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Getting Ahead of the Game 2017: Week 3

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to Week 3 of Getting Ahead of the Game! Have you gotten you taken control of your summer yet? If not, check out this post. I created this blog series in hopes of getting you ahead before the school year ever starts. Each Tuesday of the summer, I will give you a small task to complete that will help you get ready for August! I want you to feel like you got something accomplished this summer without sacrificing anytime at the pool! 

This week's challenge is to get all of those beginning of the year papers ready to go! You know what I'm talking about! The student information sheet, volunteer forms, classroom handbooks, all of that  good stuff! Everyone has their own preferences for what forms they like and don't like. There are tons out there to choose from, but here is what I have ready for this year...

I try to keep it simple and just have one student information form. I like to copy it on colored paper so that it is easy to find in my student information binder. Download this form for free HERE. I always leave the back blank too, in case parents want to write me a novel. ; ) Speaking of student information binders, here is an easy trick! Use these numbered tabs to organize! Each child has a number and I file all of their forms behind that number.
I don't write anything on "the table of contents page" and reuse the tabs every year. 

Each year I create a Meet the Authors board that includes a little biography of each student and a place that they can display their work. Read more about it HERE. I use this little form to create their biography. I leave it on each student's desk at Meet the Teacher Night so that they can fill it out with parental help if needed. It's just one more thing I can have ready to go!

Download it for free HERE

I also LOVE using Donors Choose to fund materials and experiences in my classroom. It's like Christmas when your stuff arrives!

 After a project is funded, pictures of students using the materials are shared with the donors. A photography permission form is required for each student. The beginning of the year if the perfect time to get this completed too! Read more about how to use Donors Choose HERE

 Do you have Mystery Readers in your classroom? Every Friday a parent volunteer comes and reads a book to the class. It's special for both parents and children! Sign Up Genius is amazing for organizing this! Parents can changes dates if they need to and receive reminders without you doing anything. Just put the link on your classroom website, Facebook page or email it out! Easy! Take 10 minutes to create it for the year and you're finished!

In years past I have created a classroom handbook that went over the routines and procedures of my classroom. It was really helpful! The only reason I quit doing it is because my team created a grade level handbook instead. It's nice to have all of the information in one place. Also, we don't even print out the handbook for parents anymore. We just create a QR code for parents to access the information online, put it on our class websites and send it in an email.

My school is currently in shambles. Again! Last year, they replaced the roof, so naturally this year we are redoing the flooring. I really shouldn't complain because it makes me stay home and relax, but I hate thinking about the mess that I will be coming back to and unpacking everything.  I use Google Drive to keep everything organized so all I have to do is print! Here is my Beginning of the Year folder with everything ready to go! I'm so glad I took the time to do this last year because it's all ready to go!
I know this week is a BIG challenge, but you will L-O-V-E yourself come August when all you have to do is PRINT everything! 

Just catching up? 
Getting Ahead of the Game 2017, Week #1
Getting Ahead of the Game 2017, Week #2

Getting Ahead of the Game 2017: Week 2

Happy Tuesday! Welcome to Week 2 of Getting Ahead of the Game! Have you gotten your planner set up for next year yet? If not, check out this postI created this blog series in hopes of getting you ahead before the school year ever starts. Each Tuesday of the summer, I will give you a small task to complete that will help you get ready for August! I want you to feel like you got something accomplished this summer without sacrificing anytime at the pool! 

This week's task is set some summer goals! What do you need to get done this summer to feel good, both personally and professionally? If you set up your planner last week, you should have a really good idea of how much summer you have left...yikes! As June comes to an end, I start to panic! I always start off the summer with all of these things I am going to get done over the summer and then before I know it, IT'S OVER. I didn't clean out my closet, or reorganize the pantry or paint that back bedroom. Hopefully by now you have had some relaxing down time under your belt, so you are ready to tackle of a few of those summer tasks. Take some time this week to fill out this goals page and plan according. I am a huge believer in writing goals down!

Here are a few things to think about:
  • Are there any teaching books have been wanting to read? 
  • What items do I need to be on the lookout for for my classroom? Garage sales in the summer are great!
  • What can I already have ready to go? Can I print labels and assemble writing workshop folders

  • What things around the house I want to do, but never have time for?
  • What can I get rid of or de-clutter that will make me feel better? (P.S. This book is a must read. Changed my life!)
  • What needs a deep cleaning? 

  • What appointments do I need to make? Doctor, dentist, oil changes, dermatologist, etc?
  • What do I want to do for me? Can I travel? 
  • What friends and family do I want to make time for this summer?

Next, make a plan! If you want to redecorate or paint a room in your house, what steps do you need to take! Pin ideas. Make a trip to Home Depot and pick out some paint colors. Print out some pictures to go in frames. Carve out time for what needs to be accomplished! Make this summer your best!

Getting Ahead of the Game 2017: Week 1

It's HERE! I sure hope this post finds you on relaxing and on summer break! Today kicks off a little Tuesday summer blog series called, Getting Ahead of the Game. You may remember it from last summer or follow my posts throughout the school year. Here is the truth:  You can't ever get ahead if your always behind. I created this blog series in hope of getting you ahead before the school year ever starts. Trust me, I know that you need this summer to lay low and relax, ME TOO. So I promise that each task won't take long and leave you feeling like you got something accomplished without sacrificing anytime at the pool!  Sound good? Let's go!

