Sunday, August 30, 2015

Tomorrow is the first day of school!

Tomorrow is the first day of school!  I have all those day/night-before jitters: Is everything ready?  Did I think of everything I'll need tomorrow?  Will the kids be good, so I can be nice-and-happy teacher all day instead of having to discipline on day 1?  

A few years ago (many years ago) I found myself completely frustrated/fed up/angry with a child TEN MINUTES into the first day of school.  As in, I'd already had it with that kid.  Completely.  Fortunately, he (and the rest of the class) never knew that, but oh boy, what a way to start the very first day of a very long year! 

Needless to say, I don't want that to happen again tomorrow.

I'd rather have a repeat of last year, when my dream class walked in and stayed that way all year.  They were the kind of class that made me think, "This is the class I should retire after teaching - even though I'm no where near retirement - because I'm never going to have another class like this one!"  They were amazing.

I'm hoping for another year like that.  Perhaps it will start tomorrow!

Here's what this year's darlings will walk in to see:
The view to the right from the classroom door
The first thing in the door, fortunately/unfortunately, is a huge cart full of Chromebooks.  Yay! Chromebooks!  Ugh, huge cart.  They are brand new to us this year, so we'll be working them into our day slowly, but I'm very excited about all the possibilities.  Google Classroom, anyone?

Beyond the cart, against the wall in the corner, you can see one of my library areas (I have several).  This corner area is the "books in a series" section, where my new-to-chapter-books readers can read as many Junie B. Jones, Horrible Harry, Magic Tree House, or Rainbow Magic fairy books as they want.  They are mixed in with higher level series like Geronimo Stilton, The Secrets of Droon, and A Series of Unfortunate Events, to name a few.  There are also a few bookshelf sections that have authors instead of series: Dick King-Smith, Louis Sachar, Andrew Clements . . .

Easy books, organized by authors' last names.
Under the Promethean board are fifteen brightly colored crates of easy books, organized by authors' last name.  One of our first lessons this week will be how to find the author's last name on a book, because these easy readers AND my chapter books are all organized alphabetically.  And, unfortunately, the author's name is not always easy to find.

The view from the door to the opposite corner of the room
To the left of the board is the "teacher area" with my desk, files, computer, etc.  More on that later. ;)

The view from the door looking straight ahead

Yep, I just love those attractive green cabinets (really, not my color).  But they'll get covered up with student reading logs and other info as the year goes on, so for now I'm actually enjoying the bare look! 

Behind the green cabinets is our cubby area.  In the left corner, under the globe, is our sink.  Then we have more library sections and, finally, the "old" computer area right in front of the door.  I'm not sure how much use those computers will get now that we have Chromebooks, but I plan to still use them quite a bit because there are some things we can't do on the Chromebooks that we can do on those computers.  So they stay, for now.

Nonfiction books
The other parts of my classroom library are on the back wall of the classroom (separating the library has helped reduce traffic jams).  In the picture above, the green bins and the others on this side of the first rolling cart hold nonfiction books.  Each bin is labeled, but it's hard to see in this picture.  I'll try to do a future post with more details on each section!

On the second rolling cart, you can see some of the chapter books, separated by {old} dividers so the kids can sort by authors' last names.

The other side of the nonfiction cart is shown below:
Easy series books and some chapter books (in crates)

This side of the cart holds what I call "Easy series books," like Henry & Mudge, Amelia Bedelia, The Berenstain Bears, Noodles, and more.

Top shelf: chapter books.  Bottom shelf: picture books.

This cart holds the rest of the chapter books and half of my picture books - which, as you can see, are not organized well at all.  I have so many picture books that they are PACKED onto this shelf and one other, and it's hard for the kids to see the books, pull them out, or put them back.  I'm still working on solving this problem without adding more furniture to my room . . . yikes.

Table shelves!  Top shelf: whiteboards, socks, recycle bin.
Bottom shelves: book bins, Math Interactive Notebook bin,
and social studies books until they go into students' desks.

Each table of desks has a set of "table shelves" for storage and organization.  I got this idea from Jessica at Dandelions and Dragonflies and LOVE it.

  • No more books in desks, spilling out on the floor and taking up space - plus, I can see what books my kids have chosen to read!  The only books that should be in their desks are their social studies textbook, their guided reading book, and maybe their library books.  I've found that I don't have to wait at the guided reading table for kids to dig through their desks to find their books anymore; the book is easier to find since all the rest of the children's books are in their book bins.  Win!
  • When it's time to get whiteboards, they go to their table shelves and grab a board and a sock (eraser).  Their whiteboard markers are in their pencil pouches.  It's a very quick and efficient process to get and return those materials now, which means I use the whiteboards much more often. :)
  • The empty bin on the top shelf is moved to the middle of the student table when we're doing cutting/gluing activities - it's a scrap basket/recycle bin.  No more having 20+ children getting up and walking back and forth to the recycle bin!

And that's all for now.  I skipped whole sections of the classroom, but the year is young . . . and tomorrow is the first day of school!

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