Saturday, July 28, 2012

Freebie Friday... a day late

I know... it's late Saturday night... but better late than never right? :)  But then again I'm 2 days early for the Manic Monday LOL

I really think you will like my freebie.  I noticed that so many people were jumping on board the Organized Teacher Binder, but I had yet to find any binder covers that could be downloaded.  I decided to make my own and share it with all of you wonderful followers!

Here are the covers I made, click on the link below to download the zip file.

I used digital paper from aestheticaddiction. Be sure to check out their shop, there's some amazing paper!
The frame is from The 3AM Teacher.

Click HERE to download the zip file containing all 6 covers.

Enjoy! Be sure to leave me a comment if you liked them!

Don't forget to check out the other freebies at

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday
Freebie Fridays    

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Tell Me More Linky Party

I know I've only been blogging since January, and only seriously since June, but I wanted to join this party and share some more about myself. :)

Here we go!!

1. I am a MAJOR Geek!  I love reading comic books and watching all the comic book related movies.  I also love reading Manga (Japanese Graphic Novels) as well as watching Anime.

2. Seriously... I am just a kid trapped in a 29 year olds body.  I love watching cartoons.  My favorite channel is the Disney channel.

3. I LOVE to go to Disneyland!  I would live there if I could.  I've always dreamed of being a Disney princess there. :)

4. I love animals.  Back in May I had the joy of bottle feeding 4 kittens that were abandoned in my front yard.  It was a lot of hard work but totally worth it.  They are the sweetest kitties I have ever had.
 Here are my babies:

This picture is a bit washed out but here are there names going clockwise (closest kitty to the tennis ball) Trixie, Otter Pop (all stretched out), Mitzi, then Wolf (pure black).

5. In my spare time I like to read and also write stories. I have posted bits and pieces of a story I am currently working on in here, but am getting more serious about my writing.  I have participated in NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) for the past 4 years and have "won" the past 2 years.  Winning means that I wrote a 50,000 word novel in 30 days. :)

6. I love my pressure cooker!  I used to use the slow cooker all the time until I was introduced to the pressure cooker and found out that I could cook frozen chicken in 15 minutes!  I was blown away.  Now I'm addicted to using it. :)

7.  I am addicted to shopping on QVC... gotta love easy pay right? LOL

8. I am a newbie couponer and am proud to say that I saved $10.00 on my last shopping trip.  I was very excited about that.

There's part of my exciting life! :)  Be sure to go join the party!!

Friday, July 20, 2012

Awesome Week & Unsolved Mystery Update

Wow... this week has been so AWESOME!  

First off this week started with me going to see Demi Lovato and Hot Chelle Rae in concert with my cousins.   We were in the 3rd row from the front on the floor! It was so amazing!  Here are a couple of pictures I took:

Just a note... no zoom was used... this was how close we were :)

Then on Thursday I got to go with my cousin and aunt to the Batman marathon at our local theater and see The Dark Knight Rises at midnight!!!  Let me just say... the movie ROCKED!!!
Now onto school stuff.  :)  I don't officially go back until August 13th when I have training to become a Tech Teacher for my school site, which I'm very excited about.  So I still have a bit of time; however I'll probably be down at my classroom earlier getting things prepared.  My amazing principal is getting me tables for my classroom, so I'm excited to get those set up and ready to go.

I have been working on the Unsolved Mysteries project for class and so far here is a list of topics I have for their choices: 

The Chupacabra                Big Foot                 Mermaids
Loch Ness Monster           Lake Michigan Monster
Giant Squid                       Abominable Snowman/Yeti
Easter Island                     Stonehenge             Atlantis
Brown Mountain Lights     Crop Circles

What do you guys think?  Any other suggestions?  As soon as I'm done with this project I'll be posting it in my TPT store :)

I will be back on Sunday with another update then going to work really hard to link up with Tara again for the Monday Made It :)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Sharing & Unsolved Mysteries

Good Friday evening!

This will be 1 of 2 posts tonight because both posts are on separate topics.

I have had the wonderful pleasure the past two days to share all of my teaching procedures, lessons, ideas, projects, etc, with two of my friends who are moving to fifth grade.

Let me just tell you this now... I. LOVE. TO. SHARE!!  LOL  I really do.  I get all excited when someone asks me to share my thoughts and ideas.

Both meetings went so well that we decided to keep it up throughout the school year and keep exchanging ideas.  What was nice was that all of us had the same train of thought... challenge the students and set high expectations.  We had some great conversations and ideas going. :)  It was nice to get feedback from different teachers who haven't taught fifth grade.

I am so excited to see what happens during the school year and what they come up with.

