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Getting Ready for Back to School!

Each year I look forward to getting back in my classroom.  I usually have so many new ideas I want to try!  I love starting the year fresh with a new look.  Of course, that's never easy.  It takes time.  But I tell you - it is SO worth it!

So far, I've spent two days back in my classroom.  I don't want to share too much, because I plan on doing a big reveal, but here are some tidbits of what I've been up to.

Ryan has been crafty.  He painted me up this paintbrush handle made from a cardboard box we stole from the bin at The Brick.  I'm loving what this has turned into!!

 I put up this alphabet from Little Lovely Leaders.  I love the rainbow colours and the math integration!  The space below is this weird gap between the top of the Smart Board and the top of the white boards.  I have a plan for what I'm putting in there.....

 My labels were fine.... really.  But, just fine.  I wanted awesome.  I created class library labels that match the genre posters I use as best I could.  Others are images for book series and real life pictures of math manipulatives etc for those bins.  I wanted to include a picture with the label.  I think this will help out my ELL students, but also hopefully help EVERYONE get things back where they belong.  

I laminated them with my home laminator so they are nice and thick and hot glued them on.  It was really speedy.  I didn't like the rings on my old labels. 

Something is happening here.... I don't know totally know what... You'll have to stay tuned.  But, don't you love my new carpet??

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Classroom Habitudes: Week 4


In case you aren't familiar with the book, here's a listing of the 7 Habitudes covered: 

The last two are on the blog today - passion and adaptability.

I've seen a lot of posts about Genius Hour and I think it's a great way to have students share their unique passion with classmates.  Everyone brings something unique to the table and it's important to embrace that in the classroom.

The B.C. government is developing new curriculum documents.  With that, they are also bringing out what they are calling the "Core Competencies".  One of those competencies is called the "Personal and Social Competency".

Personal and Social—Personal and social competency is the set of abilities that relate to students' identity in the world, both as individuals and as members of their community and society. Personal and social competency encompasses the abilities students need to thrive as individuals, to understand and care about themselves and others, and to find and achieve their purposes in the world.

The passion Habitude ties quite nicely into this, don't you think?

 Something I've heard about others doing is called "Identity Day".  In this, students would create a board (like a science fair board) about a particular passion they want to share with classmates.  Family is invited in, and students present the one aspect of their identity.

I agree with this wholeheartedly!  Everything that happens in my classroom needs to be intentional and with purpose.  It all needs to build skill sets and be connected to real world opportunities.  I'm reminded of "Teach Like a Pirate" by  Dave Burgess.  The "P" in pirate stands for passion.  Dave argues that every lesson should be presented with passion.  And, as the teacher, if you can't find passion in the topic material, you can (and should) be passionate in the delivery.  You bet!

The final Habitude is adaptability.  I think this is one we don't talk about often enough.

 Angela has her class create "Portraits of an Adaptive Learner".  One of the elements she recognized is the ability to recognize that change will happen whether you accept it or not.  This one caught my eye!  I know I personally have seen resistance to change (staff meetings, anyone?), but the fact is, it's going to happen.  We need to teach our kids ways to adapt and change when problems arise.

One tool I use in my classroom is the F.R.I.E.N.D.S. program.  


The title is misleading as it is not a program for positive relationships. It is an anxiety prevention program.  Students are provided with coping step tools and strategies.  I LOVE this program and have used it for years.

That's all for me.  I hope you've enjoyed reading my thoughts week after week.  I hope you'll go pick up your own copy.  Let me know which Habitudes you teach in your classroom.

Want to read more book study thoughts?

Pin this post.


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Lets Talk Bulletin Boards!

I'm sharing five tips to make your bulletin boards pop using images of past bulletin boards.  (Each image is linked to the original post.)


Tip #1: Use oil pastels to write directly on the bulletin board paper.

You can do some really fun details this way!  Draw arrows, create fun borders around elements, make unique lettering.  

If you're nervous about freehanding, you can lightly pencil your design out first, but be careful not too press too hard, because the lines will show through.

Tip #2: Don't be afraid to attach every day items to your board.

I *LOVE* this board!  It may be my favourite board to date.  Staples, velcro and hot glue were used in high quantities to create this.  Some old markers, highlighters and scissors were hot glued in the pencil case.  The notebooks had been partially used, and we just tore those few pages out.  The backpack was bought in the clearance section at Walmart.  

Using every day items adds some unique interest to your board.  In Tip # 1, we used my old lab coat from University! 


Tip # 3: It's okay to extend past bulletin board edges!

I often have elements extend past the edges of my boards.  If I'm doing a tree, the branches and leaves will go past the board.  My back to school board last year (shown in Tip #5) went up to the ceiling!  

The flowers on the board above extend past the sides, giving a more natural and spread out look.  I've also added a banner above the top with an inspirational saying.

Tip #4: Dollar Store tablecloths are your friend!

Love, love, love me some Dollar Store tablecloths!  

They are so very versatile.  Many different types of 3D elements (the clouds in Tip #5 and the brain that this image is linked to, for example) can be made with them.  

Once they are used and all staple-holed up, I reuse them as stuffing material (like in the mad scientists jacket!).

I've usually got a good supply of these on hand, because you never know when you're going to do some impromptu bulletin board makin'!

Tip #5: Use decorative paper plates to make your titles stand out.

Another Dollar Store find.  #teacherslovedollardeals

Patterned paper plates are a really easy way to add oomph to your boards.  And easy too!  Just position your letter over the place, and use one staple to attach it all.  It comes apart easy afterward too.

Which of these tips have you used?  Any you're going to try?

Check out my Bulletin Boards Pinterest board for more ideas.
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!

Inspired by this idea? Pin it for later!

Helping to inspire,
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Planning for the First Weeks of School

This is a very long post, but make sure you stick it out the whole way through because you're going to find a freebie along the way!

No matter what grade you teach, knowing your expectations is key.  There are so many things to think about!  From the way you organize the desks, to how you gain student attention... it all matters.

Here's just a few classroom procedures I teach in the first week of school:

Above all else, no matter what your expectations are, it's so important to keep them consistent.


So, whatever you choose, stick with it!

Over the years, I've developed a learning sequence that I use to build my classroom community and create my class agreement.  I've also created a sequence for teaching about the brain and a growth mindset.  To me, these things needs to happen first.  I can't teach the academics until I've got a solid community in my classroom.

Click here for a previous post on how I build my classroom community in more detail.

To sort everything out and keep myself on track, I've developed a plan for my first 5 weeks of school.  It's more in depth than my year long previews, but less so than my day to day plans.  It just gives me an idea of where I'm going in that first month when things are so hectic.

Here's a shot of what that's looking like for the 2015/16 school year:


You can see it's just snippets of lessons, titles really.  But I can tell at a glance what each of these items represents in my room.

(If you have any questions, I'd be more than happy to answer!  Just let me know in the comments.)

Are you thinking, wow! I need this?  Well, you're in luck then!  I've created a fully editable version of this for you

Click here to get your own free copy! 

One of the items I'd like to draw your attention to is under the classroom management section: Voice Levels.

I place all posters from 0-4 on my whiteboard in order from lowest to highest ahead of time.  I've also got a summary piece with all the levels on one page.  This is the page that remains up all year for reference.

I go over each card one by one.   The first card is the easiest for kids to understand, 0 - silent.  No sound.

Things get a little bit louder from there: whisper, partners, groups.

When you get to 4, it's a bit trickier.  One voice is nice and loud (the loudest in fact) but all the rest are silent and listening.

Once I've talked about each, we practice.  I start at 0, everyone is quiet.  Then I move to 1, and the room is filled with whispers.  We work our way up and then back down to 0.  I like to them randomize the numbers.

The kids find it fun and it shows me they really understand each level.
Even as soon as the very next day, I was able to say "I would like a volume level 1 for this activity" and my class was able to get off to work with a whisper voice!
If you're wanting to grab this item, it comes a few different versions:



Helping to inspire,
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