Calligraphy Wall

We’ve been doing different things in class in connection with the novel The View from Saturday. Today we did Calligraphy in Language Arts. I had my students create their own name plates using calligraphy pens, with india ink in bottles. They learned to dab their pens in ink and write. My first period got to excited that once their name plate dried they went to staple them onto the wall. As you can tell there’s some crazy positions on the wall, that would be the first class that was placed up there. I then took over stapling privileges and tried to fix it. It still isn’t as organized as I’d like, but I suppose it does give my classroom wall some character. It’s a nice visual representation of the kids I have.

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3 days in…

I wish I had blogged more these past couple days, but the only word to truly describe them is: EXHAUSTING! I am just exhausted.  My first day was just a whirlwind. At my school, we assign lockers, scan textbooks, hand them out, and get them all situated during homeroom. It was a little bit of chaos. These kids were so confused on how to open their lockers, what to put in them, etc.

Once we got past that mess, things were just fun. I absolutely love my homeroom. They’re precious. Their parents have been so incredibly supportive it’s scary. I mean I knew they would be great, I had heard that at this magnet school the parents truly put in effort to make their kids succeed there, and it is so true. I tell kids to bring magazines to cut up by Friday, and most of my kids brought them Tuesday. I couldn’t believe it. I did my student teaching in an 8th grade public school and it was like pulling teeth trying to get kids to bring stuff to class. So this is different.

I also handed out our first novel yesterday, The View from Saturday. It’s a cute book about 4 Sixth Graders at an Academic Bowl State Championship. I assigned the kids 20 pages due today. I had some kids ask me if it was okay if they kept reading.  Um, of course it’s okay!

It’s taking some adjustments for me, but things are working out. I’m enjoying the people I work with. I’m getting the hang of how much time I have to teach and a feel for the kids. My next 2 days are a piece of cake too. We’re taking a break from the novel, and working on collages for their journals. This way they have a personal stake in wanting to be responsible for their journal. It’s a piece of them. It should be fun.

I’ll try and blog more often. It’s just been a crazy couple days.

What we want is to see the child in pursuit of knowledge, and not knowledge in pursuit of the child.  ~George Bernard Shaw

Classroom Theme

I have noticed that by the time students reach  middle school most teachers have chosen not to theme their room. Many classrooms are bare, minus a few motivational posters and reminders. I on the other hand, feel that the more welcoming the classroom, the more comfortable students are to be there.

Sixth grade is such a difficult age for students. They’re in a state of transition. They’re going through puberty. They’re awkward. I feel as though having a fun warm environment is essential.

Now, I’m not going to completely transform my classroom and over do it, but I do want to make cute. Let my students have a piece of making the classroom relatable to them, and a part in making it theirs. I am a huge movie buff, and a friend suggested to me if I had thought about using it as a classroom theme. I thought it was brilliant.

I have purchased some items including a bulletin board set that are all “Hollywood” themed. I haven’t quite made up my mind on what each thing will be used for, but I thought I would share what I have found. The Bulletin Board Set is called Lights, Camera, Action! and is by Carson-Dellosa Publishing. Have to give credit where credit is due.

Ok so I have some famous Los Angeles streets, as well as a big sign that I will be using for something.

Now the marquee I plan on having an entire bulletin board that will look like a marquee. So I probably won’t be using this one that is in the back. I also plan on making a clapboard as my welcome sign with my name, Room number, etc.

More famous streets that I will place around the classroom. I will also use the Oscar. I plan on using the Spotlights near my classroom library with some type of “Spotlight on Reading” sign. Also in the package, that I did not take a photo of are a pack of Hollywood walk of fame stars. They’re cute, but they give you about 20, I’m assuming to write Students names on. I have too many students to do that with. As a middle school teacher you get anywhere between 90 and over 100 students dispersed throughout your 4 to 5 class periods. I have thought about using another bulletin board and making larger Hollywood walk of fame starts with famous books that are movies.

Last thing found in the packet. More decorations that I will find a use for. Even if I can’t figure out what to do with it now, I’m sure later on I’ll be glad I have it when I can think of something.

