Sunday, May 20, 2012


Am I the only one who can't focus without music? I've been planning on blogging all afternoon, but until I get some music playing, I'm so distracted! I check Facebook, I check Pinterest, Yahoo, read blogs, check Facebook and Pinterest again; I am in no way productive. Heck, I tried listening to music on my computer and it was distracting me. Ok, I have a record on now. I should be able to focus now.

 (Yeah, I said a record. I have a record collection because I'm cool like that. Charlie, however, decided that he wanted to try one out as a snack the other night. Not cool. )

I feel like I need to make an outline for this post, I have so much that I want to talk about!

Laura's Blog Post Outline

  1. End of the year motivators
  2. Memory books/advice to next year's class
  3. Character trait word clouds
  4. Update on classroom organization
  5. Preparing for next year (already!)
  6. A really awesome website (for next year)

Whew! That's quite the list--let's get this started!

1. End of the Year Motivators 

 I promised that I'd share another one of my end of the year motivators in my last post. Granted, I thought I'd be posting the next day, so I know many of you are done with the year (or are a few days away from the end, like me). But since I promised (and it could be helpful at the beginning of next year), I'll share anyway. You're welcome.

A few weeks ago, I was perusing the dollar store for some prizes for my kiddos when I stumbled across these tickets. As Matthew will tell you, I have a tendency to buy stuff that I like without really having a purpose for it. Typically, this happens at Target in the home decor department, but it also happens with my classroom from time to time. So I found these tickets, and there were like 300 in a pack for $1. I had no clue what I was going to use them for, but I knew that there had to be something fun that I could use them for!As I continued to peruse (isn't that such a great word!), I found this cute little green vinyl bin, which I obviously needed (hey-it was a buck!). 

Upon arriving at school with my goodies, I decided that I would use my tickets for a behavior raffle. I gave students the "Keep This Coupon" ticket if I found them working quietly, or for participation, or for any other positive behavior I wanted to reinforce.
(Quick pause. I need to go plant some flowers before the rain gets here. Don't miss me too much!)

Ooo-it's looking like we're going to have a nice little storm on our hands. I love spring!

Anyway, back to my tickets. During the day I give out tickets. The kids keep one ticket, and then I put it's match into my cute little green bin (I knew I'd find a use for it!). At the end of the day, I draw a ticket ( or two or three) and the person with the winning ticket gets a randomly selected prize from my prize drawer. I inherited a TON of Teeny Beanies from the previous 6th grade teacher, I've got glow sticks, erasers, pencil grips, mini spirographs--all sorts of fun (and cheap) stuff. I've been amazed by how excited some of the boys have gotten about getting a Teeny Beanie. Go figure! The kids beg me to do the drawing at the end of the day--they love hearing the numbers get called and checking to see if they have the winning ticket!

2. Memory books/advice to next year's class

As we all know, the end of the year isn't the most...productive...time of year. There are lots of end-of-the-year activities, like turning in books, cleaning out desks, etc. During the AMAZING TpT sale for Teacher Appreciation Week, I found an awesome resource from the Panicked Teacher. So, for the last couple weeks, my students have been working away at their Diary of a 6th Grader memory books. I LOVE these! They are adorable!

The kids have really been enjoying working on these, and I've been enjoying reading their responses!

One of the pages has them write letters to future 6th grade students and give advice about how to be successful in 6th grade. I was very glad to see that they've picked up on several important things that I've tried to teach them throughout the year.

For instance:

  • You should bring me coffee to make sure that I'm happy (duh!)
  • Stay away from drama! (Please and thank you-save the drama for your momma)
  • Do your work!
  • Be respectful to others
  • Ask for help if you need it
  • Don't act crazy just because there is a sub
  • Do not sing/play country music
Here are some of my favorites (sorry they aren't the best quality, I took them on my iPhone without a ton of light).

Also, please excuse grammatical errors and horrific handwriting. We should have edited these puppies.

 After they finish their books, we're going to bind them with report covers and present their completed books (with class pictures and word clouds) at the 6th Grade Send Off.

3. Character Trait word clouds

Because this post is getting LONG, I'm going to try to start keeping things short. I'm sure you've all seen the idea circulating the blogosphere about making word clouds for your students. You give the kids a class list, and then have them write a (positive) character trait (one word) about each of their classmates. Then using a site like Wordle, you create a word cloud for them. 

I had my kids fill out the list last week, but I've been putting off making the clouds. I finally started on it yesterday, and found the Tagxedo website to use instead! The cool thing about Tagxedo is that it lets you choose a shape for your word cloud. I made all of mine into stars (since we're the Superstars), and then printed them off on cardstock. I'll use them as the back cover of the memory books.

