Already Preparing for NEXT Year!

If you are anything like me, you are thinking about next year already.  I go through my mind and think about all I will need to start off the next year.  I like to have what I *know* I will need run off and ready to go.  If I can get things laminated, even better.  Doing all of this ahead of time allows me to actually ENJOY my summer! 

So, here is a list of things I make sure to have ready before I turn in my keys on the last day of school.  I do start doing these things really early, so that I have plenty of time to do a few things here and a few things there.  (and if you make it all the way to the end, I may have a special reward for you!)

Welcome Letters
Each year, I like to send home letters to the parents to introduce myself, as well as set out the expectations I have as far as Behavior and Homework goes.  This packet goes home on the first day of school, and all the little pieces are signed so that I know the parents read over the information.  I love to copy it on colored paper, for ease of filing later!  Here are the letters that I use from my TpT store.  They have served me well. (they are also fully customizable for you...a Word Doc....so that you can make them personal to yourself without having to think of all the main wording for yourself...easy peezy!)

Folders
I am a folder freak.  I love to have each subject with its own folder, and I make sure I buy a lot at the Back to School sales, to ensure that I have enough to make the essentials for the next year.  Two that I have to have ready before I go off for break are the Homework folder and the School to Home Communication Folder.   I use these folders SO much, that they are a must for me to have completed right away.  I always get the covers copied, the reference sheet for the homework folder copied...all of it glued on (with Elmer's No-Wrinkle Rubber Cement, 8 Ounces, Clear (231) ...my FAVORITE!!) and then laminated.  I like to laminate them because they are used all year.  I want them to last!






Pencil Boxes
nametags, first day of school, mrs. moorman, stephanie teaching in room 6, supply bags, education, 4th grade
The nametags are on top, but you can still see the contact paper.
In my school, we get these ugly, brown cardboard pencil boxes to give to the students.  They are the kind that fold up and you use brass brads to hold together.  You know the ones I am talking about?  Well...I HATE them!  They look U.G.L.Y.!  My solution to this problem is Chalkboard Contact Paper, 18" x 6' .  I swear by this stuff.  I take it, wrap the box up in it, put the brads in, and viola, I have beautiful boxes!  An added bonus is that they last much longer too!  I like to use black because they match everything I do in my room (and the bulletin boards) but I have used white in the past.  You can also use any of the colored ones.  They will look super cute no matter what contact paper you chose.  The only problem is that they take me a while to make...so I have to spend a few recesses putting the contact paper on.  Much better to take that little break time than my summer time!

Supply Bags
I am by nature, NOT a planner.  However one thing I do way ahead of time is buy school supplies.  I tend to buy them for the following year when they go on sale in the summer.  That way, I can create my supply bags for the year before I leave for the summer and not worry about it on my vacation.  In my classroom, I assign each child a number.  This just helps me to keep everything organized.  Since all students have a number, I am able to write that number on everything the student will be using (ie: pencils, books, scissors, glue sticks, etc...) and if, say, their pencil ends up on the floor, I know exactly which student to return it to.  So on the first day of school, I have a baggie with all the school supplies I personally am going to supply them with on the tables.  Each of the supplies is labeled with their number.  Easy peezy...and it gets them used to their number!  But getting these ready before school is out is a huge weight off my shoulders.

Student Questionnaire and Other Day One Activities
There are some activities that I like to do each year on the first day of school.  One is the Student Questionnaire.  I put this on students' desks, and they have an activity to do the very first second they walk into my classroom.  I also have this Teacher "Comprehension" that I give them.  It is just a passage about me, with questions to answer.  Both of these activities allow my students to enter the room with a purpose, as well as give me an idea about them.   The Comprehension then has the added bonus of me getting some test prep strategies started on the first day of school!  I also have the first week of Morning Message copied off.  (read about it here, get your copies of the first week in both 4 and 5 here...I use the same ones, as they are super basic)

math worksheets, reading log, upper grades,
I also run off the Reading Logs, Comprehension Homework, and Math Homework for the first few weeks of school.   This stuff doesn't change, so I know that it will be nice to have to just grab and go.  I have the first 9 weeks of 5th grade done!   This summer I will be working on getting the entire year ready for you, as well as 4th...possibly 3rd!.  Here is just some to get you started!

OK...so those are some of the things I do to ensure a smooth start to the new year.  Phew...that was a long list!  I didn't realize just how much I actually have ready before I leave for the summer.  Like I mentioned, I get going on this really early...about a month before school ends.   I hope you picked up some of the freebie forms along the way.

