Sunday, 20 September 2015

Classroom Reveal 2015

Wow, it's been three weeks since I've been here on the blog. What's happened in the last three weeks? For starters, I have hardly sat down this whole time!! It has been quite the whirlwind. Zoe started daycare (and loves it!), I moved my entire classroom from my old room to the science lab (plus some stuff from home), set up my entire classroom, had Meet the Teacher night, a few meetings, and started teaching 16 sweet, little first graders. They are seriously a super sweet bunch. We are having a lot of fun so far! Throw in an out-of-town wedding the first weekend after school started and a sick baby and mommy this weekend, and here we are! It's been an adjustment returning back to school as a teacher and mom, but I wouldn't have it any other way.

Here's a little reminder of what I was walking into after returning from mat leave this summer--the old Grade 9 Science Lab (Grade 9's moved to the high school this year, so the room was vacant). There are three hallways in my school: K-2, 3-5, and 6-8. We get to be in the hallway with the big, big kids. It's a little intimidating, but my kiddos are doing amazing! I really wanted to provide them with a comfortable space that would help ease the transition a bit!

Be prepared for picture overload. Here is my home for the 2015-2016 school year! (Maybe longer. I'm building a house right now. I know how delayed the construction process can be. lol) Some of my favourite decorating ideas this year: layering borders, enlarging my favourite clipart, and making my own bulletin board letters (I gave the Sketch Block font a black "glow" on PowerPoint to get the look I wanted).

I commandeered one of the bulletin boards in the hallway and this was our welcome back bulletin board. My mom and I had fun coming up with forest themed puns. I liked this one the best. {Credits: Moose & Friends Cut-Outs by Carson-Dellosa, Lime Chevron Border by Teacher Created Resources, Dots on Chalkboard Lime Border by Creative Teaching Press, Tree Clipart by KPM Doodles, Sun Clipart by Creative Clips, and letter font: Sketch Block

The 6-8 students all have lockers. There were no extra lockers for my class and there are obviously no hooks in the science lab, so my principal bought some Command hooks for me to hang on the wall in the hallway outside our room. It's been working good so far. They hang up their jackets and backpacks here, but bring their agendas and lunch kits into the classroom. They leave their outside shoes on the floor under their hooks. Name tags are still going strong on the wall too. Woo hoo!

I saw this adorable Instagram poster from Teach Create Motivate. I love it! Everyday though I hear some junior high kid asking, "I wonder if that's a real Instagram account. I'm going to check it out when I get home." lol. One grade 8 girl told me she loved it though. I already printed some pictures of activities we did the first week back to school. I love that it's a place to broadcast what we're working on. Parents can check it out if/when they drop off or pick up their child! {Instagram Poster by Teach Create Motivate, Where Are We? Posters by First Grade Garden}

Bulletin board as you walk in has a welcome sign and our class rules. Also there are the students' cubbies (for indoor shoes and lunch kits), leveled bins for home reading books, and student mailboxes. {Dots on Chalkboard White Border by Creative Teaching Press, Painted Palette Rainbow Paint Chip Border by Creative Teaching Press, Back to School Bulletin Board Set by Simply Kinder}

Here's a view of the classroom from the doorway:

The science lab has these high-up display shelves (most have glass doors). I used these two to house some of my favourite book and stuffy combos. I love how it turned out. I might use these special stuffies as a reward of some sort.

Here's my classroom library. I have an Author Study bulletin board to display our author of the month. Kevin Henkes is up first. I love the chevron pillows, my bucket of reading buddies, and my old beanbag chair that I rescued from m parents' basements. That is becoming a favourite place to sit and read. {Dots on Chalkboard Orange Border by Creative Teaching Press, Library Labels by First Grade Garden, Alphabet Rug from Target, Table and Stools from IKEA}

On these glass doors I taped up some colourful, laminated 12x12 cardstock with Stikki Clips, so I can hang student work on them easily. These papers are also hiding some rocks, fossils, skulls, and a real stuffed duck that I couldn't really pack up and move anywhere. I did put the other dead animals and bugs into storage though. #sorrynotsorry I displayed my shape and number posters underneath the upper cabinets. {Chalkboard Classroom Posters by First Grade Garden}

 Bucket Filler bulletin board. This was one of our first lessons in our Social Studies/Health notebook. {Dots on Chalkboard Blue Border by Creative Teaching Press, Editable Buckets by Primary Graffiti, Clipart by Melonheadz and Teaching at the River}

Guided Math bulletin board and Writing Goals display board. {Dots on Chalkboard Yellow Border by Creative Teaching Press, Guided Math Rotation Cards by First Grade Garden, Writing Goals Pack by First Grade Garden, Melonheadz clipart, Black Pocket Chart by Scholastic}

My guided reading area. My crate seats turned out awesome! I used actual milk crates because they are sturdier. They are great storage spots too, but with all my cupboard space (a plus with this room), I don't have anything in them! I also hung up my torn ribbon garland across my window. {Dots on Chalkboard Green Border by Creative Teaching Press, Guided Reading Rotation Cards by First Grade Garden, Melonheadz clipart}

Here's a view of my room from the back:

Here is a close up look of my table supplies. Classroom supplies are colour coded in the centre caddy: whiteboards, dry erase markers (and baby socks for erasers), scissors, and glue sticks. I have a green table, blue table, and pink table.

