Wednesday, September 2, 2015

#2getherwearebetter-Classroom Reveal

I am so excited to link up with Ashley and Angie for their Classroom Reveal Linky!   All of these pictures were taken with my iPhone because I kept forgetting to take pictures of my classroom.   

Here's a picture of my entire classroom from the door to the room.  I know it's a little difficult to see everything, but hopefully you get the idea of the general set up. 

This is my back wall.  I put all of my math centers in the red baskets.  I put content vocabulary under the subject headers.  I will replace the character posters with anchor charts once we get going (I just don't like blank wall space).

The door to my bathroom with class jobs displayed.  

The front of my room. 

My desk area.  One of my curtain rods broke so ignore the mess back there. 

My classroom library.  This is my favorite place in my classroom :-)

Make sure you visit Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners for more classroom reveals!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

#2getherwearebetter- Bulletin Boards

I am so excited to link up again with Angie from Lucky little Learners and Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd.  I've said it before, but these two are my blogging idols.  They are all about collaboration and sharing ideas.  They created this monthly link up as an opportunity for teachers to come together and share their ideas.  I've gotten so many great ideas from all the teachers that have been linking up on the second of every month (together we really are better)!

I have to admit I cringed a little when I found out this month the topic would be bulletin boards.  I love bulletin boards...from OTHER teachers.  I can't stand creating bulletin boards.  I don't have the patience to get them looking the way I want them to look.  Every time I get an idea from a blog or Pinterest, my boards never come out like the inspiration and I become frustrated.  However, bulletin boards are a requirement.  Fortunately, I only have a couple of actual bulletin boards in my classroom.  I try to set them up so that they are as low maintenance as possible and don't require me to change them frequently.  

As much as I don't like to do bulletin boards, I also can't stand having blank wall space.  So in addition to my actual bulletin boards, I'm sharing my other wall displays (things that I would put on a bulletin board if I had more).  

This is the largest board in my classroom.  I used to divide it in to two smaller boards by using two different borders and two different colored backgrounds, but that was too much work.  Now I use this as my classroom word wall.  I add words as we learn them.  

This board is located in the front of my room.  Instead of "Star Student" I do "Top Dog" since our school mascot is the Lab.  The Top Dog for the week fills out the poster, or creates their own and I hang it on the board.  Often times students bring additional pictures that get hung up next to the poster.  

This is my book recommendation bulletin board that is next to my classroom library.  In the pockets are slips that students fill out if they've read a good book.  They fill out the title, author, location in our classroom library, and a quick statement about what they liked about the book.  I then hang the recommendations on the board.  Students who don't know what they want to read can look at the recommendation board for ideas. I find that often students like to read the same books as their friends, so this is a quick way for them to see what their friends are reading.  I find that it also encourages discussion about books!  This year, I will add books discussed during our Book Talk Club meetings to the board (you can read about that here). 

Here's my calendar (which is on my board in the front of the room instead of an actual bulletin board).  I put the whole calendar up at once instead of day by day because I find that it helps with calendar skills.  Next to it is a blank bulletin board.  This is where I display student work (student work is also displayed throughout the room and in the hall).  It's blank now because this was taken before school started.  Last year I started covering my board with fabric, and I'll never go back to covering them with paper.  I did try to use wrinkle releaser on the purple fabric, but the wrinkles didn't come out.  Once the board was covered with student work, the wrinkles weren't as noticeable (that would've driven me crazy).  

I've covered (see what I did there) all the actual bulletin boards in my classroom.  Here are additional wall displays that would be on bulletin boards if I had more (which I'm glad I don't)!

This is my content word wall.  I display words with pictures relating to our units of study and keep them up year round.  I like to review concepts throughout the year, and I found that the students really referred back to this word wall to answer questions.  It was also awesome to have up as we filled out our end of the year memory books!

I hate to have blank wall space.  This is right above my bathroom door, so not in a very obvious spot in the classroom.  These are posters of all the famous Americans we learn about in 2nd grade as well as the people they learned about in K-1.  

I still have a teacher desk.  I don't use it as a place to sit and work, but as a place to store 10 years worth of junk!  We have a poster maker (a large printer that blows things up poster size).  I blew up some of Krista Wallden's clip art to decorate my desk, but I think this would make a cute welcome back to school bulletin board!

This is a small section of wall next to my desk (I told you I don't like any blank space), but this is also one of my favorite spaces.  I put all the photos of my past classes here.  It's so fun to remember my former students and think about what they are up to.  It's also fun when I have siblings and they find their older brother and sister on the wall.  I switched schools this past year, and a fifth grader came down to deliver something and found a picture of his older brother (from my previous school) on the wall!

