My Classroom (In Progress)

This week, I was able to get back into my classroom to start setting it up! I have a new classroom this year, so the set-up that I have been doing for 2 years had to change. Even when I taught kindergarten, my room layout was similar to my old 4th grade room, so the set-up was very similar. It was fun to have a totally different layout and take a chance on something different. I could not have come up with some of the layout without my amazing teammates to bounce ideas off of.

My room is absolutely not finished, but I am happy enough to be able to post some pictures. Keep in mind that I was working on this classroom on a Virginia summer day with no air conditioning. It was a little lot warm. You will also see some piles that still need organizing and projects that are unfinished. As I was taking pictures, I moved the larger piles to behind the camera, so they would remain hidden.

Welcome to the land of Peanuts and Polka-dots!

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This is my student area, where kiddos can access Children’s Engineering and school  supplies. You will see some details in other pictures.

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These are my community supply bins. They hold pencils, crayons, checking pens, colored pencils, magnets, markers, glue sticks, scissors, glue bottles, writing paper, math paper (grid paper), and watercolors.

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Here’s a look at some grammar information and the community supply bins:

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Here are some tools that I allow my students to use for projects, especially Children’s Engineering. I have more supplies that I have ordered, so this will have more by the start of school. The three horizontal slots will hold construction paper scraps throughout the year. Students can use those scraps at any time.

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I love how this corner turned out. Thanks to Kohl’s, I have been able to get some adorable picture book character stuffed animals. I have accumulated a great collection of Peanuts characters from friends, family, and students. These are only a fraction of my collection.

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This is my electronic pencil sharpener and the “Sharpen Me” bucket. Students are only able to sharpen pencils at the beginning and the end of the day. If they need more pencils, they can go at any time to the community pencil bin. My students are usually disappointed to find out that I do not allow them to have a hand-held pencil sharpener at their desk. As cute as some of these sharpeners can be, it is inevitable that they fall, break apart, and spread pencil shreds on the floor.

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I have been collecting my novel study books with the help of other teacher friends and bonus points from Scholastic. I think I have 30 different books of various levels. When a reading group starts a novel study, I give them about 3 different book options, and the group picks their own book to read.

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I have two boards in my classroom: a dry erase whiteboard and a blackboard. Like most teachers, I would much prefer to use a whiteboard. This means that, even though my chalkboard is the bigger of the two, I oriented my room so that the whiteboard was in the front. I can use my chalkboard for other tasks, such as my calendar, homework, biker/walker sign, and Word of the Day.

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This is a closeup of my walker/biker signs. Of course they have Snoopy on them!

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My Word of the Day program is something that I borrowed from an amazing teacher at out school. It really helps as I get my students ready for our Writing Predictor test in March. Students hear the WoD in a sentence, and they have to guess what it means. Once they understand the definition and use of it, students go home and share it with their parents. Then, they are in charge of looking for it in their books, TV, radio, or in everyday conversation. They write down the sentence that they heard and bring it in to share with the class. Once a sentence has been shared (in correct context) 10 times, the word is retired and placed on our retired word wall.

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I used to have many more jobs than these. Now, these two are all that I really need. I have Snoopy tags that each student’s name, and I rotate through them each week.

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Fourth graders make the best helpers! These are the jobs that I developed for the end of the day for students to help me.

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Because I only have one window in my room this year, I have a large open space. After pinning many different anchor charts on Pinterest this summer, I decided it would be nice to have an entire wall dedicated to this. It will grow as I make charts with my class.

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This is my small group corner with my anchor chart wall, Investigation Station, and small group table.

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These are my math manipulatives. I have many, many more, but they are currently in my garage. I brought them home to help to tutor students over the summer.

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A close-up of some manipulatives:

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I have always been very proud of my classroom library. We have an outstanding school library, but I love children’s books. Once I realized I wanted to be a teacher, I started collecting picture books and novels. One summer, I did an inventory of all of my books, so that I would stop buying duplicates. You do not want to know how many I have. I have arranged my books by genre, and I feel like this has helped to make my library successful. My kids love to go “shop” and get recommendations from other students.