This week's task is to get that planner set up for the 2017-2018 school year! Go ahead and print out a copy of your district calendar and write holidays, professional development days and grading periods in your planner or planners! In the market for a new teacher planner? You have to check this one out!

 This teacher planner from Berteau and Co is amazing and obviously designed by a teacher. Every little detail will have you swooning! 

I love that you can have everything in one place! Student information, notes, birthdays, passwords, EVERYTHING!

And this pocket...😍
I can't wait to get this planner set up and ready for August! : )

Looking for a non-teacher planner? I am a huge Erin Condren fan and used one for years. I seriously love and adore everything about her planners, except the cost. 😐 I decided that I could find a planner I liked for less than half of the cost and spend the money I saved at Target or something. 😉 I ordered this planner from Amazon, but Target has some really cute planner right now too!

 I found these cute magnetic bookmarks at Target too! I use them easily find the week I'm on or notes pages. These would work great too!

So this week your challenge is to to get that planner (or whatever you use to keep your ducks in a row) set up for the 2017-2018 school year! Get to it! : )

IT'S BACK! Getting Ahead of the Game Summer Edition


Last summer I started a summer blog series called, Getting Ahead of the Game! Each week I gave you a little task to do that would help you get ready for August and make back to school a little less stressful! I had so much positive feedback from this series, that I continued it each month! Getting Ahead of the Game will be returning on Tuesdays starting June 13th! Hope to see you then! Oh and be sure to join my email list before then! I will be sending reminders and additional freebies to help! *wink, wink*

How to Make Lemonade

I am getting in that summer state of mind! Over the next few weeks, we will be reviewing all of the writing genres that we have learned! I love teaching expository procedural or how to writing! It's easy to make it hands-on and fun for the kids! Making lemonade is the perfect way to review! I can't wait to make this cute craft and writing with my students! 

 Check this product out here! It could be used with lemonade mix or lemons and sugar! Love the bright colored paper I used? Check it out here! Check out more ideas for this month HERE! The summer countdown is on friends!

Dallas TPT Meet Up Recap

I had the best time today at the Dallas TPT Meet Up! If you ever get a chance to go to a TPT Event, DO IT! TPT knows how to throw a party!

It's always so much fun to see old friends and make some new ones!

For those of you who weren't able to make it, I wanted to give you a quick recap and share a few of the things with you too!I presented on Getting Ahead of the Game: How to Start and End Your School Year Ahead! I wanted to give you some tips on things to do in May, that will help come August! This post does contain affiliate links.

First things first, we have to wrap up this school year! I like to send my students off with a little gift to remember our year together! 

I decided that memories really are the best gift you can give! I love giving these special personalized photo albums to each student. 

Read more about them HERE. 

Another easy idea is to make an end of the year slide show! You can show it at an end of the year event or make a copy for each student using these.

If you want to make your life really easy, check out this editable slideshow! Just add pictures of your students! 

I just use a clip and put this list in my planner! Every time I think of something I need to buy, make or do; I can easily jot it down! Grab it FREE HERE! 

After you decide what you need to shop for, think about which of those items you could ask parents for and which ones you can stock up on during summer sales. 

I use this display at Meet the Teacher to share my wish list with parents.

Don't forget to keep track of your spending too! 

 Use this spending log to keep track of it all! Don't forget to hang on to your receipts just in case you need them or need to return something. Grab it FREE HERE.

What little things can you do to make your work load lighter in August? Here are a few suggestions:
  • Sharpen pencils, or recruit students to help!
  • Clean out files and do what you can to store things digitally! See below!
  • If you don't use something, say goodbye! Check on Facebook for Teacher Swap groups and sell or donate what isn't being used in your classroom.
  • Repair or throw away torn up books.
  • Throw away any dried up glue, paint, markers, etc. 
  • Make any new labels that are needed. 
  • Shred any confidential documents.

There is never enough storage space and the only real solution is to cut down on the stuff that needs storing! (Unstuffed is a must read!) One easy way to do this is to get rid of all the unnecessary paper and store what you can digitally. Here are a few apps (and websites) to get you started!

What can YOU do to get ahead? 

End of the Year Slideshow

The End of the Year is quickly approaching! Which means things are getting crazier! Hopefully, you have had time to check out my Getting Ahead of the Game Post with five tips for getting ready for May! 

One of my tips is to get your end of the year gifts ready to go!I think the most valuable gift you can give students is memories! I love giving them this special photo album to help remind them of all the special memories they made in First Grade. You can read more about it HERE and grab your own photo album title pages HERE.

A slide show is also a fun keepsake gift! You can put it on a disc for each student or show it at an end of the year event! A slide show can be super consuming to put together and time isn't something you have a ton of this time of I'm helping you out! I have put together an EDITABLE End of the Year Slide Show.

This EDITABLE Slide Show (using Power Point) is easy to use and will make your end of the year slide show look incredible! The fun, bright colors fit any classroom theme. Just add pictures of your class! Over 30 slides are included!

The graphics are not editable, but all of the text is! Easily change wording, fonts, font size, and rearrange, duplicate or delete slides! You can add as many pictures as you need! Check it out HERE.