Tuesday, August 28, 2012

My Classroom

YES! First two days of school are done! I'm exhausted, my feet hurts and I need a nap but other than all THAT it has been AWESOME! The kids have been great and everyone I work with has had such a positive attitude. I just wanted to put a couple pictures of my finished classroom for everyone before I pass out of exhaustion.

Weekly agenda board- Students come in and write the assignment in their personal agenda so they can keep track of assignments.

Student work area- It is kind of hard to see but I just took clothes pins and super glued thumb tacks to the back of them. Stole this off of Pinterest and now I won't have to spend millions of years putting up and taking down work. GENIUS!

Student Seating

Early Finisher Board- If students finish assignments early they can go to the Tic Tac Toe board and do an assignment. I've chosen assignments that are "fun" but come from other subject areas, such as fun readings, math puzzles and cool writing prompts. Three in a row assignments completed the student gets to drop their lowest daily grade.

Entering the classroom 

Teach nook

The whole classroom

My mini class library

Seating arrangements-  When students come in the first day I had them a card from an identical deck as the one I taped down to the desk. This year I went a little more fun with the cards and got puppy cards! But this way I am not stressing out about putting kids in alphabetical order but I can still give them a seating chart. I love this!

I hope all you teachers out there are having a fabulous start to your school year!

Bed time! =)

"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You're on your own, and you know what you know. And you are the guy who'll decide where to go."-Dr. Seuss

Mrs. C

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Classroom Ideas

Good morning!

Sorry it has been so long since my last post. I've been off visiting folks before the kiddos come back and I am swamped. But, anyways, in my traveling around I got to visit a couple different school and several classrooms looking for good ideas I saw to share. I decided to focus on things that are probably a good idea to have set up BEFORE the first day of school so you can have the kids practice your procedure. Here we go!

Seating Arrangements:

 There are a million different ways to start off your year; in rows, in groups, in semi-groups. Whatever works best for you. Just a few questions to ask... Can everyone easily see the board? Can everyone easily see you? Can you get from point A to point B in the smallest amount of steps to detour bad behavior? Sweet.


Nothing is worse than I kid coming in a sitting all hour, an administrator comes in and asks them what they have been doing in class and the kid says "I don't know". WHAT?! You've been sitting in my class for 30 minutes!? At least if there is a ready agenda posted somewhere around the classroom and you refer to it often maybe the kid could fake it. ;-) Just kidding, but these are really great to have already posted for the week so not only do the kids know where they are going but also it reminds you to stay on task.

Turn in baskets

 My mentor teacher preached to me about these tower shelves (which means of course I haven't gotten any yet) but these two teachers do. I've heard it is really nice due to the fact everything is in a nice neat pile when you go to pick up papers to grade. P.S. the one on the right is my brother's classroom that I made as girly as humanly possible, thanks Bubs!

Expectations/Procedures Posted:

Hand made, store bought, white, bright, it does not matter. What does matter is having visual reminders for the students that you can point back to whenever they "forgot" a procedure. I wish you could see the bottom two better: The one on the left is his procedure for making up classwork. The one on the right, in the picture frame, is the coming in tardy procedure.

Grading/Make Up Work

The students need to know their grades and as a teacher you don't want to hear "What did we do on Monday, again?" every single day. So, teachers come up with ways to make make up work, grades and no name papers accessible to our not-always-responsible darlings. The top two pictures are pretty cool and I'm sad my picture didn't come out that well. But they both make 30 or so extra copies of that days assignment and put it in the folder/pockets and it is the students job if they miss to go get it. Awesome idea!

A little bit of Flare!

No one wants to start off the year staring at a blank roomed wall with no personality. You don't want to over do it because it could become distracting but adding a few fun things tells the kids "We're gonna work and its going to be tough BUT I'm kinda fun once you get to know me!"
P.S. I am in LOVE with the Hunger Game sign because I am a huge nerd! =)

I would like to wish everyone luck on their first couple weeks on school! I don't have students until the 27th and have work week all this next week so I will continue to post classroom pictures... Get. excited.

