Papa Pepperoni's Pizzeria: A Classroom Transformation

Hey Guys!
It has been a crazy year I can't believe that I haven't blogged AT ALL this school year. :( 
This past summer, my boyfriend and I bought our first home and we got engaged, all within a month of eachother. So you can only imagine how hectic life has been since then.
In fact, our wedding is coming up very quickly. Only 62 days until we get married!! But aside from my personal life it is now at that point of the school year where there are a million and one things going on as summer is quickly approaching. Here in Knoxville we only have 9.5 school days left.
I think I can! I think I can! 

However, even with all of the end of the year craziness I  needed to add some more fun into my life/classroom. So I decided to do a classroom tranformation for the last 3 weeks of school This classroom transformation was inspired by some AMAZING instagram teachers and of course one of my FAVORITE foods, PIZZA! That is how Papa Pepperoni's Pizzeria came about and had it's GRAND OPENING last week!
On Monday morning, my students came in to school to find Papa Pepperoni himself standing at our classroom door. He spoke in his very best italian accent and even had italian music playing. Students walked into our classroom to find pizzas hanging from the ceiling, pizzeria inspired table cloths, and hanging utensils. 
The hanging pizza floats I found at Michaels for just $5.00 each. Which is such a better score than those huge pizza slice floats. I just couldn't justify paying $20 a float. So these $5.00 floats did just as well!! The red tablecloths, hanging red circle garland, and chef hat were from Party City. 
To add to our pizza theme I created a class pizza to use as a whole class incentive. With the end of the year being so close it's been getting a little CRAY over in our room. So I hoped that a new incentive would help tone it down just a little bit and it did. By no means was it perfect but less CRAY then our new "normal" and that was good by me.  
Throughout the week I incorporated the theme of pizza into all of our subject areas while continuing to provide my students with rigorous standards based lessons.

For reading we worked on main idea and details. We read a story called "So You Want to Grow a Pizza?" on a website called GetEpic. If you haven't heard of it it is a site that is FREE for TEACHERS and provides you with access to 100's of books! We read this story throughout the week and talked about how we can not in fact grow an entire pizza but we can grow the ingredients to help us make a pizza. Along the way we focused on the main idea of the story and how it was like the "crust of a pizza" and the details are like the "toppings of a pizza." Studnets jotted the main ideas and details of the story on their tasty pizza recording sheet.
All week in writing we spent the week writing, How to Make a Pizza. On Monday, students brainstormed the ingredients they needed to create a pizza. On Tuesday, students created their plan for how to make a pizza by drawing and labeling the steps they needed to take. On Wednesday and Thursday, students used their plan to begin writing their final copy of How to Make a Pizza while including transition words. Friday, was an exciting day because if we earned all 15 of our pizza toppings as a class we would create our very own pizzas to enjoy after math. 

I'm not going to lie it took us to the very last few minutes before writing to earn all 15 of our toppings but WE DID IT! We earned being able to make real pizzas as a class. While making our class pizzas the students shared out the steps we needed to take in their correct sequence to make our pizzas. Each student came up one by one to help us complete a step in making our pizzas.

My little pizza chefs absolutely loved getting to help create our pizza. I'm not sure I've ever seen them wait so quietly and patiently all year. Oh the teacher struggle! I'm sure you know all about it. 
When I was out at Target grabbing the pizza crust the day before I came across this adorable cardboard carton to grow different ingredients you'd need for a pizza. I was super tempted to buy it but it was $12.00 and I had already bought the rest of the pizza ingredients I needed. I was super suprised by my willpower because let's be real Target is my weakness and I am always picking up things I don't even need when I'm there. 

The pizza fun did not end here. We kept the pizza fun up for the entire week in math. In math, we learned all about 2D and 3D shapes as well as partitioning shapes. After cooking our pizzas on Friday my students received a paper pizza and chose how they wanted to partition their own pizza. We started out partitioning our real class pizza into halves, then quarters, and so on. Each time we partitioned it I showed the students the pizza slices and we talked about what happens when we partition a shape into more shares. They ate it up! See what I did there. ;) 

Next week my students are going to use their partitioned pizzas to create a shape pizza. They will add 2D shapes we have learned about onto their pizza and will then create a tally chart and picture graph to represent it's data. All week my students literally begged for more Papa Pepperoni activities it was absolutely precious. I can't wait to continue the pizza fun next week. 
As you can see, you can take any FUN topic that gets you excited and make it educational and standards based. It doesn't have to be as extreme as a classroom transformation. Maybe it's just a printable hat or name badge. But whatever way you can spread a little magic into your classroom lessons will make your lessons memorable for your students. This magic and excitement will help your students to feel your excitement and passion and get them just as excited to learn. Ultimately if you're having fun teaching your students are going to be having fun learning. 

