June 27, 2016

Happy Planner Review

Teacher planners are all the rage these days.  If you have been anywhere in the blogosphere, or on Instagram, or FaceBook... you have seen teachers raving about their favourite planners.  One of the most popular brands is the Erin Condren teacher planner. It's beautiful... but at over 100$ (including tax and shipping) to Canada, I just  haven't been able to justify the purchase.

Enter... Happy Planner.  I got mine at Michaels for 39$, and then used a coupon to get another 40% off the price.  Yay, #MichaelsTeacher!  You can also find them on Amazon for $29.  (Check out my afiliate link: Me and My BIG Ideas Hello Life Planner )



I love the idea of keeping my life organized on paper.  Sure, there are some things I like to track electronically, but there is something so cathartic about writing everything down and seeing each day/week/month organized.  It's part journalling, part organizing, all fun.

And who doesn't like stickers?!

I thought I would review how the Happy Planner stacks up as a teaching planner.

happy planner - the pros:

1. It's adorable!




Stylistically the planner is an absolute win.  There are quite a few cute covers and styles to choose from, so you won't necessarily have the same planner as every teacher in the building.  

2. Accessories galore.



Just like other mega-planners, this one has so many things you can add on to make it your own.  Stickers, washi-tape, extra pockets (for those staff-meeting hand outs you don't want to loose), more dividers.  Each pop in easily to the plastic rings.  

3. Customizable

The happy planner is a non-standard 9-hole planner, so every day paper can't be added into it. However, at Michael's they carry the Happy Planner Hole Punch.  How easy would it be to add in extra pages to make the planner exactly what you want it to be.  (Hint, hint.. I will be adding in student class checklists, phone numbers, and a to-do list... but it'll be a breeze to print, punch, and go!)

4. Bright, Clean, Design



The Happy Planner isn't cluttered, so it's easy to write lesson plans in each of the three daily boxes.  I know that some teachers prefer the day to be broken up further, or have room for standards checklists... but this is perfect for my style.  Currently, I've used the boxes for Before Recess, Between Recess and Lunch, and After Lunch.  Sure, I still do detailed lesson plans, but this helps me to get a quick grasp of what my week will look like.  (See below!)  Plus, the planner itself isn't too cluttered with doodles and designs, so there's plenty of space to write. 

5. 18 months


The planner goes all the way to December 2017, so there's plenty of room to plan in advance.  I love that I'm not left scribbling leftover ideas on the back page.  

happy planner - the cons


June 11, 2016

End of the Year Activities

It's that time of the year again!  The birds are singing, the sun is out, and the school year is winding down.  I've found myself becoming a little bit tear-ier than usual when I think about saying goodbye to this years' batch of kids.  At times, they were a really tough group, but I've loved the adventures we have been able to have together.



There are so many ways that you can celebrate the end of the year in an elementary classroom.  I thought I'd share a few of my favourite ways to mark the end of a successful year together.

1. now and then bulletin board




On the first day of school I always take a picture of my kiddos holding a sign that marks their first day in a new grade.  For me, it's important that this happen on the actual first day of school.  (Not the first week, etc.)  I love the nervous/shy/apprehensive smiles I get when I take their photos on Day 1.  Then, towards the end of the year (usually 2-3 weeks from the end), we take another photo.  This time I ask them to scream out "I am done grade three!"  I love seeing the difference between their beginning and end of the year photos.  They grow so much in third grade.  

2. birthday party for everyone


The theme for our year end class party this year is "Birthday Party for Everyone".  


June 06, 2016

Tech Tools for the Inclusive Classroom

I am so excited to share today's guest blogger with you all.  Renée Jordan is an amazing NYC-based educator with a masters degree from Columbia University.  She currently blogs over at The Jordan Project, and creates curriculum on Teachers Pay Teachers





Hi all! I am excited to be connecting with all the Poet Prints readers.  My name is Renée Jordan. I am a Learning Specialist in New York City. I have my own little corner of the web over at the Jordan Project.  As a Learning Specialist I work with diverse learners, and partner with their teachers to help them figure out how to integrate all learners into their classrooms.  Luckily with the advent of technology the differentiation process has become a lot easier.  Today I will share a few of my favorite literacy tools for making classrooms accessible to types of learners – regardless of their abilities. 

