Smooth Sailing Back to School Tips & Giveaway!

Okay, let's start with a vote...class, raise your hands if your summer is going by WAY to fast!  Ha ha! I know, I know...I can't see you, but I'm pretty sure that if I could, most of your hands would be up like mine. No matter how fast your summer is going, a true teacher can never seem to get enough information on the hot topic of classroom organization!  I know, that's an opinionated statement, but friends...I can't think of one teacher that would disagree!

Well, you're in luck!  I'm teaming up with some of my TpT/blogger besties to talk about and show you how you can start your school year off with a clear, ORGANIZED mind frame...and classroom!  Can I hear an AMEN?! ;)  

Okay, so what do I have to offer?  I'm going to walk you through some of my small group, large group, center, and teacher must-have organization that you would find in Room 309.  I'll break the sections down and only talk a little about it.  I am a visual type of gal, so the pictures will hopefully say it all...and each classroom functions differently, so you may want to use the following in a completely different way to best suit your individual classroom needs.  

**Please note, I will be providing a link under the pictures to take you directly to the products that I'm showing you if you're interested in getting organized like me! **


This is something that I keep at my small group table.  I am a huge fan of white boards, and my kids LOVE using them whenever they get the chance.  I'm sure you can see the chipped edges on our white boards...yep, they have been "loved." :)

I always keep my comprehension dice, white boards, dry erase markers, erasers, and rulers in this caddy.  It can change, depending on what we're doing each day, but this seems to be a constant. 

PRODUCT LINK: Wire Storage Center

Here's another addition to my small group section. I can keep leveled activities, worksheets, student data, and so much more in this organizer.  You can see that I also keep red pens for student self-checking, highlighters, and writing utensils alongside for easy access.  My goal is to sit down and not have to get up for focus is on my kiddos. :)

PRODUCT LINK: Wire Secretary

Both of these items are from Really Good Stuff.  I'm a fan, as you will soon see! :) (PS: If you are from Really Good Stuff, I'll be waiting for my check in the mail...wink wink!)


Moving on...
I LOVE these little caddies.  They have saved me so many headaches, I can't even begin to tell you!  I don't have my kids keep their glue, scissors, or highlighters in their desks.  If we are completing a group activity, the group captain is in charge of getting these little guys and keeping them filled with the right amount of contents before returning them to our shelves.  It really is GOOD STUFF! :)  I would also suggest adding colored pencils, crayons, or checking pens/pencils to them.  You decide...the possibilities are endless!!

  PRODUCT LINKFour-Compartment Caddies

Click HERE to download my cubbie labels for FREE!  Please note that there are labels for up to 7 groups with three "E" labels for my "Extra" bins.


From pocket charts to file storage is endless!  I'm just showing you a couple of things that have worked for me. :)

The first thing that I wanted to share with you is how I store and manage my best selling Interactive Writing Center.  You need to first know that I created this product so that the students could be completely INDEPENDENT, allowing the teacher to focus their attention on small group and one-to-one work.  Why is that important?  Well, everything that is needed to do that is located inside of these folders.  So the organization to this hanging file bin is critical to their success and also in the way that I manage their work.

I added peel and stick labels with coordinating colors, and if you notice in the very back of the first picture, you will see a tab that says "For Copying."  This is where I keep my blackline masters that I created. I never have to thumb through any of my other materials.  They're always there waiting for me!  It's the small things. :)

 *Simply click on one of these pictures to get a closer look at my Writing Center!*

I also have a "Spelling Station" in my classroom that I use with my Daily 5 routine.  I found these alphabet magnets (also from Really Good Stuff) that came in this super handy container that not only separates the letters perfectly, but they labeled it for my students!  Love it!  


I can't talk about organization without talking about my Ultimate Teaching Binders.  TpT is flooded with them now, but I made these last spring and it truly was the best thing that I could have done!  I have not only cleared my own personal mental clutter, I have helped THOUSANDS of other teachers do the same thing.  You name's most likely in here.  If it's not, you can use my editable files to create it, rename it, or make adjustments to it to fit your needs.  It's a MUST for my classroom.  I have eight different themes, but this is my most recent one.  To learn a little more about it, you can go to my shopmy blog post (and another blog post...more pictures!!), or my video tutorials.

