Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to School Classroom Tour!!

I just got home from Meet the Teacher/Curriculum Night!! Whew....I'm tired....and hot!  Having 40+ people in your classroom and having to get up and speak in front of all of them will certainly give you hot flashes. haha.  But I had a lot of fun meeting all of my new kids and their parents. It made me really excited to start the school year.  So....the time has come!  I am finally done (yeah right.... I'm never done) with my classroom, and I'm so happy with how everything turned out.  I worked REALLY hard on a lot of different projects, but all the hard work and $ was worth it!!!  Thanks to my FANTASTIC husband who came to help me get ready for Curriculum night tonight, I got my last and final IKEA bookshelf put in and all my books arranged.  My work here is done! Enjoy..              - Beth

Front of my classroom.

Math Shelf - Trofast Frame from IKEA labeled with all the different math manipulatives.

I LOVE how this turned out! This shelf is amazing!

My calendar and class Focus Wall.  This is my first time using a focus wall...I'm excited!

My PRIDE AND JOY! Rotating classroom utensil holder.  And this is NOT the lazy susan from IKEA.  I had to actually make this one with 18" round pieces of craft wood, ball bearings for the rotating part, spray paint, clear lacquer, a compass to measure out the angles from the center, and a ton of sanding!! Ahhh.... it was a pain.  But I flipping love it!   The bins and plant in the middle are from IKEA. 

Classroom library & mini-lesson area.

IKEA Besta Shelf with my Target book bins.

Back wall of my classroom with my guided reading table/teacher area.

This is where I organize all my teacher stuff, supplies I use, and everything for my lessons.  I have a drawer labeled for each subject and put all the printable stuff I need for each lesson in the drawer.  The little things with the apples are the dividers for each of my reading groups.

Our school is a Leader in Me school, and one of our focuses this year is on teaching our students to be leaders.  So all 22 of my kids have a job this year!!  After seeing a little roach friend in my room, though, I think I need to add "bug squasher" as a job!  What do you think??

My read aloud book baskets.... I organize my read alouds by what comprehension strategy/subject I use to teach with them.

Magnetic word wall & computer stations.

This is where extra student supplies are kept, my extra crayon organizers, writing paper for Writer's Workshop, clipboards, etc.

Our "Family Tree" that's outside of our classroom.  I am going to put all the kids pictures on the tree after I take them on the first day of school so it will look like a real family tree.  I got my tree at Hobby Lobby.  And I LOVE the sign at the top. I found it on TPT.  It's going to be a LONG time until my kids are going to graduate high school.....Class of 2024!

My little bakers!!

So....I have to give my teammates credit for this ingenius idea!!  How can the kids pick and pull at their name tags if they are behind them??  No stickiness or mess on my tables any more!  I just used metal rings to attach them.

Side wall of my room with cubbies. 

My hallway display.  I HATE di-cutting letters for hallway displays, so I got a frame and painted a piece of wood with chalkboard paint to make a hallway chalkboard.  So now I can update the title of my hallway display on the chalkboard!  NO MORE DI-CUTTING LETTERS!  Whoohooo!!  I also used ribbon to cover up the not so pretty cork strip in the middle of my display.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Back to School Student Gift followers!! I'm so very sorry I have been MIA.  I have been crazed by the back to school whirlwind and have had less than adequate time to think about posts.  Just for the record, I had a goal to get my classroom preview up by August 1st.  Hahahaha!  Hilarious....  That SO did not happen.  Me being, well, me....(a.k.a. a combination of lots of flowing creativity & un-diagnosed classroom-induced OCD), I came up with about 10 million other things I needed to do to my room before I took pictures, so that's why you haven't seen my classroom yet.  But I PROMISE it will be up ASAP.  I should be done now with classroom purchases (after my 4th trip to IKEA Charlotte in the last 2 that bad??!).  
   Okay, so I have a little goody for you.  I found little bags of Oreo cookies on sale at Publix this week B1G1 FREE, so I bought two boxes and am attaching these little tags to them to give out to the kids at Meet the Teacher/Curriculum Night this Monday. I changed the wording for grades K, 1, & 2, so all you primary teachers out there can utilize them. See you in a couple days with my newly decorated, arranged, and IKEA-fied classroom! 
  PS:  As lots of you know Katie got Teacher of the Year for her school and the latest is that she made it into the TOP 5 for her entire county!! She won't post about it because she's too humble, but that doesn't mean I can't!  Yay Katie!!
         - Beth

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Classroom Tour and Setup Tips

I had open house Friday... I can't believe it's already back to school time! I took some pictures of my classroom, so I could share my classroom setup, organization, and decorating ideas. I sure hope it stays this clean and organized all year long :)  I would love to hear about how you set up your classroom!

In this picture you can see my back reading carpet and library. Also, I have a positive behavior clipchart by the bathroom door (I love this system!) I know it's small in the picture... but a friend made me a super cute alphabet that i have posted at the top of my back wall! At each group of desks I have an organized station with 4 drawers and a basket on top with six cups. I have group helpers who pass out  and collect group materials to make for easy transitions and clean up. 

In the picture to the right you will see my front carpet by my interactive white board. Above my white board are my SRA sound cards (they will be flipped over as each sound is introduced). Also, I have baskets on the front wall with early finisher activities. The numbers over each group are a management strategy. The numbers 1-30 are written around each square and I move a clothespin around the square to keep up with group points. when they get to 30 they earn a reward :)

The picture to the left is my classroom library. I am so blessed to have great friends! Another friend made me this beautiful bookshelf, and I got the baskets from hobby lobby about 3 years ago on a 90% off rack. I LOVE A DEAL!!! My books are organized by genre. Within each genre, I have colored dots on each book with AR levels. The students know what colors are best for them, so it makes it easy for students to find a "Just Right Book." 

