Readiness Standard 3.8 Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of fiction and provide evidence from text to support their understanding.
Supportive Standard 3.6 Students understand, make inferences and draw conclusions about the structure and elements of poetry and provide evidence from text to support their understanding. Students are expected to describe the characteristics of various forms of poetry and how they create imagery (e.g., narrative poetry, lyrical poetry, humorous poetry, free verse).
The Swing This is a Power Point that includes the poem and questions based on the TEK/STAAR format.
I suggest that the poem be read aloud each day.
Students can illustrate what the poem helps them to visualize.
Students can use the Think-Pair-Share cooperative learning strategy to ask relevant questions and discuss what they think about the poem.
Students can practice fluency by reading the poem to each other.
The teacher can discuss the elements of poetry used by the poet.
Students can practice reading non-fiction articles from Time for Kids.
If you have access to Brainpop jr., you can view the video about taking care of pets. The site offers various online activities on the topic of taking care of pets.
Brainpop jr. also has a video and activities on the topic of poetry.
Students can also use World Book Online to research topics related to the book, such as dogs, pets, tigers, poetry, or the poets read about in the book.
Read Write Think offers activities for writing online acrostic poems and online shape poems.
Tools 4 Students is an app that offers organizer templates.
Events Organizer Chapter What I Learned Today (research organizer)
Problem Solution Organizer Character, Setting, Plot
As I drove past schools this week, I could see the parking lots were filled with teachers giving up their last free days to set up their classrooms.
Setting up the classroom use to be a stressful time for me, until I realized that less is better.
A beginning resource for me at the time was Spaces and Places: Designing Classrooms for Literacy by Debbie Diller. My school closet use to be packed with items that had not been used in years. I turned it into a functional closet that stored items that were used and easily accessible.
My principal was also a resource. He provided the opportunity for me to visit other schools with the purpose of looking for efficiency and student centered rooms. This principal also provided me the opportunity to have furniture on wheels. Mobile furniture is more conducive to setting up a student centered classroom. It was exciting to see that there were mobile furniture booths at the TCEA convention.
Hopefully, more principals will elect to furnish their schools with mobile furniture.
The mobility factor in furniture, led to a more mobile and differentiated view of setting up the room in learning areas. There are six areas needed to set up a student based learning environment.
1. Class Library: This is a comfortable area that contains leveled reading material and books of different genre. Most of the books are my personal collection, but I also check out school library books for seasonal or unit topics. Students are encouraged to recommend books they would like to place in the class library.
Students are involved in setting up the library and organizing the books in tubs that they label.
They have ownership of the library and know where to look for the books and where to return the books.
2. Community Center: This is a carpeted area that is the gathering point for class meetings, routine procedures, small group, and other similar purposes.
Students may also choose to utilize this area to work in a group, with a partner, or individually.
(I provide portable lap tables and small pillows for the students to use in this area or in any other area of the classroom.)
3. Peace Pad: This is an area for anyone who needs to regroup, reflect, or just take a break. It is not a punishment area. Books about feelings and emotions, landscapes, and places are provided. I recently purchased a Buddha Board for myself, and I highly recommend that this be included in the Peace Pad.
I had my iPod with soothing music available in this area.
4. Resource Area : Instead of setting up stations for each subject, I use mobile utility carts that have 4 drawers. Each drawer has the resources necessary for students to work on subject area tasks, projects, and activities. Students take the drawer to their workstations or wheel the cart to a central locality for others to use. I also have the iPads on a utility cart for student access.
5. Supplies : A mobile utility cart is also used to store a range of supplies for all subjects. Different types of paper, pads, pens, crayons, markers, pencils, etc. Students may wheel this cart around to any working area, or just pull a drawer.
A small shelf is used for math manipulatives and supplies. Construction paper is stored in a construction paper storage sorter.
6. Work Stations: If mobile tables are not available, I recommend asking for rectangular or round tables.
(Arrangements can be made for seating during state testing.) If individual table desks are available, I recommend that they are arranged in work clusters. The most efficient cluster is four desks, but sometimes it is necessary to arrange six in a cluster. These are work stations, and not individual desks, so students get to choose where they sit each morning when they arrive. The seating changes as they begin their tasks and are working in groups that have been formed according to differentiated criteria. The desks are turned so the opening is not available. This helps in keeping the room organized and clean. As previously mentioned, students may choose to work on the floor using the lap tables.
