Monday, August 25, 2014

Back to School! (Scissors, Glue, and Assessment, Too!)

There is nothing like the feeling of back-to-school. Teachers, students and parents are all anxious to meet each other, and full of wonder and excitement for the new year!  I have nine siblings in my group this year! I held some of these little ones when they were newborns!  What an honor and a privilege it is to welcome them into my class as first graders.

We sure have had a busy couple of weeks!  I have two main goals during the first weeks of school:

1) Establish classroom routines and expectations.
2) Get to know my students' personalities and assess their strengths and needs.

To accomplish these goals, I use some key classroom resources.

I love this new cut and glue, interactive, "All About Me" Book.  My students have been busy cutting, gluing and following directions to create their own books to share with each other and then with their families. What a great way to get to know each other!

First, the children cut out letter cards and glued them onto foldable flaps to to create a name page...

(student name blurred)

Then, they made an adorable "This is Me" page with a cut-out paper doll. They designed their own clothing, added hair, and drew a face. They followed directions to make a pocket envelope.

They made height and birthday pages...

...and address and phone number pages!

And a page with all of their favorite things!

Finally, they introduced their "family tree".

Of course, the whole time the students were working on their pages, I was informally assessing their ability to follow directions, cut, color, use glue, and write.  The kids loved it, and I got so much great information about them!  

If you think this would be a valuable resource in your classroom, hop on over to my TpT store. Scissors, Glue and All About You is available for $4.  Photographic directions are provided so you know exactly how to make each page.

Once I got my kiddos started on each page, I pulled them back one at a time to assess their academic skills.  I used pages out of my 1st Grade Assessment Journal to gather data on each student's math, letter and sound knowledge, sight word identification, and writing skills.  The assessments are aligned with common core standards, and give me a really good idea of baseline skills.

I will continue to assess students throughout the year, creating an informative binder of data to share with students' families during conferences.

Here are a few sample pages and some pages showing how I use them with students.

1st Grade Assessment Journal is available on TpT for $10.

I'd love to hear your strategies for getting through the first few weeks of school!  Share some of your ideas below!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Classroom Overhaul: The Big Reveal!

I am so excited to share photos of how my classroom turned out after a summer of pinning, planning, purging, painting, and "project-ing." maybe "project-ing" is a made-up word, but I liked the alliteration. All my projects turned out GREAT, and I met most of my classroom overhaul goals!

Here's the big reveal...drumroll, please!

I think my favorite part of the room is my new reading corner!

The baskets came from Baskets of Africa.  This is my husband's fair trade company. He works directly with weavers across Africa, paying them a sustainable, fair wage for their amazing, hand-woven baskets. These baskets came from Ghana, and are available on his online store. I've had them for about 10 years, and they still look AMAZING! I love using them for books, puppets, musical instruments, journals, etc. 

I made the apple tree out of crushed butcher paper. I especially love the crushed red balls of paper for the apples.  I've actually had this apple tree for years, but it was in a different part of the room. I moved it and added the it!

I bought the carpet and pillow cubes from Target. The carpet was about $60, and the cubes were 80% off. I think I paid about $20 for them.  The plastic Adirondack chairs came from Lowe's for about $13 each.  The long pillows (basket in the corner) came from Big Lots. There were on clearance, also.  I paid $5 each with a coupon. I bought the READ letters from Hobby Lobby and spray painted them. I stuck them to the wall with tacky stick.

Next up...this is my teacher's chair and student notebooks. My husband made the pillows for me. I bought the chair from Lowe's for $18. The 3 crates came for Walmart for $4 each. The basket (love!) came from Baskets of Africa. I bought the cubes from Target years ago for my son's room.

The journals are my students' Daily Digit calendar math journals. I wanted them to be in a central place in the classroom because we use them so much. This has turned out to be a great solution!

This is my Daily Digit calendar math display. I love how bright it turned out! The student clipboard are in a bucket I got from Bed, Bath and Beyond over the summer for a barbecue.

I love how these apple lanterns turned out for my classroom signs!  I got this idea from School Girl Style's Apple Theme Room.  I ordered the lanterns from Oriental Trading for about $30.  I cut out the leaves (at the top of the lantern) from construction paper and laminated them. I bought the chevron apple clip art set from Ashley Hughes for $2.50.

Storage Area - Before
Storage Area - After
Finally, I cleaned up my messy storage tubs (see the "before" photo) by investing in new tubs from Walmart. They were not cheap, at $11 each, and I needed a lot of them, but it was worth it! I made the labels out of a clip art set I bought from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs.

In case you missed some of my other classroom overhaul projects, here are some of the photos with links to my articles on how I made them. 

Thanks for taking a few minutes to look at my new classroom design!