Monday, August 20, 2012

Week One...My Common Core Notebooks!

Hi sweet friends!  I hope you all had a great start to your school week!  I want to say "thank you" to everyone who has purchased my CCSS notebooks for grades 1-5!  The responses and comments I've received from teachers, homeschool moms, administrators, and Common Core leaders have been amazing!  The support and appreciation for making these has touched my heart and made all of the work and time worth it!  Personally, I love making teaching materials.  I love to share with others and I love finding resources that help my students!   I really do feel these notebooks are going to make our jobs easier in the classroom and Common Core learning more meaningful for our students!
I've had some questions asking how I introduce the notebooks to my students and the overall process of teaching the notebook.  This post will give you a brief view of week one and how I am using them with my second graders.  I also want to share how others are using them as well.  Here are some of my student notebooks on my reading table.  I went ahead and sent the letter (included in the packet) at Open House (the day before school started) requesting a 1-inch binder, sheet protectors and dividers.  EVERY student in my room brought their materials in within a couple of days! :)  I was amazed.  I thought it would take a week or so.   Here are several pics of the notebooks and how they looked once they were assembled and ready for my students.  Many have asked about using colored ink.  I decided to print all of my covers in color (a little costly) BUT I've laminated each cover and plan to use them again next year.  For me, personally, I prefer to use printing services like the UPS Store as opposed to using my own ink cartridges.  It just looks more professional and seems more economical to me.   My students will take their notebooks home at the end of the year, but I am going to take the covers out first.  They should hold up nicely inside the plastic covers of the notebooks.  I wrote student names with a dry erase marker so it should come off easily next year.
I use daily homework folders.  These have nothing to do with our CCSS notebooks but I decided to hole-punch and place my list of standards in the daily homework folders so parents could see these all year long and know EXACTLY what I was teaching their kiddos.  We are having curriculum night in another week and I will go over these with the parents then as well.   I opted not to put the list of standards in the front of the CCSS notebooks because I wanted the standard's checklists there instead.
In the front pocket of each notebook I have a "Starter" pack of standards tickets, standard recording sheets, evidence of learning forms, goal sheets, and ABC's and 123's of learning forms.  I only put one of each sheet because I have a place in the classroom where I've made lots of extra copies for later use.  The students will get what they need later on from these drawers.

Here you can see that I printed all of my domain cards and other notebook sheets in black and white.  I went ahead and placed checklists at the front and the domain cards in plastic sheet protectors.  The dividers separate each domain.  
You can see the colored divider in front of the domain dividers.  They don't all look like these.  Some are clear and some even have pockets.  I just used whatever the parents sent in. :)
I placed one copy of the student-led conference form in the back pocket of each notebook.  We won't even worry about this page until right before conferences in October.  I just wanted to have it there for the kids to see as we are going over our sheets for the year.
Once I had the notebooks ready for my students, we began to "learn" how to use them.  Here are the notebooks on my student's desks.  They won't keep them in their desks on a regular basis this year.  I have cubbies in my classroom in which they fit perfectly!  Bookshelves would work nicely also (you have the spine labels to help identify the notebooks on a bookshelf). 

The first week of school we introduce rules and procedures.  The students develop our class rules and expectations on a chart and we talk about ways to communicate appropriately.  I placed ONE essential question card on my board this past week:  
In addition I went ahead and pulled several Word Wall words and placed them in the Word Wall pocket charts.  I like to try to have my words handy for teaching them on the run.  Usually, I will grab the word I need from the pocket chart and place it on my Avervision overhead to project up on the Smartboard or I'll clip it to the board when I am teaching the word meaning.  The word wall words we used at first were:
Here is my classroom Word Wall by subjects.  I place words back in the pockets once I've taught them from the front of the room. 

Well, I began by introducing the EQ card and really building up to my students that this year they are big kids in 2nd grade, in charge of their own learning and behaviors!  I believe in the "teamwork" approach with my kids and the idea that I am their "learning coach".  I stressed to them that they will be team players and I will be their Common Core coach!  I explained that Common Core Standards are all the cool things they will be learning this year in 2nd grade!  I gave examples of all we plan to learn (ex:  reading and writing across the curriculum, fiction and nonfiction readings, projects, conversations, presentations, and so on...).  Basically, I really pumped them up and let them know that in October they will present their "evidence" of learning to their parents.  
After that , we went on a tour of the portfolios (their collections of learning)!
Step by step...that is the key!  Keep it child friendly!
I introduced the characters (graphics).  We went through all ten (there are eleven for grades 3-5) domain pictures.  They LOVED them!  We came up with names for each one...ex: The little girl who loved to speak and listen, the little girl who was learning how to read, the little boy who loved to write stories, etc...

I explained that today we would start with the little girl who loved to speak and listen for Speaking and Listening standards!  I introduced the EQ and had the kids follow me step by step through filling out our first Standards Recording Sheet.  They did a beautiful job and had no problem filing it behind their domain divider.
During the past couple of weeks I've learned more about Common Core.  It has occurred to me that there are EQ's and vocabulary words that can be added to the packet.  If you'd like to custom design your own essential questions or word wall cards, click here to get a pdf template for each domain graphic.  I wish I could offer it in word form but can't due to graphics license agreements.  Hope you can use this in conjunction with all the other resources in my notebooks.
I mentioned earlier that I'd like to share how others are using my notebooks.  Here is a great post from a homeschool mom named Colleen who has purchased the 3rd grade version of the notebook and made up her own version for her 1st grader.  She is using her own resources in addition to other resources from TpT in conjunction with the notebook.  I appreciate her post and how she has shared with others how to adapt the notebooks for your own children.
Overall, I feel I've had a great start for using our notebooks.  My students are moving on to phonics by filling out a standard recording sheet for these two standards this week.  We are already doing centers and games to support these skills and will file them with evidence of learning forms as well. 

I'd LOVE to hear how you are doing with your Common Core notebooks!   Hope this helps as you begin your school year.   Let me know if you have any questions.  Have a great week!-Yvonne  


  1. Thank you for sharing this! I purchased your notebook, but wasn't sure how to start. I love how you have organized thie notebooks and have given them responsibility for their learning. Awesome,Coach!

  2. I have done everything. I hope I win! My students are SpEd and a self-contained classroom with mixed grades. Unfortunately I can't afford to buy 3 separate grade level books.

  3. Could you please do a post about how you use the books through out the year? Do you do your typical lesson plans that you would do prior to having this resource and then with the student's show them the standards that are being covered and why? I love the labels, I'm going to print out a set and label them with the children's names. I will be able to see at a glace, what standards a specific child is still working on because if I've pulled off the label, it is because I've placed in on a sample that shows mastery of that standard. Any labels left will be ones that we haven't mastered yet. I have mixed class as well, 2nd, 4th and 5th grade levels. I'm buying all three :-).

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  13. I am a long-term sub teacher with one year to go before I am an accredited teacher. I cannot express how I wish I had found this idea before now. I will be using them in the spring term! This is simply brilliant!

  14. This is simply amazing. I appreciate the creativity and this blog altogether. I see you also have 1st & you have 4th? If so, please email me at Thanks again.