Wednesday, July 13, 2016

My Erin Condren Teacher Planner



     Hey all! My summer is half way done (insert crying emoji here) but I'm sooo excited about my new Erin Condren Teacher Planner that came in a couple of weeks ago. This post is going to tell you everything about it, my thoughts, and show you lots of pictures!
     I was SO excited to order one of these babies. This is actually my second one. I had purchased a Teacher Planner a few years ago. I used it and it was okay...okay wasn't cutting it for me since they are pretty pricey! That is one thing that I noticed...EC raised their prices since the last time I ordered. The Teacher Planners were $50 but they are now $55. I decided to give them another try and really told myself that I would use it to its full potential...so here I am!
     $55 is a lot for a planner. I get it but I had just finished the school year and decided to splurge and give myself a little gift for ending the school year alive! HAHA I had a hard time picking my cover but once I saw stripes...I fell in LOVEEE. I love stripes... okay, not love but I'm obsessed! I'm almost always wearing stripes...especially black and white! My planner actually inspired my newly designed blog!

     So I ordered my planner using a referral code from someone that commented on their Facebook page...she got a $10 credit and so did I...win/win! Click Here for my referral code, feel free to check them out! The $10 credit made me feel better about my purchase! HAHA
     Can you tell that I'm excited about this beautiful blue box!? One thing I do LOVE about EC (Erin Condren) is their presentation. The box is beautiful and so is the inside of the package!
     I mean, check out the gold tissue paper! I'm in loooove! EC also sends a sticker sample book, some referral cards, stickers, and other little things. Everything is printed on such high quality paper/materials. I love the "enjoy" sticker holding it all together!
The package is truly beautiful! Once I took off the gold tissue, I noticed that my planner was wrapped in bubble wrap for extra protection.
     Once I opened it up and saw my planner, I was in AWEEE! It was beautiful! I changed the colors of the planner stripes to black and white. I think the default was blue and white but you can customize them to whatever colors you would like! I really like the big pink heart in the middle because who doesn't love hearts!? I got it with my monogram...one thing I wish I could change is to get the monogram in capital letters. I could've requested this change but I honestly thought I would love the lowercase...fail. The lowercase look weird to me but eh, I'll live with it. 
     Obviously, I'm still happy with it! HA! Now, to check out the inside! The inside cover has a page that can be used with a dry erase or wet erase marker. It can be a to-list or even a list of upcoming important events. This part of the planner is new...my old one did not have this. 

The cover is very sturdy and looks like it will last all year. My old Teacher Planner's cover felt very similar and it did last all year. The lamination did not bend or peel at all.  

The first title page looks very old school to me. The apples are not my favorite. I do wish EC would let us customize the graphics/colors of the inside. On the back of the title page, there's a quote. I love that it's on black and it looks so nice! The next page is an "All About Me" page where you can add info. about yourself, usernames/passwords, and a spot to write in some web resources. I looove this because I always write websites down and then lose the stickies! HAHA This is going to help me be a little bit more organized!
The next two pages are for Classroom Events/Volunteers and Helpful Hints for the Substitute. I love the space to keep your volunteers' contact information handy. I also love the special events and field trips spot to write in. This will be perfect if you like to plan ahead with your team so you have them all written down. Now, I don't really see myself using the "Helpful Hints for the Sub" page. I'm very Type A about who touches my stuff and I will probably not leave my 50 dollar planner to a sub! HAHA There's a cute little owl there...again, not my favorite clip art... 

    Then, there is a page with Holidays and dates to remember... I'm not the biggest fan of this page for 2 reasons... Number 1: It has people's birthdays on there that I've never heard before...when I look at them closely, I see that they are authors {I THINK}... not super relevant in my Teacher Planner...Number 2: The dates aren't exact. It has Hanukkah in 2 places (both November and December) I know that some Holidays, the actual date changes but I'd rather have the exact date or no date at all!

There are birthday pages! I do love this section so I can easily see any student or important people's birthdays! <3
 There is an Absentee Log...not a fan of this page just because I don't keep track of my student's absenses, my online gradebook does that! I may use this page for something else though!
There are a few graphing pages that you can use for whatever you'd like! It has some ideas at the top...
  
There is a yearly spread so you can plan your year!

              
Now, look at these tabs!! They are awesome! Nice and sturdy and I love the colors and how they are clearly labeled! These tabs are a HUGE plus! here is a tab for dates, absent, graph, year plan, every month, lessons, and for your checklists. The planner is organized a bit different than my old one. This planner has all of the month spreads together and then the lessons separately. I don't know how I feel about that now but I will let you know once I start using it.

 
There is also a monthly spread for all of the months! Perfect for important dates/meetings/due dates! 

