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Angela Powell, Grade 3
Scotchtown Hills Elementary, Scotchtown, Maryland
Year-Round Bulletin Board
Here is our year-round bulletin board hanging in the hallway. Each child has one section and is responsible for selecting from his or her Friday Folder the paper that child is most proud of. The students write on a sticky note why they are so proud of their papers, and hang them up on the way out to the bus on Friday afternoon. This bulletin board changes weekly, requires about five minutes on the part of each child every Friday afternoon, and requires no work at all from the teacher, apart from the initial set up.
How to Hang Posters Over Windows
The window side of the room. On the left are the studentsí book bins (they keep the same one for a week, then rotate), dictionaries, and other books for students. I keep math manipulatives on the shelf. I hung yarn from the top of the blinds and hang posters from clothespins attached to the yarn. This took about an hour to do for 5 windows, but it was worth it. If you attach posters directly to the blinds, you canít open and close the blinds. This way, you can.
We participated in a Postcard Exchange project. It seemed really cool because each child chose a state and marked it on the map with a signed sticky note, then wrote to a school in that state (we arranged this through the web). When we got postcards back, I photocopied the back and hung both the picture side and letter side on the map. I would not recommend this project, though, because we got very few postcards back. The kids were very disappointed, and suggested that next year, my class should just exchange with one school to make sure that we got letters. I like that idea and am currently searching for another third grade class willing to exchange letters monthly. I may even do it with another school in our county because we can send the letters for free through inter-county mail. Another teacher did this and had great success- she felt that the kids really had a lot in common and related well to each other because of their proximity.
Seating Arrangement Chart
I use lamps everywhere in my classroom and as much natural light as possible. I only turn on the overhead, florescent lights if itís a very dark and rainy day, and they kids groan whenever I do! It is much more relaxing and homey without that harsh light. Most of my lamps cost less than $10, and some less than $5, from Ikea. Above the orange and blue lamps in the picture, you can see my seating chart. I rearrange desks constantly, and the easiest way to plan it out is to write each childís name on a stiff piece of paper or board, cut into a desk shape, and hook Velcro on the back. I move the Ďdesksí around on a scrap of felt, and when I feel like Iíve got a good arrangement, I hang it up. The book bins are numbered, and each bin also has a little Velcro piece so students can tell which book bin is theirs that week.
We are fortunate to have sinks with water fountains in our rooms! Students may get drinks 3 times a day from the classroom water fountain: when they arrive at school, after recess, and at the end of the day. (Of course, they also have milk or juice at breakfast and lunch). All students receive free breakfast each day through a grant from the Maryland Schools for Achievement. They believe that students learn better when they are well-fed and healthy. The little organizer you see in the picture holds our spoons, napkins, straws, etc. Students take their own breakfast and are responsible for cleaning it up, as well. Lunch is served in the cafeteria.
Bathroom Signs and Sign-In
This is the front of the room view, what the students see most of the time. If you scroll to the right a little, you'll see a little lime green sign at the top of the board says 'Independent Work- You may go to the bathroom with out asking'. The other side is red and says, "I'm Teaching'. Please do no go or ask to go to the bathroom". I used this a lot in the beginning of the year, when I was still training the students to understand appropriate and inappropriate times to go. I don't require my students to ask first, but since so many teachers do, the kids still ask a lot in the beginning of the year, and really aren't able to monitor when they shouldn't get up (such as when test directions are being given or buses are being called).
There is also a desk next to the bathroom door (not pictured here) which has the bathroom sign- in sheet on it. There are two columns, one for A.M. and one for P.M., and each student may sign in and use the bathroom twice a day. If they need to go more often, they can ask (the answer is always yes).
Meeting Place and Centers
This is the back of the room. Student book clubs would meet back here on the floor (the large chart had discussion tips, etc. on it). I also taught small group instruction for math back here- when an independent assignment was given, if any student still did not feel like she or he 'got it', they could sit in the back of the room and I would work a few more problems with them on the board. They thought this was a lot of fun, for some reason! You can also see one of the signs for my language arts centers. They are based on Howard Gardner's Multiple Intelligences. There is one on the side of my desk by the child- size desk, but the one you can most easily see here is "Art Smart". Each intelligence is renamed into kid language (that one is supposed to be visual- spatial intelligence). I got the signs from abcteach.com for free. I then made a center (or two, or three) for each intelligence as it related to language arts (spelling, word making, reading, writing, and so on). The kids love them and they only need 'updating' twice each school year (mostly adding more paper or photocopies to each one). Each center has a specific location in the room it should be used at (although I keep them altogether in a file box in the reading area). This way I know the students are spread out, and not in a place that will interfere with small groups or independent work.
Reading Rotation and Group Tools
On the far left is an overall- shaped pocket chart with various graphic organizers and book response prompts on index cards. Students often select from these for various assignments, copy the organizer into their journals, and then return the index card to the pocket chart. Next to the pocket chart are our reading rotation magnets. I created them so that each child would know whether to go to small group, book club, independent work, or S.S.R. (Sustained Silent Reading) during each rotation, but I found that with third graders, this really is not necessary. After awhile, I just called out the jobs and the names of the students who would be in each place, and they did well with that. I kept track on my clipboard instead. This was important because I don't have fixed reading groups- they change with the skill. Some kids are fluent readers but don't comprehend; some lack phonics skills but have great expression, and so on, so I don't think rigid groupings fit their needs. I also like mixing up the kids because that way no one feels like they are in "The Slow Group" or "The Fast Group".
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