Primary Chalkboard: July 2015

What We're Chalking About AUGUST: A Visual Calendar

Hi friends, it's Emma from Clever Classroom.  I am so excited to share with you all the upcoming posts that the authors of the Primary Chalkboard have planned for you this August. 

What We're Chalking About AUGUST: A Visual Calendar

Can you believe it's August? We are almost three quarters of the way through the year!  How did that happen?  

While you contemplate that, you might also want to think about what you have planned for this month?  Are you heading back at school now, or are you planning to go back soon?  Either way, this page will set you up for inspirational ideas from our experienced, and very dedicated teacher-authors. 

To receive blog posts directly, click here

Here's what you can expect this month. 

What We're Chalking About AUGUST: A Visual Calendar

1  Sarah from Sarah's First Grade Snippets - Morning Arrival Routines

2  All the Primary Chalkboard Authors - Our Little Secret

3  Lisa from Growing Firsties - Parent Input

4  Leslie from First Grade and Flip Flops - Teaching with Themes Throughout the Year

5  Christina from Miss Decarbo - The First Day of School

6  Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac - The Second Day of School

7  Valerie from All Students can Shine - Classroom Management

8  Greg from Kindergarten Smorgasbord - Names

9  Jessica from Second Grade Nest - Elementary Back to School eBook Tips

10 Terry from Terri's Teaching Tidbits - Intermediate Back to School eBook Tips

11  Monica from The Schroeder Page - Executive Brain Function

12  Katie from Teaching to the Core - First Day Freebies

13  Blair from One Lesson at a Time - MVP: Most Valuable Partnership

14  Autumn from Primary Techie - Family Journals

15  Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching - Simple Art Tutorials

16  Laura from Peace Love and First Grade - Meet the Teacher

17  John from Created by Mr. Hughes - Back to School Night

18  Karen from Mrs. Jones's Class - Bulletin Boards Made Easy

19  Haley from My Silly Firsties - Dismissal Time 

20  Corinna from Surfin' Through Second - Sub Tub

21  Randi from Teach it with Class - Building a Classroom Environment

22  Stacy from Funky Fresh Firsties - Easy Hallway Displays

23  Anna from Simply Skills in 2nd - Classroom Rules 

24  Latoya from Flying into First Grade - Blended Learning Ideas

25  Meg from The Teacher Studio - Setting a Climate for Problem Solving

26  Matt from Digital: Divide and Conquer - Behavior Plans and Data

27 Jen from Out of this World Literacy - Spreading Kindness

28  Cyndie from Chalk One up for the Teacher - Math Games

29  Vicky from Teaching and so Much Moore - Setting Goals the First Daye 

30 Heather from 2 Brainy Apples - Integrating Social Studies & ELA 

31  Emma from Clever Classroom - September Chalk About It - blog Posts Overview

What We're Chalking About AUGUST: A Visual Calendar Primary Chalkboard

To remember this post, you might like to pin it.  That way, you can come back to see the posts throughout the month. 

On the last day of each month, we will post this visual calendar for you to see what we have planned for you. 

If you have any suggestions that you would like us to write about, please comment below. 

To follow our blog, please click here. 

Here's a link to our July posts which are full of classroom organization ideas, tips and makeovers, back to school ideas, first day inspiration, writing conferences, behavior management.  We also blogged about tips for new teachers, integrating math, writing and art, techy ideas and even a post about our trip to the Teachers Pay Teachers conference in Las Vegas. Click here to see July's posts from the authors of the Primary Chalkboard. 

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.....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.

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


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


BTS Routines & Procedures!

     Hey there! It's Karen from Mrs. Jones's Class, and I am here to share some tips and goodies that you can use to help make your classroom run like a well-oiled machine this school year. No, you don't need any WD-40 (although that does come in handy when cleaning your dry erase boards, but that's another post)...we are talking routines and procedures here, folks!

You are getting ready to go back to school, eh?  A new class. Crisp materials. Clean floors (for the first 10 minutes, at least). A whole new year of fun and memories. A fresh, new group of kids that need to "learn the ropes" before you can get down to business and teach!