The cool thing about so many Ed tech tools is that they will give your diverse learners access to the curriculum, but they are also a whole lot of fun for your more traditional students.  So today’s literacy tools aren’t just focused on special education kids, they are tools for true universal design for learning that every student can use, and enjoy.

Inspiration Software



All students need to learn the skills involved in writing planning, and as you teachers know it often takes some coaxing to get students to dig into the brainstorming process. This is where Inspiration software can come in handy.  It is a digital graphic organizing program where students can plan their ideas in a visual format, then click a button and have it converted to a sequential outline.  For students who struggle with reading and writing, Inspiration has a text-to-speech feature, as well as an integrated word bank tool to help students find words they may struggle to recall or spell.  One feature that will help all students and aid overall classroom management is that teachers can record instructions in the program allowing each student to absorb each step of the process at their own pace.


June 03, 2016

Five for Friday | June 3rd

Today, my Five for Friday is finally being posted on Friday! What a thought! :)  The chaos of the past seven weeks of weddings, showers, new-curriculum planning, and endless meetings is starting to feel like it has an end date.  Hallelujah!  I have some pretty awesome highlights to share.  Check them out.  Thanks again to Doodlebugs teaching for hosting!



the cutest part of my week.

I finally had the time to write the second in my series of posts about the cutest things students have said in the classroom.  Oh my stars, it is adorable!  If you need a chuckle, click here to check it out.  


new technology... hip hip hooray!

I was on the committee to help bring new technology into our classrooms for next fall.  This is a big deal for the elementary (Kindergarten through Grade 8) as we have had very little technology (so far). This is all going to change very soon, and I can't wait to see what the kiddos will do with the capabilities to do bigger/better research and inquiry-based projects (with internet access).  Woo hoo!



we love kahoot

In grade three, we love the website/app KAHOOT.  As a teacher, I build quick/easy formative assessments/quizzes, and students log in with iPads/iPhones/iPod touch (or any android/smartphone device as well), and we take the quiz individually or in pairs.  Students are engaged, and I love that I can quickly see who is 'getting it' and who is not.  For fun kahoot also has a sharable 'marketplace' (all "kahoots" are free) where you can play other users' quizzes. While they may not be relative to your content, it sure is fun to play kahoots like Guess That Avenger or All About You!  



getting ready for the end of the year (lists galore)

Here in BC we are in the home-stretch for the end of the year.  I have 13.5 teaching days left of the year.  (But who is counting).  This week I made all of my to do lists to finish the year strong.  Each year I get a bunch of lists ready so that I am largely prepared for September before I walk out of the classroom in June.  It helps me to mentally unwind in the summer, and feel less panicked when the photocopier is inevitably broken in August, or there is suddenly a committee I "must" be a part of.

These are the lists I try to have going at all times:

  • Student pack up, and things to send home
  • Clean up and organizing jobs students can do
  • Clean up & Tidy for me only
  • Organizing & Prep for Next Year
I keep it all going in a google doc so that way I can add to it on the go from my laptop, phone, or at home computer as I think of new items!  



the celebrations are almost done

This weekend (coming up) marks the end of the wedding season that I am personally responsible for. Up until this point, the hubs and I have been matron of honour and best man in two different back-to-back weddings.  It has been chaos in the Poetker household. While I have absolutely loved celebrating our family and friends, and standing up next to those I love.... I cannot wait to have an evening at home with just my hubby!  



How did your week shape up?  Are you still in the season of many weddings? We have two more to attend, but just as guests from now on!   Have a lovely Friday, and a wonderful weekend!

-rachel