Now...for two special commenters, I am going to give you  the Welcome Packet and Reading Logs!  Just leave a comment about how you personally get ready for the new year and I will pick two people with a random number generator on Monday, May 21 at 9pm PST.  Good luck and I can't wait to hear your ideas!!

And we have two winners!!!

Congratulations!  I will be contacting you shortly to get you your Welcome Packet and Reading Logs!

76 comments

  1. I get ready for the new year by discussing favorites with students, mentally reviewing what worked and didn't work for the year, laying out basic plans for next year(spelling is pretty rote) adn reading awesome blogs to gather new ideas. And P-U-R-G-E

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  2. Truthfully....I always say Im going to get ready early, but end up turning in keys and bolting out the door. Thanks for some of the ideas...I do plan to do more prep this year!

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  3. I spend parts of the summer getting ready for the next school year. I enjoy doing it when I feel like it...instead of rushing because it has to be done. I have my map of how I want the classroom furniture set up, letters to go out to parents, postcards to go out to students, and I love looking for new ways to organize and make things run more smoothly. I spend a lot of time working on Smartboard presentations, poweroints, etc. to go with whatever new materials we have. This year it's science.

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  4. This year I am planning way ahead and won't have to switch rooms!! Woohoo!! (Ive had 5 different classrooms in 6 years)

    I have 6th graders and on the last week of school I am having them move all my furniture the way I want it for next year. I am also going to have them organize and get some supplies set up for me. They love to help... and I love it when they do!

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  5. Being a first year teacher this year, I just kind of jumped in with both feet. Not knowing where I will be next year I can't quite plan yet, but I will start as soon as I land a job!

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  6. I get a letter together to the parents asking them to tell me about their child. I will never know their child as well as the parents, so I feel like they can give me huge insight right off the bat.

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  7. I have been pulling things off the internet for science and social studies. Don't like the way I have to teach them, so I'm revamping. I usually start copying math worksheets for next year, but will be piloting a new math series, so can't get started on that. I have made a list of things I want in my classroom (books, games, etc.). Each pay I've been trying to buy one of two of the items. Also, I've been CLEANING!! Going through files, boxes, etc. If I havent' used it in a year, it goes on a table in our lounge, hopefully, to a new home.

    Karen King
    karen.king@hazelpark.k12.mi.us

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  8. Our school year starts on July 1, so I have to start getting ready at the end of June! I like to make sure everything is organized and in its place, I like the class work folders to be labeled, and I like picking out warm-ups for all of my classes so I have one less thing to think about during the school year.

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  9. I get ready for the school year as soon as the last school year ends (or actually before it ends). I start brainstorming ideas for the new year and work on curriculum. I am your newest follower!~

    April
    Wolfelicious
    kreitzer29@hotmail.com

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  10. I make the welcome/meet-the-teacher/back-to-school packet copies as much as I can. I also get as much laminated as possible, since I know I won't have access to that machine pretty much all summer!

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  11. I'm a new follower of your blog! Just stopping by from the giveaway at A Teacher's Treasure!

    Joni @ Kinderkidsfun.blogspot.com

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  12. Hi Stephanie,
    I already think of the colors of the room. I would like to have colors not like this year ! (fade blue and brown). I have to think about notebook too. I think I'd rather to work with notebook instead binder for science, history and geography. I begin to think of all the things I would change in my classroom management.

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  13. I wish I had as much organized as you do! Usually my goal is to have stuff done from this year, but I think I need to think ahead more. I will have my supply list done, my supplies ordered, and my welcome back to school letters prepared (we don't get our lists until August 1st). I'm also planning on creating an online survey prior to school starting in order to get to know my students and families better. I think this will go on my back to school newsletter.
    These are neat freebies! I'd love to win one! :)

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  14. I get the sections printed for my reading binder, photocopy a parent survey, refill supply bins before they're taped close, photocopy the inserts for my math and writing folders, finalize and copy the ABC's of 5th grade.

    msob123@gmail.com

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  15. I am making pillows and a valance for our nautical school theme. Then I am going to follow your list and do a few of these things now. I know that will make the year easier! Thanks for the post.
    mike69361@gmail.com

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  16. I love all these ideas and usually do the copying way ahead of time to but....I might be moving schools so that kind of throws a wrench into some things:(( Eeek! I am organizing though:) And planning and laminating:)

    4th Grade Frolics

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  17. I have just started thinking about next year... I had to survive the end of the school year first (new in 3rd grade this year, so everything was new as many of my ideas were contributed and used in 4th grade that I left). Do most teachers need to turn in keys? I get to keep mine and can come and go as I please during the summer unless the janitors are waxing.

