New Classroom

Adventures in Crafting: Part 2

After some trial and error and some lucky finds in my garage, I can now give advice on how to turn a cookie sheet into a cute magnet board.

Follow these steps:

1. Spray a good coat of spray primer on one side, let it dry, then spray on the other side and let it dry.

2. Spray one side with any color spray paint, let it dry, repeat on other side. You don’t need to paint the part that will be covered by paper.

3. Cut scrabook paper to fit an grab a bottle of Mod Podge.

4. Optional Step: Lightly spray the scrapbook paper with clear acrylic spray. This will help eliminate some bubbles.

4. Spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the surface of the cookie sheet. Then spread a thin layer of Mod Podge on the scrapbook paper. Then attach it, and smooth it down as much as possible.  If you’re really anal, use makeup sponges to spread the Mod Podge. The Internet says this will give a smoother finish. I didn’t do this.)

5. Cover the top of the paper with Mod Podge AND cover all of the paint with Mod Podge! This doesn’t look quite as cute but makes it much more durable, which is necessary in a classroom! NOTE: You will see bubbles and creases. Don’t freak out!! Most of them go away while it is drying! Put the cookie sheet in the garage to dry and don’t look at it while it’s drying because you’ll just freak out about all the bubbles. Most of them really will go away, I promise!

6. Spread Mod Podge over the paint on the back of the cookie sheets too. Let dry.

Conclusion: It’s a lot of work. I don’t know if it’s worth it but it’s done now!

Here they are:

Categories: Crafts, New Classroom, Summer Work | Leave a comment

Life Without AR

In case anyone was sitting at home worrying why I haven’t been posting (haha), I have been hard at work! I’ve been getting some things ready for Daily 5 and CAFE, and a few other things. I don’t really want to post details until that’s all done. I’m going to work in my classroom on the 30th and hopefully will post some pictures and upload some documents that day.

Anyway, I want to post today about Accelerated Reader (AR). I’ve done AR in my classroom for the last 6 years. AR is a program online where students search for books they read and take basic comprehension quizzes based on the books.

Not everyone is a fan of AR. It isn’t perfect, but I do think it serves a purpose. AR makes sure that the kids are actually reading the books they say they are reading (ACCOUNTABILITY!). It brings comprehension issues to my attention. It also provides a way to keep track of what students read. You can print lovely reports. Parents can have emails sent to them showing their child’s progress.

Now I don’t have AR and I’ve been freaking out a little. What I REALLY wish existed was Goodreads for kids, but it doesn’t exist.  I thought making a blog or doing something on Edmodo and I googled other reading websites but wasn’t thrilled with any of that. I also don’t want to bog the kids down by making them do a ton of writing after they finish a book. We do plenty of writing in class. I just want a quick, easy way to keep track of what books each student is reading.

In the end, I came up with an old-fashioned form for kids to fill out. It is quick and easy. I’ll put it in their binder with their planners so they have it with them all the time. They just fill out the number of the book (to track how many books they read throughout the year), the title, author, date finished, and book level. Then they color in the star rating that they give the book and describe it with an adjective or two. They also write the number of pages in the book and there’s an extra space for any other information they want to add.

The downside is that this definitely does not guarantee that the student actually read the book or understood it. I’ll conference with kids about what they read and hope for the best!

Here’s the download if anyone wants it! Sorry it isn’t cute. I wanted to fit 4 on a page so there wasn’t room for cute stuff.

Book Form

Categories: Beginning Year Stuff, New Classroom, Summer Work | Leave a comment

Adventures in Crafting

I attempted 2 crafts today. One was a fail. I think the other is kind of a success.

Craft 1 was based on something like this from Pinterest:

I do plan on doing something like this with my clipboards, which are covered in 4th grade graffiti. But the clipboards are buried in a box somewhere (probably in my new classroom), so I decided to try something similar with the cookie sheets that I use as magnet boards.

EDIT: I found the Pinterest link to the cute cookie sheet magnet board. Here’s the inspiration pic:

First, I spray painted the back and part of the front. FYI, Krylon works better than Rustoleum and dries far faster. It covers well, but is easy to scratch off. I got a spray enamel to use after I’m done, which hopefully will make it a little stronger. However, I might end up having to use spray primer before the spray paint.

Here’s what it looked like with the spray paint:

The middle didn’t need to be totally painted because I was going to cover it in paper. I tested a magnet to see if it would work through the paper, and it worked great. Here’s what it should look like with the paper:

I used a spray adhesive on the paper and on the cookie sheet. Here’s what it looked like after I put the paper down and tried to re-position it to be straight:


A new layer of spray paint is drying right now. I’ll re-attempt this later.

