Editable Assignment Cover Sheet {FREEBIE}

Saturday, May 30, 2015
Piles of papers are a teachers worst nightmare! Using an assignment cover sheet has many advantages. I use these to quickly see who has yet to submit their work, organize my papers by assignment and class, track behavior management if necessary, or just have a handy class list at all times. These really are universal! 

I created two versions of this assignment sheet for a variety of reasons. My original version, or V1 is seen below. I like this for a single assignment as an assessment. Once I grade the assessments, I place the final score on this sheet and file away the actual assessments. I like to keep these sheets because I cannot input a grade below a 50% into our online grade book and this helps to know what students really earned on assignments, especially after you return the graded work. 

Version #1

Version #2 
This one is great when checking homework, since I teach multiple subjects. I can make sure students completed all of the sections before I check them off as 'completed'! This is also helpful because I can use one sheet and save paper on a given day when I am grading their Do Now, classwork, homework, and exit tickets. 

Here is a real copy of V1 in action! On this day, I had two students absent and I automatically know who was missing. This was taken right after my students took the assessment, and I graded the assignment later that night.

Other uses:
- Attendance
- Behavior Management Tracker
- Field Trip permission slip and money tracker
- Class List for Parents
- Substitute Teacher
- To Complete List or Reminder Sheets

I hope you get as much use out of this as I do because I honestly use multiple sheets a day, everyday! Other teachers who see my students also love these and are constantly asking me for copies. This really is one of those "Why didn't I think of this sooner?" quick tips. So simple, yet so powerful....

Socratic Seminars {The Run Down} with Lesson and Freebie

Tuesday, May 26, 2015
Whether you prefer a socratic seminar, or literature circle, or a group discussion, there is now a big push for higher level thinking and discussion in the classroom. The allure of the socratic seminar stems from the student-centered learning, however many people have different views on how to implement one in the classroom.

This is exactly how I rolled out a socratic seminar to my students and it went fabulously... with a few kinks of course.

Step 1: Student Role Folders

Once I created all of the rubrics and made student handouts that combined aspects from different sources, I put together student folders! I love folders.... I created folders for each student role during the socratic seminar.

You can print these on Avery shipping labels 10 per page {5163} OR on paper. You can cut and then tape to each folder. Which ever you prefer!

Once they are on the folders, it makes the students feel professional! I had an extra box of light blue folders, so I used them for this. 

There are four main roles: Inner Circle, Outer Circle, Leader, Time Keeper

In each folder there is a description of their role, rubrics, sentence starters, ground rules and goals. Students have everything they need before beginning and the only thing you have to do is provide the text each time, along with a few discussion questions if you prefer. 

Step 2: Finding the Right Rubrics and Handouts 

I'm sure if you Google or Pinterest, "Socratic Seminar Rubrics", you will find tons of different handouts that are perfectly fine. I tailored these to work best in my classroom, as one of my goals was to keep my students on-task, respectful, and accountable. Yes, the goal of a Socratic seminar is rigorous, higher level thinking, but as you know students are easily distracted and the conversation can drift very quickly. 

You can use just the rubrics and student handouts, especially if you have done a socratic seminar before BUT if this is your first time... I suggest the implementation guide!
Check back for updates....

Step 3: Roll Out Lessons and Pre-work 

In order to have a successful first socratic seminar, you have to lay the foundation down. My students had no idea what a socratic seminar was... so I showed them!

Click here to download the roll out lesson! Role Out Lesson from Dropbox

I like the second clip as an introductory tool. It really does a great job of describing the origins and the main components. In my implementation guide, I include a full ELA lesson for introducing the concept. I go through the rubrics, handouts, expectations, and of course the ground rules. 

On day two, whether that is the next day or next lesson, I think it's a great time to read the first text together as a class. For the first socratic seminar, I wanted to give them a piece they could really pull a part and form different opinions on. 

We are currently working on a social inequity unit and examining how literacy and social media are aiding in the fight against social injustices. I used an article from Newsela.com. If you have not used NewsELA before, let me be the first to tell you it's AMAZING! Why might you ask? NewsELA has current event articles available on a variety of lexile levels, which makes it easy to give all of your students the same article! It also provides, quizzes, writing prompts, and photos. They also have text sets that accompany popular novels, or you can create your own to work with a particular theme or unit.


Before students begin the discussion, they need to be familiar and comfortable with the text. You can use a news article, your current novel, a topic in social studies or science, or even a complex math problem for a socratic seminar. In my implementation guide, I have a sample lesson for an article entitled, "For black kids, suspensions start as soon as preschool, study says" from NewsELA. The same article is available on 760L (4th grade), 930L (6th grade), 1060L (7th grade), 1200L (9th grade), and MAX (12th grade). I used the first three versions in my 5th grade classroom and it was pretty successful. 

Students read, annotated, and answered a few questions independently before turning and talking to discuss the article. After this, I passed out the folders. This is when my students know whether they will be discussing in the inner circle, or observing from the outer circle. 

Step 4: It's Time! Your First Socratic Seminar 

Here are my students during their first (and second) socratic seminar. I used a "fishbowl" method, with an inner and outer circle, because I have a large class. They really enjoyed the discussion, but it took them a while to warm up to the idea of just talking without raising their hands. I have my time keeper set the timer (usually my phone) for 10 minutes. 

Once the timer goes off, my students fill out a reflection forms. The forms are different for the inner and outer circles and I collect these as part of their grades.

Check back for updates as I will be posting the rubrics and implementation guide very soon!

