Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Create a Survey

How to use google docs to create surveys.

Did you freak out when you read that. Survey parents?!  Say Whhhaattt?!  I know. I get it. I felt the same way. I really did. Until I did it and it was a great experience.  It was not a surprise to me that I am my own worst critic and the feedback I got from parents really was helpful.

So...why do it? Surveying parents can help give you as the teacher, the perspective on what it is like to be a parent in your classroom.  Are you giving too much homework?  Too little?  Do you communicate enough? And so on. It really helped me to be the best teacher I can be and I'm glad I did it.  So much so, that I plan on surveying parents every year. You can use a survey at the beginning of the year to get a feel for what parents hope their child's experience in your classroom is like, mid-year as a way to see how things are going, or at the end of the year as a way to reflect on how the year went and if there's some things you want to do differently next year.

Here's a tutorial on how to generate an anonymous survey using google docs.

1. Begin by opening Google Drive.  Click new, then more, then google forms.

2. You will then see this form:

3. I haven't changed anything in the form settings at the top. I went to the Untitled Form. I typed in a new title here (where it says Untitled Form). Think about what you want to call the survey. I called mine First Grade Survey.

4. Type in the first question you want to ask where it says:  Question Title (you can make the survey as long or as brief as you like). I left help text blank but if you wanted you could add something there like: choose the best answer, or select one answer, etc. Under question type you can click to get many options such as paragraph, scale, grid, etc. I kept it simple and choice multiple choice. I then typed in my choice for response.  You add as many or as little as your like.  When done, click done.  You can add more questions by clicking add item.

5. When you have added all the questions you would like, you will see this box at the bottom:

I did not want parents to be able to see the responses of others so I did not check off "Publish and show a public link to others" and I did not want people to be able to change their responses so I also did not check "Allow responders to edit responses after submitting.

6. Click send form. You will now find a form where you can enter email addresses. Enter in your parents' emails.  It will then ask you what you want to name your response from.  This is where the results of the survey will be. I just call my "Survey Responses". Click send and your are done.

7. Now parents will get an email with a link to complete the form you created. You can assure them that responses remain anonymous. You can go into google drive and you will see the name of the response for that you created.

This is what the response form will look like. You can see that the parent remains anonymous because all you can see is a timestamp.  If you want you can click on share, to share the form. Since I plan on making increasing parent communication a professional goal this year for my state evaluation system, I will click share and share the from with my evaluator.

That's it. It's all pretty easy and pretty painless.

How do you communicate with parents? 

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Math Workshop, Building stamina and Fun....Dations.

I'm a day late and a dollar short..

I am just flat out. Done. Exhausted. We had our Open House on TUESDAY.  Tuesday.  What were we thinking?  By Thursday I was convinced it was Saturday and we were breaking some kind of labor law by having school on Saturday. The week felt THAT long.

These display signs for Open House or Conferences are free in my store. You can grab them here. (The sign for the mints is here).

We are having fun with Fundations this year. It's a new program for our district and I'm really enjoying it.  The kiddos really need the phonics skills.

I am busy getting ready for and training the kiddos for a math workshop model.  We are using a new math curriculum this year-Envisions. Thus far, I am not a big fan so I am learning how to improvise and make the most of it through supplementing and using a math workshop model.

I love these editable pictured labels by A Clutter Free Classroom. Her Math Workshop With Guided Math Instruction Guide has been a lifesaver. It is packed with great suggestions for implementing a math workshop model.

We are cruising right along with Writer's Workshop this week and I am thrilled to have a group of great writers!

My students LOVE these writing offices by Amy Labrasciano

We have been working hard building reading stamina this week during Reader's Workshop.

We love using the stamina timers from The Primary Techie to serve as a visual for how we are doing.

What has your week been like?  Link up with Doodlebugs Teaching and tell us about your week with Five for Friday

Monday, September 14, 2015

Increase Instructional Time

Time on learning, time on learning.  Isn't it crazy how much we have to fit in every day?

A plastic drawer has saved me this year. Yup.  You read that right. A plastic drawer.

My school has very limited shelf and storage bins. Yet, the kiddos have a plethora of materials that they need.  Our math journals alone (2 volumes, mind you) are an epic novel in and of themselves.

So I needed an excuse to go to was shopping at Target when I saw this bin and I made the splurge.  I had a $100 gift card from parents so I grabbed this poor soul and stuffed my car with bins.
Since we have tables instead of desks, I put one bin at each set of tables. I bought 5 bins.