Craft 2 was a bit better. I saw this done on a blog somewhere.  Basically you just cover a binder in fabric to make it look pretty. I used spray adhesive. It looks ok, but I’m not sure it’s going to stay adhered. We’ll see.

Categories: Crafts, New Classroom, Summer Work | 5 Comments

Curriculum Mapping

At the beginning of the year, I always have the best intentions to map out my curriculum for the year. It usually gets about 1/3 done and then I get busy with other things and never go back to it, never look at it again, and just follow the plan in my brain. I was also pretty much my own team because I taught in the gifted/talented program and didn’t have plan time with the other teachers in my grade level.  I did a lot of vertical planning with the g/t team, but that’s quite a bit different than horizontal planning.

This year, I’ll be on a real live team! Yay! To keep us all organized, it would probably be a good idea to complete a curriculum map that we actually use and refer to.

I’m not good at making that sort of thing. I get mad at Excel. Fortunately, my former teammate, Emmalee, lives for that kind of thing. She makes amazing Excel documents and doesn’t even scream at her computer like I do.

EDIT: I just realized I had included the wrong curriculum map, and it wasn’t blank. This one is blank:

Curriculum Map – Blank

UPDATE: To make this a more useful document, we copied and pasted it to Google Docs so everyone could view and change it. It didn’t look as pretty, but was a much more workable document for a team. I definitely recommend doing that!

Categories: New Classroom, Planning, Summer Work | Leave a comment

My New Classroom: Before

The thought of starting from scratch with a new classroom is exciting, but daunting!  I have always changed my classroom each year, and I really think it has gotten better each year. However, I have never switched classrooms, so the basic layout stayed similar from year to year.  I’ve started thinking about how to arrange things, but I haven’t decided much yet.

Here is my starting point. The size of the room is great and it has some wonderful storage! It also looks a bit like a prison cell ,and it’s going to need some TLC. (BTW this is with one set of lights on. The room does get brighter.)

I really like the accent wall. It’s a nice calm color, and will work with my theme this year (more on that later!). I also love all the built-in storage!  I’m thrilled that I’ll be able to hide away all of my teacher’s books, craft supplies etc. There’s also a built-in teacher’s desk, which is nice, with file drawers right next to it. I might be able to get rid of the additional file cabinet.

The walls are definitely a blank slate! In a way this is good, but do you see that tiny little bulletin board? that is the ONLY one in the room, and it’s small!  I’m going to have to figure out what to do about that because I definitely want an area to display student work, and I need more space than that.  Also, note the mounted projector! *SQUEE*

Yes, there’s a smartboard. I haven’t used one in a couple years, so I’m definitely going to have to brush up on my skills!  It’s driving me crazy that the white boards are different sizes. They’re also really small! I’m going to have to come up with some different ideas on how to post the daily schedule etc because I don’t want to take up white board space with that.

More white walls and a few tiny windows. Unfortunately, those windows just look out into the hallway. I have no outside windows. Honestly, this is going to drive me CRAZY!  I’ve never worked in a classroom with no outside windows! Maybe I’ll find a webcam that shows what’s going on outside and project it on the smartboard. The window in my old classroom wasn’t great, but at least it looked outside. This is bothering me more than it should.  I’m sure I’ll adjust soon enough.

Unfortunately, there are some important things missing:

1. Rocking chair. I’m going to have to figure this one out pronto. I really love having a rocking chair to use when the kids sit at the floor, and the kids love having it too. I might need to hit up IKEA or garage sales.

2. Bookshelf. My principal said that she’ll purchase bookshelves if needed. There are a couple small ones in there that currently have other things on them, but I have waaaaaaaay more books than will fit on those! If the school can’t buy one, maybe I can figure out a way to turn that big storage unit into storage for my classroom library.

3. Bulletin board. I can make one with paper or fabric and trim, and I guess I’ll have to do that. That does leave a ton of holes in the walls though. I’ll have to figure something out.

4. I love the accent wall, but the other walls are super boring. I’ll fix that right up!

5. A rug where the kids sit on the floor would be nice, but isn’t completely necessary.

6. Computers. There are laptop carts to check out and a computer lab, but the technology teacher said I can have a few classroom computers too if I want them (which I do).

Hopefully the “after” pictures will be much more inviting and cozy!

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