I hope that that you took an idea from my post, or were at the very least to re-examine your classroom this year and get more organized than ever before!  I'm FINALLY getting to the best part of this post. As you clearly saw, I am a fan of Really Good Stuff teaching products.  In an effort to help you get organized, or to simply enjoy a shopping spree on me...I am giving away a $50 Really Good Stuff gift card so that you can kick start your school year with a little more cash in your pocket and a few more ideas to make you the best teacher that you can be! Woo hoo!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
In ADDITION to my giveaway, I am teaming up with other 3rd-5th grade teachers for ONE GRAND PRIZE GIVEAWAY!! ONE very lucky winner will really be starting off their school year on the right foot, because the will receive a packet full of our BEST SELLING RESOURCES for their classroom!  So don't you dare click anywhere but on my little Rafflecopter to join the back to school party!

*This giveaway is open to teachers only in honor of Back to School time and to celebrate their hard work and dedication.  Thank you teachers!!

*The giveaway will end on August 2nd and two names will be drawn.  One name will be the winner of the $50 gift card and the other will be entered to win the Collaborative Giveaway.  Winner will be notified via email and announced on my Facebook page.

From my little blog to your little computer...I wish you ALL THE BEST in organization and sanity (ha!) in the upcoming school year. :)  Please stick around by following me.  I LOVE hearing from my virtual teaching buddies and hopefully inspiring a few of you along the way!

Be sure to check out my friends' blogs for MORE $50 giveaways and classroom inspiration!

TpT Conference 2014!

Well, the anticipation of this week has come and gone in a flash!  It took months to plan and seconds, it seems, to pass!  How does that happen??  Well, I'm beyond thrilled to report that it was a wonderful few days that I spent in Las Vegas with my teaching/blogging/TpT buddies! I am showing you guys which pictures I have in my possession...there are a few that are lingering on some of my friends' phones and the TpT crew cameras.  I hope I can share more as I get them!  However, I'll use this post to tell you all about my experience.  Let's get started!

Yes, I'm in the airport. :)

***Let me begin by saying that I DID NOT take the photos with my good camera, so the quality isn't what it usually is.  I didn't feel like carrying another couple of pounds around Vegas with me, ha!

Where did we stay?
So, we stayed at the most amazing hotel...the Palazzo, which is a part of the Venetian.  Gorgeous!!

What did we do?
Well, I'll be honest...I don't gamble and I don't drink, so I didn't do either of those things in Vegas.  My sister and I did a lot of shopping and eating.  We also went to Fremont Street where there is a really amazing light show above you on an enormous screen every night.  

Here's a picture of the "Eiffel Tower" in Vegas.  It's an exact replica of that infamous structure, only half the size. :)  The picture to the right is a so-so picture of the screen on Fremont Street that does it absolutely no justice! 

Something else that we did was visit the Mob Museum, as well as attend "O," which is a Cirque show!  They were both AWESOME!!!

The food in Vegas is AMAZING!!! 

Let's not forget the entertainment on the streets...!!!

Yes, folks...he IS spray painting himself!!! Only on the streets of Vegas.

So, this guy didn't have a seat...he was sitting on air or something hidden beneath him! So cool!

Oh yeah...I also attended the first annual TpT conference!! Wooo hoo!!!

Most importantly...who did I meet?!  
I started TpT in January 2013.  Several months later, I met this adorable lady in a mutual teaching group online.  You may know her...and if you don' should!  Her name is Nicole Shelby. :)  Not only is she one of TpT's TOP sellers, she's a wonderful person and someone that I have grown to be very close with.  We couldn't wait to spend time together at the conference, and that's just what we did!  So, a lot of these pictures have both of us in them. :)

(Click on the picture to see Nicole's store)

Actually, the very first sellers that I met in Vegas were also a couple of well-known sellers on TpT.  That may be a bit of an understatement, ha!  You will be sure to know our "millionaire teacher," Miss Deanna Jump!  Let's not forget Miss Dee Dee Wills! I was literally in the middle of eating a chocolate covered strawberry when I saw them.  So, I all but threw it at my sister and ran straight toward them...yeah, I did that! Poor girls...they didn't know what they had coming to them!  They were so sweet!  It was a great way to start my trip. :)

Sadly, I didn't get to meet every single person that I wanted to.  The conference had over 800 premium sellers in attendance!  So, what does that look like?  
Kinda like this...

