Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Organizing-Small Steps

I can't believe that it is almost August. I have 3 weeks of summer vacation left, and it feels like we just got out of school!

My room finally got cleaned, so I've started working in it. I'm doing a major organizing haul this year, since this will be my first time being in the same school for another year. (This will be my 2nd year at this school if the previous statement did not make sense ;)

Since I'll be living with this room for at least another year (hopefully a lot more!!), I needed not to just store stuff, but have it work for me (previously, I've shoved my stuff where it has been easily accessible, and used what I could easily find from the stuff in the room)

I've been going through stuff with a cold heart-if I haven't touched it or used it, I don't need it. Some stuff will be thrown away, some stuff is going on the 'free' table at school, and other stuff will be gifted to other teachers.

My major project? Remember these shelves?

Everything is kind of willy-nilly all over the place and it wasn't sensible (to me).

So I spent an hour and half doing some work today (with some more to go!)

Some of you might see the pictures and say "Kaitlyn, that looks messier than when you started!"

I know.

But there is a method to my madness. :)

This is what it looked like when I started: (I apologize for the blurry pictures-camera has be acting up!)

I moved a lot of shelves today, and cleaned each one before I moved it (ewww-they were icky!). I think I got a lot done in the hour and a half I was there!

Right now:
This is the Math/Science Area.

There book luggage will be on the bottom shelving currently has binders all over it :)

On the second shelf, I have my center binders (separated by domain) with the center bins next to it...I just need to organize those! Then I have more common used manipulatives.

The third shelf have less commonly used manipulatives.

The top shelf holds the science materials that didn't fit in the closet.

This is the start of the literacy section.

The blue bins hold guided reading packs, and the clear bins hold mentor texts.  I still need to finish organizing this area-put all the literacy series stuff in their new home!  (Plus, add all the binders I have...but we won't talk about that :P )

The rest of my classroom:

All those piles have a purpose! There's a trash pile, a free pile, different teacher piles and an old math resources pile (that we still have to keep even though we are all piloting different programs for a whole year...)

I didn't put the rest of my word wall up, because I stagger the letters (based on the number of words for each letter) and accidentally took the picture off my camera-whoops! I'll have to put it back on before I finish! :)

What are some of your organizing tricks?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, July 29, 2013

Back to School Goals


I'm linking up with:

I {Heart} Recess

for her Monthly Goals-Back to School Edition!

I still have almost a month to go (I don't go back until August 26th)-but I'm always thinking about what I could do better/different!

Personal: I did pretty good with this one last year-and I want to keep it up! I definitely felt more relaxed with my students last year from previous years-and I think it was because I left a lot of stuff at school and tried not to stress over it.

Organization: I'll be doing some major organizing before school starts (stay tuned!), and I want to keep it that way!

Planning: I plan about three days ahead-so I can change it easily if something happens. I definitely want to stay more on top of that this year-and add in and keep track of the CC standards I teach

Professional: We're (my 4th grade team) are hoping to get approval for a Lucy Calkins workshop-and I think it would be good if we were on the same page with things! We're also piloting 3 different math programs this year-it should be interesting!

Students: My biggest goal is to make learning fun for them and to realize that they can achieve great things

Motto: Everyone needs a little nonsense/fantasy in their lives! Helps with critical thinking ;)

What are your goals?

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Setting Up Writing

Happy Wednesday!

Time for another Workshop Wednesday with Jivey!

Today I'm going to talk about setting up writing.

Last year, my students had writing binders (with 5 tabs-First Draft, Published, Free Write, Poetry, Writing Notes).

We had the green binders :)
This year though, I'm going to try something a little different.

Instead of binders, we are going to try 8-pocket folders.

Right now, they'll have a section for pre-writes/brainstorm, first drafts, editing/revision, published, poetry, rubrics, and writing helpers. I still have to think on the other two. Any suggestions?

I also have to set up my Steps Pencil-I have to add more clips! I have more students this year. :)

I also want to make this:

I think it will be a good reminder for the kids before they have me take a look at it!

