Sunday, August 12, 2012

Make Mistakes

I love this quote and wanted to make it artful to hang in my classroom. You can print it from Google Docs here if you like it too. It comes from Neil Gaiman's blog. The backgrounds are from Be Artless, and the fonts are skinny jeans solid and lemon chicken. :)

Grading Expectations

I love Pinterest! Each time I visit, which is daily, I find something that inspires me. Eventually, I follow the links to things I purchase or download, or I recreate them. Today was a recreate day. A while ago, I pinned this pin. It originally came from There's a Dragon in My Art Room. However, I am way too critical of myself to feel like I could hand-draw something similar. So, I hoped on my trusty computer and made something similar. I slightly changed the scoring and expectations to reflect my classroom. The best part for me is that I am working on improving a specific strand of our model of instruction, which is feedback. Our district asks us to ask ourselves "What will I do to communicate learning goals, communicate high expectations, track progress, celebrate success?" Hanging this in the room and discussing it is part of how I plan to improve in this area this year. The background graphics are from Be Artless.
I am having it enlarged and printed at Staples. Hope this helps or inspires. If you would like to print it, I have loaded it as a Google Doc here.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Non-Fiction Insert for Reading Journals

While I would love to share this, I don't feel quite comfortable doing that, as it is very closely based on this pin on Pinterest. It is something that the pinner purchased. Although it covered all the types of non-fiction I need to touch upon, there were things I needed to change to make it work for my classroom. First, I included "The Internet" instead of "digital media." Really, this was more for the familiarity/vernacular of my students than anything. Next, the definitions came out of the dictionary I use in my classroom; this way, the information is kept at a higher level for my older students. Additionally, although I included images, I wanted the written info to be the focus and the images a supporting piece. I also included a few items we discuss in my classroom that were not on the original, such as subtitles and subheadings. Finally, I made sure there was a place along the middle for folding. I will have my students glue this into their reading composition books. The page is too large, but I did not want to reduce it. There is a lot of info here, and it needs to be easy to access. They'll be able to fold it where the crease won't interfere with reading the words. Still, for younger grades, purchasing the preexisting one makes sense, and thus, I don't feel right about sharing mine for free. However, if you want to make your own, I can tell you what I did. The "books" are simple shape and line art. The definitions come from a source my class uses and trusts; I highly suggest that the definitions take into consideration the age of your students. If the wording is too high, the kids won't get what they need from it, and if it is too low, it talks down to them and lessens its perceived value. The images are from Microsoft--the ones that come with the Office software. I built my page in power point, as it gives me the most freedom to manipulate things; all I had to do was click 'insert clipart,' and search for images using keywords. I reduced their size to fit and gray-scaled the images for copying.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

It has been a while!

It has been quite a while since I last posted, and a lot has changed since then. When school starts again, I am moving to a new grade and a new school. I have loved teaching 4th grade and didn't think I'd be leaving it so soon, but through a dear friend, a middle school principal heard I love teaching language arts. I've dreamed of teaching it all day for as long as I can remember. My friend's intervention led to an email, a phone call, an interview, and an offer to teach language arts, primarily to 8th graders. Of course, I said yes! This does mean that the focus of my little blog will change just a bit to reflect what I will be teaching, but many of my ideas for reading and writing will still be adaptable to upper elementary. In the meantime, I have started working on some words of wisdom to hang in my classroom. Here is the first. I have it in two styles/colors, as I am not sure which I plan to use. My classroom interior is going to be built around brown, blue, and green (to try and make sense of the very old and eclectic furnishings in my room). I was inspired by Dots on Chocolate,, which I think is mature enough to work in a middle school classroom. That color combo led me to look for digi fonts, which took me to I am still waiting for permission to share the items I make using her digi alphabets, and if I get it, I will have several new things to post. Anyhow, the second offering works with those colors. The first offering, instead, is rainbow-colored. Last year, I made my version of, which I shared in an earlier post. I still want to hang this outside my classroom, as I think it is inspiring no matter what age the students. Since it is rainbow-colored, I made this poster to match, figuring that I will likely hang them together outside my classroom. This was made with various fonts (most from and It was inspired by However, I have changed several of the statements to reflect my ideas and the needs of older students. In This Classroom Documents

Sunday, March 25, 2012


Because Doc

Not something I can put up during testing, but I was in the poster-making mood, what with my new alphabet and everything! (See previous post for alphabet info.)

