Thursday, May 31, 2012

Moving Your Classroom in 5 days

How many times have you moved your classroom?
In the last 6 years, I have been in 5 different classrooms.  (Yes that means it has been only once in my current school, that I have not had to pack my junk!)
It's like being a nomad.
I am doing it again.  Moving rooms! 
Hopefully, this one sticks and I can stay in the same place.  I am moving to a corner room, where the past few years I have been out in the middle of the building.  Vulnerable to the ever changing shift in number of sections.  My principal believes in putting grade levels together as much as possible, which is why I have moved so much!
I decided this time that I was going to do a boxless move.  I got close, just 1 box.

I have a few tips/tricks for moving to a new room, in the same building.
**Make sure you talk with the person whose room you are moving in to. Communication is essential, to save you time in making sure that cabinets/shelves are empty. (And being a good coworker!)
For this move I am moving into Antoinette's old room.  That made communication very easy. 

You will need:
A trusty cart, like this:

A flat bed cart for larger items, like this:

Extra containers, since not every classroom in my building is the same, you can't just go cabinet to cabinet.  The containers can hold the excess, until you know where to put it.
1 box (This was used in the final hours of packing for all kinds of random items, you just need to put somewhere!)

 I moved the inside of the cabinets first, since this is the least detectable to kids. 
When possible, put things in the cabinet, drawer, or shelf where you would like them to be for the next year.  August is busy enough, without having to unpack a classroom, and move things around!

Now I will tell you with one person moving in, and another one moving out, it can get a little messy and the counter in my new room is full of containers that didn't have an available place at the time, but they will when I return.

In the mess, Antoinette and I discovered we have the same basket.  (Which is more unique than you might think!)

Give your class an extra indoor recess so they can pack up your games, and make sure if they are missing pieces.
When your class is going to recess, specials, or lunch take the cart,full of stuff, with you.  Drop it off in the corner of your new classroom.  (Hey we were going that way anyway!)
The room I am moving to is a different grade level, so our schedules are off set enough that when my kids were at specials, Antoinette's class was at recess, so I could unpack and reload without the kids losing learning time.
Don't take down your bulletin boards until last.

This is the kids sign that you are "checked out" too.  Delay it as much as possible!

In the end when one door closes,

Another one opens.

All my stuff has been moved and ready for me in August!

Do you have any tips for moving classrooms?

Happy moving to anyone who is relocating next year!


Thursday, May 24, 2012

Do you LOVE Field Day?

I find it interesting that Field Day is such a polarizing day.  I don't know if it is like that at your school, but at ours, you love it or you dislike it.  I LOVE Field Day.  I always have.  The fresh cut grass, the sun, the games, etc.  I love watching my students run and play.  3rd graders aren't as concerned with tattling about who didn't follow rules, which is great! 
We have a half day with stations and relays, and tug of war (of course)! 
My class was pretty short this year, so we didn't make it passed the first round. :(
My FAVE part are the water events.  Getting to spray kids with water, especially the ones who have given you the biggest challenge, and oh how they laugh!  :)
Do you love Field Day?
What types of activities do you have at your school?

Antoinette and I are in the final day of moving classrooms tomorrow.  (I am moving into her room and she is moving to her Teaching and Learning Coach position in other buildings.
I will have my tips and pics, since I have moved 5 (yes count them 5) times in 6 years!


Sunday, May 20, 2012

Solar Smores

The end of the year is a time for fun! 
Earlier in the year my class learned about forms of energy.
We did experiments with solar energy, but I found a way to review this skill with food!

Solar Smores!
Beforehand, I put all the smore supplies in a baggie.  (It is so much easier, since they are super excited they don't do well with waiting for you to pass everything out.  Also in my district, unless it is in a package you have to wear gloves to pass out food, so the kids can't help much with this step.)
Don't forget the heat conductor, tin foil.
I introduced the lesson by saying we are going to review Solar Energy and learn technical writing.
I asked if they knew what technical writing was, making sure to mention recipes and giving directions.
Then I passed out the supplies. (Instantaneously, they realize they are making smores.)
I asked them to construct their project.  Writing down each step. 
The kids wrapped them up, then we placed them outside in our secure courtyard area for 2-3 hours.  This makes the marshmallow soft and the chocolate melts!
Part of the time, we spent waiting for the smores, we reviewed and compared recipes. 
Kids realized they may have left out some steps when they read someone else's paper.

This is the last week for school in my district, so I look forward to sharing more with you on packing up and moving classrooms!


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Chalk (an introduction to story writing)

Every year, story writing is a huge undertaking for my 3rd graders.  Luckily, the past 2 years it was omitted from the state assessment, so I could wait to teach it until very last!
In the past few years, my fellow teachers and I have written group stories.  I has lacked organization and yielded minimal success when students went to write on their own story. 
So I decided to change that!
I found this great book on one of the awesome book blogs.

Chalk by Bill Thomsom

It is an amazingly illustrated wordless book.
We went through and "read" the book.  (At least one student said, "This is a baby book.") 
They quickly realized that the story is not so simple.
Then I told the students that Bill Thomson has hired them to write the story.
We use a story organizer and go through every page again. 
The students made notes for each page.
Then they turned their organizer into the story.

When conferencing with them about their rough drafts, here is what I noticed:

**They used paragraph indents, because they had to write something on each page.
**They added dialogue.
**They used details.
**Every (yes EVERY) student even my special ed students had a complete story that made SENSE!

It was an easy PAINLESS way to introduce story writing. 


Friday, May 11, 2012

Endings Matter

It's funny how a teaching idea can come from an unexpected place. 
As a public school teacher I don't often talk about going to church with my kids, but this great teaching idea came from a guest minister's sermon a few Sundays ago, and I wanted to give him the credit.

Endings Matter. 

The guest minister at my church started with this thought, and it really struck a chord with me.
As I sat and listened to the comparisons of the endings to the Gospels, it hit me.  This message is SO timely for my classroom.

Here is the lesson that came out of this idea:

I started the lesson with reading this book.

Titanicat (True Stories)

I had to read it as part of the Show Me Reader set of books last year.
It has one of the WORST, yes I said WORST, endings of any book I have ever read with my students. 
As we read, every few pages or so, I asked the students to rate how well they liked the book by: thumbs up, thumbs down, and thumbs sideways. 
(I have an Aspergers student who is obsessed with Titanic, so he loved it.)
They were ok until the last few pages. 
Then they realized the end of the book was terrible!

We talked about why they changed their minds.
We arrived at the conclusion, endings matter. (I gave the minister credit at this point.)

Then we extended our thinking to our school experience.
They wrote a T chart "A good ending for 3rd grade" and "A bad ending for 3rd grade."
They wrote what it would look like and feel like.

We have referred back to it, when times are tough.

Endings Matter.