Thursday, September 20, 2012

Word Wall Idea with a FREEBIE :)

So, I've always gone back and forth about using a word wall in fourth grade. What is the best way to use it? What will make my students use it as a resource?

A few years ago I made a priority word was by alphabet letter. In doing that, I realized only my very low kids utilized the board while the rest of my kids didn't need it. Now, I have Quick Word personal dictionaries for my struggling spellers, so a priority world wall is obsolete.

Last year we read The Boy Who Loved Words. After reading the story we made a list of all the neat words Selig (the boy in the story) used in the book. We wrote them on large index cards with the definitions and posted them on "Selig's Word Wall". I then had students look for interesting words in their own books and create word cards. It worked well in the beginning, but then the wall became overwhelmingly full and crazy.  It was a neat activity, but not for a whole year word wall.

So, this year I was trying to find a new idea for a word wall. Then, a lovely friend of mine gave me the idea to do a word wall using parts of speech. Every year I do mini-lessons reminding my kiddos the meanings and uses for the parts of speech, so this really fits into our state standards. The best part about it that it made it a part of our every day learning.

Here are some pictures of the wall:

I created bright neon circles the have the parts of speech. I did that to match all of the Bright and Clear Decor created by Kristin and Ladybug's Teacher Files (they have to match of course!) As we go through the year and I introduce new vocabulary words, we'll talk about the different parts of speech and where each word belongs. I color-coded the types so that I can use colored sentence strips to write each word. I made preposition, interjection, pronouns, and conjunctions smaller and all the same color because there are a limited about of words that will be in each of those sections. 

Click the picture to download your free copy: 

How do you use word walls in your classroom?

Monday, September 17, 2012

Jackpot! Super find :) and Word Study

Who doesn't love a good deal? I know I do, especially when I can save money buying stuff for my classroom.
A lovely coworker of mine told me this morning Target had many of their school supplies on clearance. Um, clearance is my middle name. Clearance is my calling. Of course I had to go. Plus, I needed some more notebooks for Daily 5 as well as Word Work.

And guess what? 70% off, that's what. There was a clearance section tucked back behind the seasonal costumes and it was FILLED with notebooks. I got a notebook for each of my students to use for note-taking, as well as a composition book for each student to use for Words Their Way word study. They came out to $.22 each! That's $11 for 50 notebooks. That is what I call a mega steal.

I was especially excited because we are starting word study tomorrow. We will be doing practice sorts for the rest of the week using picture sorts as examples. I really wanted to have the notebooks for the first day, but didn't want to spend $.50/each (the cheapest I could find until today).

Next week we will be getting full swing into word study. I already gave the spelling assessment and split my kiddos into groups. I am starting with three groups this year, a number I've found to me the most manageable. Last year I had a hard time keeping all of my materials organized, so this year I am trying an idea I heard from a co-teacher.

First, I got a large binder (mine is 3"). Then, I bought page protectors from staples. I am going to copy the lessons for my group by color (this helps especially for kiddos who are prone to losing their word sorts). I will put the copies of each word sort into the page protectors. The lessons will get copied and put into the binder before the sorts. This way I have easy access to the lessons as well as word sort copies. I usually make extra of each word sort just in case. A bonus of doing it this way is I know exactly where to find copies of old sorts as I will be keeping the extras in the page protectors.
I will keep all of the sorts and lesson in the binder so I have everything at my fingertips for all of my groups.
One thing I did last year that I will repeat is using baggies for keeping word sorts safe in desks. I took snack sized baggies and stapled them into the front cover of their notebooks. I did this by opening the baggie and stapling only one side. This way they can open their baggie all the way.

Below is the schedule I am planning to use so my groups know what the expectation is for them each day. We run on a six-day cycle, which is reflected in the schedule. I will work on a rotating schedule so that I will only be meeting with one group a day (every other day, in fact) during one of our daily 5 blocks. I split up the activities over the six days so they would have a variety of activities over the week.

The Word Rock game is from Ladybug's Teacher Files. I will also be using her Word Pattern Playlist for students to record new words that fit their pattern. The Value Words game is from Go Fourth! With Mrs. Owens. For cursive practice, I bought small whiteboards from the dollar section at Target and skinny white board markers. I put them into a basket so my students can practice writing their word study words in cursive (they just love it SO much!). For word stamps, I bought some letter stamps from the Lakeshore Learning. My kiddos can stamp their words into their word study notebook. I bought some different colored stamp pads so they could even make the words rainbow.

