Saturday, September 26, 2015

Checking off the Standards

As I become more comfortable with CCSS ELA Standards, I've noticed that I really (really) lack some standards being taught rigorously. 

And the perfectionist in my cannot STAND it. 

 It all started when I began writing down what I do and don't cover based on what I've done in the past. I take all the stories, passages, and mini lessons I've taught and put them in a chart....

(Like this one that you can find in my store)

This was a huge *lightbulb* moment for me. I had huge gaps in my instruction. Now as I plan my lessons, I know what I should do less of and what I should focus on more intently. Over the course of the year, I'll keep you posted on how that is going for me.

In the mean time, head over to my TpT page and grab your grade-level aligned "check list". They're available for KINDERGARTEN


Wednesday, September 9, 2015

... a month later...

Phew!! Well, I'm back. I knew blogging, making products/stuff for my class, etc. AND starting school would be a task but.... well... I got a little overwhelmed by it all. Ever happen to you?

But now I'm here. I've been working, working, and working some more on some great new products on my TpT store. {Head over here and check it out}

How has your year started off? Tell me about it in the comments!

Friday, August 7, 2015

{Freebie} Back to School SCOOT Practice

 I've really gotten on a task card making kick lately (as you can tell by my TpT Store) I got to thinking yesterday... what if my kids haven't ever played SCOOT before?? 

I didn't want to throw an important concept at them first thing, so I created these.

These have 32 cards with generic "Getting to know you" questions and simple classroom rules and routines questions. They should apply to almost any classroom (aka, they aren't specific to just my classroom policies). 

 Jump on over to my TpT Store to get your {Freebie}!

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Technology Websites

I love using technology in my class. I feel like kids today really need to have technology skills to be ready for the future. It's been almost 20 years since I was in fifth grade myself and I can remember a teacher telling me that one day every student would have their own computer to use. That just blew my mind. Then I became a teacher at a school with 1-to-1 MacBooks. That blew my mind further! :)

Because technology can be so overwhelming, it's important for me (and the kids... and the parents) to have an organization system. I created this form for parents and students to keep track of my favorite websites. Check under the pictures for a little about each website.

First, the students write their log-in information. Since one copy goes home and one copy stays in their desk, no one can say they "don't know it".

Moby Max. I first started using Moby Max last year and feel like I probably haven't used it to its full potential. Other teachers at my school brought it to my attention and raved about it's uses. You will have to register your school first if it hasn't been already.

Moodle. This is a site exclusive to our county offering classroom pages for each teacher for document uploads and downloads, forums, online quizzes... it's really fantastic! You can read more about Moodle HERE.

Spelling City. Oh, how I love Spelling City. I have all of my spelling lists loaded and kids can access the lists any time. There are also practice games. I use these for homework. (If someone forgets their laptop at school or maybe doesn't have WiFi at home, we have an alternative written assignment.) I just log in every morning and check to see who completed the "assigned" games. 

Remind (formerly Remind 101). This free texting site is fantastic for communicating with parents. The best part (for me) is the privacy-- the parents never see your number. I generally text once a month so parents are more likely to participate.

Studies Weekly. This is the website that corresponds to our social studies curriculum. If you also use Studies Weekly, check out my resources HERE and the Mega Bundle of all my SW materials HERE.

Think Central also directly corresponds to our math curriculum. You can find out more HERE.

Discovery Ed and iCurio are awesome search tools for kids to safely look up information. I also show many United Streaming videos through Discovery Ed. Find out more about Discovery Ed HERE and more about iCurio HERE.

NewsELA  has lots of reading support with real time news reports. Levels and basic comprehension quizzes make this fast and easy reading. 

Edmodo. Facebook for your fifth graders. How fun! This will be my first time using social media with my kiddos, but I'm hoping to start meaningful dialogue about what we're learning. This is so important for kids in a 1-1 laptop classroom. Keyboarding is key! Between this site and Dance Mat Typing the kids have a great time learning and invaluable skill.

I hope these links have been useful. How do you use technology in your classroom? Any websites I forgot? Let me know in the comments!


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back to School Fish Glyph

One of my favorite parts about the first week of school is the "fun" stuff we get to do. Between art activities, getting to know you's, and getting to know the school tours, we can relax a little more than most days. 

An activity I especially enjoy is making glyphs. It gives students an opportunity to really express themselves and who they are without having to get up and speak in front of their peers. It takes some pressure off while still letting me know who they are. 

