Primary Chalkboard: 4-6 Posts
Showing posts with label 4-6 Posts. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 4-6 Posts. Show all posts

Meet the Teacher-What You Should Know

Hi, friends! It's Laura from Peace, Love, and First Grade!
We've been back in school for two weeks, and I must tell you, I'm spent!

The beginning of the school year brings with it SO MUCH TO DO! 

I thought I'd try to help save you some time and stress by offering up what I've learned from 25 years of Meet the Teacher!
Let's get started!
PREP
1) Get your room in some kind of order so you aren't stressed about its appearance.

2) Prepare and print parent forms and info, whatever you plan to give to parents.

3) If you give your students B2S bags, prepare those, too.

4) Prepare and set up easy to use stations for parents to work through. There's no need to give directions 20+ times.

5) Give yourself a break and get a mani/pedi or do something else that makes you feel great!

6) Choose an outfit that makes you feel good, too!


DURING
7) Greet parents and students at the door. Offer a handshake to parents AND if your students are shorter than you, bend or squat to greet them. Tell the students how excited you are to spend the year with them. Tell parents you are looking forward to working with their children and with them.

8) Direct parents to the parent stations and suggest students explore their room. 



9) Now, this is super important! 
Make sure you find out the following (especially for the first day):

 *Tranportation: am and pm
Get specific bus numbers or day care names.  You need to know this info before parents leave your room. Most schools have a street list of buses.

One of my students rides the bus home every day except Friday. 
On Friday, his grandparents fetch him. This is something I need to know.

*Meals: How will the child eat? Will he bring a box or purchase a tray from the cafeteria? It is imperative to find out this info before Day 1.

Some students may bring their lunches most days, but get a tray on pizza day or soup and sandwich day. I suggest a check in system in your classroom for children to use each day indicating their lunch preferences. 

*Allergies: Does the child have an allergy? If so, is there a plan in place? EpiPen, etc.
Now, I have a student whose younger brother has a peanut allergy, so Mom doesn't allow my student to eat peanuts. This is not life threatening to my student. It is not HIS allergy. If someone has a peanut near him, I won't panic. However, a few years ago, one of my students had a red ant allergy with an EpiPen in the office. THAT was an allergy to watch. 

*Medical Issues: Asthma, Epilepsy, Diabetes, etc. What's the plan and what are your responsibilities? Does the child take medication at school?

I've had students with all of these diseases. You have to know the plan here. 
Does the diabetic have an insulin pump? Can she check herself? What are you required to do? 
A few years ago, I had a diabetic in my class. She was able to check herself and wore an insulin pump. I texted Mom after she checked, and Mom let me know what numbers to punch into the pump (how much insulin to deliver). She also had an emergency kit on hand if her count was off. 

**If you have a student with a life threatening disease, it is imperative you meet with the parents or a medical professional to learn as much as you can about the disease, including your responsibilities.**

*Behavior Disorders: ADHD, ODD, OCD, etc. What's the plan? Does the child take medication? If so, at home or at school?

Oh, behavior! Some students will come to you with a behavior plan in place. Others will require a behavior plan. Beginning a behavior plan is tedious on educators, but in some cases, absolutely necessary. Learn the laws in your state. DO NOT tell a parent you think his child has ADHD. Find out how your school district handles these issues and move forward from there.

I keep a fidget bag for ADHD students who need something in their hands during whole group lessons-Wikki Stix, connecting cubes, pipe cleaners (I still call them that), etc. Fidget bags really work to help students focus and remain calm.


*Check-Out:
Are there any adults who ARE NOT allowed access to your student? This one can be tricky, but today there are many divorced families with court orders, and we must know and honor those orders. Find out if you have a case like this. Usually, parents will let you know, but not always. Check those cumulative folders.

*Siblings at School: Does your student have siblings at your school? 
Sometimes you may need to send home info/homework/etc with siblings, or if your student checks out early one day, you may want to let the siblings know. Especially younger siblings who may panic if they don't see their older brothers/sisters.

*Religious Preferences:
Now, I'm going to say this, and it may not be PC, but... it's truly up to the parents to let you know if they have religious objections. Most parents will make you aware. I've taught many students whose families were Jehovah's Witnesses. They were all very up front with me, and I appreciate that so much! I don't want to offend any family, but I also need to be aware of religious preferences so I don't offend. 

