Sunday, September 9, 2012

Learning the Ropes

5th grade is proving to be quite different than 2nd grade!  While the basic principles of classroom management remain the same, I'm quickly reminded of how different kids can be.  My new district is far more diverse than my former district and that also creates different issues.

The first thing that is taking time to get used to is teaching the same thing 4 times a day.  I can switch things up somewhat because we do ability grouping so each class is a slightly different level so that helps break up the monotony of the day.  I have my homeroom for about 2 and a half hours in the morning so I have had a chance to really let them know what I expect and what the consequences are for not doing what they're supposed to do.  On the other hand, I have each of the other 3 classes for only 40 minutes a day.  I'm having a hard time remembering their names and (for the most part) they're not as well behaved as my homeroom.  It makes it more challenging to get through everything we need to do in that short period.  I've been taking time daily to remind them of what I expect in my classroom and I've been quick to discipline when there is a problem; I want them to know that I'm serious.

What are your favorite classroom management strategies for this age group?

Monday, September 3, 2012

I'm Back & Ready to Roll!

I have been MIA from the blog world the last few weeks because I've been hard at work in my classroom!  Nearly everything is ready to go now.  We had a staggered start last Wednesday & Thursday with everyone coming on Friday.  We begin our normal rotation schedule tomorrow.  

I am (still!) very excited for this year.  I have great co-workers and my teammates are awesome!  My kids all seem to be eager to learn and that makes this job even better.  Because of scheduling conflicts, I'm now teaching 1 unit of math and 4 units of social studies.  My team has about 120 kids and they are the "enrichment team."  We have been challenged by their parents and our principal to really push them to keep them growing and interested in school.  We'll be doing a lot of projects and I have lots of ideas for them!

I hope to be back to blogging more this week now that I feel more "settled."

A Tour of My Classroom

Library Corner:  Content Area & current event books are on display while books are organized by subject in baskets on the shelves.  The Cranium Club board will be in action starting next week.

from the back of the classroom

from the back corner of the room

looking to the back from just inside the door

doorway with framed motivational signs--inspired by Pinterest!

"no name" claim board--inspired by Pinterest!

Assignment Board:  blocks created with bulletin board boarder.  I added magnets to the back so it is adjustable.  The subjects' stars match our color coded folders & notebooks.

my corner-I use the blue organizer on the table to prep my supplies weekly (each box is a day)  The colored cart in front of my desk is where I keep extra paper for my students.

To display student work, I'll hang different assignments on this board.  I will organize them by what makes it "model" work:  neatness, completeness, great effort, content knowledge, etc.  The table is where students turn in work and have access to staplers.
This is my content wall.  I printed the vocabulary on sentence strips.  This wall will change with each unit.


Monday, August 20, 2012


I know it's been awhile since I posted but I've been hard at work in my classroom!  Everything is almost done so look for pictures as soon as I finish my bulletin boards later this week.  I have new staff orientation, a professional development day, and student orientation this week.  AND I just found out that I'm teaching social studies now because of scheduling conflicts with my team.  I'm excited about it but I'm bummed because I had some really cool ideas for math.

Back to work!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Interactive Math Notebook Setup

I've been working on setting up my Interactive Math Notebooks tonight.  If you're interested in utilizing this as a learning resource in your classroom, I highly recommend going to Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes to read her series on math notebooks.  I also watched this great video on YouTube that helped me visualize the concepts I'd been reading about.  It also explains how to attach double sided handouts, more pages, etc.

The Plan!

I'm meeting with my math team next week and they want to hear more about my ideas for the Interactive Math Notebook.  I've read a lot about them this summer and done a lot of thinking about how I want to implement them in my classroom.  I know I'm definitely using this approach for math; I'm considering it for science as well.  The general idea of the interactive notebook is that teachers can "give" information to students on the right side (right brain) and then students process/practice/explain/reflect/and more on the left side (left brain).  The right side is where students keep all of their handouts but they use the left side for vocabulary models and graphic organizers.  Students can get creative with left side; it appeals to their different styles of learning.  If this seems confusing, watch the YouTube video!  

I'm planning on using 3 subject spiral notebooks.  The first 2 subjects are for the right side/left side notebooking while the final subject will be for their warmups.  I'm going to let my students decorate their covers however they want so that they take more ownership of their interactive notebooks.  The first few pages will be designated for the Table of Contents.  Pages are numbered as a set.  The left page is #L and the right page is #R.  Each page must also have a title and date at the top.  If students are absent, they are responsible for obtaining whatever they need for the right side of their journal and then adding something to the left side.  

I've created a set of guidelines for students which they must keep in their journals for reference.  You can download this for free from my Teacher's Notebook Shop by clicking on the picture.

After the guidelines, students must paste in the grading guidelines.  PS-They are only allowed to use GLUE STICKS for pasting things in their notebooks......NO LIQUID GLUE!  *This can also be downloaded for free by clicking on the picture.

The left side of the journal will often have a Frayer vocabulary model.  I'll be using this when a key word is introduced.  You can download this 2 per page form from my Teacher's Notebook Shop for 50 cents by clicking on the picture.

I've never used an Interactive Notebook before so I'm sure I'll be making changes and getting more ideas as I go.  I do have some concerns.  One of my concerns deals with new students.  How do you catch a new student up with this model of teaching and learning?  I also don't know if I'm going to have a document camera in my classroom.  It is extremely important to model with these and I don't know how else to do this quickly and easily.

Your Turn

Have you ever used Interactive Notebooks in your classroom?  How might you deal with my concerns?  What are your concerns?


Sunday, August 5, 2012

What's Going On?

I'm joining up with Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her "Currently in August" linky.  


I keep seeing a lot of bloggers saying they start back with kids this week!  Crazy!  One of my friends starts with staff workdays this Friday.  Teachers in my home district start back next week and then kids come the week after.  I have my new staff orientation the 3rd week of August and then don't start with kids until the following week.  

This week is "fair week."  I grew up in 4-H.  I was in the 4-H Band, was the president of the Food & Fashion Board, and did cooking projects.  I never showed animals but the fair was always the culmination of the busy 4-H summer.  Even though I'm not directly involved in 4-H anymore, I still enjoy spending time at the fair watching 4-H Band concerts, animal shows, browsing the 4-H Center, and of course, eating!  I don't anticipate doing a lot for school this week because of the fair.  If I get the "magic" email saying I can get into my room, I'll probably spend a couple of days working at school.

I've been trying to work on some curriculum related things for school but I feel like I'm stuck.  I have copies of the curriculum maps but they're not very detailed; it's proving to be frustrating as I've never taught 5th grade before.  I need to talk to my colleagues before I'm really able to continue with much more.  In the mean time, I'm focusing on organizational types of tasks.

So when do you start back with kids?  What are you working on?


Friday, August 3, 2012

Parent Communication Binder & STUFF

Too Much Stuff!

After what seems like a million years of waiting to have my own classroom, I had accumulated quite the collection of educational junk materials!  Between seeing things on clearance, teachers retiring, and going crazy waiting for my "own" class, I just kept getting more and more "stuff."  It was all in plastic tubs in my basement while I patiently waited for a full-time position.  I didn't realize just how much there was until I found out I had this 5th grade job.  I ventured to the basement to start the great sort and it took quite awhile!  I'm proud to say it's all organized now.  I have put the things from teaching language arts, social studies, and primary grades in other tubs to be stored back in their corner in case I ever return to teaching those subjects or grades.  Now I have a new pile!  It's all the stuff that needs to be transported to my new classroom.  I'm supposed to be able to get in next week and I'm extremely excited to do so!  

All of those clear shoe box tubs are full of the many supplies I've gotten at Staples during their penny sales!  If you don't check their weekly ad to see what they have leading up to school, you're losing out!  PS-Do you see the box for that 10 drawer cart?  I got that at Sam's Club for $25.  I saw the same cart at Michael's yesterday for $60!  Check out your local Sam's to see if they still have it for that bargain price!  Those 3-packs of Puffs are only $3.99 at Staples and Target.  I've stocked up for at home, too!

Parent Communication Binder

I worked on creating my forms for my parent communication binder today.  In my New {School} Year Resolutions post, I mentioned that I had some ideas for organizing contact information.  Inspired by Pinterest, this is what I have in mind for my Parent Communication Binder:
  1. Parents will fill out a front & back form at the beginning of the year.  This will allow me to have an easy reference with names of family members, best way and time to contact, medical/allergy information in addition to how the parents feel their child perceives school, their strengths & weaknesses, and other information vital to success.
  2. After this form, I will have a copy of the contact log.  This will allow me to quickly record who I've contacted, when, and how.  It also has a big box for recording the reason for the contact and the parent's response.  At the top of this page, I've made a little box for checking off positive contacts for 1st and 2nd semester.  I think it's incredibly important for parents to hear from their child's teacher when they've done well with something and not just when they're in trouble!  I want to do this more than just twice in the school year but no less than 1 time per semester.  This little checkbox will help me meet this goal!
  3. After the 2 pages, I'm putting a clear page protector for each student.  I will use this to store notes from home, copies of discipline referrals, IEP meeting invites, printed emails, etc.
Each student will have their own section in my binder where everything will be kept together for easy reference.  Hopefully I won't have to print extra copies of the contact log because I'm sure all of my students will be angels :-)  I'm going to keep this all in one of these pretty binders I got from Staples (super cheap...don't remember the exact price).

This 3 page packet is available as a PDF at my Teacher's Notebook shop for 75 cents!  If you'd like a copy for free, comment and tell me how you think this would help you in your classroom this year (please include your email address).  I'll give a free copy to the first 2 followers to comment!


Remember when I said I couldn't commit to certain things? Well, I have a new blog design :)  Thanks to, I have a new background!  This is just a test post to make sure all my colors are okay and my signature shows up!