State Reports: Part 3

Storage for the State Research Papers

I use folders to store all the student’s in progress work. Red or blue are good colors because you can easily see if they are put in desks or left somewhere in the classroom.  I have my students turn them in at the end of their research time in a file sorter.  With the file sorter you can quickly see that Student #3 didn’t turn in their folder in the picture above. I don’t let them go home or get stuffed in a desk.  I have the person who is assigned the teachers assistant check at the end of the period if all of the folders are filed.

I learned this quickly. I thought students would be responsible for my first few years of teaching and all of the following occurred:

  • “I can’t find my folder!”- This causes more frustration the next day when they can’t find it, and you have to tear apart a desk while the rest of the class needs you.
  • “I took it home by accident.”  and it never returns. – This ends up being your time punishment because that is 20 more minutes you end up printing and making custom copies for one student.
  • “I took it home and couldn’t stop.”-  Now this student is done with everything and then have nothing to do but ask for free time on the computer. 
  • “I took it home and my parents helped me.”- We want the students to learn how to research and finish a big project. I had a student that her parents did her board and it looked so superior to the others that this caused tensions among the parents on State Day. 

To prevent any of the above situations it is much easier to collect and store the work on any large project.

Coming Up Next: State Reports Part 4 Assigning States


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State Report: Part 2

Preparation

To prepare for the project I start by making the necessary copies. I usually have 25 students. I partner with another teachers and they do the other 25 states.

Time-Saving Tip:  Print everything and share with your partner teacher.  If you don’t have a partner, and you know you are going to do this next year; just keep the other states for next year.  Just make sure to keep the undrawn state papers separated, so the next year’s students only draw the states you have printed.  

Copies

If you are using my 50 State Bundle, I have set up the files so you only have to print once. Print the following:

  • Print the PDF- 50 State Report Cover Pages
  • Print the PDF- 50 State Report Physical Maps
  • Print 1 State Report Research Topics (Make 50 Copies)
  • Print 1 State Expansion Research Papers (Make 50 Copies)
  • Print Choice of Rubrics (Make 50 Copies)

If you are in 4th grade and doing one state, print once, and then make enough copies for your class of the topics you would like them to research.

In order to keep all of my copies organized I use this basket.  You can flip the paper both directions to keep papers organized, have easy access, and there are no folded corners.

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Sterilite Large Basket 17×13

Grade As the Students Finish Each Section

If you are using my State Research Report from Teachers Pay Teachers then open the “State Report Grade Book” from the files. This will help to manage the grading while the students are finishing each page. Fill out the grading worksheet with your student’s names. The spreadsheet is editable. It is easy to copy from your online grade book roster and paste the names into the Excel program. Just print, and as the students complete each page of research, grade them and keep this as a record to enter in the online grade book. This will also give you an idea of research progress and if students are not managing their time.

Look for Part 3 coming soon discussing how to assign and manage a State Report project. If you are looking for a State Report template for your students, see my store at Teachers Pay Teachers – Learning in an Hour. 50 State Report Bundle and all individual states are available.

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State Report Series

Part 1 Overview

For the majority of my 5th grade students this will be their first exposure to a large-scale research project.  It is a momentous task for the teacher to manage 25 different projects and be available for one on one help while ensuring that no one falls down the rabbit hole of time.  Parents are excited to see their child’s work on State Day and an unfinished project can lead to hurt feelings.

It takes about a month to complete everything prior to State Day.  Parents are invited to the gym on a Friday morning for a few hours and the students run their state booth.  Most students bring food from their state and dress up in state-related clothes and other grades are invited to view and eat their way through the United States.  It is a popular event for the school.  In the afternoon, my students present their reports to the class.  It is a great day, but it can be an incredible undertaking.  Even if you are not going to the extreme of a State Day, I hope these tips will help you and your students have a positive experience. 

For this series I will be using my 50 State Report Bundle but you can use any packet that you have.

50 State Report

Snowman Craft with Buddy Classroom

My 5th-grade students just love visiting our kindergarten buddy class.  January is the perfect time to complete this snowman craft on TPT.  The kindergartners are ready to write a simple poem, practice cutting simple shapes, and learn how to use the appropriate amount of glue.  This is easy when they have an intermediate classmate to help them. 

Snowman Craft Versions for Every Grade

Preview Craft with Intermediate Grades

Whenever we visit another class to complete a craft, we first complete the craft in our class.  I like to have an older version for my students to create.  In the case of the Snowman craft I had my students complete all the same artwork, but their acrostic poem was more difficult.

Prepare the Kindergartners/ Primary Class

I asked the kindergarten teacher to read a story about snow and building a snowman.  This can be challenging in Arizona because most of the students do not have any frame of reference about snow.  The kindergarten teacher told me that it was difficult to explain all the words that refer to snow such as “drift” and to explain that school can be cancelled due to snow. She thanked me for providing such a good lesson to talk about new vocabulary words.

Day of the Craft

I have my students walk into their buddy class with the supplies to complete the craft.  That way there is no downtime and we get to work right away.  My students arrived with glue, construction paper, and the handouts.  They taught their kindergarten student one on one explaining they were making a poem and a craft.  Do be prepared to not have the same number of students.  In this case, my students doubled up to help.  We were done in about an hour with photos and clean up complete.

