New Addition to “Your Essential Teacher Binder”: Ocean Theme!

What is “Your Essential Teacher Binder”? We’ve all heard of the famous “teacher binder” that contains everything that you need to run your class and lessons successfully! It is essential to your teaching, but not everything fits into the three rings of a binder, so we added in a few resources for your classroom too! We like to think of “Your Essential Teacher Binder” as a collection of teacher resources to help you organize both your teaching and your classroom.

All teachers have various ways of organizing their lessons, plans, and classrooms; however, we have grouped together a great set of resources to assist you in this endeavor!

So what’s included in this classroom kit? There are more than 70 pages featuring:
– Desk nameplates (2/sheet) for both upper and lower grades
– Student hook/cubby nameplates (6/sheet) that can also be used to label bins etc
– Hall pass, office pass, and washroom pass
– Bookmarks (4/sheet) with “During Reading” suggestions
– Monthly student behavior log (2/sheet)
– “While You Were Absent” sheet for students
– Classroom job labels (30 different jobs to choose from!)
– Student of the Month an d Week (upper and lower grades)
– Student Birthday Postcards (2/sheet)
– Lesson plan monthly cover pages
– Classroom calendar monthly labels for both upper and lower grades
– Subject area cover pages for lesson and unit plans
– Substitute teacher feedback form
– Professional development log and Staff meeting record sheet
– Parent contact log (individual student)
– Month at a glance, Monthly plan at a glance, Week at a glance
– Individual student and whole class information sheet (5 students/sheet)
– End of the year classroom inventory
– Lesson plan and mark book cover page

We have tried to include as many printables that we could think of, but if you have any suggestions, please let us know and we’ll add them in!

These kits come in a variety of themes, including outer space, aliens, polka dots, swirls, monsters, apples, and now…oceans!

 

Children with Down Syndrome

 

“Your Essential Teacher Binder” now on sale!

What is “Your Essential Teacher Binder”? We’ve all heard of the famous “teacher binder” that contains everything that you need to run your class and lessons successfully! It is essential to your teaching, but not everything fits into the three rings of a binder, so we added in a few resources for your classroom too! We like to think of “Your Essential Teacher Binder” as a collection of teacher resources to help you organize both your teaching and your classroom.

All teachers have various ways of organizing their lessons, plans, and classrooms; however, we have grouped together a great set of resources to assist you in this endeavor!

So what’s included in this classroom kit?  There are more than 70 pages featuring:
– Desk nameplates (2/sheet) for both upper and lower grades
– Student hook/cubby nameplates (6/sheet) that can also be used to label bins etc
– Hall pass, office pass, and washroom pass
– Bookmarks (4/sheet) with “During Reading” suggestions
– Monthly student behavior log (2/sheet)
– “While You Were Absent” sheet for students
– Classroom job labels (30 different jobs to choose from!)
– Student of the Month an d Week (upper and lower grades)
– Student Birthday Postcards (2/sheet)
– Lesson plan monthly cover pages
– Classroom calendar monthly labels for both upper and lower grades
– Subject area cover pages for lesson and unit plans
– Substitute teacher feedback form
– Professional development log and Staff meeting record sheet
– Parent contact log (individual student)
– Month at a glance, Monthly plan at a glance, Week at a glance
– Individual student and whole class information sheet (5 students/sheet)
– End of the year classroom inventory
– Lesson plan and mark book cover page

We have tried to include as many printables that we could think of, but if you have any suggestions, please let us know and we’ll add them in!

These kits come in a variety of themes, including outer space, aliens, polka dots, swirls, monsters, and apples!

 

Singles, rows, horseshoe, or groups? What’s the best classroom desk arrangement?

During my first year teaching, I switched around my seating arrangement on a monthly basis…not just the student placement, but the entire setup!  I would switch from short rows, to single desks, to groups, back to longer rows, then into a horseshoe, and so on until I finally settled back into small groups.  Why was I constantly switching stuff around?  Well, as a new teacher, I really didn’t know what worked with my students and my teaching style, but since then, I’ve come to see that using small groups works well in my classroom. What works for you?

Debbie Diller goes through the four main types of desk arrangements in her book Spaces & Places (read my review here). Let’s look at each setup:

