Inspiration for Education


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Getting Organized with a Teacher Binder

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Keeping data organized is my constant battle.  It seems the longer I teach the more quantities of data I have to keep track of.  I’m super excited about the new teacher binder that I just finished developing.  First, It has really cute cover options which are definitely a must!  😉

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Then, inside one or more binders, I can organize EVERYTHING!  What I’m most excited about is that I’ll have all the lists pre-ready and I just need to fill in the data when I get it.   I have a cute cute sheet for a class list plus a bunch of other student data forms like one for ID numbers, another for usernames and passwords, transportation lists and so much more.

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I’ve also got forms ready to go for my own professional development.  I have a variety of options for meeting notes, a form for keeping track of professional development credits, and a team meeting form.

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Then there are a whole other set of forms all ready to create a separate substitute folder   .  My sub folder will be rockin’ with emergency procedures,  sub notes, classroom procedures, daily schedule and more.

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I don’t know about you, but I feel like I’m always scrambling to find the standards when I need them.  Plus, I needed a way to keep track of which standards I’ve covered during the course of the year.  So I copied them off of the CCSS website and reformatted them into a checklist.  I’m planning on keeping them in my main binder with all of my lesson plans so they are always right there when I need them.

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I’m also one who is constantly rearranging my desks in my classroom.  Sometimes we’re in pairs, sometimes in groups and sometimes in rows.  So I created 10 different blank seating charts to help.

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Last but not least I made this CUTE CUTE CUTE calendar to keep in my binder.

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If you’re interested in using my pages to get your own binder organized click on one of the pictures below.

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Back to School Bulletin Boards

I love coming up with fresh bulletin boards each year.  I like to scour the internet for fresh ideas.  So I thought I’d post some of my favorites that I’ve done over the last few years.  My absolute favorite is this iPad bulletin board.  We got a grant for 1:1 iPads two years ago and I created this bulletin board to showcase all of the topics that we learn in 3rd grade.

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Each “app” on the iPad shows one of the topics that we study during the year.

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Another beginning of the year bulletin board that I love is this sunflower one.

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This one is a great kick off to our plant unit which is our first science unit. The kids make the sunflowers the first week of school. (I originally got the idea from the Family Corner  website, but tweaked it to add some extra depth.) The yellow petals are actually coffee filters.  Each kid gets 3 or 4 filters and scallop cuts the edges.  Then they stack all of their filters together and fold them into fourths (so it looks like a piece of pizza.)  Then we mix yellow food color and water together and they let their filters soak up the yellow color for a few hours.  They LOVE watching this process.  After they are dry, they glue them together in the center.  Then we spread glue around the center of the top one and sprinkle black sand in the middle.  Shake it off, let it dry and you have these cute flowers.  I also like to use different sized coffee filters so that we have different sized flowers in the end.

 

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Here’s a close up of one of the flowers.

 

Another one of my favorite beginning of the year  bulletin boards is this watermelon one, which I’m sorry to say that I forgot to take a picture of until it was halfway pulled down last year.  The title says “A Little Slice of Summer”

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I have the kids write a story about their summer vacation on a piece of paper shaped like of of the watermelon seeds you see in the picture.  Only their paper is slightly smaller than the ones that you see, so the black paper acts as a border around their writing.  I use this writing piece as a pre-assessment in writing and it makes a cute bulletin board!

Another one of my favorites is this hot air balloon bulletin board.  Our town has a hot air balloon festival in the summer so it’s a perfect starting board for our school year.  You can’t see it very well, in the picture, but the trees have little bits of pink tissue paper stuck to them to look like blossoms.  (Which must mean that the year I took this picture I actually did this bulletin board in the spring.  🙂 )  Either way, it’s one of my favorites.  The balloons are made of little pieces of tissue paper glued down to a balloon shaped piece of paper. We used string and a square of construction paper for the baskets.

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Finally, I have my Math Words bulletin board that gets put up at the beginning of every year.  As the year goes on we add more and more words to the board.  This picture is from about half way through last year.  The kids refer to it constantly as a reference for key math terms.

