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Labels, a teacher's dream! I know you love labeling things as much as I do. Labels keep me organized. They let my students know where to find things (and put them back!). And they personalize student supplies. But buying all those cute labels can get expensive! A few years ago I started making my own labels - and I love it! It's easy to do and I can make the labels look however I want!

I posted a picture of some of my labels on Instagram and got a ton of requests to put them in my TpT store. Unfortunately, I can't figure out how to do it and still keep the labels editable, protect the clipart and make them print clearly. So, I decided to do a little tutorial here on my blog to help you create your own. (NOTE: If after going through this tutorial you decide you don't want to spend the time creating your own, email me and we can chat about a custom label order. I've already had a few people say they just want them done and ready to print out!)

This tutorial has 2 parts: If you're somewhat familiar with Powerpoint, you can follow my step-by-step directions and you'll probably be fine. If you need a visual, I created a video that should help! (I need to say that I work on a PC. I have no idea how to do this on a Mac, so if it's really different, I can't help!)

In order to create the labels, you need to first create the image you want on the label, then insert it into a template the same size as the labels you want to use. I like to use 2x4 Avery labels. I got the template from the Avery website. I don't feel comfortable sharing the actual template here (copyright issues), so here's the link to the site and the template I use (it's the 5th one on the page).
Avery 2x4 labels templates

1. Open Powerpoint and set the size to whatever size the labels are. (Go to Design > Slide Size > Custom)
2. Add clipart and text to make the first label look the way you want.
3. Click on your label slide on the left pane and click CTRL-D. This will duplicate the slide. Now just go in and change the name! Do this to make a label for all your students. (If you want to change the clipart quickly, click on the image and right click, then select Change Picture.)
4. Once you have all the label images you want, save your file as images (jpegs or pngs seem to work best).
5. Download, save and open the label template you want to use. (My template is a Word document for the 2x4 labels.)
6. Click in the middle of the first box and insert picture. Navigate to wherever you saved your label images and double click on the one you want to add. Do the same for all the boxes on the page.
7. When you are ready to print, put the label sheet into the printer (you may have to put it in upside down so it prints on the right side!) and print.

If you need a hard copy of these directions, you can download them HERE.

I have to tell you that I have not been able to figure out how to make a SECOND page of the template! If someone knows how to do this, please let me know! Until then, after I print a page, I go back and delete the images and then insert new ones. I can do it pretty quickly since it goes right back to the folder where the images are. But I would love to know how to make more than one page!

Now, if all those directions seem too confusing or you just want to see it in action, you can watch my video tutorial. Even if you're an experienced Powerpoint user, you may pick up a tip or two! (Or know of a better way for me to do something!)

I tried to explain how I do this the best way I could, but if you still have any questions or want to ask about a custom order, you can email me (secondgradestories@charter.net) and I'll do my best to help you out!

It's back to school time! I know many of you have already started the new year with your kiddos, and some of you (like me!) are getting close. The beginning of the year is a stressful time for teachers. We are thinking about classroom set up, classroom management, grading and so much more! I have lots of blog posts that are useful at the beginning of the year, so rather than having them all scattered everywhere, I thought it would be helpful to put them in one place.

You can click on each image to go to the post. These tips and ideas and resources (and freebies!) have helped me get a handle on the beginning of the year craziness that we all experience. Whether you're a new teacher looking for help or an experienced teachers looking for new ideas, check them out!

Classroom management is THE first thing on everyone's minds at the beginning of the year! This blog series starts with how to build a philosophy on which to base everything you do. Other posts include mistakes not to make, ideas for incentives and things to do right away for a smooth running classroom.

Speaking of classroom management, creating rules and teaching routines and procedures is one of the MOST important things you can do at the beginning of the year. (And it doesn't hurt to review things part way through, as well!) I share books I love, games and activities we do and ways to practice the rules in a fun way.

Don't let that stack of papers to be graded overtake your desk - and your life! I've discovered a few tips and tricks that make grading sooo much easier, and still let you get the most information out of what you see.

Have you thought about trying flexible seating? Have you already made the jump? Check out a few options I chose to try and see how they worked. There is no right way to do flexible seating. See what works for me and how I make it all fit the needs of my classroom.

Morning meeting is without a doubt my favorite time of day! I get to know my students, they learn about each other, we start the day on a positive note and even fit in some social and academic skills. This blog series is FULL of ideas for greetings, group activities, sharing and more!

I hope you find something useful in these posts that you can take back to your classroom and make your own. Even though the beginning of the year is crazy and stressful, it is a time of new beginnings! Have a great year!

It's here! It's finally here! Teachers Pay Teachers is having their back to school sale this Monday and Tuesday, Aug. 1 and 2! My wishlist is overflowing with good stuff and I'm excited to be adding to my resources for my new first graders! (Not to say that I haven't already been shopping this summer... but we won't talk about that...)

