Sunday Catch-up...a little of everything!

Yes...I am still a week behind blogging with The Applicious Teacher!  Here is a quick catch up on Data Collection and Intervention.  I think they go hand in hand so this is PERFECT!
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 I am all about the data in my classroom.  We use DIBELS for reading and GALILEO for math as district assessments.  Honestly....if I asked myself if my kiddos scores were the most important thing I would say NO!  In my classroom we read to love reading and we explore to learn new exciting things.  That's what keeps us going!  HOWEVER....I am pretty competitive so if you give me a goal you know I am going to shoot for it...big time!

My first year teaching first grade I had NO IDEA how difficult it would be to reach our end of the year goals.  My kiddos were so good (seriously...soooo good) I thought they were perfect at everything.  Don't get me wrong, they were!  However, we could have done so much better if I had known how to read my data at the beginning of the year! 

My second year in first grade I poured over my beginning of the year data and I knew what to look for.  Surprise, surprise!  It made all the difference!  I use Excel spreadsheets to keep track of my kids and I progress monitor EVERY week.  The norm is to do this every 2 weeks, but I insist it should be done weekly. 

But HOW do you do this?  It's difficult to have that one on one time in a class full of 24 1st graders.  My secret is FUN FRIDAY CENTERS!  To be totally truthful, I started these because a parent told me her daughter was "bored" at school because we never did anything fun.  Challenge. accepted.  I whipped out the best centers I could dream up for Friday so we could finally have some fun.  The kids loved it.  I realized they were so engaged I could call them up one at a time and read with them.  It works like a charm!  Here are some examples of what I use for FUN FRIDAY CENTERS (aka, get my testing in time).

1.  Watercolor (every week...they love it!)


I use these little beauties from Lakeshore to keep the mess under control.  

2.  Math Manipulatives.  One of my tables is always math manipulatives.  Do you have any idea how much our kiddos want to just "play" with these?  My kids beg to make pictures with the pattern blocks.  I also add in math skills we've been working on for the week, but it has to be fun!

3.  Starfall....oh how I love thee.  We do not get a lot of computer time (sad face) because we don't have a computer lab and we only have 2 computers in our room.  I'm a lucky duck and have a neighbor that will share with me.  So with my laptop and her 2 I can put 5 kids through a center at a time.  This is a day they can explore and do whatever they want within Starfall and they love it.  I thought I was the smartest teacher in the world when I discovered Starfall when I taught Kindergarten 7 years ago, but I think everyone knows about it now!  If you have never used this website, go check it out!

4.  Mimio.  Instead of a Smartboard, I have a Mimio that makes my board just like a Smartboard.  I use this to have kids write sight words, draw a group picture, or play a math game on Turtle Diary. It's a great team building activity.  

So these are just a few ideas to get the ball rolling.  I add in things as needed to keep them excited but most importantly they are always independent centers.  They rely on me for NOTHING.  That way I can spend quality time with each one of them and keep track of their progress.  I use this information to plan intervention during our Daily 5 time or in after school tutoring. 

Ok, that's how I handle my Data Collection and Intervention.  Well, not really, but I wanted to share my strategy for how I get to test them each week.  I think it's that important! 

I also have a little more catching up to do....  

I am happy to be helping out the Sassy Classroom in her Blog Grand Opening.  You can enter to win lots of back to school goodies by visiting The Sassy Classroom and entering!
You can win my Back to School Nametags.   Here is a little shameless promotion....I created these little goodies at the end of the year last year after a lot of thought.  I was really trying to make a resource friendly nametag that put high frequency words, numbers, and concepts at their fingertips.  If their tables were bigger I would have included more!  Here is a little sneak peek!
Funky robots....
Seriously, they look so good printed out and laminated!

I also included cute kids....
 And some sassy chevron....
In each style there are 5 different nametags.  As your kiddos become experts with the listed sight words you can switch them out for more difficult sight words.  I am hoping sure this will help us become better readers and writers!  If you want to take a better look you can check them out in my store by clicking here!