  • Traditional classroom: desks are arranged individually in rows with all desks facing the front.  Although this arrangement may deter students from talking to one another during work time and lessons, it also causes problems when students are supposed to interact with each other, complete group tasks, and work together as a team.  I personally don’t like this arrangement, as it takes up a lot of floor space (as you need room all around each student desk) and we are constantly moving desks around when group work is needed.
  • Connected rows:  desks in my classroom were arranged in rows with each grouping consisting of 3-5 desks.  This arrangement was a bit better for me because students were able to interact with one another (e.g. a student struggling with a math problem could discuss the question with a classmate sitting next to him/her), but it caused some logistical issues for some students, as student sitting on the inside of the rows struggled to get out of their seats.  Students still had to move their desks around for group work because they were not facing one another when sitting in rows.
  • Horseshoe:  desks are arranged in a U or C shape with the horseshoe pointed at the front of the room.  I liked this arrangement a bit better because there is more of a community feel to lessons, discussions, and work time.  Students are able to see one another and interact, but again, desks need to be rearranged when group work is needed.  I liked how students are focused on the front of the class, but that’s also a reason why I don’t like this arrangement as well.
  • Table groups:  desks are arranged to form a working group where students can collaborate, discuss, and learn together.  Even though not all my lessons are group based, I like this arrangement because students can focus on the front of the class during lessons, focus during independent work time but still discuss problems with their group, interact during group activity, and students are all visible to one another during whole class discussions and activities.  The only problem this arrangement creates is that we need to separate and spread the desks out during testing times; however, this is a small imposition considering how well the arrangement works for our class. Debbie Diller does have a whole group and small group instructional area in her classroom setup using table groups.  I have a small group instructional area where I can meet with both individual and groups of students, but I don’t have a whole group area.

When planning out your desk arrangement, what are some things that you consider?  If you want to rearrange your desk setup but are afraid to take the plunge, here are two websites that allow you to create a virtual floor plan:

Classroom Architect

Class Set-Up Tool

What have you tried in the past?  What’s your favourite seating arrangement?  How are you planning on setting up your seats for the new school year?

Practice, Practice, Practice: From First Draft to Final Copy

I love teaching Language Arts, but one of the greatest challenges I face is helping students learn how to become good writers.  A great resource to help you teach students how to write effectively is “Teaching Adolescent Writers” (2006) by Kelly Gallagher.  I absolutely love this book and will be providing a resource review soon, but until then, I’ll just be going over a tiny portion of what is covered in this fantastic resource.

Gallagher recounts that when he was a basketball coach, he would take his players through a variety of defensive and offensive drills in order to be ready for the big Friday night game.  Just as coaches take their players through a variety of training practices to build up their skills, so too should teachers provide students with a variety of practice runs to help them become more effective writers.  Before producing well-written formal pieces of writing, students must be given opportunities to explore and develop their skills as writers.

When planning my Language Arts units, I have tried to incorporate as many opportunities as possible to have my students write, write, write!  One area we spend considerable time focusing on is the development of a first draft into a polished and formal final copy.  Sometimes it is very difficult to convince students that their work is only a first draft and it has to go through revisions (possibly several revisions) before it is ready to be evaluated.  A way that I have explained this to students is by using these posters to differentiate between first draft and final copy writing.  These posters are based on the First- vs. Second-Draft Comparison Chart in Gallagher’s “Teaching Adolescent Writers” (p. 51) from Mary K. Healy in Bay Area Writing Project.  I’ve changed the language a bit to make it more accessible for my students.

I’ll be posting on the following strategies to help you get your students writing, revising, and polishing their drafts soon:

  • STAR (Substitute, Take things out, Add, Rearrange) from Richard Cornwell, South Basin Writing Project
  • Surface vs. Deep Revision from Kelly Gallagher in “Teaching Adolescent Writers”
  • Hot Writing from Teresa Totten (I heard her speak at Reading for the Love of It and she was phenomenal!)

Just click on the image below for the posters!

For some other Language Arts posters, check out PEEL!

End of the Year Classroom Inventory!

Before you walk out of your classrooms for summer vacation, think about what you’d like to walk into in September!  When I walk back into my classroom at the end of the summer, I tend to feel a bit overwhelmed about where to begin, so I always make a plan and try to think about furniture layout, bulletin board ideas, décor, and how to better organize all of our supplies.

Why is this so important?  The classroom environment is an essential component to student learning and how I teach.  The resource that I absolutely love when dealing with classroom organization and setup is Spaces & Places by Debbie Diller!

I’ve broken this down into five areas:

Themes and Colour Schemes:

I love walking into classrooms that have been decorated with a colour scheme in mind, as everything flows and works well together.  Will you decorate with shades of blue and green?  How about blue and yellow with star décor?  There are so many great ideas!  Check out Pinterest for some beautiful classrooms!

Bulletin Boards:

I like seeing engaging and meaningful content on my bulletin boards, so I’m sure my students feel the same way.  I use my bulletin boards in the following way: some are just for student work to be displayed, others are constant (e.g. math) but change depending on what we are currently learning, and others change regularly to match the theme of our unit.  Play around with bulletin board ideas, but remember to keep them bright and engaging!

Classroom Layout:

Will your student desks be arranged in rows? A U-shape? Groups?  There are many options and you don’t really know what will work best until you try it out!

Classroom Organization:

There are so many different ways to organize classroom materials and supplies! Some teachers out there have come up with some excellent ideas to help make your classroom super-organized!  A blog I really like is Clutter-Free Classroom…so many great ideas!

Supplies:

It’s so disappointing to be ready to prep your classroom for the new school year only to realize that you’ve run out of borders, or staples, or duotang folders!  Do a quick inventory of your supplies to make sure you don’t forget anything when you hit those end-of-summer teacher sales!

Here’s a printable to help you organize your classroom ideas for September!   Just click the image below!