Sunday, September 4, 2011

My Classroom: A Few Changes

This bulletin board is toward the front of our classroom. Here I post the syllabus, graduation requirements, editing information, and bell schedules. Student work is also important, but I hang it all over the walls of our room, front, back and sides. Most of the time the students choose the place where they want to display their work.

I try to make our classroom look homey. I chose inspirational quotes stretched onto frames. Throughout the year we discuss goals, and how we will strive to achieve our goals. The students research quotes on the internet and select a motivational quote that works for them. They write their quote on a colorful sentence strip and display it somewhere on the walls of our room. They also write it in their notebook where they can see it every day.

I love Nancy Atwell's The Reading Zone. Using tubs on our bookshelf allowed me to add more books than if I stacked them normally side by side. In addition, the tubs are marked by genre. Students can pull the tubs with the genre that interests them from the shelf and take the tub back to their seat to browse their choices. Little do they realize they're learning about the different genres. We spend one day a week in English reading a book of our choice and getting into the zone. Nancy says that teachers teach the skills of reading, but rarely allow students the opportunity to practice with books they choose due to standardized tests and covering state standards. Where do we find the time? 

Again, I like things to look more homey. My best friend teaches French and I travel with her and our students as a chaperone.  I fell in love with France and Italy. These are some pictures I found at a discount store that remind me of my time spent in a beautiful part of the world.

Some of the following ideas I borrowed from this blog: E, Myself, and I. I just started following this blog, and I love it! In this corner of the classroom students have a drawer system on wheels that holds supplies they might need if they forget them or run out. The supplies include pens, pencils, notebook paper, construction paper, note cards, hi liters, glue sticks, scissors, crayons, colored pencils, and markers. I would rather they borrow or use these supplies than sit in their seat doing nothing. When they borrow some of the items, they leave collateral, such as a shoe or book. That way they remember to return the item rather than walk out the door with it. I have told them that when their supplies are gone; they're gone. Also in this area is the clip board and hall pass. They must sign out and back in when they use the pass. This is a school wide rule. The small bulletin board is where I post my weekly assignment sheets. They're also posted on my web site. In the hanging file system, I have files designated by class period. When a student is absent, they can look in their class file and find a sheet with their name on it that says: "We missed you while you were gone." Written on this sheet are the dates of the absence/s with the assignments listed for each day. If there are handouts, I paperclip them to the sheet. My idea is to have a student for each class be in charge of this for extra credit.
This is the front of our classroom with the student center by the front door and the bookshelf along the side. The room is tiny (the price I pay for a Smart Board), or I would have a couch or comfortable chair for reading. I barely have enough room for all of the desks. The table at the front provides a place for me to work one on one with a student or for student group work.

This is my corner of our classroom. Notice the green baskets on the front corner of my desk. These are my IN and OUT baskets for absent passes. When a student has been absent they simply place their pass in the IN basket. When students are working independently, I mark the pass in my gradebook and sign the pass. I place the pass in the OUT basket so students can pick up their pass on their way OUT the door. It's worked wonderfully for the past few years. On top of the computer desk are to book stands. I will place a book on each stand. One book that I'm currently reading, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton and on the other stand I'll place the book I'm reading aloud to my students. Another idea from a great book called Igniting the Passion for Reading by Steven Layne. Students see the books and ask me what I'm reading. In some cases, my students will borrow the book and read it too.

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