I think I'm all caught up now.  I have been meeting with my parents today/tomorrow and teacher's report back on Thursday.  My kiddos will be here next Tuesday!  I'm kind of excited :) Ok, really excited.  Until my next catch up session..
Happy Teaching! Heather


Monday Made It! 7/22/13

It's time for Monday Made It and this will be a short one!  I love that Monday Made It motivates me to get into my room and get stuff done, but I feel like I could do so much better!  I used to be so crafty and now there is just so little time...sigh....

I made a new job chart and hung it up today.  I say "new" but I've actually never created my own.  I've always done "helping hands" that were simply little hands I bought at Walmart and moved around a chart.  They stopped selling the hands a couple of years ago so I was out of luck.  I actually cut out my own one year and last year I used Erica Bohrer's helping hands chart.  After 8 years of "Helping Hands" I was ready to change it up!

My plan is to have small clothespins with student's picture on them to move down the chart.  This is the first year I am NOT doing a job for every child.  I will let you know how that goes!   Last year I had so many kids that had a job but really nothing to do.  I am hoping this will make it more "important".

My second MMI is courtesy of the fabulous Ashley Hughes.  I wanted a fun welcome sign for the first weeks of school and I found it! I love how it turned out!

Simple....yet so cute!  It fits perfectly over the window at the front of my room.  I hope my kiddos feel "welcome" when they see it!

I hope you had a wonderful weekend and are still enjoying summer.  I saw parents posting back to school pictures this morning on FB...ugh!  It's almost here!  2 more weeks for me! :)  (I think, honestly I haven't even looked at a calendar.  I had to ask my daughter what the day was today!)

Happy Teaching! Heather

Teacher Week '13: Organization!

Today's link up in the Blog Hoppin' Teacher Week '13 is all about getting organized so we can keep our heads on straight this year! 

Every teacher has little secrets about how they stay organized and it's hard to put it into words.  For closet looks like this:
  But I know where everything is!  
Not really.  
I hate this.  
I shoved everything into my closet on the last 2 days of school because my daughter was graduating from high school and I was cray cray over that.  Now I'm suffering the consequences as I try to organize for a new year.  

Seriously though, here are a few tips I have found (through trial and a lot of error) that might make your year a little more...sane. :) 

Personal Classroom Supplies:
I have tables so my kiddos do not have a desk to keep their supplies in.  I use to keep a "community" tray in the middle of the table (in Kinder) but in First Grade we like to keep our own supplies. 
I set my tables up like this: 
  1.  Each kiddo brings their own plastic pencil box.  They keep their crayons, pencil (Ticonderoga-nothin' else), markers, and colored pencils in it.  
2. Glue and scissors are "classroom supplies" and they are kept in the middle caddy.
3.  Usually there are name tags on the table so it's easy to see where everyone should keep their stuff.  I took this pic in the name tags.  Sorry!
Here are the name tags I use.  I tape them to the table with clear packing tape. "Easy Start" packing tape is best.  It comes off easily and I can change out name tags often.  Which I do!

I packed as many resources as I could into a name tag so my kids would have everything they need at their table.

Book Boxes:  I love teaching Daily 5!  I really love that it introduced me to Book Boxes.  My kiddos keep their reading materials in individual book boxes from Ikea.  They check out books from the library, our classroom library, and individual readers from small group lessons.  They also keep their weekly fluency pages inside and a bookmark.   These book boxes are only $1.99 for 5!  At the end of the year I let them take them home, they love that!

What to do with all their STUFF??

We create a lot of stuff in our room. Daily math practice, word work, and just random projects that don't go home in our weekly work packet (I will get to that!).  My MUST HAVE item in my classroom are student cubbies. 
They come in really handy on FUN FRIDAY when we have messy art projects that need to dry!
 They are simply labeled with their name and the kiddos keep things there throughout the day. At the end of the day they take everything home and store their pencil boxes there. (I can wipe down the tables easily without pencil boxes in the way!)
Community Supplies:
I use A LOT of math manipulatives.  (My principal came into my room Friday and asked me if I really needed all these.  I told her YES!) I found this great shelf in a storage room one year and adopted it as my own.  A little blue paint and it matches my room! Most of my storage containers are the $1.00 shoe boxes from Walmart.  When I am teaching a lesson I can grab a box of manipulatives and put it on a table for students to share.  I have 4 tables so I always try to have 4 boxes of each type of manipulative. 
If I don't have a clear shoe box with enough manipulatives for a table I turn to these little red and green boxes....
 I bought these at Walmart in the dollar bin a couple of years ago.  They have held up well!  They make great bins for tables, partners, centers, or small groups.  I bought 10, so I always have enough to go around, although this year I have 25 kiddos, I think I need a few more!

