My To Do List (and a New School Box Winner!)

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Have any of you started having back to school nightmares yet? Well, I have! The only cure I've found is to start working on my to do list and begin checking stuff off. I thought I'd share some of things I still need to do before school starts to help any of you who are new to teaching or who need help ideas/inspiration of new things to do in your classrooms.

1. Revamp our 5th grade disclosure document. 
Thing about our homework policies, late work policies, etc. I have 2 new {awesome!} teachers on my team this year, so we'll need to see how we can incorporate new ideas.

2. Finish my reading calendars.
This project is taking forever because each little number in the corner is its own text box. So, for each month I have to drag the little numbers around. Is there an easier way to do this?

3. Make my new 'welcome to 5th grade' decor outside my classroom.
 Because my new theme is cupcakes (see my class blog here) I want to write in big letters, "5th Grade is Really Sweet" and have cute scrapbook-y type cupcakes with each students' name on it. 

4. Revamp my classroom jobs board. 
Come up with a cute rotation system and decide if I want to change or add any new jobs.

5. Make my "Fast Finishers" books. 
I like to have a book filled with educational and fun activities for students to do when they finish an assignment early. Of course students can always silent read or work on writing as a fast finisher, but I also like to include some cursive practice pages, times tables, crossword puzzles, math riddles, etc for my students to work on if they choose.

6. Start my plan book. 
Get my first few weeks of school figured out. Decide which type of get to know you games we will play, get my math all mapped out, etc. I try to mix things up a little each year, I'm constantly on the lookout for new and fun ideas.

7. Decide which type of gift I want to put out on my students' desks for Back to School Night/Open House. 
I'm thinking either a '5th grade survival kit' or I might order some designer cupcakes from a local bakery with a cute welcome topper. They are a little pricy though... so we'll see about that.

8. Decide how I want to do spelling this year.
It seems each year I change the way I do spelling. It's because I've never been completely happy with it. Is it better to give more spelling homework each week so students come prepared for their test on Friday? Or should there be less homework so they focus on reading and math homework instead? Which program should I use? (I've used Literacy Place, Words Their Way, and Rigby... I've never been completely happy with any of them.) How do I adequately challenge each student? Some students are on a first or second grade reading/spelling level... some are on a seventh or eighth grade level. How in the world can I properly do leveled spelling/individual spelling lists? 

9. Organize my desks and put name tags on. 
(They are all still stacked on the counters from getting my carpet cleaned this summer.) I always use clear contact paper to adhere the name tags to their desks. 
 I usually order this one from Carson-Dellosa.

I'm sure I have a thousand other little things to do, but I think I covered most of the big projects that have been on my mind.

Please share of the things on your to do list. I'd love to see if I'm forgetting anything important. :)


Kinder Fun said...


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Darcy Heath said...

I just finished my summer to-so list for school today...Woo Hoo!!

Now to get started on my back to school to-do list. I'm hoping that the supplies for my accountability notebook will be in on Monday.

Kathleen said...

I am working on my calendar book calendars right now - using the same DJ template. Here is what you need to do - it'll save you SOOO much time! Hold down your shift key and click on each text box (keep holding the shift key), make sure you click on the calendar image too. It can be a little tricky so just be patient! Now, still holding the shift key, (I don't think you have to do it, but I usually mess up if I don't!) Right click (or control click if on a mac) and go to grouping and then group. Voila! Everything is grouped together now! To make it easier to start put text boxes in each corner. Now just copy it and paste it on a new page - you should be able to edit the number. E-mail me if you can't get it!

Ashley Reed said...

Love the reading calendar! I wish you could share them! :)

Anais said...

I had to laugh today when I read your post because I think I am beyond nightmares...I added "make supply list" to my to do list. {What does it mean when you're adding list to your list!?!} Maybe I should spend less time blogging and more time on my list:) Have a great school year!
First Grade Garden

Tangelia C. said...

I know how you feel! I still have a whole list of things I need to accomplish this week before I get my new kiddos!

I'm new to blogging! Please come visit my new blog when you get a chance! Thanks!

Laura said...

I feel the same way Anais! I could get so much more of my list done if I could stay away from these awesome blogs!! But to answer your question, I have a lot on my to-do list, and I am switching schools and level of kids... but one big thing I need to do is figure out how to use Everyday Math because we did not use it at my previous district and I teach Special Education so I'm not sure how much of it will need to be modified for my students...

