Sunday, March 8, 2015

Things I love about my classroom

A fellow teacher, former coworker, and adorable new mom Katie posted about her favorite things about her classroom in her blog, which inspired me to do the same.

Scholastic Book Orders

I love how excited my students get for the book orders.  I love that teachers get free coupons and reward points based on the parent orders, so I get to stock up on new books for my students.  This year I've noticed they're obsessed with the "Who was..." series, which is great!  I've read a few of these informational texts and they're very student friendly.  If you're looking for books on a specific person, I'd try here first.

Plus every few months or so, Scholastic includes coupons for the students.  If they spend $10, they get a coupon for a free book (under $5).  It's a pretty nice way to encourage reading.  Plus the prices are cheaper than local stores, which is always a bonus!

Class Competitions

We are a Reading Rangers school and use AR to gauge students' comprehension on their independent reading books.  We are in a competition within the grade level for the highest engage time and the highest percentage. 

However, this competition isn't enough for my students.  We have additional competitions within our classes and across the grade level.  Our current one is a race to 50 passing tests (85% or above) between the girls and the boys.  However, the catch for this one is that any time someone scores less than 80%, that team loses a point.  The kids are loving it!

Other successful competitions include:

-race to 100 100%s
-race to 100 points (each book is assigned a different point value depending on it's complexity and length)
-table team percentages

What competitions do you have with your students?

Class Dojo

I joined the class dojo train late this year, so I am currently only using it as a reward for reading rangers.  For each 100% students earn, they get 2 points.  85 or 90% gets 1 point, filling a badge earns 3 points, and graduating earns 10 points.   They are motivating one another to be in the top five, which is excellent.

Next year I will be using this exclusively as my classroom behavior system.  As helpful as the card system is, I'm over it.  With class dojo, I can reward specific behaviors.  More importantly, I can easily share the information with my students' families, which increases our home-school connections. 

Plus, it's free!

Our Anchor Charts

I haven't done the best job at posting pictures of all our anchor charts (there are a lot!) but I am proud of them.  I make them with the students and they have mini-versions in their notebooks for reference.  This year I stepped it up and have them color-coded.

Teal: reading
Yellow: foundational skills (fluency, phonics, word parts)
pink: math
white: novels

I love that my students have internalized that these are a resource designed to help them learn.  They often ask to go up and look at the charts for clarification (success!).

I ended up just stapling them on top of one another since we're out of space.  I don't have any cutesy inspirational posters up, but still ran out of wall space!  

Classroom Library 

For the first time in my teaching career, I had to level my library.  I used the reading rangers program to level my library (school mandate) but I went beyond that. I grouped my library by genre in adorable book buckets:

I've had a little bit of backlash because it's not organized by fiction/informational text or by point value.  For me, it's more authentic for readers to pick a book a book based on the topic instead of the length.

The Map

I love the map.  I love the postcards.  But more importantly, the map is getting my students so excited about geography and the other 49 states.  We are able to make connections with literature and informational text by linking the postcards with the locations named in books.  They are getting excited about colleges and starting to think about their options for their future. 

What are your favorite parts about your classroom?

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