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August 03, 2012

Back To School
Plan of Attack

It’s that time of the year where I am trying to mentally prepare for heading back to school… I thought I would write my preparations down for myself – and then I thought they might help you, too!

Room Organization

Before I do anything I really sit down, stare at my room and decide where everything is going to go.

If your school is anything like mine – you will be moving desks, tables, chairs, book shelves… and it’s better to just move things once!

A big part of my classroom has become the Retell Table. I know I have to put this somewhere where I can see it from most of the classroom.

I also have to plan a place for my Guided Reading Table. This is typically in a location where the children will face a wall when seated to eliminate distractions!

The rest of the room seems to fall into place once I know where these two tables will go.

Curriculum Planning


To deliver my instruction I follow The Daily 5. This helps my students get plenty of time reading and working on reading skills. It is also the framework for my mini-lessons each day.

During The Daily 5 my students will work on their Primary Literacy Centers. These are graphic organizer, book-based centers that were all written with the goal of increasing reading and book awareness in mind. These are the only centers I use.

This is how I teach Writers Workshop.
See me in action!


In my district we use the Writer’s Workshop model.

While I’m getting ready during pre-planning I make sure I have tons of writing paper and mini-books for the kids to start working on.

We start writing on Day 1!


At this time I start to think about what skills will be in my Math Tubs for the first few weeks. I try to get at least 3 tubs ready before the kids come so I can start teaching them the activities right away.

I’m also getting my Math Journals ready before the kids come. I try to line up a parent to help me do the cutting so once I am ready to start the program it’s all waiting for me.


Each year we start off with a long-term investigation. Many years I use one of those “Grow Animals” from the Dollar Store and we observe it over time. I think this year I am going to start with an activity that uses my fish tank.

While I’m unpacking boxes is when I try to update any of my science centers that may have gotten used up or misplaced from last year!


Once most of the ‘stuff’ is in place I start thinking about my lessons for the first few weeks.

One skill I want to start working on much earlier this year is Student Led Discussions. I was amazed and how by midway through last year my class was leading lesson reviews and questioning each other about what they had learned!

Right now while I have a minute to breathe a review what is in my Substitute Box. This little box has helped me out more than once! If you don’t have one – get one started this year!

At the end of the year when I’m packing up I normally use many of my laundry baskets. Now’s the time to clean them out and get them ready for the kids to use. This is one of my favorite things I have discovered over the years!

The First Few Days:

I always try to have some type of Cut, Glue, and Draw activity for the kids to work on the first few mornings. It keeps their little hands busy while I’m trying to deal with parents, attendance, and all that other stuff that takes you away from the kids at the beginning of the year!

During the first few weeks I do a lot with Educational Music. It helps the kids get their wiggles out and it helps me see who has some basic skills without having to sit and formally assess each student.

Sometimes it’s really hard to keep the kids on track during the first week – but I have found that HeidiSongs really help boost the academics and keep their little bodies moving and wiggling with a purpose. If you haven’t seen her songs, please take a moment to check them out. My team has purchased all of the DVD’s and we pass them around when someone needs a few minutes to breathe!

Well, if we can all live through that list – I’d say we’ve done well!

If you’re on Facebook – join our Elementary Teacher Resources group. There’s always great discussions going on.

To celebrate a new school year Elementary Teacher Resources is having a Back to School Sale.

Use code 0H570988 to receive 25% off your order.

Sale ends 8/11/12.

Enjoy! :)

Follow me on Pinterest. I'm always adding new pins.

If this has made you laugh, think or smile – please stop by my Facebook group and chat with us!

I hope that you have enjoyed this newsletter. Please feel free to email it to friends and family who are teachers or home-school moms!

If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

See you next month!

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