My classroom is full of books.  Seriously I am a book hoarder.  I am aware of it and I own it!  The problem with being a book hoarder is eventually you will run out of room. Last summer I spent 1 week (yes, a whole week) organizing my library.  I organized all my books into bins by genre, author, character, or subject....whichever applied.  There is a mix of level in each bin so all my kids can shop from all my bins.  

This is just one section of my library.  Every book shelf has individual book bins with a label on the front.  All of my books have a matching sticker inside so the kiddos know where to put them. I have tried to spread my book shelves out throughout the room so the kiddos are not all shopping for books in one area.

I have a mix of containers in my room that I use as book boxes.  The white ones above are small dish pans from Wal-mart.  They sell them in the "college dorm" section right before school starts and they are only .97 cents!  I also have regular dish pans which are closer to $2.00 but I have just collected those over the years a few at a time.  I always buy red so if I ever re-do my classroom colors I'm in trouble!  I purchased a bunch of blue and green bins through Really Good Stuff a couple of years ago but they were expensive!!

Weekly Work Packets!
What do you do with all that work?  Well you can approach it a couple of ways.  I like sending everything home in one packet at the end of the week (they go home the following Monday or Tuesday, depending on when I get them done).  Once I grade or check through work I file it into a file box that are labeled with each child's name:
 At the end of the week I pull out all of the work and staple a student reflection sheet on the front: 
I monitor my kiddos every week during Fun Friday Centers.  On this reflection I update parents on their child's scores on important skills like reading (DIBELS), math, and classroom behavior.  I also report back on whether or not homework has been turned in.  This is a weekly parent/teacher communication tool that helps keep everyone informed.  It helps me keep track too!  

I love having the students reflect on their week.  My only "rule" is they can't pick recess or Fun Friday as their favorite.  I tell them they are helping ME become a better teacher by telling me what their favorite learning activity was! 

So there you have it...I could go on forever but I won't!  These are just a few ways that I stay organized in my classroom.  For more awesome ideas visit the linky party to link up with some really awesome bloggers!

Happy Teaching (always!)


Ten Pin Linky: Writing Ideas

I've been checking out the Ten Pin Linky at Just Reed for a few weeks now and I decided it was time to link up!  This week it's all WRITING pins!  My favorite! Click the pic to link up!
To visit the original author of the pin click on any of the pictures below.  I do my best to give credit :)

#1 Anna Brantley and her amazing Common Core Writing Units.  I own them all and use them in various units throughout the year.  My favorite part about her units are the graphic organizers.  It took my kiddos writing to the next level.  

 #2 Writing through the seasons: Summer by TGIF  I pinned this just recently but it's one of my favorite resources at the end of the school year for writing.

End of the year / Summer writing unit aligned to the common core standards. Includes writing prompts, themed templates, and activities to help your... 
 #3 A great rubric.  I love using rubrics in my room.  I use them for EVERYTHING!  Even when we use the bathroom. Not. kidding.
1st Grade Hamburger Writing Rubric  Even though this is for elementary teachers... 
:( Sad link for this one.  It has been removed.  Ugh.  Pinterest I love you and hate you all at the same time. (I know, I know, it's probably not their fault!)

#4 Anchor chart for opinion writing.  This would be helpful to add to our opinion unit.  Anchor charts are wonderful reminders for students. 
Opinion Writing Anchor Chart This one was from
but looks like the link has been removed.

Quick note here:  Have you ever changed your blog name?  If you do, ALL of your old links go away and can no longer find you.  I have changed my name twice.  Not because of any life changes, just because I thought of something better!  I started as Mrs.Langley's Class but it drove me crazy that the apostrophe could not be included in the address.  Then I was Laughing and Learning with Mrs. Langley......but that was too long.  So here we are.  It's a nightmare.  I'm in the process of changing all my resources to match my current name.  I'm sticking with this one!

