Thursday, August 21, 2014

Classroom, day 2

I've done a lot of Target trips lately...but my classroom is coming along nicely! I'm trying not to be overwhelmed...

Our book hospital:

Next to it will be my large collection of informational magazines:

There are labels on the book bins:

Here's an overview of the library:

I'll put these cute Harry Potter CAFE signs up as well...

I'm just waiting to go over the components with my students before hanging up the signs.  That way they have ownership over the content as well.

I hung my bathroom log by the door.

I've learned the importance of making sure a writing utensil is nearby.  The twine prevents the pen from walking away.

I finally finished my bulletin board:

I'm happy with how it turned out!

I used washi tape to distinguish certain supplies as mine:

I set up their supply buckets:

I hung my poster about how they're learning:

I like to put it on the board so I can move the magnet to the appropriate spot.

Here's our daily schedule:

I also excited about my board:

I'm excited with how it's coming along!

Math Training, days 4 & 5

Days four and five of the math training continued to be focused on the operations, this time with a focus on division and decimal place value.

The traditional algorithm is not taught until the sixth grade.  So all the cutesy "don't monkey swing backward" sayings...don't.

Just say no. 

They teach a mindless procedure and quite frankly, what's the point in that?  The goal is to help understand math, not just do math.

The conversations focused on helping build an understanding of math for teachers, so this content would transfer to students.

I'm excited to teach math again. I'm now on the math committee which is slightly amusing because I haven't taught a traditional math block in a few years.  It must be time to dust off those cobwebs!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Prepping Notes

When prepping notes for families, I tend to make a template in word.  I like to make tables and use the fun features to jazz up the notes.

However, I still want these fun borders when I cut up notes, so I tend to organize the table like this:

Parts are intentionally left blank, that way I can cut along the edges

while still maintaining the borders of the note.

Just a friendly tech tip!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Craft time!

The beginning of the year is always an expensive time for teachers. I've stocked up on supplies for six table teams, including new buckets for them.  I bought some new border and letters for bulletin boards, got burlap to make border, and various other items at the craft store(s) for new cute things in my classroom.

One of the projects I just completed is my "good effort beads":

I saw on pinterest a fellow teacher made "smart beads" for her students to wear.  I modified the idea to more mesh with my growth based teaching mindset. 

By switching from "being smart" to "great effort", this shows my students that I'm focused on them. Our goal is progress.  Our academic journey focuses on improvement.  My students are in competition with themselves.  They aren't all coming in at the same place academically, nor will they all end the same place.  I have high expectations and will continue to push each of them to do their best. I believe in praising growth and progress, not "smartness".  

In a TFA (Teach for America) flashback, I vividly recall one of our many Saturday sessions ending with this idea:

Smart is not something that you are.
Smart is something that you become.

How powerful for students to realize that being smart comes from effort, perseverance, and continued hard work.  It doesn't happen overnight.

I can't wait to encourage my students to keep trying their best.

Continuing with empowering students, I picked up some lanyards:

Which I turned into:

I'm very excited for my new brag necklaces.  Again, this emphasizes a student's progress over time rather than a numerical score.  

This year, my students will be reading...a lot.  We are utilizing AR with our "reading rangers" program that focuses on comprehension and stamina.  I'm excited that this is used consistently K-5 in every classroom, so there is a school wide support and buy-in from students.

I also am a realist and know I teach ten year-olds...

Which is why I created this:

I know I will have books get damaged. I understand small rips from wear and tear, but I think if a student completely destroys a book, the family should replace it.  I'll need to double check with my grade level and administration, but I'm thinking of putting that in the library contract I send home at the beginning of the year.  In five years of teaching, I've only had to collect from a handful of families.  One student left my copy of Hatchet on the bus.  One had a water bottle explode and flood her backpack.  A third left it out for the dog to find (comically yes, the dog ate it).  A fourth ripped the spine in half.  A few others lost the books in various places.  I think it's fair to hold families fiscally responsible.  After all, if they lose library books, they have to pay to replace the why shouldn't the same be true for my classroom library?

I wanted to jazz up our information space, so I had a little fun with chalk board markers.  I bought a banner from the party supply aisle at Target:

I also borrowed a neighbor's cricut to make:

We are expected to post our calendar so it's obvious what the students are working on, so why not make it fun? 

I also want to to focus on small groups in math, which means I'll need an additional management strategy.

I decided on student math coaches, which would be designated by these:

I'm all about collaboration, so they'll soon say "math coaches".  Students will prove to me they can handle the concept, then I'll give them the lanyards and let them coach their peers while I work with a small group.

More pictures coming soon!

Second chance!

Life is sometimes filled with "could have, would have, should have" moments.

If you didn't stock up on novel guides and other products at my back to school sale, you have a second chance!

(Image created by Fifth in the Middle)

Tomorrow only!

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Classroom 2!

Keys in hand, I'm now a happy resident of room 71.  Perhaps it's silly, but I'm really excited my room not only has a blue stripe at the top (yay color) but also contains windows.  Sometimes it's the little things in life!

My classroom is in no way complete, but here are some snap shots of the work in progress:

Classroom library

I got book bins from a fellow teacher last year and love them!

I'm organizing books into categories, then labeling with twine and paper cards to make it easier for my students:

 However, I still have a long way to go!

I also set up my desk area:

I'm having one of my bulletin board areas be our calendar:

(Stain courtesy of a munchkin's science experiment from last year. I'll be covering it with polka dot border tomorrow.)

One of my goals for this year is to do a better job with vocabulary instruction.  I don't have a traditional (outdated?) word wall, so I'm going to make this vibrant words wall.  Students will put up words on note cards with the definition and examples on the backside.  

I'm going to add "our" in the same pattern as "words" (once I find it) to show my students that it's both interactive and theirs.  Naturally I'll model the first few times to allow for practice time and to clarify my expectations.

It's difficult to see, but the vibrant letters are glittery because why not add that pop of joy?

More pictures to come!  Open house is Friday...I can do this!

Double your impact!

I posted another project to donorschoose.  I requested copies of Steal Away Home, Seed Folks, and My name is Maria Isabel to use with small groups.  I read portions of these novels as read alouds (mentor text) with my fifth graders last year.  They loved the stories but were disappointed when they found out I only had one copy.  I'm requesting eight of each novel to use with small groups. I love when more than one student is reading the same novel because they discuss their ideas with one another outside of our group meetings.

I'm also requesting eight copies of House of Hades to continue our quest with Percy and co.  In the grant, I also asked for some interactive number lines, math manipulatives to stress teaching powers of ten (but in a way that's helpful to my visual and kinesthetic learners), and some classroom organizing materials.

Donations to my classroom are 100% tax deductible and for the next week are being matched through charitable organizations.  Use INSPIRE at checkout to double your donation! (Up to $100).

Even if you can't donate right now, please keep my classroom and young students in your mind.  Pass along this information to any interested parties and I will be extremely appreciative!  Thank you.

Ms. Vice
(and the munchkins of room 71)