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  18. This post helped me start thinking about how to prepare for next year. Being new to the profession (only 3 months in), everything is new for me. My preparation lies largely in research. I am blog-hopping every night, digging for ideas that I can intermingle into my existing ideas about instruction. I am working to get my plans for a Reader's Workshop straight, as well as make a prototype of an Interactive Reader's Notebook. I have borrowed and "tweaked" your WONDERFUL Calendar Math strategy already in my first three months, and I am working out plans for implementing some small-group math rotations for next year. So I guess my planning is mostly mental at this point...wish me luck!

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  19. Since I'm relocating this summer, I don't have a job yet. Which means I can't really plan. :( But I have been doing a lot of purging! I realized I had multiple copies of things that were just taking up space. I normally spend my summer working on projects, because my brain is fried at the end of the year and I'm just counting down until the last day!

    arwomble@gmail.com

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  20. I try to get as much done before we leave on June 21st, so I do not have to come in too early before school starts in Sept. (esp. because we are going into our 2nd year of working without a contract!) I make sure all library books are reshelved in the right genre, all student numbers can be seen on all our hardcover textbooks, create a map for the custodians so they know where to return things, and try to anticipate copies I might need of things for the first week of school.

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  21. I have already made copies, gathered paper for crafts, and cut out patterns for the first week. We have also sorted all books by theme, author, etc. and sent home a great deal of books that needed cleaning out. Our team has chosen a theme for the beginning of school and begun finding/making needed materials. Right now, I am working on student packets for Back to School. Our last day is this Wednesday, May 23. Scary...

    Laura
    peaceloveandfirstgrade@gmail.com
    Peace, Love, and First Grade

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  22. Like you, I copy everything I know I will use again. I also make sure all my files are in order and all papers that I have copied are filed away. I have a brochure that goes out to the parents, so I put in any information I know. Finally, I laminate and cut out their attendance paws (we're the Labradors) so all I have to do in August is write their names on them!

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  23. I really want the welcome packet!!

    I have to admit, I typically haven't planned that far in advance. This year, because I'm going to a new school, I'm trying to think ahead.

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  24. Well, I tried getting ready for next year by gathering papers to be copied. However when I went to turn it in, I was informed that we (all teachers) have already reached our maximum number for copies this year.....at least I'll have it ready to go for the first day back in August. Thanks for sharing your resources.

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  25. I'm a new follower and have been reading EVERYTHING from your blog. LOVE ALL your stuff! I'm new to 4th grade this year. Have always taught primary, so big switch for me. First, I really organize my books (we have to have our entire room packed for the janitors to wax)so that when I take them out of the box they are already sorted and ready to go. I always do at least two weeks of homework and shoot for 4 weeks - depends on how many copies I still have left over. I love the pencil boxes. I have covered them before (in Kinder) but love the name tags too. I guess the students cut out from magazines the first week of school?? I always try to plan for the first items up on the bulletin boards, so I try to copy anything I might need for that. (I would LOVE for you to blog on bulletins boards the first month of school! - Never seem to get much up very fast - then scrambling for Back to School Night.) Oh - and this year, I am trying to organize my files by standard (mostly just language arts and math)because I want to change my teaching from more program based to strictly standard based. I would love to have a folder full of great activities for each standard!!

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  26. Thanks for getting me motivated to get things done before the summer!

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  27. I have already packed up my classroom for the summer. I packed all of my student novels to come home (going to get the entered in a check-out program), have a box of my teacher books to do some lessons. I am planning the organization of my classroom now. My classroom is getting treated for mold this summer and repainted, so I had to pack EVERYTHING up!

    Stephanie
    sritter78@yahoo.com

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  28. I will begin student teaching in the fall and cannot wait to get started!

    Alisha
    miner220@emerytelcom.net

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  29. I get ready for the next year in April. I make my to do list. I pack everything for the first 6 weeks in three boxes. I also make all my copies for the first two weeks in May. I also get all laminating done in May! :)

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  30. What a great idea to laminate the folders! I always ask for the polyplastic folders with prongs so that I can add a sheet protector in the center for their homework calendar and behavior chart.
    Blessings,

    Jessica Stanford
    Mrs. Stanford's Class Blog is having a giveaway!
    My TpT Store

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  31. I have already started laminating, expecially since right now we have someone that does it for us. Won't be like that over the summer :) Plus, we collaborate everything so our grade level has put together binders with everything that we have done this year by subject. Now next year planning shouldn't be as hard.

    Jennifer
    jroberts7605@sbcglobal.net

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  32. I get the first week materials organized in a box, plan book run off, and folders labeled. This all kick starts my desire to organize, organize, organize while putting things away. This year my room will be used for summer activities, so I am thinking purge and secure as well.

