Monday, August 10, 2015

Classroom Reveal: It’s going to be SUPER in SECOND!

Hi, Friends! How are you? It’s been a busy last week or so here. After getting those golden keys in my hand, I began to plan…unpack, find, move, lift, staple, purge and OBSSESS about putting my new classroom together. NOW…the foundation has been laid to set the stage to engage a new batch of kiddos! Putting my classroom together is one of those things that just makes me happy! I can get lost in there for hours….and I did!

Now that my little home away from home is ready….

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…come on in and have a look see!

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These cabinets store our classroom stations and curriculum pieces. We also use them as command central for our transportation list, class jobs and CHAMPS expectations. The black “call to action” poster is one of ONLY two commercially made posters you’ll find in our classroom. Well, not counting the pledge posters…so I guess it’s one of only 4. Our walls and classroom surfaces are prime real estate for displaying our learning….so once, you enter our room….you’ll notice there’s LOTS of blank space for creating and displaying what we will learn together.

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This is our little library. Last year, I used the blue bins to hold books organized by theme and the black ones to house leveled books. This year, I wanted our classroom library to more closely resemble a real library, so I organized the entire selection of books by theme. There are still a few more boxes of books to add. We will have leveled books in the classroom, BUT they’ll be stored separately and used for small group instruction.

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Our Dollar Tree and IKEA book boxes are hanging out in perfect harmony! I brought this little collection of pink, orange, blue and white together with coordinating labels. Morning work journals and Daily 5 folders have been inserted too. I’ll choose books for student book boxes for the first week. Beginning in the second week, after teaching kiddos how to browse the library, they’ll get to choose their own.

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This is our infamous ENTIRE….WHOLE word WALL, lol! This sucker is HUGE! We’ll be hanging our alphabet line after completing a little ABC fun on the first day of school. I want the kids to help with completing this task so they’ll take ownership of it and to develop interest in use of the word wall. The two tables you see pictured here will be the two seating choices for ‘work on writing’ when choice becomes available during our literacy block. We’re not bound to tables in our classroom, so if students opt to, they may also utilize the floor space. I’ve got a couple pretty pink pillows that will be tossed into this space too.

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Don’t you just love the smell of new crayons? Supplies are being organized for their big introduction in week 2! Last year, one of my class favorites was our Word Helper board. They used it so much that I had to make a new one to start this year. It’s a simple tool that has a BIG impact! When there is a frequently used word that students just aren’t quite sure yet about how to spell, they can pull the laminated white card from the appropriate pocket, bring it to me and I add the word with a sharpie. Once I’ve added a word to the card, they can no longer ask me how to spell it, but must instead use the Spell Help board as an additional resource for finding correct spellings. Simple. Effective. Loved!

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Kids ever argue over where to sit when they visit the teacher table? Slap a symbol on the back of each of the chairs. In our classroom, the symbols we use are vowels. Each time a student comes to the teacher table, they are expected to sit in the same chair, with the same vowel…each and every time. Give it a try…it works [most of the time]! =)

The two small boards in the background will house standards for each of the units we’ll be working through in reading and math. When we complete a unit or ‘unpack the standards’ as a class, the poster will go on the board as a reference. When we begin the next unit, the next poster will be stapled right over it. If students need to refer back to a previous poster, they can simply walk over, give a lift and review what we previously learned. By the end of the year…there will be a stack of posters stapled one on top of the other on each board.

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We use Wilson Fundations for word work in our district. It’s perfect for small group differentiation, so I keep their alphabet visible at the small group table for easy reference.

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The two tables closest to the teacher table are used for ‘word work’ once all literacy center choices have been introduced. Keep in mind, because we use flexible seating, when I say…tables…what I really mean is any space within the vicinity of that table. As long as students are engaged and productive, they have complete choice of where exactly they park their bottoms to get to work. Standing is an option too!

The standing shelf in the middle of the room will house math station review activities. It’s also holding a space for our media cart. We’ll get that little diddy from our librarian once we’re officially back at work.

This picture is also a great example of my view from the teacher table. I HATE CLUTTER! It gives me the heebie jeebies! Despise it….so I enjoy having a clear, unobstructed view of the classroom. No matter where a student is working, I can look out across the classroom and see everyone and they can see me, to know I can see them! =)

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I thought our ceiling medallions might’ve been a little too busy, but I really like the way they turned out! Usually, I use fishing line to hang them but keeping with the chalk and brights theme, I used black curling ribbon.