I also have to set up my VOICES board (and you know, update this year ;)

And of course, make sure I have plenty of Mentor Texts to get the job done! :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, July 19, 2013

Traveling Reading Bin

These past few weeks I have been working at our Summer help maintain those skills! We're about halfway through, and I'm having a lot of fun (it's only 4 hours a day for 3 days a week!!).

I'm not actually teaching a grade-I'm what's known as a floater. I'm bouncing between 3rd and 4th grade (Very cool because I get to see some of the kids I had this year, and get a peek at some of the kids I'll have in September!!)

I'm doing different reading groups, and helping out in general. Since I'm traveling, I have a bin that goes back and forth with me. I though I would show you my interpretation of a traveling teacher's reading bin!

First off, I have these resource books in my bin.
Two reader response books, and a poetry book. I use the poetry book on Thursdays with one of my groups-when our time is cut short so they can go the the computer lab.

I have them read the poem (many many times!), and they we work on the rhyming words and other word study from the poem (I do this with my 4th graders who are below level-they both have IEPs but are at very different places reading wise-so it's been interesting trying to find books that fit both of them!)

We usually spend about 15-20 minutes on each poem-so we get through 2 poems before we go to the Computer Lab.  I have them read each poem 3-5 times depending on length and style before we move into talking about the poem and word study.

An important part of my instruction is going over vocab-so I have whiteboards at the ready!

And with whiteboards-you need Expo markers!

I use the last whiteboard-

Along with pencils and post-its
to help the readers track their thinking. This helps them really think about the information they are learning while they are reading-and we can go back and do activities with their post-it markers later.

I use the symbols to track their thinking rather than the different colors because's cheaper to buy a couple of sets with different colors and give each kid one, rather than buying 25 different packs.

Since this is all about reading, I also have the books that each group is reading:
You can see the friends that tracked their thinking!

And for those that struggle a little with text:
Sentence trackers! (I got these from Calloway House- they came in a pack of 12)

When we've finished reading:
I use Jen Runde's Comprehension Question Fan!

I also have a set of crayons;
We use them to color in rhyming words and do our word study on our Poetry sheets.

This all fits nicely into my bin:
Bin from the Dollar Store-LOVE!
...with room for my water bottle during hot summer days!

If you were a 'traveling teacher', what would be in your bin?

Stay cool!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Making Rules

Happy Thursday!

Joining with Cara at the First Grade Parade for Throwback Thursday

I'm going to post about using Responsive Classroom to making rules. I'm actually going to combine 2 where I talked about it over the summer, and the one where I had pictures from the school year :)

August 19, 2012

As I get closer and closer to going back to work (my sympathies if you're already there!), I start thinking about rules and classroom management. I know a lot of you are doing Whole Brain Teaching, which comes with own set of rules, and some of you already have rules in place, but I thought I would share what I do (after all, isn't that why we all started blogging?)

I may have mentioned this before, but I have been trained in Responsive Classroom (for free! There was a trainer in one of the districts I worked in, and you better believe that I was one of the first people to sign up for it!). I use their approach to help me create the classroom rules with my students. It is a multi-day process, but I find kids are usually really good the first few days (the honeymoon effect :), so we don't need them. The best part of the process (in my opinion) is that the kids create the rules. And they can never say that's not fair since they came up with them!

The first thing I do is to talk about what my Hopes and Dreams are for the school year. Hopes and Dreams are things that I want to accomplish, or what I really what to learn about this year. I find that if I talk about my expectations for what I want to learn about, I get better responses from the kids.  There are some books to help kids with understanding hopes and dream to give them a better example.

Then I have the kids create their own Hopes and Dreams, and we display them in the room for the whole year. I've used balloon cut-out the past few years, but this year I am either going to use clouds or stars. There are MANY different ways to display Hopes and Dreams, depending on your style, grade level and kids.

Creating Hopes and Dreams is a one to two day process. The next day after we create our Hopes and Dreams, I ask the kids to share them and ask them what kinds of rules they think we need to make sure that everyone can reach their Hope and Dreams. I write their suggestions down on chart paper or sentence strips. Last year, my kids came up with 60 + rules!