I failed to credit my inspiration for this poster in the original post. I have two teachers in my district (including one of my son's middle school language arts teachers) and (the boarder was a freebie she posted on her blog as well!) to thank for sharing their ideas on how to get students to explain answers with the use of the word "because." I would never have managed this poster without their ideas!

It's Kind of Fun...

After discovering KMP Doodles, I knew I had to have her alphabet to make a poster! I bought them this morning, had them in my in box within an hour, and of course, immediately started playing with them! Here, I used Alphabetsoup and Brightflowerpatch.

As always, I hope this is a poster you can use in your classroom too.

It's Kind of Fun Doc

Saturday, March 24, 2012

The [Person] Who Doesn't Read

As I mentioned in the last post, I am on a poster-making binge, in order to decorate my classroom during testing (and beyond). Here is another one. My students have all learned that brackets [] are used when you change or add to someone's words in a quote. If yours do not know this yet, you may need to explain it. The original quote uses the word "man," but I want my girls to relate to this as much as my boys, which I am sure is what dear Mr. Twain (or Samuel Clemens, which was his real name) intended.

The [Person] who Doesn't Read Doc

Teachers Open a Door...

I'm taking down and/or covering all of my educational posters per state testing requirements, and I hate the idea of a bland classroom. So, I'm working on turning some inspirational quotes into easily-printable "posters." I'll upload them in Google Docs and share them here for anyone that might find them useful or fun. :)

Teachers Open a Door Doc

Thursday, March 22, 2012

You are...

A few weeks ago, I was thrilled by this pin. I've been thinking about doing it ever since seeing it. Well, it is spring break, and although I have spent most of it reading (Good Reads is suggesting I increase my 2012 reading goal!), I do want to do a few things for my classroom. We start state testing next week, and I thought this would be a wonderful ego boost for the students as they return to face this daunting task.

You will notice that I changed some fonts, colors, and words, but the overall gist is the same. I am including a link to the download of mine, in case anyone wants to do this without having to recreate it. When I cut the words apart, I made the strips 2 1/2 inches wide and a 1/2 inch longer than the word at each end. The frame, then is 3 1/2 inches wide and another 1/2 wider on each end. I hope that makes sense... For "scientists," it required it to be printed in two parts, and some of the longer words have frames that are two parts as well, if you use 8 1/2 x 11 inch cardstock. I want to get these laminated before hanging, and I don't think the seams will show much after that.

Anyhow, I hope this helps or inspires.

You are...

Sunday, March 18, 2012

I was visiting other blogs...

...when I came across this post about apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic, and dystopian writing. I giggled loud enough that my husband and son came in to ask me what was so funny, Needless to say, after reading it to them, they were laughing too, which is why I must repost here. I could hardly keep such a giggle-worthy post to myself. You can read it HERE.

Fourth-Grade Writing Rules

Inspired by someone's pinning of the poster on Squidoo's writing tips , I created something to hang in my classroom that expressed my thoughts on 4th grade writing.

I've loaded it here for those that want to use it too.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

States of Matter

This isn't much different from all the other matter foldables out there, but I figured I'd post it anyhow. The stickers (ie hole reinforcers) we used were just something I had on hand. I'd like to find smaller stickers next time, so they can fit more on to really see the relationship of molecules and the space between them.

