Classroom Reveal 2017: Bold and Brights Collection

I am so excited to share with you pictures of my classroom this year! This is my first classroom reveal post because, to be honest, it has taken 3 years to get my classroom to the point where many of the spaces make me super proud and happy : ) So come on in, let me show you around! 

I really didn't plan to make many changes this year due to being pregnant. But then, I received the most AMAZING package in the mail from Creative Teaching Press.

Who could resist these borders?

So I went ahead and changed a few things up. Here's the view when you are walking into my room.

Those ugly maroonish cabinets are my nemesis lol I have tried to cover them up in the past but NOTHING sticks to them.

Make a left when you walk through the door, and you will see our closet cubbies. It's nice because after everyone has unpacked, I can close them for most of the day! There are 4 full length bulletin boards on the outside that get used A LOT!

Here is a closer look at my birthday chart! I used space on my closet doors to create the display last year. This year, I switched out the birthday cupcakes for birthday ice cream cones. I didn't have my kiddos' birthdays at the time of the picture but once I got them, I printed them off on 1.5 x 2 inch strips of paper and taped them on. 
  • Banner is from Target Dollar Spot last summer.
  • The ice cream cones are from Creative Teaching Press. It is in their Bold & Bright collection and you can find them here

Next up is my desk area. 

I ditched my big, bulky, brown teacher desk last year. This year, I bought the white desk from Ikea. I used a bed sheet and border from CTP to cover the wall and make an area to hang up all the pictures students gift me over the year. The space under my desk is an eye sore. Any ideas for covering up all those wires? : /

Here is a view of my classroom library corner. The white bookshelf is from Target. The black shelving unit was left in my room. It used to be green but I spray painted it black this year and I am SO happy with how it turned out. I organize my library by series and genres which makes up about half of my library. The other half is random baskets because, to be honest, it is not a priority of mine to keep it super organized. 

This is my FAVORITE classroom spot. I teach math and reading in small groups so this is where I spend a lot of my day. I moved the table here this year so I am excited to see how it works out. The whiteboard will house reading, writing and grammar anchor charts once we get started. I made the crate seats last year. I bought most of the crates from Wal-Mart and the fabric for the cushions at JoAnn Fabrics. My pink office chair is from Office Max. 
  • The letters on my word wall are from the Bold Brights collection at CTP. You can find them here
  • The letters for the words at the top of the wall can be found in my TPT store here. The black and white striped border is from CTP here

This is my main teaching spot. I sit in that rocking chair A LOT! I used the black and white polka dot border for both the bulletin board and for the back of my book shelf (which is magnetic!). Those white dots are magnetic hooks so I can hang a poster or anchor chart. 
  • The focus wall letters are from CTP and you can find them here
  • The READ letters are from Target Dollar Spot this year. 

I was inspired by Teaching 3rd with Mr. G to make this display of the books we have read this year. I made full page sized letters in PowerPoint and cut them out by hand to make the title. Then I printed out mini copies of the covers of books we have read so far. I attached them with mini (rainbow!) colored clothespins and yarn. The border is from Creative Teaching Press--find it here. 

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my classroom! Sweat equity, decor from Creative Teaching Press and help from my mom have all been essential for creating a welcoming classroom space : )


Lesson Ideas for Teaching Understanding Characters

I am excited to dive deeper into reading skills and share some ideas to apply to whole group and small group lessons. In this series, I will focus on a reading skill, take a look at options for differentiating instruction and provide resources that may be helpful!

To begin to understand characters, our students need to know what are character traits? Simply put,  character traits are words we use to describe characters.  Activate students' background knowledge by reviewing and brainstorming a list of adjectives.

This free adjectives mini-pack will help with scaffolding instruction.

Next, choose a person or a character everyone in the class is familiar with. I like to pick a character from a book we have recently read as a whole group. Or you could use yourself or the principal!  We can develop words to describe the character which we will use in several ways.

Here we used Henry and Mudge because we read it the first week of school. I just projected a picture of Mudge on the Smartboard and I wrote the words around him. (Sorry the picture isn't very quality!)

If students are having a difficult time coming up with words besides "happy or sad", Workshop Classroom has an excellent free resource for students to reference.  You can find that here.

