Monday, August 27, 2012

Back to School Whirlwind!

I went back to work a week ago for 3 days of meetings/room prep, then our students arrived on Thursday. I feel like I have been going non-stop since then :) I have a great group of 4th graders this year. Almost an equal mix of boys and girls, a nice variety of personalities, all different levels. So far, after 3 days, they all seem to get along pretty well too. I have started introducing the Daily 5. It is such a new concept for them, and I think it will take some time for them to really appreciate the independence it will build. I can tell that my students will need a lot of help learning to work on their own. Sadly, it always seems that they come from tiny classes in 3rd grade (last year was about 15-16) to larger classes in 4th and 5th (25-28). It really takes time for them to get used to things.

I had some bad news right before school started that sent my motivation and good vibes for this school year down the tubes. Our 4th grade team had four members. About 2 weeks before the first day, one teacher found out that she was moving to 3rd grade so that a 3rd grade teacher could move up to do a 4th/5th multiage class that is required due to our lower enrollment in the intermediate grades. Then, just a week before school started, another of our teammates found out that she was being moved to 1st grade. They found a sub to open that classroom. Then, after spending a week working with the sub (who was so great), they hired a teacher on Friday, and she started today. She seems wonderful and I think we will get along great. However, I cannot help but be angry that my teammates got moved. Our grade level had the best test scores in the school. We worked together so well, and 3 of us spent the summer planning, creating, and sharing ideas. I really think that my principal did the best she could with a really odd situation, but I still feel really sad about it all. Why, in education, does it seem that the hardest working folks are the ones who end up having to be extra flexible, extra responsible, and extra understanding? It is frustrating!

Ok, enough boo-hooing! It will be a great year, and I am excited for all of the awesome activities I have planned. I will be getting in touch with everyone who expressed interest in my Regions of the U.S. activity very soon!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Me, Crafty?!?!?

Well, since Pinterest has changed my life (it really has...LOL!), I decided to try to make some of the things I have pinned this year.

First up, my Teacher Toolbox! Thank you to Hedrich's Hive for the great labels! The only issue I am having is keeping the labels clued into the drawers. I tried hot glue, but they are popping right off. Oh well, it still looks great!

I love all of the "Welcome Banners" I have seen on Pinterest. I decided to create on of my own using Publisher. I think I could have jazzed it up with some contrasting colors or something, but it does look cute in the classroom. I am planning to add some bows to the sides where I have the ribbon tied to the hooks. 

Here is my Duct Tape Quilt. The little signs inside say "4th Grade Super Stars". 

My picture quality is horrible! I will replace these with better ones on Monday. This is my behavior clip chart. I am thinking that my green READY TO LEARN section needs to be a bit bigger :-)


School begins in one more week! I am excited about the year, but nervous too! Last year was the best year I have had in a LONG time, and I know it will be tough to top it. I need to stop worrying and just go with the flow!

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Procedures and rules and expectations...OH MY!

Since I cannot seem to sit back, relax, and enjoy my final 11 days of summer break, I have been busy revamping my policies, procedures, rules, etc. A colleague shared an awesome handout to give to parents and students called "The ABCs of _______'s Classroom". It is an easy to use reference for classroom policies organized in ABC order. I will share mine once I have it finalized. Right now, it is full of highlighted sections and empty sections while we wait for final confirmation of our grade assignments for the year. I am hopeful that the parents read it over, but even if they do not, it makes great documentation of teacher-parent communication :)

Today I started working on my list of classroom procedures to teach to my students. I found some awesome ideas on Pinterest and TpT, but I cannot make up my mind about exactly HOW to teach about the procedures, as my list is VERY long. What are some of your methods for making sure your students really understand the classroom procedures?

As of this moment, I plan to use the same discipline plan as last year....which is turning "cards". I am adding a 5th card, BLUE, that students will get if they are having an awesome day. I figure I will have some small reward for the students who get to blue. I will explain to them that a "blue" day means they were on task all day, came to school prepared, helped other students when needed, did their very best on all activities, etc. I hope that maybe having the option to do even better than the "green" card will encourage some of the students to work even harder.