It was a personal choice to remove the teacher desk in order to provide more space in the classroom.
I did use one of the mobile tables for small group. My personal teaching supplies were stored in a utility cart with drawers. The top of the cart had a flat surface that was used as my desk.
I also used the bottom shelf of utility cart that held the teacher lap top computer to store other items that were needed for instruction.
Large file cabinets are a thing of the past, since curriculum and lesson ideas are all stored online.
I used a small rolling file cabinet for any private documents. This was locked in a closet.
During the first years of my teaching career, I would spend two weeks in the summer covering every bulletin board and wall space with educational merchandise.
The students walked into a room that was splashed with information and color .
There was one wall to post some of their work, but students had no input in setting up the boards.
Basically, the bulletin boards emphasis was on decoration rather than on instruction, learning, and showcasing the indivdual student.
After a few years of experience, conversations with my peers, and researching the topic of the purpose of bulletin boards, I changed the manner in which I prepared my room.
Of course, the grade level you teach dictates some items that must be posted. Also, the design and space of your room will affect what you can post.
Here are the basic teaching tools necessary in your classroom:
- grade level appropriate alphabet (even if it is just for the proper formation of letters)
- grade level appropriate math chart and number line
- Word Walls for each subject are also important instructional tools. Words should be added as students are introduced to the words.
It helps to divide the bulletin board space into the major subjects (math, reading, writing, science, and social studies).
One style of border for all the boards, and labels for each subject keep the room environment simple and less distracting.
The boards are left for student work and anchor charts that are changed regularly in order to keep current with the instruction that is taking place.
Students enjoy being in charge of what is posted on the boards. It helps to promote the feeling of ownership.
The information on the board is utilized more since the students created the charts with the teacher.
Anchor charts can be photographed and posted in Power Point presentations or in hard copy and placed in folders for students to use as reference or review.
I was fortunate to have enough bulletin boards to include a large area for displaying student art.
Here are four questions to ask before purchasing any items for your room:
- Will it reflect the learning that is taking place in the classroom?
- Will it promote student ownership of learning?
- Will it add to the learning environment and be used for referencing and review?
- Will it showcase the individuals in the classroom?
July 4th has come and gone.
Stores are now setting up for Back to School.
Teachers are getting the jitters thinking about what they need to set up the classroom.
Before you rush into an educational store or order from catalogs, ask yourself these questions:
- What do I need in order to design a student-centered classroom?
- What will help me create a safe and comfortable learning environment?
- How can I make the students feel ownership and pride in their classroom?
- What will help me organize materials for the students and for myself?
- What manipulatives and resources are already provided by the school?
For years, I would walk into an educational store and purchase items that really had nothing to do with promoting a student centered classroom.
Cute posters, center activities, teaching charts, and workbooks are eye candy and sometimes distractions.
Workbooks are outdated and are not aligned with how today’s students learn.
They also are not guaranteed to be aligned to the needs of the students in your class, the state standards, or the standards that your school’s data shows you must be targeting for instruction.
I look for ideas that can be adapted to more updated techniques, but I do not purchase any workbooks.
Anchor charts made by students and teachers are more effective teaching tools than ready-made posters.
They can be made on chart tablets that are usually provided by the school or purchased with grade level funds.
Anchor charts can also be created with technology and projected on the screen/Smartboard as needed.
These are the only items that I would consider placing on a purchase list:
- Seasonal Stickers
- Book marks
- Borders ( Keep it simple and purchase one style for all of the classroom bulletin boards. For hallway bulletin boards, I purchase seasonal and solid border. )
- Word Wall chart holders ( I prefer the felt background type for the reading word wall. For math, science, and social studies word walls, I create interactive walls with the students. We use an iPad and QR codes to create these. There will be more information about this in another post.)
Walk around a school and you will probably see many classrooms that reflect the teacher’s personality and taste instead of the students’ work and evidence of learning.
Student learning is enhanced when the room is centered on the students and not the teacher.
Students are given a school supply list, but I purchase a class set of supplies during the Back to School sales.
I never use the student’s personal supply as a class community supply. I believe they need to have their own.
I use what I purchase as the classroom supply.
Many parents often offer to purchase what is needed throughout the year.
For organizational purposes, I usually purchase the plastic folders for the following subjects:
Leadership/Communication folder – Red
Composition folders (Students at our school come with 2. I purchase 2 more for each student. They are used as notebooks for writing, reflection, math, and science.)