My next door neighbor teacher and I created this Fish Glyph a few years ago. They're adorable hanging on bulletin boards in the hall or in the classroom. Check it out HERE!


Monday, August 3, 2015

August Currently

~ I am currently ~

  • Listening: to Property Brothers on HGTV. I have an addiction. It's bad.
  • Loving: my cold AC. It gets really hot in South Alabama! Right now it's close to 100. No thanks.
  • Thinking: "I really need to head up to the school and clean." But it's my last week of vacation so... maybe not.
  • Wanting: more hours in the day. I feel like I have a ton to do and I'm running out of time.
  • Needing: lunch. :)
  • B2S RAK: door prizes for my faculty presentation. A coworker and I went to a conference this summer and we're sharing what we learned next week during professional development week.

What are you currently up to? Go visit FARLEY to share your "currents". :)


28% Place Value Task Cards - As low as $0.80!!

As I'm sure you've heard by now, Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a store-wide sale! In my store, you can shop for all of your back to school needs at a 28% discount through Tuesday! 

As I prep for Back To School, I look at my beginning of the year curriculum. In math, we start with place value. I've noticed that many of my kids either get it right away or struggle for months.

This year, I'm shaking things up. I've really gotten turned on to Task Cards over the summer. Briefly we've used them before and the kids love it!

Check out two of my new place value task card products HERE and HERE 

Friday, July 31, 2015

TpT B2S Sale!

Have you heard?? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide sale!!

Before I became a Teacher-Author, I LOVED these sales. (Who am I kidding... I still do!!)

This go around, you can save up to 28% off. Who doesn't love a discount? :)

Click the logo above to see the deals you can get at my store on August 3 &4!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


SCOOT is such a fun way to practice almost any skill you're working on. Have you ever played it?

To prepare, I like to cut out and laminate all the "cards" for durability. 

There are a few variations to setting up SCOOT, but my preferred method is to place the cards all around the room. (You could also distribute cards one per desk and have students rotate desks.) Have students start by finding a card -- one student per card --  and wait for my signal. I will give about 30 seconds (more or less depending on the work) for students to answer the problem on a corresponding answer document.

Then after the 30 seconds (or so) is up, I call out, "SCOOT!" Students then move to the next card. I like to keep things flowing clockwise for organization. This keeps going until everyone has reached every card. 

The kids love it because they get to move around! I love it because it gets them interested!

Check out my newest SCOOT/Task Card product HERE. Do you play SCOOT in your class? What subject do you mostly use it in?


Monday, July 27, 2015

ELA Morning Work

Whew! I am so happy to announce the release of my ELA Morning Work Bundle! I have worked so hard on this product almost all summer long.
   This bundle includes the following Morning Work/ Bell Ringer products, plus a BONUS Notes Handout for student morning work binders.
You can find all of these products HERE, HERE, and HERE

Did I mention that these products are 50% for the first 24 hours they're posted? That means the Bundle of all products (a $40 value) is available for just $15! Wow!

I use Morning Work as a classroom management tool. Students know each morning to come in, put the book bags away, have their homework ready to check on their desks, and begin working on morning work. On the off chance I had to run to the restroom or wasn't in the room right when the bell rings, students knew exactly what to do. We go over these procedures for weeks at the beginning of school. It makes the rest of the year run very smoothly!

What are your best practices in classroom management? How do your students "get started" each day?

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Back to Work

As I begin this blog, I am quickly learning that there is so much more to learn! For any teacher bloggers out there, what tips do you have? I'm learning as I go and any help available is greatly appreciated! One step I've taken, is joining up with BlogLovin'. Click the link on the right of this page to follow me.

Today, I went by my school to check in (on a Saturday... in July... I know. I'm crazy) and found my room totally cleaned up and desks neatly in rows! Wow! I don't know that I've ever come back to that. It got me excited to get in there and start decorating and organizing. What do you love most about the weeks leading up to going back to school?


Friday, July 24, 2015

The Beginning Blogger

Hey y'all and welcome to my blog!

My name is Laura Smith and I have taught in Spanish Fort, AL for the past five years. Four of those years were with (my favorite) fifth graders and one year was with third graders. Teaching is in my blood-- I come from a long line of educators including both grandfathers, both parents, 2 aunts, and 2 cousins. Teaching is more than a job for me. I enjoy going to work and seeing my students' love of learning.

I am a huge Florida Gators fan and I have a definite affinity for owls. I love all things yellow and my sweet rescue mutt, Lulu. Thanks for stopping by!

P.S.: Go Check out my TpT store: Teaching Fifth in the Fort