4. Update on Classroom Organization

On Friday, one of my girls asked if I had anything that she could do (talk about a loaded question!). I knew our sink area was looking a little icky, so she went and worked on cleaning it up. Next thing I knew, she was peeking in my disaster of a storage cabinet and wanted to know if she could organize it. Um, yes! I was dreading that task! 

The Blue Cabinet of Doom
She and another girl started in on it before lunch, and were enjoying themselves so much that they wanted to skip their recess to work on it! Instead, I ran to the dollar store and bought some storage container so that they could really clean things up. Then, during their Literacy time, instead of going outside for extra recess, they wanted to stay in again! We eventually filled all three of my class trash cans and had to go get one of the custodian's GIGANTIC trash cans. And then we filled that up. 

I wish I had taken a before picture of that cabinet so you could see all of their hard work! I did take a few pictures of the progress that we made, but we still have some more work to do. I'm so thankful that those girls offered to help me get things organized! When I was thanking them profusely, they said, "Oh, you're welcome. We just want to help you make sure that you have an awesome start next year!" How awesome is that?!

Our progress so far
I'm super excited about this cabinet! We've been finding all sorts of stuff that I didn't even know I had! 

5. Preparing for Next Year (Already)

Because of all of the AWESOME stuff I've been finding on blogs lately, the laminator and I have been seeing each other a lot lately! 

I found these cute center labels from Ladybug's Teacher Files and some awesome math task cards from Katie at Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher-I can't wait to use them next year! And then there are the super-cute labels that I got from Print Candee that I'm using for my organzing project; I love them!

6. A Really Awesome Website (for next year)!

Ok, this post has gone on long enough, so just check out Class Dojo. It's a really awesome way to handle classroom management and track positive and negative behaviors (and it generates behavior report cards that you can email to parents). How awesome is that?!?! Seriously. Check it out. You won't be sorry.

Wow. That was long. I tend to get carried away. I'm sorry. I'll try to start making my posts shorter so that you don't age a year while reading them. My bad.

On that note, goodnight, my dear 8 followers. Have an awesome week!


  1. Laura, I love the character trait word clouds! I will definitely have to add that to my must do list next year!
    Have a Great Last Few Days,

    1. The kids really liked them! When I had them make their word lists, I wouldn't tell them what they were for, so when they finally got to see the finished product, they were really excited!


  2. Replies
    1. I was able to try it out for a day with my kids and they LOVED it! Now I just have to come up with a plan for incorporating it with our school wide PBIS plan... :)


  3. Hi Laura:
    You're up to 10 followers!
    I love your blog title--I'm sure my students would make the same remarks about my love of coffee (Or, as they spell it, coffie)
    I am so glad I found your blog.
    I'm excited to be a new follower...

    Finding JOY in 6th Grade

    1. I'm glad that you found my blog, too! And I'm super excited to have you as a new follower!



  4. Some GREAT ideas here! I love finding new blogs too... I think you're off to a fabulous start!

    Good luck with blogging - it's a ton of fun!

    Addie Education - Teacher Talk

    1. Thanks! I'm finding that I quite enjoy blogging (and I may be slightly addicted, too!)-hopefully I don't slack off during the summer!


  5. That makes me so happy to see my task cards! I am also going to have to check out that pack from Panicked Teacher! That looks wonderful!!! I finally broke down and bought a personal laminator, best choice ever!!!

    Miss Klohn
    Adventures of a 6th Grade Teacher

    1. I really wish that I had had time to use them before the school year ended! I had everything ready to go, but with all of the end of the year craziness, we ran out of time. They are set and ready to go for next year-I can't wait to use them!


    2. And I've been seriously considering a laminator...there are so many things that I could accomplish this summer if I had one at home! It almost seems counterproductive to NOT have one, doesn't it? :)

  6. I love Wordle. I'm a new follower. Stop by and visit.

    Yearn to Learn Blog

    1. We did some really awesome character trait word clouds with Wordle when we read The Hunger Games third quarter-the kids really enjoyed them!

      I'm following you now, too!


  7. How did I just now find your blog?! I am absolutely obsessed!!!!!
    To The Square Inch

    1. You know, in terms of obsessions, I think my blog is probably one of the healthiest obsessions you could have. :D

      I'm glad you found me!


  8. LOVED THE STUDENT WRITINGS,so honest and fun and the stars you made for them!

    Enjoy Teaching English