Sunday, August 14, 2011

A new school year is about to begin...

Setting up my classroom gets easier and easier now that I don't try to think of something new and exciting. Several years ago, when I started teaching 1st. grade, I bought a bunch of stuff and created a garden/bug theme.  I have loved it and haven't changed since then.  The borders are starting to get a little worn and the bugs are getting sort of dog eared, but I figured I could get 1 more year out of them.  Next year, I will probably have to change decor themes.  Anyway, here are some pictures I took on Friday.  I still have a few finishing touches to add during inservice week, but for the most part the room is ready for my new class.
This is my job chart & schedule.  I will eventually add cards with student names beside each job. Those will rotate so that everyone has an opportunity to be responsible for each job.  On the schedule side, I will put 3x5 cards with the time for each subject or activity.  
This keeps the question, "When do we go to .." from coming up a lot during the day.

This rocking chair belonged to John McWhirt.  He was a wonderful man that lived next door to my parents.  He was a character and I think it would make him happy to know that his rocking chair has been part of my classroom for many years.  The pillow on the rocker was made for me by one of the students in my class las year.  I love the easel.  It is one of the best IKEA purchases I have ever made.  It is dry erase on one side, chalk board on the other.  I usually use large clips to attach chart paper tablets for shared writing activities.

This is is the classroom library.  I found it is easiest to keep books sorted in plastic tubs or baskets with a label on the outside.  Students' taste in books changes from year to year so I try to keep a good selection of books of my own in the library.  They also love magazines like Ranger Rick, High-Lights, and NG for Kids. 

This is another view of the library.  The curtain hides my storage boxes.  The bulletin board will eventually have posters and anchor charts about different reading genre or skills that are introduced throughout the year.  

This is a picture of the word wall, students cubbies, and mailboxes.  The mailboxes were built for my by Dad & Scott for my first classroom.  They are as heavy as can be because they are actually made from wood, but they have outlasted the cardboard kind hands down!  The pocket chart on the left is the system I use to rotate tables through literacy stations during my guided reading block.

This is my word working station.  I am going to try something new this year.  In the past, students might get to word working 1 time each week.  Therefore, they never really had much exposure to building & practicing new words.  This year, there are tasks listed in the pocket chart that can be completed using supplies on the shelf.  The students will be told they must complete all tasks by the end of the week, choosing a minimum of 1 per day.  Hopefully, this will give them more exposure to building & internalizing new words.  The blank bulletin board beside the center will be used for science and social studies posters and anchor charts as new topics are covered throughout the year.

These shelves hold my literacy tubs.  I have gone through several systems for literacy stations and eventually settled on this system.  Literacy stations are used during the time that I work in small groups with reading students.  Therefore, the work they do needs to be practice of skills previously introduced so that they can work independently.  I tried setting stations up around the room and having the kids move to stations to work.  But, that constant roaming around the room drove me crazy.  I would catch myself worrying about whether or not little Johnny was working at his station or visiting with someone else at another station.  This way, each table takes a tub to their own area, works on the task in the tub and it is a more controlled environment.  The only stations that are not in tubs are the independent reading, word work, listening, and computers.  For obvious reasons, they wouldn't fit inside a tub.

This year I decided to go back to desks.  I was asked to take the gifted kids again this year, and they are very territorial.  They like having their own space.  With tables, space is pretty much community property.  I totally dislike desks.  Work disappears inside them, glue gets spilled inside them, their papers fall out into the floor, etc.  But, just to avoid the territorial disputes I switched back.  I'll see how long I can stand it!  I like this configuration of the desks because they still have the "table" feel.  Right now, I have 20 desks and am holding out a small glimmer of hope that I will only have 20 students.  Fat chance of that happening!

Here is a view of the room from my small group table.  I spend a lot of time here with small groups of students in guided reading, guided writing, and math groups.  The location provides me with an unobstructed view of the classroom so that I can keep one eye on the class and the other eye on my small group.  Last year I sat on an exercise ball.  I had to let the air out of it to pack up the room at the end of the year.  I just haven't aired it up yet so the rolling chair is at my table for now.  I got rid of my teacher's desk several years ago.  I never used it and it ended up being more of a toxic dump site that a useful piece of furniture.

This is a view of the classroom from the farthest corner, in the library.  The shelves beside the door hold the math manipulatives and next to those shelves are my math center drawers.  The denim covered shelves on the counter top hold storage boxes for literacy & math center activities.  The only storage cabinets in the room are the ones on that wall.  Whoever built this school obviously had no clue how much junk a teacher collects.  Hence, the many fabric covered shelves in the room.

And the last picture is of my corner.  In front of the metal shelf that sits under the flag will be my AV cart with my laptop and document camera.  We have a suspended projector that was installed in the ceiling last year.  I love it!  The document camera and my laptop both can be used to project anything and everything on the screen in the front of the room.  It makes teaching sooo much easier!

So that is my classroom.  Whenever I am asked to mentor a new teacher, I always tell my protege' that she needs to make sure her classroom is visually appealing and comfortable for HER; not just the kids. So much of a teacher's life is spent inside these 4 walls and it needs to be a place she is comfortable in.
 I personally think blue is soothing, the bugs, grass, and flowers in my room decor remind me of being outside, and my system of organization all work together to create an environment I can function well in.  

1 comment:

La Familia Gutierrez said...

I know how you feel about desks. Boiled eggs can also get lost inside them and go rotten!!!