After posting a couple sneak peeks to Facebook, a few friends asked me where I got the wall clings. They actually aren’t wall clings at all! Being the doodler that I am, I took large cuts of black butcher paper and free-hand cut out doodle frames, then added embellishments with a chalk marker…that’s it…and stapled them to the wall. What do you think?
 
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Here’s one last glance from the doorway….

You might’ve noticed the words ‘I Can…” spread throughout our room. It’s the guiding principle of our classroom. Success comes in CANS…and I always want my students to know how much I believe in each of them. It also pays homage to one of my favorite bible verses. I CAN….do all things through Christ who strengthens me! {Philippians 4:13}

Knowing that we can and creating an atmosphere driven by engaging students through personal choice is what makes our classroom tick! While my goal this week, will be to enjoy as many days as possible in pjs…once we’re officially back on Monday and preparing for students, I’ll be excited to meet my new batch! The foundation is laid; it’s similar to what I used last year and I can’t wait to use it again!

Have you ever considered utilizing alternative seating in your classroom? Here’s a great video that explains why it works. Don’t be afraid! Step outside of your comfort zone. Throw out that old “box”. Let your students make choices and watch them shine! Enjoy the video and have a great year!


Friday, July 31, 2015

Digging Deeper…Our NEW Word Wall

So, today I got the chance to take a quick peek inside of my classroom! Now, my creative wheels are in overdrive and I’m growing more excited by the minute! As much as I’ve enjoyed having a little down time, I’m ready to start prepping our learning space.

One of the first things that will be going up in the room this year is our word wall. The best thing about taking a look into the room is seeing the blank slate. It’s a new chance, a new opportunity to do something great…to work with a new batch of kiddos…to grow and change and become better!

Our word wall is going to be one of those things that changes for the better this year!

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At the beginning of last year, our word wall looked like this. Each week, the class and I added 5 new words (given that I remembered to print them) to the word wall. To facilitate a little visual “pop” and to help me stay organized…I used neon Astrobrights to run copies of our sight words. I love ROY G. BIV order! I love it so much, I use it to organize things in sequential order by grading periods. Our year is divided into 6 of them. During the 1st 6 weeks, the words were added on pink, then orange in the 2nd 6 weeks, then yellow in the 3rd 6 weeks and so on. This helped me to ‘at a glance’ be able to keep track of when words were introduced throughout the year.

We’ll be using neon again this year, but instead of the focus being on classroom organization…the focus will be on student learning!

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Word wall headers have been prepped and the Astrobrights are on deck and ready! Our word wall is growing up! It’s maturing and being organized to focus on phonics! You might say….well, duh! But….wait! Let me tell you HOW!

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There will be 3 categories of words on our word wall. The first category will be sight words that can be used to generate other words. These words will be copied onto neon cardstock. For instance….take the word drink. You can use the rime to rhyme and create other words like….link, mink, brink, pink, sink, wink, blink, or think. With before…you can use the rime of the second syllable to rhyme and create…chore, score, shore, snore, core, or bore. Get it? Of course you do…YOU rock!

Because these words will be on brightly colored paper, students can use the color, the rime, or the shape of the word to help recall them, use them, or spell them by analogy to create new words.

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The second category of words will be those that are the outlaws. The naughty ones….the words that don’t always follow the [phonics] rules and can not be used to generate other words. They will be copied onto white paper. White….like glue, to help them stick in students’ memories! These words will have to be memorized by sight! After copying each of these words and cutting them from white paper, they will also be framed in black.
 
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The last category of words, will be vocabulary words. These are the words that may be required in our curriculum’s specificity or words that are important to students but are not a part of traditional sight word lists. They will be copied onto tan/manila paper and cut to the shape of a rectangle…another visual reminder/distinction.

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Our word wall will continue to be interactive in the sense that we will USE it! We’ll hang the words together, we’ll play word games, apply movement to our spelling activities…and when that age old question arises… “HOW DO I SPELL…?” We’ll make reference to words that can be manipulated to guide the spelling of others.

One other additional BIG detail…the background of the word wall will be black. LOVE! Black and white is our running class theme, so our word wall will fit right in!