*Parent Objections:
Do you plan any activities in your classroom of which parents may object? Here are a few examples.

One of my students is not allowed to have temporary tattoos. So, when cheerleaders start selling promo items, this child doesn't need to purchase paw print tattoos. I need to know this. Get my point? 

I've taught students whose parents didn't want them to go sock-footed. 
Just be proactive. Let parents know your intentions before beginning an activity that may cause objections.



Whew! That's a lot of info, and I'm sure I left off something!
But... if you're still around, here's a freebie for you to use at MTT.

-AND-
If you need resources to help you with Meet the Teacher, 
I offer 33 different themed Meet the Teacher packs in my TpT store. 
Click the pic to take you there.







Middle Grades Classroom Set Up and Organization



Well, hey y'all! It's so good to be back blogging here at Primary Chalkboard! I'm Heather from Brainy Apples, and today I am going to share how I set up my classroom for the new school year. I officially go back tomorrow, but I went in every day this week to get my room ready. Please don't throw tomatoes! I know you elementary peeps go in MANY more days than just 3, and, on those days, you spend close to 8 hours each day. I know. I was elementary for 13 years. I don't even know how many days and hours in the summer I would spend setting up my classroom. This will be my 2nd year in middle school, and I spend way less time getting my classroom ready. It's a lot easier when you teach just one subject. Last year I taught ELA. This year I get to teach social studies, and I can't tell you how stinkin' excited I am about that! So, when you see my classroom, you will definitely be able to tell I am a one-subject-kinda-gal now. 
  I wanted to write my blog post about middle grades classroom set up and organization because last year was my first year in middle school....and I was so worried I wasn't doing something I needed to be doing because I had my room set up in less than a week. Going from spending probably 80+hours setting up a room to less than 15 hours was weird. Definitely weird, but weird in a good way (well, weird is always good). There are some things I do the same, but there are many more that I do differently.


First Things First

Before I even begin decorating my room, I still write down every function I need my classroom to perform. I want to make sure I have a designated area for everything. AND that everything will actually fit. Nothing makes me a sad panda more than decorating most of my room, and then realizing that all I wanted to include won't be possible because I have run out of space. Even though I am still a rookie when it comes to middle school, I know I will definitely need the following:

A place for students to turn in (and store) their work 
Since I am teaching social studies, I know my students will be working on a lot of projects. These will most likely stay in my room, so not only do I need a place for students to turn in their work, I need space for them to store their work. Did I mention I teach 5 classes? So about 150 students...I need to have space for their work...ALL of them...during projects. 


Supply corner
My students will be coming to me with all the needed school supplies (pencils, pens, highlighters, markers, scissors, glue, etc.). However, there are always a handful who somehow forgets their supplies. Um, yeah. So instead of wasting time having them go to their lockers to get said needed supplies, I want to have a corner of my room with everything they need, so they can quickly get a loaner (and I know most will go missing because loaners become theirs. That's why I have tubs of extras in my closet. And I have been known to ask students for a shoe when they borrow a pencil from me because they give it back every single time...sometimes sticky...sometimes not).

Storage for extra supplies
Since I will be needing to replenish my "I forgot my supplies" corner, I know I will need adequate space to keep all the extras that will eventually make their way to that corner...and I need storage for my own supplies.

Absent work
This is a biggie. One reason why I love middle school is because the responsibility of completing classwork, getting work missed, etc. falls on the STUDENT. Not me. The STUDENT. So when someone is absent, it is his/her responsibility to get missing work. We use ItsLearning, which is an on-line platform, and I post what we are doing in class. However, if a student does not have access to a printer or a computer at home (which families can actually check out a laptop from our media center and get a broadband card for FREE so they do have the needed technology at home), or their Internet broke (which is an excuse I hear...a lot....) I need a place to neatly keep missing assignments so students can get it on their own without asking me. HEAVEN.

