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?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

And the winners are.....

Congrats to our two winners for the Elizabeth Richards School Supplies Reading Tubs! The winners are:
1. Susan Regan
2. Lexi Leigh

Both winners will be emailed for addresses to ship these fab Reading Tubs!

Don't worry if you didn't win! We are having ANOTHER giveaway in August for two more sets of these fabulous reading tubs!

Didn't win and want to pick up a set instead of waiting for a chance in August? Hop on over to Elizabeth Richards School Supplies, the company provided me with an exclusive promotion code to save you money! Use the code 10%OFFERUSA to receive a 10% discount of any purchase, valid until June 30, 2016. Simply enter the code in the discount area to check out! Shipping is also free with any order over $75.

Thank you to everyone who entered, happy end of the year :-)

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Giveaway for 8 Reading Tubs from Elizabeth Richards School Supplies!

On Friday, I 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 10%OFFERUSA to receive a 10% discount of any purchase, valid until June 30, 2016. Simply enter the code in the discount area to check out! Shipping is also free with any order over $75.


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, and/or following Glitter in Third on Teachers Pay Teachers!

Winners will be announced here on June 14th! (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!

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Reading Tubs from Elizabeth Richards School Supplies

I received eight Elizabeth Richards Reading Tubs in a variety of colors, as you can see below! These Reading Tubs cost $3.95 each, but are also available in a pack of 40 for $136 (so $3.40 each).

Read the review filled with ideas for use below, and make sure to read about the giveaway coming up at the bottom of the page to win your own set of Reading Tubs! If you want more information or can't wait that long, check them out here!

These Reading Tubs are different from the regular, brightly colored bins on the market right now. They have interchangeable dividers inside to fit whatever your teaching and organizational needs may be.

See the dividers going vertically? These slats can be easily removed and place horizontally. You can choose to use both dividers, one divider, or no dividers! There are a total of eight ways that you can put your dividers up. It's like Burger King- have it your way! But with plastic bins and not with meat patties, cheese, and bread.

Here are some different ways that I utilized these Reading Tubs in my own classroom! If you have used these before or have any other suggestions, I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear them in the comments section! I was so excited to start trying these out in different ways, but I am sure that a ton of awesome and creative ideas exist that I did not even think of!

The dividers are perfect for guided reading group! It's an easy way to prop up the books and keep them separated. My kids were excited seeing the books before guided reading started- it definitely helped build interest and engagement since they are set up like a mini book store! I used to keep my guided reading books in a neat stack next to my small table, but I'd always have that horrible moment when I'd grab a stack of books while the rest of them went sliding onto the floor. THE WORST (have you ever had that happen? Or am I just the clumsiest person on the planet?? Oh, I'm clumsy? Got it).


There's a variety of ways that these tubs can be used in math. First, I love the idea of filling them with what I need for the day in my small groups. As you can see in the photo above, we were working on mental math skills. Everything I need to meet with my flexible and differentiated small groups is inside the Math Tub and ready to go. No scrambling last minute looking for dice or post-it notes for exit tickets!


Reading assessments sneak up on me every year, and it can feel so overwhelming to be testing 28 kids all on different reading levels! We do the DRA in our district. If your school does the DRA as well or if you have used it before, you know how many slippery books and paper packets are needed! The Reading Tubs kept each reading level book and packet separated and without the mess or hassle. I let my coworker use these as well during her reading assessment time, and she said these Reading Tubs were a complete lifesaver for her and she was shocked how much quicker her reading assessments went by!

I have been getting questions about book clubs- yes, I will write a post for these soon! However, if you already have Book Clubs or want to start soon, these tubs are fabulous for them! The day before starting Book Clubs always drives me cray cray because I have five Ziploc bags lying around my desk with all the chapter books in them- which are not thin! The Reading Tubs not only separate each book group,  but also have plenty of room for packets if you use them. They also create engagement and interest, since each group tends to have a few nosy kids looking for a "sneak peek" and trying to guess what book they will be reading!

Of course, they are also a great way to have your teacher guides and/or manual that you need on a daily basis out in full force! I have several books that I need to make copies from once a week, so they are easy to pull when my copy parent comes to my room. Everything is in one spot!

What ideas do you have for these Reading Tubs? How would you ideally use them in your classroom?

Next Monday, a giveaway for a set of Reading Tubs from Elizabeth Richards School Supplies will begin! Come back on Monday to enter for a chance to win!!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Crafts & Activities for Ancient Rome

One of my favorite things about teaching my fabulous third-grade students is teaching social studies. I LOVE their social studies units because many of them are about ancient civilizations. We start off the year with Ancient Egypt and Ancient China, and finish with Ancient Greece and Ancient Rome.

This activity rocks because not only does it teach the kids about aqueducts, but also incorporates STEM! We went outside for the activity since it was a beautiful day out and also involves water. Each group got four Twizzlers and two marshmallows. They could "buy" more of each material ($10 for Twizzlers and $15 for marshmallows), but each group needed an accountant to put in the invoice and add up the total cost.

It was fun to see the different methods the kids came up with to transfer water from the first Dixie cup to the second. Some created underground aqueducts, some used nearby plants, others used stacks of marshmallows. There is no "correct" way to do the project, really it is to see the creative methods that the kids come up with and work on their cooperation and teamwork skills. I was so impressed to see what the kiddos came up with, they are so stinking creative! It also allows the students to practice marshmallow or Twizzler eating until after the project is over :-)

I love showing a variety of Roman mosaics, and also discussing art. I am an art fiend. I've been to almost every major art museum in the United States, and many in European cities. I work hard for my kids to truly understand that art is the visual history of humanity. To understand art history is to understand the transformation of mankind and the innerworkings of culture. Mosaics are easy and fun! Give each kid a piece of paper and a variety of colors. They tear up the colored paper into teeny tiny pieces and do a design on their paper. It's so much fun to watch what they come up with, and also great bonding and social time for the kids. Definitely a fun Friday activity!

We also made these adorable Roman puppets to learn about the Roman forum. Kids color Roman clip art, glue sticks to them, and act out our own Roman forum. Students take on different roles (like a patrician, soldier, merchant, etc.). This activity is not only know, because puppets are always fun... but also helps the kids remember that a forum is a place where the ancient Romans did their business, took baths, and conducted their government.

Do you teach Ancient Civilizations as well? What craft and activity ideas do you have?