Each student has their own pencil tray with matching cup to keep a pencil, eraser, and pack of crayons. They have been doing soooooo good so far! No lost pencils or crayons. They are all taking care or their own supplies. The crayon cup is velcro-ed to the tray so they can take it out. The tray is also velcro-ed to the table so it stays in the same place, but they can remove it to take to a different spot in the classroom or music class, etc. So far it is working out great! {Table Caddies from Dollarama, Black Pencil Trays from Dollarama, Cups from IKEA, Free Name Tags from First Grade Garden, Free Table Labels from Facebook Fan Freebies}

Here is the other side of the wall. I have the other 8 students' work display up on these glass shelves. On the counters are their individual book boxes. I hung up my alphabet and colour posters underneath the top cabinets. {Chalkboard Classroom Posters by First Grade Garden, Book Boxes by Really Good Stuff--I have the Neon Set and the Purple/Orange Add Ons}

Birthday Display on upper cabinets and word wall on lower cabinets. {Birthday Display by First Grade Garden}

Here's my teacher area. Book shelves full of binders. Small IKEA desk and computer that I barely sit at. I love my larger teacher and students up top. Makes me smile!

And lastly the front of my room. There is a large counter that is in the way of the whiteboard and SMARTboard. The SMARTboard is way too tall for my students to reach, even with a stool. So I covered the back of the counter with purple paper and hung up my calendar area there. I got a garment rack for my large pocket chart and have my IKEA bench as my seat at the front. I love how it turned out, but I do use that counter to spread out all my stuff. I have to be better at keeping it cleaned off! At least I have it all at my fingertips! ;) {Dots on Chalkboard Purple Border by Creative Teaching Press, Calendar Pack by First Grade Garden, Stuva Bench by IKEA, Large Black Pocket Chart by Scholastic, Black Calendar Pocket Chart by Scholastic, Circle Carpet Spots by Sit Spots, Welcome Banner by First Grade Garden, Voice Level Posters by Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits, Question of the Day Pack by First Grade Garden}

And that's about it! I will be back soon to finish up some of my daily schedule posts, tell you a few of my favourite tips & tricks so far this year, and show you what we've been up to the first couple weeks of school! Enjoy the rest of your weekend! :)

Friday, 28 August 2015

Daily Schedule - Guided Math {What is the Rest of the Class Doing?}

I did a {post} a few weeks ago about how I teach my small groups in math, but what are the other students doing while I am working with that group?? Today I am going to share with you what the rest of the class is doing while I am working with a math group. Here's a look at my daily schedule. Each group goes to two rotations a day (about 15 minutes each). At the end of the day I just move the station cards down to the next group. You can find my Guided Math cards {here} and the shape cards for free at the bottom of {this post}.

I have five stations for Guided Math: Work with Teacher, Math By Myself, Math with Someone, Math Work, and Math with Technology. I split up my students into five groups based on similar abilities. I write these groups on the group cards. I change these groups frequently because abilities can change based on the math concept we are learning. I count myself as one of the rotations this time. This is different than how I set up my Guided Reading because I see my math groups the same amount of time each week. I see each math group twice during the week (unless it's a short week).

Here are a few ideas of what the students are doing during each of these rotations. The following pictures are a mixture from my last three years in first grade. Once I get into my new Science Lab room set up, I'll show you how each of these areas will be set up this year.

These are collection of hands-on math centres that students can complete on their own. At the beginning of the year I use some of these math stations that I shared {here} four years ago--it is still one of my most popular posts to date! Lots of these ideas come from my Math Centre Packs or freebies I find on other blogs. I give students a handful of options to choose from. I have about 8-10 activities available at a time and students can choose whichever activity they would like to do for that rotation. They must complete the activity and clean it up before moving to a new activity. I like giving many options because I don't have to change them out as frequently and this avoids having to have "early finisher" activities. If they finish one activity, they can just choose another one until time is up.

Play-Do Math Mats are always a big hit at the beginning of the year!

These activities are usually games that can be played with a partner. I set it up the same way as Math By Myself--there are usually about 4 options for students to choose from. They work in pairs (or a group of three if there is an odd number) and complete one game before choosing another. I start the year off by teaching simple games such as BUMP and Ten Frame War. They are easy to learn and fun for the students!

Math Work is another independent station. Students will each have their own math work book to work on. I like to start the year with a number book, such as this Number Practice from Miss Kindergarten. It has great number skills to practice and the page style stays the same, so students can complete the pages independently and don't need. I can also differentiate this centre easily for some students by providing them with simpler or more challenging tasks.

Sometimes I might have students complete a math art or writing activity such as this shape picture we did last year:

I don't have any student computers in my classroom, so I've been collecting old iPods to use as my technology station. There will only be a max of four students in each group, so I have two old iPods, an old iPhone, and an iPad that I will load up with math apps for students to use during this time. I will just put four games that they can choose from at the bottom on the home menu. I made cute chalkboard/brights numbered backgrounds for the devices. That way I can keep of track of which student is on which device so they all get a chance to try each one.