Now Target has their $1 section which is always hit or miss when it comes to having items actually worth buying. To go along with my theme though, they do have plastic popcorn tubs:

I plan on using these to put supplies to pass out to students when they work in groups. They’re cute, it’s a way to keep things organized, and they go with my theme.

I still plan on doing a mini-theme of Harry Potter in a corner of my classroom. I can’t ignore the impact the books have had on kids and wanting to read. I love the books myself, and hope to use the first in the series in my curriculum next school year once my first year teaching is behind me.

Once I am in my classroom, which is in a short 2 weeks, I will take pictures of what the final product looks like in my room. If anyone has ideas or suggestions on anything, I would love to hear them.

“Children learn and remember at least as much from the context of the classroom as from the content of the coursework.”

~Lawrence Kutner

Classroom Library

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I am teaching 6th grade language arts at a magnet school. As an avid reader myself, the first thing I thought of after accepting my teaching position is accumulating enough books to have a large classroom library. Most of the photos I’ve seen online are of elementary school classrooms, which have a different set up than what I would like to do in my own class.

One of my friends whose own blog: http://squirrellearnstoteach.blogspot.com/ shares a lot of what I’m about to say myself. She gave me the great idea of self-laminating my books so that they stay in better shape longer. Anyone who is around kids enough, or even remembers being a student themselves, can remember that when picking up books at school, most of the book was falling apart in your hands. Some of the books I’m bringing are my own personal copies that I love and don’t want to see get damaged, but would love to see used. Self-laminating strips are not that expensive, and you are adding years onto the life of your books by doing so. I was a little skeptical as to how easy it would be to laminate my book covers, but it couldn’t have been simpler. Feel the laminating sheet, place on book. Cut left overs and fold in. Simple and they look very nice.


I am still working out exactly how I plan on setting up my classroom library. I do plan on listing my books by author, and providing a check-out binder on or near the bookcase for them to fill out before taking a book off the shelf. This helps me keep track of who has books, and hopefully I won’t end up losing any. I also plan on having students have me sign off on them returning the book. Again, this just helps keep track of where everything is. With so many students it is hard to remember who turned in what without just being organized and setting an efficient way to keep track of everything.

Right now I have about 50 books for my library, and I hope to gain more through my own purchasing, as well as asking friends, and neighbors if they have any young adult literature they would like to donate. If anything, people usually have Twilight, Harry Potter, and The Hunger Games: three of the most popular Young Adult Literature series that I would love to have multiple copies of. I’m sure the school library will have copies of most if not all the books that will be available in my classroom, but this way they do not have to wait for a book to be in to read it. If I have an available copy it is another way to get these kids reading. I wish nothing more than for all of my students to become life-long readers.

“In a very real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read.”                                                                                            -S. I. Hayakawa

Beginnings

A friend of mine who is also beginning her first year teaching, recommended that we should create blogs and blog our way through our first year teaching. We have both noticed that while there are many resources out there for and about elementary school teachers, it seems as though Middle School teachers have less of a voice in the education blogosphere. Why not start a blog and discuss ideas, as well as the ups and downs we are likely to face as first year middle school teachers.

I will have a bit of a different experience as I am beginning my first year teaching at a magnet school. Here in the United States, magnet schools are public schools usually with specialized courses. These public schools draw students from all over the school district. Usually there is an application and a lottery to get in these schools. Needless to say, I have found out that most of my kids are going to be brilliant, with parents who might be a little overbearing. None of my previous experiences with student teaching or working as a substitute teacher have prepared me for this. I never had the honor to work with kids like those I will be teaching. I will have to be on my game at all times, and truly develop lesson plans that are fun, enriching, and entertaining.

I am excited to get started with this school year. Hopefully this blog can be informative to anyone thinking about being a teacher, is going through this process, has gone through it, or is curious about what it is like being a teacher. If no one reads this blog but myself, then it will be a way for me to work out my ideas, my achievements, and my failures.

“Teaching is not a lost art, but the regard for it is a lost tradition.” 

                                   ~Jacques Barzun