05 October 2014

A looks at some changes in Grade 4K for the 2014-15 school year.

It’s hard to believe that we’ve been back at school for eight weeks already, but it’s true. Admittedly one of those weeks was only two days long, but the first six weeks were full weeks. This summer I made some changes in my classroom as I prepared to implement “The Daily Five”. Rather than tell you about it, I thought I’d show you.

The door hasn’t changed, but when I was "home" in Australia last Christmas I found these great foam hands. They were blank, so one of our projects the first week of school was to get out the markers and glitter glue and decorate them. Each person put their own “stamp” on their hand and then I put them all up. Some of them slipped a bit before the glue dried, but it does make a fun door. 

The first thing on the right as you walk in the door is my new bookshelf! A big thank you to my colleague in the fifth grade who helped me buy the wood, and did the actual construction.  I’ve got room to buy a few more books now! The top shelf is a perfect fit for 22 book boxes. These were one of my special holiday purchases in Bangkok. They're narrower than normal magazine storage boxes, but just right for the books the students need to keep in them. They alternate high and low due to slightly different widths front and back, so by alternating they fit perfectly on the shelf! I love my “Star Helpers”. This was a purchase a few years back. Laminated it will last a few more years yet.

To make room for the new bookshelf, I stack the student “cubbies” on top of each other. I also did some trading. Previously I had twelve cubbies in each unit (3 rows of 4). Knowing I had 23 students this year, I traded one unit with one of the fifth grade teachers and the other with one of the third grade teachers so now I’ve got sixteen cubbies in each unit (4 rows of 4). That gave me a cubby for each table for the folders we use for testing, and a few spare for spare copies of workbooks, Go Check, Handwriting, and scrap paper. It also got the paper cutter and cleaning supplies out of reach of little fingers!

That did mean I lost the space on top of the shelves for day-to-day use, but it’s worked out quite well, and I found a small table which has worked well for water bottles and a working alone desk. This is not about isolating students, but about giving them a choice to work in a space where they won’t be distracted by their classmates. The supply baskets for each table are only put on this table at the end of the day so the main work tables can be cleaned.

The next photos allows you to see how they table fits in the room, and also the homework board, games shelf, and Parts of Speech Posters. There are still a couple of these to be added, but we haven’t covered them yet, so they’ll go up later in the year.

Each year I’ve found I have a number of students who are a bit shorter than the others, and so I found a slightly shorter table and some shorter chairs that work with the table. One of the reasons for this is that part of The Daily Five is about allowing students choices about where they sit. I don’t have a lot of room, but I now have a number of different options for them. You can see the other small table in the background of this picture.

An important part of The Daily Five is the CAFE board, with its menu of strategies for reading. We’re just getting started with it, but eventually it will have a smorgasbord of strategies and students will put their names under the strategy they are working. It’s a great visual reminder of things students are working on as they read. 

Well, I hope you’ve enjoyed a quick look around my classroom. I’ll try and get back here more often in the weeks ahead, but my University studies are taking a big chunk of my time at the moment. I’m learning heaps, and as I put what I learn into practice, my students are benefiting.