Classroom Reveal: #2getherwearebetter

Well hello again!  Happy September!  

I have joined up with Angie from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley from Shroeder Shenanigans in 2nd for their monthly #2getherwearebetter linky.  This is my first one and I am so excited to be joining in on the fun!  

As we get our year started, we JUST started yesterday September 1st; this month's theme here at Our Elementary Lives is our classrooms.  So, all of us will be blogging about our very own, special classrooms.  

I'm going to start this month off with my FIRST GRADE BUSY BEE classroom.  I'm gonna be honest, this is a #reallifeclassroom right here!  I didn't clean it up to look perfect for all of the pictures, I have a theme, Bees-and have had it since being in the classroom, AND it's probably not teacher publication worthy, BUT I love it.  

Here is a picture from the door.  This was taken right before Back to School Night so you can see the tables are full of information and goodies for my firsties.  I have a HUGE window right by my desk which I love.  I made and put up bee curtains (which are fireproof sprayed, don't worry) that just make me smile every time I come into the classroom.  

You can see that our rooms aren't very big, which is fine.  It's bigger than the 10x10 room I had once as a classroom teacher, so I'll take it.

Here's a look from over by my desk.  You can see my library and sink in the back corner.  That yellow bulletin board is kind of a hodge-podge of things.  It houses are months and days of the week posters, our behavior system (I use a strike system-like baseball, 1-2-3) and the paper trays for our writing center.  I also put up our writing anchor charts up there too.     

This is the back of the room.  I typically only have 4 kids tables because I've only ever had 16 students, but this year I have 18, so I needed to add a table.  I'm not sure I like it butted up against the other table, but it will work for now.  I'm hoping to get some flower, octagonal tables with a Donor's Choose, but I haven't created the project yet.  

About our small class sizes: we are a SAGE (student achievement guarantee in education), now called AGR (achievement gap reduction) school.  This means we get state funding because we are a low-income school.  This means we have to keep our class sizes small with no more than an 18:1 student to teacher ratio in kindergarten through third grades.  It's awesome and gives kids the small class size, individual attention they need.  

Here's my word wall and small group tables along with my beloved easel.   You can see my ABCs above the word wall.  We use Handwriting Without Tears so I don't have a cute one-just the one provided.  By the end of the year, that word wall will be loaded with so many sight words.  Under the word wall are my math cubbies.  They house all of our math manipulatives and make them easy access for the kids to use whenever they need them.      

Here's my messy #reallifeclassroom desk.  It's always a mess, even though I'm a super organized person.  If it's a school day, it has stuff all over it.  Also can you see my bee and flowers on my window.  LOVE THEM!

Here is our carpet and smart board area.  I don't have a cutesy rug (not because I don't want one), these were provided by our school because we just got tile last year and I haven't invested in finding a different one yet.  To the left is my daily schedule (blue pocket chart) and to the right is my whole class incentive beehive.   Our classroom seasonal/anchor bookshelf is by our smart board as well as our Busy Bee Helpers.     

And lastly here is my classroom library.  It's the only thing I really took a close up of because it is my work-in-progress, always changing, favorite thing in my classroom.  I have worked really hard on getting it to be how I like it.  On the top shelf in the big red and blue bins are my leveled library based on text bands and reading levels. These mostly have fiction readers.  Below that, in the other slots, are my genre and theme baskets.  These include poetry, nonfiction animals, fairy tales, weather, space, class made books, etc.  Isn't my shelf awesome?  It was in my very first classroom at this school and it has followed me around to all the other rooms I have been in.  My Dollar Store baskets fit perfectly in it and I love how it works for my library.   All the papers on the white board are the sign ups for Back to School Night (volunteers, fall conferences, holiday parties, etc.)

So that is my first grade classroom.  I spent no more than 3-4 days getting it set up this year.  I have a toddler and I would much rather spend my last summer days with him so I leave up as much as I can and leave a lot of space to add student work.   

