New Year Wishes $100 Giveaway

What a surprise when an envelope from Teachers Pay Teachers arrived in the mail and inside were two $25 gift cards to give away to my followers! TpT knows how hard teachers work, often spending our own money to give the best to our students. So in that same spirit of giving, they have sent out these gift cards for teacher-authors to pass along to help make a few wishes come true.

But that's not all... for the two winners of these $25 gift cards, I will also give $25 to spend in my store. That's a total of $100 in free resources just for being awesome teachers like YOU!

To enter, all you have to do is comment with a wish you have for 2017 and enter below:

I'll start the wishing...

For 2017, I wish to add some of these to my little farm:

Good luck! I can't wait to give away some awesome prizes to some well-deserving teachers!


Calling all 4th grade teachers!

I just have to share this awesome offer but it's only for 4th graders. The U.S. Government is offering every fourth grader free passes to U.S. national parks! All you have to do, as a teacher, is register on the website and print the passes. No strings attached, nothing else to do. How great is that?

You can get passes for your students here: Every Kid In A Park


Pencil Problem Solved!

So I've had this issue with pencils for the last year or so. You see, I bought a really great electric sharpener from a catalog. It had awesome reviews and was supposed to stand up to really heavy use. Supposed to... key words there. The problem is that a classroom full of students who will stick anything (such as crayons, paper clips, and even scissors) into the sharpener is a different level of "heavy use" than these manufacturers are referring to.

Within about 3 months, it was groaning and grinding and sounding like it was ready to die. Every time I sharpened one of the cheap pencils (You know the ones I'm talking about), the leads would just fall out. The thing was so noisy, I banned the students from using it at all during the school day. My dreams of a constant supply of sharp pencils at the ready were over and I gave up trying to find the perfect pencil sharpener. I even started this school year out with nothing. For the first two weeks, I relied on the supply of pre-sharpened pencils some of the kids had brought in.

Then, this came in the mail....

Now, I am not one to write product reviews (unless I really HATE something and feel that the world needs to know). But this sharpener has changed my life! Yeah, really... at least my life between the hours of 7:30 am and 2:30 pm.

First off, yes it is a manual sharpener. Let's get that out of the way. But don't worry... this is not like the manual sharpeners you're accustomed to. 

The first thing I thought when I opened the box was, "Hmm, nice color." (It actually comes in a lot of colors - take your pick!) Blue matches my classroom. The next thing I thought was, "No way this is going to be better than an electric." I mean who wants a line of kids standing and waiting to sharpen their pencils, right? Boy, was I wrong.
  1. This sharpener is FAST. A couple of turns (as in 2 or 3) and you're done.
  2. This sharpener is QUIET. Barely any sound at all.
Using this sharpener is a little bit different than any other kind. You don't just stick the pencil in and start turning. Here's a quick video from Classroom Friendly Supplies that shows how it works...

Looks easy, right? It is! My third graders have no problem using it at all. Now the video shows the pencil being sharpened until the guide plate goes all the way in but this really isn't necessary. Just a couple of turns produces perfectly sharpened points...

I am able to sharpen a full pack of pencils in the same amount of time that it took me with my electric sharpener with none of the problems (like loose lead and gnawed up looking wood).

So where can you get one of these lovelies for yourself? Go to ClassroomFriendlySupplies.com or click the image below:

They are super affordable (way less than a "good" electric one) and you get to choose your color. I highly recommend this company!


Back 2 School Blog Hop & Giveaway

Wow, back to school time already! I can hardly believe it. Summer really flew by and my family is in the middle of moving to a new house right now (during the first week of school!!!). So instead of my usual month of obsessive pre-planning, I've been packing and living out of boxes. Yes, it's insane, I know. I actually considered going into full panic mode today. But then I decided it would be better to to take a deep breath, pray, and focus on just one little thing at a time. Whew!

So, today my goal is to get my Friday folders ready. Sending papers home used to be a real pain in the you-know-what. Sorting them into student mailboxes every day, getting them from the mailboxes into the students' folders on Friday afternoon, and then into backpacks seemed like a monumental task or at least a never-ending one. But I've come up with a system that really works and is absolutely ZERO work for me. My students do it all. What was that? No work, students do it all, tell me more!

First, I got some plastic envelopes like these...

These particular ones from Amazon are a little pricey but they last all year and never fall apart. Even the little snaps kept working. In fact, they held up so well, I was able to save about half of them to reuse this year (unheard of!). See, here are some left over from last year. They still look pretty good...

Next, I get hanging files and put them in plastic crate like this...

I have one file for each student. These don't have names on them yet because I don't have my final class list.

Now, here's where the zero work for teacher comes in. I keep a paper tray next to my Friday folders where I toss all of my graded papers and things to send home. The stack just keeps growing, but I don't care because students will take care of it. 

These are the two most important jobs in my classroom. The paper filer checks the paper tray every day and files all of the papers into the hanging files. He or she does this whenever there's some free time, when their work is finished early, or sometimes in the morning before the bell rings. Then on Friday, my Friday Folders person takes the papers out of each student's file, puts them into their envelopes, and passes them out to go home. Totally painless!

Now I don't just send these folders home and hope the parents look in them. Inside each one is a parent log sheet. Parents sign off that they looked at their child's papers and then send the folder back in on Monday. The log sheet looks like this...

(Download an editable version HERE.)

I fill in all the Friday dates for the year so I never have to think about it again. The log just stays in the Friday folder. And since the folders are transparent, I don't even have to open them to see if it was signed.

This is the PERFECT paper management system for me and I hope it helps you too! Now that I've gotten you all excited about organizing your papers (woo-hoo!!), how about a giveaway? That's right... you could actually WIN something for reading this far! We're giving away a $50 TpT gift card and some awesome goodies. Check it out (and enter!)...

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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