Interactive Journal

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Another Pinterest find. This was posted as a Vocabulary Journal. I like the idea of this mixed with another website I found: 

http://missklohnsclassroom.blogspot.com/search/label/interactive%20student%20notebook

I have used interactive journals with social studies classes before, and I am not sure why i have never thought to use it with Language Arts. I might have to figure out exactly how I will be using it this coming year. I will be teaching 3 Grammar classes and 3 Literature. I am not sure if I want to do just one notebook for both classes, or if I want to split them up. Either way, it’s something I am at least interested in considering. My students all have laptops as well for notes. This is one thing that has me leaning against it. 

Edmodo

Edmodo-DEN

As I am sure most of you know or at least have heard of Edmodo. Edmodo is a social media site with a format similar to Facebook. It is geared towards students and educators, and I absolutely love it! I have a friend that shared the site with me this past fall. I implemented it very soon afterwards, and my students seem to love it.

Edmodo is a wonderful way to upload and post hand outs and resources for students. If a student is absent, they are able to look for the date they were absent, and see what was done in class that day. I also love that students are unable to friend each other or send each other messages. I also am able to monitor what gets posted onto each class “wall.” The apps aren’t my favorite that are on there, but they do have things where students can review. I can also create quizzes that will get automatically grades if labeled multiple choice. It does make things a bit easier. I also enjoy that I can set things up by class period, as well as customize calendars per class.

It’s definitely a resource I would recommend for 5th grade and up. Most middle schoolers have computers at home, smart phones, and tablets with apps they are able to access the software.

Home Away From Home

My classroom from my desk. That back right corner is my reading corner. Those shelves are a work in progress. The teacher before me left a lot of stuff that I’m still going through. They are also storage for the kids’ instruments. Every student at my school is in band or orchestra.

That blue basket on the left is for lunches. Those popcorn tubs have supplies for groups. There’s colored pencils, markers, etc. I also have one of my classroom boxes of Kleenex, hand sanitizer, erasers. It’s also where I have my classroom library books, that I’m slowly going to grow. I am quite proud that it’s only been 7 days of school and I have 15 books checked out to students.

The front of my room. My board has homework and what we’re doing for the day on the left. The right hand side has our standards. Of course you can also see one of my student computers. That one is also connected to my promethium board. It’s my first time using a promethium board, and I’m already in love. Granted so far I’ve only used it for our Daily Practice Grammar, but it’s great fun writing on it.

Just a quick little post to show you what my room kind of looks like. There’s actually other stuff on the side of the room my desk is on. I’ll have to take pictures of that soon.

2 days down in my second week of my first year. I’m a little nervous that so far nothing disastrous has happened. It’s like I’m waiting for something bad to happen. Just have to keep taking deep breaths. 🙂

 

Characters Welcome

I feel bad that I have yet to blog through my first week of pre-planning. Although, part of me is glad that I didn’t. The end of my week made it better than the beginning. I had a not so wonderful first day, but followed by a good rest of the week. I love my school. I’m still not quite done getting my room the way I want it, but I thought I would share what I have done so far.

I only have 2 mini bulletin boards in my classroom. This is one of them. I have film bulletin board boarders that I placed around it. We aren’t allowed to put butcher paper in the background of our boards, and my board was painted blue so I kept it that way. I used my Hollywood walk of fame stars around my phrase “Characters Welcome.” A little TBS reference, but I thought it was cute, and during open house I enjoyed watching my students go up to the board and try to figure out what books the characters are from.

This is my current reading corner. I need to stuff some of the bean bags that a teacher at my school gave me. Those posters are of different reading genres. Now, my bookcase isn’t in this corner, but that was only because there isn’t enough room for it. I have it placed on one side of my room. I’m hoping to eventually do more with this area, but I figure it’s a start.

I have a few Hollywood signs (4 to be exact) I placed 2 on each side above my dry-erase and Smartboard. I haven’t finished with my Hollywood border on this mini board. I placed my calendar there, and my director’s chair. I also have my 2 student computers placed up front. The one on the left had to be there to be connected to the Smartboard. It just seemed to be easier to have both placed over there.

One of my favorite things is the inside of my door. I have a marquee with my name on it. I have my tickets and popcorn and my red carpet. My door is usually open, and I feel as though it’s a great way to welcome them into my room.

This is right outside my door. I wanted a cute welcome sign outside that was fun and easy for them to get to. I know they’re going to be confused that first week of school with getting to their classes.

These are just a few of the things that I have done so far. I will be heading to my school tomorrow, Sunday, for a few hours to finish it up. I’ll be sure to take some more pictures and I will try to blog again tomorrow evening as it is my last day before classes start up.

“A smile is the universal welcome. ” -Max Eastman

Hollywood Walk of Fame

One of the most famous places to visit in Hollywood, California, is the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Over 2,400 terrazzo and brass stars of musicians, actors, directors, characters, and producers make up the stars. I thought what a fun idea to make my own Hollywood Walk of Fame in my classroom to go with the “Hollywood” theme I have created.

The Hollywood pack I blogged about earlier had these starts and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them. Last night, I decided to use famous literature characters to put on each one. A piece of my classroom wall will have it’s own Literature Wall of Fame. I am hoping my students will enjoy looking at them and trying to figure out which characters come from which books.

My pre-planning schedule starts next week, and I’ll be sure to blog more as this school year approaches. I’ll be sure to take lots of pictures next week as I am finally able to place all these things in my classroom.

“Good teaching is one-fourth preparation and three-fourths theatre.”

                                           ~Gail Godwin

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