The alphabet line will be hung in ABC order from A………..allllll the waaaaaaaaaay to Z, in ONE single line…so it will quite literally be a word WALL, lol! After hanging the alphabet line close to eye level, sight words will be placed in a vertical line above each letter…about 5 per week…WITH KIDS. Vocabulary will be hung below the letter and changed out according to need throughout the year.

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Cutting the words to their shape will be another visual tool to help students remember them. The black background really creates a clean look. I love the way the neon pops! Even the outlaws stand out in their little black leather jackets!

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I’ve had word wall on the brain all week and will be excited to get my hands on those golden keys on Monday morning to begin prepping it in the classroom!
 
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This is a small shot of what our much bigger word wall will look like and I have to say, I think it’s going to change the way our kids use the word wall in a great way!

You know, one of the reasons I found this opportunity to dig deeper during word wall time so exciting is because our trainer presented it with the enthusiasm of a kid with a brand new toy! I can only hope to have a fraction of her energy and excitement once we're back at school. If you had never used a word wall before in your life…attending her training would make you want to run out and hang one up as fast as you could!

And guess what? There will be no more having to remember to prep my words for the week because I’ve typed my entire list for the year! No lamination...just print, cut and hang! That’s one little thing that makes a big difference checked off of my list for the entire school year! Check out this little diddy in my TPT store to check it off of your list too!

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First grade friends, you can click HERE to grab your list. =) What BIG change are YOU looking forward to this year?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

TPT Challenge Accepted! {Makeover Madness}

Just give a product a facelift they said. Add a little something new. Update it! It’ll be easy! Well, one product deleted and completely recreated later…..it was fun and so much more than just a little facelift! =)

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I’m so glad I jumped into the TPT Seller Challenge that started this week! At first, I wasn’t sure which product I wanted to tackle first….BUT then, I went to a two day training. In the midst of the training, my creative wheels started turning and I knew EXACTLY what I needed to change…..and quickly! The training was over writer’s workshop with a word wall component. Not just any old run of the mill word wall though…..a new {to our area} word wall system!

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Like most of you, my word wall was set up like this at the beginning of the year….in two neat rows, divided between M and N. Well, once upon a time ago….in a PreK training we were advised to hang our word walls horizontally in ONE long alphabetical row from A to Z. Some of us did, space allowing….BUT most of us continued to utilize our word wall in the formation above. It’s worked…it’s been updated to be manipulative. It’s become interactive. NOW….it’s being revolutionized! Which leads me to the product that I made over! Stay with me….I promise we’re going somewhere with this.

Next year, when I go in to set up my word wall…that writing goals chart will have to find a new home because letters WILL be arranged horizontally from A-Z. In addition to adopting the new structure, the background will be black. High frequency words will be posted above the alphabet strip and vocabulary words will be added below the alphabet strip. Different right? There’s more…

With there being two types of high frequency words, differentiation will [visually] come into play. Decodable sight words will be printed on neon paper and cut to the shape of the word. Phonetically irregular words will be printed on white paper and framed in black to the shape of the word. Vocabulary words will be added onto rectangular cut manila paper…below the letter. My classroom “theme” is black and white with pops of color soooo, hearing this started my heart to leaping and gave an educational reason to the color students will be seeing on the word wall.

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…and it inspired my makeover item! A couple years ago, I created the little book above as a resource for our writer’s workshop folders. The old one is on the left. The NEW and IMPROVED one is on the right!

Instead of it being sized to fit into one of the side pockets of the folder, its now been edited for hole punching to fit onto the prongs running down the middle of the folder…to use as a resource to record and find spellings of frequently used words.

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Notice the difference on the inside?!!! HUGE! THIS will also be how our word wall will look…..so, the book students will use to record new words will be a reflection of the wall we post them on! Lines will help with organization and they will have the alphabet with accompanying symbols to assist as a formation reference. Mind blown! If you can’t tell….I’m a little excited about the upcoming change! We’ve only been out of school for a week and my head is spinning with ideas to begin preparing for the new year!

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Sometimes, friends' names can be a little hard to spell. There’s a space for those names and subject specific words at the end of the book.

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Makeover…..done!

I just uploaded this cutie to my TPT store and because I’m so excited about how it turned out, I listed it as a forever FREEbie! Click HERE to grab it! Stay tuned…inspiration is flowing. More is in the works to accompany this….

See ya next week, when we continue the challenge by daring to dream……..BIG!

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