Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Procedures, Procedures, Proceures

I only took one year off from teaching, but it was long enough to forget how tedious it is to teach and practice procedures at the beginning of school. I know everything will fall into place one of these days, and we'll be on a roll by...well...maybe by Christmas.

We set up our Interactive Notebooks this week...not a task for the faint of heart. I don't color my hair, but I'm pretty sure I'll have to pay to cover up the gray by the end of the year. Anyway, here's how I decided to go about it.

 This is our bookcase of S.T.A.R. Notebooks. I started with the printables and ideas from A Teacher's Treasure. I've had the training to use Interactive Notebooks in science and social studies, and I loved using them in those subjects. But I wasn't sure how to begin with a language arts IN. The Teacher's Treasure blog helped me a TON! I'm using her S.T.A.R. tittle because I love what it stands for - Students Taking Academic Responsibility. That is our goal, after all!
I used the title page printable as a cover. Next time, I'll change "Grade" to "Class Period." I only have one grade level, but six different class periods. This is my Master S.T.A.R. book that kids can use as a reference if they get behind.
I tweaked the rubric to fit my class. The first section is for bell ringer and exit slip activities. I call them Hooks and Sinkers. There is one Hook and Sinker page per day - Hook goes on the top half and Sinker on the bottom.

We just did the main Unit Lessons section yesterday, and I don't have pictures yet. I'll post them next week.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Seating Charts

Before I get to the seating chart saga, here is a picture of the Respect bulletin board that I made from the activity in the last post.

And here's a shot of my completed F.Y.I board at the front of the room. I made the agenda poster with printable weekday labels from Lesson Plan SOS. They were small, so I printed them at 150%. So cute!

Okay, now for the seating chart drama. I never can decide the best way to go about doing seating charts. I've used the old-fashioned paper and pencil, the high-tech automatic chart maker with the kids' pictures, and everything in between. I loved the program we had when I taught in another district, but there is nothing like that here. SO, after much trial and error last night, I finally found a couple of good programs.

The first one is Happy Class. It's very sleek and modern - like the Instagram of seating charts. It even lets you designate which students shouldn't sit together! You can create one class for free, which I did. It was easy to use, and I was JUST about to pay the $15/year to add my other five classes. But then I printed the chart and discovered that the printout doesn't have the cute little desk icons that are on the screen. It just prints the students' names. I can get that for free on...

Instant Classroom from Super Teacher Tools. Sure, they have annoying ads, and the design isn't as alluring as Happy Class...but it's free. I was able to copy and paste the kids' names from the Excel docs I created, so setting up the classes was super easy! Now I can rearrange all six classes to my heart's content AND put the kids into groups with the Group Maker tool. I'm happy.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Week One Activities

The first few days of school are always a little crazy...okay, a LOT crazy...but it's such an exciting time of year! I'm teaching sixth grade English at a middle school this year, which is something I haven't done in a few years. It's kind of like riding a bicycle...or falling off a bicycle. I can't decide which.

Much of my time this week has been devoted to gathering supplies, learning names, and assuring terrified sixth graders that the eight graders don't roam the halls looking for their next victims (usually). Somewhere in all of that, I have managed to get fit in a couple of activities that I want to remember for next year.

All About Me T-Shirts

 This activity is adapted from the TRIBES program. Center: Name with alliterative adjective. Left arm: A hobby, sport, or activity that interests you. Right arm: A person you respect and admire. (This girl represented her aunt with a drawing of an ant...pretty creative!) Left bottom: A place you'd like to visit - real or imagined. Right bottom: Your greatest wish or dream.

I have clothesline and clothespins to hang these in my classroom. I'll post a picture when I finish the project, but don't sit by your computer waiting for that post to appear anytime soon. I can be slow with classroom decoration projects!


I was SUPER tired after school today and didn't have the patience to get a good picture of this. The white board is divided into four sections (or WAS divided into sections before a bunch of little fingers erased the lines) that represent Who/What, When, Where, and Why we show respect at school. The kids got in groups of four and decided what specific examples they could put on their post-it notes. The notes say things like:

Respect for other students.
Not pushing in the hallway.

Respect for school property.
Being careful with the textbooks.

Respect at lunchtime.
Cleaning up our own mess.

Respect in the bathrooms.
Not writing on the walls.

Respect for teachers.
Because they're trying to teach us something.

I took the notes off the board and kept the best ones. I'll put them on a permanent RESPECT bulletin board next week. Picture to be posted when I finish...