Next, we sorted the post-its in two ways.  First, we looked at the words that described his physical appearance vs. internal characteristics. I used this anchor chart to help my students understand the difference between inside and outside traits.

Then, we took a look at the positive vs. negative traits.  This prompted a great discussion including students defending reasons for their choice.

For extra practice or to reinforce these skills, you can download my Character Trait Word Sort freebie here.

Next, it is time to work on HOW we choose character traits based on a character's actions, words, thoughts and feelings. For this, I used Rosie Revere, Engineer. We kind of worked backwards and started with naming the character traits. 

Then, we went back in the book and used post it notes to mark evidence to support each of the character traits we chose. I simply wrote each word on a post it and as we re-read, students were thinking about which word best matched with Rosie's words, actions or thoughts.  Then we marked that spot in the book with the post-it!

I used the same post-it lesson with my small group except this time in reverse.  As they were reading, they had their post-its ready to mark.  For my students who still needed some support, they just marked the spot.  Others wrote a character trait on the post it AND marked the evidence.  

You can download this lesson plan here.

For more resources to help teach understanding characters, check out my common core aligned reference posters and graphic organizers.

Happy Teaching!


One BIG Beginning of the Year Mistake (and How to Fix It!)

My first year of teaching, I was SO proud at how quickly I learned my students names. *pats self on back* Then, weeks (maybe even a month or so) into the school year, a student came to tell me something at indoor recess. He pointed at a group of girls and declared "She said I was cheating in Sorry." I asked "Who is 'she'? There are about 5 girls over there." He said "I don't know her name."

WHAT!!!!?!! Then it occurred to me: I  just assumed my students knew one another's names by now. But it was the 5th (or 6th or 7th) week of school and this kiddo STILL didn't know all of his classmates' names!!! I was HORRIFIED!! How could we be building a community without knowing this vital information?! Answer: we weren't. This was important and it needed to be fixed immediately. Here's how I have prevented this situation from happening again.

Do you do morning meeting? We are LOVING it in our classroom this year using this Paperless Morning Meeting resource from Erin Waters.

Whiteboard Morning Meeting {40 Weeks}

Even if you don't do a full morning meeting, incorporating a greeting is super beneficial! One of my favorites is a whole group greeting we do on Mondays. We go around the circle and ask each student, "_________, what's the news?!" And they share something they did over the weekend. Reinforcing names this way is a great memory tool!
We might think of having our students wearing name tags so that we can learn their names but it is also a helpful tool for students to learn, too! Here are some cute ones I have made to fit onto labels. Or you could print on card stock and laminate for multiple uses!

You can download these for FREE here: Editable Name Tag Labels

I also have editable student name tag desk plates. They use these ALL the time for math. I attach them with a Velcro dot and I love that they can take them around the room with them. 

One day, I spontaneously asked them to bring them to the carpet. We mixed them all up in the center of our circle. Students had to pick a name tag and match it with the student! It was a fun way to review names : ) 

This SIMPLE game is a way to practice names AND learn something about your students (and in turn, students learn about their classmates!). Tell students to think of something they like to do and create a hand movement or gesture to represent what it is. I like cooking so I pretend to crack an egg in a bowl. If students can't think of a movement on their own, we all help them!

Next, we sit in a circle. The first person says their name and what they like to do using their hand signal. For example, "I am Susie, and I like to play with dolls" *makes a rocking motion*. We all repeat "Susie likes to play dolls" and make the movement. Then it goes to the next person. Now comes the tricky part. After the 2nd person goes, you have to repeat what the first person said AND what the 2nd person said. You keep going, repeating each person's name, statement and movement. It gets pretty repetitive. I was thankful to only have 18 students this year-ha! If you have a large class, maybe break it into two sessions? 

Maybe you already use Turn and Talks in your classroom. This name-learning trick puts a spin on it. 

Instead of having students share out what they said during the turn in talk, have them introduce their partner FIRST! Make sure you switch up partners often so students have the opportunity to introduce many different classmates. I keep this one going for at least a month or two! 

I don't know about your students, but mine LOVE a word search! I usually use one as morning work on Fridays. This editable, personalized name word search is PERFECT for reviewing names! My friend, Lauren of Teaching in Stripes, made it SUPER easy to create your own!