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Students can return or renew books for our school library here. This will save them a trip to the library if it is just to return a book and not to check another one out.

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This is where students can pick up a clipboard to work around the room or check out a classroom library book.

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My information books used to be on my Investigation Station. This year, I am putting them with my library books so that they can be checked out along with the novels. I have many books that go with each of our VA Studies and science units.

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I made/bought these “whisper phones” when I taught kindergarten, but they are fantastic for fluency stations for 4th graders as well!

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Here’s the pillow that I made! It will be very nice to use when I work on Word Study on the floor with my kiddos.

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Here’s a view of the whole library. I still have some cleaning up to do.

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This is the cubby area in the back of the room.

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This is my Choices Board, just missing the clothespins for each student. Everyone starts each day on “Ready to Learn,” and they can go up or down, depending on their actions. I love that the “Teacher’s Choice” gives me the option to choose an appropriate consequence. This makes it very specific to the child and their behavior. Sometimes, all a student needs is a chit-chat with me in the hall while another child may need a silent lunch. This gives that flexibility. If a student ends a day on “Outstanding Choices,” they get a polka dot on their clip. If they get 5 polka dots, they get a reward.

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Here are the cubbies, all ready for students to arrive at Open House!

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This is my desk. It is the cleanest you will ever see it!

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These are some of the piles to clean up!

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This is where students turn in their work.

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Here are some games for rainy days.

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I still love my bathroom passes! Students sign out to go the bathroom and put the pass on their desk. When they return, they will get a squirt of hand sanitizer before signing back in.

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While the door is not complete, it gives you an idea of it.

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My sink and cabinet organization:

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Each table group has a Snoopy doghouse number and a character. This is the Lucy table.

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With that, you have seen my classroom! What do you think?

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Comments

  1. Jenny G. says:

    I love your Peanuts theme and all your great organization ideas! I’m making notes for myself for when I get back into my classroom in a few weeks. Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • Thanks so much, Jenny! I’m so glad you found this post and the blog! It’s a little bittersweet that I won’t be returning to the classroom this year as I make room for two little Peanuts of my own… but of course I will be using some of these organizational tricks for the twins and their playroom. I would love to see pictures of your classroom as you get it ready!

  2. Shannon says:

    I love your classroom! And, more importantly, congrats on being pregnant with twins! How exciting!

    I’m heading in to my first classroom at a new school on Monday, and it’s my first 4th grade classroom at that. I will only be teaching language arts and social studies – l.a. to two groups and social studies to my homeroom. I previously taught 5th grade math and 6th grade reading, but I’m very excited to head into my third year of teaching at my dream school and dream grade level! 🙂

    I have a couple of questions.

    1) Was there anything about this set up that didn’t work for you this past year? Anything that you would change if you were going to be back this year?

    2) Could you elaborate a bit on your “Choices” board? I love that idea, by the way! I’m just wondering how you put dots on their clips… are they velcroed on? Any more details you can provide about that is much appreciated.

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Shannon! Thanks so much for finding the blog and asking these great questions! I think that you will absolutely love 4th grade. After teaching a few different grades, 4th was definitely a perfect fit for me. I love that the kids are old enough that they can think on their owns and be independent, but they still love to be at school and are so impressionable. Congrats!!!

      To answer your questions:

      1. One thing that I struggled with was the posters. I inherited lots of amazing posters from retiring teachers, but I always struggled with changing them when we moved on to a different unit. I know some teachers are really good about staying on top of this, but I had troubles. I knew this about myself, so I had good, basic posters that could be used for a while. Of course, it is wonderful to see the kids light up when they walked in the room and thought, “I know something is different, but I need to figure out what it is.” It brings about a good energy to the room when things change out.