Are you a PBIS school? Does yours school have a school wide ticket/money system? If you answered yes to one of these questions, then I have great way to help you easily manage your students dollars, tickets, loot, etc. I laminated library pockets and put student numbers on each pocket. As the students earn "eagle feathers" (Our school's name for a "dollar") they place it in their library pocket. Since I start this management system I have not had students loose or steal feathers. Also, it's easy for me to see who has earns lots and who I need to spy! 

Are all teachers OCD or is it just me? This little shelf is one of my favorites! I have classroom supplies in the green buckets for students to use if they need extras. The folders are color coded by subject area. I have found that if I only have the students keep a few things in their desk, they stay organized and clean! On the bottom two shelves are my math manipulatives and math tubs. My math tubs have activities that use manipulatives, so I keep them by each other so the students always have easy access to the materials they need. 

I would LOVE to hear ideas about how you set up your classroom and organize materials!

Top Teaching Takeaways

I just got back from meeting up with hundreds of first grade teachers in Chicago... Yes, it was a blast!! I attended the SDE "I Teach 1st" conference in Chi-Town. I learned so many new teaching strategies, management tips, technology  ideas, etc.  I went through my pages and pages of notes, and I thought I would share some of my favorites with all of you. I hope that some of these ideas you will be able to take back with you to your classroom.  Oh by the way... I am already thinking about a summer trip to Vegas for a conference next summer!!!

1) Turn your blog into a book!
        - I saw some super cute books that people had made from their personal and classroom blogs. You can turn any blog into a professional looking book for around 20 bucks. It will take all the blog post and pictures and turn them into a book to keep. I am thinking parents would LOVE to have this from a classroom blog, or this would also be super cute as an easy scrapbook from a family or teaching blog. It's called blog2print. If you have blogger you can go directly to 

2) SMARTBoard/ Interactive White board can be a QUIET center 
         - I want three of these soooo bad!! I have tried turning my interactive white board into a center rotation (which my kids LOVE), but it tends to be more of a distraction to the rest of the class. I don't know why I never thought of this before, but these BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES just plug into your computer and will allow students to listen to games at the board while other students are not distracted by the sounds. I found these at amazon for 29 dollars. So simple... anyone want to buy me some?

3) No more... "I quit because I am losing!"
        - Anyone ever played the game "bang/boom" and heard a kid say NO!!! I don't want to put all my cards back because I will lose. Well, here is a wonderful solution :)  In order to keep ALL students engaged throughout an entire game, you can incorporate a winning dice. So how does it work? Create a "winning  dice" by writing on a foam cube or dry erase dice a combinations of numbers and rules (such as: more than 5, less than 5, even number, odd number etc). After you play a game were students try to earn cards you roll the "winning dice" to find out who the winner is. Any student who has the number of cards that matches the winning dice or rule on the winning dice wins! You may have 1 winner, multiple winners, or no winner. No matter the results, kids all have a fair chance to win and will stay engaged until the VERY END! The foam cubes in the picture were only 1 dollar from the dollar tree- Wheeew.... I am making a winning dice for all my center games :)

4) Easy replacement to Scratch and Sniff Stickers :)
         - What kid doesn't love a scratch and sniff sticker? Well, I learned about a cheap new replacement to scratch and sniff stickers. All you need is a couple of cheap tubes of lipstick (fun flavors).  As you are teaching and walking around your classroom, you can give a child a "Sniffy" by just marking their hand with a small swipe of scented chapstick for positive behavior or critical thinking. It's a cheap idea and the students can't lose it. You could also try this with glitter lip balm and give kids a "sparkle." I am going to try this in my room for sure this year! (I have seen all different flavors in the dollar spot at Target) 

5) Sign Up Genius 
         - This site is a great way to easily organize classroom holiday celebrations and parent/teacher conferences. The free website will allow you to create sign up sheets for parents so you no longer need to send out emails with 20 replies from parents. Just send an email with the link to your sign up, and parents can sign up for food or conference times without you having to do any work! I am not sure how I lived without this before.
*Want a free Latte on parent conference day?? - One teacher said that she always writes by the first conference time (Must bring mocha frappucino). She said that the parents always want to sign up for this time, and they think it is hilarious. Plus, she always starts her day out with a free coffee. That's genius!!!

6) Early Finishers?? Try Bean Boggle
       - Create a 3x4 grid on construction paper. Write different letters on dried lima beans. Place 12 lima beans in a small ziplock bag. The students will shake the bag, place the lima beans (letter side up) on the bean in each square. The students will then try to make as many words as possible, just like boggle. What an easy way to have LOTS of boggle games going on at one time. Also, you can make different levels by using uncommon letters (z,w,y) or making a larger grid. Yes... My earlier finisher will be seeing this game next year :)

7) Concentration Dominoes (No prep math center!)
       - Sometimes I just wonder why I never thought of things like this before! I learned about an easy math center that takes absolutely no prep. All you need is a box of dominoes :)  In a ziplock back take out different domino combinations that equal ten. For example, the students may add the dots on one domino and have six and then add the dots on another domino and have four. If they flip over two dominoes whose total dots equal ten then "They Made a Ten!"  The students continue to practice making tens by flipping over dominoes just like a game of concentration. So easy, no prep, no copies... I LIKE IT!