Anyways on school related topics....

I am working on re-doing a project I did last year with two of my friends at work.  It was an Unsolved Mysteries project. The kids absolutely LOVED it!  Even my kids who were on a lower level were completely engaged in this project.  It was nice to see the kids getting to be creative as well as working together to solve a mystery.

Here's how it worked:

The Unsolved Mysteries were creatures or places such as Atlantis, Loch Ness monster, mermaids, big foot, etc.  Students were split in to small groups. The students then did a research paper drawing a conclusion if these creatures or places really exist. Not only did they have to do a paper, but they had to include evidence... this is where the creativity came in.  They had to provide pictures and "real" evidence.

I was amazed at the creativity in the evidence.  Students created scales and hair/fur samples of creatures and artifacts from places.  They didn't even complain about the research portion.  Each day I was asked if they were going to be working on their project.

Has anyone done a project similar to this?  Once I get it all spiffed up and more detailed I will be posting it in my store, so be sure you're following me on TPT :)

PS: Welcome to all the new followers!  I was blown away that I went from 25 to 42 followers in 2 days!!! You guys are awesome!!!  I am so happy you are all here.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Made It - Teacher Binder

I have been waiting to be able to jump around 4th Grade Frolics Monday Made It and am so excited I finally have something!! After you're done here click the button above and go check out the other Monday Made Its :)

Right now I just have a school made it, perhaps there will be a house made it next week :)  We shall see.

Here is my teacher binder, inspired from 4th Grade Frolics binder.  I really loved how she had her's organized in just 6 tabs.

I created the dividers using digital paper.... How did I not know about this wonderful thing called digital paper!!  I have been on the internet for, like, ever and have been working with graphics, posters, websites, etc and never heard of it til reading about the binder.

The digital paper is from

Frame from

2 questions for you guys... 
#1.  I read the terms of use for the paper, so would it be okay if I posted these in my TPT store for Free to help out other teachers?  I'm still new to all of the copyright and licensing. I was thinking I could since it will be free, but wanted to double check :)

#2   How do you post your website with the title in the comments?  I have tried to google for the answer and  have searched through my profile... but to no avail.
Basically I want it to look like this: Shutters & Scribbles

On a separate note -

I am so excited I get to take my sister-in-laws maternity pictures today!!  I have such cute ideas for them.  I have been searching for ideas, because this is my first maternity shoot, but all of them looked too... well... calm for my brother and his wife.  They needed something more lively and silly.  I'll hopefully be able to post pictures tonight after I edit some :)

Funny story... my sis-in-law is due on July 26th, but her doctor has said she'll probably be early.  Well yesterday she thought she was having contractions and I flipped.  "No! She can't have him today! We haven't taken pictures!" LOL  Yeah... real nice right?  Anyways, she has a doctor's appointment today so we'll be finding out more information.

It's very exciting... so far I have 2 nieces, and will be having 1 nephew by the end of July.  I love being the aunt and getting to spoil them.

Well I hope you enjoyed the post and I'll be checking back in to see what everyone else has made today!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

MindMaple Program

Happy Sunday :)

I cannot believe how fast this summer is going and here I am still working and researching new things for next school year.  For me, school starts on August 20th, so I've got about a month before I have to go back.  Is it silly that I'm actually excited to go back this year?

I have gotten so addicted to reading teaching blogs that all these new ideas have me thrilled to go back and try them out!  Anyone else excited?

So.... here's my amazing find for the day.  I was over at and she posted about this awesome program where students can make graphic organizers/mind maps.  The program is called MindMaple.  

Since I'm trying to get my students more into using computers and technology in the classroom, I decided to download the Lite version for Free and try it out.

Oh. My. Gosh!!!

It was SO much fun! :)  It was so interactive and easy to use.  Plus, after you're done you can print it out.  This would be a great to use with so many assignments... brainstorming for writing... main idea & details of a story.... a story map... discussing character traits and supporting them... wow the list can just continue on.

Here's what I did:
You have the main topic in the middle yellow box with the other topics around it in the green boxes.  Each green box then can have a topic of it's own with subtopics.  The + by the weather topic is what you use to collapse then expand the topic and details.  I had so much fun playing with the lines and curves to create relationships between the main topic and other topics.  The orange part is used to show a boundary of a group.

Now when I went to save I found out you can save it as different file types.  I saved this as a JPG, but you could have also saved it as a Microsoft Office file including Powerpoint.

