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Monday, September 19, 2011

I Like to Keep Things Simple...Namely Jobs and Centers

I dislike clutter. This can relate to my house and classroom appearance as well as my schedule. I do not expect that others would feel the same way. To each his/her own!

One item in my classroom that is 'clutter free' is my job chart...I don't have one! We spend the first month of school learning routines and jobs that need completing each day. Students volunteer for these jobs. They are also rewarded when they complete a job without being asked to do so. If I find that a student has not been volunteering, I will meet with them to discuss why. I have a busy life (as we all do) and feel that letting go of a circulating job chart is one way I can de-clutter my life.

Another area of my classroom that I keep simple is centers/stations. My center routine is simple: students need to complete one blue-bin activity (there are several in each center) before moving on to a choice activity. In my opinion, centers are practice activities that should give students ownership and choice. By not assigning centers, my students can choose their center based on likes/dislikes as well as learning style and ability. I work with individual students as well as small groups during this time, based on formative assessments and student need. This informal style allows me to evaluate which centers children like and which were not a big hit. I find this feedback from the kids to be very important. If there is an activity of importance that I would like all students to complete, I would do this whole-group or in small groups.

I have attached a picture of one of my kids with his blue-bin choice for the day (Froggy Football Writing). We complete reading and writing centers in the morning. In the afternoon, we have math and unit (science/social) centers. If a student seems to spend too much time in a particular center, I will find a way to get them to the other center(s). This is where I love student feedback. I ask for feedback weekly.

So take it or leave it! This is not a scenario for everyone. I like to let go of a few items in my day so that I can make time for others. We all have to keep our sanity!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Backgrounds are up!

I dislike boring, plain walls. However, I do not want to send the kiddos into overload by filling every available space. So, I decided to make some display backgrounds for one of my walls. I purchased cheap scrapbook paper and added a glitter border. I have heard of people using the cute, new, duct tape as a border but I couldn't find some I liked. I added a post it and laminated the product. The kids' names are written on the post-it section with a dry-erase marker for easy re-using and a small binder clip is at the top to clip in student work. Easy peasy!