Tammi said...

Start with a blank document and make a table then get rid of the borders. Type in your numbers (just hit tab to move from cell to cell). When you are done insert the calendar image into your document and change the allignment so that it is "behind text" and voila! Then it will be super easy to change the dates each year and will take you seconds instead of hours. (Tip: You can drag and drop a table around a document by clicking on the plus sign in the upper left corner so that it will go excatly where you want it.) I am more than willing to do it for you if you'd like, but you would need to send me the calendar image for one month.

As for spelling tests, I have also tweeked them from year to year. I found that it works best if I give them in small groups during our bathroom break/DEAR time on Mondays. The children do better on them in the smaller setting and it allows me to grade them instantly and send them right home. It doesn't end up taking more than a few minutes longer than a whole class test because I don't have to wait as long between each word. I differentiate the lists I give and also give the more intensive learners extra help sounding out the words. I require only a little spelling homework and leave the decision about how much to study them up to the parent. However, we practice the words as a class every day. We practice everyones words not just the ones from their list so that they are exposed to the spelling skills required to be on grade level.

Having Fun from K-1

Tammi said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Spelling is so hard for me to figure out too! I would love to figure out a better plan because right now it just seems like a waste of time. Even the ones who do well on the test still spell basic sight words wrong, and I end up wondering what the point is!

Alicia Lochridge said...

Getting parent forms and copies made is on my to do list. With a limited number of copy machines, it's not fun to hover around the copy machine waiting for someone to be done. That's why I will make sure that all of my masters are ready to be copied first thing.

First Grade Factory

Natalie Kay said...

Tammi!! You saved my life!!! Thanks to you my calendars are almost done! THANK YOU!

Tammi said...

@Natalie, so glad I could help!

@Kim, throw a couple high frequency words on each test for bonus points. I also like to give two grades, one for their spelling words, and one for a dictation sentence that includes high frequency words and words that follow the same spelling pattern as the spelling words but were not "studied". When you rapid drill high frequency words (flash card style) try this I say, you say technique.

Teacher: "the"
Students: "the"
Teacher: "T-H-E"
Students: "T-H-E"
Teacher" "the"
Students: "the"

Usually we just I say, You say the word 3 times, but about once or twice a week we practice with spelling them as well. I do this in whole group and in small group so really they get it 2-4 times a week.

Madisen said...

I love the idea of a 5th grade survival kit!! I've seen other teachers do these before, and I was curious to see what you would put in your survival kit!

Unknown said...

At the school I teach at, we enlisted the help of our P.E. teacher to help with spelling. We wrote down about thirty different sight words on index cards. He would then include spelling these words out loud when students participated in relays. It really helped and the kids didn't complain. The students who are very competitive were also a bit more motivated to learn the words so that their team could win. I know this doesn't solve the whole spelling problem, but maybe it's at least something that could help you a bit. Best of luck!

Lesly said...

i love that you added the fast finishers to your list! I have tried several different early finisher activities but still doesn't seem to keep them engaged and quiet. I teach kindergarten so it is a little difficult to find activities that they are capable doing independently. I was wondering what do others do and maybe somebody should do a linky party on this subject.

lvrana said...

Always so much to do this time of year! We always wonder..."will it EVER get done in time?" Somehow we make it happen! Writing a list if "to-do's" is a great way to stay on track!

Lindsay said...

Natalie-I want to hear what you put into your 5th grade survival kit. I'm new to this 5th grade thing and love hearing all your great ideas!

Love you girls! You are amazing teachers!

Sweet Peas and Bumblebees said...

I'm loving your Reading Calendar (along with everything else on your blog! =) ) Do you have an explanation that you send home with parents? Or, do you just explain it to the kids? Besides the grade, do you have any other consequence for not turning in homework? Also, do you have a .doc version of your calendar? I would LOVE to implement it this year! Thanks for all of your great idea!!


Anonymous said...

Just much would you say your spend a year on your own classroom?

Unknown said...

Your blog is amazing! I'm a new teacher and am feeling inspired! Is there anyway you could send me an editable version of your reading calendars? Thank you so much!!

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