Imaginary friends, how I have missed you so! I have been swept up in the back to school craze of pre-planning. By the end of the day, my brain is shot, my feet are tired, and I can barely form sentences. I am not used to being productive OR friendly for this long! Summer has gotten me out of social shape! But I have gotten myself to a great spot and I am getting pumped about this coming school year.
I thought I’d share a little tour of my classroom with you since that’s about all the pictures I have from this week! (Half-assed blogging…) I had a really great year last year and so I am keeping a lot of the same things in place, and am trying out a few new things, too. Balance between old and new is key.
Here is my classroom view from the door:
And here it is from the other three corners of my room:
I am expecting class sizes between 16 and 24 kids. I have them start the year in fairly traditional seating, but after the first week, these tables move into six tables (I join the trapezoids together either by the long sides, which form circles, or the short sides, which make butterfly shaped tables). Once a week, I do station rotations in my classes, and the tables are then moved around into all kinds of shapes and uses, from one long, banquet-style table, to circles, to single tables all over the room. I like using tables because it encourages more collaboration with the students, as opposed to desks.
My bulletin boards are the same as last year because they all worked so well.
I have a Boggle Board bulletin board that I use as extra credit. Every Monday I change the letters out. I keep a drawer full of Boggle Board worksheets on a table in my classroom, and students have until Friday to turn in a completed worksheet for 3 points extra credit. The worksheet has them make 15 words out of the letters provided and then they have to write out the dictionary definition of each word, as well as give the website citation of where they got the definition.
I found the bulletin board border and the pennants in the Target $1 section a few weeks ago, and the Boggle Board letters (purple and gold) are from the Dollar Store.
My word wall is interactive and changes throughout our units. I have laminated sets of vocabulary terms for every unit I teach. When we start the unit, I put the words up under the “Ummm…” section. When I first teach the vocabulary term in class, I move the word over to the “Maybe” column. When I begin to hear students using the vocabulary on their own in classroom conversations, I move it to the “Nailed It” column.
The bulletin board border and the lettering are from Oriental Trading a few years ago. The pom poms are made out of tissue paper.
The last section of the bulletin board is the only one I change out completely throughout the year. This changes each quarter into whatever skill set we are focusing on that quarter. In our first quarter, everything we do is about text evidence. I found this bulletin board packet on TeachersPayTeachers.com (here’s the link to this exact product). They have so many good text evidence bulletin boards, but this one was my favorite because it included sentence starters, which are key for my low-level learners. This set comes with these little kid looking detectives and magnifying glasses, but I leave those out to make it more 8th-grade level appropriate, but it could definitely be used in an elementary classroom very easily. I think that’s what it was meant for, actually.
The other bulletin board I have in my classroom is new for me. This year, I am using a ticketing system that I based off of the beads I used with my own kids this summer. Bean and Gracie loved having the freedom to choose how to earn beads and how to spend them, and I thought that might translate well into a classroom environment, too. You can’t read the posters very well in this picture, but kids can earn tickets for the following actions:
- No late or missing work by progress report
- No late or missing work by report cards
- A on a report card or progress report
- Raise your grade by 5% on a report card or progress report
- 80% or higher on RC quiz
- Contributing positively to group work
- Showing kindness to classmates
- Handling difficult situations with poise
- Any other behavior Mrs. Brown deems as ticket worthy
They will be collecting tickets in an envelope we are going to glue into the front cover of their composition notebook. When they are ready to cash them in, they can be spent on the following:
- 1 ticket = Mrs. Brown will sing you a personalized song about how awesome you are
- 2 tickets = Positive letter home
- 3 tickets = First to leave class when the bell rings
- 4 tickets = 2 points extra credit on vocabulary quiz
- 5 tickets = Ask Mrs. Brown one yes or no question on a test or quiz
- 6 tickets = Mrs. Brown will buy you a book of your choice
- 7 tickets = One free tardy pass
- 8 tickets = Choose your seat for one class period
- 9 tickets = Trade your chair for Mrs. Brown’s for a class period
- 10 tickets = Homework pass
This bulletin board is a reminder to the students (and to me!) on what they can earn and spend tickets on. The bulletin board letters are from the Dollar Store. The border is from Oriental Trading. I printed out a template from Google for a “raffle ticket,” and then used that to make the tickets out of construction paper.
Without a doubt, the most popular section of my classroom is my classroom library. I try to keep as many new books in my collection as possible. I get books from our media center at school when they purge at the end of the school year and from student and parent donations, but mostly I buy them myself from used bookstores. I use a checkout system on my classroom computer to track my book checkouts. Students check out books to themselves and then check them back in when they return them using Classroom Booksource. I’ve used it for years and have pretty good success with it.
The rest of my areas inside my classroom are for practical purposes. I have one bookshelf in the back that holds my keyboards and headphones. My students all have iPads and I teach using video lessons, so most students provide their own headphones. But I always have a few that never have them or sometimes kids just forget them at home. I keep a crate of headphones just in case. I call them “Beats by Brown.” Ha! Since my kids have iPads, the keyboards are used for longer length writing, like essays and papers. This bookshelf also holds my precious philodendron plant that I have had since my first year teaching. She is beautiful and long and is enjoying the rest of her summer at my house. I’ll bring her to school later this week. She likes the sunshine in the back by the windows. 🙂
Next is the table I keep directly behind my desk, under the window. The plastic trays are where I sort turned in work by class period. We don’t have too many paper assignments because we are a digital school, but I still use enough paper to make it worth having an organization system for it.
The black crate in the center holds file folders for every student, alphabetized by class period. I keep parent contact forms, writing samples, graded tests, and discipline records for every student in these folder. This is what I take with me to parent conferences, along with a copy of their grade report. It makes it easy to grab a folder and go.
The drawers on the right are for birthday bags. I give little goody bags to students on their birthdays. I buy small, plastic goody bags, small funny shaped erasers, birthday pencils, and bookmarks from Oriental Trading at the beginning of the school year. On their birthday, I add a little candy and a card from me, tied with ribbon from the $1 bins at Michael’s. It’s a simple, cheap way to make them feel special and my students love them!
And that’s a pretty good overview of my classroom! I hope the kids are as happy to be in it as I am!