Last year was my first year teaching 4th and the year before that I taught 7th. In California, both of those grades have a state test in writing where the teacher has no idea what the prompt will be.  It is a mixed bag and we speculate what the prompt will be... will it be summary, response to literature, persuasive, expository, informative, imaginative narrative, or personal narrative. To ensure we cover all of these genres and their, after Winter Break we go into WRITING mode teaching all the genres of writing in a really condensed way because the test is in early spring.  Each genre is so specific in language, thinking map, transitions, structure and to rush through them is a tragedy.

     In an effort to counter this from happening this coming year, I have decided to use Whole Class Journals to help me cover, introduce and expose the students to various genres in writing in a non-threatening and less formal way.  I am so excited to see how my students will excel because of these babies.  I know I shared with you my Narrative set of Whole Class Journals, as well as my Persuasive and Compare and Contrast sets. Today I would like to share with you my Explanatory/Informative set:

This pack includes 8 different topics that will help your students practice explaining how to do something and give information. In addition, there is mind map to help students plan and a student cheat sheet to help them get started. The topics that I have created are structured and worded in a way that will help the student work independently and come out with a product that is well executed and well written! You can find all my Whole Class Journals on sale for this week at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

So, shake up your center times by adding Whole Class Journal prompts into your classroom  This is a great addition to any writers workshop, Center Time or for fast finishers. Each student in the class has a chance to respond to the topic and read what their peers have to say. It is a great community building piece that will work in any 3rd-7th grade classroom. 
6 Persuasive Prompts
10 Narrative Prompts- Personal and Imaginative
6 Compare and Contrast Prompts
Hope you love these as much as I do!

 I am linking up Tara from 4th Grade Frolics to show off the Teacher's Toolbox I mentioned in my Fabulous Friday Finds post.  I put it off for awhile because I was nervous about making all the labels.  So, what do you do when you aren't sure how to do something....? You call on a friend! I invited one of my favorite friends and fellow blogger, Michelle from Apples and ABCs over to tackle the tool box.
Ready to work.
We may or may not have worked like this on various things for 5 hours.... Thanks to my husband for taking care of Penny and giving us a Girls Night Out Teachers Night In.
Keep reading, these labels are a FREEBIE!
Michelle's is on the left and mine is on the right
I am really glad that I got the tool box that had larger drawers... It was easier to make because the drawers were all the same size, and I think it is just more practical for me. I purchased this from Lowes. It was about $20.
To make your life easier and motivate you to make your own Teacher's Toolbox, I have made a template of my labels for you to have for free :). Like I said before, I put this baby off for a month because I didn't want to worry about formatting the labels and spend an evening full of trial and error.  
Pick up this freebie here.
Another thing that I made this week is Making Words Bundle that tracks with the school year's activities and holidays. I chose 57 words that go with various holidays and celebrations that go with each month of the School Year. There are at least 4 words for each month (August and September are combined) that go with common themes found in that month (cornucopia for November and Presidents Day for February). 
Here is a sample of one of the Back to School activities
These are all of the words for each month in the school year that I have made a Making Words activity for
Making Words is a great spelling activity that challenges the students to manipulate the letters to find as many words as possible. It focuses on phonemic awareness and spelling patterns in a way that engages the students and encourages them to think critically. Perfect for Center work, May Do’s, Bellwork and substitutes lesson plans. You can pick up this bundle of 57 here at my TpT store.

I made a freebie sample of this 57 words pack for you to try out in your class. It has two back to school activities for you to try. You can get it here at my TpT store.

Amanda from Teaching Maddeness is hosting a linky called (New School) Year Resolutions for the up and coming year.
1) Be more organized, especially in regard with my clasroom library!
2) Connect with parents more
3) Collaborate with my new team
4) Try new things with Science and Social Studies
5) Keep up with this blog and my TpT store. 
6) Use sentence stems to promote verbal skills with my ELLs
7) Keep in touch with former students and colleagues from my old school
8) Do more one on one or small group pull outs for mini lessons 
9) Improve my writers workshop time
10) Make sure my homework is not just busy work.

I love Lorainne from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies and her linky idea about a Back to School To Do List. This will probably help calm my First Day Jitters!