I am hoping for a smooth start to our word study journey this year, but you know what they say about the best laid plans. I'm curious as to how other people organize and set up their word study. 
What works for you?

Monday, September 10, 2012

Back to School Night

Well, I survived my first back to school night at my new school. I had so many parents this year. I suppose they all wanted to meet the new teacher.
One of my new teammates this year had a fun idea for decorating the desks. She had her kids in the past make a life-sized cut out of themselves, color them, cute them out, and tape them into their seats. So, I decided to do it this year as it sounded like a fun idea. Now, you may be thinking, "How do I fit this in?" I was thinking that too, but then I realized it would be a great beginning of the year team building activity. I assigned partners randomly (girls with girls and boy with boys so they would all be comfortable) and they had to work together to create their cut-outs. Partners traced each other and helped color each other's body.
Watching them work together for the first time gave me a lot of insight as to what kinds of personalities I have in my classroom. Some of them, of course, were a lot better at it than others. Also, it allowed me to make a mental list of things we could talk about in future class meetings during the year.
Here are some pictures:

Some of their heads kept falling over, so I had to tape rulers to the back of them to make them stand up.

Here is where I always get stuck though ...  what to give the parents when they arrive? 
There is so much information I could give them, but I only had 40 minutes. I decided to do a quick PP presentation that was an overview of expectations, discipline/positive behavior support, and curriculum. I spent the majority of my time explaining class meetings, the Daily 5, and Words Their Way. These are three things I do that most parents don't know about, and I wanted them to understand the importance of each. I also gave each parent a one page printout overview of each so they could take it with them.

I'm interested to know what all of you do for back to school night. I could always use fresh ideas for next year!

Friday, September 7, 2012

First Two Weeks BLURR! And Classroom REVEAL!!

Ok, so two weeks have gone by since the beginning of the school year. I just can't believe it. I've been sucked into my obsessive planning routine and need to remember my me time. I don't think I was home before 7:30 any night this week!  On the plus side, our laminator is finally fixed and I was able to finish most of my room.
Thanks to many of you amazing bloggers who put your ideas and creative work out there, I am please with my result.

 If you remember, this was what my classroom looked like before I got my hands on it:
 Here is a view now from the front of the room. You can see my back wall is covered in my literacy bulletin boards. (I may have stapled them directly into the wall ...)

How amazing is Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files? She has so many amazing things on her blog and TpT store. I think half of the visuals in my classroom are courtesy of her. On the far right is her creation of a CRAFT board I will use during Daily 5/Cafe time. On the right is my writing VOICES board. I became very inspired by the neon and circles and decided to make that my theme for the year. (Along with zebra print, which I LOVE).

Below are my Daily 5 anchor charts. We've only created norms for Read to Self so far. I typed them and taped them onto the laminated poster. That way I can use them from year-to-year. (Sorry it is a little blurry)

Next is my classroom library, reading strategies board, and reading genre board. The genre circles are courtesy of Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files.  The link will take you to her TpT store where I got the genre circles. I made the reading strategy circles to go with the theme of the room. We use the Fountas and Pinnel strategies.

Here is a close up of my library. 

On the right of this picture is my word wall. This year I decided to do it by parts of speech. As we go through vocabulary this year, I will have my students help me decide which part of speech each word is so we can add it to the word wall. I love this idea because it reinforces more than one skill at once. (And yes, I color-coded it). :) 

Here are the cubbies. You can see the book boxes for my kiddos. Thanks to Kristen (again!) I taped each student's class number to their box. The link will take you to the blog post where she added the number signs (and they're free because she is amazing).

Math BB

S.S BB and Mailboxes

Front of the Room 

I got this inspiration from Christi at Mrs. Fultz's Corner when she had an awesome post last week for organizing attendance and lunch count. Hers was on a cookie sheet, but I just put mine right onto my white board. This awesome zebra tape came from Elmers and peels right off when I need it to, so I don't think it will ruin my board. 

Did I mention how awesome Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files is? These are her specials signs (which she also offers for free on TpT). I purchased all her subject circles. My next project is to use those to create our classroom schedule on the wall. 

Ok, so, I'm not quite finishes, but I'm on my way. I'm ready for a year filled with learning! 

What theme have you gone with this year? Is it an old faithful or a new venture?