Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Back to School Clean UP!

Officially I don't have to be back at work until Monday, August 5th. However, I decided to get a jump start on things, and man am I glad I did. This year I will be teaching fifth grade, so moving classroom happened along with making new anchor charts and activities for my classroom. The classroom I was moved to was a disaster! The teachers who "lived" there before me were not organized and stuff was just shoved in cabinets and drawers. Now, don't get me wrong, I am not organized myself but in my old classroom I at least knew where everything was. To start off I took everything out of the cabinets, off the shelves, and out of the drawers. I thew out pounds upon pounds of garbage, and recycled tons of papers. Man, did it feel good to have a handle on my new classroom. I couldn't have done it without the help of some lovely friends. Now, all my cabinets are organized school supplies are in bins with labels, posters are laying flat in cabinets, books are in place and now everything has its very own spot! My teacher resources are now organized by subject with labels and teachers guides and supplements are within my reach! It just makes me even more excited to start on my new teaching adventure!

In my quest to become more organized I have made some new things with the help of Pinterest! (My best friend!) I have three bins for my and my assistant teachers use. One is to be graded, one is to be passed out, one is to be filed. I plan to use these bins to keep my paperwork in check. Now that my students will be getting real grades and I have to keep track of them, I am hoping this will help. I also, have bought these little circular bins from the dollar store to keep at my computer for easy access to paperclips, pushpins, and staples. I don't know about you, but I am never at my desk and often need these materials. 

One place where I am begging for help from all of you, is how to you organize all of your copies. I have tried little cubbies with labels for each day of the week, but I can never seem to keep up with it. My copies often end up on the front carpet in stacks waiting to be used. Do ya'll have any methods that work? I am willing to try anything. I want more than anything to be organized with my stuff. 

Before and almost after pictures of my classroom. I am almost there being organized and done, but not quite! :)
I wish I had pictures of my organized cabinets, but I just have pictures of the top of them!

Before: With all the "stuff" out

 After: All the "stuff" in it's place
 After: A sneak peek to my classroom.. That's for next weeks post!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Welcome Back Bulletin Boards

I don't know about all of you, but one of my favorite parts of summer winding down is figuring out what to do for my back to school bulletin board. Like many other teachers, I have spent countless hours on Pinterest and Google to try to find the perfect one. On my back to school boards, I try to incorporate different topics we cover throughout the year and most importantly the students names.

As I walk down the hallways at school I love looking at the back to school boards, I feel like it gives me a sneak peak into that classroom. I also feel that back to school bulletin boards set the tone for the year. If you want you can base your whole classroom theme off the board.

This is going to be my fourth year teaching, so I want to share some of my welcome back boards with all of you. I have done:

 Miss Berman's Bucket Fillers- this one was based on the popular book, Have you Filled a Bucket Today? I love this book. For those of you haven't read it, it is about how everyone everyday carries around an invisible bucket. When people do nice things or give you compliments your bucket is filled. When people say mean things or do mean things their bucket is being emptied. It's a great beginning of the year book! The board was clouds with raindrops and on each rain drop there was something we learned in third grade. At the bottom, was was each kids name written on their own bucket.

WelGum to Miss Berman's Third grade class- a fairly simple one, but still in my opinion, super cute! It had a huge gumball machine. Inside the gumball machine were different gumballs with things we learn in third grade. Then on different gumballs were each kids name spilling out of the machine.

Let the Third Grade Games Begin- This was to go along with the Olympic Theme. The board was simple with Olympic rings and the students names were along the bottom on torches.

This year we are doing joint fifth grade bulletin boards. They are all based on different websites and technology themed, because fifth graders all bring their own technology, so we wanted to incorporate that into the board. One of the boards is a fifth grade wordle. If you are unfamiliar a wordle is a word cloud and one of my favorite websites to use with kids. The wordle is handmade and has all the different activities and subjects we do in fifth grade. The next one is a fifth grade pinterest board. This one tries to look like a main page on Pinterest with different boards representing the different subjects. The last one is going to be a fifth grade Facebook page. On meet and greet day the students are each going to fill out a sentence strip with a "status" and that is going to be our fifth grade news feed.

I know some people probably think I'm crazy for thinking so much at just one bulletin board at the beginning of the year that is going to be taken down in less than a month, however I think they are so important. (and I love making them!)

What are some beginning of the year bulletin boards you all have done?? I would love to hear some ideas! :)

Monday, July 15, 2013

What to do when I'm through??

One of the most dreaded questions in my mind, is "Miss Berman, I'm done, what can I do now??" If you're a teacher, I'm sure you've heard this before. Before we start any activity, I often list options on the board on what they can do if they finish early. This past year, I even had a shelf with multiple options. This shelf had no less then 9 activities that all students can do independently. There were cross word puzzles, word searches, math games, reading games, flash cards ect. At the beginning of the year, we took the time to explore all the activities and have the students become familiar with them. No matter how many times I told the students what they can do, I still heard that dreaded question.

After being moved to fifth grade, I was speaking with another teacher on my team. She told me she created "Anchoring Activities Across the Mind" These activities are basically different options of activities students can work on when they finish their work early. However these are a little different. They are based around students different interests and all of the activities are rich in learning. When I was looking at her packet of her ideas, I tweaked some, added some, but kept many! These activities range from playing math games to researching your favorite artists and creating a multi-media presentation. With such a wide range of activities, I'm hoping my dreaded question will go away. (Even though, I know it won't!) I'm going to place the options of activities in an ideal location.. maybe that will help!? (Wishful thinking right?)

In order to make sure the students are invested into these anchoring activities, I am going to take the time to introduce them slowly at the beginning of the year. I think I am even going to take a few minutes each day to have the students practice working on some of these rich learning activities. Throughout the year, I am going to add more activities, based on student interest. In order for that dreaded question to go away, the students have to be invested in the activities, they have to feel comfortable doing them independently, and they have to enjoy them. My goal is by the end of the year to have that dreaded question go away. What do all of you do, when your students finish early? Does it work?

Below are different sites about Early Finisher Activities!

My new Anchoring Activity across the Mind Posters!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Anchor Chart Mania

I am currently deep in the heart of summer and as much as I love my time off, I also miss teaching so much! Since my summers consist of hanging out with my other teacher friends and some beach trips, I love to take some my free time to think about and prep for next year. One of my favorite things about prepping for the next year is to make anchor charts.

I know some teachers prefer to make anchor charts with their students while they are introducing new concepts, however due to time constraints of teaching in a school with a duel curriculum I like to make them over the summer.

Anchor charts are a staple in my classroom, one because I love them, two because they are a wonderful reference for students. If a student forgets what a reading strategy means, doesn't know the next step in problem solving, aren't sure what to look for when editing, forgot how to take notes, and much more the teacher, can just have them refer to the anchor charts. In my opinion these anchor charts are just one step in making the students more independent and more responsible for their own learning.

Some of my favorite anchor charts that I make are for reading strategies. Students can use these independently, and I can use them to reference to when introducing and reviewing the strategies. To get ideas for anchor charts, I love to use Pinterest. I often take two or three anchor charts and combine them to turn them into my own ideas. I don't tend to use ready made anchor charts, because they don't align directly to my curriculum, however I know there are some great ready made ones out there!

Some of my current favorites from this summer!

More websites regarding anchor charts

Great Anchor Charts via Pinterest

Ways to make an anchor chart useful

Anchor Chart Article

How do you all feel about anchor charts? Do you use them in your classroom? Leave a comment and let me know!