How have you added "magic" into your lessons? Have you done a classroom transformation that your students begged for more activities? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below. 

You can find my Papa Pepperoni classroom pack here

In the meantime check out some of my other classroom transformations & themed lessons/activities.
Pirate Day                                                    Blog Post       TPT Pack
Place Value Construction                                                   TPT Pack

Flexible Seating Q&A

Hey everyone! It is that time of the year when us teachers are beginning to think about our plans for the upcoming school year. And possibly implementing flexible seating may be something you are contemplating. If so, I hope that this post helps to answer some of your questions on the topic. While you are reading these please remember there is no wrong or right way to do flexible seating, it is truly about what works for you, your students, and your classroom. If you have any additional questions I would be happy to answer them. Just leave a comment at the end of the post and I'll get back to you!  

Q: How do you organize student supplies, folders, and large textbooks? 
A: There are many different options to store student supplies while using flexible seating. It truly depends on what works for you in your classroom. Here are some ideas: 
Community Supplies 
Community supplies is the route that I have gone since before I implemented flexible seating. I have found with community supplies it truly eliminates the bickering of whose supplies are whose and helps to create a sense of community within the classroom.   
To organize the community supplies I have a caddy at each table work station with pencils, scissors, glue, crayons, and erasers. I also have a couple of individual pencil boxes in a designated area for when students choose to work around the room.  

Student Notebooks, Folders, and Textbooks
Option 1: If you are lucky enough to have cubbies in your classroom using those to store student supplies is a great option! Check out MissMurphy816 instagram to see how she uses her cubbies to store her student's supplies and uses team supplies rather than community supplies.
Option 2: If you do not have cubbies in your classroom don't fret, there are other ways you can store student supplies. One option is 3 Drawer Plastic Towers. You can label each drawer with a student's name and allow them to keep their materials in their designated drawer. If you do choose to use these drawers I would suggest spreading them out to ensure there ins't a "traffic jam!" Or you can use book boxes like the ones in Mrs. Murphy's IG post and store them in a designated area.
Option 3: Zip tying crates together is another great idea. This idea came from Clutter-Free Classroom. She created cubbies for her students. You could even use these crates to hold large textbooks. You could break your class into teams and have 1 or 2 crates per team for their notebooks/textbooks. This would allow you to save some money since you wouldn't necessarily need one crate per student.
Zip tie crates to make shelving.  Hmmm... creative-ideas-from-moms

Q: If students don't have folders in their "desks" what do you do with student papers like unfinished work, homework, and other take home papers?
A: When using flexible seating students can still have folders you just need to find a place to store them. Some options were mentioned above, for example, book boxes and plastic drawers. Other options include using magazine file holders or even milk crates. Milk crates can also be a great way to keep your student's papers or folders organized. Inside the crate you can create a filing system using hanging dividers. Each student would be designated one divider where they can place their folders. You could even create a similar system by having a designated crate for unfinished work, take home papers, etc...   
Pacon Creative Products Classroom Keepers Magazine File Folder Today, I want to share with you some of the tips and tricks to use interactive notebooks in your classroom. I learn something new every year, so I'm going to impart that knowledge to you.  I've got te

Q: I am not allowed to remove all of my students' desks/tables from the classroom. 
How would flexible seating still work for me?
A: I was actually in the same situation when I began using flexible seating. I quickly realized it was okay to still have tables and desks.It was all about finding ways to utilize them.I found that adding different seating options to the desks/tables such as stools, yoga balls, stability discs, and wobble stools if a great idea. You can also add bed risers to a table to make it high enough for your students to use it as a standing table. Taking the legs off of a table allows you to create a floor table where students can sit on the floor and work. You may also be surprised to find that some students may like the idea of a traditional chair every so often so don't be too quick to get rid of your chairs. I also got creative and worked to find hiding places in my classroom for the left over desks and chairs.