During the opening portion of the conference, we had the privilege of listening to the top of the TpT chain of command, if you will. :)  Nicole and I were even lucky enough to meet Paul Edelman, the FOUNDER of Tpt!  Poor guy...he was being hugged by over 800 sellers, women and men alike! haha!  He was a great sport and was just as excited to meet all of us. :)

There simply aren't words for the type of people that run this amazing educational empire.  They are exactly what I hoped they would be...and so much more.  Let me use a few words to describe them.  
These are just a few that come to mind, but the bottom line is that they are directing, managing, and creating TpT with good intentions, big plans, and GREAT BIG HEARTS!!  

The amount of growth that Teachers pay Teachers has experienced in the last eight years has been tremendous!  From an unimaginable increase in sellers...approximately 3.2 MILLION users, over 4,200 sales per MINUTE...the list goes on and on!  But, their GREATEST success, and one that is surely worth bragging about is the fact that they have altered the way teachers interact and educate their students all around the world!  

I'll never forget getting an email from a teacher that lived in Bermuda, who I am now happy to call my friend, miss Lynn Furtado.  Lynn wrote to me to let me know that she had done a blog post on a simple symmetrical activity that I posted on TpT. I was moved to tears and completely humbled that students in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean were learning because of something that I created!  What?!  Impact.  I knew from that point on that my life would never be the same.  I have received emails from teachers throughout the world, including Spain, France, Asia, Australia, and Africa.  Impact.  

(Pictures of Lynn's students using my Earth Day Symmetry pack!)

You see, after talking to, and looking into the eyes of the other sellers, as well as the brains behind TpT, one thing was evident...they felt the same exact way that I did.  We are servicing the greater good and the future of our world.  To be a part of that movement...well, there are simply no words. 

Thank YOU TpT!!  


I certainly don't want to forget about some of the other amazing people that I met...and I feel so badly that I didn't get more pictures!  I'm sure that more will pop up this week. :)  I'll be sure to share!
(Click on the pictures to visit their stores!)

Amanda Nickerson from One Extra Degree

Annie Moffatt from The Moffatt Girls

Britt Leigh from The Superhero Teacher

Dana Richlew from 3rd Grade Gridiron 

Karen Kennedy from Kennedy's Korner

I met SO many other sellers at the conference that I would have loved to have taken a picture with, but our mouths got ahead of our good picture-taking intentions, ha!  So, to those sellers that I met and don't have a picture with...I LOVED spending time with you! XOXO!

What has TpT done for me?
Well, of course it has helped me and my family financially, which has been such a blessing.  Every time I get a "cha-ching" on my phone or computer, I literally say "thank you" in my head (and sometimes out loud!).   I also say..."they chose ME.  Out of all of the sellers on TpT...they chose something that I made! Wow!!"  I'm kinda like Taylor Swift when she would get on stage and just stare in dis-believment that her fans were there for her.  Okay, so I'm not on a stage in front thousands of screaming fans...and I can't sing to save my life, but I am on the world's stage with almost 3,000 fans in my TpT store, almost 3,000 fans on my FB fan page, and almost 3,000 fans on my Pinterest page.  All of that happened since January 2013!  Blessed.  If you were a part of those numbers...thank you. If you're a girl out and follow!! Haha!   

I won't lie...the extra income is nice, but let me tell you what TpT has REALLY done for me.  It has revitalized me as a teacher, it has introduced me to some pretty amazing people, some of which I consider my closest friends.  That is something that money can't buy...and something that I am extremely grateful for.  

I live in a very small town in Pennsylvania.  A town in which the majority of our students don't have a great deal of money, and many of which come from broken homes.  Because of the people that I have met, I am able to bring a little bit of my friends from around the world into my little classroom with me each day.  I am always trying new ideas and adapting what our online discussions and collaborations are bringing to the forefront.  It's an incredible journey...and a great privilege to be able to share that with my students in our little town.  THAT'S the best thing that TpT has given me.  

My final thoughts as I fly home...
As I look out my window, I see immense, rolling mountains, the peaks of the clouds and the world below me.  We live in such a beautiful place.  We are a mere speck of humanity, but that doesn't mean that we can't move our own mountains and be the peaks that our students see before them.  We, as educators, have a very important role in our communities, our states, our countries, and in this world.  We stand before our children in this great wide world and do something just as miraculous as the beautiful sights before me.  We set the stage for the future as we know it.  There isn't much that is greater or bigger than that.  Be the mountains and the peaks that they see.  Be the good. Be the ones that inspire and show them a greater that even their adventurous minds couldn't imagine.  Fill them with hope...and lastly, let's make learning fun!

Thank you TpT.  Thank you for the opportunity to move mountains on a daily basis in the classrooms throughout our world.