I'm joining in the back to school fun and putting my entire store on sale for 20% off - including bundles! Bundles, my teacher friends, are where the HUGE savings are during the TPT sitewide sales. Let me explain.

What exactly is a bundle? It's a group of similar products available for purchase at one time - at a cheaper price. For example. I bundled all my "Writing Workouts" for the year into one file. If you purchased all of them separately, you would spend $30.00. But if you buy the bundle (at any time, not just during the sale), you spend $24.00 - a $6 savings.  Most sellers price their bundles at a 20% discount compared to purchasing each of the items on their own.

But here's where the sale can save you BIG! During the TPT site-wide sales (there are usually 4 per year), most sellers have their stores at 20% off - INCLUDING BUNDLES! So my Writing Workouts bundle that would cost $24.00 normally (still a good savings), will only be $19.20 during the sale (you've saved almost $5!). But wait! We're not done yet!

If you use the sale code, BESTYEAR, when you check out, you save another 10% on all your purchases! That brings the total cost of the bundle down to just over $17.00 - that's almost 50% off what it would cost to buy everything separately!

See? Even though a bundle may seem like an expensive investment (and who are we kidding, teachers are always thinking about how much they spend!), they are an absolute STEAL during the TPT sales. Check out your favorite sellers and do the math on those bundles. It really is worth the price!

Here are some of my bundles - all 20% off for the sale - and how much you can save with the sale and the code compared to buying each resource separately. (Don't forget to use the code! Make a sticky note somewhere! I've checked out before and forgotten to use it - ugh!!!)

How else can you save? Leave feedback! That's right. Did you know that you can earn credits by leaving feedback to be used to buy even MORE great stuff? Here's how:

Go to your "My Purchases" page in your TPT account. (Try not to look at the total number of purchases. It can be scary!) See where it says, "Provide Feedback"? Click on that and leave a rating and comment about the product. What did you like about it? How did you find it useful? Every time you leave feedback, you get credits in your account. You get one TpT Credit for every dollar you spend on TpT. Every 100 Credits is worth $5 that you can apply towards future TpT purchases. I save up all my credits and use them during the sales. Free money to spend!

Are you ready to shop the sale! Head over to Teachers Pay Teachers and clean out your wishlist! And if you need a little more help in the spending department, visit me on Instagram and check out my giveaway. You (and a friend!) could win a $10 TPT gift card and $10 to use in my store. But you've got to be quick - I'm choosing a winner at 9pm EST Monday night! Happy shopping!

Back to school means back to teaching rules, routines, procedure and more! Working with your students to create the rules and expectations for the classroom is a powerful way to start the year. Students are invested in what is going on and are more likely to work to meet your expectations. Need some ideas for how to set up rules with your students? Read through my blog post series filled with ideas, activities, books and how-to's.

I am always on the lookout for great books to use to teach everything - and science is no exception! When we are just introducing how to be a scientists, I like to choose books that are simple, but use strong vocabulary, have photos or illustrations that my students can relate to, and give students enough to think about so we can discuss and ask questions. (Come to think about it - those are the same criteria I use for pretty much every book I choose!) This post is the third in a series about introducing science to young students. You can read the other posts here:

These six books are my go-to books for science at the beginning of the year. Most are read alouds, but a couple of them can be done well with small groups. Unfortunately, not all of them are available. I'm going to share them anyway because teachers are masters at finding what we want, and you never know when a good book will show up at a tag sale or used book store.

What is a Scientist? by Barbara Lehn is a great beginning read-aloud for introducing scientific thinking. The pictures shows kids engaged in scientific activities such as observing and measuring and gives a brief explanation. This is a great jumping off point to introduce all the things a scientist does.

Being a Scientist by Natalie Lunis and Nancy White goes more in-depth into those scientific activities such as measuring,, observing, classifying etc. I like to read this book with my students, but I tend to paraphrase the text because it can be long. The photographs are bright and colorful and my kiddos enjoy answering the questions posed throughout the book.

What is Science? by Rebecca Dotlich is a very simply written and colorful book that gives a variety of answers to the question, "What is science?" I like to ask my students this the very first time we start talking about science. We group our answers into scientific topics, science tools, scientific activities, etc. It's a great way to start a conversation and find out what your students know and think about science.
I Use Science Tools is part of an emergent reader series of science books. The text is very simple, but the photographs are a great way to make sure everyone is clear about what a variety of science tools are used for. I tend to show this one under the document camera, stopping to talk about how each tool is used.