#5 Rate your writing.  Visual rubric for the kiddos!

#6 I love this resource for the room for kids to refer to during writing. These are from Jen Jones. Love her!
Great thing for kids to see and read daily! 

#7 Have you ever printed on post it notes?  It's a really cool trick to use in the classroom.  This unit gives tips on how to do that and how to use the sticky notes during the peer editing process!
Writer's Workshop Using Sticky Notes!

#8  How many times have I said this during Writer's Workshop?
Writer's Workshop Mini Posters

#9 This is just too cute!
Eberhart's Explorers: Writer's Workshop & a handout! 
Last but not least...#10 In my opinion....the most important part of Writer's Workshop are the books you share to show what writer's do.  This pin reminded me of that.  
Writer's Workshop:  Hitting the Target 
What books do you use to teach writing?  This is just one that I use.  Some of my other favorites are Arthur Writes a Story, Ish, My Map Book, and The Library Mouse.  Writing is truly one of my favorite things to teach.  Watching my kiddos blossom in 1st grade is one of the best parts of this job!

Don't forget to link up with Just Reed.....and don't forget to leave a little bloggy love!


It's almost that time!  Time to start getting back into the classroom.  Today I did this....
Cutting out laminating always gives me a blister!  HOWEVER...I have lots of great resources to hang in my room tomorrow to help my kiddos during writing.  Stayed tuned for my link up with The Applicious Teacher on Organization this week. 

Happy Teaching! Heather


Monday Made It!


Yay! Monday Made It time and I actually have something to share!  A couple of things actually!  If you follow me on Instagram you already know I really made this last week.  I was feeling guilty for not participating in MMI last week and it motivated me to get going! It worked, hooray!

If you want to get motivated too you should go LINK UP.  The BEST part about a linky party is going to see all the different posts.  Don't forget to leave a little bloggy love.  Comments are always appreciated!

First off, I don't remember who gets credit for this.  I saw this idea on a blog a LONG time ago and didn't pin it or anything. (It was probably pre-Pinterest!)  Do you have a ton of book covers that you don't know what to do with?  Me too!  If I leave them on the book they just get messed up and honestly the book cover is my favorite part.  They are shiny and have the best illustrations on them! is a cute idea to use them as decor in your room. 
 I already had the ribbon but I ran out before I could finish both I need to get more ribbon!  I also have 1 more window in my room I would like to make these for so I'll need more ribbon anyway.  I am also thinking Junie B. needs to be hanging up and not on the book.  All of the books (Olivia, The Mitten, Kitten's First Moon) are housed in the book bins below the window so this is a good visual for the kiddos where to find these types of books.  Once they figure out where their favorites are it's no problem, but at the beginning of the year they are a little lost during Shop for Books time! 

My second MMI project was on the computer.  I've finished a couple of projects this week and I really like them!  I'm itching to get to the printer and laminator at school!

First up: Math Stations
In my district we use a pacing guide for Math and it goes right along with our Investigations units.  I love Investigations.  I have been a cheerleader for this program since the very beginning.  However, I really like a cute math station too and the Investigation "games" are all the same.  Every. Time.  Sure we are getting the job done but we might be bored to tears in the process. 
So that's been my goal this year.  I have created 2 quarters worth of Math Stations to align with my districts pacing guide.  So they are all Common Core aligned! Woohoo!  I really like the new standards, they are so much easier to follow than our old state standards!

Click to see it in my Tpt store.  There is a freebie activity in the preview!
So I finished these up last week and then I felt very NON creative.  So Saturday night I opened up some nametags I had made earlier this year and gave them a total facelift!  I redid them in polka dot and chevron and gave them a fancy cover.

 The one thing I always with nametags you buy in the store had is sight words.  But that would be impossible to list them all!  So I broke them into 5 sets.  So when kids master their list I can just give them a new nametag!

And I made them in lots of different colors so they will match any polka dot decor!


And Ashley Hughes inspired me to make them in chevron too.
I love her stuff!