If you doubt me about how easy it is to use Erin had her daughter use it.  Click here to see the results:


I also just wanted to say thank you to my 12 new followers for joining my blog.  I was so excited when I went from 15 to 27 in just 4 days!  You guys are amazing and I hope you enjoy my blog. :)  I appreciate all the kind words and support.  Thanks guys!  I'm planning for some type of giveaway when I reach 100 followers... although it seems a bit far off it's never too early to plan, that's my motto. :)


Friday, July 6, 2012

A Teacher's Wisdom Linky

Deb over at Fabulously First is hosting a linky party for veteran teachers to share their wisdom with first year teachers.  I decided to take part because I had a very rough first two years of teaching.  I never questioned if I still wanted to be a teacher, but I did spend many nights crying from stress and from being overwhelmed.  Here are my tidbits of wisdom :)

This is seriously the only thing that kept me going some days.  One day it would be a big positive such as a lesson going amazingly well or getting a compliment from a parent.  Other days I'd have to search and search for something... ANYTHING to find good about that day, but I still would, even if it was that one of my kids  paid attention during a lesson or they didn't get in trouble on the playground.

Once I learned this my classroom turned around!  No longer did I accept things just because the student was an EL or was a discipline problem.  Once I showed them what I expected, they rose to the occasion.  I'm not saying to expect the same thing from each student, because they are all different and are on different levels.  I expected all of their work to be turned in nice and neatly.  I expected them to give their BEST effort on all assignments and tests or they would redo it.  You have to set that bar right off the bat so that you don't get any students trying to get away with lazy work.

Self explanatory... It will get better!!! :)

This stems from a personal experience of mine.  I had a student who could not stop talking and was constantly disrupting the class.  He continually got in trouble and kept sitting out his recesses.  I began to notice a pattern though... since he kept being disruptive his desk was moved by my podium where I teach.  While I was teaching I would constantly check on him and praise him when he was following directions. I noticed that he enjoyed the attention.  Come to find out after a conference, his parents were divorced and he was bouncing back and forth on a daily basis between the houses.  He was looking for someone to pay attention to him and he needed that positive reinforcement.  

I had another student who just would not turn in their homework.  I kept reminding them and sending notes home.  They were very distant during class as well.  At a conference I found out her mother was just diagnosed with cancer and that the past couple of weeks she had been in and out of the hospital.

So the lesson here is to be sure you treat all your students with love and learn about their background.

I hope this helps out some new teachers! :) 

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Home Sweet Classroom Home

Here is another post for IBHD :)

There's No Place Like Home

The only pictures I currently have of my classroom are from Open House, so my classroom is not always this  well decorated.  Honestly.. I am terrible at switching out student work on the walls, so if anyone has any suggestions or things that make it easier to switch student work I would like to hear them :)

My room is an odd shape.  It is mostly like a square but then one of the back corners is chopped off where the other 3 classroom connect to form a separate room called a pod.
This is the wall you first see as you walk in.  It's the monkey wall!  As you can see through that window is where all four classrooms connect to form the pod.  This board is very difficult to decorate because it goes so high, and my computers are usually located back here.
 Next wall is where all my cabinets are.  Also I have 3 sliding whiteboards which have shelves located behind them.  These are the coolest things! One of the boards I have all the students names on magnets for missing assignments.  Each subject has their own number and if that number is beside a name, that student knows they have a missing assignment. On another one I have my monthly calendar where I write events or important dates down.
Then we move to the front of the classroom, where you can see my bookshelf for my library off to the right of the picture.  I have purposely left a lot of space up front because this year I had many students who wore glasses, so I allowed them to come sit up front to take notes.

Here is my side whiteboard, which is beside my desk and behind my podium.  It's very handy.  This is where I write any announcements or homework for the day.

Here is my wonderful window outside with more cabinets underneath.  This is the wall that gets switched out the most because it is the easiest.  On the counter there are binders with the students writing... this past year I had an ephiany about their writing that gets hung up on the next board you will see.  I decided that this year when I switch out their writing from the board I am going to assign students to put the papers in sheet protectors then put them in binders by the months/topics.  Then when it's time for Open House I just have to pull out the binders and set on the counter for display!

Finally here is my back writing wall.  On the left board I have colored cardstock paper stapled up with paperclips on them.  Each paper has a student's number on it, that way they know if they're number is showing they are missing the assignment.  Below that are my student cubbies... still trying to figure out how to keep those nice looking...

Since there were no pictures of my desk set up I'll explain it here.  :)  I was so excited to find this new way to set up the desk.  My students are in groups of 6 but not the traditional way.  They are in mini U shapes.  Here's what it looks like
___ ___ ___ ___
[                [

So four students are facing front, and the other two are sideways.  Since I have 33 students I had to push in the two sideways desk to keep a clear walk way, but it worked out well for the group. It made it easy for me to check on things because I would just go and stand in the middle of the U.

