Sunday, September 18, 2016

Classroom Set Up

Tomorrow may mark the fifteenth day of school (and the start of week number four), but it's time to take a sneak peek into my classroom and all the prep that went into the first days of school.

Bulletin Boards

These are a huge deal at my school.  Having a well put together bulletin board is a point of pride and my classroom boards are no exception.

I pattern mixed with chevron and polka dots, but still think the work looks. 

I decided this would be my Reading Rangers board and added red accents.

The top sheet is a guide that reminds students of how the colored dots coincide with Reading Rangers.  With this program, students read within their ZPD (zone of proximal development) and increasingly tackle more complex texts. The envelopes hold tickets and they fill them out as they complete their individual goals.  

The other bulletin board in my room is complimentary colors, but chevron with a solid.

This  is where we'll hang our anchor charts, so we can "anchor" our learning.


I struggled to perfectly match the grays, but I think it's close enough.

The outside board has overlapping post cards to make a border.  

Since fabric can be expensive, my teacher hack is to use a flat sheet and cut off extra.  Works like a charm! 

Since I have so many students, I took over space beyond the bulletin board to fit everyone's work.  

It's still strange to see my new future last name. I won't be changing it on this blog, my teacher twitter account, or on my {Teachers pay Teachers} store, but everywhere else my last name will be changed.

My students are calling me by both last names, I've changed it with Scholastic book orders, and I made new business cards, but I won't jump through the school district's hoops until summer break.


We're expected to display our learning standards, so I might as well make the space cute. 

I also have space for our "ten for ten" checklist.  Every time students earn a perfect 10 in specials, I write the date in the box.  When ten are filled, students get a bonus recess.  (They've already earned their first one, which we took indoors due to the weather.)

Below is a classroom motto, then below that is space for the standards. 

Missing Work

Absenteeism can be a problem and after a few years, it was time for some new absent folders. The paper folders just won't do, so I snagged a few bright yellow plastic folders from Target:

I'm working on  being more explicit with my students, so I tweaked the folders to have very clear instructions:

So far it's working!  For a class of 35, I have 5 folders.  I hope I'm never missing more than 5 students at a time!  In terms of procedures, the missing student's fellow table mates are responsible for completing the folders and filling in the student upon his or her return to the classroom.

Work to Finish

In elementary school, we often use the same passage for several days, or make work double sided and need to return to it later.  For this reason, I make work to finish folders.

Again, using the same plastic folders as above,  each student now has a space to keep his or her work.  For most students, this is manageable.  Every year I have a few that really struggle with organization and need more support in keeping materials together.

As a side note, buying plastic ones means I can reuse them for several years before I have to replace them, which is good for my back to school shopping budget.

Class Decor

I've tried to keep the decorating of my classroom to a minimum, but there are still a few places that I've added some personal touches.  I'm in my room a lot so I want to like what I see.

The crayon wreath I made last year didn't survive the summer heat, so I found a wooden one at Target that was much easier to recreate.  I had the Harry Potter inspired sign from years ago just hanging out in a box, so I brought it into the classroom.  The tissue box is a plain wooden one that I added scrapbook paper to and then taped over.  It's held up to a few years of student use.

I found the board in the dollar spot of Target (although it was one of those weird items that's $3) and had a friend vinyl cut the letters for me.

Class Information

Instead of doing the standard "meet the teacher" letter that parents always use, as a grade level we switched it up and made flip books:

Forty of them.   Students were excited!  This was a download from TpT and before we cut them, each page had 2.  They are pretty easy to assemble and I'm sure would have gone much quicker if we didn't all try to copy at once and use four different colors.  Lessons for next time.

I also dedicated the space behind my teacher desk to be class information and a reference space:

Specials schedules, GATE time (although this year it's push in and called Project Based Learning), and more is easily accessible for me, the students, and substitutes.  I'm all for making everyone's job easier.  

Through the power of caffeine, DVDs, B's help, and sheer determination (cough stubbornness), my classroom went from this:

To this:  

 (Yes, the table cloth is totally a strategic move so I can hide things under my teacher prep table.  As a bonus, it was on sale at Target.)

 Ready or not, here they come!


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