Today is a Great Day to Learn Something New and Creative in Education
August is always a busy time of year for educators. We scurry on our path to make sure our room and our resources are ready to go for the class full of students we will be fortunate enough to teach. As this August approached, I was starting a new role. This role put me back in the classroom to instruct students. I will miss my role in curriculum and professional development, but I am deeply appreciative to be teaching our young minds once again.
I am a proud teacher of grade six English language arts and geography here in Missouri.
Please note, I started this new blog back in the early summer with the intention to keep it rolling each week. However, I wanted to give 100% to my new role and spent my time with valuable planning and prep. Now, I am on track and plan to post at least one blog, no l entry, no less than every other week.
Everyone loves to share classroom pictures. Since I had not been doing much work since Thanksgiving, I was on a limited budget and could not go as creative as I would have liked. I do feel that my room is simple, and I kept it organized.
As far as theme goes, I choose to use an Alice in Wonderland theme. As I teach sixth graders, I choose to align the décor and concepts to the Tim Burton version and not the Disney version.
Now there are teachers who have opinions that décor should not be the focus. However, I like to immerse my students into my theme. I used to do this with pencil and paper tasks or literature. But I decided to try something new. I am trying to gamify my classroom. I am excited about the fresh style and hope to expand the comfort level of others as I implement it this year. I tell you this so you can understand the images in my photo gallery of my classroom. The large display in the back is where students will add their avatars as they level up.
I have two groups of students I hare with my partner teacher. The two groups are considered the Tweedles. One group is Tweedle Dee and the other Tweedle Dum.
Another special note about décor I that you might notice Snoopy and the gang from time to time. Snoopy became a class mascot many years back and stuck. Since then, no matter what theme I select, Snoopy is a part of it. My nephew, Zack, contributed the Mad Hatter Snoopy that is displayed in my classroom.
In my class, I also have a display of pictures related to my life. I asked the students to create a one-pager about themselves as part of a back to school task. They did great with this. I also had them write me a letter about what they liked about reading, what their favorite types of books are, and how they learn best. One thing they were required to include were their DNA: Dreams, Needs, and Abilities. This helps me get to know what drives them each day. In addition to that, it helps me provide more personalized learning opportunities.
My hallway display is designed to include the five students from each group that are the top players. This is the leader board. The students created avatar names using an adjective that started with the same letter as their first name and their first name. For example; Delightful Daisy. By the way, I have no students named Daisy. 😊
So, this year I am trying to do things as paper free as possible. I have set up Google Classroom for each of my content areas. Google Classroom is new to me as well so I am sure you will get to grow through my trial and errors with the application. This past week I spent implementing a worksheet I purchased off TeachersPayTeachers on the 5 Themes of Geography. The students are learning how to make a copy and submit assignments. We are doing well with this.
I also created a rubric, based on something I had used in the past, for interactive notebooks. While they still do these the old-fashioned way in a notebook, the rubric is submitted, and I grade and record feedback directly in Google Classroom. It is going well.
Another item I put on the Google Classroom each day is a daily agenda. This agenda allows students to reference what was done throughout the day. Additionally, if students are absent, they can access these agendas if they have internet at home to see what they might have missed. I am working to improve the content of these agendas as it continues to roll out. For example, I make sure the learning target for the day is on each content related slide.
Each Wednesday I get to spend it with my homeroom. During this time, I plan to implement team building activities, use it as a time to practice school wide procedures for the PBIS, or as needed for “catch up” work.
Our first Wednesday homeroom together, groups were assigned to save Fred. You all know the fantastic STEM activity with the gummy worm and lifesaver. Well I enhanced it with a little story to set the tone.
Save Fred Story:
I have this friend named Fred. Now he is like most worms and enjoys the cool, moist dirt
on his skin as he crawls forward and backwards though the dirt. He is an invertebrate that
enjoys the moonlight. Fred even enjoys his job as a farmer and recycling nutrients into
the soil. But Fred is a little on the adventurous side.
So, he built a boat and decided to go sailing. He sailed off into the ocean blue without
telling anyone or checking the weather. Worst yet, it is hurricane season. So, when a gust
of wind swept past and capsized the boat, poor Fred was in trouble. You see, earthworms
can survive several days in fresh water, but saltwater is another story. If his boat sinks,
there will be no hope for Fred. So, he needs your help desperately before his boat
completely sinks. Can you help Fred retrieve his life preserver; put it on, and save him?
Your job is to place the life preserver firmly around Fred’s body, but you must obey
1. Fred may not fall into the “sea” (onto the table) more than one time; if he
does, Fred “drowns.”
2. You may not injure him in any way.
3. You may use only the four paper clips to move Fred, move the boat, and move
the life preserver. You may not touch anything except the paper clips.
Reading Journals and Freebie
I am happy to announce that the students in my class had books in their hands the first full week of school. I have a great start to an awesome class library and the students got to check them out to practice reading.
And because we had books in our hands, we also started our reading journals. I have a few more left to score for this week, but the students are doing good at getting to the evidence to support their reading. Additionally, the students have great stamina to continue to read using our “real reading” behaviors.
To start the school year off right, I am including a freebie this week. It is a reading journal. There are 26 diverse ways students can respond to their own reading, all require evidence to support their thinking. There is a choice available for each letter of the alphabet” Apple of my Eye to Zombie Apocalypse. This is typically a product I would have available on TeachersPayTeachers, but for my readers and followers it is absolutely free.
As you venture out to start your year, please follow me and be a part of my journey as well. Great educators become excellent by sharing and learning together. I also will include many freebies for reading and geography both. Share this blog with friends so they can also benefit from collaboration and freebies.
Final note, I am a curriculum geek. If you have an idea but not sure what way to run with it or what books to use, shoot me a message and let’s see what we can produce.
My life journey is that of a mother, wife, grandmother, weenie dog owner, blogger, conference speaker, mini-farmer, writer and a an occasional mistake maker with over 24 years in education. Follow me on Twitter @JEdgarEdConsult