{Freebie} August ELA Centers with Differentiation, Student Rubrics, and Menus

Um, that title is a mouthful, but it is all true!  I just finished my August ELA centers.

These things were a true labor of love.  Emphasis on the labor!! They took a bit longer than I expected!  These are like an ELA companion to my monthly math centers.  Just like my math centers, I will be creating these each month. The August pack includes of 100 pages of activities. I tried to incorporate as much differentiation as possible so that all students are working on the same skill or concept, just at a different level.

For example, in this center students sort one syllable short and long vowel words.  I included two versions of the activity.

The only difference is the difficulty of the words used, but the centers look identical.

Order Up! is a center practicing alphabetizing. There are two different levels of difficulty, but look the same to the kids!

I also added a bunch of "teacher's helpers." I shared some of these earlier. 

There are several versions of the menus.  The menus can be a simple check list for students or a reflection tool for each center.  Students can rate their understanding and effort for each center.

I also included a weekly reflection rubric for students to complete if the teacher wanted to use something more detailed than the rubrics on the menus above.

I wanted to make collection and assessment a snap, so I also included an editable checklist. The teacher can mark off the completed centers.  A simple grading sheet is also included. The teacher can staple this onto the top of each child's stack of centers and put the grades right on the top (or a check plus/ check minus system).

Right now the centers are on sale for only $10! You can get your copy here.

If you managed to read this WHOOOOLLLEE post I also have a freebie for you!  This is just a sample of one of the activities included!

Click here to download!



Going Desk-less Part II

Yesterday I blogged about having a desk or going desk-less. You can read about it by clicking here.  Lots of people shared on Facebook that they had gotten rid of their desk and others wanted to know more.  I have done it both ways so I thought I would share a few tips I learned along the way. Some I learned the hard way!! ;)

Here are some things into consider if you are thinking about getting rid of your desk. First, are you even able to get rid of it?  Many people commented that their district mandated what furniture had to be in the room, which included a teacher desk.

Next, where are you going to put all your stuff?  Here are some things to think about:

I always had projects I was in the middle of- it could be base ten mats I was creating or number lines  or materials for a science lab.

I love these black stackers and Sterilite drawers.  I have a million of them that I used for a million different things.  The black stackers can be bought at an office supply store like Office max or Staples.  They cost about $7 for two.  I know I paid less because I am cheap! I bought the drawers at Wal-Mart for about $10 each piece.  You can buy them online here and it looks like it might be a good deal here.

I kept this set of stackers by the door so I could grab things as I left the room.  I wrote about them here. It worked about 60% of the time for me, which was WAAAY better than my old track record of piling! LOL!  

I had these carts behind my guided reading table and they were perfect for storing guided reading materials and math manipulatives for guided math. I actually left them with another teacher when I resigned because I didn't want to store them.  I will definitely be re-buying these if I return to the classroom!  Wal-Mart has them online here.

If you like any of the bright colored chevron labels, I shared them for free on my blog a few years ago.  You can get your copy here free!

I kept one more shelf behind my table...

I got this shelf for less than $20 at Wal-Mart, but I couldn't find it online.  It was  great for storing things I needed right away and it sat right behind my chair at the table.

Did I miss anything?  Any other stuff to store if you get rid of the desk?



Desk or No Desk... That is the Question

Someone on one of my Facebook groups I am in asked this question.  I thought it was such a great, relative question (since we all know teachers plot and plan and decorate over the summer, amiright?). Since I have had a pretty good number of different classrooms and I took lots of pictures between my website and blogging I thought I would share.  That and the fact that I went deskless (I just made that up!  Take note, Websters!) for a time (so dramatic...cue the suspenseful music...unfortunately, you will most likely be very let down by this post!!! LOL!).

Before I go into the whole deskless debacle (and it was a debacle), I thought I would share my  desks over the years.  I don't know why, but it seemed like a good idea when I was gathering pictures! I have pictures from *most* years.

This was in my first class.  Awe. Sweet memories.  Even back then I loved Diet Dr. Pepper.  Somethings never change!!!  Including the black stackers.  I used them EVERY year.  They hold my daily materials- a different stacker for each day.  It is like Waldo.  See if you can find them in every picture!

This was the year  I was in a trailer. I pushed it against the wall to save room.  The trailer seemed tiny for 20 some-odd people.  I never actually sat at my desk so it worked well enough.