Q: I can't use donor's choose, where can I find assistance in purchasing flexible seating? I have spent too much on my classroom already.
A: When you first think about it flexible seating sounds really expensive but it doesn't have to be. There are many affordable ways to bring flexible seating into your classroom. Also, keep in mind that you do not need to get everything all at once. Getting things gradually is a great way to keep it light on your wallet. Be sure to check out sites like OfferUp, LetGo, as well as garage sales for awesome deals.
Free Ideas
* Remove the legs from a table in your classroom to create a floor table. 
This option will allow your students to sit on the floor and work. 
Raise the legs on a table in your classroom to create a standing table.
Inexpensive Flexible Seating Ideas
Tj Maxx, Ross, Marshalls, & Hobby Lobby are all great places to find pillows for a great price. 
Yoga Mats/Yoga Balls
If you have a Five Below store near you you can find yoga mats and yoga balls for $5. You may also be able to find them for a steal at TjMaxx or a similar store.  
Scoop Rockers 
Scoop rockers can be found at Big Lots & Aldi for about $6.00. If you do not have either store you can also find them on Wayfair, Overstock, and Walmart. I do believe when you order them online they come in a pack of 4 or more. I could be wrong tho. :) 
Lap Desks
Lap Desks are perfect for allowing students to work around the room. They provide a hard surface that makes writing easier. They can be found at Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joanns, Walmart and other stores. If you purchase these at Michaes or Hobby Lobby don't forget to use those awesome 40% off store coupons.
End Tables
End Tables can be found at Walmart, Target, and Ikea for around $5-$10

Q: How do you respond to parents and OTHER TEACHERS that push back at this "ridiculous" idea? Parent comment: "They need to learn to sit and listen properly." 
A: I would explain that the expectation of listening and learning in the classroom is the same and the seating will actually help to improve their student's abilitiy to listen and learn.
- I personally did not have any backlash from any of the parents this year. During meet the teacher I gave my parents a Q&A about flexible seating and I  found that my parents LOVED the idea of Flexible Seating. 

Q: Teacher comment: "You are going to make my job next year so much harder. 
They will be so out of control. You are treating them like babies."
A: Honestly, you have to do what is best for your kids, right now! I know this is something new to some teachers and it may be hard for them to understand, but once they see it in action their perception may change. I would simply explain that you are differentiating your classroom to fit the needs of your students and explain the benefits of using flexible seating. You may see later down the road it becomes a trend in your school.

Q: What do the first few days of the year look like (where/how do they sit on the very first morning and what do you do as far as teaching flexible seating procedures)?
A: On the first day of school I have a page of morning work set out at the different spots around the room. I allow students to sit and work where ever they choose until I can get them all to the carpet and be in front of them. Once I have them on the carpet we talk about how our classroom may look different than some other classroom they've been in. I then talk about how in this class they may work wherever they'd like. However, if they are not making smart choices I get to pick where they have to work. I then go over the seating expectations. I actually created expectation posters and introductory materials to help make this easier. They are found in my TPT store. After talking about expectations we spend time going over the different seating options in our class. As I show each seating choice I model how to sit on it correctly and then I model how NOT to sit on it. We as a class chart the expectations for each seat.  

After day one, I assign students a spot each day for the entire first week. By assigning them a specific spot that week it allows them the opportunity to experience each seating type and see what works best for them. In the morning they would come in and meet on the carpet. We would review the expectations for each seat like we did on day one and I would call groups to then "check in" to their spot. During the first week students were not able to move spots unless there was an issue. We repeated this routine for the first week and by week 2 I began allowing students to "check in" to a spot when they arrived in the morning. 

Q: Do you allow students to stay in the same place all day if it is working for them?
A: After each subject or major transition I have my students gather back at our carpet. 
From the carpet I do our whole group instruction and after I am done that is when I then choose students to check in and select their spot. (I send only 3 students at a time to check in) If the same spot that they were working in earlier is still available they are free to work there again.  

Q: What is the classroom management system in a room where the kids are all over the place and not facing the teacher?
A: Most of the timr during whole group instruction I have my students on the carpet. If they are not on the carpet the must be in a spot facing me where they can see the board.

