The Classroom Reveal

Long time, no posting. Last time I left you with my fears of whether I would find a teaching position I love and where and when it would be. Fast forward and here I am writing a blog post about revealing my classroom.

I do apologize for not keeping everyone updated with my life over the summer of 2016 – I know you all have been patiently waiting for the next ‘ding’ in your email from “Perks of Being an Educator”. BUT … I was offered and accepted a Third Grade teaching position within Grand Ledge Public School district. I grew up not only a human being, but a student as well within the walls of Grand Ledge Public Schools. Coming back to teach here was scary and nerve racking – caring if people would think less of me for coming back to my hometown, what would my past teachers think of me being their new colleague – eek!

After last week’s professional development, my fears and nerves have faded because Grand Ledge is truly home. I am excited to get this year started with the amazing staff I have come to love in our short time of knowing each other.

Okay, okay. On to the good stuff. HERE IS MY CLASSROOM!

 

The Book Nook

I always enjoyed a cozy book nook in my classrooms. It made it seem more comfortable to curl up with a good book and I want my students to feel that comfort as well. It also separates the library from the classroom for books to remain in their designated places and for students to separate enjoying reading from the academic setting.

In the Book Nook I added pillows to *not all shown* and a tree to give it more of a homey feel.

Bookcases and Organization

I raided multiple Dollar Tree stores to find these green bins in the right size. They are perfect for the size novels are for third graders. They are long enough to fit series in, but not too tall to cover the books so it makes searching for the right book easy.

I organized my library by Guided Reading Level. I downloaded the free app, Book Wizard from Scholastic to scan the barcodes of each book to easily level them. I then stuck a sticker on the back of each book labeled with the appropriate level. This makes it simple for students or my classroom librarian to put them back where they belong.

I found these Library Book Bin Labels on Teachers Pay Teachers for FREE. They organized my library by Guided Reading Level in a fun, adorable way. They also included many series that students often read so they can find their favorites quickly.

Speaking of FREE stuff on Teachers Pay Teachers, I also found these Genre Posters that I added to my book nook as well. It gets students familiar with the different kinds of genres and gives examples of books from each genre that they can find in our library!

 

Classroom Management

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A part of every classroom in my school building is a T-Chart that shows students the outcomes of the choices a he/she may make. This also allows the teacher to keep consistent with giving rewards or consequences and avoid being flustered.

As you can see, my consequences of not making a great choice are; a ‘flip down’, missing recess, a disappointed team, a sad call home, a discussion with Ms. Briggs.

My rewards for making a great choice are; a thumbs up, a high five, a ‘Comet Catcher’, a smile, a ‘flip up’, a happy note home

 

Flipping Up and Down

My Flip Chart was made out of Target’s Clear Adhesive Pockets that I found in the heavenly Target Dollar Spot for $3. I labeled each pocket with a kiddos’ name. Inside, I put in laminated colored strips of construction paper. The colors represent what behavior level the student is on.

Purple – You’re going above and beyond (if a student flips to purple, they then write their name on a slip and place it into a bucket on my desk. Then I draw names for prizes out of this bucket)

Green – Ready to Learn

Yellow- Check Yourself

Red- Oop. You’re missing recess and a note home is appropriate.

I am also using this system for my lunch count and attendance as well. Each student has their lunch card in their pockets. When they come in the morning, they will take out their lunch card and make their lunch choice. If they have cold lunch, they will move their lunch card behind their colored slips of paper. Then, every student will put the GREEN slip of paper in the front. This tells me that they are Ready to Learn and should be held accountable to that. It also gives those who had a rough day previously a fresh start today! I can easily glance at my Flip Chart and see who is not here by seeing who has not switched to green.

** shout out to Abraham Lincoln who surveys this all 🙂

Table Trophies

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I also wanted to incorporate working together as a team. I have my tables in six different groups. I have them labeled 1-6 with a hanging pom-pom from the ceiling so there is no confusion of which team is which. Throughout the week, tables earn points by being the first table team to be ready for the lesson, who is working together, who is abiding by the voice level rules, etc. At the end of the week, the points are tallied up and whoever has the most, their team gets the Table Trophy! The following week, that table gets to line up first to go to specials, lunch, and recess. They also are the “role models” for the other students the following week. This keeps them doing their best so other tables are looking up to their example.