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  33. I usually spend a week before school actually begins doing all the manual labor of prepping the classroom but it seems I am brainstorming all year long for new and fun ideas!

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  34. I totally get ready as much as I can - I copy off all the things I know I use - like monthly quilts, B.O.Y centers....

    ♥ Jen
    The Teacher's Cauldron

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  35. We send home our student supply list at the end of the year in the hopes students come prepared on the first day ... . But other than that, I spend a lot of nights on the computer, and at least a full week at school the week before we start. I like this time, though. I put my oldest to work with me, and play a movie over the smartboard for the little ones - we pop popcorn and have a fun time with it.

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  36. Loved your blog so much I posted it on pintrest!

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  37. I teach in a resource room setting and at the end of each year, I work on getting my paperwork folders ready to be checked and copy students' IEPs so I will be able to start planning my schedule when I return for the following year. I also spend a lot of time organizing and sorting paperwork, work samples, and other things that have gotten stacked up through the year.

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  38. Since I'm going from preschool to 3,4, and 5 grades ( crazy I know!) I have been making lots of lists and will start moving my stuff this week.
    abbyjohnston28@gmail.com

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  39. I am just finishing up my first year of teaching and already switching to first grade next year. I am starting to think ahead of all the things that will need to be done for next year especially since it is a whole new curriculum for me. All of these ideas and comments are very helpful! :)
    Alibarry415@yahoo.com

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  40. I try to get all my copies done for the first week, homework folders, and lesson plans for the first week done.

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  41. Since I am going to be a first year 4/5 teacher, I am preparing for the new year in everything that I am doing. I love this post on what you do because it has helped me identify key things that I can already be doing now, as I prepare for my new class! I love your samples and explanations. Even if I do not win these, you have been very helpful! Thank you!

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  42. My math books are consumable; this year's group is already helping me prepare the books for next year. I also get all my files reorganized, new labels on my book bins, and my math station materials organized. New backgrounds on the bulleting boards too. I love coming back in August to a neat and organized room!

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  43. Like you, I hit the back to school sales. Last year, I bought so many pencils that I filled 3 gallon sized bags FULL. I've still got one full bag left :)

    I've forgotten about using rubber cement for gluing papers on folders. Thanks for the reminder!

    Elizabeth
    Fun in Room 4B

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  44. Hi "Teacher-Sisters" and thanks for all the great suggestions and advice. This will be my first year as an educator and all of your comments and encouragement have really given me the school spirit to plan ahead and stay on top of things. One thing that I have also observed is the generosity of many store managers. By just letting them know that I am a teacher and asking if they offer any educator discounts, I have gotten loads of discounts (and some freebies). Speak up, you'll never know unless you ask. Happy Summer. ~L.

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  45. Your ideas are very helpful. I do my preparation during the summer. I am not as organized as you, but your preparations have given me some good ideas.

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  46. I am somewhat new to the beginning of the year. I was a Title teacher for 15 years before being moved to 5th grade. I then changed schools and grade level the next year and this year will be changing schools but staying in 3rd grade. All of your ideas have been a great help.

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  47. I'm moving down to a new grade and have been trying to collect all new materials early! Love your ideas!!

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  48. This would be great to have! I'm always looking for something different to organize the beginning of the year and keep it that way throughout the year!!

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  49. I usually get my Home/School folders ready as well as various forms (volunteer sheets, etc) ready for Open House. These are wonderful!

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  50. I am moving to a more spacious room next year. I have been busy playing around with room arrangements, station ideas and seating ideas (desks vs tables). I have a brochure I use each year that I order from Vista Print and I make lots of labels with the students' names on them for when they arrive with their supplies in the fall.

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  51. Hopefully, I'll be going back to teaching this fall after taking 5 years off to raise my babies. This blog post has been SUPER helpful! Thanks SOOO much!

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  52. I have a folder that I collect things to remind me of what I need to do the first few weeks.

    Rhonda Guinn
    rguinn@btes.tv

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  53. I am actually going to be a first year teacher so I don't have anything! I have a feeling this post (and your others) are going to save me, big time.

    Alicia

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  54. Hello! I actually haven't thought of starting early. I'm one of those who bolts out the door... As one poster said, I love it!

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  55. I get ready for the new year by by having folders and containers labeled for paperwork that will be turned in during the first weeks of school and supplies they will bring that I need to keep track of (extra crayons, extra glue sticks, etc.) I also have a Morning Notebook put together for each student which contains a week's worth of morning messages, writing prompts and math problems. These notebooks contain calendars as well as math and writing reference sheets also. They take awhile to put together but we use them everyday so they are totally worth the extra effort!

