Thursday, July 25, 2013

Getting Your Room Ready Part 2

After getting my 5 Rules posters up, I moved on to the Super Improvers Wall. This little gem is great for individual motivation and praising when students make progress in many areas. Here's what my revamped wall for this year looks like.

The full view of my SIW.

The new header matching my Hollywood/movie theme.

My themed SIW levels.
The small pictures on levels 5 and 8 are the picture opportunities. For more information about that, be sure to check out Chapter 15 of Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids. Now what you might notice missing is the student pieces. Last year, I used in same colored index cards that the levels above are shown on. I plan on using the same this year, but I will more than likely cut the cards in half. Why? Well, I will only see my students for half of the school day, so instead of the normal 10 stickers/stars per level, we will use only 5. The index cards are kept in a storage container by my teaching area and I always keep a sheet of stickers nearby for awarding.

Some teachers draw stars on the student pieces when giving them. I use stickers for 2 reasons. First, I allow the students to put them on themselves and they beam when they get to do so. Second, like many other teachers, I have a TON of smaller stickers that were just collecting dust laying in folders or storage drawers. Now they'll get used.

Last year, I was not as consistent with giving out stickers for the wall as I know I should have been. All of my students reached the second level but only a few made it to near the end of the 3rd level. One of my goals is to be better with the SIW especially since I will not see my students all day.

Next up in this series - the Scoreboard and some WBT basics!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Getting Your Room Ready Part 1

My position for the coming year has changed so much recently that I've been neglecting my blog. Things seem to finally be set now. I'll be back in the classroom teaching math and social science (alternating science and social studies lessons) to the single 3rd grade section.

Know all of this has allowed me to start getting my classroom prepped for the start of school the second week in August. Let's start with the 5 Rules.

My Hollywood/movie themed 5 Rules posters.

My classroom has a Hollywood/movie theme so I made new "posters" to match. As you can see, my Rule 1 is the version that's used later in the school year to take things up a notch. I'll be putting up Follow directions quickly! in the coming week.

Why is it important to put these posters in a visible place in your classroom? Some schools/districts require it, but let's face it, those posters just collect dust in many cases. Not in WBT! The rules are reviewed every day, many times throughout the day. Most commonly, they are revisited after ever return to the classroom. Since I will see my students in the afternoons, that will most likely be twice - first when they initially enter for the day and second when the students return from their afternoon recess.

Once the students become familiar with the rules, they can be challenged by asking for them in a different order. Something fun to do is have a student leader lead the class in the rules and have them use a finger pointer to point at the rules as they ask for them. Using different voices (silly, robot, whisper, etc.) can liven up that daily rules review as well.

For future editions of the Getting Your Room Ready series, I'll talk about the Super Improvers Wall, Scoreboard, seating arrangements, and other related areas. Do you have something you'd like to see or read about in setting up your classroom for WBT? Leave a comment below and I'll consider it!

Friday, July 5, 2013

Currently July

The start of the month means it's time for the Oh Boy 4th Grade currently. I'm a little late in joining the party this month, but things have been really busy for me!

Listening: There's a Rocky marathon on one of the movie channels. I've been watching since I found it during Rocky II. I think my favorite is Rocky IV when he faces the Russian fighter. Great music in that one!

Loving: I've finally learned what I will be doing this coming school year and it's a major change for me and for my school. I will be taking on the role of math interventionist for 3rd-6th grade. No more regular classroom teaching. I'm both excited and nervous about how this will work!

Thinking: With roughly 50 students, I'm going to have my work cut out for me when it comes to organizing my student's work. Some students will come only one day a week, while others will be almost every day. I'm considering 2 different options, both using file folders color coded by grade.

Filetastic - Black
Pocket Chart from Filetastic
Pacon® Classroom Keepers® Magazine Holder, Assorted Colors
Color Coded Magazine Boxes
I think the chart would be easier for the students to find their folder in, but I will need to have the wall space for 4 or 5 of them. The boxes would mean all of a grade together in one small spot, which could make getting folders a longer process.

Wanting: As part of what I plan to do with these students, I've been printing out various games to review computations and rounding. These are the skills we're starting with. My poor all-in-one-printer is taking forever to print the pages out!

Needing: I need to make my decision on the organizing so I can start buying what I need, like the colored folders, mechanical pencils, erasers, and either the charts or the boxes. Aside from my decision, there's the mess I have in my classroom. The materials for 3rd grade won't be taken out for another week.

Tips, Tricks, or Hints: I'm sure you must be thinking I'm crazy mentioning a portable hard drive rather than a thumb/flash/jump drive for school files. For a long time, I used them, maxed them out, got a larger one, then repeated. When I started having problems with my largest drive, I decided to upgrade. This one was at Wal-Mart - 500GB for around $50.00. While I know they make larger ones now, I have all of my school, music, and personal files on it and have about 430GB left. It is bigger, but I haven't had any problems with it working so far.

Toshiba Canvio 3.0 Plus - hard drive - 1 TB - USB 3.0
Toshiba Portable Hard Drive

 If anyone has other suggestions for my organization dilemma, feel free to leave a comment for me!