How to Have an Amazing Classroom without Overspending

Photo by salvatore ventura on Unsplash

When I envisioned my first classroom I saw amazing bulletin boards, neatly organized bookshelves, and a colorful theme throughout. Of course, as a new teacher I spent my summer shopping on decor that would make my classroom amazing and would impress my students and their families at Meet the Teacher night.  Looking back, I realized that I spent too much of my summer on shopping and I overspent.  One thing that made me realize that I had spent too much money was when I was desperately waiting for my first paycheck to pay for my classroom!

I probably would have continued to overspend during my career as a teacher, but a life event changed everything.   During my first year of teaching the recession began and the business my husband worked at closed.   My hobby job became our only source of income! It really brought me to the reality of how much money I was spending on my classroom.

The following year, I had to really think about what was important for my classroom. I tried to reuse as many things that I possibly could. The only thing I bought for my classroom that second year was classroom name tags. My budget truly was zero dollars.  It was so hard because in our profession you are judged and rated by your classroom.

Take Inventory and Make a List

At the end of the school year take an inventory of your classroom.  I know you want to run out of your room in elation, but take some time to look around because it will save you time and money.

Photo by Jamie Taylor on Unsplash

Library – Remove damaged books and ones that you never see anyone reading. Dispose of the ones that are damaged and donate the books to other classrooms or a donation center. Ideas to replenish books:

  • Advertise in your weekly class newsletter that you take used books for your library
  • Go to thrift stores and buy inexpensive books- The most used books in my class are picture books that have a lot of subjects and are non-fiction.
  • Go to second-hand book stores on their discount day.
  • Review Craigslist and OfferUp at the end of the school year when everyone is cleaning out their school supplies.

Office Supplies

Office supplies- Take inventory of glue, tape, pencils, paper, etc.

  • Order them through the school supply warehouse if you can.
  • Write your dream list of supplies. That way on the first week back to school you can notify parents of what you need for your classroom.  Many times, I get my class list a week before school starts and I send a Welcome Email with a wish list of items that are needed for the classroom. Parents are more giving at the beginning of the year because most have planned a budget for those items.
  • I also send a wish list around the holidays with items such as tissues and pencils.

Creative Teaching Woodland Press

  • Decorations- Look at the poster paper, borders, and classroom décor. If they are in good condition keep them.
    • If you want to update them go to the discount store or Amazon and buy them right after school the school year ends because prices are cheaper.
    • If you need posters, visit retiring teachers and online sites such as Craigslist and Offer Up for teachers who are selling their items.
    • If in a pinch and you need to cover those walls on the cheap, there is always the Dollar Tree Teacher section.  Although I have found that these items may be cheap, and they do not stand the test of time.

Now that you have a list of what you need it is time to shop.  Before I buy anything for my classroom I ask myself these questions:

  • Can I use it for many years and varied grade levels?
  • Is it useful for the students and will it maximize learning?
  • Will it save me or my students time?
  • Will it reduce my workload?

If I can answer yes to any of these items and it is the best price I can find, then I make the purchase.  My goal is to be ready when I close my classroom.  It saves me a lot of time and energy that first week back from running to the teacher store and impulse buying when prices are at their highest.  I hope this helps you to save money and remember to always keep your receipts for reimbursement by PTO, if your school offers it, and for a tax deduction.

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5 Investment Items for the Classroom Under $75

When I was a new teacher I remember shopping for hours on what I thought were my classroom essentials.  Looking back, I wasted a lot of money on items that I thought that I couldn’t live without. After 13 years of teaching, I don’t shop as much as I used to, but I thought if I had to start over what are the 5 true investment pieces.

Classroom Pocket Chart

I can’t tell you how many scissors I have bought for students.  After years of buying scissors, I bought this pocket chart that was intended to prevent my scissors from disappearing. If the scissors are stored, it also prevents the students from whittling their desks and pencils!  A common occurrence in 5th grade.

Although my intention was just for the scissors, it ended up holding their ear buds, calculators, passwords, and any item they felt needed to be secured.  For example, whenever they had to change classrooms and a “stranger” was sitting in their desk, I would see random students start putting their treasures in their numbered pocket.

Sterilite Large Basket (Approximately 17×13)

 

After many years of carrying my grading pile in cute teacher bags, where the papers can get damaged, slip out of order, and paper clips fall off, I found these simple white baskets.  As the last student turns in their assignments I have them paperclip the papers and put them in the grading basket.  The basket is big enough that you can rotate the papers.    I also use one for my “To be Copied”  items.  I have had copy moms tell me how much they like the basket because they can easily rotate the stacks and they are easy to carry with the typical teacher load of papers.

Super Strong Magnet Hooks

 

These are dual purpose for your white board.  I use these not only to hold papers and posters to the white board, but when a student is absent I use it to hold assignments onto the side of their desk.  This prevents all of the papers from falling to the floor and keeps any returned work private.