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  56. Katrina HamiltonMay 21, 2012 at 4:28 AM

    Every summer I try to re-organize to be more efficient the next year. And like above comments, purge! The blogs have been very helpful to read this year, and inspiring! Hoping for my best summer organization effort ever. :)

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  57. I teach 7th grade English. Since I've been doing this for a while (14 yrs), I have a pretty good idea of what the first two weeks is going to look like. One thing that I have my 7th grade helpers do is put together my students' writing portfolios for the next year. I have two sheets that go on the right side of a file folder - goal setting and end of the grading period reflections. On the left side of the folder, there's a form for students to keep track of writing assignments - type of writing, grade, comments/questions. With 150 students, I need all the prep I can get!

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  58. oh...and one thing I do is have the kids write a "letter to me from me." They think it's ridiculous - again, 7th grade - but the looks on their faces when I've been returning those letters truly are priceless.

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  59. I am a first year teacher who is actually gone on maternity leave. This makes it a little weird to prepare for next year. I am however trying to gather my first week of materials. I want to decide what assessments I will administer to determine where my students are at. I'm also gathering materials for community building lessons. Since I saw this blog, I'm working on getting their supplies and the classroom letter that will go home as well.

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  60. Since this year is my first year teaching, it will be my first summer as well! I am already SO overwhelmed. I made a huge summer to-do list. Hopefully I'll start tackling some of the list soon!

    Kaitlin

    beyondteachings.blogspot.com

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  61. Our school uses plastic folders that have see-through pockets on the front and back for communication/homework folders. That would save you the work of pasting and laminating!

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    Replies
    1. Shauna, you are the winner of the giveaway!! Email me with your email address and I will send the documents out to you!

      (and incidentally, my school has those same folders. They are just too flimsy for my taste, but some other teachers love them!)

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  62. Thank you so much for all of the wonderful ideas and advice. I graduated yesterday and will be teaching Math and Science to Fourth graders next year! I am so excited and anxious to get started. Your blog has given me some amazing ideas.

    Thanks again,
    Leigh

    leighgallagher31@gmail.com

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  63. I love spending the summer making lessons from the previous year even better!

    ashleysanderson1@hotmail.com

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  64. I so WISH I could get all this stuff done ahead of time...but alas, I know I won't. I just can't seem to manage it for some reason. But good for you! You rock!

    Maureen
    The First Grade Splash

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  65. I am a first year teacher this upcoming August and I am absolutely thrilled and nervous! I have been working the Scholastic Warehouse Sale in order to get a library established for my students (4th grade!) and I would love to see what you do for a welcome newsletter and such. I've already been looking at using your calendar and homework policies! They're so great!

    -Kelsey

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  66. Thank you everyone for all of your AWESOME suggestions and ideas. I know many, many people were able to gather a great deal of information from each of you. Congratulations to the winners of the contest too!

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  67. I am so excited! Thanks so very much!

    My email address is: jegalford3406@gmail.com

    Joni
    KinderKids Fun

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  68. Thanks for the great ideas. I will begin my first year of teaching in the fall so I have been looking for as many tips as I can possibly find.

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  69. Wow! I can't believe you're already thinking about next year! That is crazy. But, I am actually happy because these resources are great. Thanks for sharing :)

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  70. Enjoying your blog! Thanks for the back to school ideas!

    jen.bellinger@hotmail.com

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  71. pam irish {pamirish@rocketmail.com}May 26, 2012 at 4:38 PM

    WOW...totally impresses with how organized you are for next year before this year is out! I never even thought of doing this! My 6th grade team starts copying items for the team for the following year...mainly tests, cold comps, fluency passages, etc. Because I am changing grades next year, I have started looking at the math so that I can begin planning my math notebook. I have also create some "scantron" like forms for math using catpin productions (http://catpin.com/bubbletest/#)...hoping this will help students to be more comfortable when it comes to state testing. Thank you for sharing your student questionnaire! Love it! Would you be willing to share you teacher comprehension? This sounds like a TOTALLY awesome idea!

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  72. Hi,
    I am inquiring about your weekly homework review packets for 4th grade. Do you have them available yet? The 5th grade ones look great!

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  73. Great ideas. Where did you get your folder cover sheets?

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  74. New Subby here!! I've been teaching for 13 years, and I absolutely love some of your ideas, especially the teacher questionnaire. I'm going to do that this year, thanks for the ideas!!!!

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  75. Where can I get a copy of your home to school cover page and homework cover page?

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