I am very excited about next year though... I'm switching over to tables!!  This class wore me out with digging in desks, so I spoke to my principal about switching to tables and how I thought it would help with attention and organization.  She agreed and is giving me tables.  I'll have to wait until August to see them and set it up, but I know I'm going to have groups of four. :)

Well that's my classroom! I hope you enjoyed the tour!

IBHD Freebies!

If you don't know already, I decided to link up for International Blog Hopping Day. :)  Join in the fun and click the picture to go back to the main page at Teaching Blog Addict.

Follow for Freebies

Here are my freebies to contribute!  I have added several of them to the one post.  A couple have been joined in with Classroom Freebies Manic Monday.  Click on the picture and it will take you to my store for the download. 

This is a great activity to decorate with for Open House.  It includes creative writing and graphing coordinates.
Here is a lesson plan template I made.  It includes Monday-Friday along with separate boxes for each time slot.  At the bottom is a space to write your Focus Standards for the week for each subject.

I created this based off of the Rick Morris model, I just needed something more cutesy. :)  It also includes 2 revamped forms from his program.  One form is a weekly report to send home with a line for a parent signature and the other is a note to send home if the student has not behaved well.

I hope you enjoy the freebies!  If you did please be sure to leave a comment and share. :)

Teaching Smart

Smart Teaching

Here is the best thing I used in my classroom this year... it worked wonders and cut down my planning time!
It's Laura Candler's Literature Circle Printables.  You can click HERE to go to her site and see them.

Let me tell you how wonderful they are! Oh my goodness.  At first I was a bit overwhelmed wondering how my students could do this independently (and correctly), but after a couple weeks of training it finally began to fall in to place.  This past year our school had 2 combination classes that pulled from 5th grade, so I was a little apprehensive about trying this out with my class because I did not have as many independent students as I have had in past years.  The more I looked into it the more I saw how it would help me too and save time and planning.  I was determined to try and make it work, or give it one heck of a try before calling it quits.

I explained everything to the students on the first day and told them how the system would eventually work after their training.  We used our Core Literature book to do the activities together, so my students knew what to do and knew what was expected of them.  Finally came time to seeing how they could handle work on their own....I was a nervous wreck expecting some crazy upheaval from the independent groups while I read with my small group. (I hope I'm not the only one who has had a dream where the class has gone crazy and won't get under control... I call it my mutiny dream.)

Instead of just releasing them and working with my group, that week I released them while I monitored and made sure students stayed on task.  I altered things a bit to fit my schedule and also my students' attention span.  I set the timer for them to read for 15 minutes with their group, then when the timer went off they returned to their seats to work on the activity independently.  

This worked so amazingly well.  I was so impressed with my class. :)  I even had other teachers compliment my students with their system.  What was even better was that my students absolutely LOVED it!  They would get so upset if we had to cancel it.

I highly recommend taking a look through the printables and if you would like to see any examples of the way put together and ran my literature circles, just comment on this post and I will email you.  :)  If there's enough interest then I'd be more than happy to do a blog post on it.

Being a Teacher....

Follow The Famous Yellow Road

That's such an interesting topic because if you would have asked me 7 years ago what being a teacher meant to me, my answer would be slightly different.  No one really knows what they're getting into when they become a teacher and when you're first looking for a teaching job you're bubbly, excited, and ready to teach young minds without knowing EVERYTHING that comes along with the profession.  I remember my answer to that question in my interview.  It was very short and sweet, as I was VERY nervous.  My responses do differ since I have had experience now, but the heart behind it remains the same.  I am very passionate about what I do and anytime someone asks me this question I get teary-eyed because I'm so passionate.  Even now as I sit here typing this post, early afternoon enjoying some iced tea with my kitten asleep on my lap, I am teary-eyed because this means so much to me and I am so blessed to be in this profession.

7 years ago...
Being a teacher to me means helping students to grow and learn.  It's exciting to see their eyes light up when they have that "light bulb" moment of finally understanding a concept.

Being a teacher means long (unpaid) hours and working through, what the rest of the world considers, vacation time.  It means searching for so long on how to differentiate your instruction because you have a small group of students who are still not getting it.  Staying up late working on lessons plans, only to get to school super early to make sure you're prepared for the day.  Being a teacher means that you have to be flexible and learn to work with different personalities and appreciate your students and fellow teachers differences and opinions.  It means being open to change and being able to change very quickly.  It's essential to be able to handle stress well and not to get overwhelmed easily.

