things i love in my classroom

Monday, February 23, 2015

I know every teacher has things they swear by in their classroom. As I prepped for my maternity leave, I thought I'd share some of the things I absolutely love in my classroom. These are tried-and-true, and while I'm sure the exact same thing could look different in someone else's class, this is simply how I have used it. If you use any of the same resources, I'd love to hear your experiences with it in the comments! I'm always looking for ways to make what works work even better. 

Daily 5:

Being pregnant, taking 6 weeks of maternity leave, and being pregnant had me sure that I wanted my class to be independent. Did I mention being pregnant? I needed them to be able to work by themselves and stay on task for a given amount of time. I didn't use Daily 5 last year, but have absolutely loved it this year! We worked into it slowly and have had to take a couple of times to step back and retrain since the beginning of the year, but it's been so worth the time put into it. My class absolutely loves it, and we actually use it twice a day: once right after reading for 30 minutes, and once at the end of the day during grade level interventions for another 30 minutes. They are so good at it, I had another 2nd grade teacher come in to observe how Daily 5 looks in my classroom, and both my instructional coach and principal were really impressed with how well they do with it! I give my kids the credit, because I know full well next year, I could do everything the same and it could be a hot mess. ;)

I start my kiddos off by putting "must do's" on the board in the order they need to be completed and where to put it when it's done. Last is always Daily 5. I want to make sure my kids have additional time to finish writing, reading, or math before going into centers. This also helps keep questions at a minimum so that I can work with a small group without being interrupted about where something goes or what to do next. Generally, I give my class about 15 minutes per center. They each have a laminated Daily 5 Checklist and Rubric that they mark off with a  vis-a-vis marker what their choices of the day were. They can go to each center only twice in the week and are accountable for their choices. They simply cross of their choice and then go to the center. At the end of the week, they evaluate themselves on how they think they did at each center based on a 3-2-1 scale. It's simply for our conversation of what they can do better the next week and how I can help!

For those who aren't sure what Daily 5 is, there are lots of great resources. I'm by no means an expert, I just made it work for my classroom and kiddos. There are lots of ways I can improve it. Like writing and word work... Those are going to need to be revamped and well prepped before my maternity leave so they function well while I'm gone! Overall, it works for us and I love their independence in it.

Here are some of my favorite resources I use for Daily 5:

scholastic & teachers pay teachers -- gotta love it.

Scholastic Book Orders:

I have a wide range of reading levels within my classroom this year, from students reading at a 7th grade level to others at pre-primer. One of the things I really wanted to get rolling this semester was better at pulling small groups and challenging my high readers. I knew I wanted to do book studies with them so that they remained engaged and worked on their comprehension within plot lines. Have you ever tried to order 5 copies of one book though? It can easily add up, no matter where you're ordering from. Times that by 3 and it was going to get expensive. Cue the Scholastic book order forms. I have been so thankful for book orders from parents! I just recently told parents that I needed to submit an order for our classroom, and if they wanted to order anything, it was free shipping. I gave them 5 days to order within (I usually give 2-3 weeks when I send home their monthly catalogs), and this time had over $100 worth of parent orders. Because of this, I was able to order 5 copies of Fudge-a-Mania, 5 copies of Magic Treehouse: Stallion by Starlight, 5 copies of Magic Treehouse: Midnight on the Moon, 2 copies of Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew, 1 copy of Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, and 1 copy of Second Grade is Super: Snowball Trouble (for our class library). Oh, and did I mention it was all for free?! I'm beyond excited for it to come in so we can get started on our reading groups!

I also keep a running log of listening center books for Daily 5 so that I can have multiple copies of the book for them to read along with. Whenever I can find Black Lagoon books, I also buy a copy or two because my class loves them this year!

Teachers Pay Teachers:

Such a lifesaver for supplemental materials in every area you could possibly imagine. I use a lot of their free downloads, but have purchased several packages that are incredible. From novel studies for The Magician's Nephew, Fudge-a-Mania, and Midnight on the Moon to get my three above grade level reading groups through my maternity leave, to science journal activities. I still think my most used (and loved) is the 2nd grade common core morning work unit I purchased this summer. Since the first bell rings at 8:55am and the students can begin coming in until 9:15am when the day actually starts, this is heaven sent! It gives them something to do, is totally academic, and even tells which standards it hits in each little box. I have a master copy that is in page protectors and just keep note in my planner where we're at (since short weeks threw us off the Day 1 = Monday concept). 

sharp/unsharp pencil buckets

First of all, thank you Target dollar section for your endless supply of cute buckets. Second of all, why are pencils such an issue with second graders?! My goodness. My original goal was to do a pencil challenge with my class. They would start Monday off with 5 sharp pencils (which could be resharpened at any point) and if they had at least 5 on Friday, they were awarded dojo points. I think we did this for like a month. The upkeep of pencils was too much, as well as kids started becoming more concerned about snatching pencils off the ground than listening to the lessons. Now, they all have 1 pencil in their desk and when they need a sharp one, they go get one but must put their dull one in the other bucket to be sharpened by myself. 

class dojo

Ah-maz-ing. Last year, I had a lot of issues with communication with parents. I also wasn't a fan of the "green, yellow, red" system for behavior because does 30 seconds of talking while I'm talking really equate to a yellow day? What about the other 6 hours they were with me? This year, I implement class dojo and it's been incredible. It took some getting used to for the parents, as they saw every redirection (or red dojo point) as a bad day. I explained that no, it was simply a moment of redirection after I reminded their child of what they should be doing, and they didn't correct the behavior. It's so much more detailed than "green, yellow, red" and has a messaging system built in so I can communicate so much easier with parents. It also has a time stamp when the parents read my messages, which is great on my end! ;) My class works towards eating lunch with me when they hit 100 dojo points, which they love. Every now and then, I'll even buy them a pizza lunch which they freak out for! 

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