As I said in my last post, I’ve been busy planning and setting up my classroom for the little learners who were soon to enter through the doorway. I was fortunate to be able to leave many of my systems intact from last year, so many of these set up pieces did not take much time. But I wanted to give you an in-depth class tour, so you could get a feel for what my little ones get to see everyday.
This year I tried something new when labeling their cubbies. Because I have a few students with the same name, I decided to use color labels so that they can remember that even though there are two Aryehs, one is green and one is yellow. This is also helpful for the students who may not have name recognition skills yet.
This tool has been invaluable to me. Last year the previous teacher shoved all hers/my books onto small shelves by author. I would have to scramble and search to find the right kind of book each day and it took way too much time to prepare. I decided to create this unit and have it right in my classroom for easy access and another way that a substitute can add in extra easy activities, should she get through everything that I’ve left for them to do.
To make this unit yourself, buy a double bar clothing rack (it doesn’t have to be an expensive one, but do make sure it’s not flimsy, there is a lot of weight it will need to hold). Once you have assembled the rack, you can start organizing your books. However you choose (by author, content, etc.), I find that dividing each section is easily done with a binder clip on the last book bag of the bunch. Put each book and cd/tape into a large freezer style plastic bag, zip shut. One-hole punch the corner of each bag and feed the loop through the hole. You can use either the metal flashcard rings to hang the books, which works fine but can be kind of expensive, or you can buy plastic shower curtain rings in bulk for super cheap. Each of my packs of rings (16 per pack) were only $1 from Target.
And now that I’ve rambled on about the listening library, let’s continue the tour.
I try to label all the containers with the name of the toy that it houses plus a picture so that the students can match the toy to the picture. This is an easy way for fast playtime clean ups. I’ve also tried to label specific shelves so that the students know where to put the containers back after cleaning up.
This is just a piece of the classroom library because I also wanted you to see my seminar table. I use this table for reading groups, assessments, and make up work. I make sure to have enough materials on the table for each child. Behind the library and table, the bright yellow bulletin board is the future home for all of our sight words that we learn throughout the year. The caption for this bulletin board? “These words are jumping off the pages!” The positioning of this board is GREAT for reading groups, because we can use it for reading the room without distracting other groups. Also, if a student gets stuck they can use it as a tool to remind themselves of the words we’ve learned and what they look like. The seminar table is also perfectly placed that I can quickly access the students completing computer games or at the listening library. This way I’m available to many students for technology trouble-shooting and for questions about directions.
These shelves also house our science curriculum necessities, extra reading workbooks, and our leveled readers for our current reading curriculum. As you can see on the top ledge, I have a globe (which comes in handy when students are confused about the setting of a story) and a BIG black board with…surprise, surprise OWLS.
We changed our behavior plan a bit from last year, to hopefully make it a more concrete plan for the students. We have three levels for the students: green (doing great!), yellow (stop and think), and red (let’s do better). Last year each student had their own set of cards in a chart, so as they switched through the levels we had to find their name and shuffle through the cards. It didn’t seem immediate enough for an impact and it was not as effective as it could be. This year our home is that with the little sticks, students physically move through the colors an see themselves ON the levels, as opposed to a card symbolizing their level. My only worry is for those students who end up on red ( 😦 ) by themselves and are embarrassed because everyone else is in the green pocket. I’m not in the business of shaming kids into behaving, I just don’t do that. So if it turns out that they feel that way, I may go back to the card system. It’s all about the kids learning to be in school (and being comfortable in the classroom), not about them being embarrassed or anxious.
So that’s around the room for now 🙂 All is super neat because, well, the kids hadn’t gotten to the room at that point. Though it does look pretty okay still! What do you think?