Procedures

Team Jobs

Team Jobs are self-explanatory. Here are two explanations that go with two roles that I have implemented into my classroom:

Team Leaders: One person from every table team who is responsible for picking up supplies and managing the behavior of their table.

Caboose: The person in the back of the line. I would like to do something with this job that holds other students accountable for their line-walking behavior. I might have this student silently keep an eye on a student of my choosing and then give me a report of if they were able to walk in line appropriately. If that student does, they get to flip up. If they don’t there will be a discussion with me.

All of the other classroom jobs are self-explanatory.

Table Bins

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At the front of my room is where my table bins are stored. These keep student notebooks and work books safe and in good condition. I don’t want them in students’ desks because I would like to keep that separate nightmare more organized than the usual.

Also on this bookcase are two hand sanitizers, one boys and one girls. When students use the restroom, they grab a bottle of hand sanitizer and place it on their desk. It reminds me of who is in the bathroom and reminds them to keep their hands clean when they come back.

Headquarters

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Students’ HQ is where they can find their table’s supply kit (the pencil boxes), the turn-in tray, the pass back tray, and the no name tray. Their supply kits are labeled with what should be inside the pencil box and is the responsibility of the table manager to keep these items in order.

This is also next to a ‘milk crate’ with a hanging folder for every student. I did not want to purchase cubbies for this year, so I have this system in place. Each student gets a Friday Folder that goes home with them on Friday with papers to go home or papers to sign and come back. The paper passer’s job is to pass back papers and once students see their work, they file it in their own folder to go home at the end of the week.

Welcome Board

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This is at the front of my room right when you walk in the door. This is where my calendar and classroom rules can be found. BOTH found in Target’s Dollar Spot!! I laminated both and Velcro-ed the dates onto the calendar so it is easily changeable. My classroom rules is still empty because I am going to incorporate student input to create those for our team.

Learning Targets

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My Learning Targets all change at different times depending on the subject. I found the easiest way to do this was put them in plastic sheet projectors and staple them under each heading. This way I can print them out and then slip them in and out without too much trouble.

The Rest

I am a huge quote-sey person and I definitely brought that into my classroom this year. I also am trying to keep my lights off all year and use lamp lights to create a more comfortable environment. I also want to incorporate music as much as I can throughout the day. I want my Spotify playlist to play during work time and get students comfortable to their surroundings.

When you walk into my room, you can definitely tell who is teaching, what my interests are, what my background is, and that I am a very colorful person.

This room has definitely became my home away from home and I just hope that I can share that notion with students as well ❤

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A Little Help From My “FRIENDS”

 

If you know me well, you know that I am a planner. With this in mind, you can understand that as I sit here with my last days at Wacousta Elementary dwindling down, I am a tad freaking out about what my future may hold. School starts up again three short months and I just want to know that I too will be along for the ride.

It is not like I have been preparing. I have thrown my resume and applications out for all to see. I have applied to jobs that would be the dream, I have applied to jobs that would be a nice back-up, and I have applied to jobs that I could not see myself teaching – but practice is practice.

With this job hunt obsession, I have had some amazing opportunities to interview for some outstanding districts and teaching positions. So far, I have interviewed for six school districts. This includes two phone interviews, five in-person interviews, and one second interview. Out of these interviews, some I have yet to hear back from, some have told me that have moved on to other candidates, and the others I still have the hopes of someone saying, “Yes, we will help you. You’re poor”.

I hope that the first stage of this interviewing process is over. From the past two weeks, my cheeks hurt from smiling and talking about myself too much. I want to know that come Fall I will have a classroom I am happy to call my own. This process has been tolerable strictly because of the amazing support I have been receiving from family, friends, and the teachers within Grand Ledge Public Schools. Past teachers of mine have been looking out for me with constant positivity and advice. Present teachers, who I have come to know and work with daily, have also given me good words and have connections with some amazing people and school districts.

