With my return to work this past Monday, along with quality time spent with someone awesome, I’ve barely had time to post.
1. Awesome was, obviously, quality time spent with someone awesome :).
2. Awesome was, over the course of 3 pedagogical days and 4 meetings, the growing feeling of being a strong part of a positive, energetic, hardworking and dedicated, and downright friendly team.
3. Awesome was, after many hours, finally getting my classroom exactly the way I dreamed of. Thanks to some wonderful ideas from my colleagues, from various websites (particularly this one), and the fantastic organization of the teacher whose room I am taking over, I am blessed with the opportunity to teach in a classroom infinitely more bright, spacious and full of resources and materials than I’ve ever had. I am now ready to meet my students tomorrow morning!
Here is a tour, starting from the door and working from left to right:
The “Organization Station”. On the bulletin board, I’ve posted the daily agenda, monthly calendar and other information students need to know about their day/month/year. On the table, I have boxes for their homework folders, busy books and tool kits (books in which they will put resources they will need for independent work like word banks, tables and charts). I also have a bin for extra handouts for kids who lose theirs or need a new one.
In the drawers, I have all the school supplies students will need to do their work (pencils, pens, post-its, rulers, highlighers, etc.). Beside that is the “Inbox”. Each student has a slot in which they will put their finished work for me to mark (no more mountainous paper piles on my desk!). On the wall, I’ve posted a “Class Jobs” chart, on which I will rotate students every day. Beside that is the “Homework Checklist” where I will keep tabs monthly of students who return their homework (incentives will go monthly to students who bring it every day).
The “English Station” and class library. On the table, I have bins and boxes for their various English-related books. The class library is divided into fiction, chapter books and non fiction. The fiction books are divided into numbered and colour-coded reading levels. I also have thesauruses, dictionaries, encyclopedias and atlases for students to use.
On the filing cabinet, I’ve hung a pink card for each student to put in the space from which they took their book, so that they can return their book to the same spot. Students will be allowed to take 1 book at a time, and if they have a book, I’ll expect their card to be holding a spot somewhere on the shelf. This will keep my class library effortlessly organized (I hope!)
On the wall, once we start working with the writing process, I will create a chart with each step of the writing process and have a clothes pin with each of their names, which I will move each time they complete a step. I will also have a bin for students’ reading lots for independent reading. And, in the window, I will hang a “clothes line” from which I will hang published work from Writer’s Workshop.
The Personal and Social Development, Social Studies Stations and Games Stations. This is where students will keep their books for those subjects, and have access to various board games, card games and the like when the time is right.
In the cupboards, I’ve organized all of my teacher’s guides, manuals and supplementary resources by subject. Underneath, in the cubbies, I’ve organized them to hold cd’s, stickers and magnets, fancy paper, little whiteboards and chalkboards, big posters I will use throughout the year but don’t need yet, chart paper and extra school supplies.
The cupboards and the cubbies are “off limits” to the students (there are little white labels that say that), but they can use some of the things in the cubbies if they need to and ask first.
The Math Wall will be the red and white bulletin board (where I will post things directly related to what we are currently learning), as well as the wall space from floor to ceiling immediately surrounding that (to the other side of the Smart Board). I will be constantly rotating stuff. Once things are no longer very current, but still needed on the walls, I will move them into the yellow space and remove things that are expected to just be known (or have been integrated into their tool kits). This keeps my walls nice and plain (as overstimulation can be a problem), in a nice, systematic way in which students can follow and always know where to find what they need.
I’ve arranged the desks into clusters. Each cluster will be a “family”. On Friday, students will be arranged in their families and be given an opportunity to choose a family name. These will be the groups they will work in for cooperative learning activities…but they will be allowed to move their desks away (as long as they do so quietly, which I will train them how to do, and move them back in their cluster when they’re done) during independent work time.
The red and blue bulletin board and the wall space, from floor to ceiling, around it, is the Rules and Strategies Wall. The green cards are the class rules. As I teach them, I will post cards that depict the learning strategies that students will use. I will also post other important things as they relate to classroom management.
On the side of the filing cabinet, I’ve posted a green, yellow and red card, and have made a clothespin with each of the students’ names on them. Every day, students will start with their clothespin on the green card, which means they are listening and behaving well. If they start to not listen, or to misbehave, I will move their clothes pin to the yellow card, which means “be careful”. If they are really not listening, or misbehaving, I will move their clothes pin to the red card, which means “Uh oh!”. Students who finish the day on the green card every day for a week will have their name put on the “Wall of Fame”, which is going to be immediately under the cards.
I also have a “street light” that I will hang (I needed a nail and hammer so I haven’t done it yet). It also has green, yellow and red lights. I will use that as visual for whole-class behaviour.
Inside the filing cabinet is the Art Station, full of paint, pastels, markers, glitter, glue and every other Art supply imaginable.
The chalkboard is the Word Wall, where I will stick cards with words of the week under their appropriate letters. I will remove them after a week, once students have had lots of time to view them, and to put them in their desktop dictionaries, and keep them in a bin to use for spelling games, word challenges and other activities. This will, again, keep my walls uncluttered and effective.
Under the Word Wall is the Math Station.