Saturday, August 27, 2016

Classroom Reveal 2016-17

I feel like I birthed a child or completed some sort of Olympic sport: "Back to School Back Injury Backflips". 

I'll save you my medical drama but to make a long story short... apparently we have these things called SI joints and I slipped mine and the pain is right up there with childbirth (I kid you not) so setting up my classroom with a slipped out SI joint has involved: chiropractor visits, doctor appointments, physical therapy, wine (not in the home, silly) ibuprofen, lumbar pillows, exercises, swearing, and Vicodin and not necessarily in that order.

It has also involved WWE wrestling. Yes, you read that correctly.

In order to get some work done I had to bribe convince my 10 year old it was a great idea to come to my school to help. So....watching his favorite....WWE on the big screen with fast food and milkshakes was a winner! 

Yup...parenting at it's finest right there.

Oh the things we do to get things done.....

Well...let's back up and pretend that never happened. 

So here is the entrance to my classroom from the hallway.

Black and bright colored word wall with ribbon

And this is my word wall. I'm a bit worried about fitting all the words on it looks cute so....I'll worry about that later. I did have to move the banner letters down because my buddy the fire marshall..... yeaaaaa.....

Whole Brain Teaching Classroom rules posters in Black and White Brights and Clutter-Free Classroom Hand Signals

At the front of the classroom, where we have our rug and our morning meeting, I have our classroom rules (based on Whole Brain teaching) and our hand signals. The hand signals are from Clutter-Free Classroom's Classroom Management Bundle which is amazing! If you don't already own it, I highly recommend it for new and veteran teachers alike.

I love, love, love these Alphabet Photo Cards from Adventures in Kindergarten that I use every year for my alphabet.  Since we use Fundations in my district, I love the authentic photos that correlate with the program but are, as I said....authentic.  I also love those Be an Expert books that are hanging from my easel (Be a Reading Expert and the other is Be a Writing Expert) by A Year of Many Firsts. She is pretty much my teacher crush so basically almost everything in my classroom (other than district curriculum and my own work, is hers).

I'm pretty spoiled to have these cubbies in my classroom which I use to have students store markers, colored pencils, and their ongoing work. Aren't those numbered labels by Ladybug's Teacher Files the cutest things ever?  They are free in her store. I used them last year too because they are too cute to resist.  I hang headphones that my students use for the iPads off the side of the shelf on Command hooks because...well honestly....because I just can't handle earbuds. They got lost, they get tangled, and don't even get me started on the earwax. I just gagged a little...

Black and White Brights Classroom Decor Set

Does your school have a "bathroom policy?"  We can only send one child of each sex to the bathroom at a time so I have students sign out on a clipboard when they leave, but I'm going to keep it real here. It gets busy and sometimes I forget that I just let Jake leave to go to the bathroom when Jason asks to go. So I ask the kids to turn the boys/girls pass over before they leave the room. When they return, they flip it back to the front as it is shown here. That way, when I am across the room, I can tell at a quick glance if there is a boy or a girl in the bathroom down the hall at that moment.  The hallway poem is part of my Classroom D├ęcor: Black and White Brights resource.

Students use baskets as mailboxes to organize their paperwork to send home each day.

The Melonheadz kidlettes on my closet doors just crack me right up. I mean can you not look at these and not smile?  That's why they are there!  :)

The kiddos are VERY lucky to have their cubbies in the classroom and I am a stickler about them keeping their areas clean.  We do a lot of modeling about the cubbies and the space around them and what they should look like.  It is not a walk in the closet.  What if everybody did that? Sound familiar? The blue/green baskets serve as their mailboxes.  At the end of the day in a Responsive Classroom approach, students collect their mail and any completed work that they did for the day and put it in their basket, take it back to their table and place it in their folder to take home.

They follow this system that I keep posted on the SMARTboard to remind them.

It's FREE in my store if you would like to grab it here.

Post/Display your expectations for classroom routines with this FREEBIE.  Great for students who need the visual reminders

Guided reading table with Wall Pops helps to identify student space and they serve as dry erase boards when used with wipe-off markers. Bins behind the table hold materials needed for each guided reading group

This is my guided reading spot. Although my district has shifted to a balanced literacy approach (Lucy Caulkin's reader's workshop style) I still meet with groups of students for guided reading.  I love the wall pops that define table space and we also use as dry erase boards with wipe-off markers.

