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!


  1. Nice job, Bonnie! I love the idea of book talks. For classroom management, I suggest checking out whole brain teaching. I started it about a year and a half ago and it has changed my teaching so much. I will also be working on doing guided math and math centers this year.

  2. Good Idea! I've had the book downloaded for awhile now and have watched a few videos. Maybe it's time I get serious about learning more about it :-) Glad to know that you've found it effective!

  3. Love all of your ideas! Your goals for next year are very similar to mine. I agree with the reading log issue. I feel that it is such a waste of time and the majority of my students weren't even reading the books they had logged in! When reading is forced it's no longer fun! :( I just dowloaded your book talk freebie and will be giving it a try. Sounds like fun! Kids LOVE eating lunch with the teacher. Thanks a ton! :)

  4. Love your no book log plan! I may use this idea for my reading intervention students. Thank you for sharing!

  5. Love all of your ideas, especially book talk. What a great way to promote literacy. I'm also looking for another classroom management system. I currently use the clip chart, but am open to something new. Can't wait to hear what you will implement in the fall. 😊

  6. Thanks so much for the wonderful idea of how to track reading! I love this! Very inventive- I plan to use it this year. Thanks!