Since I haven't been able to get in my classroom yet this picture (and the following ones) is taken from the floor in my house, but you should get an idea of what the display will look like :-)  This is my birthday display.  Once I get my class list, I'll write each student's name and birthday on the correct cupcake.  

This is my clip chart.  I had debated about using one this year based on all the blog posts I read about getting rid of the clip chart.  However, the way I use it works for me and my class, so it's back for another year.  

Punctuation marks "posters".  I will display this as a reference for my students. 

My final "bulletin board" is my class job chart.  Each student in my class gets a job.  Their names will be on strips of card stock with Velcro so they are easy to change every week.  

Thanks so much for checking out my bulletin boards.  I can't wait to hop through the other blogs that have linked up to get more ideas for the coming year.  Maybe I'll be so inspired that I get over my dislike for having to put them up :-)

Friday, July 31, 2015

Make Ahead Anchor Charts

I love anchor charts!  I think they are such a valuable piece to student learning.  I love getting inspiration ideas on Pinterest and different blogs.  However, in order for the actual charts to be as cute as the ones I see online I would have to make them ahead of time (and I'm not artistic AT ALL so they still aren't as cute as the inspiration) and I lose the value of creating them with the students and having them take ownership.  I used to sketch them out quickly with the students, and then when I had time redo them to make them cute.  But that took WAY too much time!  I wanted a way to have cute anchor charts, but still have them be meaningful to the students.

This summer I made some "fill in the blank" anchor charts.  We have a poster printer at school and at our admin office that can blow things up to a 36x24 inch poster.  I designed these charts and printed them off on the poster printer so that they are close to chart paper size.  I then laminated all the posters.  I will fill in things with the students as we read.  Because they are laminated I can erase what we wrote and use the same chart again for a different book later in the year or erase them at the end of the year and have my anchor charts ready to go for next year!

I also thought that I could print off the paper size version of each chart, and students could glue them in their reading notebooks and fill out their own copy as we fill in the class copy.

Here are the charts I made and will fill in with the students as we learn each skill.

If you think you might be able to use these in your classroom as well, you can download them here.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Five for Friday

I wish I was in Las Vegas this week for the SDE I Teach 2nd and the Teachers Pay Teachers Seller Conference, but we have some big costs coming up so it wasn't in the cards this year. Next year I WILL be there!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the Five for Friday Linky!  Here are five random things from my week!

I've become OBSESSED with Periscope this week!  It's an app where people will live stream what they are up to and you can follow along.  Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd started the trend for teachers.  They started live streaming from the TpT conference, and now several other conference attendees are doing it as well.  It's SO awesome for those of us who couldn't make it to Vegas to feel like we are part of the event!  You get an alert when someone you follow goes live and you can hop on and follow along with whatever they are doing.  You can tap the screen to give them hearts to show that you appreciate what they are doing.  I've done it so many times that I now see hearts even after I've logged off!

This week was Shark Week!  As a teacher I'm always looking for a reason to celebrate.  I made some "fin"tastic shark themed math centers that I added to my Teachers pay Teachers store.  This past year my students loved doing math centers.  Many of my centers are matching centers and after the students have made all of the matches they will have the answer to a joke.  It motivates students because they like jokes, but they also know right away if they got something incorrect because they joke answer won't make sense!

It's a little embarrassing, but we've lived in our house for 8 years now and have done NOTHING to it during that time.  We went to Home Depot to get some paint samples to repaint one of the bedrooms.  We started with 50 shades of gray (literally) and have finally narrowed it down to a few choices.
I got to see a former coworker for lunch yesterday and it was SO nice to catch up.  I love getting together with people I haven't seen in awhile!
I love summer break for so many reasons, but one of the main reasons is that I get to spend all day with my sweet little princess.  Just like all moms, I can't stop taking pictures of her.  I have hundreds of pictures on my phone of her.  I took this one this week and couldn't stop laughing, so I just had to share!  She's such a goofball!

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shark Week- "Fin"tastic Freebies!

As a teacher I'm always looking for a reason to celebrate. This week I will be celebrating Shark Week!

Each day this week (Monday-Friday) I will post a new FREE shark themed math center to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  The item will be free ONLY on the day I post it.  I will announce when it is posted on Facebook. Make sure you visit me each day and are following me on Facebook and on Teachers Pay Teachers so you don't miss out!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Classroom Improvements

So I've been meaning to get back into blogging for a while now.  However I knew I needed to do it quickly because I REALLY wanted to link up with Angie at Lucky Little Learners and Ashley at Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd.  I've been following both of these ladies for awhile now, and I am just so in awe of all that they do (I want to BE them).  The two of them are my blogging IDOLS!!  Anyway, they started this amazing monthly linky called #2getherwearebetter and I've been dying to link up with them.  I was SO excited to see that this month's topic was Classroom Improvements.  I am constantly thinking of ways that I want to improve my classroom and my teaching.  Now that it's summer, I've been making list after list of things I want to do for next school year.  While this is no where close to all I want to do for next year, it's a start :-)

The first and most important thing I want to do next year is get RID of reading logs!  I've never been a fan of forcing students to read each night.  I want them to WANT to read on their own.  I believe that telling kids to read each night for 20 minutes and then write it down takes out some of the joy of reading.  I've always used reading logs because that's what my teams have done.  However this year I'm doing AWAY with them!

