Mailbags - The BEST way to Manage Home - School Communication

Are you looking for a better way to deal with home/school communication and ensuring that everything gets to where it is going?  I am sharing what works and what DIDN'T work, from experience.  Read on to find the best way I have found to send things home as well as get important papers back.

using mailbags to manage home - school communication

Sending things home from school and getting them back can be challenge.  Many times I have received ripped, wrinkled and wet papers dug out of the bottom of a backpack or had a child dump out their back pack looking for the coins for their milk order.  I have tried it all and I wanted to share my system (and my previous fails) with you.

Way back at the dawn of my teaching career I used bags.  I thought they were the perfect way to get everything home in one piece to a parent. I used the ones with the little zipper on top. However, it was soon very evident that these were not going to work as I had thought.  The zipper thing broke off and then the bags would not close.  So I moved on to ziploc bag 2.0.  These bags were the typical ziploc bags (minus the fancy zipper closer) and I simply labelled them with a sticker.  These bags worked a little bit better but they still ripped and were never big enough to fit everything.
using mailbags to manage home - school communication

Next I moved on to folders like the one below.  I laminated them and put everything in the pockets inside to go home.  I did like these but I needed to make a new one for everyone half way through the year as they didn't hold up very well.  These worked better than the bags but I still struggled with where to put bigger things.  The other ongoing issue was how to deal with money that came in. There wasn't a good place for it.

using mailbags to manage home - school communication
So I moved on to option number 3.  I found both these bags in a dollar store and instantly loved them. The mailbags are actually courier bags from Dollarama and the clear pencil cases are from Dollar Tree.

Free editable labels to use with mailbags to manage home - school communication

I loved the size of the zipper bag and I loved that it closed tight.  Now everything could be stored safely inside and it would stay inside.  I had another a-ha moment when I saw the clear pencil cases. They were perfect to use for money pouches.  Now I could almost guarantee that the money and the forms would get to me.  I put this holder on the wall of my classroom for the pouches and the kids put them there if there was anything in them.  It works like a charm.
using mailbags to manage home - school communication

I hope you find this tip useful.  I have found the investment worth it as I have never had to replace one mid year.  The money pouches are actually on their third year.  Every year I buy a few more to replace those with broken zippers or ones that have not stood up to the use.

You can grab labels for both the mail bag and the money bag too.  They are in bright colors or in the rainbow that is shown.  Add your name and email below to get access to this freebie in my Free Resource Library.

Free editable labels to use with mailbags to manage home - school communication


Are you looking for other ideas to get you ready for Back to School?  Check out my Pinterest board for lots of ideas.
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#littlefishteacherblogger




Hello!  My name is Christina and I am a little fish in the GIANT ocean of teacher bloggers out there! Thank you to Katie for the inspiration for this graphic.  You will find out exactly who she is if you read on.  Do you feel like a little fish?   Do you write a post knowing that only a few people are even reading it.  If you feel that way then you are not alone.  We all have to start somewhere, so read on.

Thanks to the wonderful new social media app Periscope you can now see and hear amazing messages from top teacher bloggers.  I have recently been very inspired by a number of scopes on Periscope.  If you have not yet heard about Periscope then you must head over to this {POST} to learn all about it the app and how to get started.

This past weekend I was watching a scope by Angie Olson of Lucky Little Learners and Katie Palmer of Pop Into Primary.  They were talking about blogging and offering encouragement to those in the room who were starting their blogging journey or were newer to blogging.  Angie has been blogging for quite some time and has an amazing blog {HERE}.  Katie is a newer blogger.  You can find her blog {HERE}.  After listening to them I realized that we little fish need to rally together and support each other in any way that we can.  This is how the hashtag #littlefishteacherblogger was born.


The idea of a Little Fish Teacher Blogger Network is still developing.  My plan, first and foremost, is to INCREASE OUR READERSHIP.  How will we do this?  Stay tuned for suggestions but for right now this is what I propose:

Here is your first challenge:

1.  Find 5 bloggers below that catch your eye - Why did you choose them?  Do they teach the same grade as you?  Do you like the looks of their button?  Do you "know" them from other social media? (These questions are just for the purpose of reflecting - we can share this info at a later date).

2. Go to each of their blogs and look for a post that sounds interesting.  Read it over and then leave a meaningful comment about the blog post in their comments section.  Sign it and make sure you hyperlink to your own blog.  Here is how:  <a href="YOUR BLOG URL HERE/">YOUR BLOG NAME HERE</a>. This way they can click on you signature and go to your blog too. Another tip, make sure you are not a NO REPLY blogger.  You can read a blog post {HERE} to see if you need to change your settings.  

3. Do this for each of the bloggers you have selected.

It is my hope that each and everyone of the teachers that have linked up will get some meaningful interaction with a reader by doing this.

FOLLOWING each others blogs.

I have struggled with this one.  It would be super easy to ask you all to follow all of the blogs that are listed below in the link up.  I considered suggesting that as the first challenge but then reconsidered. Here is why:  I have a criteria for following a blog.  I  love reading blogs that have content aimed at my grade level or division.  I teach grade 1 and read blogs by other grade 1 teachers but also blogs by other early primary teachers as well.  If a blog fits that criteria I will more than likely follow it.  So, even though you may have an awesome blog if you teach 6th grade I will probably not follow you as I won't find a lot of content that will be useful to me as a teacher.  It is totally your choice if you wish to go through and follow each and every person who linked up.