I'm going to start with the big kids first.
I taught 5th grade this year, and one thing that I've learned after moving from Kindergarten is-- 
the big kids need to learn classroom routines and procedures as much as the little ones do!

1. Have a system (for everything!)
(click image to download from Google drive)

2. Teach, model, and practice routines daily for the first couple of weeks!
We all know that repeated modeling and practice will help the procedures stick and become second nature. Show them, have them show each other, and have them practice. If a procedure is getting loose, then reteach it. Before breaks and vacations are great times to practice and reteach rules and procedures, too!

The littles. A whole different beast in some ways. 
I have an extensive list of routines and procedures to teach in the beginning of the year Kindergarten and 1st grade over on my blog, Mrs. Jones's Class. 

Click the image below to take you over there and download the list!
 back to school routines

I hope that these resources come in handy this BTS season!  
Have a great year, everyone!

Integrated Learning for Deep Understanding

Hello again everyone!
It's Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching and today I'm sharing ways implement an integrated learning approach in your classroom.

There's a lot of attention on integrated learning as many schools are moving away from the traditional "single subject blocks" model, to a multi-subject, project-based model. 

Here's a quick video from Edutopia to explain the benefits of this approach for deeper learning.

Click for Introduction Video

 Project-based learning is perfect for this kind of approach because within each project there are multiple problems to solve, drawing from knowledge in various subject areas.

Our school had adopted Genius Hour as another way to facilitate project-based integrated learning. With this model, students spend 20% of their school time working on a project based on their own interests.

Click for introduction video

However, you don't have to adopt a whole new program or educational movement - you can simply choose projects that focus on more than one subject at time. 
Here are a few small ways to start, and some free activities to try:

1. Integrating Literature and Math

Any form of literature can be used as a springboard to math. I tell students "Did you know there are math problems hiding within every story? They are there - and it's our job to find them!"
For example, after reading the story of the Three Little Pigs, generate math questions for the class to solve. 
Invite students to do the same once they get the idea. 
Adapt the questions to your students' level.

*If each little pig had one cookie, how many cookies would they have altogether? 1+1+1=3

*If each little pig had 3 cookies, how many cookies would they have altogether? 3+3+3=9 or 3x2=9.

*Why didn't the brick house fall down? 

The advantages of inviting this sort of thinking: 

-It reinforces the idea that math is meaningful and useful in daily life.

- It creates a habit of looking for math outside of math time, which means more practice outside of the classroom.

- It’s a wonderful way to challenge those higher level thinkers, since they are learning to generate their own questions.

-It’s involves questions that are student-generated, which leads to more overall engagement, especially in small group challenges.

Grab this free template to use with younger students to create and solve story problems:

2. Integrating Drawing & Writing

 Traditionally students write journal entries or stories, and then illustrate later -- but we flip that idea and draw first! 

Once they've finished drawing, they are so motivated to write - because they are writing about their own adorable creations. Start with a topic such as "Draw yourself as a super-hero". 
Once the pictures are done, it's time to describe  super powers or amazing adventures! 

With younger students I use step-by-step drawing templates, such as the ones below.
You can try it yourself with these free templates.

3. Integrating Math and Writing

Another way we build pictures to write about: using dice games; this integrates art, writing and math.
In the example below, students roll dice and draw parts of a monster as directed. Roll to see which head to start with, then roll again for eyes, nose, mouth and ears. I would challenge older students to create their own templates.

The monsters always turn out different, and we can change the math rule (ie. double the number or triple the number, etc.) to challenge advanced students. You can make your own template, or grab this free game HERE in the preview for the set. Once the monster is created, students are motivated to write about it on differentiated templates!

 As with Genius Hour projects, students are eager to participate actively in their own learning because it is personal and FUN.

4. Tech and Reading
 Shared Reading with EPIC online

One more tip that has been a game-changer in terms of integrating technology into my daily Shared Reading time: EPIC Childrens Literature collection online. 
This is a favorite in my class because of the popular choices, and students are learning computer skills while they read.  You can make a free teacher account and let students explore the fantastic collection; click here to take a look.   

Let's Connect!

Visit my TPT store for Literacy, Math and Teacher Graphics!
Visit Whimsy Workshop Teaching on Facebook!
See all of my boards for classroom ideas and freebies!
Join me on Instagram!

