What’s New in Room 410

So, overall, I have really enjoyed my time in 5th grade. Over Christmas I spent some time re-thinking what I am doing in my class. I realized that what I missed most about teaching a younger grade is doing the Daily 5 for real. I LOVE reading with small groups of kids at the little reading table. It’s my favorite.
I couldn’t figure out how to make Daily 5 really really work with my 5th graders because my room is too small for all those bodies. We are all on top of each other, so moving all around to go to our activities and meet back on the rug was impossible. I think the problem was the part where you meet back up between rotations. So for the first semester, we did a Daily Reading workshop time, but never did the different rotations.
Well, now I’ve gone way back to the basics. No new ideas here. I’m basically doing centers 3 days a week. The centers include time with me and Read to Self everyday. Word work on the Smartboard, writing, STAAR practice, and read to someone get mixed in. I write the kids group names on the green card and I have a student rotate them after each round. I feel like I am finally getting some of the elements of Daily 5 back in my class, even though I can’t do it by the book. It is nothing new, it’s extremely simple, but it works! What REALLY works is getting to read with all my kids in a small group. It is the most valuable instruction time I have!

Also, like many of you, we are gearing up for STAAR! Trying to cover our last few TEKS. I have so enjoyed trying to apply some of these newly tested TEKS into our reading. Here is a couple we’ve been working on…
I know words like conflict, resolution, resolve, etc are really simple, but if you teach ELLs, they need to hear those words quite a bit so they understand them on the test. Some of mine had never hear these words. We’ve been using our sticky notes to write conflicts and resolutions we see in our own reading…This ties really well to summary. It’s like the ole B.M.E., because a good summary is going to cover the conflict and resolution in a story.
And foreshadowing…I don’t think I learned what that meant until like 8th grade, but my kids are doing well with it! We watched some movie clips with foreshadowing first, and then applied it to reading. We are reading “Sign of the Beaver” which has SO much foreshadowing. I snapped a pic when we first started this foreshadowing chart. Oh, and I sing “dun dun dun” ominously pretty much every time we discuss foreshadowing…
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Classroom Changes

Moving to a new grade-level has a learning curve. Here is part of mine: I didn’t realize how much space the kids would take up! I know they are bigger, but it is different than I expected when they are all in a room. I did not plan well for this ! Rookie mistake! 🙂

My 26 precious babies were squeezed in too tight with my old arrangement, and I knew I had to make some adjustments for the sake of comfort and organization.

I had these lovely round tables at the beginning…I love tables, but I didn’t have enough tables for the kids. Plus I couldn’t be as flexible with the room arrangements.

But I traded them in for desks…They are still in groups, so it is working out great!

Ah, my beloved table!!! It has been my favorite place in my classroom ever since I started teaching, but it is was too large..

But this smaller replacement table has been great…

Now we are enjoying a more spacious classroom! It is crazy how a more comfortable, spacious environment helps the kids behave better.

In other news, I am so behind on blogging about some of the things we have been doing! Here is our Idioms Chart!

Also, here is an anchor chart that goes with a lesson from Tanny MccGregor’s book, Comprehension Connections. It is one of my favorite professional books ever, and I would HIGHLY recommend it!

So, not my best poster but it makes the point 🙂

Lunch Count Basket

So, this year, I have made the jump from having a class size of about 17-20 to having 26…Huge difference. My room is a bit smaller than before. No complaints, just facts. Instead of complaining I have just had to get more creative! I am working to use any organization or management trick I can find to make our day run as smoothly as possible. So here is one little thing that is working well for us…

Some lovely teachers on my hall have been using this idea for a few years to do the lunch count and take attendance. (Thanks Mrs. J & Mrs. S) It could not have been any easier or cheaper to make!

The lunch menu and daily choices are posted. Then, the students can just clip their numbered clothespin to the choices which are on all sides of the basket…

The black basket has a form for my “Lunch Counter” to fill out. It tells me how many orders to make and the names of any students who are absent, based on who did not put their clip up that day. They leave it on my desk making it very quick for me to put in the computer. (I LOVE not having to go count it all myself…the older students are wonderful at doing things like this as well as other class jobs!)

Something small like this works great for me because it doesn’t take up any bulletin board/wall space. So, any other tips or tricks for organization/management of big groups with limited space?

Classroom Management: BLURTS!

Now, don’t we all struggle with the blurting out in class?! Two summers ago I went to a training at ACU, and one of the teachers there showed us how to make these wonderful little behavior modification tools to help with blurts, and it has sure helped me out!

I hate to embarrass the kids, so I keep this pretty light. Every time a student blurts out, they have to put a “blurt” on this chart. They have three chances. I usually go by a three-strikes-you’re-out policy before I sign their folder and take away some recess time.

All it takes is poster board, velcro dots and whatever image you want to use for the “blurt” that they put on the chart. (I used an image from Boardmaker.)

Make a spot for each child’s blurts and attach three of the velcro dots…

Each little blurt needs its own velcro dot, so that they can grab one out of the bag and attach.

At the end of the day, I make note of who had no blurts that day. I usually do an extra prize for any student who goes the entire week with no blurting out! I’ve also found that if I am really consistent with this during the first 6-8 weeks of school, then I hardly use it after that. This tool has really helped my students manage their own behavior when it comes to blurts!