It also means... getting to touch 33 new students' lives every school year...  To be there with those students through their struggles and helping them through it, both in and out of school.  It means doing all you can to help them now because you're afraid of what may happen next year if they do not get help.  It means being there to enjoy and celebrate their successes with them... even if it does not happen for several years.  It means being a lifelong mentor and being a trusted adviser.  Most of all it means being a strong, supportive, constant in these children's ever changing lives... so that they know when they're at school they are in a safe and happy environment where they are loved.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Behavior Chart Freebies

It's time for another Manic Monday Freebie & Friday Freebie!  I am so excited to be participating in this again.  Shout out to my new followers! :)

Now to what you came here for... my freebie!

What I have for you are the pieces to create a colorful behavior clip chart along with parent forms.  These were inspired by Rick Morris's Behavior Clip Chart.  I just needed something more colorful than just the basic primary colors.  The posters were made to be printed on an 8.5" x 14" paper.  

Take a look!

Click on the pictures to be taken to the Google Doc to download.  There are 2 separate files.

How do I use this?
Each of the students get a clothespin with their name on it on the chart.  At the beginning of EACH day the clothespins are placed on either side of the chart on 'Ready to Learn'.  Throughout the day the students' clothespins can move up for good behavior or down for bad.  The clothespins can move up and down throughout the entire day so the students have a chance to change their behavior.

Now the other 2 forms attached are to record the behavior and provide contact home, as well as create a paper trail for you as the teacher.  The Behavior Report is meant to be used as a weekly communication between home and school.  It has a chart for each day of the week along with a place for a student and parent signature.  The Make Better Choices page is meant to be sent home on an as needed basis, when students stay below 'Ready to Learn'.  My plan is to chop this copy in half and take it in to be ran on carbon copy paper.  This way I am not always relying on the student to return it (we all know we have students who we tend to never receive paperwork back from).

Well, what do you think? If you liked it please share my blog with a friend and leave a comment.
Thank you for following!!

<3 Sarah

Poster graphics by:


Hop over to Classroom Freebies & Teaching Blog Addict and see what else you can find!
Freebie Fridays
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday      

Review: Blog, Swap, & Hop

Yesterday was the Top Teachers Blog, Swap, & Hop, where many blogs that I follow online guest blogged on different blogs.  It was really exciting to read new ideas from different bloggers.  I even began to follow some of them.  There was so much to read I was up for several hours last night reading blogs, Pinning ideas, and favoriting blogs and webpages.

I thought I would just take the time, for those who missed it, to review some of my favorite blog posts.
These are listed in no particular order. :)

Favorite #1
Guest Blogger from:

She had a lot of great ideas for integrating Math more in the every day activities of class.  One idea was to use student numbers in problems and then she has a Class Economy system where the students keep track of their own money.  I highly recommend going and reading about it.

But my absolute favorite thing from her post, that I know I could start right away in my classroom, was how she kept track of her group points.

Check that out!!  X is given a different value each week.  The goal is for the students to earn more X's to gain more points.  If the kids are just being good she adds numbers.

This was such an amazing idea to me because my students sometimes struggle with expressions and solving them.  Using this system, the students will have to do the math to figure out their group points.  Did I mention how much I LOVE this and how I'm going to use this for this coming school year?

Favorite #2
Treasures for Teaching

Guest Blogger from: 
HoJo's Teaching Adventures

They shared a freebie! :)  They created this puzzle called Magic Squares.

You cut the pieces apart, then when you put them back together all the sides should have the correct answer matched up with this.  Even though my students are past adding numbers with zero, I am planning to create my own.  I would really love to do this with equivalent fractions, adding and subtracting fractions.... anything with fractions! That always seems to be the topic my students' struggle the most with.

Favorite #3
Teach 123

Guest Blogger from:
A Modern Teacher

A Modern Teacher always has the CUTEST ideas for organization and her guest blog does not disappoint!
Who would have ever thought of this.... Using pizza boxes for storage!  Check it out!

Here's how it works.  Either ask for pizza boxes (perhaps for a donation or a small fee), or save the ones you get your pizza in.  Then clean them up and cover in contact paper!  Use these to save odd shaped things for your bulletin board or student examples.  Here's the final product:

Favorite #4
Sunny Days in Second

Guest blogger from:
This was an awesome Techy post!  There are lots of tips on using Pinterest along with some of her EduTech finds.  It's very cool and definitely worth checking out.

There were still a lot of things that I loved from yesterday's swap but I don't want to overload this I probably already done. :)

I hope this has been helpful to you. Please leave a comment and share with your friends if you liked this. :)



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