Thursday, 25 September 2014

Rearranged my classroom!

I popped in to school today to quickly print off a couple of things I needed for my trip to Sydney tomorrow. Well, two hours later I left with the things printed and my classroom rearranged!! I had sketched a few ideas last night but hadn't really planned to do anything about the ideas, but then I was motivated!

I drew a before (not to scale) sketch and an after (not to scale) sketch using Doodle Buddy.

Top left is my teaching space (chair, literacy whiteboard, IWB, the dots are to mark where the SitSpots are). Top right is the external door, plus a trolley with communal materials on it. Bottom middle was my book corner and the circle rugs I have. Bottom right is my desk and conference area.
Top left is now my book corner. Bottom middle is now my teaching space. Other things are pretty much the same.
 There were a few changes that happened after I drew the 'After' sketch. The tables didn't quite work as I'd drawn them, and I changed the way the book corner is arranged. Here are some photos, sorry about the chairs being up - so much easier to move tables when the chairs are up!

My new teaching space. I haven't plugged the board in yet, or put my SitSpots back on the ground.

My new book corner. I love how cosy it looks!

This is the view from my desk and conference table.

This is the view from my big internal door.

This is the view from the book corner.

And this is the view from the external door.

I have 23 students and last term I had the tables set up in four groups of 6 students. I've changed that and now have three tables of 4 students and two tables of 6 students. It worked well in the space and I think some of my students will like having fewer people on their table.

This is my literacy whiteboard. I've moved my daily schedule from the big cupboard which is now at the back of the room and put it on to this at the front of the room. My kids love checking what is coming up during the day.

This is something new too. The black thing is for my Portable Science Word Wall. It is just an accessories organiser because I couldn't find any pocket charts in my town. The four boards will be for Learning Intentions. Green for Writing, Red for Reading, Blue for Maths and Yellow for Science - my lesson plans are colour coded too!

This is my third year teaching and every other year I've rearranged my classroom at least three times. This is the first time I've rearranged it this year. The arrangement was working really well, which is why I hadn't changed it, but I was ready for something different!!

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Roll Write Read & Bright Classroom Rules

I'm on spring holidays at the moment and I have just found motivation to make some TpT products again! Yay! I put two new ones up yesterday.

The first is a set of classroom rules. A few weeks ago I uploaded some of chalkboard-style background, but they didn't look right in my classroom this year. I re-worked them, changed the border and background colour and made the Bright Classroom Rules.

There are five rules in this pack:

I love these rules because they are short and concise. When I first introduced them I read them to my class and they said them back to me. We also talked about what each rule meant. I have them displayed in my classroom and they look really cute - so clean and simple!

The other product I uploaded is a Roll Write Read pack. It has 13 different activity pages. The idea is that students will roll a six-sided dice, then trace over the next work/letter in the list underneath the number they rolled. It combines reading, subitising dice-dots and handwriting! Love that!
The pack includes two sets of sheets. One set is Victorian Modern Cursive and the other set is a simple print font.
Included are:
Single letters (4 sheets)
CVC words (3 sheets)
Four letter words (1 sheet)
Magic E words (1 sheet)
Colour words (1 sheet)
Ch sh th words (1 sheet)
Word families (2 sheet)

These could be laminated for multiple uses, slid into sheet protectors, or used as-is as worksheets. They are all black and white so they're easy on the printer ink. I'll be using these as part of my reading groups activities, but they could be used as fast-finisher work, writing centres, whole group activities, or for home schooling purposes.

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

One very proud teacher, and a behaviour management system

You know how most years, in most schools, there is that one class that is regularly discussed in the staff room? Well, this year that's my class. I have a huge range of abilities/diagnoses/personalities in my bunch of 24 preps (5/6 year olds). They are all absolutely gorgeous, but boy can they be a challenge.

At the beginning of the year I'd hear stories from the specialist teachers about issues that had happen, and I'd give advice about the next time. I had several meetings with parents to get my head around certain issues, then report back to my principal. Lots of collegiate discussions to get advice, etc.

Then, just last week, came some of the most lovely feedback I have received. A couple of the specialist teachers said that their sessions with my kiddoes had been wonderful - without incident! They commented on how far my kids have come since the start of the year. How much they've grown, and learned. How their behaviour has changed. And I just beamed!! I was super proud - and I told my kids about it! We celebrated their success.

I put this success down to a few things. I'm not the most experienced teacher (this is my third year out of university) but I will try and try and change things up, and take advice until what I'm using works and makes a difference. I have tried so many different behaviour management techniques that I've got quite a repertoire now! I also run a very routine, process-driven classroom, which helps my anxious kids and the ones who are on the spectrum but also helps the rest of the class because little kids love to know what's coming next.