I bought a white shelf from Ikea a few years ago and I used it as a window seat last year. But it was a little too high for some of my first graders to climb up on.

And it had a little makeover because it used to look like this: 

Believe it or not, last year I thought this was the cutest thing ever. This's NOT.  It drove me nuts that the bins don't match.

So I bought some bins from IKEA that all matched and now...

These bins from IKEA make the perfect organizational tool for organizing materials needed for each guided reading group.

Would you look at that?!  I feel all professional and everything.  And every time I look at them I smile.  It's the little things, right? I am going to use the bins to store the ongoing work I have going on with the groups I meet with for guided reading.

A classroom llibrary should be a warm and invited space for students with books at varying level, clearly marked and labled and accessible to all students
"Your classroom library holds a lot of power. It sends a strong message to the readers in your classroom, and it should convey that reading is important and that books are to be celebrated, treasured and enjoyed" (Calkins, 2015)

A classroom llibrary should be a warm and invited space for students with books at varying level, clearly marked and labled and accessible to all students

I LOVE Mo Willems and have so much respect for him as an author. No other author has helped my students to become a reader more than Mo Willems so it seemed only natural that I share my collection of his books with the students. They love them as much as I do and almost every student book box is filled with at least one Mo Willems book each year.

A classroom llibrary should be a warm and invited space for students with books at varying level, clearly marked and labled and accessible to all students

I have decided to display our brag tags/badges this year.

Display brag tags in a pocket chart for easy accessibility and viewing. Students can hang and display their brag tags when they are not wearing them by their student number

To do so, I used Whimsy Clips Kids with Stars clipart to hang the badges with pushpins.  Each kid with a star is labeled with a student number.  All of my brag tags are displayed in the pocket chart for easy organization and for students to see what they can earn.

Good writers follow a checklist to make sure they have included everything that good writers do when they are writing and editing

The Writing Checklist by One Sharp Bunch by Ashley Sharp on the left of the bulletin board is fantastic and I use it every year as I introduce each concept during writer's workshop. We reference it all year as we work on our writing.  Did you use lowercase letters? Did you use fingerspaces and so on?  The writing pencil "What do Writer's Write?" is by The Teacher Wife.

So this is it...
Table bins help students to organize supplies needed for daily lessons to maximize instruction and cut down on transitional time
My home away from home.

And where I'll be spending A LOT of time, love, laughter, and tears the next 10 months. 

So here it goes...year 25....

Saturday, August 20, 2016

When Students Won't Transition Back With The Class

How to get students to transition back to class after dysregulation

In last week's post , I asked if the emotional needs of your students are taking away from your instructional time. And WOAH!  Sooo many of you reached out to me on social media to share your stories.
I shared how I use this guy..
How to a classroom pet to help student self-regulate.
in my classroom as our class pet to help my students self-regulate and relax.

He has become a trusted friend and companion. He is read to, petted, walked and very well-loved.  He has built a community of trust, love, and companionship in our classroom family.

Charlie, as we call him, when he's not being held or begging for someone's snack or read to, sleeps in his dog bed in our classroom library.  This is also a part of our classroom that a student may use if they need to in order to self-regulate. 

Over the years, I have seen an increase in anxiety in my students (both diagnosed and undiagnosed). So much so, that it has taken away valuable instructional time away. 

Having a small area of the classroom with a "therapy dog", which to us is what Charlie is,in every sense of the word, has changed my teaching practices and my classroom management forever and I will never, ever turn back.

Click on the pictures to go to the original posts to  learn more....

How to a classroom pet to help student self-regulate.
Charlie has with him some calming tools and techniques to help those that need it.  Here's an example:

Strategies to help students self regulate in the classroom.

Strategies to help students self regulate in the classroom.

I have been asked some questions about using a classroom pet in the classroom...

"So what happens when a student goes to use the area?  Do you limit the time?

Answer:  I set a timer for 10 minutes. I use a timer like this

this way the student can see how much time they have left and there are no surprises. You can find this timer on Amazon.

"What happens when they don't want to leave after the timer goes off?"

