of these is to use the Teacher Planner whenever you want. But if there's something I don't like about the planner, it is this. You have to stick all the dates on for the monthly calendar! I am a fast-paced person, so this part drives me cray cray. The things I do for a beautiful planner. Moving on.

Here's some images of the introduction pages. There's a spot for birthdays, important holidays/dates to remember, an all about me section with contact info in case you lose your planner. All the same things as the old one had!

Finally, the good stuff! I love calendars. The planner comes with a whole bunch of stickers. I went ahead and looked at our yearly school calendar. I put down yellow stickers for any day that we have off during the year (like voting day, Thanksgiving Break, etc). Pink for holidays that we are in school, but obviously still need to celebrate! 

For tests/quizzes, I write down the assessment in pen and go over it in yellow highlighter. For guidance dates, I write down "Guidance" and highlight in blue. Assemblies get a green highlighter. 

This is the empty shell of the lesson planner. I bought stickers from a Etsy shopped called "Owl Plan With You" that will list all the subjects, week #'s, and dates. 

Next, the student checklist pages! I LOVE these babies for field trip forms, classroom money, chaperones, etc. It is all in one place, which is perfection since when it comes to paper in my classroom, I lose EVERYTHING. It's really bad actually... I walk around with important pieces of paper, put them down, and never see them again. Luckily my kids are super competitive, so I call out "FIRST ONE TO FIND THE FIELD TRIP FORM GETS A CAPRI SUN" and they run all over the room looking for the item. Thank goodness for children helpers :-)

In this handy pocket, I stick leave slips, purchase orders, and building use forms. I always need a leave slip, purchase order, or building use form but hate walking down to the office to get one. I am located in a modular and am literally the farther classroom away from the school. This makes things less stressful and allows me to fill one out when needed!

Another pocket, but a lower one. It's currently filled with the stickers, but I'll be moving this. They will fall out of the low pocket in no time! I might flip flop the contents of the other folder with this one. Love the color on the pocket folder, so pretty.

Ta-da... that's it! What do you think? Would this be useful in your classroom as well? I absoutely, 100% recommend this product. The minor annoyances (cough cough dates dots) are blown away by all the fabulous features. This made my teaching so much more organized last year.

What do you think? Want to get one of your own for the first time? Use my referral link to get $10 off any Erin Condren purchase! 

Sunday, July 3, 2016

Book Clubs in the Classroom

Many readers asked about how I conduct book clubs, so I am excited to write up about my use of book clubs (also known as literature circle) in the classroom.

There are lots of different ways to do book clubs, I am just sharing what I like best in my room. Feel free to leave comments about how you run yours in the classroom, I am always looking for new ideas to incorporate into my teaching!

There are two different ways that I create groups for book clubs.

Firstly, you can group by reading level. This is what I do most often, since it allows me to find books that are slightly challenging for the reading level. We use the DRA at my school, so I do a mixture of their DRA level and whether or not each student can "handle" a certain book.

The other way to group is by interest. I have a pretty good idea what each student in my class is interested in, so I can mix reading ability this way. Students who are interested and are eager to read a certain book are going to keep a growth mindset and conquer reading a book, even if the reading level is a bit more challenging or easier than usual. Remember, book clubs allow for self-differentiation. A too-easy book for a high student can still provide a plethora of ways for critical and higher-level thinking in terms of the assignment given. Sometimes a less-than-challenging book allows a less confident student to decipher and interpret it in more complex ways.

Time to get thee to a nunnery. Err... reading room. Hamlet has always been my favorite Shakespearean poem, can you tell?

Don't have a reading room? You can prep for book club with a variety of methods.

  • Firstly, you could buy the books for cheap in the New/Used section of Amazon. 
  • You can also check out the $1 Deals on Scholastic. 
  • You could also purchase the books on Scholastic, and use all the points you get to receive more books for free. 
  • Look into Donor's Choose to fund your book club and set up a project to better your classroom.
  • Finally, you could always just submit a purchase order for books from Amazon into your school finance person. I have done this several times instead of going through our reading room specialist, who is more picky about what books we can/cannot have. 

When choosing the books, I love to lean toward the classics. Many students are so enthralled with their Wimpy Kid series or Harry Potter (nothing against Harry Potter.... I am an HP fiend. #teamslytherin), that there are many classics and award-winners that they choose not to pick up. I like to use book clubs as a way to get those sorts of books into the hands of my students. Some of my favorite books for book clubs that my students particularly enjoy as well:
  • The Great Gilly Hopkins
  • Bridge to Terabithia
  • Charlotte's Web
  • Stuart Little
  • Shiloh
  • Stone Fox
  • The Borrowers
  • The Egypt Game
  • Island of the Blue Dolphins
  • A Simple Shard
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

  • Peter Pan
  • The Wind in the Willows

I like to sit down ahead of time and map out all the pages that the kids will be reading. My first year I started teaching, I would assign pages on the spot. This resulted in a lot of unequal pages for various weeks. Instead, I now decide how long I want to do book clubs. I usually do four weeks. I take the total amount of pages in a book and divide by four. This number is roughly how many pages they will read each week. I say roughly because I like to end on the end of a chapter, so sometimes their reading will be a little longer or shorter to ensure that the last page they read each weeks finishes at the end of a chapter.

My Literature Circle packets have a spot in the beginning where you can first choose the number of weeks for the kids to complete a book (four, five, or six weeks), then they have spots to write down all the pages. If you don't use my packets, you could have them write the pages on a sticky note used as a bookmark!