I hope that you found this flexible seating Q&A resourceful. Like I said earlier there is no wrong or way to do flexible seating as long as it works for you and your students. During this journey may try out a few different ways until you find out what works for you. 

If you have experience with flexible seating in your classroom and do things differently than a way I mentioned I'd love for you to share your experience below. Our greatest teachers are truly our students and eachother.

You can also click the picture below to see how I set up my first grade classroom to make it Flexible Seating ready.

State Testng Encouragement Notes and Treats

Hey Everyone!
I can't believe that the school year is almost to an end and state testing for intermediate students is here. Here in Tennessee our intermediate students have been testing for a week and have 5 days left. As a primary teacher, I thankfully do not have to deal with the true stress of testing days.

This year our school is working hard to boost the morale and show our support for the intermediate grades during the stressful time of testing. In order to encourage our intermediate students and help destress their teachers each primary class has adopted an intermediate class. By adopting an intermediate class/teacher we are responsible for providing them with positive notes of encouragement and treats during testing days. This sounds like it could become costly depending on your adopted class' size or the number of testing days, however, the key is involving your parents. I currently work in a title 1 school and know that parent involvement isn't always there but I have found that parents love sending treats in. In order to get my parents help I sent out a message to all of the parents over ClassDojo. In this message I explained that we have adopted a 4th grade class and providing them treats during the testing days and provided a list of items we needed.

Before I jump into what we did for the students I want to share a picture of my testing survival kit that I created for the teacher. I grabbed this adorable tin bucket in the Target Dollar Spot for $3 and to my surprise when I rang it up it was actually 50% off! Gotta love when that happens. I filled her testing survival kit up with her favorite treats to help get her through the first week of testing. I mean what teacher doesn't need caffine and chocolate during a stressful week like testing.
Here are some cheap/free ideas that we have done for our adopted intermediate class!

Day 1 of Testing
On the first day of testing I decorated our adopted 4th grade class' door. I used the very popular Pinterest saying of "Donut Stress" and covered their door with donut cutouts. My students then each took a donut cut out and wrote an encouraging message on the back. & Of course we couldn't have a DONUT themed day without donuts so a box of munchkins topped the day off!

Day 2 of Testing
On the second day of testing we gave the 4th graders a How to Rock Your Test booklet from Learning in Wonderland. This is a free product in her store that you can grab here. The 4th graders loved reading their "how to" books. Their How to Rock Your Test booklets were also accompanied by pencils with inspiring messages.
This was an idea I found from an awesome teacher I follow on Instagram, SmartCookieClassroomTPT. 

Messages on the pencils included:
You've got this!
You'll rock this test!
Donut Stress!
You can do it!
Believe in your selfie!

Day 3 of Testing

We gave our 4th graders jellybean filled plastic eggs. If you snag these plastic eggs after Easter you can get them for an unbelievably low price. I had actually stocked up on them a year or two ago so I had a surplus laying around which was perfect for this occasion.

Day 4 of Testing
We are giving our 4th graders a glow stick bracelet with a tag that says
"You Will Shine Bright On Your Test!" I snagged these glowstick bracelets from the Target Dollar Spot. They came in a pack of 15 and were only $1.00! You really can't beat that.

Day 5 of Testing 
We will be giving our 4th graders cookies with the message, "We think this class is a bunch of smart cookies!" And their teacher is getting a SMART water. :) 

Last Day of Testing 
For the last day of testing we will be "chillin" out with our 4th grade friends and enjoying some popsicles on the playground. I hope that this will be a fun way for my students and the 4th graders to get to know eachother, have fun, and destress.

Thanks so much for stopping by today and checking out my blog. I hope that you were able to get some ideas for your own class or an adopted class to help them destress and stay motivated during the stressful time of state testing. You can grab all of the tags featured in my blog post for FREE over in my TPT store. Click here to grab them today. Thanks again for stopping by! :) 