Now comes the fun part. The next day, (after you have cute apart all the rules...this is why you might want to use sentence strips!), tell the kids that we are going to sort the rules, and see if we can find some commonalities so we can come up with a couple of rules, instead of trying to remember all of them.

Amazingly, all the rules the rules they come up with will fit into 1 of 3 categories: Respect for self; Respect for others; Respect for School/Materials. I always add on an addtional one...To have fun and try our best while learning. I always try to frame them in the positive, as I think the kids respond better.

I also model the rules for them whenever we do something (That's a big part of Responsive Classroom, interactive modeling, and it's just good teaching practice!) and ask the kids to show me the right and wrong way of following the rules.

Last year my rules were: Be a Good Learner and Thinker; Be a Good Friend; Be Responsible for School and Materials and To Have Fun While Learning.

These cover a multitude of things. That kid who is throwing things...not being a good friend or respecting materials. The kid who keeps talking out? Not being a good learner/thinker or a good friend.  That kid who can't work in groups and is always arguing with partners (I had like 7 of those last year!)? Not being a good learner or a good friend.

I always type these up after they are agreed upon, and have the kids sign them. I then display it with our Hopes and Dreams around them. From time to time, I remind them that they came up with the rules, not me, so they can't be unhappy with them.

If you are interested in learning more, I highly reccomend that you get this book:

Clicking on the book will take you to its Amazon page.

I hope this helps some of you! Please, if you have any questions, let me know, or go check out the Responsive Classroom website. Please note that RC has not contacted me or that I am being compensated in any way...I just truly believe in their methods!

September 3, 2012

Then we did the posters that I saw on Confessions of a Teaching Junkie . Some of their answers were so cute! They all agreed that school was important for learning and the future, and a lot of them thought that our classroom should be quiet (we'll see how long THAT lasts!) A lot of them wanted a teacher who was fun, funny, and nice. One friend said supportive and challenging, which I found interesting. We also talked about how they could help others learn, and how they could help themselves learn. Listening, focusing and paying attention were major for those :)

I used that activity and their Hopes and Dreams from the day before to segue into our rules. I told them in order to get those things done, we need to have rules. I explained that they were going to create the rules, and I would write down whatever they said. I used sentence strips to write them down (a change from last year, when I used chart paper, but sentence strips work better).

They kept those rules coming! One friend told me that they have never had so many rules in their classroom before. When they had exhausted their brains, I had them do a fun activity while I cut the rules apart. They came up with over 50 of them!

They aren't in any specific colors, I just grabbed a stack of strips and kept writing!

After they finished their activity, I wrote three words on the board. Me, Others, School/Supplies. We then read through all of the rules and decided which category it best fit it.

When they had all been sorted, we talked about how we could come up with ONE rule for each category that would say the same as the others. I guided them a little on the wording, and we all gave a thumbs up if they agreed with that rule.

Thumbs up all around for the three rules, and I told them I wanted to add a special one...Keep Miss M happy and have fun learning! They all said that was important (and, if they do something that isn't covered, I can ask them if it makes me happy. No happy, no do!)

 Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Setting Up Reading


I've finally finished moving, and am now all set up with an internet connection and cable (it was a little scary there for a few days-while I waited for them to hook me up. Fortunately, I live near lots of free wifi places...spent some time at Panera!)

Time for another Workshop Wednesday!

This week I'm going to focus on some things that you need for Reading. (One of my favorite things!)

First, some professional reading to wake up the brain cells:

Then, some task cards for the kids to stay focused:

Task Card Rotations for that day:

Rotation Bookmarks:
Easel Paper & Mr. Sketch Markers for Anchor Charts:

Post-it Notes-not only for you to record, but for the kids as well!
I also pre-set up sections in my Guided Reading Binder, as well as getting my leveled folder ready
Read More about me here, and here

And...lots of books to practice skills!

(And those are just the ones the kids have access to...not my personal stash!)

Smiles and Sunshine,