You can find this in her store here---->> Editable Class Word Search

I have used a combination of ALL of these activities over the past few weeks and, to be honest, I still have just a few kiddos that need name reminders. One thing I explicitly teach is how to politely tell someone that you forget their name and ask what it is. I heard a student ask yesterday and then said "Oh yeah, I knew that!" As with any learning, sometimes they just need a reminder! 

Do you have any tricks for students learning each other's names? 

Happy Teaching!


10 Word Work Ideas

Word work is my FAVORITE literacy center. I love having the flexibility to include a wide variety of activities. I love that my students get a lot of choice in how they want to practice. And I love that it is easily differentiated. This week, I introduced 6 word work centers to my student so we can get started when we return from Labor Day weekend. But, throughout the year, I will change these centers to maintain the novelty of this center. It is great to keep a running list of ideas for when you need to switch things up. Here are my 10 favorite word work activities!
My favorite type of word work activities are easy peasy, cheap and have no end! Pipe cleaners (these are from the Dollar Store) are perfect hands-on fun! I paired this up with this free Fry Word sticker book by Cartwheels and Somersaults you can find here---> 2nd 100 Fry Word Sticker Book
Remember the game Battleship? Of course you do. It is awesome! Your students can play the SAME GAME with their spelling words! They simply write their words on a blank battle ship board (you can find this free copy here). Then, they partner up and start making guesses until they "sink" their partners "ships". In order to sink it, they have to spell the word correctly! 
Spelling Battleship with bigger boards!
Another EASY idea that requires minimal prep. Just print the boards, laminate and pair with some counters. Students have to read the word, close their eyes and spell it out loud before they can place their counter on the space. This is one of my students' FAVORITE games! 

These boards come in the first, second and third 100 Fry words. You can find them here

This is a classic. But, there are different ways you can set this up.
I love the way Just a Primary Girl stored her letters. So easy for students to use right away with minimal searching!

Another idea by Clever Classroom for easy storage. I love how she has a visual in each of the pockets to help students with sorting. 
Clever Classroom blog Storing Magnetic Letters

When I moved into my classroom, there were some old PC computers in one of my closets. I have since gotten rid of the computers but decided to keep a few of the keyboards for typing practice!

You could ask your tech department if they have any sitting around OR you could use a printable instead. Here is one you can download for free.

I used to prep so many centers but I didn't really know how to use them. I couldn't make enough copies for the whole class to do the same center. I didn't want to review directions for 5+ centers and then deal with ALL those recording sheets. So I started incorporating my seasonal ELA centers into my word work! This way I can have students practice skills we have already reviewed.

These football centers are perfect for fall!

Here my students are working on fixing sentences. 
This center is a part of my Back to School ELA centers. 

One MUST for putting these centers at word work is student friendly directions. 

Another Dollar Tree find---alphabet beads!
They ARE teeny tiny but I found these little containers on Amazon to store them in. 
Duofire? 4 Packs(4 Colors) Plastic Storage Box(15 Compartments) Jewelry Earring Tool Containers

I have students string them onto yarn or pipe cleaners to spell their words. They are so cheap, students could even make a bracelet out of them and keep it! 

What kid doesn't love Playdoh?! I can't wait until my little guy is old enough to play with it for more than 2 minutes-ha! Last year, I had my students use stamps I found in the Target Dollar Spot. They spread the Playdoh out flat and stamped their words. This year, I simply had them make the letters. I always provide a sheet of laminated paper to use as a mat to cut down on any messiness! 
These sight word stick center ideas by Reagan Tunstall are SO versatile and easy to differentiate! Simply write the words you want your kids to practice onto popsicle sticks and add one of the 10 recording sheet options. My students' favorite is House of Sticks.
popsicle stick sight word centers! (10 centers)...could easily write the weekly spelling words on sticks too!

I am a HUGE fan of a word search. I think there is a lot of strategy to be learned while searching for those letters! Have your students make their own with a blank word search board. First, they write their words vertically, horizontally and diagonally. Next, they fill the remaining empty spaces with random letters. Swap with a friend to solve!
Here's a free one from Primary Teaching Resources.
FREE Spelling Word Search

Well I hope maybe you found something new today. 
I will be back with some more ideas in a few weeks : )
Happy Teaching!