Thursday, July 5, 2012

Home Sweet Classroom Home

Here is another post for IBHD :)

There's No Place Like Home

The only pictures I currently have of my classroom are from Open House, so my classroom is not always this  well decorated.  Honestly.. I am terrible at switching out student work on the walls, so if anyone has any suggestions or things that make it easier to switch student work I would like to hear them :)

My room is an odd shape.  It is mostly like a square but then one of the back corners is chopped off where the other 3 classroom connect to form a separate room called a pod.
This is the wall you first see as you walk in.  It's the monkey wall!  As you can see through that window is where all four classrooms connect to form the pod.  This board is very difficult to decorate because it goes so high, and my computers are usually located back here.
 Next wall is where all my cabinets are.  Also I have 3 sliding whiteboards which have shelves located behind them.  These are the coolest things! One of the boards I have all the students names on magnets for missing assignments.  Each subject has their own number and if that number is beside a name, that student knows they have a missing assignment. On another one I have my monthly calendar where I write events or important dates down.
Then we move to the front of the classroom, where you can see my bookshelf for my library off to the right of the picture.  I have purposely left a lot of space up front because this year I had many students who wore glasses, so I allowed them to come sit up front to take notes.

Here is my side whiteboard, which is beside my desk and behind my podium.  It's very handy.  This is where I write any announcements or homework for the day.

Here is my wonderful window outside with more cabinets underneath.  This is the wall that gets switched out the most because it is the easiest.  On the counter there are binders with the students writing... this past year I had an ephiany about their writing that gets hung up on the next board you will see.  I decided that this year when I switch out their writing from the board I am going to assign students to put the papers in sheet protectors then put them in binders by the months/topics.  Then when it's time for Open House I just have to pull out the binders and set on the counter for display!

Finally here is my back writing wall.  On the left board I have colored cardstock paper stapled up with paperclips on them.  Each paper has a student's number on it, that way they know if they're number is showing they are missing the assignment.  Below that are my student cubbies... still trying to figure out how to keep those nice looking...

Since there were no pictures of my desk set up I'll explain it here.  :)  I was so excited to find this new way to set up the desk.  My students are in groups of 6 but not the traditional way.  They are in mini U shapes.  Here's what it looks like
___ ___ ___ ___
[                [

So four students are facing front, and the other two are sideways.  Since I have 33 students I had to push in the two sideways desk to keep a clear walk way, but it worked out well for the group. It made it easy for me to check on things because I would just go and stand in the middle of the U.

I am very excited about next year though... I'm switching over to tables!!  This class wore me out with digging in desks, so I spoke to my principal about switching to tables and how I thought it would help with attention and organization.  She agreed and is giving me tables.  I'll have to wait until August to see them and set it up, but I know I'm going to have groups of four. :)

Well that's my classroom! I hope you enjoyed the tour!

IBHD Freebies!

If you don't know already, I decided to link up for International Blog Hopping Day. :)  Join in the fun and click the picture to go back to the main page at Teaching Blog Addict.

Follow for Freebies

Here are my freebies to contribute!  I have added several of them to the one post.  A couple have been joined in with Classroom Freebies Manic Monday.  Click on the picture and it will take you to my store for the download. 

This is a great activity to decorate with for Open House.  It includes creative writing and graphing coordinates.
Here is a lesson plan template I made.  It includes Monday-Friday along with separate boxes for each time slot.  At the bottom is a space to write your Focus Standards for the week for each subject.

I created this based off of the Rick Morris model, I just needed something more cutesy. :)  It also includes 2 revamped forms from his program.  One form is a weekly report to send home with a line for a parent signature and the other is a note to send home if the student has not behaved well.

I hope you enjoy the freebies!  If you did please be sure to leave a comment and share. :)

Teaching Smart

Smart Teaching

Here is the best thing I used in my classroom this year... it worked wonders and cut down my planning time!
It's Laura Candler's Literature Circle Printables.  You can click HERE to go to her site and see them.

Let me tell you how wonderful they are! Oh my goodness.  At first I was a bit overwhelmed wondering how my students could do this independently (and correctly), but after a couple weeks of training it finally began to fall in to place.  This past year our school had 2 combination classes that pulled from 5th grade, so I was a little apprehensive about trying this out with my class because I did not have as many independent students as I have had in past years.  The more I looked into it the more I saw how it would help me too and save time and planning.  I was determined to try and make it work, or give it one heck of a try before calling it quits.

I explained everything to the students on the first day and told them how the system would eventually work after their training.  We used our Core Literature book to do the activities together, so my students knew what to do and knew what was expected of them.  Finally came time to seeing how they could handle work on their own....I was a nervous wreck expecting some crazy upheaval from the independent groups while I read with my small group. (I hope I'm not the only one who has had a dream where the class has gone crazy and won't get under control... I call it my mutiny dream.)

Instead of just releasing them and working with my group, that week I released them while I monitored and made sure students stayed on task.  I altered things a bit to fit my schedule and also my students' attention span.  I set the timer for them to read for 15 minutes with their group, then when the timer went off they returned to their seats to work on the activity independently.  

This worked so amazingly well.  I was so impressed with my class. :)  I even had other teachers compliment my students with their system.  What was even better was that my students absolutely LOVED it!  They would get so upset if we had to cancel it.

I highly recommend taking a look through the printables and if you would like to see any examples of the way put together and ran my literature circles, just comment on this post and I will email you.  :)  If there's enough interest then I'd be more than happy to do a blog post on it.

Being a Teacher....

Follow The Famous Yellow Road

That's such an interesting topic because if you would have asked me 7 years ago what being a teacher meant to me, my answer would be slightly different.  No one really knows what they're getting into when they become a teacher and when you're first looking for a teaching job you're bubbly, excited, and ready to teach young minds without knowing EVERYTHING that comes along with the profession.  I remember my answer to that question in my interview.  It was very short and sweet, as I was VERY nervous.  My responses do differ since I have had experience now, but the heart behind it remains the same.  I am very passionate about what I do and anytime someone asks me this question I get teary-eyed because I'm so passionate.  Even now as I sit here typing this post, early afternoon enjoying some iced tea with my kitten asleep on my lap, I am teary-eyed because this means so much to me and I am so blessed to be in this profession.

7 years ago...
Being a teacher to me means helping students to grow and learn.  It's exciting to see their eyes light up when they have that "light bulb" moment of finally understanding a concept.

Being a teacher means long (unpaid) hours and working through, what the rest of the world considers, vacation time.  It means searching for so long on how to differentiate your instruction because you have a small group of students who are still not getting it.  Staying up late working on lessons plans, only to get to school super early to make sure you're prepared for the day.  Being a teacher means that you have to be flexible and learn to work with different personalities and appreciate your students and fellow teachers differences and opinions.  It means being open to change and being able to change very quickly.  It's essential to be able to handle stress well and not to get overwhelmed easily.

It also means... getting to touch 33 new students' lives every school year...  To be there with those students through their struggles and helping them through it, both in and out of school.  It means doing all you can to help them now because you're afraid of what may happen next year if they do not get help.  It means being there to enjoy and celebrate their successes with them... even if it does not happen for several years.  It means being a lifelong mentor and being a trusted adviser.  Most of all it means being a strong, supportive, constant in these children's ever changing lives... so that they know when they're at school they are in a safe and happy environment where they are loved.


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