The foldable is just a sheet of paper folded in half landscape-wise. Then, the fold is glued together about an inch down, to create a title area. They measure in 3 1/2" from both ends to create the cuts for the flaps.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Disney Biography

I've spent the morning working on the biography my class will do next. We do the Dr. Seuss one together, with me teaching them how to determine important info from smaller details and the importance of chronologically presented info. This one, Disney, will be done in partnerships. The students will work together to reinforce the skills they just learned. Again, they get a more creative and engaging way to present their learning. (Pay no attention to the fact my floor needs to be swept! It is the basic teaching dilemma--clean the house or work on lessons...) We won't get to this for another week, but I was feeling motivated today!

Friday, March 2, 2012

I Mustache You a Question

Does anyone outgrow Dr. Seuss? This is one of the 'staches I made for my class and our kinder book buddies. We were supposed to celebrate Seuss' birthday and Read Across America Day together, but the snow day has postponed that until Monday. My high schooler thought this meant he could mess around with a 'stache. LOL It seems like only yesterday he was in a crazy hat parade; now, he is shaving--not that the bushy 'stache show it! BTW, he's wearing a Dr. Seuss shirt under that robe! :)

Dr. Seuss Limericks

In language arts this week, my students wrote Dr. Seuss limericks. Several are amazing; most turned out well, but I will forewarn anyone wanting to do this: you will read a lot of limericks about Ted being dead or in bed! LOL I'll post photos of the students' poems hanging when I can get to the school. (Snow day good news: I have time to catch up on blog posts; snow day bad news: I can't get to the school to take the rest of the photos I wanted to include!) Feel free to use mine as a model. The meter isn't perfect, but I was okay with that for 4th grade limericks (let a few iffy rhymes in some students poems too).

BTW, I used "Seuss" pronounced the way most of us say it, "soose." However, it is actually said, "zoyce," and I asked my kiddos, who had learned this fact, not to try to rhyme it that way, as most readers of their poems wouldn't realize why the pronouciation was different.


This started with an idea I saw on Teaching in High Heels. Her January 15th post had the most adorable science biographies, which I decided could be altered for 4th grade. I pinned it here so I wouldn't forget it.

You can see in the photo above how it became a 4th grade scientist biography. I will scan and upload my templates this weekend. (SNOW DAY today, which means I am not at school to grab it and do it today, but I will have to go in sometime this weekend to prep for next week.) Anyhow, the students and I liked this creative alternative to traditional biographies so much that I decided we'd have to make our Dr. Seuss one just as wonderful.

I hand drew the Cat in the Hat's hat and the thought bubbles. I will also load these templates! I adore how the final report turned out. The students get to choose which facts they include/feel are most important about Seuss, and many are going beyond the two books we read/are reading in class. The student versions are not done yet, but I will add a photo of the display when it is up next week.

We have one more biography to go, with two fun and famous people from which to choose, and I already have ideas bouncing around my brain on how to make them equally creative!

One More Cloud Lesson

I forgot to take my camera to school the day my class made these, which meant I didn't get a photo of it until this week. This post should be down below, with the other cloud and weather ones, but it isn't--sorry. Anyhow, this is the last foldable we made for clouds. It explains the clouds by shape, whereas the other did it by altitude.

Start with a square of cardstock or heavy paper. Fold it in half along the diagonal--corner to corner in both directions. (There will be and "X" crease when you are done.) Cut one of the creases up to the middle/crease intersection. This allows you to slip one triangle behind the other, and glue it, to create the pyramid. Before gluing, though, label the 3 main cloud shapes: stratus, cumulus, and cirrus. Cut each of these cloud shapes out of white cardstock or construction paper. Write a brief description to help students identify their characteristics on them, and dangle from thread under the side labeled with the cloud's name.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012


There is a growing awareness of copyright issues and Pinterest. Corkboard Connections has a great post on it here.
To be clear on my site and the images I post: Permission to Pin is Granted!
You have my permission to pin any image from The Inspired Classroom!