Take a look at the other great posts from this month!

How I Create and Maintain A Positive Classroom Culture for K-2!

Hi everyone! It's Naomi O'Brien from Read Like a Rock Star! I've noticed a lot of teachers heading back to school, and thought I'd share a few of the ideas I use to create a positive classroom culture. For years, my coworkers chalked my sweet and well behaved classes up to the "luck of the draw", but then they had to admit, it must have been something I was doing.
We, the teachers, really are responsible for setting the tone in our classroom. Our children are always watching us and how we respond to situations teaches them a lot about how they should respond to us and each other.

How I Create and Maintain a Positive 
Classroom Culture for K-2!

I Tell them They Were Handpicked to be in My Class, but Shhhhhh, It's a Secret:
On the first day of school, I always let my students know that I have a HUGE secret to share with them. The secret is that I asked for only the best students to be in my class. I let them know that I read information about them, talked to the principal and other teachers, and that I only allowed the best kids into my room. I tell them that this is a secret and that if the rest of the school knew, everyone would be trying to be in our class and then it would get too crowded and too crazy. I let them know they can tell their parents, but nobody else. During restorative conversations, I remind them that they are still the best, deserve to be in my class, and to never forget it.
It's always really cute when we get a new student and my students are so excited to have someone new to share the secret with!

I Let Them Take Over the Classroom:
I give them a lot of opportunities to learn and share with each other. Sometimes it's hard to give up the reigns, but they learn to respect and listen to one another.  Every now and then, I pretend to be the confused one, and have them help me learn a concept. They think it's hilarious and they come together for a good cause; to teach their teacher.

I Take Time to Start Personal Conversations:
Instead of walking around or sitting at my desk, I like to sit with my students and get to know them. I let them know I'm interested in who they are, not just what they can do. It's this relationship building that makes them naturally want to behave better for me. They know I care about them, and it makes them care about me too.

I Give Them Plenty of Opportunities to Work Together:
Team work makes the dream work! I make them discuss everything with each other, and collaborate often. Also, they are not allowed to tattle! Once they realize they need to work together without any help or conflict resolution from me, they learn to get along (slowly, but surely).

I Don't Allow Tattling:
I know I just mentioned that, but I wanted to bring it up again. Unless something serious happened, I ignore any and all tattles. Sometimes I say, "All you've done is let me know that you're a tattle-tale. Thank you." They learn very quickly that tattling won't get them very far and it forces them to talk to each other and work out their problems on their own. I always drive home the point that we have to look out for each other, not try to get each other in trouble. Instead of telling me that someone isn't working, they learn to nicely remind the friend to get back on task. This takes a few months to master, but it works out beautifully!

I Teach Character Traits:

I pick 6 traits that I think will help my students excel. I make sure to make time in our busy day to teach them about these traits; usually right after lunch/recess as a "cool down" activity. I chose Kindness, Ambition, Self-Confidence, Honesty, Thoughtfulness, and Respect last year. 
Think about the traits that are most important to you. Focus on the traits that you'd like to teach your students to possess. Find creative ways to encourage your students to take on these traits for themselves. I made badges for my students to earn to make sure they were aware of the traits and working on their own character.

You can also post pictures of students that show a specific trait frequently in class, write positive notes about good or improved behavior you've noticed, practice acting the traits out in student led plays or skits, make class videos showing the traits, or read stories that exemplify characters that show good character traits. Make sure to point out the traits and have discussions about them. In order to create a positive classroom culture, you must truly be intentional about creating one. It's important to use your character trait vocabulary throughout the day too.

I Teach the Art of Giving a Compliment:

Compliment Plates were always a hit with my students! Give out plates, give out markers, have a good time! In the beginning of the year, with my first graders, we brainstormed nice compliments and I wrote them on the board for a writing support.
They loved going around filling them out, and they loved reading what their friends had to say about them. This was always followed by "Thank you's" and "You're welcome's'" being called out across the room. Even hugs were often being given out for the kind words shared.

