Today officially ends my first full week of back to school. As you already know, inservice days and first days with students are a complete whirlwind (although, some of my favorite days of the year)! I often get so caught up in my “real job” that I forget to take pictures for blogging purposes, which happened again as I set up my new classroom. This means that I’ll be sharing my “real life” photos. Everything has already been moved and used, so you won’t see any perfectly straight rows or beautifully organized containers. However, I do think it will be a happy, fun, and functional space for my students and me.
I’m using baskets inside students’ desks again, since I’ll be team teaching. These are the best way for me to keep my students organized. I like to group my desks into clusters of four, which makes group work and partner work easy.
I think my favorite thing about my new classroom is that for the first time in 14 years, I have a real window! It is such a treat for me! I placed my small group table in front of the window (not too close…I’m following all the Fire Marshal’s rules). Yes, I do have three different types of chairs at my table. One day I’d love to have more wobble stools, but I’m going to take it slow. I bought one, and I’m going to try it out before I invest in adding anymore to my room. I think I’ll love it, but I want to make sure they’re not a distraction first.
I created a small reading area for my new classroom library. It isn’t big, but I’ve never had enough space for any type of reading area before, so I love it! I organize my books into plastic baskets, with some books organized by level. My books start at Level L and go through T+. I have several books organized by series. Some of my students’ favorites are Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Magic Tree House, Land of Stories, Who Would Win, I Survived, and Treasure Hunters.
I have more books that are organized by author, such as Andrew Clements, Kate DiCamillo, and Christopher Paul Curtis. I also have a few containers organized by genre. At one time, my classroom library was much larger than it is now, but I found that it was a bit too much for my students. I now try to be a bit more selective about what I include in my library, where I focus on the quality of what I offer, rather than sheer quantity of books.
I recreated by previous word wall in my new room. My large bulletin board is on a blueish wall, so I couldn’t use my turquoise fabric. I switched to a lime green fabric, which worked because I wanted my main colors to be turquoise and lime. We will add content area vocabulary to the word wall as the words are introduced during the year, using Velcro dots to attach the words to the ribbon. I have two other small bulletin boards on the opposite side of my classroom. I cut my old turquoise fabric in half and used that for those bulletin boards. One bulletin board will display student work and the other board will display my standards and essential questions. I had originally intended to hang my anchor chart on that focus wall bulletin board, but it was WAY too small.
I’m a huge fan of hanging clipboards on hooks to keep up with things like our restroom log and behavior log. I love always knowing where things are, and if you’ve seen my desk lately you know I need the help!
I used a large area to display my math work stations rotations. As soon as I get to know my students, I’ll place each student with a partner and will add the names to the chart. I attach the names with Velcro dots and rotate the names through the numbers. I also made little numbers for one of my behavior management ideas. Throughout the week, I give table points, and at the end of the week the table with the most points gets a small prize. I like this strategy, because it evokes a lot of encouragement from students to the peers at their tables.
I used magnetic border on my dry erase board to set up our weekly calendar or agenda. That said, I think Washi tape would be a better choice, because the magnetic strips keep moving. I imagine I’ll replace the strips for tape later in the year. I use this area to let students know what page of their morning work to complete and any specific activities or events to expect that day. I’m still using my “Helping Hands” for my helpers, where I have two helpers each day who are responsible for all our daily chores.
I finally labeled my multiplication fact drawers, and everyone is in the routine of getting started on math facts first thing in the morning. I’m using clothespins and ribbons for my lunch choice management. As soon as students arrive in the morning, they place their clip on the lunch of their choice. Then, my helpers take the lunch count to the cafeteria right after the announcements.
I have a parent volunteer box ready to go. In the box are things I have printed that are ready to be laminated and cut out. I’m definitely hoping to have some help this year, since I’ll be using almost all new task cards!
This year I’m tiptoeing into the world of flexible seating. I don’t think I’ll ever be comfortable without giving my students a “home spot”. Maybe I’m old fashioned or a creature of habit, but I like the idea of having a base or home spot for each student. However, I have intentionally set up additional work areas for my students. I have my small reading area, a rug in the front center of my classroom where students can sit for mini lessons. I also have my small group table that may have wobble stools one day, until then it’s regular chairs. Lastly, I have a tall table where students can stand and work, as well as two bungee chairs. The bungee chair is definitely everyone’s favorite. I quickly found that I had to set a routine for who gets to sit in the bungee chairs (the helpers).
My new classroom door was incredibly quick and easy to get ready! I’ve since added matching signs with my students’ names to the door. If anyone has a tip on how to go around the handle and lock, please share!!
I look forward to making many happy memories in my new classroom!
I hope you enjoyed reading this post, and if you want some more ideas for your own classroom, be sure to read my Top 8 Back to School Resources for Teachers post too!