One of the best behaviour management things I've tried this year has been my 'marks system' (I haven't come up with a fancy name for it yet). I have a print out of my class and for each student there are ten boxes:
I keep a copy of this chart on a clip board that is with me at all times nearly all the time. I say to the class what I'll be looking for in terms of behaviour at different times during the day, then I get out my pen and very seriously look at the class and then look back at my sheet. If I see the correct behaviour I will give the students a mark:
When they have 10 marks they choose to either have a prize from the treasure box or have 10 minutes on the iPad. These high stakes prizes have really helped to drive the 'marks system'. When they've got 10 marks of the line going one way, I double back over the same boxes to make a cross, then I use dots. This way I can use the same sheet all week, even though some of my kids might be one their second or third set of ten, and another child might only be on their first set of ten.

I have seen a huge improvement in behaviour since implementing this behaviour management system. As well as having big rewards quite often, I'm also being very explicit with what I'm looking for. If I've asked the group to "show me five star listening" (eyes looking, ears listening, feet still, hands quiet and mouths closed) I will follow up by saying "I like the way Jemima has her mouth closed and her eyes on me". When a student receives their 10th mark I make a big deal of telling them in front of the class and asking "would you like a prize or iPad time?" This reminds the whole class of what they are working towards. I have some students who will get prize/iPad three or more times a week, and they are role models for the rest of the class. We have talked a lot about my expectations.

I also do an 'update' at least twice a day to let students know how many more marks they need to make their next 10. They love hearing that they only have 3 or less to go, because it means that their prize/iPad time is really soon. I also use this update to get kids to think through their behaviour. I might say "Jemima, you only need 3 more marks to get your next prize, so have a think about what you are doing now". This is often enough of a reminder for some students to rethink their behaviour.

On the down side, it is time consuming and repetitive, and if I lose a pen it's annoying. But the benefits have FAR outweighed the negatives! In fact, I had used a clip chart since I began teaching, because it's a whole school thing, and while it's still hanging up in my classroom I haven't moved any pegs up, or down, in a really long time. In fact, the need for consequences has almost completely gone on a classroom behaviour level, because the reward for doing the right thing is so exciting.

Oops, long post!! But I'd been meaning to write about this for ages. I love the way my classroom is running at the moment while using the 'marks system' and I'll definitely be continuing it for the rest of the year!

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Five for ...whoops! I'm late!

It's Tuesday morning. I forgot to link up to Five for Friday, but I'm doing it now. I'm dawdling at home a bit this morning because I have a School Council meeting after school which means I'll be at school until 9pm. No need to be at school before 8am today!

On Thursday my class worked on making Father's Day cards. Here is our awesome card. On the inside it compares the card-receiver to superheroes (eg. you are as brave as Batman). We did lots of talking about how Father's Day things don't just have to be for fathers (I've got a few kids without dads).

We also did some handprints which we turned into superheroes:


Up until last week I had individual jobs for my students - everyone had a job. It was frustrating having to check the board every time I needed a student to do their job, because I couldn't remember who was doing which job that week. So, last week I introduced Daily Helpers. Two different kids each day get to do all of the jobs for the day. It's working so much better already!


I also made new classroom rules. Only five of them. We repeat them each morning - my kids are getting a bit restless with the end of term 3 approaching and they needed a reminder about appropriate behaviour.


I have also introduced iPad time for my whole class twice a week. I use iPad time for a few of my kids as 'break' time (those that need it) but some of the other kids were playing up to try to 'get a break'. So instead, every Monday and Friday my whole class gets 10-15min on the iPad straight after recess time - they love it!!

Off to work, now!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Currently for September

Wow! It's September. The year has flown by. It's so lovely to see the Spring weather has arrived along with September. Today is beautiful and sunny!

Here is my Currently image to link up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade. I love the images she creates for the backgrounds of the Currently link-ups!

Listening - I couldn't decide what to listen to, so I've got all 1037 albums on shuffle (I can't figure out how to find out how many songs I've got...). It's awesome listening to some older songs that I wouldn't really think to play.

Loving - today's weather is just gorgeous. Beautiful blues skies.

Thinking - I'm going to Sydney with a friend during the school holidays. I'm so excited. The last time I was in Sydney was when I was 14 (13 years ago). Haven't booked anything yet, so better get onto it.

Wanting - At my school the teaching units are by grade levels - so the 5/6s are a unit, the 3/4s are a unit, the 1/2s are a unit and the preps are a unit. Only, I'm the only prep teacher. So I don't have other people to plan with, teach with or collaborate regularly with. I'm really missing that at the moment. The planning time that the 1/2s have together is when I have my students, so I can't even go and sit in on the their meetings.

Needing - We do lots of fun things during the week that I'd love to share, but I forget to take photos.

3 trips - There are so many places I've been that I'd like to visit again (like England, Sweden and Italy), but these are three places I've never been to. I've always wanted to go to Canada, probably based in part on how much Canadian TV I like, and I've got some extended family who live there. I've been to the North Island in New Zealand, but not the south. Again, I've got family there and I'd love to visit them. There are so many places in the US that I'd love to visit (San Fran, Chicago, New York, New Orleans, etc etc) that I've clumped them together. Ideally, I'd love to spend 6 months or so in the US on a road trip, but that's a far off dream.