Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back to School

We started back to school this past Wednesday. I have most of the same students from last year, so we pretty much picked up where we left off.

We started off by reviewing the classroom/school rules by reading David Goes to School. It was a great way to talk about appropriate and inappropriate school behavior. We made two anchor charts for what good students do and what they do not do. We discussed all of the literary elements of the story and all sorted 'dos' and 'don'ts' in terms of behavior.

After discussing behavior the students wrote about the school rules they will follow this school year. They even made this adorable little David craftivity. I love how each of them are so different, even when given the same pieces.

We're off to a great start for the new school year. It's going to be an interesting year with the kiddos I have. The dynamics are very different that last year. We're going to have a lot of fun this year!

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Classroom Reveal

It's time for my classroom reveal! I've been hard at work and I'm excited to call it done! Now I can focus on my first week of planning. This is a record for me! I officially start back on Monday and students start on Wednesday.

So here's my 2013-2014 black and white classroom:

The view from the door as you walk into the classroom.  I'm in a portable so I am lucky to be able to staple any where on my walls. 

Looking towards the front of my room and math area as you walk through the door.

We'll start in the back corner of my classroom. Our little cozy classroom library. The black and white banners above the window are going to be for our self-drawn portraits on the first day of school. We'll leave them up all year.

My leveled classroom library. I have the books sorted by reading level and color. Each book has a colored star sticker that matches the color stickers on the boxes so students *hopefully* put them back in the right spot.

 Our futon with lots of pillows for students to use and our staff fridge and microwave.  Above the sink I've added a board to display the book covers of the read-alouds from this year. We're starting with David Goes to School.

Student/staff computer area.

This is view of the back corner from the front of the classroom. Right next to the library is our Guided Reading area.

Leveled Guided Readers that have taken us years to collect.

 My word wall that I *promise* to use this year. My interactive Word Wall books are ready to go and so are my new word cards.
The teacher/staff area.

My teacher desk. The only time it looks this neat! Before all the fun begins!

I've added some boxes for my staff this year. That way when they have down time they can help out by doing projects or making copies. I have two sign language interpreters and one signing instructional assistant for the classroom.

My student progress notebooks right beside my desk. I'll blog about these soon.

One of the only sets of cabinets in my room! I have our Classroom Economy earning and fines displayed here. Up on top of the cabinets are my seasonal centers, seasonal books, and other things that don't fit into the cupboards.

The front of my classroom where we use the ELMO document camera. I am starting the year with 9 students and several of those students are mainstreamed all day.

Our new polka-dot inbox for student work.

On the front board I display all of our literary elements, vocabulary and other activities from our current read-aloud.

 The front corner of the room is a small group work area and where I have moved our Fairview Learning board and centers this year.
Fairview Learning rotations are a huge focus in our classroom from 12:40-2:30. Student binders are up top, their reading vocabulary boxes and FV cards on the left. On the right, numbered 1-10 are the centers materials. You can read all about our FV program here.  

 This Fairview Learning Activities board helps us all stay on track and know which centers have been completed and which are still remaining for the week.

My sight word storage. I have a file for each of the Adapted Dolch Words as we teach them. The folders have word cards, the signs, and activities to help learn the word.

Student mailboxes. A simple file box with hanging files.

My math instruction area. We're starting with money this year which will help tie in well with the classroom economy moving to coins.

Math center activities on the bottom numbered 1-8 and student books and materials up top.

The view of my morning meeting/calendar area that I blogged about here.

The board as you walk in the door will be used for displaying student work.

So here's my home away from home. I spend enough hours here that I like how I've created a calm and organized environment for my students to learn. They are going to be so excited to be back on Wednesday! I'm not sure I'm ready for the alarm clock!

Friday, August 9, 2013

Morning Meeting

 I've been getting some work done in my classroom this week whenever I can. I didn't get as much time as I needed, but things are starting to come together.  The only thing in my classroom that is truly 'done' would be my morning meeting/calendar area.

