August 22, 2015

"Branding" Your Classroom

Have you ever thought about "branding" your classroom in the same way people brand their blog or TPT products? Or does this just sound silly to you?

Ok, I'll admit, it sounds a little silly, but bear with me here. A few years ago, I began to decorate my classroom with a "Team Theme". We named ourselves Team Bradshaw, I decorated with sports in mind, and we began to create an identity around it.

Gradually, I began to adhere more to a color scheme while paring down the sports allusions. I began to try and create more continuity with my back to school handouts and my newsletters throughout the year.

Why try it?
1. It's aesthetically pleasing. 
2. It creates cues for your parents and students to know "This is the note amongst many notes that my teacher sent home...I should read it...."
3. It will start to make creating things easier as all the decisions are already made.

How do you do it?
1. Pick a simple color scheme.
2. Pick a few favorite fonts.
Image result for kg eyes wide open
KG A Little Swag Regular

3. Design a simple logo.

4. Use these the colors, fonts, and logo to decorate and communicate. 

And I'm out! Have a great weekend of rest!

August 5, 2015

Three Days Down

We're now three days in to the 2015-2016 school year. The first day was a lovely blur, and things, of course, have only gotten more fun since then. I do like teaching routines and procedures at the beginning of the year. I also enjoy taking time to learn about each other and spend time building our classroom. However, not having the routines down is EXHAUSTING.

Here are three new(ish) things I'm LOVING so far:
-The Remind App. I began using this last year, but it didn't have as many features and it just kind of fell by the wayside for me. I've gotten to share a photo, a link to a class blog update, and just a "I'm looking forward to seeing you" note quickly with parents during our days. I've found out that they are really loving it, too, so I know I will use it a lot this year! This week my goal was to send one text per day, but I hope to continue with at least one per week through the rest of the year.
-Rest Time. Every day after recess we have taken at least ten minutes to have rest time. We are calling it "Solitude and Reflection" to match one of the design principles of Expeditionary Learning. My kids can work, read, lay down, or draw. And they must be silent. And they are loving it. Everyone needs a little time to be alone and refuel their brains! My favorite part is that it is really being encouraged by everyone in our school as a part of our work with Responsive Classrooms this year. I'm not sure what I'm going to do when we need to move more quickly into a grammar lesson in the coming weeks!
-School Wide Procedures. This year my school has decided to institute a couple of things as a school, including an attention signal, volume meter, and help boxes. As the newbie in school, I am totally appreciating these things. It's so nice that no matter what teacher they are with, they are hearing some of the same language. I personally found it helpful to have help boxes for bathroom and lunchroom procedures-because I for one needed the steps and pictures! We are also using more fluid or temporary help boxes during instructional time. If you google help boxes, you are not going to find anything, but they are basically steps needed to complete a task that are written out for students (or sometimes given with visual cues). I'll try to snap a photo of one of our permanent help boxes and add it here later!

That's all for me! I have a small beginning of the year task to complete before I will call it a night!

August 2, 2015

The Sunday Butterflies and A Challenge To ME Part 2

It's the day before the first day of school. It's so exciting, but at the same time a little nerve wracking. Is everything ready? What did I forget? What will this year be like? It's safe to say that I will have to drink a little Sleepytime tea tonight to get my jitters calm enough for a good night's sleep.

This weekend, I've been thinking about what I can do to take care of me this weekend. The first weeks of school are so exhausting. We're all transitioning from summer and learning new things. We don't have the comfort of our routines yet, and, as a result, we have to teach through every single little second in our classroom.

I'll reiterate what I said a few weeks ago in a similar post: I can't give anyone my best if I haven't given it to myself first. 

So here is my list of ways I will take care of ME this week:

1. I'm going to try and get together my outfits and meals for the week. Sometimes I do this, sometimes I don't but I know that for SURE I want to have calm and collected mornings for this first week of school!

2. I am such a planner that I am always working a few steps ahead of myself. I really want to remember to stay present in my classroom this week and enjoy everything that is going on without worrying about what will come next! There is time for that after the school day ends.

3. I just want to remember to have fun! And help my students have fun! Being at a new school means that I may feel unsure about a lot that is going on, and I know that sometimes that can make me come across a little more stressed out or aloof than I would like to be. I know that having fun not what school is all about, but it sure does make it easier for all of us!

Bulletin Boards

Today I am linking up with two of my favorite 2nd grade Bloggers, Angie Olson and Ashley Shroeder to talk about bulletin boards.

Conveniently enough, I have just finished setting up my classroom and I have one BIG tip for you when it comes to all things decorations:

Make it beautiful, eye catching, and well done, but leave space to create the room with your students!

Take a look:

I picked one accent color to use with my black and white prints with burlap accents, layered some borders, created an extra display space on the maintenance closet door, and that is it! I now have blank spaces for anchor charts, vocabulary, and work exemplars for both Math and Language Arts. We may use the middle space to create our "Classroom Agreement" (aka rules) display together.

Titles made over the summer. Check this post for more info
about the tassels.

On the board. The letter bunting was made from burlap paper,
letters I printed out and cut, twine, and a little mod podge.
To save board space when layering, stick a layer or border on the wall
 and another the bulletin board frame itself.

More examples of spaces ready for student input.

I don't have my displays for student work ready yet (think ribbon, command hooks, and clothespins to make it easy to change out), so I will have to update on that with another post for later. 

I got such great compliments about my room from teachers, my principal, custodian, parents, and students. I was surprised by how many of them noticed that even though I worked hard on making it appealing, it was really going to be about the students.

And that, my friends, is what it is all about. It's our space and it's ready for us to learn, create, and build together!