I was so excited to move back into the building this year. AND I had a window!  It was a NICE room!!! I decided to push it up against the wall again like I had in the trailer to save room.  Even though it was a big room, I had 29 fourth graders that year.  It was tight. And very stinky after recess! ;)  I had an old microwave cart turned on the side.  I used the top to store "stuff" (I think those are back to school folders for Open House) and put my crate with all my portfolios underneath.

This was the first year I taught second grade.  You can see I upgraded from a microwave cart to a filing cart. Do you see the stackers?  Behind the desk on the metal cabinet?  They are there if you squint!  I also had plants.  With this black thumb they didn't last long!  I also moved my desk from the wall and made a space for myself.  I wasn't crazy about it.  It really was a room hog.

I couldn't find a picture from 2008.  That was my first year at a new school and I guess I was overwhelmed?! This was the first year I went deskless!  It was also my first year in third grade!

Here is how I organized my materials. I also had my guided reading table.  

Now you can start to see my problem with going deskless.  See the piles on either side of the guided reading.  Those are papers (I think unfinished work maybe?) and then materials for guided math. Sadly, I am sure I actually tried to tidy up before I took this picture!!! It also created computer issues.  I had a hard time finding a place for my laptop since there were no outlets on this side of the room (that whole back wall was a movable divider made out of cork).

This was behind the guided reading table.  The blue bins were my guided reading book.  Each bin had a different level.  The district provided all the awesome books!  The green, yellow, and red bins were for each guided reading group.  The  blue basket is just...crap.  Papers and things I needed on hand quickly. That was the problem I had with going deskless.  I just had to much "stuff" and nowhere for it to go! It led to lots of piles.  Then, the piles made friends and created more piles.  It was a vicious cycle.

The next year I decided to 

I decided to slightly go  back to my room hog ways and get my desk back AND make a little area for me.  But, I felt like the footprint was relatively limited and made the best use of space. I loved it because all of my materials were easily within reach for planning and working with students.  There were no trips across the rooms for math manipulates, guided reading books, teacher editions, professional reading, copies, pens, or paper because it was all right there. Here is what I did.


I begged our wonderful custodian to find me a parapro desk.  These were like unicorns- mythical and very rare.  But, he managed to snag one for me! It is like a regular desk, but much smaller and only has drawers on the right side, rather than both sides.  It was fine by me. 

Then, I stacked a shelf on top, which I already had.  I had been using it to store all my "stuff." Adding the small desk really only added a few extra inches.  BUT, those few extra inches were perfect for my laptop and the docking station. I never really sat at the desk and would just undock my laptop and move it right over to my guided reading table.

Behind my table I kept all of my materials I needed on hand on a daily basis.

I got this brilliant idea from Ladybug's Teacher Files.  She even has the little labels for the tool box FREE. You can get them here! This was a great way to store all that little stuff that I needed to get my hands on quickly!!

Here is the rest off all my things behind my guided reading table.

So basically I created a nook that had everything I needed to instruct.  It was AWESOME.  I loved being able to roll over to my desk and grab a book and then rolling over to my DRA and then administering right there at the table!

So, are you a desk kinda teacher or you a wild deskless one?



Workin' On It: Stuff Galore

I thought I would link up with Kim over at Kindergals for the first time! Oh. my. word. I have so much workin' on it going on that I don't know if I will ever see the light!

LOL!  My first, and most favorite workin' on it, is this little thing: 

We celebrated her first birthday this past weekend.  Her actual birthday is this weekend.  Where has the time gone?  I have so loved being the mommy to this precious baby girl and I cannot wait to see her toddling, literally and figuratively, into her next steps. I will miss snuggling with a little baby, but I LOVE how her personality is coming out!

My workin' on it list is huge.  Let's see...I have these...

They are all finished, I just need to edit them. I keep on getting interrupted so it is taking me forever!

Another project I am working on is August ELA Differentiated Centers for Second Grade.

They are also mostly done, I just need to edit them.  I am halfway through these guys.  I also started to add to them by including lots of teacher friendly helpers.  Which will make them even more in progress. Sigh. They include  like center icons, a variety of student menus, and rubrics!  Woo hoo!

At this rate, they will be available in August 2032.  Just kidding.  I hope to finish them by the end of next week.  So, the beginning of July they will definitely be available for purchase.  This will be a monthly series as well as my math centers.

Whew!  What are you workin' on?


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