Nature Spy, by Ken Kreisler is a great book to use when discussing the importance of observation. This book tells about how children can be a "nature spy"  observing and noticing and recognizing patterns in nature. It's a very relatable book for students, which is why I keep it around.

Scientists Ask Questions, by Ginger Garrett is part of the Rookie Read-About Science series. Simple text and colorful photos make it engaging for young readers and there is just enough information for students to learn without being overwhelmed. I have 6-8 copies of this book and I like to use it in a small group. I put it out as a center after we have read it together.

There are so many different ideas out there for classroom management incentives, it can be hard to find what works for you. Once you have your management philosophy in place (click HERE to jump to the first post in this series), you can start adding programs and incentives.

Just a note of caution though - none of these ideas I'm about to share should be the basis of how you run your classroom. And, don't be afraid to change things up if something isn't working! Some years I've used nothing but a good old marble jar, and other years I have needed to try every trick in the book. What you do depends on your students and what they need, but here are a few ideas to take a look at.

This is one of the first things teachers think about when they think behavior programs. Many people like clip charts, and use them effectively. Others don't feel they send the right message. As I said before, you need to do what is right for your students. A clip chart is a leveled system in which students move their "clip" up and down during the day, depending on their behavior. Moving up means positive rewards. Moving down means negative consequences (losing privileges, note home). A benefit to using a clip chart is all students start the day in the middle and have a chance to move up or down. Students can also make better choices and move up the chart if they have struggled that morning or activity and still finish the day in a positive place. The public aspect of the clip chart is something many teachers do not like. Everyone can see where each student is during the day, and being told to "move your clip down" can be embarrassing for students.

This is the link to the ebook from the original "creator" of the clip chart. (Click on the any of the images to follow that link.) If you're going to use a clip chart, start here so you have background into how the chart should work and the thinking behind it.

Clip charts were all the rage a few years ago, but as is true with many things in education, the pendulum has swung and clip charts have fallen out of favor with many people. You can google plenty of posts about why many teachers don't like clip charts. BUT.... a clip chart CAN be a positive experience. Sarah has a wonderful way to make the clip chart focus on POSITIVE behaviors and to really encourage students to put the character traits we all value into action.

I love this  idea! If you want to do a clip chart, you can easily make your own, or purchase one from Teachers Pay Teachers. Here's a link to the ones in my store.

This is the newest behavior idea teachers like to use. Brag tags are very simple  they are like dog tags that students can earn for just about anything you want. The positives with this system is that it focuses on rewarding the positive - academics and behavior. Students have a way to keep track of what they have earned and have something tangible as a reward. Brag tags can be overwhelming to start with. Prepping and organizing and remembering to hand them out takes time. But many students and teachers LOVE brag tags (some are starting to call them "swag tags" instead.) Angie Olson from Lucky Little Learners is one of the gurus of brag tags.

This is another idea that has been around for a while, but I first heard about it from Kristen over at A Teeny Tiny Teacher. (And if you're not following her blog, do it now - no matter what grade you teach. She is a riot!) She explains her golden tickets in a blog post and makes it really simple. Cut yellow paper and you're done. Decide on your Friday centers or activities or whatever and you're done. Easy to prep, easy to manage and easy to make work for your own class.

This is a great strategy when you need something different for your kiddos, or something for a short period of time that works on one specific thing that drives you batty. Pick a word, any word. You can choose a holiday word, a vocab word, a silly word... whatever you want. Just make sure it has more than 4 or 5 letters or the incentive will be over too quickly. The idea is that students are working to spell the word you (they?) chose. Every time you see them demonstrating whatever skill or behavior you're working on, they earn one letter. When the word is spelled, the class earns a reward. Extra recess, 15 minutes of drawing time, movie and popcorn. It's up to you. You could even do this like hangman and put up blanks instead of letters. Each time students earn a chance to guess one of the letters. You could also use a phrase. Keep track of the letters on your whiteboard or make a quick display somewhere in the room. It's easy and quick! Ashley from One Sharp Bunch has lots of great ideas to go with this theme.

There are lots of ways you can incorporate technology into your behavior incentives, too. Technology is engaging and interactive and can be a motivator for many students. Class Dojo is a very popular online behavior management resource that allows parents to see how their child is doing. You can find out more about it by clicking on the image. I tried this program a couple years ago and just didn't feel comfortable with the public aspect of everyone knowing each other's points and seeing them get taken away etc. It was kind of like the clip chart all over again for me. Many teachers love this program though, so if it sounds interesting to you, check it out!

I also just had to share The Primary Techie's take on behavior management, too! Use your technology and build something to earn a reward! She has created Powerpoint files that you can project on the whoteboard and click to add a "piece" of something every time your students demonstrate god behavior. When the item is complete, the class earns a reward. You could create something like this on your own, or purchase her bundle and be set for the year. (Yes, I own it, but this is just my opinion!) Here's what her "Build a Burger" looks like part way through.

