.... from a small rural school in Elbert, Colorado.

A good teacher is surrounded by MANY great teachers! Thank you to the great teachers at my school and out in blogland!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Blog's 1 Week Anniversary

I wanted to share a couple of my favorite ORGANIZATION ideas. 
#1  I learned something 6 years ago - my first year in 3rd grade.  If you don't have it in writing, the students will forget every single day what to do when they get there in the morning, and you will have to repeat yourself for 180 days or so.  And of course, you couldn't just say it once, because everyone isn't ready to hear it at the same time.  Over and over again I had to repeat it, "Did you turn your folder in?, Did you do attendance?, Did you count your money?"  After that year and much thinking I came up with the MORNING BOARD and AFTERNOON BOARD.  These boards say exactly what to do and are put up when needed and then taken down, so they don't take up prominent space in the classroom.  Better than that, each step is numbered, and now when a kid seems lost, I just ask, "What number are you on?"  That redirects them and I'm free to deal with all the notes, homework, attendance, helping to count money, etc.  After about a month of school when a student doesn't use the board and therefore skips something, he/she is charged 10 cents (classroom money - see below).  If a student leaves the room at the end of the day and I can see that something was missed like "afternoon job" or "putting up chair", I write on the board - "You owe me 10 cents."

 I just use poster boards and write what needs to be done each morning and afternoon.  I decorate them to match our theme.

I couldn't live without these!  They're perfect for a sub day, too.  The students know where they are and hook them on the wall and take them down when they're not needed.  I no longer have to write everything down for the sub or show up to school, sick, in order to write it all down on the board for the students to follow. 

#2 I use MONEY.  Third graders need lots of practice with money all year and this is a great way to do it.  I have a classroom store.  I use a lot of Beth's ideas so check out her website at but I'm going to tell you a few of my own.  The Spanish teacher at our school gave me a tin can full of foreign coins that are out of circulation.  (You could surely use anything from marbles to metal washers). They are all different sizes and weights, so they are fun for the students to earn in their tin pails.  I have a little pail on each group of tables or some years each student's desk.  They earn these coins, that make a great "tinging noise" when dropped in their pail, for answering questions, working hard, or whatever else I can think of to encourage others to follow.  At the end of the day, the students count the coins by ones (they are not American money so we have a good talk at the beginning of the year that their exchange value is 1 cent) and come to me for a sticky note receipt (one per table group).   I always have the group earn the money together to work on collaborative learning, even if they have separate pails they dump them together to count.  I have also determined I would never take a coin out of their pails since they are working as a group.  If a student does need to pay money for bad behavior or whatever, he/she takes it from his/her personal money - play money in his wallet.
 "Counting coins in your pails" is written on the AFTERNOON board so I don't have to remind them everyday.  They do it quickly and easily, usually even grabbing the sticky note pad and pen for me.  I use to have them exchange it for class money (plastic play money) at the bank immediately after, but have found that it works better to have them go to the bank in the morning because of time, when they are doing their exchanges and counting the class money in their wallets anyway. 
In the morning the students count their 3rd grade class money (play money) in their plastic bags and record it everyday on a checkbook register.  (Most banks will happily give out old checkbooks for schools - mine came from Air Academy Federal Credit Union).  The students love it because they feel really grown-up.  Since every kiddo has a checkbook, my students even do deposits, so they can write checks at our class store.  I make a rule about how much they have to have before depositing (usually $1.00) or some students would do it everyday.  I record it on the deposit record in their book and then on the last page in my record book so it is safe (like a real bank I say).  We have lots of economy lessons so this doesn't all happen the first day of school.  However, beginning day one, they do get their tin pails and coins dropped in.  Day two they get their checkbooks and plastic bag (wallet).  They learn how to go to the bank with their receipt and then count their plastic money and record it.  We go very slow and take lots of time for the first two weeks, but after that it is easy for most of them.  I do go around and sign next to the date on the checkbook register after checking that the money in their wallets matches what they've written down and that it is written correctly.  Later in the year I only do it a couple of times a week, just to make sure everyone is on target (an no stealing).  Of course there are kids that will have to be checked or helped everyday, but that's okay because learning is happening.

Hopefully you can use an idea or two.  Let me know.  I'll have more to come.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Busy - Thinking

As I'm sitting here on my brown leather couch, I am listening to the wind and thinking.  I've been out of work for one week now and my mind is still at school.  I am thinking about next year.  I'm hearing that my class may be small, very small (maybe 6-8).  My lowest has been 10, but last year my 16 was perfect.  I'm really praying for more, since I don't want to be in jeopardy of losing my class to a combo.  With such a small class, I'm thinking of what my classroom can be set up like.  What about discipline?  Easy, huh?  The ideas are rolling around and won't quit.  I'll be sharing lots of them soon, since I owe the teachers in the blogging community that have changed me over the years.  I love all of your ideas and have adapted many of them to what I've done and like over the past 21 years.  I just created a 1 week lesson plan for TpT for the first week of school called - Plan for Establishing Correct Behavior and Classroom Rules Using Books. I have done this plan in my third grade class and love it.  Not only that - it works.  Kids remember "Molly Lou Melon" all year and never forget that instead of tattling to "STAND TALL."  My students know that bad behavior is not related to bad people.  We all have bad days once in awhile like Alexander in "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day."  My students know that there is a safe place in the room to THINK.  I don't have to do a pocket chart, flip chart, clip chart, or any other chart for behavior once this one week is completed.  I use class money in third grade for good behavior and the "Think Sheet" for those bad days.  It works.  Of course I use The Daily Five, too.  Well, as you can probably see, I have lots to talk about, but I better give my husband some time today, too.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

It's Summer Vacation

Love that each group has its own bookcase and trash can! Super organized!

It's summer vacation, but I can't stop thinking about the new school year.  I have lots of plans for change.  I actually like change, so this is good.  I've been thinking a lot about how I will organize the classroom differently this year.  I found an idea for my desks on Pinterest that I love, so if all goes well my husband will build the bookshelves this summer.  (It helps that he is the maintenance supervisor at school.)  I also like the idea of using a clear shoe closet organizer for my small store supplies.  We do an economic unit all year and shop twice a  month. I use a lot from Beth Newingham.  Check out her site at .  It is wonderful.  Both of the pinterest pictures were from Amber Polk at .  Check out her site.  It's pretty cool.
Repinned from Other Great Teaching Ideas by Amber Polk

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


Okay, I finally did it!  I've been reading teacher blog sites for two years and thought that I would join in the fun.  I'm on my first week of summer break and I knew if I was going to do it, now was the time.  So, I am the "newbie" in blogger land, but I'm ready to learn.  Help if you have any ideas, please!

I have been teaching for 21 years, first in California and then in Colorado.  I started out in first grade, became a Reading Recovery teacher, transferred to second, and then to kindergarten.  Six years ago I moved to Elbert, Colorado and have been teaching third grade ever since.  I LOVE teaching!  I also love God and my family.  I am married to my best friend and have two beautiful daughters.  My oldest daughter just graduated (salutatorian) and my youngest is now a sophomore.  How time flies!

Jenna & Ashlynn 2012