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Setting Up a Classroom: Part 2 -Bulletin Boards

July 15, 2014

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 splashed with information and color .
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 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?


Setting Up a Classroom: Part 1-Back to School Preparations

July 6, 2014

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
Poetry Folder-Purple
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.)

Part 2 will be a post about classroom bulletin boards.



June 30, 2014

There are three good reasons to be a teacher – June, July, and August.  ~Author Unknown

The unknown author of this quote apparently is not an educator!
As teachers, we know that the summer months are for re-energizing with family and friends, continuing professional development, engaging in book studies, and planning for the next school year.

I am listing some titles that I recommend for professional summer reading.
These books are resources that can help you have a more successful year.
During my summers, I would often reread highlighted chapters and passages, just as a reminder to strengthen good teaching practices.

teachingll Teaching With Love and Logic by Jim Funk, David Fay

Wong the First Days of School by Harry Wong

championTeach Like a Champion by Doug Lemove

glasser 2
Choice Theory in the Classroom by William Glasser, M.D.

glasserThe Quality School by William Glasser, M.D.

greenlightGreen Light Classrooms by Rich Allen

brooksDrawing with Children by Mona Brookes (Great ideas for developing  visual learning!)

Enjoy your summer!






Mrs. Cunningham’s Corner

May 12, 2012

This has been an exciting school year, more than usual. I created a classroom blog and both the children and myself have had a major learning experience.
My intent is to update my TeacherThinkTank based on my experiences from this school year. Until I can get this going,  you can get a glimpse of what has been happening by viewing our class blog: Mrs. Cunningham’s Corner

Friendship Task Menu

January 30, 2012

During the month of February, I display a collection of books about friends. Students have a choice of the book they want to read for Reading Workshop.
They then have a choice of tasks that are designed based on the revised Bloom’s Taxonomy. Students can choose to complete their task on computers, using Kidspiration, Power Point, or Publisher. They can also choose to use the iPad 2. Another choices is paper and pencil. They are to focus on completing one task. They may move to another task after I have approved the first completed task. Some of these tasks may take a week to complete. Task Cards and Worksheets are on the links below.
Remember Task Card
Understanding Task Card
Apply Task Card
Analyze Task Card
Evaluate Task Card
Create Task Card Plus another Evaluating Task Card

Snowflake Making Words

January 5, 2012

 Students will enjoy making words with consonant blends using this Snowflake Making Words Power Point.

Tacky the Penguin

December 24, 2011

 Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester
January is a great month to continue our character study of Tacky, the adorable penguin who walks to the beat of a different drummer. On the last day before our winter holiday, I read Tacky’s Christmas. The students then created their own image of Tacky using black bulletin board paper. They created decorated shirts and bow ties. We posted the penguins under the caption, “What’s Happening in 2012?”. Upon our return in January, we will read all of the books about Tacky. Students will then choose from task cards based on questioning verbs from the updated version of Bloom’s Taxonomy.  Worksheets for Task Cards 1,2,3, and 5 are included.
Task Card 1  Task Card 2   Task Card 3  Task Card 5   Task Cards 4 and 6 include technology activities using Kidspiration and two online activities from Read Write Think.


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