Word Wall
Even though I teach middle school, I am going to have a word wall in my room. It's non-negotiable. This year my word wall will consist of social studies vocabulary because there is a LOT of content-specific words in the curriculum. I am going to create my own word cards, and I will be putting a visual representation on each card to help students make connections. This will be an on-going project for me this year.  *Update! I finished my Social Studies Word Wall and you can get it by clicking {HERE}*


When I taught ELA, I had a Greek and Latin roots/affixes word wall. There are SO many students are responsible for learning, and I found that they were forgetting already learned ones. I created a word wall specifically for students to refer to all year long. I put this word wall on a bulletin board. During the year, students would write words that contained a specific root/affix on a notecard and then tack onto the board under the word wall card. Students were on the lookout for roots/affixes without me having to ask! You can also use this word wall during science because several vocabulary terms have these roots/affixes. My students were referring to my word wall to remember key science terms! You can see this word wall by clicking {HERE}.



Maps
Maps, maps, maps.....and more maps. I will be teaching Europe, Canada, Australia, Latin America, and islands in the Caribbean. We are literally all over the world. So I will be hanging up a lot of maps in my room. Good thing I love maps :)

A place to display student work 
Even middle schoolers like to have their work hanging on the wall! I don't have wall space outside my classroom (darn those lockers!), nor do I have wall space for 150 kiddos. I can, though, have a dedicated space on my wall and rotate out student work, so they know I appreciate and respect what they create. And, even though they may not admit it, they are proud when they know their work is important enough to display.

Quotes
I love quotes. Wen I coached basketball years ago, there were 2 girls responsible for finding a quote to read to the team before our game. They had to explain the significance of the quote and how it pertained to our team and the upcoming game. It was amazing to hear the message my players heard from those quotes and the impact it made on them. So I knew I wanted a wall space for quotes for my middle schoolers. I also decided that since there are specific people I will be teaching, most of the quotes will be said by those people (yet another on-going project for myself this year!). Not only will these quotes hopefully give my students something to think about, but the quotes will also help my students remember the significance of each person.

Interactive notebook table of contents
I will be using an interactive notebook this year. There is SO much content I will be teaching, I have to make the material engaging for my students. I will do this through INB and projects. I need a place where I can display our INB table of contents so if students are absent or get behind, they can see what they missed and what they need to make up. This won't take up much space at all either...thank goodness!

Word Splash
I love word splashes. I consider a word splash to be a group of words associated with one term. Because we will be studying 5 different areas, I want to help my students recognize key terms associated with each area. I need a large enough area to display the current splash as well as previous splashes (and I really need to think of a cuter name). I am going to color code each region's splash because color can help some students with remembering word associations. 

Fun social media board
We are a Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT) district. Our kids come to school with different types of devices. I know they use Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I am going to bring those social media platforms to my classroom. I need a space where I can have an interactive bulletin board that they students will be responsible for updating. I have several ideas floating around in my head, but until the school year gets going, I am not sure which path I will take. As soon as I figure it out though, I will be blogging about it on my blog, so be sure to check in with me regularly!

This day in history...
I love trivia. And I love to know what happened today in history. This will be another interactive display my students will be responsible for updating. It won't need much room, but I do want a space where students can easily switch out events that happened in history, and I hope they find really obscure or interesting, little known facts! I just want them to become fascinated by history because I did NOT like social studies when I was in school. AT ALL. I am trying to think of things that would have helped pique my interest in hopes that it carries over to my students.

A place for students to sit
I guess this is important :) I do not like desks. Nope nope nope. These are the adjoined chair and desk, and they are so cumbersome! I like to have my students sit in groups, and those desks would move all over the room! They drove me crazy. I wasn't keen on the idea at the beginning of last year, but thought I would give them a try. I nixed that the 3rd week of school. So, over the span of several months, I replaced desks with tables. Now I have 5 rectangular tables and 1 circle table for my students. Not only do these tables not migrate, I have way more space than if I had 30 desks. I want my students to get on the floor and spread out, and easily do group work without having gaps between the desks. 

Once I knew what all needed to be in my room, I could begin moving furniture and decorating! Did I mention I love how I teach just one subject? I don't remember how in the world I fit everything 5 needed for multiple subjects in one room! I am going to eventually need storage space for social studies games and centers that I will be making this year (add some more projects to my ever-growing on-going to do list!), and I made sure to leave some blank space in my room for my new creations (and now I have Taylor Swift singing in my head).