Now let's talk about the actual rewards. Once students have earned their reward, what do you do? Catherine over at The Brown Bag Teacher has some great ideas for easy classroom rewards that aren't food.

And Beth from Adventures of a Schoolmarm shares her rewards cards. Perfect for rewards that don't cost a thing!

Did you find an idea that you like? Try it out in your classroom and see what happens. Like I said at the beginning, don't be afraid to change it up or modify it to work for you. If you missed any of my other posts in this series, I've included the links below. And if you have questions or comments, feel free to drop your ideas in the comments below or email me!
Classroom management - it all starts with you!
3 Things to do at the beginning of the year
3 classroom management mistakes beginning teachers make

Welcome back! Are you ready to put everything you learned about classroom management into action? We've talked about establishing your classroom management philosophy and what you need to do to start the year off right. Now a few weeks have gone by, the kids are settling in and things are going well. Then, it happens. A little bump in the road. That's ok. Tomorrow will be better. Later that week you start to feel like things are slowly moving in the wrong direction. Let's fix all that before it even happens!

Sound familiar? Yep... we went over this before, but it definitely needs repeating. MODEL EVERYTHING. Many teachers do a great job modeling routines and procedures at the beginning of the year. But they forget the importance of modeling every day! For example, let's say you have a math game students will play in partners. You sit together on the rug, you explain the game, maybe even write the directions on the board... but when you pair everyone up and send them off, no one knows what to do! Johnny and Susie are playing the game correctly, but Mara and Letesha are not following the rules. Colby and Peter are tossing the dice around, and two other groups are just sitting there not knowing how to get started... what happened?! You need to model! Before you send students off to do pretty much anything - especially at the beginning of the year, or if it's a new game or activity or worksheet - it always helps to model what you want done. Have two students play the game together in front of everyone, showing how to roll the dice, move the pieces, play the game. You'd be surprised how many students will suddenly have an a-ha moment and REALLY understand what to do! The same goes for activity pages and worksheets. Do one part or a couple examples together so students can see where to write the answer, what format, etc. Believe me, this extra time spent modeling can save you so much of a headache and save your kiddos from being frustrated!

I have observed and mentored many new teachers, student teachers, interns etc. This is the number one thing so many beginning teachers have trouble with. I watch teachers begin a very engaging and well-planned lesson. Everyone is paying attention and is on the ball. Then I notice Ryan. He is getting fidgety. He rocks in his chair. He rolls his pencil around. He starts talking to someone near him. Now there's a hum in the room. The teachers reminds everyone to pay attention, but does not stop. Now many students are not being respectful of the speaker. Lots of quiet chatter and movement. Finally, after about 10 minutes when I want to jump in and get things under control, the teacher - who is visibly frustrated - stops the lesson and addresses one of the students who is talking. The point of this story? Pay close attention to the small things WHEN THEY START and deal with them right away - otherwise you risk the activity spiraling out of control. You might have to stop 5 times in 10 minutes. That's ok. If you keep going when no one is paying attention, it's not going to get any better! Do you notice students constantly playing with materials while you explain something? Remember my little tip about being proactive? Next time before the lesson starts, clear the area. I really do think this comes with experience. As you teach more, you will notice students who you need to make eye contact with, call their name, etc. (I love teachers who can just throw a student's name into a sentence: "That's right! We need to regroup because the ones - Lindsey please stop - have more than 9 so we have to make a ten.") Sometimes that's all it takes! But you have to be aware of everything going on in order to make it work.

Yes, that's right. You are now a teacher. Not the fun babysitter, not a camp counselor, not their cousin. YOU ARE THEIR TEACHER. And that means your role has changed. Yes, you can definitely be caring and fun and supportive and funny, but you can't... no matter what anyone tells you, be their friend. I am the first to tell you to get to know your students, make connections, learn about them. That is incredibly important. But always remember that you have other responsibilities now, too. You need to follow through on the rules, make decisions that they may not like (No Mark, you may not partner with Brian. or I'm sorry, we can't play a word game today.) Your students are coming to you to learn. Your job is to teach them how to be a reader and a writer and a good friend and how to work with others, etc. You can be there for them, support them, encourage them and share experiences with them. But do it as their teacher, not as their friend.

Do you see yourself in any of these mistakes? Don't take it personally - EVERY beginning teacher needs support with classroom management. Good classroom management comes with experience. But if you think about these 3 areas, you can improve your classroom management skills now - and enjoy a great year of teaching later!

You can read more about classroom management ideas in my other posts in this series:
Classroom management - it all starts with you!
3 Things to do at the beginning of the year
Ideas for classroom management incentives

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