With that being said, I still really want my kids reading as much as possible.  That's why I'm going to start Book Talk Clubs as sort of reading incentive.  Every Friday students will have the chance to eat lunch with me in the classroom (for some reason this is always a HUGE incentive).  However we won't just be chit-chatting, we will be sharing the books we have read throughout the week!

During the week, students will sign up to participate (everyone is welcome).   They will choose a book or books that they have been reading.  These are books that they want to share with their peers.

When a student turns in their sign up form, I will give them a Talking Points sheet.  This is an optional sheet to fill out (I do NOT want this turning into a book report with an extra chore).  They can just write down the things they want to remember to share, I even say they can dictate to an adult and have them do the writing.  

On Friday at lunch time we will meet in the classroom.  Students will share the books they have been reading by giving a brief book talk and sharing why they liked the book.  Students will be given a list of all the books that are being presented, and can check off which books they have an interest in reading.  They can then take this list home to have their parents help them find the books, or they can take it to our school library.  They'll then continue to READ!!!

You can read more about My Book Talk Club and download the files for FREE at my Teachers Pay Teachers store here!

I am the WORST planner, so next year I WILL be bettter!  I always know what I'm going to do and am prepared for each day, but actually writing it down is PAINFUL for me.  I'd rather spend my time coming up with ideas and getting materials ready than writing it down.  However, I know I HAVE to do it.  To help me, I bought a fancy Erin Condren Planner to use.  Hopefully this will motivate me to actually do lesson plans.  I'm also all about the "cutesy" so I have been stalking Instagram for ideas on how to make my planner even cuter.  Washi tape anyone?!

So as I've said, I'm OBSESSED with Angie at Lucky Little Learners.  Last year she started doing Video newsletters as a way to communicate with parents.  She wrote about it here.  What an AMAZING idea! I've been looking up ideas on how to implement this with my class next year, and can't wait to give it a try!

Along with getting rid of reading logs, this is a big one for me.  I'm still trying to figure out what I want to do.  Next year will be my 10th (WHAT?!) year teaching.  I've tried everything under the sun, but STILL haven't found exactly what I want.  I've tried a classroom economy where students earn money for doing their jobs and demonstrating appropriate behavior and I've tried a Treasure Box as an incentive.  Last year I started using only Class Dojo, but had to abandon in it in January as it was becoming too much to keep up with.  I always had to have my phone or iPad on me (I didn't like to display points on the board), but I had a really good class, and felt like I wasn't awarding enough points.  After that I switched back to the clip chart.  The clip chart worked well (students move both up and down), but I still feel a little icky making students move down in front of everyone (it almost feels a little like shaming).  So I'm trying to find something that is POSITIVE and EASY to implement.  I have ideas, but I'm struggling when it comes to handling the students that consistently don't follow the rules.

My last goal (that I'm going to write about here, there are many more things I want to do next year) is to implement more math centers.  Last year, I began consistently using math centers.  I started creating centers that focused on the current skill we were working on.  So if we were doing place value, all of my centers involved place value.  However as the year went on, I began adding different skills to my math centers.  For example, if we were learning about time, I gave a mini lesson about time and when I met with a group we worked on time.  However the students that were not working with me, were working on other skills previously learned in the year.  There was a group doing a place value activity, a group doing a regrouping activity, a group practicing math facts, and a group counting money.  When I gave an end of the year math assessment, I was impressed with how well they did, and I believe it's because I spiraled skills throughout the year.  
This is an example of centers I put out during St. Patrick's Day.  As you can see, there are a lot of different skills being reviewed.  (P.S. Like my Facebook page to download these centers for FREE!!)

What I want to improve on next year, is the management of my math centers.  I want to be able to meet with groups more frequently.  I also am debating whether to do heterogeneous or homogeneous groups.  Last year, my groups were ability based.  BUT I found that my struggling students, struggled at their activities, and if I was meeting with a group I couldn't always help them.  HOWEVER it made it easier to differentiate when the groups were ability based.  

I am spending a lot of time this summer reading more about math centers and how others effectively implement them. 

Phew!  I feel like I wrote a novel.  I guess that's what happens when you haven't blogged for nine months.  

Make sure you go back to Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd and Lucky Little Learners to read about their classroom improvements.  You will also find other great blogs to read about other's improvement goals!

Thanks for sticking with me!