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 books...so 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!

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