Thursday, October 10, 2013

Classroom Library Organization? There's an app for that...

One of the things I needed to do this year was update my classroom library to include Lexile levels.  The school I where I'm teaching uses a reading test three times each year which gives us each student's Lexile range.  I'm used to the Guided Reading levels.  No matter what you may find about how those two systems work, they don't actually align well.  They use totally different features to determine reading level.

So anyway, I needed to make labels for my books that had Lexile levels included.  (I also included Guided Reading and Accelerated Reader if I could find them.)  I'm so glad I found two AMAZING resources to find these levels.

First, I used "Classroom Organizer."  Check it out here: 

I was able to quickly scan the barcode on the back of each book with the smartphone app.  The site then provided me with an Excel spreadsheet of every piece of information they had about the book (title, author, levels, genre, list price, etc.).  Some books had tons of information.  Other books had very little information.  Since it was all in a spreadsheet, though, I could easily sort the books and use other resources to find the missing pieces.

Scholastic has their "Book Wizard."  This is the resource I went to when I needed more information.  Check it out here: 

Next, I took the spreadsheet and created a "mail merge" document in MS Word.  I used the address labels feature and placed Title, Lexile level, GR level, AR level and AR points all on a small label and printed them.

Now, you can purchase labels and try to get everything to line up just right, or you can print on paper and then run it through a sticker machine.  What?  You don't have one?  You've got to check out the Xyron machines.  I use them for everything!!

Product SmallImageXyron

You can find these in many of the big box craft stores, online, or sometimes at your local scrapbooking stores.  They will do not only sticker-making, but also laminate and make magnets.  If it's flat, it can become a sticker!   No electricity needed -- you crank the handle by hand and out slides  your project.  The machines come in many sizes.  This 9 inch version is my favorite machine at home, but I also have the 5 inch version in my classroom and the 1.5 inch version at home.

So, with just a few minutes of scanning with a phone, an hour of searching for missing book levels, a few minutes to mail merge a document and print,  and seconds to crank them into stickers, I have labels ready for several hundred books.  Now, if I could just remember to bring them to school, I could start attaching them to my library.  :)

Hope this Helps!
Heather Q

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I Scream for Ice Cream! (Homophone match up activity)

I finally got the graphics worked out on this one.  (Strange black spots were appearing on the printer, but not on the screen.)

Ready for classroom use, it's the Ice Cream Match Up for Homophones!

Print on cardstock, cut out, and fold the cones around behind.
Instant center for practicing homophone definitions!

Check it out at my TPT store!  (Click here)  

Exit Tickets on Sticky Notes!!

Need a quick Exit Ticket for your students?   Wouldn't it be great to have a sticky note version that students could stick on your door or wall as they exit your room?  Well, I thought so, too!

I created a file of 8 different Exit Tickets (shown in the picture above) for all kinds of different situations.

To create them, simply print the file one time, place a 3x3 inch sticky note on top of the page, put it back in the printer the same way, and print again!  

Each page holds 6 of the same exit ticket.  If you don't want them on sticky notes, you can print on paper and cut apart.  Either way, you'll have a great informal assessment or closure activity for your students to complete at the end of a lesson.

Check them out at my TPT Store! (click here)

September was a very busy month!

Whew!  The first month of school is over and I made it through. Wow!  I'd forgotten what that first month in the classroom can be like.  The last three years as an ESL teacher, the first month was all about assessing new students and completing paperwork.  That's all important, but not quite as exhausting as teaching routines and procedures as well as content to students you hardly know yet.  I was doing 12 hour days plus going in on the weekend, not to mention coming home with papers to grade and projects to complete.

I think I've found that groove, though.  The one where you know that there's a lot to do, but it's not so overwhelming.  You know what's coming, you know your students well enough to know how they're going to react to things, you've had time to prepare some of the basics.  Basically, you can see the light at the end of the tunnel and know that it is NOT a train!

I've got some more posts coming for you this week.  I presented a few of my new products at the Michigan Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MITESOL) conference on Saturday, so I will blog about those latest endeavors.  I've also got some great apps I've learned to use recently that you may want for your smart phones/ipads/tablets/etc.  I may even manage to get some photos of things I've got going in my classroom right now. Stay tuned!!!