September 11, 2016

2016-17 Classroom Reveal, or, (The New, The Same, and The Tweaked)

Some have accused me of not being organized, while others have raised their eyebrows at the mere thought that someone could say such a thing. But, one thing is certain: my classroom will rarely look this good again.

Every September offers teachers their yearly "do over": the ultimate tabula rasa of careers. We get to decide how much to repeat and what needs to be scrapped. And, there is always the in-between: "I'm going to keep that, but this time...". Teachers are truly lucky in that regard. 

I now present to you the "new", the "same" and the "tweaked" of my classroom!

Stuff that's new this year:

IG Inspired Desk!

No, the desk isn't new. But, the welcome sign is! I couldn't resist. After looking at all the amazing posts other teachers had shared on their Instagram accounts, I was inspired to jazz up my own desk a little bit. And since it's most likely the first thing that draws your eye when you walk in, why not give a friendly message to the person coming through the door?

Let the Brag Tagging Begin!
Reading Log Brag Tags ready to go.
I have taken the plunge with Brag Tags. I love the concept and have seen some positive energy coming from the students this week with all the possibilities these present. I am excited to see where these tiny bits of motivation take the students this year. 

Stuff that's the same:

Stay Off!
This is my most prized classroom possession. I love this chair. I won it in a silent auction a few years back to raise money for my district's art department. The best part is, it was designed and painted by my class while in art class that year!  It's so important to me, that when I was changing classrooms I brought it home with me for the summer. (I wasn't taking any chances that it would end up in the wrong place!) By the way, I am the only person allowed to sit in this chair. You can sit in the teacher wheely chair all you want, but keep your butt off the Van Gogh!

The wooden Pinocchio in the
background was from a trip to
Italy and my father's birthplace.
Right next to my desk I keep a few reminders of "my why". It's nice to glance over at different times of the day and see these smiling faces. It's also a nice way for the students to meet the important people in my life. I have a hodge podge of items: pictures, drawings, travel mementos, little notes, etc... If you don't have a corner of love- create one! It's a great energy boost when teaching starts to drag you down.

My classroom could not function without these two boards. 

Where the "magic" happens.
On the left is the "chart". It tells the students who is going where and in which order. Student groupings change daily (one for ELA and different groups for Math). Also, I will group students within groups: see the "paired" sticks? And, sometimes we "Jump the Board". That's when students work with the student across the board from their stick. 

It may sound complicated, by in less than two weeks my students can read and run this board with no help from me; which is extremely helpful on the days a substitute is in the room!

To the right is the Classroom Helper Board. I change up who is in charge of the different jobs once a week. 

Stuff that's tweaked:

After years of cramming books onto shelves sideways, I finally bit the bullet and bought new shelving. Then, of course, it bothered me that they wouldn't match. So, I then bought contact paper that was close to the theme in my room. It wasn't an exact match, but I was aiming for "close enough". This was the result.
New look = new labels!
Increased shelving means an entire
section devoted to Harry Potter!

I must say though, despite the time it took to paper the old shelves, I am glad I did it. Plus, I now have room for all my chapter books. (I haven't been brave enough to tackle the picture books...yet.)

So, must of us have had some sort of "Today's Goals" chart floating about for the past couple of years. Every night after the students left, I would erase the "old goals" and write the new goals for tomorrow on a dry erase surface. 

This year, I am changing it up. I decided to create a "Your Targets" poster using a Class Dojo image. Each day I will write the actual standards (4.NBT.1, RI.4.1) instead of the "wordier" version. This week we explored the different standards along with the abbreviated codes and starting next week (every Tuesday and Thursday) we will have a "Standards Check" that the students will use to self-monitor their progress towards mastery.

Brand new way to keep track of standards and targets!
WBT Rules made with fans bought at Hobby Lobby and black plastic plates.
I love the simplistic methods of Whole Brain Teaching. I added on the Diamond Rule this year and weeded out "Raise Your Hand For Permission to Leave Your Seat". Rule #3 doesn't work so well when you have flexible seating in your classroom. So, I got rid of that one. Thus, I am still at five rules and have kept them numbered that way. Now, if only I can remember which one rule goes with which number! (Good thing I have the visuals to help...)

Whelp, that's the lay of the land for this year. I will most likely continue to tweak here and there for the next couple of weeks. But, the "big stuff" is done. 

My room has a much more zen-like feel this year; more than ever before. I love to sit among all the changes, as well as all the familiar. I'll take all the up-front organization I can get. Because, as some of you may relate, in a few short weeks I'll be flailing about trying to find the copies I just ran, the Reading Inventory Correlation Chart, and my notes from last weeks' faculty meeting!

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