In preparing my classroom for the coming school year, it starts Tuesday, reflecting on last year's classroom has helped bring focus. My classroom in Marshall began blank. It developed and built as the school year progressed. I really wanted it to be a reflection of student learning. That was what I kept in mind as it shifted from state to state.
The south side of the classroom.
This side was really devoted to our reading routine. Each morning I wrote our agenda for the session underneath the date. The green writing is the word wall that developed around Thanksgiving. I made a habit of moving the week's Essential Question to the top part of the wall. Above the agenda were two important reminders: "Be Nice" and "We are here to learn." My desk was situated so that I could see the whole room from the rare moments I sat at it. It was also there so that I could run my smart board from my laptop as well as use my document camera.
The north side of the room.
The three posters at the top were my CHAMPS. Champs state the expectations for specific activities. The tan strips are my Accelerated Reader point clubs. Each student's picture moved as they read more and earned more points. This bulletin board was for science and social studies. The practice developed later in the year. I would write the essential questions for each lesson and hang the vocabulary cards as we discussed the words. I would also post copies of our science notebook notes for any student who may have been absent. The middle chart is the line order and jobs chart, rotating weekly. It's next to the line up procedures. There are also little pieces of painters tape on the floor tiles so each number would know where they were supposed to stand in line. At the right is my US map. As we learned about each state we colored it in. Beginning the morning with a state was one of my favorite activities of the year. Students could name every state by the end of the year.
At the back of the room was the learning center.
Not having any book shelves in the room this became our bookshelf. Making the investment in class books was really important. Having material that was at each student's level and of interest to them was huge. Illustrated novels helped my students to find reading success and be proud that they could finish a whole chapter book.
Sketchbooks were also high my list of school year accomplishments.
My brother Sam was able to help supply my class with hardcover sketchbooks and individual sets of colored pencils. We had a class set of pencils but ownership of their own was way more significant. I build a specialness to the sketchbooks. They had a special spot at my desk. I would make them return them at the end of each session.
We used a gold marker to put their names on them. Obviously all of my students are name Stephen Curry.
Sketching was especially transformative for one student. I saw his overall behavior improve and engagement levels go up. Maybe it was that he got to know me better, maybe my teaching practices improved, but I like to think that he found something to focus on.
Pokemon. They all liked to copy Pokemon into their sketchbooks.
I tried to give art significance in my classroom. We learned all the elements of art. We painted, sketched, glued, and pasted. We learned about a few well-known artists. More than once I found them googling Keith Herring after our study of line. Mark Rothko also had a fair share of hits. The hall bulletin board always featured their creative work. It was collaborative.
All year long they begged to paint masks, so we finally did.
As the new school year approaches I keep thinking back to my first class. I hope the best for them and am grateful for our time learning together and my year as Miss T.