Here are the planning pages. Now, the squares aren't the biggest but I do love the colors! I'm going to use my planner to map out what I want to teach and then input my complete lesson plans into Planbook.com {another blog post coming up!} So, I don't need that much space!
That's my Erin Condren Planner! If you'd like to check them out, I'd love for you to use my referral link: https://www.erincondren.com/referral/invite/sandramatadamas1023 You will get 10 BUCKS OFF!! WINNNN!!! 


Saturday, July 2, 2016

5 Steps for Organizing Your Classroom Library

      Do you need to organize your classroom library? It is such a daunting task...I've been putting it off for years! HA Well, this was one of my summer projects and I'm so glad it's done! I can't wait to show my new first graders this August their new classroom library!
     It all started off when a colleague of mine sent me an email about a grant through our public library. Friends of the Phoenix Public Library has a program called Project Bookstorm that gives grants for books to teachers, school librarians, and other educators. If you live in AZ, please check it out! The application for the grant was so easy and later that week I received an email confirming that I was awarded one thousand books for my classroom! Now, these books aren't all brand new...only about a handful were new but they were in great shape! I set up an appointment and went "shopping" in a warehouse with a TON of books. These books were either donated or the "discard" books from other libraries. These books have been LOVED but still have a lot of life left! I was at the warehouse for over 3.5 hours and only grabbed 572 books. I would've stayed longer but I had to go to a dentist appointment (blah).

     So, getting almost 600 new-to-me books forced me to reorganize my classroom library! I had an idea of what I wanted to do (label each book with a matching label tub) but I just needed the motivation to get it all done!

     Now, I'm going to be real with you...It took me a LONG time and lots of help from my two cousins, sister, and mom. The process of organizing your classroom library is tedious, dusty, and time consuming but once it's done, you won't have to do it for a while (until you get another 600 more books haha).

    Here we go...
     If your books are anything like mine, they are DUSTY! I used disinfecting wipes and wiped down all of the books. The wipes also rubbed off old labels from my last library organizing adventure...which was a BIG plus. While you're at it, clean the tubs too! I found so many dust bunnies!
                       
     Once your books are clean, start sorting them! This was the toughest thing to do...especially with all of the new books I had. I started off with some general topics since I was sorting my classroom library by themes. I started off with the topics that I knew I had the most books in: farm, animals, Colonial America, America, habitats, alphabet, etc. I also separated out the books by the same author or the same characters: Kevin Henkes, Mercer Mayer, Amelia Bedelia, Little Critter Stories, Dr. Seuss, Olivia, Arthur, SkippyJon Jones, etc. Once you start sorting, you'll see if you need to sort them into even more specific topics! When I sorted them into the different topics, I started off by using sticky notes so I could tell what pile was what. 
                                              
                             
     When you have your books sorted, you can start labeling your book tubs. I have a mixture of book tubs from Really Good Stuff and the Dollar Tree. The tubs from Really Good Stuff are nice and sturdy and also very expensive! I got them 4-5 years ago and they are still holding up pretty well. I grabbed the Dollar Tree tubs this year after realizing that I needed about 20 more tubs (remember the almost 600 books?) They are WAY thinner and not as sturdy but for a dollar, I thought, "why not?" I'm going to try them and see how long they last!

     I made labels that fit in the Really Good Stuff tubs. I added pictures that matched the topic to help my early readers identify the books in the tubs.
                                  
     I used this AMAZING paper cutter from Target. I can't believe that I've been teaching for 6 years and I've cut out everything by hand! This thing makes it soooo easy!
     And just like that... 
                                       
                              
     This is the funnest part, labeling your books! This made my teacher heart oh so happy! I labeled each of the books with 2 labels. One label has my name and I put it on the inside cover of the book.                                                                                             
     Then, I labeled each single book with a label that matches their book tub! These are the labels:
 
     Here you can see my lovely cousins cutting out the labels and organizing them! {Don't tell them I took this haha}
                                      
     Having the matching labels is going to make the classroom library SO organized! All of the students are going to know where each book knows just by looking at the cover and matching it to the tub. 
                                        

                                    
     Now, how you store your books might be different...it all depends on what you have available in your classroom. I have 3 bookshelf cubby things that I put my tubs in. It keeps all tubs available and in an easy to reach spot for them to grab books. Here is a little picture:
                                      
     If you have metal bookshelves or even plastic crates, you can use those to store your books! My first couple of years, I didn't even have bookshelves! I just put the tubs along the wall near the classroom rug! 

     If you'd like to check out the labels that I used for my classroom library...click the picture below! I included an EDITABLE version, the book tub labels, and the matching labels for your books...Everything that you need for organizing your classroom library. 
                                              

     How do you organize your classroom library!? Share below in the comments!