Saturday, August 25, 2012

Getting and keeping parents involved

Have you ever had a parent tell you, "I just don't know how to help my kid at home."?  Here is a quick and easy way for them to help.  I have copies of these made and ready to hand out as soon as the words "I just don't know how to help my kids" are uttered.

You can find lots of other ideas at

Where is that kid???

Have you ever been at your teacher table deep in to teaching your kids how to blend, then you look up and you notice little Johnny isn't sitting at his desk?  I've placed an "Exit Station" in my class to help me know exactly where my students are at when I look up from teacher table.

I've used blue painting tape to divide a dry erase board.  I've labeled the dry erase board with the possible places they could be at without asking for permission.  Students will sign their name on the board when they leave and erase it when they return.  This will allow be to be able to glance at it from my teacher table across the room and know who not in class at that moment AND know exactly where they are at. 

I've also placed two handsantizers, one for boys and one for girls, that the kids will place on their desks when they go to the restroom.  When kids sign out to go down to the bathroom they place the handsanitzer bottle on their desk. The purpose is three fold - I despise bathroom passes that travel to the bathroom because who knows what happens to them when they are there, I can look up and know why the desk is empty, and kids will sanitize their hands when they return to class.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

FREE Reading Strategy Cards

I just stumbled upon a wonderful FREEBIE from  It has free printables that you can post on your classroom wall.  This "Cafe" of strategies helps students gain independence and confidence in Reading with strategies for comprehension, fluency, accuracy and vocabulary.

When you visit her blog she has plenty of great ideas besides these.  Be sure to visit her TpT store for tons of inexpensive items.

Writing Stations! Part 1 - free tic tac toe board

Teaching in a collaborative classroom setting is so rewarding.  We'll get kids at the beginning of the year not know how and certainly not desiring to read and those same kids leave us so proud because they've learned how to read and they enjoy it! 

Yesterday we received our state testing data and we were overjoyed to see how our special education students did 15% better than their peers did the previous year in 4th grade. How do we do it? Well, our classroom spends pretty much the entire day doing stations. Notice, I didn't say busy work, I said stations.  They're either at one of the two teacher tables or working on differentiated learning stations.  It's evident that our use of Math and Reading stations has helped our students make tremendous gains.  I think it's time for us to expand our use to learning stations to Writing. This will prevent students from waiting in a needless line for an adult to conference with them over their writing.

Here's an easy station that can be thrown into the Writing station mix.  All the teacher has to do is update weekly spelling words, which we do anyway.

This fabulous tic tac toe board and recording sheets can be downloaded for free at

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sticky Note Greeting Card

Here's the scenario.... during morning annoucements they announce it's (fill in the blank)'s birthday or (fill in the blank) appreciation week and you scramble to put a card/poster together for all of your students to sign and you end up not having time to teach Social Studies.  Sound familiar??

Thanks to our friends at, here is a quick and easy way to create a colorful card in a short time.

Have students write their well wishes on sticky notes while you shutter fold an 11x17 construction paper together and fasten ribbon. Voila! A color greeting that didn't take 45 minutes for a class of 24 to sign.

Happy sticky noting!

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

A bathroom pass that stays in class?

Do you ever cringe at the thought of what happens to your bathroom pass when it goes down the hall to the bathroom?  EEEWWWW!  For years and years I've been looking for a more sanitary bathroom pass.  Today I stumbled upon a fabulous idea from

Students sign out to go to the bathroom and place the hand sanitizer on their desk. The idea is that when a student goes to the bathroom, they will put the pass on their desk. When they get back, they will get a squirt of hand sanitizer. Plus, I absolutely adore that it's the Peanuts theme.  Not crazy about Charlie Brown?  How about Kermit and Miss Piggy or Superman and Wonder Woman?

Happy sanitizing!

Awesome way to display your wishlist for Meet the Teacher night

"Hello, welcome to my classroom.  This is going to be an excited year, but I can't teach your child without some things.  Here's a copy of my wishlist." = EPIC FAIL! 

We've all been there.  Needing things to make the classroom run smoothly, but not married to a millionaire.  Our friends at have an attractive set up that's an attention grabber for your back to school wishlist that doesn't scream TACKY!

They used scrapbook paper and the apple die cut to make the apples then printed a list of supplies she uses throughout the year with her students on labels.  You can also die cut colored paper and write on the supplies.

Here's a sample of the sign that was used to label the table:

Cheers to a super Meet the Teacher night!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

FREEBIE! Free templated for flipbooks from

Who else loves a freebie like I do?  Here are some free flipbook or lapbook templates courtesy of  These are great for every subject area and can be glued into your Reading/Writing/Math/Science notebooks.

Visit for your free downloads today! Happy lapbooking!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Monster Coupon Freebie

Here's a fun freebie from our friends over at  The freebie contains ten positive behavior coupons with a fun, monster theme. In our collaboration classroom, we hand out tickets for rocking behavior.  The students then can use the tickets to at a treasure box.  This year we're not going to use the treasure box and move towards a "menu" that they can purchase privileges from.  This monster coupon freebie is definitely going on our "menu"!

Go to and you'll be able to download the freebie.  Enjoy!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Classroom Organization for Two

It's hard enough for one teacher to stay organized in a classroom.  Now put two teachers in a regular sized classroom with lots of prescriptive activities going on and be sure the students can juggle all their work.  This can be a challenge, but not with some simple, space saving organization.  Plus, keeping a collaborative classroom organized is very important for the sanity of the teachers and, especially for the students.  Here are some of our favorites, plus a few we're adding in to the mix.