I also use them to hold the hall passes and hang random ear buds that are left around the classroom for someone to claim them.

A Nice Magnetic Dry Eraser   

It seems when I am teaching I misplace everything I need.  Then when I need them most, I can’t seem to find a marker, dry eraser, overheard remote control etc..  My magnetic erasers never leave the board!

I know we all have those cheap foam ones, but it is time to replace it with a quality dry eraser!  After receiving these as a gift  I can’t go back to the free ones that always smeared my board and never really erased.  Spend a little extra on a nice dry eraser, you are worth it!  Plus, it is used daily!

 

File/Document Sorter

This item is the biggest time saver for me.  In fact, part of the first week of school in my class is teaching students how to turn in their papers in the sorter.  During the first week, I always think this is so arduous, but it is worth it!  When my students turn in their papers they have to go in a certain traffic pattern and line up to put their paper in the sorter.  It gets them out of their seat and gives a little break.  Once they know the process it can be completed within minutes.  The best part, I never have to spend time in class to figure out the “no name”  or who didn’t turn in their paper, because they are always in order.  The last person in line pulls the paper from the sorter, paper clips, and turns it into my grading basket.

These are my 5 investment pieces for my classroom.  Tell me your investment pieces that you can’t live without in the comments.

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Display Class Work Easily

 

It is important to display student work, but it is hard to find the time to update and maintain.  In order to help manage the display of student work I use hanging clip boards.  I had a set of clipboards for my students that weren’t being utilized.  I also found some at Amazon to complete my set.  It is important to get the traditional clipboards with the metal clip.  The spring is stronger than the new models.

The clip boards slip easily over a plastic push pin.  This makes it easy to take the clipboard from the wall to slip in new work.

 

To set up the clipboards I used a laser level to keep the boards straight .

I initially had 24 clipboards, but this year I had 28 students so I left room on the ends to add clipboards.  I use the boards to hold the student’s work for the entire year.  I just place the newest display in front.

End of the Year Books

At the end of the year, I have all of the student’s work organized and create a book that I give to the student.

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Time Capsule Project

Every year, I  have  my students fill out a time capsule worksheet that I keep in a jar labeled “time capsule” in my room.  They fill it out on the first day of school and I store it on the shelf until the last day.  The students get so excited to  see what they wrote, and are astonished by their answers.  This year, I decided to elevate the time capsule and actually make a more detailed time capsule craft, and complete it during the first week of school.

I turned it into a lesson to discuss:

  • Using scissors
  • Traffic patterns around the classroom
  • Coloring expectations
  • Complete sentence structure
  • How to turn in assignments using the file sorter

Instead of putting them on the shelf immediately, I hung them up to display them in my classroom.  The students enjoyed looking at what the other students created.  I also had an immediate decoration in my classroom for any impromptu Marzano reviews.

After the first month, I took down their time capsules and stored them.  They easily fold flat and I was able to fit them in a shoe box shape box.

Mother’s Day Writing Craft

Mother’s Day Writing Craft

I am so fortunate to have wonderful parents that support my class that I wanted to create something special for my students’ moms.  Knowing that this will probably be one of the last homemade school gifts that my class moms will receive  I wanted to make a special keepsake, that was more than a simple craft or card.  I created 19 questions that my students answer about their mom or special person.  There are two versions so it fits non-traditional households, so all of my students can participate.  Students answer questions as to what is the best thing their mom cooks to what kind of princess they are most like and why.

The project takes about two hours to complete.  There are plenty of lines that the students can write detailed sentences.  I teach how to elaborate when I complete this lesson.  I do grade this project and there is a rubric included.

Completed Mother’s Day Craft

Earth Day

 

Earth Day is April 22nd and it is a perfect time to teach conservation concepts such as Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle.  I love teaching this to my students and then have them share their knowledge when they teach their buddy class.

History

My favorite way of starting the lesson is to give the history behind Earth Day.  Brainpop has the best video to begin the lesson titled “Rachel  Carson”.  The video gives the history of the environment in the late 50’s and 60’s, use of DDT, and the book Silent Spring.

Conservation Concepts

Students typically understand recycling efforts, but struggle with reduce and reuse.

Examples for Reducing

  • Buy items in bulk with less individual packaging
  • Turn off running water- example when brushing teeth, shorter showers
  • Use a reusable lunch bag
  • Turn off lights and fans when you aren’t in the room
  • Plan trips to limit gas

Examples for  Reusing

  • Donate clothing
  • Shopping bags
  • Use excess water on the garden
  • Reuse water bottles
  • Use glass jars to store other items
  • Paper for scratch paper

Earth Day Craft

A perfect way for my students to reflect on the lesson is to create this 3D Globe.  It is best to have them complete the globe as each concept is taught.  Each side of the globe is a different view so I have the assembly instructions on the screen.

After my class creates their craft we visit our buddy class later in the week.  We read It’s Earth Day! by Mercer Mayer.  Then my students help their buddy make a 3D globe using the primary version.  Plan for  an hour to complete the project at your buddy class.  This works best with 2nd and 3rd grade classes.  I hope you enjoy teaching about Earth Day!