Here is what I AM suggesting.  Go through the blog links below and take the time to click through to the blogs that look like they might meet the criteria that you have for wanting to follow.  If you choose to follow someone then please leave a comment on their most recent blog post and let them know you like their blog and that you are now following.  Don't forget your signature and your link back to your blog (see above in #2)

My final challenge  is to share this far and wide.  The best way to get our names out there is to share on as many social networking platforms as possible.  Share this blog post on our FB/IG and twitter account so that other teachers can join and expand the network.  Share the #littlefishteacherblogger or #littlefishteachersbloggers as well and link back to the post so people can find us.

What do you think?  Are you up to the challenge?

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The BEST way to store your files online!

Do you struggle with your files like I did?  I would be at school and need a file from home but forget to email it to myself or save it on a memory stick.  This used to drive me crazy before I learned about online file storage sites.

The first site I heard about was Dropbox.  I loved it but I quickly used up the space they allowed for a free membership.  I wasn't prepared to pay for more storage so I continued to look and learned about Copy!

Here is why I love COPY:

1.  When you install it on your computer a folder lives right on your computer so when you save a file you can choose that location as if it were a folder located on your hard drive (Dropbox has this functionality too).  How cool is that?  I love that I don't have to open up another program and then upload the file I want to save.  I am all about doing things in as few of steps as possible.

2.  There have a mobile app as well, so I can take a look at my files on my phone and Ipad.

3.  They give you MORE free storage than Dropbox when you sign up!  That was the biggest selling factor for me.

4.  They offer a referral bonus.  You start with 15 gigs of space and then can gain 25 more gigs by referring people to Copy.  Once they sign up using the referral link you gain 5 gigs of space and the person signing up also gets 5 more gigs of space.  Win - Win!

If you are interested in checking out Copy for yourself here is my referral link.   You will need to sign up, confirm your email address, and log into one of the apps to earn the referral bonus.

https://copy.com?r=EwQk7O

Thanks for stopping by!  I hope you find this information helpful.

FYI - this post is not endorsed by the creators of COPY.


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Periscope Madness!


My newest social media addiction!

Have you heard about Periscope?  My first experience with this new social media app was with the dynamic duo of Angie Olson - Lucky Little Learners (@MrsAOlson) and Ashley Schroeder - Schroeder Shenanigans in Second (@schroedershenan).  I was feeling quite down about not being able to attend the 2015 TPT Vegas Conference. These ladies decided to bring the conference and the Vegas experience to us.  They did their first Periscope from the airport and from then on I was hooked.  I got a window into the conference that I never expected to have.

Let me back up for a minute for those of you who don't know what this is. Periscope is a live broadcasting app that is associated with Twitter.  You download it from the app store and then you can associate it with Twitter to populate your information.  Apparently you can also join by using your cell phone number - not as sure about this option.   With this app you can watch live broadcasts and interact with the broadcaster by typing comments to them and by giving these happy, colorful hearts to show that you are enjoying the broadcast.

Once you are all signed up you can go and search for people to follow.  If you are a Twitter user it populates with people on Periscope that you are already following on Twitter.  You can also add people while watching a broadcast by tapping on their comments and then checking their profile and clicking follow.  Angie and Ashley also started a number of hashtags to get the movement rolling. The most popular is #periscopeteachers.  Use this to find teachers to follow.  You can also search for teachers in the same grade as you using #findmyteachertribe and for me #firstgradetribe. These hashtags have exploded.  Teachers are taking over Periscope!!!

How do you know someone is broadcasting - the whistle, of course!   #runforthewhistle. Each time someone you are following is about to broadcast you get a whistle alert to your phone.  

So back to my experience... @year2tastic, a lovely teacher from the UK challenged me to take the #periscopeteacherchallenge.  I had to go on and live broadcast 3 things about myself and then nominate 3 people to take the challenge as well.  Let me just say I was honored and scared!!!!  I do not like having my photo taken and I am not fond of being videotaped at anytime.  However, a challenge is a challenge and after some practicing in front of my mirror and a few dry runs just videoing myself I went for it. Unfortunately (or fortunately) each "scope" is only available for 24 hours, so mine is not available any longer.  I do have it saved on my phone but I am not sure how I could share it.  Here are a few pics from the broadcast - none of me.  Have you ever tried to take a pic of a video of someone talking?   Lets just say the pics weren't pretty.  I tried and none of those pictures will ever be seen!  These are of a product that I just finished and talked about.  I started my scope sharing this to build up the courage to then flip the camera onto me.

  


I plan to scope again.  I am going to be in my classroom in a few weeks to deal with a few organizational things so I plan to scope from there, maybe even sooner if I have an aha moment that I must share!    I think it is a great way to share tips, tricks and give people a window into my classroom and my life.  I will send out a tweet and a post on instagram to give a "LIVE IN 5" warning.

Thank you to Sheila Jane Teaching for creating this linkup.  I hope to meet many new teachers through Periscope.

You can find me as on Periscope and Twitter as:
@HangingardinPry 

I'm on Instagram as: 
Hangingaroundinprimary 

Are you on Periscope.  Comment below with your periscope name and I will look for you there!  


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