Can you believe summer break is really over? The first month of school is always extremely hectic. I mean I planned, over planned, and planned some more, but nothing can prepare you for the sudden scorching summer temperatures in a hundred year old building without AC, the handful of new students, teaching routines and expectations with fidelity, and the data analysis from quick writes and other back to school pre-assessments. Despite the quasi chaos, the second week of school is off to a great start in terms of instruction.
I’m a little late on all of the classroom reveals, but better late than never. Similarly to my blog facelift (thanks Diary Sketches for my awesome new logo), my classroom decor received a facelift as well. I’ve moved to literacy this years so you will notice that there are some literacy themed work areas added to my classroom to ensure mastery of common core ELA standards and the development of literacy strategies.
1. I’ve expanded my classroom library. I have a leveled section, section grouped by genres, and section dedicated to science non-fiction. I could not give up my science library especially when the Common Core expectation for middle school includes 50% fiction 50% informational texts. All of my books are labeled by genre and Lexile allowing students to easily find the “good fit book” based on lexile from NWEA. My classroom librarians from last school year helped with labeling and my new librarian will take on that job as we get new books to the library.
2. Middle school students need to practice fluency as well. I requested materials from Donors Choose to create a listening center to model and practice fluency. My project was indeed funded and parts of my listening center are arriving. We just got new Sony headphones today! Yay! My special education co-teacher provided the beautiful lamp for the our center!
3. Every balanced literacy classroom needs a writing center. I found cheap blank books in packs of eight from the dollar section of target so my students can publish their narrative writing. Awesome steal!
4. As part of the Roosevelt University Reading Grant, I have included a language wall into instruction to include important words, phrases, and graphic organizers that are current and can easily be replace. The thinking behind the language wall is that it is versatile, meaningful, and displays what students are focusing on at the moment. How many of add vocab to the word wall that rarely gets used or even notice by students? Language walls allow student to participate in the learning of new language being used during instruction.
5. During my MSU professional learning this summer, we spent the summer exploring our wonders about the world. Instead of having a research center, I’ve decided to include a “World of Wonder” center in honor of my summer program and to integrate STEM into the classroom. Students will be challenged to look at the world with the lens of a kindergartener and ask questions about what we observe in the natural world. Students will spend time here researching their wonders and creating presentations to share their learning. Cool, huh? Thanks, Punya!
6. I’ve moved my focus wall to the front door so admin and other guests know exactly what they are walking into in my classroom. In addition, I have pocket charts in the main part of the classroom reiterating what the focus wall say for students.
7. My guided groups table is located at the front of the room with a storage unit next to it to hold data binders, group materials, the printer, and more. It probably looks a little cluttered, but it works for know. I probably will bring a plastic drawer unit to hide some of the clutter.
8. Coat racks are never used and are primarily what I used to store science kits. Since we are keeping the kits in my room due to limited space in the new science classrooms, I covered the curtains with two top sheets purchased from Walmart for less that 8 bucks each! They are fastened with thumbtacks to hide the filing cabinet and science kits.
9. I love being able to keep my lab tables in my ELA classroom. They are spacious are promote student centered learning and peer collaboration.
10. My data wall consists of NWEA percentiles. I do not have names or number identification posted, simple post its representing the number of students in each group. The data is telling and a stark reminder of the work we have to do this year! I’ve got my work cut out for me. I have to post what it actually looks like with the post its…
Not too bad for my fifth year of teaching, huh? I have a ‘to do’ list that I’m still working on, but I feel like my kids and I are in a good place in week two.