Here is the first of many to do lists:
1) Move all items from old school and my garage into new classroom
2) Hang fabric on wall with my hubby's help- BRING IRON just in case
3) Find babysitter for Penny on August 10th so both my husband and I can jam through hanging bulletin boards
4) Order checkbook registers on Amazon or ebay- return mini checkbook registers
5) Get the owl themed tree house for my class' multiplication and division data wall
6) Finish organizing my classroom library and labeling them with AR tags
7) Print out all of my first week of school documents
8) Find inexpensive beanbags for the reading corner
9) Buy border for my bulletin boards and name tags for desks
10) Finish my Teacher's Toolbox
11) Arrange my classroom
12)  Figure out my new school- teachers, team, principal, expectations, curriculum, programs, schedule
13) Relax!
14) Decide on a rug for the reading center
15)  Make teacher gifts for my new team

Well, it wouldn't be Friday if I wasn't linking up with Elizabeth in Fun in 4b.  To be honest, I kind of calmed down on my Back to School shopping spree... kinda being the key word here.

1) This is probably my best find of the week. Vistaprint has a deal right now where for $20, you get an $80 dollar credit!!!! So, STOP EVERYTHING that you are doing and go here now to get this deal.  It expires in 4 days! Thank you Miss V for sharing this goody with me!

2) I decided on getting a different Teacher Toolbox than the ones that I have seen around with the little drawers.  My husband actually talked me into this one because he thought that I didn't have enough small items for the tiny boxes in the other one.  We shall see its transformation from boring to beautiful on the next Made it Monday.

3) Dollar Tree did it again.... It rocked my world. I got a set of both of these babies for each of my table caddies, so when kids get done early with an assignment, or in their free time, they can study their math facts without having to leave their seat.  

Can't wait to see what you all found this week! Have a Fabulous Friday!

Today I am linking up with a fellow 4th grade teacher, Ashley from Fierce in Fourth, and her linky that encourages us to share our First Day Jitters.

 Here are my First Day Jitters:
1) Well, this linky is just what I needed because I literally woke up today from a nightmare dream where it was the first day of school and my classroom was BARE.  I have talked about how I am moving schools this year and how I can't move in until AUGUST 10th! Teachers go back on the 16th for Duty Days and School officially starts on the 22nd. The campus has been closed all summer because of renovations and half of my classroom is in my garage and at my old site. The District is supposed to move 11 boxes to my new site for me.... but as of June 30th, they were still at my old site.  I guess I am getting a little anxious because I see all of these AMAZING posts of teachers working all day in their classroom and seeing these incredible before and after  pictures.  I know I will get it done.... but it still stresses me out.

2) On the same note, in my nightmare dream from last night of my unfinished classroom, I also had NO procedures in place. I was struggling of how to fill time and realized towards the end of the "school day" that I didn't go over ANY rules or procedures.... I know that this would never happen in reality, but it reminds me how important going over these things over and over again in the during the first few weeks is. To calm this jitter I am going to make a MUST DO list for things I HAVE to go over the first day, that way even if there is a fire drill or something crazy that happens on the 1st day that throws me off my game, I will have my list to reference to check off.

3) Last but not leas, I am at a new school. That means new principal and new colleagues... I can tell already that I will LOVE my principal. I have met with her several times since my interview and she always emails me back the same day.  She has communicated her confidence in me, so I must remember that.  On top of that, I am working at the 3rd best school in Orange County- the teachers, parents and students have high expectations and while I am excited to be in this type of learning environment, I hope that I exceed, or at least meet, their expectations.  My grade level team is pretty new too, so I hope think we will bond quickly and collaborate a lot.

Well thanks for listening blog world! I feel better already. Any advice is greatly appreciated! I think the fact that we have these jitters just emphasizes our love of the job.

Back to school is just around the corner and I know that I am not the only one who is looking for a new  craft that is both fun and also gives the students a chance to show us a little more about them. Since I am going full force with an owl theme, I decided to have all the kids make their own owl out of pieces of scrapbook paper. Here is what I came up with...  Ta-Da! Isn't he cute?!?!
I used my iPhone Michaels app yesterday and picked up a pack of 180 pieces of colorful and fun scrapbook paper at 40% off!!! 
This is what I did. I made some stencils out of card stock that I found at dollar tree. I made one set of the wing, belly and body for each table group to share.

As I was making it I decided that it would be easiest and best to print out the eyes, beak and feet for them to color rather than have them trace them. I made a sheet that combines these for each student to cut and color.

