Sunday, August 31, 2014

Using Seat Sacks Efficiently and a HUGE Seat Sack Giveaway!

This new school year brings with it lots of exciting changes in the way I teach. The use of interactive notebooks has really been a plus and I couldn't be more pleased with how engaged my students are when we all work together to learn a new skill or revisit one already taught. They are not distracted, disinterested, or asking me how long until it's lunchtime! LOL! You can read my 9 helpful hints to successful interactive notebooking here

At first, I was a little nervous as to where I was going to keep my student's notebooks. I don't have any built in shelving units in my classroom and it is a challenge to find room for all their textbooks, workbooks, notebooks, etc. 

When the school year began, I was keeping the children's notebooks in this mailbox unit. The children used the unlabeled slot next to their name. It was working out well, except for one thing. There was a lot of time wasted while I called each table to get up, walk to the mailbox, get their notebook, and sit back down. I had to do this for all four tables. And then, we had to repeat it when it was time to put our notebooks away.

I spent a lot of time thinking about what I could do differently. How could I store my students' notebooks so that we didn't waste quality learning time retrieving them and putting them away? Over and over again!

Then it hit me!

I cannot begin to tell you how these seat sacks have completely changed my school day. Seat sacks are literally, the answer to my prayers.

They have many different colors to choose from. I chose red, yellow, green, and purple, because those are the colors of my tables. See how pretty they look? Everything matches!

My students use their seat sack from the minute they enter our classroom in the morning, right up until they pack up to go home. When they first arrive, they put their take home folder in their seat sack. I used to collect them every morning and then hand them out in the afternoon. I had to find space to hold them all day and then waste time handing them out. Not any more!

My students keep their interactive notebook and their reading workbook in their seat sack, as well. They are incredibly durable and roomy. More books can easily fit inside, but that is all we have in there for now. Take home folder, marble notebook, and reading workbook.

Each seat sack comes with a blank label to write the children's names, which is inserted in a clear vinyl pocket. I decided to make my own name labels on my computer and the children colored them in. When they switch seats during the school year, they will just remove their name and put it in their new seat sack.

When it's time to work in our interactive notebook or reading workbook, all my students have to do is reach behind and grab their book. No more sitting quietly, waiting for each table to go to their mailbox to get their book. And then wait again while the books are put away.

At the end of the day, I no longer have to pass out take home folders. My students quickly and easily grab their folders from their seat sacks to color in their behavior calendar. Then, they empty their mailbox and pack up. This is all done in 5 minutes. 

I kid you not when I tell you that these seat sacks have really helped to eliminate wasted time. My day runs very efficiently. And, as an added bonus, my classroom looks bright and beautiful. The seat sack colors are gorgeous! 

If you would like to try seat sacks, I highly recommend these from The Original Seat Sack Company. They have many different colors and sizes to choose from. If you order the Seat Sack Classroom Pack, it also comes with a few other goodies, like a Read-n-Go Book Bag and a Hand-e-Sack Stick and Store!
I am incredibly pleased to announce that The Original Seat Sack Company is allowing me to give away a Seat Sack Classroom Pack to one of my VERY lucky followers! The winner will receive...

 25 seat sack chair pocket organizers

1 Read-n-Go Book Bag

1 Hand-e-Sack Stick and Store

25 Name Tags

This contest will run for one week. 
Please enter with integrity, using the rafflecopter below.

And the lucky winner is...
Congratulations to you!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Interactive Notebooks for Little Learners...9 Helpful Hints to Ensure Success!

Where have you been all my life, interactive notebooks? I am so in love with them! If you are not doing interactive notebooks yet, I urge you to stop what you're doing and give them a try! The level of student engagement is at an all time high. In all my years of teaching, I have NEVER seen ALL my students so ENGAGED the ENTIRE time they are working. From start to finish, they are hanging on to every word I say, and trying their absolute best to have the neatest, nicest, most accurate notebook!

My first graders have completed several activities already and we've learned some neat tricks along the way. I'd like to share them with you!
Before the children cut anything, have them color the tabs that are glued to the notebook so they don't accidentally cut them off. 

While cutting, remind children NOT to cut off the colored tab. It's easy for them to see what they should NOT cut off since it is colored, but a helpful reminder (or two!) is a good idea. 

Have children keep the paper on the table while they apply the glue to the tab(s). If they lean on their notebook page, the notebook page will get sticky, resulting in flaps that may not open and close because they are glued shut.
Glue the tab(s) down before making any cuts. It is easier to glue the paper to the page while it is still intact. If they make cuts first, the flaps are moving all over the place, making it difficult to glue the tab(s) onto the page.
See how easy it is to make the cuts now?

Have children color while waiting for the others to finish cutting and gluing. This keeps them happily engaged and occupied while your slower cutters and gluers finish up. Then, you can all work together on the actual lesson.

Always use the left side of the page for the children to apply what they have learned on the right side of the page. Eventually, the children can come up with their own way to explore connections to what has been learned. But, for now, I am helping them along.

Keep scrap bins at each table so students can easily and quickly dispose of their scraps. Assign table captains to put scrap bins and glue and scissor caddies on the table and to put them away when they are finished. The rest of the children can use a wipe to clean off the table. 
Have students number each page they work on, so you can ask them to turn to a specific page when you want them to refer back to a previous lesson.
If you are thinking that you want to give interactive notebooks a try, but you are worried about how to fit it in to your already packed day, just remember this...Interactive Notebook activities should be used INSTEAD of other activities, not in addition to them. 

And, there you have it! 9 helpful tips to ensure that your interactive notebook activities are always successful! So, what are you waiting for? Jump right in and join the fun!

Feel free to check out all my interactive notebook activities!
Just click each cover!

I love to talk about interactive notebooks. Please let me know if you have any questions or want to pick my brain!

This post was featured on the TpT blog!
Check it out here!

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