Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Freebie: Self-Assessment Posters

A while back I shared this poster from my classroom:

Tonight, it reappeared on someone else's Pinterest board as I was browsing  diligently planning for the new school year, and it reminded me how much I hate the faded marker. So I made some new ones which are now available for free at my TpT store. (You can also click on the image below to get there.)

In the meantime, my classroom is really coming along! I'm so happy to have time to get organized this year. Settling in last year was such a mess...We were moving into a new school and only had 4 days to unpack and set up before the kids arrived. I was also 9 months pregnant and working in 90+ degree heat with unreliable air conditioning and elevator access for my 3rd floor classroom. It was insane! Then I was only there for 3 weeks before going on maternity leave, and by the time I got back, it was hard to make changes.

This year will be SO MUCH BETTER in that regard. I can already feel it, and I'm super excited about it.

I'll share more classroom pics next week. Have a great weekend!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

So it starts...

All of the teachers in my district report back to school next Wednesday. Yes, you read that correctly. NEXT WEDNESDAY! While I'm unquestionably excited about meeting a new bunch of 4th graders (27 of them, in fact, if my current roster holds...), there's a certain element of panic that comes with my final week of vacation. A panic that sounds like "What have I done with my summer?" or "Where did all the time go?" or "How in the world am I going to get my monstrous to do list done in time?!?!?!"

Along with that panic came my first visit back to my classroom this week. Here's how it looked when I arrived:
View from door

View from back corner
 It wasn't so bad. The floors are so happy and shiny, and most of the furniture was reasonably close to its original location. There were a couple of casualties, however. A bookshelf broke, and a large section of my classroom library was dumped into the blue recycling bin.

With a couple of hours of work and brainstorming and a little assistance from my friend down the hall, I was able to get it closer to the arrangement I'm planning to try this year.
View from door
The way that it's currently set up, I have 5 tables arranged for students to sit at and the sixth table is at the back corner to be used for small group work. With 27 students, however, that would mean having 5-6 kids assigned to each table, and I'm not sure how well that will work. I'm lobbying to get an additional table (where I'd put it is an entirely separate question...), but I'm not sure my lobbying efforts will be successful. I'll have to think more about this.

View from back corner
From this angle, you can see our class carpet/meeting space and my desk/work area. Since everything is still packed up, it looks so delightfully clutter-free. You can be certain that won't last...

Also from back corner
I'm trying something new this year in that I'm having a book case come out from the wall to make my classroom library more of a U-shape. I'm planning to cover the back of that bookcase with something, although I haven't entirely decided what yet. Probably something related to my class library book checkout or some other chart.

View from inside the classroom library space
My classroom looks a lot bigger than it feels from this angle...

View from my desk
I really love having those windows in my classroom, although our view won't be so great this year. They're going to be building a new wing onto our school, so my classroom will overlook a construction site. I'm sure that will be lovely and not at all distracting. Sigh...

So that's the bare-bones tour of my classroom space. My next back to school project will be to unpack and organize my classroom library. If you have any great suggestions or tips related to that, I'd love to hear them in the comment section!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Technology Tutorial: Adding Google Apps to your Google Site

This is week 3 in my summer series about building an awesome class website using Google Sites. Be sure to read Week 1 and Week 2 as well!

Part 5: Entering the World of Apps

As I'm sure you've guessed by now, I'm a big fan of Google, and I use Google Apps for everything. I have a gazillion different calendars that I use to track different things. I host almost all of the documents I use through Google Docs (now becoming Google Drive...). I use GMail, Google Reader, the list goes on... So one thing that I particularly like about my Google Site is that I can integrate many of those features into my class website. Today I'll share two examples -- my class calendar and a class form.

The Calendar Tool

One of the class tools that I feature on my website is a class calendar. I record every school event that I know of on this calendar (birthdays, curriculum nights, project due dates, tests, extra curricular practices, etc.). It helps keep me organized and it keeps the parents informed about what's going on. It's also helpful because anytime I make a change to my class calendar, it will automatically update on the website. Here's a preview of what my class calendar looks like on the website:

To get started, you'll need to have a Google Calendar already created. Then, click on the add page button.

You'll get a screen that looks like this. You won't need to change any of the settings.

Once your new page is created, go to Insert and choose Calendar. Find the name of your calendar, and that's it! It will automatically appear on your Google Site!

Google Forms

Adding a Google Form is also easy. First, you'll need to go into Google Drive and create a form. (If you don't know how to create a Google Form, there are lots of great examples and tutorials on the web!) Once your form is created, you can either add a new page to your Google Site like we did for the calendar, or insert the form into an existing page. To insert the form, click Insert > Spreadsheet Form and then choose the form you'd like to add from the list of your Google Forms. Once you're done, hit Save. Your form will now appear on the website as something like this: 

In the past, I've used Google Forms for student and parent surveys, data collecting, quizzes, and more. I'll share some specific examples of these tools in future posts, but I wanted to show you how easy it is to integrate some of the Google Apps into your website as you're building a Google Site.

What are some of the ways you could use calendars or Google Forms in your classroom? Please share your ideas in the comment section!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Grade 5 Interactive Word Wall is Done!

Just wanted to share that the 5th grade set of math vocabulary with QR codes is done and posted at my TpT store. Let me know if there are other sets that people would be interested in having!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Freebie - Interactive Word Wall Cards

I report back to school in about two weeks. Yes, you read that correctly...TWO WEEKS, people! Technically teachers have to be there on the 25th, but that's a Wednesday, and you know how it goes. Pre-planning isn't really for much of planning. It's for sitting through meetings, catching up with colleagues you haven't seen all summer, tracking down the garbage can that mysteriously vanished from your classroom when the room was cleaned...You know how it goes. So, I expect that I'll be there before the 25th, trying to get my room in some semblance of order while I still have the time to do so.

And while I haven't done anywhere near as much lesson planning this summer as I'd set out to do, my room is going to be cute this year, gosh darnit! Thank you, Pinterest... At least, I hope it is given how much time I've spent putting together new things to hang up in my classroom.

Today's addition to the classroom decor is my set of math vocabulary words for my interactive word wall.

The idea started when I had my students write geometry riddles based on the properties of different shapes and then attach the solutions on a QR code. My kids loved that, and I'd frequently find them wandering over to the display with their iPads to read the riddles and check the solutions. I figured if they were interested in working with that display, maybe they'd be interested in having an interactive word wall, too.

Thus, I set to work on making a set. I scoured the CCSS and various other curriculum docs to try to come up with a vocabulary list, and I found about 125 different terms for fourth grade. I was able to match most of them up with kid-friendly definitions and tutorials at the website Math is Fun. I turned those into QR codes, and voila -- my interactive word wall was born.

I decided to share the "Property" cards as my freebie today because a) those show up in many of the upper grade standards -- not just 4th grade, and b) I need help remembering which is which each year, so I know these could probably be helpful for a lot of students (and their teachers!). To get your copy, you can click on the image above, or click here. The definitions include the various properties for both multiplication and addition where applicable.

I'm selling the complete set of 4th grade cards over at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and I'm hoping to put together a set for 5th grade and maybe 3rd as well. I'm getting ready to head out on vacation in the next few days, however, so I make guarantees that they'll be done before I leave. I'm also thinking about making some for other subject areas as well -- I'm pretty excited about the possibilities.

Have a great weekend! Another tech tutorial will be coming soon!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...