I pick a Kid of the Day to be showered in compliments! I truly believe doing this daily is one of the most beneficial activities I have done for my students.
 I found that with my first graders, we had to first discuss how to give and receive a compliment. Outside of "You're my best friend", they really couldn't think of anything else to say. After a lot of discussions and practice, they were giving out compliments left and right, even when they thought I wasn't paying attention.
I also had to teach them to accept the compliment with a "Thank you". Surprisingly, some of them would say something like, "No, I'm not pretty." and really had a hard time accepting nice things being said about them. We also had to discuss that simply saying, "I know I'm cute." wasn't acceptable either...

I also have a Compliment Count on the board. It's quick and easy, and it gets their attention. (Side Benefit: It helps them count tally marks really well!) If ever anyone outside of our classroom gives us a compliment, they get a tally mark added to the Compliment Count
If the principal gives them a compliment, it counts for two tally marks! This promotes great behavior when they are walking in the hallways, at recess, at lunch, and at Specials.
Whenever we reached 20 tally marks, they got some of my stash.

I Make My Students Reflect on their 
Unsavory Behavior:
 When students act out it is important to give them consequences for their actions. I believe it is equally as important to follow up with the  student through a reflection sheet. After the student has been given time to cool down, I take the time to fill this out with them, or have them fill it out themselves if they are able (only after a discussion to make sure they understand what they did wrong and what they can do differently in the future). My students so loved and responded to this that when they were sent to their seats or to a cool down area, some would ask, "Are we still going to talk about this later?" I think they appreciated being heard, forgiven, and accepted again. It's so easy to hold a grudge for the rest of the day, but we have to be the best example of forgiveness to that child and for the rest of the class to see.
This is a resource that I made and used, but a quick TpT search will surely bring up a few freebies, if you don't have time to create one yourself!
This is also great to make a copy of and keep data on students. It’s also a wonderful way to keep parents in the loop of what’s been going on in class. At Open House, I let my parents know that if they see one of these sheets it means their student has already had consequences, so they should just discuss their child’s plan to make better choices in the future. This helps to build a parent/teacher partnership.

I Created An Outsider Looking In:
Creating an outsider to notice your class is a great way to promote a positive classroom culture. In addition to our Compliment Count that I track on the board, I created an invisible fairy friend!

Sylese, the kindness fairy, would stop by our classroom every once in a while leaving a note, treats, and glitter in her wake. She watches the class without them knowing because she's invisible. They never know when she's watching or when she's coming for a visit. You can have another teacher write the note so your students don't recognize your handwriting.

This was basically another way for me to give them a compliment, make them feel proud of themselves, and strengthen our positive classroom culture.
This was done once a month, or once every other month.
I simply leave glitter on their desks, bring in a treat, like stickers, cookies, candy, a movie, popcorn, (really anything you’d like to reward them with) and post the note somewhere in the classroom. I would usually wait for them to find it, and act like I was just as surprised as they were. Whenever it had been a while, someone always says something like, “Guys, why do you think the fairy hasn’t been back? We need to do better!” You could use anything to keep an eye on your class that leaves notes and fun treats!

I Focus on the Behavior I Like:

While it can be so tempting to want to always address a disruptive child right every time at the exact moment of disruption, I've learned to ignore it and focus on the behavior I like. If I have 23 students and only 1 is acting out, I'd rather give my attention and energy to the 22 that are doing a great job. I'm sure they appreciate it too. I always let them know when they are doing something that makes me happy. Scratch-n-Stickers were always a quick and easy reward. I also made up some "Caught Ya" cards to reward this good behavior and would slip them onto their desks. They could  turn these cards in to enter a weekly drawing. This was a great motivator, and usually got that one disruptive child to stop what they were doing. If not, I would pull them aside at a later time and address their behavior. Because of the way I handled those situations, even at 6 and 7 years old, the rest of my class learned to ignore those behaviors too. Some would even ask if they could help that student make good choices, which was just fine with me!
When you've got students that care about themselves, each other, and you, you've got a well oiled machine that is bursting with positivity! 
I hope you enjoyed these ideas and are able to take some or all back into your classrooms this year. Believe me, you won't be disappointed.

Don't forget to come back tomorrow, and for the rest of the month to check out all of the other amazing ideas offered from your friends at: