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Setting up an intermediate classroom for the first time?  Or maybe just looking for some new ideas?  This is the post for you.

Word Wall

Word Wall in an intermediate classroom
Front view of the room before school started.
First up, is my word wall.  I didn't have one last year.  I didn't really think you needed one in grade 4.  Then I saw this joke....

 This made me think maybe sending them to a dictionary wasn't the best idea.  

That board above the white boards never really seems to get a lot of use.  Last year, I had my alphabet above it, and my number line on the board.  The number line was too high up and wasn't really functional.  So now, I brought it down low where it can be used as a giant manipulative.  
I wanted my word wall to be functional, but also, it had to look pretty if it was going to become a part of my class.  I decided (in a moment of insanity) to purchase 26 shades of fabric in rainbow colours.  A local fabric store gave me great deals once I said I was a teacher.  Thank you Sew it Yourself Shop!  I cut them and sewed them into a giant 16 foot panel.   It took forever, but it won't fade as fast as paper and I hope I can use it for several years.  I started the year with some words my last year's class ALWAYS spelled incorrectly, and we will be adding to it as the year progresses.

Class Library, VOICES and Positive Notes

This is a view of my back set of boards.  

Back wall boards, class library, and games.
I kept my cursive alphabet up above here.  In grade 4, you do learn how to handwrite.  I haven't started teaching this yet, but will be soon.   The long yellow portion was used to display "About Me" crests all year long last year.  The "Positive Notes" board now displays lots of thoughtful notes from me to students, students to me, and best of all students to other students.  The blanks live in the blue bins you see on the ledge just below.  The could write a "bucket slip", "I noticed" or "thank you".  The kids really like it when they receive one, and I love it that they are noticing the positive things we do for each other.
I am using the large blue board for a writing VOICES board.  This is 6 Traits inspired.  It now also has pieces that say "Voice", "Organization", "Ideas" etc.  We are starting with ideas so some more pieces have been added related to that as well.  My hope with this board is that it can become a giant self-assessment tool.  Students can refer to it to see if their writing fits the criteria that will grow throughout the year.
Lastly in that photo is my class library - organized and labeled of course and games for inside days.

Brain Breaks

New brain breaks idea.  Thanks 3rd Grade Thoughts!
One more thing I wanted to share is my brain breaks jar.  This is not my idea.  See the photo caption for a link to the designer, 3rd Grade Thoughts.  Last year, we had a series of favourite brain breaks on a chart paper, but it took up so much room.  This year, we have used this a handful of times and the kids are loving it.  I have let good listeners pick out a stick and everyone wants to have that responsibility!  They are eager to know which ones get pulled and love watching the reactions of the "pullers" to see if they got something fun like penguin waddle, or something more strenuous such as push ups. 

When we learn we grow!

I just wanted to share my hallway bulletin board I started the year with. Thanks to my dear friend Crystal for all your help!!

We layered dark, light, dark green paper, and then used an exacto to slice the blades of grass.   The flower centers are paper plates with cotton batting hot glued to it and then board paper wrapped around.   I cut the subjects out on my Cricut and glued them to the fronts.  The banner above reads "when we learn we grow!" (not growl as a colleague thought!!!)

Here is the inspiration for the board:

Are you interested in even more bulletin board ideas? Do you want to save time by finding them all in one place? Follow the image or button below to grab your copy of my free bulletin board inspiration guide. 

Take me to the guide!

Word Work!

This week, I introduced spelling groups to my new kiddos.  I have my class of 28 broken into four groups based on ability level.  We are starting with words that are a little below level for each group.  This keeps the stress level low, so they can focus on learning the word work tasks, but also, will help to boost their confidence when they do well on test day!

We do a variety of different tasks to practice our words including sorting them, writing them in alphabetical order and quizzing friends.  Tomorrow, we will type them up in the computer lab.  

Read about more word work options for the intermediate classroom here.
Today, the class had a choice between 3 activities: 
Scrabble Spelling
Place Value Spelling
What's your Word Worth?

Read on to see how these stations are used in my classroom.  Be sure to read all the way to the bottom for a freebie.
In Scrabble Spelling, you can use "scrabble tiles" I printed to build your word.  (The image below shows an older version of the file.) This works as a great center for word work with many age groups! Students will write each of their spelling words and use the chart to figure out the Scrabble value for each word.


Place Value Spelling is similar, but with base 10 blocks corresponding to each letter of the alphabet.  Each letter could be worth one, ten, one hundred, or one thousand.  This is a little bit more challenging math for some of the longer words.

If you purchase, you'll get three different versions with varying levels of difficulty:
♥ Ones and Tens
♥ Ones, Tens and Hundreds
♥ Ones, Tens, Hundreds and Thousands

What's your Word Worth? involves money.  I've created two versions: one with Canadian currency and another with American.   My students can use plastic money to help them figure out the values.

There are three American versions included:
#1: nickles, dimes, quarters, half dollars and dollars
#2: nickles, dimes, quarters and half dollars
#3: pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters

There are three Canadian versions included:
#1: nickles, dimes, quarters, loonies and toonies
#2: nickles, dimes, quarters and loonies
#3: pennies, nickles, dimes and quarters

I like these activities because of the math integration.  It's a good mix of hands on and written work.  Kids like it because they get to work around the room and with friends! 
I have at least 6 laminated sheets of each file in a folder with the recording sheets and manipulatives so it's all together.  Students know to pick the level for each that is most challenging for them.  I like that this puts some accountability on them for their learning.  If they are selecting a version of the file that is too easy for them, we can have a quick conversation about this and get them back on track.
My students do all work work in a separate notebook.  They create a T chart with the headings "word" and "value" to record their work.  However, I know a lot of people use duotangs.  I also have had some kids who have anxiety around creating their own blanklines.  With that in mind, I've created a recording sheet template.  Grab it for free here!



I've been thinking for a while about having a class blog and decided there was no time like the present!  I'm hoping that I can update often with pictures of things happening in my grade 4 class.  This year I have 28 students and there are always lots of fun things going on!