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How to Create Learning Folders!

I am sure many of you have made learning folders to hold students work for a unit of study. In case you haven't and this catches your attention, I wanted to show you how they could be made for free! There is no need to buy file folders, or real folders for that matter.

Here are the materials you need:

  • Two pieces of computer paper (any color)
  • Tape
  • Glue
  • Two half sheets of computer paper

Most of us, have the stuff I mentioned above on hand. If you don't have tape, you'll be fine without it! use glue instead! Here is how I created my learning folders for my Living and Nonliving unit of study with my first graders!

Step One: Get two pieces of paper.

Step Two: Tape the two pieces of paper together in the center. I do the inside and the outside for durability.

Step Three: Cut out pockets for the folders. You can cut out one or two pockets. Students can decorate their pockets!

Step Four: Attach the pockets to the folder - only applying glue to the bottom, left and right side. 

Step Five: Add a cover! This is a great way to let students in on what they'll be learning! They can decorate it with prior knowledge, the learning objective or they can write down new learning from your very first lesson!

Last but not least... add all the learning inside the folder!

Don't let the back of the folder go to waste either - Make it interactive, make a game on the back, make some flipper flappers! Have fun!!

I hope you found this post helpful and it sparked some ideas for your own units of study! I used my Living and Nonliving unit here in my examples. If you are interested in that, click the cover below!

Thanks so much!!

Reading Centers with a Checklist

I've received a lot of questions on Instagram about how I run my reading center time in my classroom. I have played around with this precious 45 minutes of time for years. I want my students doing work that is engaging, purposeful, relevant and encourages them to become responsible for their work while giving choice.

This has all led me to my little center checklist. The checklist that I currently use looks like the one you see below. I don't like to tie myself to centers with names because what we do throughout the year changes and I want their centers to grow with students.

When I plan my centers each week, I do try to keep them somewhat consistent. I use the planning template seen below. It's easy, but keeps me focused.

Here is an example of what it looks like filled out digitally. Normally, I just write them down with pencil because I like to be quick and simple! :-)

Here is a break down of how the centers run in my classroom. We will begin with the rotation chart!

When students have the checklist card by their groups name, then they have the choice to pick an activity they would like to complete for the day. They are required to complete one checklist activity per day. They are allowed to do 2, if one doesn't take them too long. They get pretty good at managing their time (another important life skill to learn)!

I introduce the new activities on Monday. Wednesday, I have kids turn in their folders and I do a midweek check up to make sure everyone is getting their work completed. If not, then they get Mrs. Hursh on their tail for the rest of the week. It only takes about 1 week of me nagging a student for them to kick it in gear for the rest of the weeks. ;-)

Here are the centers set up from last week. I'll get to the grading part here soon!

This week students are unscrambling sentences. I don't want to make a million sets of these cards, so I just cut out one sentence, place it in a bucket and write a number at the top. When students visit this center, they grab one bucket, unscramble the sentence and then record the sentence on their activity sheet. When they complete that sentence, they put those cards back, put the bucket back, grab a new bucket and repeat until all sentences are done. The kids don't lose cards this way and they aren't overwhelmed by way too many sentences at one. It helps them focus on just one thing at a time.

 To prep the craft center, I place student supplies in the two bins you see below. If there are little pieces, I just put them in zip lock bags. I make an example craft for students for them to look at while they create their own.

When students complete an activity from their center checklist, they place it in their center folder which also doubles as their 'catch up' folder.

When students finish an activity, they put a check in the box next to the correct center number.
When we first began checklists, I would ask students to circle the one they wanted to complete for the day. This helped them have a focused plan and allowed them to set a goal for themselves. I still do this with some students who have a difficult time getting started. In my mind, this system is a great way for students to be responsible and learn accountability with their work.

On Friday, I collect their folders, take them home and grade them. I place checks by the completed activities on their checklist, staple their papers together and return them on Monday.

Now, we do our two stations every single day. Some students finish by Thursday! I make sure their work is quality work that shows effort and if it is, they're able to make choices during their checklist station. The choices are ones that are still literacy based.

When I introduced the choices to students, I made this anchor chart right along with it so it held meaning. They refer to it often! (The students also love to complete these activities at indoor recess *win, win*).
You can find the activities I use for choices here.

I do not have students turn this work into me. However, they do LOVE to share their sticker stories with the class so we do make time for that at the end of the day once we pack up to go home.

If you would like any of the resources you saw above, you can click on the links below.

If you have any questions about checklists just comment below!!

I have another post about my stations with a checklist that I did a few years ago. It's a little different than I do now, but may give you more ideas!
Just click HERE for that POST!

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First Week Math Lesson Plans

Are you doing your lesson plans and not really sure where to begin? That was me a few years ago before I realized what was the most important thing to teach week ONE of school! I used to think I need to begin my curriculum day one, but no...! Expectations, expectations... and some more expectations!

I am here to share my math lesson plans with YOU for my first week of school! I always start off with the fun stuff... manipulatives! If I can get the kids using manipulatives correctly and playing games with a partner correctly then setting up the rest of my math block is seriously a breeze! No JOKE!

These are my objectives for the first week of school:
I use these to help keep me focused because I do love to get distracted by other things! This keeps me in line with what is actually important!

As you see above, I am not focusing on the standards. Why? Well, because the standards are NOT going to get met if the kids don't know how to interact with materials and one another appropriately. Trust me! Do all this stuff NOW or you WILL be doing it allllll year long!

When setting these expectations, do not give the kids wiggle room to "misbehave" either. 
You need them to learn how to act correctly right away so you CAN get a move on it with your math curriculum.

Okay, now what you came for! Week ONE PLANS!! 
Please keep in mind, I will do my very best to stick to the plans below but if my kids aren't doing well with noise level for example, then we will be reconvening and practicing a LOT!

If you click on the image below, you can download my plans and click on the pictures to be taken to that math activity.

The great thing about week one is that after it's done, the students will already know FOUR math games! Next week, I will begin introducing the technology center and students will begin to rotate through three math stations. We use Ipads in our classroom and a math program called ST Math.

Throughout rotations I will continue to assess students basic understandings of math and look for any red flags so they can be tackled right away!

I hope you found this post helpful!
For more blog posts about my math workshop, click the links below!!