Through this process I have had some interviews that did not go as well and some where I left feeling really confident in how I portrayed myself. It all comes down to the fit you have with the school. You want to give them the best of you, and if they want that – THEN GREAT! If not, why would you want to be working for a school district that does not value your extraordinary personality?

I can say one thing, I might have once closed with “this teaching position would be the bomb” – but I have never accidentally kissed an interviewer and/or wrongfully accused them of potential harassment.

At least not yet (;

 

A Day in the Life of Ms. Briggs

I cannot believe this is my seventh week at Wacousta Elementary.

It has also been close to seven weeks since my last blog post – but let’s not focus on that – life has been busy!

Since I accepted the position as a Reading Specialist at Wacousta Elementary, my job has taken on many roles. My day includes working one-on-one with students who range from 2nd to 5th grade. I work with multiple reading groups in second and third grade to increase reading levels. We focus on phonetic skills by understanding vowel sounds and word parts. I also have two second grade groups where we specifically focus on reading with fluency – expression, appropriate pace, and accuracy. For these two groups, I have incorporated Reader’s Theater to increase these skills and display their importance (blog post to come).

I then jump over to 5th grade where I teach the “Reading Rewards” program. This reading program shows students how to read unfamiliar words that are often “long” and “intimidating”. This is a whole-class instruction that has been a lot of fun to instruct! I also work with various reading groups within fifth grade to address vocabulary among the anchor text, how to identify cause and effect, and the main idea along with supporting details.

Reading instruction is about 80% of my job, but the 20% remaining is mathematics support. I work with three, small, fifth grade groups working with them on the program “AutoSkills” that assesses students’ specific needs and scaffolds instruction. These three groups have been a great time. One group calls me mom – which I am not quite ready for. I also help with math instruction in two 2nd grade classes focusing on a group of students who need extra assistance.

After Wacousta, I head out to East Lansing to work at Sylvan Learning Center. I have been a teacher at Sylvan for four months now. Adding a second job onto my plate has been hard work, but super rewarding! At Sylvan, I work with three students at a time who all vary in ages from 5 – 55, academic needs, and grade levels. I have three, one-hour sessions a night where I might find myself trying to re-learn the basics of calculus or how to balance a chemical equation.

It is a busy day, but every time I leave the school I am smiling. Although this is not my perfect position as a certified social studies, mathematics teacher with a middle level focus – but I would not trade this experience for the world. It is a great feeling knowing that you found what you love to do and be able to do it everyday.

Not many people can say that they do what they love

but I get to 🙂

Things I “Stole” This Week // Ed. 4

So I was off my game last week with the start of my new job and finding my fit. Now, since I am not spending time in different classes everyday, my things to steal are minimal – but I will try my best to continue what I started!

How-to-Draw Videos

IMG_5610I was walking in the hall past a second grade class and I saw these drawings of Yoda on the wall. I was super impressed as to how second graders were able to construct such masterpieces so I went in and talked to the teacher. She said that one day they didn’t have library at the last minute. She had about 15 minutes to kill without any prepared lesson plans. With this, she pulled up YouTube, gave every student a piece of printer paper, and just sat back to watch the magic happen.

The YouTube channel is called ‘Cartooning 4 Kids’ and has so many different characters kids know and it explained how to draw them. This artist breaks it down into simple, slow steps for kids of all ages to be able to follow along to.

As you can see, the outcome was super impressive. It kept kids focused, engaged, and overall increasing fine motor skills and learning a skill that is not often taught – drawing! Also, they had a blast and have pride in their work 🙂

 

Good News Twitter Wall

This was something I found in a fourth grade classroom, but can be implemented in older grades as well. This teacher had laminated strips of computer paper in three columns on a bulletin board. Any student could write a good news tweet on these papers to be displayed for everyone to see that comes into that class that day. It is a great way to know your kids and for students to take pride in their good news! It also adds character to your classroom which is awesome.

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Biography Projects

This was in a fifth grade classroom that had just done research projects on different people. Every student was to research a different person and then create a project that documented his/her life. This project used different textiles, mediums, and a giant poster-board to show off the students’ person. Within the clothing of their person, the student was required to incorporate pockets so facts and information could be placed inside. It instantly became an interactive poster that not only was super informative, but showed off kids’ creativity and personality.

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