My book club meetings are in place of any guided reading/small group work. What I love about book clubs is that it is mainly student directed. Whichever one of my students is Discussion Leader leads the discussion. I am there to monitor the discussion and make sure everyone is on task... but for the most part, I pretend that I'm simply a fly on the wall. I want to hear their ideas, not project my own ideas!

In the beginning of the year as they are first learning how book clubs are conducted, I serve more as a mediator and leader. It is a lot of fun to start loosening up on the reins and passing on the leadership role as they become more comfortable. I also tell the kids that they are graded on participation- which involves listening as much as it does talking. Often kids (and adults.... I am often 100% guilty of this) wait for others to finish talking but are not listening to what they are saying. Participation is listening to others and voicing one's own opinion in a respectful manner.

I use literacy stations in my classroom. During our book club cycles, one of our stations is Book Club work (the other stations are generally DEAR, reading comp, and small group time when I work on something with the students). Kids can take their book home and read for the required 20 minutes a night, and they are also more than welcome to do book club work at home. It is up to them! It is a great way to teach time management to kids. Often kids will want to spend most of the language arts block independently reading, so many of my kiddos will take their work home to make sure that this happens.

I use my literature circle packets to conduct my book clubs, available here. My roles generally consist of:

  • Discussion Leader: Come up with higher-level questions from the reading and lead meeting
  • Word Wizard: Use a dictionary to learn new words from reading
  • Character Kiddo: Compare two characters of one's choice on a Venn diagram
  • Summarizer: Write a summary from the reading
  • Connection Conductor: Find connections to your own life from reading
  • Voracious Visualizer: Draw a scene from the reading
Each week one role is assigned per student (if your groups are large, double up on a role). The student comes ready to share their role with the group.

I meet weekly with my students. Book clubs can be personal- I want the kids to read the book and enjoy it, not feel rushed to finish. Some teachers I know have book club meets a few times a week. I personally feel like this is too much - I am an advocate for encouraging reading for pleasure at a young age. However, I also see how this would be a good way to track your students and ensure that they are keeping up with the work. So anything that works best in your classroom- you know your kiddos best!

How do you do book clubs in your classroom? Is this something you'll be doing this year?

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Erin Condren Teacher Planner: Looking Back Through the Year

Hi, all! I wanted to share my thoughts with the Erin Condren Teacher Planner after utilizing it for a full school year. My overall thought? Worth every single penny. I am constantly asked during meetings where it is from, people love it. The colors are beautiful, and it’s the most handy planner that I have used before. I’ll break down what I chose to do with it!

You can read my original review here.

I am reviewing it now because the newest model of the Teacher Planner just came out. I thought it would be nice to look back and see what I did/didn't like about the one that I had and used all of 2015-2016 and some of the ways that you could make sure of sections that you may have no use for (for me, the attendance and substitute pages). There is surprisingly a lot of room for flexibility and changing the planner so that it best suits your own needs.

Feel free to use my referral link to get $10 off any Erin Condren purchase! 

 Firstly, I use the front cover as a quick dashboard. I put the overall goals of each quarter on there, and also my flexible groups. Since they constantly change, I just do this with a quick Post-It Note that is easy to grab when I need to call out groups for the students.

On the Substitute page, I just put down little things that I want to remember. We do a quick cheer before timed tests, and I write it down since sometimes it slips my mind (hehe, I swap out “motivated” and “dedicated”!). I also write down required medleys that we are required to attend on Fridays. Finally, I put down what “A Week” and “B Week” is. Isn’t it funny how forgetful one can be over the simplest things? I am totally guilty of showing up at computer lab when I should be at library, and vice versa.

 We use a computerized attendance system, so I was at a total loss what to do on the Attendance pages. However, I chose to write down all our read alouds for the year, the date, and what I used them for. This helped me not repeat a book, and will make next year super easy when I want to remember or recommend a good book to teach about responsibility, strong verbs, or DeBono’s Thinking Hats! 

On the graphing pages, I use for generalized notetaking. I write down all our Literature Circle books and write out the pages ahead of time. I also sketch out seating every quarter to switch the kiddos around.

 I am obsessed with the year-at-a-glance page! Each sticker color is a different subject (green=science, blue=math, purple=social studies, yellow=character education, pink=language arts). It is so easy to see what I am teaching each month! I got this idea from one of my BRILLIANT coworkers who originally introduced me to Erin Condren!

On the Note pages, I put down notes for professional development courses that I take. On this page, I was in a Michael Clay Thompson course (if you ever get a chance to see him, I 100% recommend it. He is absolutely incredible!). I put it in Notes for that month, so I can easily flip back to it. On the Month pages, I make sure to write down tests/quizzes/events/meetings/etc. On the right sidebar, I write down my major goals for the month. For example, SOL testing, get DRA’s done, or winter party.

Below is a peek at my monthly calendar. 

For the lesson planning pages, I have washi tape and put a line right before the two boxes all the way on the right. I ordered these lesson planning stickers from Owl Plan With You for each subject, to-do list, and other. My to-do list and other category is basically the same thing, as you can tell!

I use the page protector to keep my class schedule in.

Finally, these checklist pages are a lifesaver when it comes to field trip forms, money, DRA testing, etc. SO EASY.

I CAN’T WAIT TO ORDER THE NEW ONE! I am teaching a grade 3 & 4 gifted combo next year, and I definitely need to be top-notch on my organizational game. If you’re interested in one, here is a referral link that gets you $10 off your Teacher Planner! There are new updates this year that I am excited to check out (like a dry erase cover in the front! Nice to see that they are trying to make functional use of all possible spots.

Have you used the Teacher Planner? How do you make functional use out of spots in the calendar that you don't need, and what are your favorite parts about it?