Get Your Decorating (and Furniture Moving) On


Here's the fun part! Now, my room is not totally complete. I know there will be things I didn't think of that I need to add to my room. I learned in years past to NOT decorate every square inch of my room. Not only do ideas hit me out of nowhere, but I also want students to feel like it's THEIR room, too. It does make it look a little blah at the beginning of the year, but by the 3rd month (if not sooner), it becomes more colorful with the help of my students!

So, here we go with my classroom set up! I will address each item on my "Must Have" list:


A place for students to turn in (and store) their work 







Supply corner

Storage for extra supplies



Absent work
(the absent work display is behind my door)


A place to display student work, Interactive notebook table of contents, & This day in history...

Word Splash, Fun social media board, & Word Wall


Maps


Quotes & A place for students to sit

My quotes will go above my board, and I didn't take pics of the tables because there is still a lot of crap supplies on them :) 

I am going to be doing another blog post towards the end of August/beginning of September about how I have tweaked my classroom to fit the needs of my class (because you know it happens.EVERY.SINGLE.YEAR.) Be sure to head on over to my blog in a few weeks to check it out! I am also going to be blogging a lot more this year because, in case I haven't already said it, I am SO excited to be teaching social studies! I would love to share my journey with you! 'Till next time! -XOXO



Heather






10 Things to Do BEFORE You Set Up Your Classroom



Hey, there, friends! It's Laura from Peace, Love, and First Grade!

If it's summer vacation for you, enjoy! 
If not, live each day to the fullest and smile because it happened!

I'm here today to talk about getting your classroom ready for a makeover. 
Now, this is NOT my classroom reveal. 
That will come as I have time to get in my room. 
I'm excited to share that with you on my blog later this month!
Today is all about getting ready to set up your room!

Let me preface this by saying, 
I'm not trying to pressure anyone into decoration madness,
but I do believe a happy classroom is one that functions efficiently,
 and is well organized and attractive. 

This summer I read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. 
Marie is a proponent of getting your house in order and keeping it in order. 
She suggests keeping only the items in your home that bring you joy and letting go of the rest.

I think we can apply the same principle to the classroom. 
Keep what sparks joy in you and let go of the rest.

ARE YOU READY TO SEE MY MESS? 
Here you go!
Want more? 
The good news is...it doesn't look that this anymore!
So, are you ready to get your classroom in order?


Great! But remember-this is not a one day job.
I like to think of it as ten days.
Already started school?
Take one task a week for the first ten weeks.


Day 1) Clean out your children's literature. 
Keep only the books that bring you and your kiddos joy!
I know. 
I LOVE children's books, too, but let's face it. 

Not all books are created equally. 
It's okay to let go of a book. 
DON'T THROW IT OUT. 
Pass it on to someone who will find joy in it.

You'll be amazed at how much room this gives you AND you'll know what you have when you need something.

Day 2) Clean out your Math manipulatives! 
You don't need 6 bins of pattern blocks or 48 Judy clocks.
Keep what you need and pass the rest on to someone else. 
It's okay.

Day 3) Clean out your art supplies. 
If you haven't used those foam Easter bunnies in the last 3 years, get rid of them. 
Pass on the joy to someone else! No hoarding!

Day 4) Clean out your office supplies. 
Look at each one. 
If no joy comes from having them and they serve no purpose, 
pass them on to someone else or donate them. 
It's a good feeling!

Day 5) Clean out board games, puzzles, and other activities. 
If you don't use them, someone else can. 
If Czechoslovakia is still on your globe...you get it.
Share your treasures.

Day 6) Do I dare say it...Clean out your paper. 
Oh, it's tough! I know it is. I've done it. But the feeling is just so great! 
If you haven't used it or it turns your fingers purple...you don't need it.
Recycle that paper!

Day 7) Decide how you will store supplies.
Once you decide what manipulatives and supplies you are going to keep, choose how you are going to store them. 
Then label your supplies. 
Labeling makes supplies easier to find for students and other adults who may visit. 

NOW-
The next two may not be popular, but I'm going with them.

Day 8) Get rid of your filing cabinet OR scale down to a smaller one.
The more room you have for stuff, the more stuff you'll acquire.
If there's no where to put the stuff, you won't be as likely to hold onto it.