Center Time

Hey Everyone! 
So we are at that point of the year where both the students and us teachers are itching for Spring Break and the end to be here. It seems as though those routines and procedures that we've spent hours, weeks, days, and months practicing have suddenly been forgotten. Some days are better than others and if you're like me sometimes you feel like you're on Survivor. Just keep on hanging in there, Spring Break is right around the corner, if it's not already here. 
As teachers we have a problem where we have "teacher brain" and we just can't seem to turn it off!  I just happen to be on Spring Break and it's a whopping 30 degrees outside so inevitably my teacher brain has been in full swing. I've been reflecting on the last few weeks prior to break and the first thing that came to mind was... centers being a"a hot mess!". It seemed as though my firsties had suddenly forgotten how to rotate in a timely manner, clean up their work spaces, and everything else. So here I am, coming up with a game plan to solve our center problems and put in effect when we return to school on Monday!
 Even though we have gone over our expectations, practiced them, taught each other them, practiced them some more, modeled them, and practiced them over and over for the first few weeks/months of school, we are at that point of the year where my firsties need a little extra reminding.
When we return from break we will be talking about our expectations for centers as a class. It is crucial for my firsties and my sanity that we revist these expectations again. Taking the time to go over them will ensure that our center time will go smoothly for the remainder of the year. Revisiting our expectations will not stop here. During center time I use a rotation chart I created via PowerPoint. Today, I edited my center rotation chart to include our expectations. I'm hoping that during centers this will serve as a constant reminder for my firsties.
Another issue that I've come across with my firsties is that they are not always on task during their center. Lately, I look up from my guided group and find my firsties snickering and looking completely guilty. So, I of course have to use my "Teacher Look" to get them back on task. 
Last week, I attended a PD session on technology in the classroom. During the PD session the presenter talked about an app called Seesaw. I personally have never used it but as she was describing it it made me think of ClassDojo's student story feature. She spoke about students being able to take a photo or video of their work and share it with their teacher & families. ClassDojo is a FREE app that I use every day to communicate with parents and track strudent behaviors. However, I have not yet introduced my students to the student story feature. I'll be honest, I had every intention of  it introducing them to it at the beginning of the year but then life happened and I never got around to it. #okayteacher But with being on Spring Break I've had time to play around with it and I feel like it is the PERFECT solution to holding my students accountable during their centers. 
Image result for class dojo student story
Here's How It Works: 
1. You have to sign up for a free account, create your class, and add each of your students
2. Click the "student mode" icon at the bottom of the page.
3. Print and display your class code for students to access. 
4. Students will then use a QR code scanning app to scan the QR code and select their name. 
This will allow their photo/video to be uploaded to their student page ONLY! Upon teacher approval!
My plan is to have my students use a class iPad to upload a photo or video of their center work once it is completed. This will allow me to quickly scan their work and know who has been on task and who hasn't. I can then give them immediate feedback as well as award behavior points from my phone or iPad.

My students are going to LOVE this adjustment and so will their families. 
I've admitted to you all before that I am a little type A when it comes to my classroom. When I see pencils laying on the floor, seats not put away properly, and center pieces missing their homes it drives me INSANEEEE! Especially since we've gone over these procedures a million times before. 

 Our pencils even have their very own home, yet they are still found all over our classroom floor. 

I mean come on now! How could they not put their pencil(s) back in the correct spot when it is PERFECTLY labeled!

Well.... the sad reality is, it is very easy for them not to put them back even though that system has been put in place in our classroom!

Insert Crazy Eyed Teacher Emojii here!
My plan to help this "hot mess express" involves two simple fixes/additions to our center time.
#1 Adding a "clean up" slide with a 2 minute timer into my center PowerPoint. 
Adding this clean up slide with a timer will allow my students to have a specific amount of time designated to CLEAN UP their work space. This will keep them from just rushing on to their next center. This idea was sparked by the amazing Teach Create Motivate. In her tpt store she has editable PowerPoint slides with timers as well as a FREEBIE of a 20 minute timer slide!
#2 Create a "Center Inspector" job! 
As teachers we create and have jobs for everything and anything. I don't know why I didn't think of creating a job for center time before. But my center manager will be responsible for checking each center area before students are allowed to rotate! This will allow my students to be held accountable for their workspace while allowing a student to be in charge and take on that responsibiltiy.
I'll soon be creating a cute little tag for my center inspector to wear! I just haven't gotten that far yet! When I do I'll be sure to post it here for you to use if you'd like!

Thanks so much for reading my blog today. I hope that this post helped you to realize that it is okay for your classroom to not be perfect. But at the same time it is never too late to take back control of your classroom and revisit and reteach expectaions and procedures. I'd love to hear from YOU!