I moved things around this year to make more room for the students to sit. Last year this was upfront and we had to slide desks out of the way to make room for everyone to sit. It was a pain. So I shifted a few things and love the way this area turned out. It's in the back of the room, but it was the only open area that could accommodate everyone being about to sit down. Plus, I got this CUTE polka dot rug at IKEA that was begging to be used.

If you remember, I teach Deaf/Hard of Hearing students. Language development is key in my classroom. Morning meeting / calendar time allows time for lots of language enrichment and concept development. Last year I ran a morning meeting on Mondays and my assistant did calendar time with the younger students each day. I plan on devoting far more time to our morning meetings this year.

First off, we read our morning message on the white board. I usually ask a question at the end and each student has the opportunity to come up and answer the question by writing a sentence on the board. Sometimes it's skills such as editing or finding nouns, etc.

Then we do our calendar skills. Today is, yesterday was, tomorrow will be.  (I set up the calendar in these photos to show you what it look like completed.) I made these cards last year when I switched over to the black and white theme. Then we use little star sticks to find the days of the week. Our place value, "How many days have we come to school" is next with straws and writing the number in word form on the little white board. We also talk about what's for lunch. This is the most exciting part for my students! Unfortunately, not all of my students know the signs for the various foods so we often have to pull out the iPad and Google image the lunch for the day.

I little side note about my calendar. Last year I was frustrated since I wanted a black and white calendar, but couldn't find a way to attach the calendar numbers. I tried magnets but they wouldn't stay straight. I'm too Type A to let that go. So I made my own 'pocket chart' by sewing old school transparencies right to the calendar. It has worked out really well. Now I can slip in my new holiday cards from this calendar set.

The Question of the Day is a new addition to my Morning Meeting this year. I'm excited to try it out. I added a little page protector cut down to size with washi tape holding the top together to hold the question for the day. This new addition is going to be a great language and vocabulary builder for my kiddos. I like the option of being able to extend the activity by having them fill out a graph of the question as well as just answering the questions.

On this back wall you'll find my job chart. I made this little guy last year but downsized the job list this year since I will only have 5 kids in my class most of the day. Since we are switching over to using coins in our classroom economy system this year, I also hot glued the amount of $ the student will earn by doing that job.  Also my new behavior clip chart we are trying out this year works well here. This behavior clip chart was a free download from Primary Punch here on TpT.

On the other side above the white board is our speech and PE schedule chart. I glued on page protectors to the poster and then I just have to switch out the paper to the correct day and this keeps us on schedule. Well, most of the time. Last year every time the phone rang it was the speech therapist. I couldn't keep up last year! This year I will have far less students so it should be much easier.

In between my white board I have a skinny little Sterlite drawers. These hold my calendar supplies (pointers, extra markers, etc), writing prompts (address/phone number practice, blank story writing pages, graphing papers, lined paper, etc), and misc. supplies (Handwriting Without Tears dry erase marker line tool, etc). I recently lined the drawers with scrapbook paper to hide the stuff inside and added some labels.  On top sits my question of the day box. I also have some black and white place mats that I found at IKEA last year that will serve as 'carpet squares' for my kiddos that cannot sit in their own space.

I can't wait to try out this space with my students and see how it all works out. That's the first little peek into my classroom this year! My to-do list is still quite long!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Centers Storage

Two weeks before I go back to work! The summer has flown by. But thanks to Monday Made It, I've got some cute stuff to use in my classroom this year!
I don't know about you, but I really struggle with how to store and organize my centers when they are not in use. I have three different types of center storage. My seasonal centers are stored in tubs up on top of one of my cupboards. Then I have baskets with grammar/language arts centers of laminated manila envelopes. I also have basic centers and activities that are not in permanent manila envelopes. Things like spelling activities, sight word stamping, etc. This is what I use most often. This is what that bunch looked like right out of my cupboard.