Day 9) Get rid of your teacher desk OR scale down to a smaller one.
You can do it! I did and I had a lot of stuff in mine, too.
I never sat there (not even after school), and it took up a great deal of space. 
Now, that space is used by my first graders, and I don't miss my desk one bit!
I use an over-the-door shoe organizer for my office supplies. 
Space saver!

Day 10) Plan your classroom design.
Once the clutter is removed and you are ready to set up your room,
 go online and play around with a classroom set-up tool. 
You can design your whole room as many times as you like.
You'll need your room measurements for this.

Here are a few good ones:



This is the one I use. 


Now you are ready to think decor! 

Let me tell you, if I can do it, you can do it?
Did you see my mess above?
It doesn't look like that anymore.

This week, I can get in my building to work and I plan to make the most of it. 
Pics to come on my blog!
Happy Tuesday!!


Don't forget! We're blogging every day this month at Primary Chalkboard! 




6 Ways to Re-Energize Your Class This Spring

Hi, friends! Laura here from Peace, Love, and First Grade!

Are you as excited as I am about SPRING?
My azaleas are blooming, the sun is shining, and recess could last all day!
Spring is here at last!

Hmm...the weather is absolutely beautiful, so what is it then (testing, worry about the fence sitters, I could go on...) that causes teachers to feel out of sorts in spring??



If you feel the spring time exhaustion, you are not alone. I'm with you, along with thousands of your closest teacher friends!
What's a teacher to do?

Well, there's always the adage, "This, too, shall pass." 
But, let's be honest, when you're in the thick of things, that's not very helpful.

I can't calm the winds or take away the full moon days, but I can share with you a few things I do when the days seem to draw out forever.




1) Try a New Activity
Dig out an activity you love and you KNOW the kiddos will love! 
We have an Author's Craft unit we do each spring, and not only do I love it, the kids love it, too.
You can feel the energy in the room during these lessons.
Dig deep if you have to, but find a lesson or activity to re-energize the class!


2) Read Your Favorite Children's Book
Apply the same tip from #1 to your favorite read-aloud. My firsties eat up chapter books during spring. They love Mercy Watson and Judith Viorst's LuLu, and I know breaking out a book from one of those series will make ALL of us smile! 


This is also a great time to break out a favorite from YOUR childhood to share with the class. I have always loved The Boxcar Children and adore sharing it with my kiddos. I mean, quite honestly, the original Boxcar is about as good as it gets!  

Pull out your favorite picture books, too. I love sharing Russell Hoban's Frances series during spring.







3) Do Something Different
I know. I know. That takes energy! 
But spring is the perfect time to try something new. 
Plan and plant a garden. 
Go outside and have class. 
The clouds are beautiful right now. Take advantage of that and learn about them. Send everyone out to sketch those babies!
http://www.movetolearnms.org/

http://www.movetolearnms.org/If you've never tried online Brain Breaks before, 
give them a shot.
My kidlets would GoNoodle or Move to Learn all day if I would let them.
Brain Breaks are seriously good for refreshing students AND teachers! 




**Let me preface #4 by saying I don't mean do this every day, and I am not advocating all day recess, just a ONE TIME BREAK.
4) Give Your Kids (and Yourself) a Break
Skip the spelling test this week...or homework...or an incredibly boring lesson in the math program that causes you to breathe deeply for 30 minutes afterward. You know what I mean.
We've all been working hard and we all deserve an unexpected break



5) Get Student Input
Ask your kiddos what they are interested in learning about and plug their ideas into your lesson, even if you just find books about their favorite topics. 
Create a class chart where children can add their suggestions or interests. Children love knowing their opinions matter and feel valued when you take the time to include their interests in your lessons.

6) Spring Clean
Take some time each day to clean out! Spend 20 minutes cleaning out a bin or a drawer. We all know the feeling of accomplishment that comes with a tidy workspace. 

Get the kids in on the act, too. All my littles have class jobs, and those jobs change every 9 weeks. Let your students apply for the jobs that interest them and start assigning tasks. Set aside a time each day when everyone does his job. Your kiddos will love it!



Let's face it! Teaching is an exhausting profession. 
It's a wonderful "wouldn't want to do anything else" adventure, but it's exhausting. 
I hope one of the ideas above inspires you this spring.  
And, remember, if all else fails, "This, too, shall pass."

Have a fabulous week!!