In case you missed it, here are the freebies folder labels and the role out lesson.
Click Here to Download the Labels!
Roll Out Lesson for Socratic Seminar

EOY Parent Teacher Conferences {Freebie}

Tuesday, May 12, 2015
As the year is winding down, it's that time when the last progress reports have gone home and I am scheduling the very last round of parent teacher conferences for this school year. Throughout the year, I have used one form during all of my parent interactions, and I just uploaded it for {FREE} on TpT!

Why I Love This!
It is so important for teachers to have accurate, detailed records of parent interactions. Unfortunately, without documentations it is difficult to prove or support certain plans or conclusions that were formed during these meetings. I tend to have a difficult time getting my parents to come in, so I will have a phone conference and send this home to be signed and returned. I also copy these and give my parents a copy for their reference. 

A Typical Meeting
As soon as my parents arrive, we sit down and review the agenda. I will review the current report (either report card or progress report) and have parents ask any clarifying questions. Next, we discuss any areas of concern or praise. This is when I talk about behavioral concerns or growth a student is making. After this, I will tell my parents what steps I plan to take in order for their children to be successful in my class and set due dates. I love to ask my parents for suggestions and to set goals for their children at home. We can set up a homework log, or a daily, to ensure students are completing all of their assignments. Sometimes I tutor students after school, or during recess and this would be a step to include in the action plan. 

The best way to deal with an upset parent is to come to the conference with an action plan! It shows that you are also concerned, prepared, and that you care about their children. I included a "Tips for the Teacher" page in this freebie, but if you have any questions or would like to see a completed form, leave a comment below!

How do you document your parent teacher conferences in upper elem?

Common Core Anchor Charts & Student Resource Sheet {Freebies}

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Update: I have uploaded the FULL version of these posters on my TpT Store! Click Store on my nav bar, or click here to download now!
I am a HUGE fan of anchor charts, especially when they have student resource sheets that accompany them. I am currently working on turning all of my anchor charts into student friendly sheets so students can keep them in their binders for quick and easy reference.

While I am working on that, I have created an awesome freebie for ELA teachers!

This 'Making Inferences' sheet is a great resource for students to keep in their binders.

This is what it looks likes in one of the student binders!

I have also included, in the {freebie}, a 'Summarize Informational Text' anchor chart. Students love this reference sheet because it has a handy graphic organizer on it! 

{{MAIN IDEA}} On this student resource sheet, there is a graphic organizer, and show questions students should ask themselves to identify the main idea! 

Download the freebie on my TPT page and leave a comment!! TPT credits are given when you leave feedback which LOWER prices on certain items!

PARCC Prep Series {With Graphic Organizers} FREEBIES

Sunday, May 3, 2015
Ahhhh the PARCC...... 

This was the first year we took the PARCC in New Jersey. My students had a pretty hard time transitioning from the NJ ASK to the PARCC on a few different levels. They liked being able to take the test on the computer at first, however once they realized they needed a mouse, headphones, papers, and the laptop on their desks all at once, they were not happy at all. Also the content was definitely more rigorous!

For those of you familiar with the PARCC, the ELA performance based task has a Literary Analysis Task {LAT}, a narrative task, and a Research Simulation Task {RST}. My students had a difficult time pulling details from multiple text in order to write their essays, so I created this simple, easy to recreate graphic organizer!

Click to Download Now from TPT!

With this graphic organizer, student identify the strategy the prompt is asking them to use. For example, compare and contrast, or author's purpose. They must also identify the main idea from each of the stories and key textual evidence from each story as well. I placed a prompt section to make sure my students restate the prompt in their own words! It also forces them to read (and write) the prompt at least one more time before they begin writing.

I LOVE this organizer for a few reasons, it allows students to organize their thoughts before they begin writing. It's pre-writing without me using the word "pre-writing" since my students DO NOT like to pre-write. They feel that it is unnecessary, I don't agree with that sentiment but this is a nice way to get them to at least stop and think before they move on to the essay portion. 
I also love it because it's easy to recreate on a plain sheet of paper, since they cannot use this during the PARCC. I often have a Do Now that includes a prompt and a plain sheet of paper, giving students five minutes to recreate the organizer and pre-write for the story. 

It is also a great graphic organizer for any multi-text writing assignment and for modifying a writing assignment. 


The main difference between the {LAT} and the {RST}, I feel, is the {LAT} contains fiction, or literature, stories and the {RST} contains nonfiction, or informational, articles. The {RST} could also contain a video, letter, or journal article. 

PARCC is now over for the 2014-2015 school year, but the earlier your students become familiar with the structure, the better. 

If you give these a try, write a comment below!

The PERFECT Planner! Tools4Wisdom Planner

Saturday, May 2, 2015
I just had to write a fabulous review of the planner, or agenda if you prefer, that I have been using for the past few months.

Drumroll please.............

I need the bright colors to keep me motivated during the day....

As you can see, I am currently working on getting to the gym regularly because I'm getting married in July! Yay! 

 I love the goal reflection sheets because they help me organize my life goals and really force me to ask myself the big questions. 

This is a blank weekly page. It is broken down by date and time to plan any and everything! 

And this is what it looks like after I get my hands on it! I have graduate school assignments due, parent-teacher conferences scheduled, and my son's 3rd birthday planning going on in this week alone.... I really do need a vacation. 

This is the Tools4Wisdom 2014 Planner! I ordered this bad boy on Amazon. This link is for the NEW 2015-2016 planner that now has monthly tabs. My only complaint was that this planner was missing monthly tabs for quick access, BUT the lovely people at Tools4Wisdom must have heard my cries because the new 2015 planner now includes monthly tabs! I will definitely be reordering next year.

Thank you for taking the lovely tour of my planner! 

How do you keep your life organized? Are you a physically planner like me, or a digital online calendar type of teacher?  

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