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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Getting ready for school--classroom tour

Today was trip #3 to my classroom to get things in order. J went along with me. He enjoys getting to use my smartboard to watch movies and play computer games.

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He does not really enjoy helping in any form, but I did get him to give me a hand with the bulletin board in the hallway. He mostly just "helped" (read: made it twice as hard) me staple border to the board, but he also handed me the border pieces for the top of the board so I didn't have to keep bending over.

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I colored my white bulletin board paper with a crayon. The board is a pretty yellow, but it's in bad shape so I have to cover it. We don't have any paper that goes with my back to school board, and last year I was sooo sick of the boring white. So, crayon.

I rearranged a lot of the furniture in my room this year. The student desks will be re-rearranged about 7,000 more times throughout the school year as I struggle to find just the right set-up that keeps kids who need to be close, close; kids who need to be separated from each other, separate; kids who tend to need more support in a spot where the aides can be there without blocking other kids; etc.

Right now, you can see in the top picture and the one below, most desks are in a horseshoe facing the smartboard. We use it a lot...it's a great tool for keeping the kids engaged and giving lots of opportunity for them to practice what we're learning. They're amazing, how quickly they pick up how to use it.

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My desk used to be next to the table that holds the computer (top pic), but I wanted more room for the kids to be near the smartboard. Also, where my desk is located has another benefit: much more difficult for kids to be staring out the window. :)

I keep my regular old chalkboard free in case of technical difficulties. If the school's network is down, I'm in trouble because the lessons I prepare in advance for the smartboard are saved on the teacher drive rather than my computer. So then we go back to the old way of doing things and use the chalkboard.

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We also use it for additional practice opportunities. Sometimes we have races where we compare methods we've learned. This is a great tool in math, where the kids tend to get fixed on the first way they learn to do something. They can be resistant to the newer ways as we move from concrete and labor-intensive (using manipulatives for math, for example) to more abstract (counting up on the number line). Often, once they see for themselves how much faster the newer ways are, they're sold.

That blue cabinet at the back of the room is now behind my desk. It'll give me a nice place to organize things and put some plants. I really like having living things (besides the people) in the classroom. Not sure if we'll do fish again this year or not. Last year was a "no pet" year. I haven't come to a decision yet about this year. One more thing to take care of...not sure I want the responsibility.

Being a special education classroom, we build lots of opportunities for small group practice into our day. This area will be a good small group table. It also may double as my student teacher's (my first student teacher...I can't tell you how nervous I am. Well, I will be. Right now I have to get through the beginning of school. I'll be nervous before she starts in October.) work area.

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Looking at these pictures, I'm sad how drab and bare it looks. It's a work in process!

I moved my reading corner this year from the corner by the window (where my desk is now) to near the doorway.

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During small groups, I wanted my independent reading group to be separated from the kids who were working at the board. That yellow bookshelf (picked it up off the side of the road! :D) makes a nice barrier. Unfortunately, it also blocks the kids on the other side of it from seeing my word wall. After thinking it over, I'm going to keep the word wall where I planned it (on the chalkboard to the right of the above picture), but I'm going to make a word wall on paper and post it on the back of the yellow bookshelf so those kids have access to it as well. Hopefully that's a workable solution.

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There's the chalkboard that'll hold my word wall. The words already have magnets on them, so I hate to move to a new place to post it. Additionally, it's in easy viewing for everyone but the kids blocked by the bookshelf.

My classroom is a whole room divided in two. The section you've seen is about 2/3 of the entire room. The other section used to be a computer lab before our middle school was built. We use that side for additional group work. I'm so lucky to have the wonderful aides I have to work with our students: one retired after teaching first grade for 36 years. She had taught first grade longer than I had been alive when she started with me! The other aide retired after 20 years in the Navy. We've worked together for about 5 years now and make a great team!

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Odds & ends:

No running today. It was a scheduled rest day, plus the high was 105. My brother sent me a text at 7:30 about riding, but I was still asleep (thank you, kickball game!).

I met an online friend from Daily Mile at the gas station. I was sitting there waiting for N to bring back our drinks, and I saw this guy get out of his car and thought, I think that's T! Then I looked at his license plate and saw that it was the first part of his last name. Has to be! Got out and introduced myself. Small world. :)

Took N school clothes shopping and bought myself a pair of swim goggles. They should come in handy when I start swimming laps in earnest.

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