Monday, February 13, 2012

I Am Poem

I am an idea junkie and thief. I seriously adore looking at ideas other teachers are using, and when I can, I 'borrow' them. So when someone pinned something from One Extra Degree's blog, I pinned it too, and then, I went on an all-day blog reading fest. I came across her "I Am Poem" freebie and adapted it for my needs, which happened to be quite pressing. My hallway bulletin board was blank, and conferences were the next week. I had the students complete the poem, and they framed them in a way that was quick but wonderful once they were all hanging. My BFF (and co-fourth-grade teacher) and I used our Cricut to cut the title (using two cartridges and a mix mash of papers). Considering how little time we gave to this particular board and writing assignment, I am thrilled with how it turned out. When I do it next year, I’d like to add black and white photos of the kids, framed the same way, and put the title at the top instead of the middle of the board.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Valentine Monster

I cannot take credit for this idea at all. I pinned it on my Pinterest board the minute I saw it. It comes from Giggles Galore, and I am so thankful she developed this idea and shared it. By 4th grade, the boys are grateful when they can do something that isn't hearts and pink. I thought these were perfect and really capture the personalities of 4th graders! LOL

This one will be mine. I primed the box with spray primer. I painted it with acrylic paint. The original had painted spots, but I used a 1 inch punch to cut spots for mine. The original had egg carton eyes, but I just punched 1 3/4 inch circles for the whites of the eyes and 1 inch black circles for the pupils. I adore it and can't wait for our monster of a Valentine's Day party!

I do want to add that my husband and son were not as enamored with it as I am. They tell me it looks like Cookie Monster with chicken pox! Lesson learned: think about your monster’s color!!!

Verb Tense Review and Irregular Verbs

Due to an in-service day, the coming week will be missing a day of language arts. My grade level thought it would be a good week to cover something we don't feel we've done enough on so far. Although we've had mini-lessons throughout daily language, we have not given a lot of critical input for irregular verbs. So, irregular verbs became our topic of choice.

Additionally, a huge initiative in our district, currently, is unpacking the topics and ensuring that students already have the necessary background knowledge or teach it.

I offered to take on creating foldables for this week. I originally figured I’d find something on the web that I could just steal or slightly modify, but I couldn’t find anything that worked for us. I had to make my own. The first foldable is mostly review for the students that have the background knowledge they are supposed to possess, but it serves to teach it to those that don’t too. Before we can discuss how irregular verbs differ from regular ones, students have to know that verbs have tenses, what this means, and the rules that govern regular verbs in each tense. (This is all kept to a 4th grade level, which means we didn’t need to get into perfect or progressive. Nor did we try to discuss aspect or mood or distinctions of tense, such as immediate past or distant past.) The second foldable attempts to create groupings that will help students remember and recall irregular verbs. It is not all encompassing, as that would have been one HUGE foldable. There are more than 180 irregular verbs, but some are more common than others. The ones that elementary students will come across with regularity were my main focus. I also tried to bring some light-hearted fun-poking at the issues of our English language (and why it can be hard to master) with some of my headings. My high-school-aged son laughed at the one called “At least you can tell they are related,” and suggested something rather funny (though inappropriate, even with the less offensive curse word substitute) for the “Unclassified” section. I think sometimes you have to have a sense of humor when it comes to teaching and discussing English and all its rules and exceptions, and I want to pass that along to my students too.

Anyhow, the first foldable is just a half sheet (length-wise) of paper that is folded in half and then cut at 1 ½ inch intervals from the bottom, which leaves a larger title/general info area. The other foldable is 2 sheets of paper cut in half length-wise. I removed one half of one of the sheets, using just 3 ½ sheets. They were staggered and folded. I then took the middle one out, cut along the fold, and returned just one of the cut sections. (I hope this makes sense. If you don’t cut it and remove half, you end up with an extra page.)

A good list of irregular verbs, which we will be looking at and talking about in class as we fill the second foldable out, is from a free, downloadable power point at: teachers pay teachers.

I hope this helps with irregular verbs in your classroom.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Helping Temperature Make Sense

Not much to say about this one; making it is pretty self explanatory. I made it, though, to try and help my students make sense of temperatures. Using it, they can see which degrees are warm, cool, cold, or hot. I used to be amazed that I’d tell them recess temps were in the 40’s/30’s/50’s… and might require a jacket/would require a jacket/ probably would not need a jacket…, and they’d stare at me like I spoke a different language. “Cool, cold, warm” they can wrap their minds around. 30 degrees F is a bit less familiar, and thus, this poster helps.