Because I use Ziploc bags, they tend to slide and collapse when not in use. I can't find what I'm looking for and it's one big jumbled mess! My type A heart hates opening the cupboard these are stored in! So my mission this summer was to figure out a way to store them and organize them so they are easy to find when I want to use a specific center.

First, I needed a way for the bags to stand up in a basket when not in use and not fold in half. I printed this cute chevron composition book clip art with the name of the center on cardstock. I attached them to the front with contact paper. That gave the bags enough strength to not fold over. I was able to reuse most of my bags from before by using a Magic Eraser to take off the Sharpie marker that was on the bags as center labels.

Then I sorted each of the centers. I have 1st-6th grade students, so I have a wide variety of abilities. My centers are differentiated to target all of their needs. I had to categorize each of the centers so they will be easy to find later. I used chip board for dividers that I covered with scrapbook paper and added a label to the top. This helps give the bags some more stability in the tub.

Once they were sorted I put the primary and intermediate levels into black dish tubs from Walmart. My husband made me wooden 'book ends' if you will, for the back of the tubs to keep the bags upright. At some point these tubs will be full, but for now there is room to grow.

Now my centers are organized and ready for a new year. Plus, I won't dread opening up that cupboard any more! I'd love to see how you've organized your centers when they are not in use.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Productive Week

It's been a productive week around here for me. This week the cleaning crew finally got to work in my room, so I couldn't go into my classroom. So I worked from home and got quite a bit done. I feel like I've completed most of  my 'to create' projects. I still have my Student IEP/Progress Binders to update and my centers binder could use some updating. I'm looking forward to getting into my classroom next week and getting it set up and organized. Then it's time to plan, plan, plan for the beginning of the year. That's where I always spend the least of my time and it's killed me in the past. I need to be more on top of that this year. So far, I have several fun activities ready for the first week. That's a start.
Any how, here's what I've been up to:
Updated my Lesson Plan/Teacher Keeper. I used this one last year and really liked having everything a binder all in one place. I reprinted the tabs since they were a little roughed up from use last year.
Spray painted some clothes pins black to use for my new behavior clip chart. These clothes pins match the ones from my job chart I made last year. It's all gotta match! I hot glued the name labels onto the clothes pins.

Printed out, laminated, and put together my new behavior clip chart. I am excited about trying this out this year! I think it gives the students more opportunities for positive praise verses my old card system with green, yellow, red. I downloaded it free from Primary Punch on TpT here. I love that it has clip art for my early readers.

As I was working on each project, I made sure to make 4 new student packs. Two extra English and two in Spanish. I got two new students mid-year last year that caught me by surprise. This year I am prepared! As the new year starts I will add other paperwork for the new students as well.

Made and laminated my information magnets I send home for parents to put on the fridge.

While reading my summer Guided Reading book study (that I am WAY behind on) I realized just how much of wasted space my word wall has been. I haven't been using it the way we should. This year it's my goal to use it and make it an important reference point in the classroom. I copied these Word Wall books for my younger students and laminated the covers and backs. (I need to bind them when I get to school.) I also plan on using activities for the word wall from this free packet
My word wall word cards were looking pretty sad so I downloaded this word wall pack that is editable. I added all of our Fairview Adapted Dolch sight words. I printed them out on cardstock, laminated and alphabetized them. My word wall is ready!

While I was at it, I made my Number of the Day workbooks. This ended up being a great way to start the day off each morning last year. The students know to pull it out and get started while I take roll, make any adjustments in interpreter schedules, collect daily folders, etc.
Each of my students is at a different level in math, so each of the books are a little different. I took bits and pieces from all the Number of the Day freebies on TpT to meet my student's needs. This year I got smart and added a 120's chart to the back front cover or a multiplication chart for my higher kids. On the back is a number words chart for reference as well. Everything is all in one place. Love it. I need to bind these when I get to school as well.

My to-do list once I get into the classroom is pretty long. Isn't that the way it always is? My two little girls are off preschool summer camp two mornings, so that will help get some things done. Goodness knows a 3 and 5 year old are not very good 'helpers' in the classroom!