And now all those journals and supplies are in one place....right at their tables!

I choose a "table captain" (one student per table) to pass out supplies and now I don't have students wandering all around the room for supplies.

I kid you not...this has saved us LOADS of time. Because we all know that once they get up to get supplies they talk. And talk. And chat. And talk. And chat some more and I'm waiting. And waiting. And waiting. And then...

"What page are we on?" 

"What are we supposed to get?"

"Do I go to the table or the rug?"

"I can't find the page."

And on.

And on.

And on.

This doesn't happen anymore.  All because a 4 drawer plastic storage bin saved us all.

How do you store classroom supplies? Do you have any tricks or tips to manage it all?

Monday, September 7, 2015

Laborless: Work Smarter, not Harder in the Classroom

Hello everyone!

Main Graphic Laborless

It is Finally here!

Today I am linking with Laura from Where the Magic Happens, Krista from Teaching Momster, and Lisa from PAWsitively Teaching! I have joined forces once again with my bloggy friends to bring you the best, most amazing giveaway on this Labor Day weekend!
All of us have been thinking about  good ways in which to treat our readers and followers.   We thought hard, and I mean it! Really, really hard… and decided that  we can treat you to our best ideas to work smarter rather than harder… at school and home!
I know what it takes to be a great teacher, the stress, the time, the energy… I could go on and on! I also know that we crave time to ourselves and our families.

So here I go!


We are required to have parent volunteers in our classrooms daily in my district so I use Volunteer Spot to have parents sign up.

Volunteer Spot allows parents to sign up for dates and times that I have posted. I can see who has signed up and when and so can other parents to avoid duplicates.  The online resource even sends reminders to parents.  It takes me about 10 minutes to set up a new calendar each month.

I have my students use a binder to organize their papers that go back and forth between home and school.  Each student has a 3 ring binder and 4 pocket folders that I label with subjects.

Students place papers and assignments in the appropriate subject folders.

This system not only teaches my students how to organize, it also has really helped cut down on the number of emails from parents asking me if there is homework, what it is, etc.
This student has the class schedule and spelling words for the week in his binder. The ribbon helps him to keep his place in the binder.

Another trick that I use to save myself time, is that I do not change my bulletin boards.  The background and borders stay the same-year round and they follow my color scheme for my classroom. The only thing I do change is the content that I add to the boards.

I do almost all of my school work at school and I have stopped feeling guilty about it.  I stay at school until about 4:30-5:00 each day and one day a week I make it a point to leave right after school so I can pick my son up at extended day early.

During my prep times I work my tail off.  My door is shut and I am busy the whole time.  I am planning, making copies, answering emails, and so on. This helps to ensure that I can leave my schoolwork at school.

When I'm home I spend my evenings helping my son with his homework.  After he goes to bed I enjoy watching reality TV while stalking Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Teachers Pay Teachers.

This year to increase parent communication and to cut down on the amount of notices I send home, I am so excited to use a class Instagram account. This will take the place of a newsletter which I found to be soooo time consuming. I even have a bulletin board dedicated to Instagram in our classroom.

The account will be private. Our IG account will feature exciting events, projects, lessons, activity days, field trips and more. I will also be featuring a student of the week on our class IG. 

I am looking forward to using pictures to tell stories about our day which will in turn, save me a lot of time both at my desk writing a newsletter and at the copier running it off.  Are you interested in giving Instagram a try in your classroom? Check out Using Instagram in the Classroom for ideas, permission forms, activities and more!


Top all these great tips and ideas  with these top-notch prizes!

A $100 gift card to Amazon

A $50 gift card to TpT


2 $25 gift cards to TpT

1 $10 gift card to TpT

Thank you for reading! And now don't be silly and get your hands all over this awesome giveaway!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Blogger:
An InLinkz Link-up

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September Pinterest Picks

Woah! September, when did you get here? I blinked and it was September.

Many thanks to Lisa from Pawstively Teaching and Marissa from Inspired Owl's Corner for hosting this fantastic linky filled with incredible ideas each month!

click on the picture to go to the original pin.
Isn't this bulletin board the cutest? I love it!

This is just a photo on Pinterest without a link.
I love this apple craft. It's super simple with strips of paper and a brad.  It would make a great measuring activity too!

This is adorable. After seeing it on Pinterest, I bought it and I really have loved doing it with my class.

Check out my Pinterest boards by clicking on the picture below.

An InLinkz Link-up
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