Wanted Posters

I‘ve been meaning to post this since Sept, but since I needed to blur the faces and names, I kept putting it off. For Christmas, one of my gifts was Photoshop, and since I am playing with it to learn how to use it, I figured now was a good time to do some blurring.

This was my beginning of the year board. I took photos of the students in which they were wearing a bandana, hat, and holding up a mustache. They had to complete the wanted poster by writing about why they were wanted in 4th grade--the awesome traits and abilities they brought to our class. I covered the bulletin board with a western scene setter backdrop from a party store. (I think it cost around $4, and I could have covered way more than one board.)

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Our not CAFE board

After attending a workshop with the sisters (aka Daily 5 and CAFÉ and genius teachers) last year, the thing that stayed with me the longest was that their books and ideas were guides not rules. The CAFÉ wall just hadn't worked for me or my class. I loved the idea (and my whole school adopted the Daily 5/CAFÉ framework as a non-negotiable), but at 4th grade, I found it reducing what I taught instead of elevating it. Our reading specialists had worked with one of the fifth grade teachers at my school when she had the same issues/feelings, and seeing what they came up with inspired me to do the same. Here, then, is my non-CAFÉ CAFÉ wall. Like all CAFÉ walls, it is a growing, work in progress.

As you can also tell, my classroom theme is western! LOL

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Weather Journal

If this link works, it has a download of the pages for my weather journal. (Not that they'd be hard to recreate, but why do it if it has already been done, right?) You'll note, too, that I added the high and low to the document instead of hoping that the students would remember where to put them.

I have the kids put 14 pages in their weather journals, to watch the weather for 2 weeks, which is enough time (usually) for changes to occur, for fronts to move through, to see that what is happening in CA one day moves into NM a few days later. For the first week, we visit The Weather Channel, look at the local paper, and watch a local weather forecast as a class, to ensure that all the students understand what to watch for and how to record the weather in their journals. The second week, I expect them to do on their own, using our class computers or by watching the local news/reading the local paper.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Clouds Pt 2

Here is the foldable classifying cloud types by their position in the atmosphere. The info inside is kept quite simple and concise for our fourth grade needs.

The book is made from copy paper or cardstock. Cut the 8 1/2" x 11" paper into four strips, lengthwise. Each student will get two of these. Slightly off-set the strips before folding, and fold so they are off-set. This provides the graduated page lengths. The clouds are just hand-cut, though the title one is pop-dotted. The cirrus were kept wispy, and the stratus smoother and more narrow.

Clouds Pt 1

Step 2 of preparing my students for our weather unit is ensuring they all have background knowledge of clouds, as one of our lessons has us trying to predict weather using our cloud knowledge. Our first lesson on clouds, then, is exploring what they are and why they look like they do and behave the way they do. I help the kids create the shape book and give them general directions for format and info, but I put the kids into groups and provide readings that allow them to find the info I ask them to include in their booklet. I also leave room, at the bottom and on the back, for the students to come up with questions they’d like to still have answered. If it something I know they can find themselves, I will suggest they jump on our class computer to research it, but if it is something harder (sometimes things I don’t even know), I will help them research it.
We start with a piece of cardstock or copy paper folded in half. Some of the fold must be kept, in order for the shape to function as a booklet. I tell them to use as much of the paper as possible—large clouds give them more room to write, which increases neatness. I ask them to use bullets (which they know from previous lessons) to identify when a new, separate piece of info is being presented, and I ask them to tell me what a cloud is, how they are created, why they move and float, why they are white or gray, and how they are classified.

BTW, I ask them to add color to the cover. As an artist, I spend a lot of time teaching my kiddos to pay attention to the world around them, and part of this is realizing that most things in nature are not a single color. I couldn’t, in good conscience then, let them show me a solid, white cloud!