Thursday, July 25, 2013


Today was classroom shopping day, one of my favorites all year.  I figure it’s kinda like back-to-school supply shopping when you’re a kid—just now it’s cute bulletin board stuff at the teacher store.  Today our local shop was hosting a sale and giveaways, so it sounded like a good idea to visit.  It was craaaa-zy busy!  But fun.  And I feel like a got a few bargains and still stayed within budget, so it was worth it! J

Let’s face it, we teachers spend a LOT of money about this time of year to get our classrooms set up just right.  I thought I would dedicate my next few posts to FREE things that help get more than just the walls and bulletin boards ready for the school year.  I have some super techie FREE resources to tell you about for everything from keeping parent communication quick and easy to presenting exciting content those first days of school.  So, my I’m dubbing my upcoming blog posts the “Top 10 Tech Countdown to Start the School Year Right!”  Sound good? 

I have such a great list of favorites that I had a hard time figuring out which one to start this countdown with.  I decided to go with my new favorite find last school year:  Trello.  

Oh my…. Trello CHANGED my teacher life last year.  Literally.  One day last fall my sweet techie friend Alli told me about it, and I’ve been hooked ever since!

Just what is Trello, and what does it do?  It’s actually a virtual work planning tool—almost like a “to do” bulletin board.  It’s all about organization.  You create customized Trello boards with category “lists.”  Within those lists, you can add more detailed “cards” to the boards.  You can very easily drag and rearrange the cards and lists, and there are all kinds of fancy things that you can do within those pieces.  The board default gives you “To Do,” “Doing,” and “Done” lists, which is good enough right there.  However, you can fully CUSTOMIZE these as you’d like.

Trello has a website base, and is also a free iPhone and iPad app.  I started using Trello to map out my teaching units so that I could easily see everything in one place.  It totally changed the way that I plan lessons so that I can really map out the big picture. 

Here’s why I LOVE Trello:

It’s free.  I know I’ve said that already, but…

It’s super easy to use!

It’s perfect for planning theme units and keeping everything in one       place (essential questions, I Can statements, differentiation ideas,       standards, projects).  If your looking to get more organization in your       teacher life, this is the tool for you!

You can upload pictures right onto the cards.  Pinterest pics?  In my     lesson plans?  Yes please.

You can share it with other teammates.  Invite anyone simply to your boards. 

You can export your boards to PDF format.  This is great for easy 
printing, saving and even uploading to online lesson planning tools.

You can color code “cards” on the boards.

You can comment on the cards.  Need to collaborate with a colleague?  This is perfect for that!

You can add checklists—I can statements, questions you’ll ask, etc.

You can upload attachments to the boards for easy access. I attached all of my activity sheets, tests, rubrics, and such right on
the Trello board.  It was so great to have it all right there.

Best of all, I love having Trello on my iPhone and iPad.  My lesson plans are always on hand!  Some weeks I didn’t even print em out because all I needed was my good ol Trello board.

Here’s a picture of a Trello board that I put together for my science unit on matter.

Here’s another one of my boards for math.  My teammate and I were able to plan out a whole month at the end of the year with this!

I have to say, I've had to learn how to be organized and make life more simple.  I love using Trello for that.  No more post-it notes all over the place. :)  I use this for lesson planning, menus, to do lists…. I even planned my sister’s baby shower with people in 3 different states sharing a Trello board.  I hope you find this something that can be helpful, and if you already use it, I'd love to hear what creative ways you've found to use it too!  

Be sure to stick around for the NEXT upcoming blog post about other Top 10 Tech Favorites for Back to School.  More great ideas to come soon!


Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Frosty Factors & GIVEAWAY!

Whoah!  This girl has REALLY been on a summer HIATUS from the teacher blogging world!  My bestie and I were just chatting about how guilty we feel for not getting more accomplished this summer. then we stopped to remind ourselves that we work all year to have this time for R&R!   It really has been nice to get to do some fun, relaxing things with friends and family and recharge my battery a bit.  And there’s STILL some summer left, right?  I figure it’s time to pace myself a bit and chip away at fun school stuff! J

I’ve started thinking about math centers this year and how to tweak my structure a bit.  One thing I know for sure is that I want to have a LOT of math games ready that can be pulled out a moment’s notice to work on different skills.  This year my new classroom has AWESOME storage, and I plan on filling a bunch of those cubbies up with math games and centers!

I kinda got on an ice cream roll with my last project, IceCream EquationsI had so much fun with it that I took it a step further with this multiplication activity, Frosty Factors!  In my school district, third graders this year are going to start working on multiplication facts from the start of school (yes!).  I’m excited to plug this game into my centers to help my kiddos practice those facts!

It's a fun card game where kiddos race to find factor "scoops" that make the product shown on their "cone" cards.  The first player to scoop up 10 product wins!  There's a set of directions included for play, as well as several variations for struggling and more advanced learners!

I just posted this activity in my TPT store, and welcome any feedback!  As a matter of fact, I’m giving away Frosty Factors to one lucky reader!  Be my next blog follower, and I’ll send you a FREE copy!  Pretty sweet!

Stay FROSTY in this extreme summer heat!