      I also would recommend to be careful with your color selections for big background colors. Too many patterns or bright reds or neons bring a different energy than more subdued blues, greens, and purples. They don’t have to be dull colors, but I could see a marked difference in the behaviors and concentration of my kids when I had red bulletin boards and then when I switched them out to purples, greens, or blues. So, in my experience, stay away from red. You can see that I did have a slight background (white with polkadots) to my boards in that classroom. I did that because I only had 1 window in that room, so I needed light, bright colors to make the room more airy. So, think about colors and pattern and how that will affect your kiddos.

      Finally, because this was my 3rd year teaching fourth grade, I had gotten my routines down pretty well. I made sure to thoroughly teach the kids how to check out books, where to find supplies, where to put things back, etc. Of course, I still had the one or two kids that, during the last week of school, still didn’t know where things went or what to do, but that comes with the age. We made sure to make the class was like a community: we succeeded together and we faced problems together. That helped so that when a student didn’t know what to do (even early on), I could call on another student to help them, instead of repeating the same directions that I had earlier in the year. I would only do whole-class lessons on procedures when I noticed many students had forgotten what to do.

      2. The Choices Board is my absolute favorite way of individual discipline! Each student started the day with a clothespin clipped to “Ready to Learn.” Their clothespins had their class number on them (so it was a bit anonymous, instead of shouting out that Sally was yet again on “Teacher’s Choice” or Johnny was at “Great Choices”). I really just looked to see what kinds of behaviors they were doing during the day, and if something caught my eye, I would tell them to clip up (or down). I started the year by doing lots of clip-ups or downs, so that the kids could get the hang of my expectations. What really helped was that the other teachers did this system too, so when we switched classes/students and I wanted to praise them, I would tell their homeroom teacher that Hannah needed to clip up because she did XYZ. I also let the kids be in charge of actually doing their own clip-ups/downs, because it put them in control of their actions. They would have to walk over to the board and make the change. For the polkadots, I just took a permanent marker and put a dot on it, if they ended the day on “Outstanding Choices.” I let the kids take their clips home at the end of the year.

      Here is a terrific PDF about the Ready to Learn board: http://www.newmanagement.com/ebooks/pdf/clip_chart_ebook.pdf . I didn’t do it exactly as he states, but it is a good place to start. If you search “Ready to Learn,” you can also find letters that several teachers used to send home to explain the concept. You can format one to fit your teaching style.

      In addition, to make it easier on myself, I didn’t do anything for whole-class rewards (ex: Warm and Fuzzies, popcorn kernels, etc.). Instead, if the class was having a great day, I would take them out for 5-10 minutes of extra recess, or I would clip up everyone in the class. In the years where we had Warm and Fuzzies, it took too long to fill the bucket and the kids lost interest (and I did, too). I liked this because it was easier on me and it provided instant feedback for the kids (today is a good day, so let’s celebrate).

      I hope this information helps!

      Good luck to you, and I hope you will send me some pictures of your classroom!

      • Shannon says:

        Thank you so much for this fantastic feedback! I will definitely check out the site you linked and research more on “ready to learn.” I also really, really like the idea of the instant rewards… the today is a good day, let’s celebrate is a great mentality. I’m sure with 4th graders it works better than the drops in a bucket mentality… I can see them losing interest quickly if they don’t get filled fast enough.

        I will certainly post some pictures once my classroom is all set up… just give me a week or two. 🙂 Thanks again!

  3. mary jo says:

    Love your classroom. Can you tell me where you got the snoopy houses that are over your tables. I love that idea!

    • Thanks so much! They were actually gift boxes from Hallmark a few years back. I found them on eBay. They weren’t cheap, but they were exactly what I wanted for my room, and the kids LOVED them!

  4. Christina says:

    Can you tell me where you bought the snoopy dog houses?? Thank you

    • They are originally from Hallmark, although I found them on eBay, since they were out of stock by the time I wanted them for my classroom. Good luck! They were such a huge hit in my classroom!

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