FREE Back to School Gift Tags: Colorful Year

My kids headed back to school day! It's such a bitter-sweet moment because on one hand you're so sad to watch them grow up and start a new year of school, but on the other hand you know they're going to learn so much and make a lot of new friends and you're so excited for the year ahead of them.


I picked up some teacher gifts on Amazon a few weeks back and then late last night realized I forgot to make a cute tag to go on them. So at midnight last night I hurried to make and print these cute tags to go on these gifts for their teachers. I want to share these tags with you for free and they are available in 3 different versions. One for a student to give to their teacher, one for a teacher to give to their team members, and one for a teacher to give to their students (maybe with a box of crayons or a watercolor set? So cute!) 




Affiliate links for Expo markers here:






Affiliate links for Mr. Sketch Markers here:




Here are the 3 tags that are available! All you have to do is join our email list and the file will be emailed to you! Once on our email list, you'll receive occasional updates and teacher tips send right to your inbox. (Sign up below!)

Thanks for being my teacher!


Thanks for being on my team!

I'm so happy you're in my class!


 

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Back-to-School Must-Haves

If you're anything like me (Rachelle here), you are always looking for new "must-haves" for back-to-school! I've got just the list for you today and they are from Erin Condren! You know how much Natalie and I love their Teacher Planner and Life Planner...and now they have a new Back-to-School line that'll make you *swoon*.

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They have a large laminated calendar that is PERFECT for a desktop and it's re-usable each year (just use a wet erase marker on it)! Would be great for your home, too. And how cute is that "Shine On" clutch that perfectly holds all of your pens, pencils and other writing tools?!? 



Don't you love the colors?

My favorites are:







Creating Independent Writers with Journals

Say goodbye to "bell work" and hello to independent writing time!  




If you walk into my classroom right when the bell rings, you will see a class full of quiet students writing in their journals. Not once do I have to say "get out your journal" or "please start writing". My students arrive at school, hang up their backpacks and they pull their journals out from their desk. There's no explaining, no questions, and it's eerily quiet.  How did I get them to be this wayyyy?






First, you'll want to set up your writing journals. You'll want to pick out a cover to use (I've created 16 different varieties) and you'll want to pick how many lines you want to start out the year. These journals can be changed out each month or however often you want!

Here is the journal cover that I picked for the beginning of the year:




They never ask me what they should write about because I teach them how to come up with topics on their own. Now... it didn't start that way, of course. They make HUGE progress throughout the year. They go from one sentence to 5+ sentences by the end of first grade! Many of my students like to use two whole pages to write one journal entry. :)

I teach 1st grade so on the first day of school my students walk in and I already have a sentence stem on the board that they will copy down in their journal. Then, there is a blank at the end of the sentence that they have to fill in their own word. After they copy the sentence stem, they sound out their word, draw a picture, color and then bring their journal up to me. I will check it off.  As the year goes on and depending on the student, I will circle a mistake or two that I'd like them to fix and bring back to me. I basically have 3 types of writers: Emerging, Developing, and Advancing. I obviously expect more from my advancing writers than I do my emerging. It's up to you what you decide to conference with them about.

When they finish and get their beloved smiley face on their journal, they will do a fast finisher (read a book, puzzle, etc.).



I only tell my students what to write about for the first 9 days of school. After that, they pick their own topic or write about what they did yesterday (that's their go-to if they "can't think of anything")

Day 1: I like to eat_____.
Day 2: My favorite color is _____.
Day 3: My favorite animal is a ____.
Day 4: I like to drink______.
Day 5: I am scared of_______.
Day 6: I am not scared of _____.
Day 7: My favorite movie is ______.
Day 8: At school I like to _____. (a little more open ended)
Day 9: I like to_____ because _________. (we add the word because)
Day 10:  WRITE ANYTHING! (Sometimes this comes a few days later. It just depends on the grade you teach and your class.)


At day 10, I teach my students that they can write about whatever they want in their journals and to write about different things each day. I only require 1 sentence at the beginning of the year to get them adjusted. If they "can't think of anything", they write about what they did yesterday (or...If you're desperate, you can see the bottom of this post for some prompt ideas).

1st Grade (can be adapted and differentiated based on each student):
August/September- 1 sentence
October/November- 2 sentences
December/January- 3 sentences
February/March-4 sentences
April/May- 5 sentences
{This journal time is separate from my "writer's workshop" time}



This is what we do every day and it takes 30 minutes:



Starting in January, I give my students a writing checklist. As their writing starts to develop, they tend to make a few more simple mistakes and I want them to check their work before saying it's finished!  They are very familiar with each part of the checklist because we've been working on these all year and they've been hung up on the board (and I refer to them frequently)!
After they finish their journal, they read their own journal to themselves and use a dry-erase marker (the checklists are laminated) and they check off to make sure they meet the expectations.


After about month of them just using their checklist to check their own work, they get to graduate to having a friend check it off as well. This friend has to be either finished with their journal already or at least finished with the writing portion. So, student #1 would use their checklist to make sure their writing is ready for a peer to edit. Student #1 finds someone to check their journal off. Student #1 reads their journal to student #2 and he/she will put checkmarks in the second column and sign their name.  Then student #1 brings their journal up to me and hopefully many mistakes were found before they got to me! This does add a few minutes to my journal time- so I'd say instead of 30 minutes, it's 40.


Here are the posters I have hanging so when we switch over to the checklist they know exactly what to look for:





The progress they make is amazing!

From the first week of school:



Towards the end of the year:



You can snag everything I talked about in this post in my Journal Through the Year Pack! This pack would also work great with Work on Writing in Daily 5.

For those of you that REALLY want journal prompts (although I do not use them in my classroom), I've included over 150 picture prompts! You can print them and make them into booklets of ideas or you can cut them out and make picture prompt cards. I've also included a black/white version is you're low on the colored ink like I am. #printallthethings








Let me just finish with the fact that this pack is COMPLETELY re-done! I took the feedback (not-so-nice feedback might I add) I got and changed this pack to meet the needs of my readers. Hopefully this helps! If you already own it, re-download in your my purchases!!!!!



Bloggers Night Out in Disneyland!

For the past 5 years, Rachelle and I (and the girls from Blog Hoppin') have hosted an annual Blogger's Meet Up in conjunction with the SDE/TPT conference each summer. This year was a little different because Rachelle couldn't make it to the TPT Conference. I knew I couldn't pull of a big meet up without her, so I decided to host a Bloggers Night Out in Disneyland instead. Since the conference was in Anaheim and Disneyland is my favorite place in the world, it just made sense! 

About 60 teacher-bloggers gathered in Disneyland for a fun night out in the park! We met in front of the castle for a group picture. I'm so happy that so many people joined us for this fun event! 



Here are some photos from the night! 

Thank you to Beautifully Broken Boutique for designing these adorable shirts! I absolutely love the TPT logo inside the Mickey!

 

  
Disney food is the best, am I right?!

 

 

 


 

 

 

 



 





It was a magical night in the happiest place on earth!


Thank you to Disneyland for providing me for 2 all day hopper passes in exchange for this blog post.

Also, if you're interested in planning your own vacation to Disneyland or Disney World, please consider using our affiliate link to book your next trip! (You can save $10 by using the code WTTW10 at checkout.)

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