Thanks for stopping by!  Are you headed back to school yet?  I go back in a couple of weeks and I'm getting anxious!  I think I'm ready?  Have a happy Monday! I'm off to teach summer school!

Happy Teaching! Heather

Liebster Award!

To accept the nomination I must:
  1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
  2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
  3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
  4. Share 11 random facts about myself
  5. Create 11 questions for my nominees
  6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them! 
What a wonderful surprise when I logged in last night.  I was nominated by Melissa at Creations by Mrs. Mouse
for the Liebster award and then also by Ashley at Ms. BBZ!  I have a lot of questions to answer! 

I'm going to start with the 11 random facts about myself. 
1. Married my soul mate 15 years ago, neither one of us feel that old.
2.  I love being the mom of 3 girls, don't know what I would have done with boys.
3. If I could live anywhere it would be near the ocean, I love the smell of salt water in the air.4. I watch Days of Our Lives religiously, even though the story line is stupid and nothing ever changes in Salem.
5. Sometimes I wonder if i'm cut out to be a teacher, on frustrating days, but love my job more than anything the other 364 days a year.
6. I enjoy stupid comedy, but really love a tear jerker. Nothing is better than a good cry. 
7. I had a St. Bernard growing up named Bandit, he was a good dog. 
8. My sister and I had a baby on the same day 2 hours apart, Nicholas and Erin both weighed 7 lbs 6 oz and were both 21 1/2 inches long. We call them twin cousins but Erin will never let Nick forget she's older.
9. I had 3 C-sections. I am secretly happy I never had to endure childbirth, but also feel like I missed something.
10. I am my mother's need to ask my 4 siblings, seriously, I'm the favorite.
11.  Most people that know me, know I'm super stubborn. 

Now to answer my questions: 
1. Do you have any pets? No.....we just lost our pup of 13 years last December.  Jake was a good dog.

2. What grade do you teach? Is this your favorite?  Kinder, 5th and 1st.  1st is my favorite so far!
3. Are you a night owl or do you go to bed early even in the summer? Night owl! Love sleeping in.
4. Which season is your favorite and why? Summer..........nuff said.
5. How do you relax? Read and blog, and play Candy Crush
6. What is something that you wished you had been taught in college about teaching? If you find a tootsie roll on the carpet, don't pick it up. Just think about that one for a minute.....
7. What is your favorite sweet concoction? Chocolate!
8. If you could be a superhero, which one would it be and why? Superwoman......the outfit!
9. If you could learn something new, what would it be?  To play the piano.
10. Do you have children? 3 girls
11. What is your biggest pet peeve?  I have an organized list of pet peeves that is 9,562 items long.  My top 2 in the classroom are pencil sharpeners and drippy water bottles.

1. What is your favorite lesson to teach?
Hard question!  I really love diving into science.  Last year it was the "Pencil Trick" lesson.  Students are given a pencil, a balancing board (craft stick), a wire, and 2 clothespins and they have to figure out how to make it balance. (using the clothespins as counterbalances)  It is so fun to watch them figure it out!  It takes about 20 minutes or so, but once one student figures it out they all get it!

2. What is your perfect "teacher outfit"? For me.....don't judge.....khaki capris and a school polo! I love wearing my school polo, it takes no thought (now I just sound lazy!), I match the kids, and it doesn't matter if I ruin it with paint! (our kiddos wear uniforms at my school) ---Sorry, no pic available, wink, wink!

3. How you spend your Saturdays?  More often than not going to my children's sporting events like swim meets and volleyball tournaments. 
4. What is your favorite color? Blue

5. What do you eat for breakfast during school? Oh my gosh, everyday.  Strawberry Special K.  I'm still waiting to lose that 2 lbs in 2 weeks!
 The blogs I have nominated to receive the Liebster award are: 
1. Miss Parker @
3. Jennifer Dowell @
4. Michelle Bingham @
5. Leslie Tally @

When you are ready are your questions. 
1.  What is the best vacation you have ever been on?
2.  Would you rather live on the beach, in the city, or woods?
3.  What do you eat for lunch at school?
4.  What is your favorite part about being a teacher. 
5.  What is your favorite lesson to teach?