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Seat Cover Pockets

 

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So here I am starting a teacher blog in the middle of summer.  Not a lot of teaching going on, but I have been working so hard this summer to get ready for next year.  I’m really excited about my new seat cover pockets.  One of my co-teachers converted from desks to tables last year and had some seat cover pockets made so the kids could store their gear.  I’m keeping my desks, but I have tiny ones that don’t hold much.  I never let the kids put their iPads or classroom books inside their desks for fear of them getting wrecked. Because of this rule I’ve always had issues with kids not having enough desk space to do their work. Plus, all those iPads and books on their desks just make the room look cluttered. It wasn’t until this June as I was packing up my classroom that I was hit with inspiration.  I could have seat cover pockets too, and I bet I could make my own!  So that has been my big project this summer.  So far I’ve made 10, only 20 more to go.  It took me a while to figure out the design I wanted, but now I’m really happy with what I created.  They each have 2 large pockets in them, one for books and one for iPads.  I also LOVE the fabric I found for them.  I’m going to redo my whole room to color coordinate.

 

I thought I’d give a little demo here on how to make your own seat cover pockets.  I’ll give the measurements I used for my chairs, but you’ll want to adjust your size to fit your own classroom chairs.  I have to say that I am not a very experienced seamstress.  I could probably count on my fingers the number of sewing machine projects I have done in my life.  I have just enough experience to think I can do anything and just enough ignorance to have to do every project 3 or 4 times before I get it right.  Keeping that in mind, I made my first chair cover with scrap fabric so that I wouldn’t waist my good fabric with my first mess up.   (Turned out to be a good idea. ;-))

 

I used outdoor fabric for this project because it seemed heavy and stain resistant.  However, were I to do it again I would use a different fabric because this kind frays so easily I worry that the seams won’t hold up under pressure.  Also, it would have been better to use a fabric with no obvious backside to it, because you can see the backside of the fabric when the chair is empty. When buying your fabric I found that I could get 3 covers out of 1.5 yards of fabric (assuming your fabric is 52″ wide.  Narrower fabric will only get 2 covers out a 1.5 yards of fabric.

To make these pockets I used 4 pieces of fabric. When making your own make sure the top of pieces A and D measure at least 3/4″ larger than the top of your chair.

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My next step was to start overcasting the edges.  With this fabric in particular I felt like I needed to overcast everything.

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Overcasting stitch.

I started by overcasting just the edges outlined in red below.  The rest of the edges get overcast too, but I was able to overcast and sew pieces together at the same time with those edges.

Slide2 Next, take piece C and fold over the overcast edge twice to make a seam.  Sew the seam into place.

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Next, I put together Piece B and Piece C.  The big trick here is to put them together so both wrong sides are facing up.  (DONT put right sides facing together!!!)  Then overcast all the way around even on the edges of Piece B that don’t touch piece C.

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Pieces B and C, both with back sides facing up. Overcast ALL THE WAY around piece B, so that the two piece are now sewn together AND piece B has overcasting on all of its edges.

Next, create a seam at the top of piece B by folding over twice and then sewing the seam into place. Then, flip the pocket right side out so that both fronts are facing forward. This finishes the pocket portion of the chair cover.photo 4

To create the part that slips over the chair, take pieces A and D.  Pin them so that the tops are together, overcast stitch along the TOP edge so that the two pieces are now both sewn together and completely overcast.  Create a finished seam along the opposite edge of piece D by folding the edge over twice and sewing with a straight stitch.  Lay the entire piece open flat and pin the pocket you just completed onto the bottom of piece A.  Pin it so that all pieces are back side facing up.  Line up the widest part of the pocket (the bottom) with the widest part of piece A (also the bottom.)  Pin the three closed sides of the pocket to piece A and sew with straight stitches,  allowing for a 1/4 inch seam.   (I then re-sewed the entire seam to give it extra strength.)

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Almost done!  Flip the pocket right side out and fold down the final flap, piece D.  Pin piece D in place along the sides.  I found that it worked best to sew a straight stitch across the top first and then go down the sides.  (I had much less issues with fabric bunching up this way.)  Again, re-sew the entire seam for extra strength.photo 2

 Finally, flip the last section right-side-out and trim the extra threads.  And there is your two pocket seat cover!

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I can’t wait to see my room with all these blues, greens and yellows.  Half of my seat covers will be this fabric and the other half a striped fabric with the same colors.  If you decide to try this out yourself, or if you have tips that would have made this whole process easier leave a comment.  Thanks for reading my first ever blog post!!!!