Answer: This is not really a negotiable for me.  One trick that works really well is that even if I have to switch up a lesson I am currently in the middle of to make it a bit more engaging or fun I will do it to make it more appealing to the friend using the take a break area. I give the child the verbal warning if he/she does not heed the timer, then I walk away and return to the class.  I am not entirely changing my lesson for this one student, but if I add it a catchy tune, pop in Brainpop Jr. that correlates with the lesson at hand, send the students to to the table to "draw their thinking", etc, send them to their table with a piece of playdough to mold, or sculpt the word we are blending, etc that fits into the lesson. Basically, whatever may be motivational to the student that is not entirely taking my lesson completely off task that would be beneficial to the remainder of the class anyways....I'll do it. 

"I can't think on my feet that quick. Any other suggestions?"

Answer: I walk around with an apron that I bought off Amazon. You can find it here and I'm in love with it.  I keep pens, pencils, paper clips, sharpies, post its, band name it in it.  I don't have to make 4.5 million trips to my desk. Because I KNOW you know what I mean! 

I also keep a good handful of brag tags/badges in here.  Let me just tell you...

Do you use you brag tags?

Life changing, people!  Life changing! Who would have thought that these little pieces of paper could rock the worlds of these little darlings? BUT....they do!

So if you reach into the trusty apron and you start passing out badges for those that are showing on-task behavior and start issuing out some verbal praise as you do it ... "Oh Sarah, I just love how you are sitting so responsibly at the table."  Sitting at the table responsibly is a reasonable goal. Even Johnny who is in the take a break area is capable of sitting at the table responsibly. Notice how I didn't say "Oh Sarah, you have written a wonderful paper here."  Perhaps Johnny's behavior was triggered by academic failure. If so, the goal is to get him back to the table, and THEN he can be supported appropriately, but he can't be supported academically when he is in the take a break area. That was a brief calm down time. Now it's time to get to work.

"What if a student needs longer than 10 minutes?"

Answer: This is a great question and it very well could be a need. I think you need to use your discretion on this one. It varies from student to student. I highly recommend 10 minutes being the goal with gradual transition back to the task at hand if the student is having trouble returning. Some ways that you can do that are to encourage the student to participate in what the class is doing but perhaps in their own spot. If you use flexible seating in your classroom, this student may keep themselves fairly segregated as they continue to learn to regulate. If you don't use flexible seating, consider transitioning the student out of the take a break area and into a defined working space that is still separate if needed.

"Are there consequences? This seems like a reward."

Answer:  Fair isn't everyone getting the same thing. Fair is everyone getting what they need to be successful. In our classroom, this option is open to everyone. I do ask students to complete some kind of reflection sheet so that there is some self-awareness and learning to be had from the experience.

Can more than one student use the Peaceful Pet Place at a time?

Answer: No.  In order for a student to effectively have calm time they need the area to themselves.

Is the area just for when students are NOT doing the right thing?

Answer: Absolutely not! In fact, I can't believe I forgot to mention this....Charlie gets lots of visits from friends who are eager to read to hear, tell him about their weekend, tell him about their lost tooth and more.  Many students write him letters. They leave the letters in his mailbox.  Yes, Charlie has a mailbox.

"Since the Peaceful Pet Place is in your Library area, what do you do if a student needs to use that area but other students are using it as a library?"

Answer: This is another great question!  Luckily, since Charlie is stuffed (sshh, don't tell) he and his dog bed are very light. I can move him and his dog bed and the bin holding his toys and calming supplies very easily to another quiet location in the room. In fact, I have done that as needed. This also lets the student know we will not allow their off task behavior to create a class wide disruption.  We are hard at work and busy learning. 

When I thought about how much having a dog has changed my life and the life of my 3 special needs boys in my home....

I knew I had to have a dog in my classroom too. Charlie is in every way, a real dog to us. And we treat him that way in Room D156. We love him very much and I suspect...he loves us too....

Life is good.

Pin for Later:

An informative & helpful blog post for kindergarten, first, second, third, fourth grade classroom teachers. When students become dysregulated and need a quiet space in the classroom or need to transtion out of the classroom, how to help students transition back to class peacefully to gain back your instructional time. Having a designated quiet spot in the classroom for students who need to self-regulate is beneficial for classroom management for all students, especially special needs students {K, 1st, 2nd, 3rd grade, SPED, behavior modification}