Here is our Math Stations area. It consists of a cheap folding table from Walmart, a plastic table cloth from Dollar Tree, a re-purposed cubby box that was being thrown away by another teacher and a typical pocket chart.  Under the plastic table cloth is storage of all our math station actifvities, the cubby box will hold a variety of activities for Math station time, and the pocket chart will display station management. A three foot by one foot space in the classroom will house materials that will be used daily for ninety minutes.

Hanging file folders from Office Depot are hung from the dry erase board and store differentiated reader's response activities.  Another of these hanging file folders will be hung on the wall in the teacher area to hold activities that will be worked on at the teacher table during Guided Math.

 This year we are adding this mobile file into the mix.  It will be stored under the wall cubbies.  Students will use it to store ongoing projects, such as reader's response activities, research and writing pieces.  This will prevent important projects from being lost in a messy desk and will allow us to quickly thumb through the folders to monitor student progress

Is your desktop a mess?  Here is a cheap and easy way to organize your folders.  An inexpensive dish strainer is large enough to hold file folds and there is even a place to store your pens.

Happy organizing!

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Dilemma for the Pinterest addict!

Pinterest! I love you, but you have me in quite the pickle.  I haven't quite decided on a theme for this year.  I can't decide between the STAR or Rockstar theme. At the beginning of summer I saw this great clothespin behavior chart on Pinterest that I fell in love with.

Then a few weeks later I came across this great STAR goal setting activity that goes with a back to school hand activity I also had pinned.

Decisions! Decisions!  What's a girl to do???

Great find on Pinterest: Writing Voices

This is next on my to-do list, and the best thing about it is the site has a free download for the labels!  Thank you Nancy from

Reader's Response Office

Thanks to Jimmie over at for the wonderful idea for Reading stations!

Parent Welcome Apples

Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies guest blogs on DIY Classroom and has a great way to welcome parents on DIY Classroom site.  Check it out at:

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Gift card giveaway for your school from our friends at Target.

If you're a Facebooker, here is an easy way to help your campus earn some free money.  On Facebook search for Give with Target, accept the App, input your campus info and you're done!  Be sure to share this info with your friends.  You're allowed to "vote" every 5 days.  Happy giving!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Classroom to-do list for the Pinterest addict...

Hello.  My name is JoAnne and I'm a Pinterest addict.  All summer long I've pinned and repinned ideas for the classroom and now, just weeks before school begins, I'm finally getting around to them. 

On my list to create this week:

UPDATE: On this site is a link to download the THINK poster for free however the link is not working.  You can find the poster for free on my TpT site:

Considering it's already going to be Wednesday, I think this is more than enough for me to do by Friday.  Happy Pinteresting!

Sign up your classroom for free $$$

Take advantage of a free and easy way to get sponsors for your classroom.  Log on to Adopt-a-Classroom and register your classroom today. It's that easy!

Your School Could Win 30 Laptops and a $1,000 Office Depot Gift Card

Go to the link below and sign up your campus.  Good luck! 

Two teachers and a classroom

I remember being very nervous about sharing my classroom with another professional.  Besides sharing the students I'd have to share space!  I remember thinking "What was I thinking when I agreed to this?"  I'm proud to say a regular sized classroom can house two teachers working side by side.  Here are some pictures of our classroom set up.

Above is one of the teacher areas in the classroom.  My partner in crime uses some online intervention sites so access to the Internet is a must.  She has her own storage, teacher table, dry erase board and carpet area.

The center of the classroom is the student area.  Student desks are heterogeneously grouped, however, students do not spend all day at their desks.  Because we do much station teaching, students have the opportunity to sit on carpet square throughout the room to work on projects and also spend much time at the two teacher tables.

This is the second teacher area. In this area I have storage, a dry erase board and a teacher table. From here I can also monitor the math station area and the class library.

We use every inch of space in our classroom.  Here is a view of our classroom from the door:

As we continue to set up we'll post more photos of the space saving ways we fit two teachers in a classroom.

Write on Word Wall

This morning I went into the classroom to work on a word wall.  Typically I don't have a word wall posted in a fourth grade classroom.  I have students keep a word list in their Writing Toolbox.  Since most students in a collaborative classroom have many difficulties in Reading and Writing, I've decided to include a more "mature" word wall in our classroom. 


Words that students have difficulty spelling will be included on the write on word wall. Spelling words will not be included on the word wall.  (Our spelling words posters will be coming soon).

You can download these blackline masters free at my Teacher Pay Teachers site:

Monday, August 6, 2012

Welcome to the Fun Fourth Grade Collaboration blog!

The smell of a new box of crayons. The feel of a freshly sharpened pencil. The sound of a new composition book as you flip through the pages for the first time.  Though we as teachers will countdown to the end of the school year right after spring break, we secretly start planning for the new school year as soon as summer vacation begins.  And it never fails... every year I tell myself I will not return to the classroom until the first day my contract begins and yet by the end of July I find myself checking my mail daily for the welcome back letter from my principal annoucing what's new for the new school year and when I can access my room.

Soon I'll start photos of my classroom set up and back to school activities.  I share the classroom with a special education teacher because our classroom is known as a collaboration classroom.  In our classroom students with a variety of disabilities learn alongside students who learn at or above a normal pace.  How do we accomplish this? Keep checking back on this blog and find out our tips and tricks.

Best wishes on setting up for the new school year!