"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot. Nothing is going to get better. Its not."- Dr. Seuss

Mrs. Callahan <3

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Learning Stations Planning

I met with my principal last year and had a chat about why science scores were so low. "Vocabulary" I said. In a school where about 80% (last numbers I could find) of the students are Hispanic and most of those students speaking Spanish at home, in the hallways and in class if not prompted otherwise, its no wonder why we are having such difficulty. Science is a extremely vocabulary heavy subject. If you don't know what a "substance" is in English then that whole unit is pretty much sunk.

I tell you that, to tell you this. I met with a mentor about this very problem and she had told me she had been doing research about why elementary schools were much more successful, number wise, to the middle grades. Stations. Centers. Small group activities. It gives the teacher the chance to work in a small group of students, and not only get to know their strengths and weakness, but help improve their knowledge base. And after all, that is what we as teachers are suppose to be doing.

Next step, meet with my really good friend who taught ELA at our school. She had in my opinion successful implemented Literacy Stations in her class. Where not all of what she was doing would apply to my Science content most of it could work in building Science content literacy. So, last year during the second semester I implemented my first station unit.

The stations included:
-Vocabulary Station (vocabulary word mapping)
-Corresponding Station (pick a prompt and write me a letter about the unit topic)
-Browsing Bin Station (read a book that has to do with the unit and write an observation sheet)
-Question Creation Station (create a 5 question quiz based on the unit and Blooms Taxonomy)
-Quia Station (computer program that you can upload quizzes, games etc. that go with your unit. Check it out www.quia.com.)
-Visualization- (read a unit based article, draw a picture)

Later I added things like an Investigation Station and a Cornell Note Station.

After doing this a couple more times, researching a little bit more and some planning I have created stations for next years class.

2012-2013 Learning Centers
-Visualization- Will have some drawing based on the unit
-Vocabulary- Students will be working on their unit vocabulary word maps
-Correspondence- Pick a prompt, write a letter to Mrs. C
-Investigation- Do some lab based on the current unit. This is the best time for me to get in there and facilitate their learning
-Reading- Read an unit article and fill out an observation sheet
-Organization- Create and fill out some sort of graphic organizer for the unit (types of measurements, compare and contrast elements and compounds, etc)
-Numbers- My shout out to the Math Dept! Have them work on something related to mathematics (calculating density, measuring, figuring out electrons, protons, neutrons, etc.)
-Research- There are so many awesome websites out there and due to my access to computers I have the students find their own knowledge.

1) You MUST have classroom management to work. You students must be able to come in and know it is work time. I made that mistake the first couple run through of just letting a couple students sit there and lo and behold they knew nothing come test time.

2) This is a LOT of grading! In a perfect practice world, you are to grade their work that night and have them look over it before starting the next day so they can clear up any misconceptions before continuing. It is tiresome.

3) This is a LOT of planning! The first couple time I set this up it took me 3-4 hours.

Once I figure out how to turn all my organizational signs into a compatible version for the blog I will re post on how to set up these things!

"Differentiate the teaching strategies you use. Perhaps the most powerful principle of DI (differentiated instruction) is using different instructional strategies to reach diverse learners... Centers/Station- Students visit or rotate to different centers to accomplish varied learning tasks."- Kagan Publishing

Mrs. Callahan

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Classroom Shopping

It is that amazing time of the year again when I get to spend money and my husband acts confused on why. For the sake of my relationship, I try to spend under $100 getting my classroom ready. I usually go to places like Hobby Lobby (I like to be artsy), Dollar Tree, and HEB (a local grocery store with awesome deals). I went shopping yesterday and here is the estimated break down of my purchases. (Keep in mind art materials such as markers, glue, colored pencils etc. are provided by my science department and I don't usually buy them on my own).

-Green and Orange plastic bins
-Composition notebooks
-Multicolored bin
Estimated: $40

Hobby Looby:
-Green Paper Latterns
-Table cloths
-Paint brushes
-Wooden board
Estimated: $35

Dollar Tree:
-Picture Frames
Estimated: $6

I love this part of setting up my room!

Mrs. Callahan