Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Tips for Closing up your Classroom

I wanted to do some tweaking of my classroom for next year.  We get out June 21st but I like to start cleaning and organizing a little each day.  Don't wait until your last week of school because you won't want to clean then, you just want to get out!  There is so much to do at the beginning of school and it is awesome to come back to an organized room.

Here is what I have been working on...

1.  Start cleaning early...I choose a wall or section to clean and organize every day.  It takes me about 6 days to do this.  Try to weed things out as you go.  I moved grades this year and want to weed materials that I didn't use.
2.  I rearranged my room last week so my book corner is larger and the books are more accessible.  I went through my bins and made sure that everything is in its place.  I am making more bin labels as one of my summer projects.  I use old sheets to cover up the bins on counters and cover up movable bookcases with paper.  I want more reading nooks in my room for Daily Five.  I still want to get a few bean bags, a rocking chair or two, and maybe a sling chair.

3.  Keep a Back to School Folder.  I work summer camp for three weeks and I try to get my copying done then.  I will bring the folder home and organize it as a summer project.  I keep all my opening activities, housekeeping sheets and first units in my subjects.

4.  Draw a layout or take pictures of your room before you pack up.  I put my pictures on the front board so the custodians put my furniture back in place.  It isn't always perfect but it helps.

5.  Get your September bulletin boards ready now.  Cover them up for the summer with paper.  I love fadeless black paper and it lasts forever!!! (I only change it when needed)  I use boards that don't change much during the year; calendar, CAFE, reading themes, Postcards from United States and a Science Board.

6.  Create a List of Summer Projects and write them down!  I have started gathering materials and books that I will need this summer.  I put them in a bin so they will make it home.  I actually joined this Linky Party to get me started.

7.  Pile up your Summer Reading!  I try to balance the professional resources and some books for my personal pleasure.

What do you do to close up your room 
that will help out in the Fall?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

It's Electric!!!!

I am new to fourth grade this year and for some reason I was very nervous about the science unit on "Electricity."  It ended up being fun and the kids loved it.

I found a great unit on TPT that covered all my standards. (well worth the money)
Click image to link.

We read several trade books and used the chapters on electricity from Sciencesaurus (Great Science Text for Elementary Kids):

Time For Kids: Thomas Edison: A Brilliant InventorGreat Source Sciencesaurus: Student Handbook Grades 4 - 5

The Magic School Bus And The Electric Field TripElectricity (True Books)
Switch On, Switch Off (Let's-Read-and-Find-Out Science 2)

Watched several educational videos and clips:

Free Video Clips

Great video clips but need a membership for brain pop

Created a Thomas Edison Project: I read a few books about him.  I did a lesson on "determining importance" and had the kids pick out the most important facts about his life.

 We wrote an expository piece on "How to Make a Circuit" from unit above. (all materials are included)
Here are samples of their published writing:

Now to moving on to Animals...
"Mammals, Reptiles and Amphibians Oh MY!"

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A Connection between School and Nature

This was a piece of writing that one of my fourth graders wrote in her journal in the fall.  It is one of my favorite all time pieces!

I retyped below if you can't read it

I was perusing journals one afternoon and came across this treasure.  I asked my student where she got the idea and Emily said that she was inspired by the paper.  She came up with a great analogy about school, bees, students, teachers and principals.
It just proves that great writing can happen during "free writing time."

"I have always loved school and homework.  But now I am in 4th grade, I realize the connection between nature and school.

To me, the teachers are bees.  They help students blossom into wonderful learners.  They sometimes sting you but will never perpously hurt you.
I think the principal is the queen bee.  The principal is here to guide students and teachers to help all of them blossom.  She can also sting you but it will always have a reason.

I think we students as flowers.  The teachers help us blossom.  If we get pushed down we wilt, but the bees will bring us back up.  I think students and teachers have a special connection to nature."

Emily , age 9

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Just Journals!

How do you get kids excited about journaling?  I always have a hard time with journals.  The year starts out great and then they somehow turn into drawing notebooks.  This year went better than others...but my journals still have room for improvement!

This year, I gave my children time to journal during our Daily Five.  This allows them time to write about topics of their choice.  Some of their best pieces are in their journals!

I would also use their journals for brainstorming and to write some drafts in their books.  You need to make it an expectation and part of your daily routine. Most children will not write unless you ask them to do it!

Just like everything, the kids are excited in September and then it dies down and forgotten about .  Every month, I would put out some new pads of paper which would spark their writing.  I also added some envelopes, writing templates, papers with borders and topic/idea lists.  I always check the dollar bins at Target.  Cut-out from the Ellison machine work well too!

Another thing that the kids love, is to occasionally share a favorite piece of writing.  I have them pick out a piece to read at morning meeting.  Next year, I want to make sure to check in more often on an individual basis with their journals.  I will make it part of my Daily Five conferences.

I bought a bunch of different sized notebooks and let the children publish a piece in our "Class Journals." Each journal has a theme on the front cover.  They can write a piece in their own journal and copy it into the Class Journal.  The printables on the right were from someone's blog and I can't remember...Sorry!

I asked the kids to pick out something that I could take a picture of and share and
 this is what I got this week...

Two of my girls wrote a poem for partners...so creative!

Lots of poems, stories, lists, letters, etc.

There are many lists of ideas for your students to use.  Last year, I printed out the monthly journal calendars on Busy Teachers Cafe.  See link below for an example of one...

This year I printed out the journal lists below in the fall (I had some of the same kids) and had them keep them in their writing binders.  Next year my plan is to reduce any writing resources and put them in their notebooks in the back.

I printed these out in the fall and don't know from where...there are many others available on-line.

Laura Candler has many free resources...check out her site.

This is a great resource for using journals in the classroom...I have read it several times!

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This book has some good mini-lessons and printables.
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