Do you have any questions about my room or the routines I have?  Let me know in the comments below!
Thanks for stopping by! 


Summer Professional Learning & What You Should Do NOW To Get To Know Your Students

This summer was a great one for my own professional learning and development, I got to do several things that I wanted to do. I can't wait to share them with you. I have included my affiliate links so the resources I share are easy to find.
The first thing I did was read The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller.

I started it with a group of bloggers who were doing a book study.  It is a FABULOUS book.  It really made me think about how I teach reading in my classroom.  It is geared towards upper grades, but I got so much out of it, even as a first grade teacher.  If you haven’t read it I would definitely put it on your short list-especially if you teach reading, double especially if you teach reading in the upper grades.

Here’s my Amazon Affiliate Link: The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller

After reading this book, I felt so inspired that I created a couple things to go along with it and brainstormed ideas for things I can do in my classroom this year. The reading surveys Donalyn provides are more geared towards middle school students so I searched for one more geared towards primary students and didn't really find what I was looking for so I created some of my own.  

Reading surveys are an excellent way to get to know your students. After having my students and their parents complete these, I felt like I had a leg up on my students as readers. I could provide them with books of interest from the very start of the year. If I want to get my students excited about reading, one of the most important things I can do it give them books that interest them. It's all about giving them choice and providing them with things they actually like.

Primary Reading Survey

 Intermediate Reading Survey

You can find the reading surveys by clicking here or on the image below.  It's FREE for a limited time. 

Or you can pin it for later by clicking this image. 

Something else I did this summer that I would say gave me some great professional development was joined Periscope.  Anyone else on it?  Raise your hand if you’ve joined and are now ADDICTED like me?!?!

IMG_0377.PNGPeriscope is a live streaming video app.  It allows you to connect, comment and show some love to people you follow.  As the host of the video is sharing what they want to say, you can comment with other viewers and give hearts to show the host that you like what they are saying.  Teachers have taken it by storm this summer and are taking it over!  Seriously, there are so many wonderful teachers to follow with some really great things to share.  If you don’t catch the video live you can replay the video for up to 24 hours.  You cannot comment on the replay but you can give hearts so the host knows you’re enjoying what they are sharing. 
Seriously, CHECK.IT.OUT!!  

Some of my favorite teacher scopers are:
Sheila Jane- @sheilajteaching
Tiffany May- @onefab_teacher
Angie Olson- @MrsAOlson
Misty from Krazy About Teaching- @emtysmom
Ashley Schroeder- @schroedershenan

Our Elementary Lives is on periscope (@ourelemlives).  We haven’t made the plunge to do a video yet, but maybe with the support of all of us together we will do a scope.  Make sure to follow us to know if we ever make the leap and start scoping our own videos.  We had some great ideas about sharing our monthly topics, we’ll see if we are brave enough to actually turn the camera around.  

The last summer PD I want to share with you is not something I got to do this year, but have gone TWICE before.  It is the Teacher’s College Reading and Writing Project in NYC.  I was lucky enough to go two times to the writing institute; once last summer and the first time 3 years ago.  The TCRWP is a week long institution put on my Lucy Calkins and the Teacher’s College at Columbia University.  There is a writing institute and a reading institute put on by the developers and authors of The Units of Study for reading and writing.  

Have you heard of Units of Study?  Our district uses them for both for reading and writing and I LOVE them.  I get to use the NEW Units of Study grade level books this year and I am PUMPED!  These week long institutes give you everything you need to go back and implement the Units of Study.  It is an intense week of learning and connecting and having fun in NYC but such an incredible experience.  I hope to be able to go again sometime.

So that’s what I’ve been up to for PD this summer.  What do you do for professional learning and development in the summer?  Tell us in the comments!

We’d love hear about any books you’ve read, any workshops you like to go to or other teachers to follow on periscope.  Also, tell us if you’ve ever been to NYC for the TCRWP.

Signing off now to enjoy the rest of my summer, see ya in September…



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