I just got into my new room on Monday and spent two days moving everything from my old classroom to the Science Lab. I am still super busy getting everything put away and organized. I haven't even started covering bulletin boards or putting anything up on walls yet. Ugh. So much to do! Here's what it looked like before I moved in:

This is my old classroom. See you next year! 

Here's my new room--the Science Lab! There are rows of counters and glass displays along both sides of the room. The glass displays were filled with all sorts of dead animal displays--awesome for teaching Science; not so awesome for first graders. 

Here's my front counter, whiteboards, eyewash station, and SmartBoard. Every first grade classroom needs an eyewash station, dontcha think? If this counter wasn't in the way of the projector and whiteboard I could be almost be 95% happy with this new room. But we will make it work just fine, because that's what we do! ;)

These big tables were removed and my furniture was moved in. It's already starting to look like a first grade classroom. I can't wait to show you the finished product!

I'm going to post about my Morning Routine and Pack & Stack closer to back to school (students start on Sept. 9th) because I'm not sure exactly how these routines will look like in my new Science Lab classroom just yet. I will be back to touch on Problem Solving, Author Study, and Theme soon though. Stay tuned!

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Daily Schedule - Guided Reading {What is the Rest of the Class Doing?}

I have done several posts so far about what I do with my guided reading groups and how I schedule that time. You can read those posts {here}, {here}, or {here}. Today I am going to share what the rest of the class is doing while I am working with a reading group. Here's a look at my daily schedule. Each group goes to to rotations a day (about 15 minutes each). I pull a different reading group during each rotation. At the end of the day I just move the station cards down to the next group. You can find my Guided Reading cards {here}.

I do my own version of Daily 5. I have four stations: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work, and Listen to Reading. I don't do Read to Someone because we do this during Buddy Reading. I do allow students to read with each other during Read to Self time though. Some students enjoy this; others would prefer to read by themselves. I let them choose. I split up my students into four groups of mixed abilities. I write these groups on the group cards. I only change these groups a few times a year (unless there are personality conflicts with some students).

Because I see each of my reading groups a different number of times per week, I don't put myself as a rotation. I put my card at the bottom and use my animal group labels (get those at the bottom of this post) to show which groups I will be pulling that day. If I don't want to pull a group and just want to do some individual running records, I won't put anything that day! This makes it very easy to be flexible with my time. So the students that I pull for reading groups will miss their activity that rotation, but they'll get to do that one again in two days so it's not usually a big deal.

Here are a few ideas of what the students are doing during each of these rotations. The following pictures are a mixture from my last three years in first grade--three different classrooms, three different schools, but similar set ups. Once I get my new Science Lab room set up, I'll show you how each of these areas will be set up this year.

Each of my students gets a book bin. In their book bin they keep about 3-4 guided reading books from our guided reading time. These books are on level and have been previously read with me. I switch these books out as we read more in our groups. They also keep up to 5 books from the classroom library. These are purely interest books. Even though I do have the level on each book in my classroom library, students are not required to pick books at their own level. I also let my students switch their books out anytime they are on Read to Self. I don't seem to have any problems with students wasting their whole time picking books--they are usually pretty quick to pick their books and get reading!

Another station is work on writing. In the past I have done this mostly as free choice writing in their journals. This year my plan is to focus on printing practice the first month or two of school. Students will have a printing book they will work on; then there will be some fun letter formation activities to do when they are done a page or two (such as car tracing letters, dry erase pages/books, Wikki Stiks, etc.). Then once students are more familiar with the routines, I will start to introduce journals and some other writing options (such as letters to classmates, lists, stories, etc.). 

I plan to keep word work the same as in the past. I have about 8 or 9 activities available at a time and students can choose whichever activity they would like to do for that rotation. They must complete the activity and clean it up before moving to a new activity. I will use my shelving unit below to house the different options. I fill these tubs with a variety of games and centres that focus on letter names/sounds, sight words, or other phonics skills. You can find a variety of word work activities in my store {here}. I change the centres out whenever I feel an activity is not getting picked or I want students to work on a different skill.

This is Dot the Letters from my Back 2 School Word Work Centres.

Letter formation with play-dough is always a popular activity.

Zingo! is a fun word recognition game.

You can read in more detail about how I set up my listening station {here} or {here}. But the main idea is that I have 6 mp3 players and about 80 different books. I put all the books on all the mp3 players, so students choose a book to listen to, grab an mp3 player, find the numbered track, and listen to the story. If they finish the story? Get a new story and listen to that one. I don't do response sheets or anything. The listening part is the valuable lesson and it would probably take most of them the whole 15 minutes to complete a response! I keep each mp3 player and headphones in a separate basket and all the books in one basket.

I let all of my students choose where they want to work during this time--tables, floors, classroom library. Where ever they are comfortable. Someone reading to self can sit beside someone doing word work, as long as they are both doing their job! This system has been working for me for a couple of years now and I can't wait to get it up and running again next time!

I'll be back with Guided Math time next! :) See you soon.