  I also made a writing prompt on the inside of the owl.

There are two ways that you can use the prompt.

This is a perfect activity for back to school because the students get to show off their individuality and you get to see both their creativity and writing level. 

If you are interested in this goodie, I am selling it on Tpt here.
This 11 page pack includes:
-A page of directions
    - Example pictures for steps of how to make it
  - A "Whoo’s in Our Class" Sign
    - Copies of the template to print out (owl body, wings and belly)
-A worksheet for you to print off a page for each student of the eyes, beak and feet to have them color
- A Writing prompt to go inside. This includes a rough draft/ planning worksheet for the students and the option of just having them fill it in

  I made this pack as user friendly and easy as possible for you to use.  Hope your kids have a HOOT with it! Visit my Teachers pay Teachers account to see more owl goodies!

Today I am linking up with Amy at Step into 2nd Grade with Mrs. Lemons to share a little bit more about me! Here are 10 facts about me.

1) I was in the June edition of Brides magazine. I am the one in the yellow boots.  My husband and I were asked to model for a friends photo shoot and 2 years later one of my best friends called me and told me that she was looking in a magazine and saw me!

Here's another one!

 2)  I love to throw parties!  I know I shared my daughter's Very Hungry Caterpillar party earlier this month... Earlier this Spring, I hosted a baby shower for one of my close friends and it was a little gentleman theme. 

3) My husband and I are total foodies. We love to experiment in the kitchen and try all sorts of crazy techniques. We are also a part of this Fancy Schmancy Supper Club with 4 other couples. We meet 5 times a year and dress to the nines. Each couple hosts a themed 7 course dinner where we make EVERYTHING from scratch.

4) I LOVE SCRABBLE! MY husband and I played it on our very first date almost 5 years ago and it has been a running theme in our family.

My little girl Penelope and her Scrabble inspired sign
For each month during her first year, I took a picture with her in a onesie that said how old she is

5) For our honeymoon we traveled South America for one month. It was amazing.

6) I love candy... I mean LOVE it. I definitely have a sweet tooth.
7) I am a gym-a-holic. I go 6 days a week and when I was pregnant, I worked out up until 9 months.
8) My favorite food is soup- which I think is pretty weird.
9) I am a reality TV JUNKIE! I love the Bachelor and Bachelorette, of course I am watching the Bachelor Pad... I love Project Runway, Top Chef, Food Network Star
10) I love to read or to listen to books on tape.  I am just finishing Divergent and am really excited to read Emily Giffin's new book Where We Belong!

One of my goals this year was to be more organized. So, with that as my inspiration, I decided to tackle the beast that is my Classroom Library. I still have much to do, but unfortunately I will have to wait until I can go into my new classroom to do it on August 10th (eek!). This is my 2 step plan:
1- Find all the AR quiz numbers, point values and reading levels and record them on these cute owl stickers I made (you can download these free at my TpT store). 

2- Go through all my books and sort them according to reading level/genre and place them in bins.
.....2 steps should be easy.... right? Ha Ha!

I went shopping for book bins, and decided on these clear shoe containers from Target. I got them yesterday on sale. They were $4.95 for a set of 5! I think that is a steal. I decided to get clear bins because they will look nice and clean and and they will match ANY theme I decide to do.

Last night I spent a long time making library bin labels.  I was looking to buy some on TpT but most of the ones that I came across were directed towards primary class libraries.   I decided to make my own and ended up making a huge project.... 90 book bin labels later, I went to bed.
I have put off organizing my classroom because it can be daunting, but with 90 labels to choose from, now I have options. I laminated them and used Velcro to secure them to the bins, that way they will be easy to change if I need to.

The topics I included created in my 90 Classroom Labels for your Upper Elementary Book Bins are:

- Levels (A-Z) and (1.0-8.9 for AR)
-Popular Authors (Roald Dahl,  Lois Lowry, Beverly Cleary...)
- Popular Book Series (Magic Tree House, Dork Diaries, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Goosebumps....)
- By Genre (Historical Fiction, Realistic Fiction)
-By topic (Art, Holidays...)...
Now my students will be able to select a book that is at their level and/or interest without having to shuffle through a mess.

By popular series

By genre

Leveled A-Z 

By AR level
I posted these on my TpT store. You can find them here: 90 Classroom Labels for your Upper Elementary Book Bins!

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