Sunday, August 23, 2015

New Classroom, New Ideas

I plan to blog again soon showing my "after" pictures. I still have a few finishing touches to add (even though students start tomorrow!).

For now, I wanted to focus on two new ideas that I'm trying in my "new" (to me) classroom. I'm moving from the 7th/8th grade hallway on the 3rd floor down to the 6th grade hallway in Room 211. If you are a number nerd, like me (but I'm no Terry Tao), you will appreciate these facts about my new classroom number:

-211 is can be made by adding three consecutive primes: 67 + 71 + 73
-If you multiply the digits, you get a number that is still prime (2 x 1 x 1 = 2)
-If you add the digits, you get a square: 2 + 1 + 1 = 4
-211 is the 47th prime number (and 47 is also prime)
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Okay, back to my classroom. One new idea I'm trying is ditching the teacher desk! Again, I'll share a pic soon of the completed room. I'm so excited about how much room I've gained by getting rid of that clutter magnet!


Here are some questions I've gotten from teachers that notice I have no teacher desk in the room:
Q:Where did it go?
A: My awesome custodian removed it for me. Not sure where it went, hopefully to a new home and to a teacher that wanted it!

Q: Where did you put all the stuff?
A: I either threw it away, donated, or found spots in my cabinets. It really wasn't that hard!

Q: Where will you work?
A: It got to the point, in my old room, that my desk was so cluttered that I didn't do much work there anyway! I usually just took my papers to the student tables to work. I plan to do that this year too. 

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As I've written about in previous posts (here and here), I'm thinking about trying quite a few things this year. I've purchased several chalkboards to do the vertical non-permanent surface (#VPNS) idea. I'm also going to switch up groups often. Last year, I did groups of four but I think that it is difficult to get all four students engaged in the group work. This year, I'm going to try groups of three. I think this will help keep everyone engaged and accountable. Plus, I imagine this is better for grouping around a VNPS.

I will take pictures of my table arrangements soon, but for now, here is a visual:
As you can see, there are three tables grouped together to make seats for 6 students. I have 5 of these pods in the room with seating for 30 students because I'm anticipating pretty big classes.

Next, I wanted to think how I would label the desks to easily identify letters, pairs, and groups of three. I like to have letters for easy management, such as "seat E, come get glue sticks for your group," I like pairs for think-pair-share, and, as I mentioned, I want groups of three.

Here is the system I'm using:

The letters are pretty easy to understand. The thinking behind the pink/green square is so that I can say, "turn to your partner, if you are pink you answer the question first and green will listen, then switch." Then the is a background color (yellow or blue) that I can use to group them into groups of three. I put these labels on the corners of the tables and secured with packing tape. They last pretty well, and I usually redo them when they start to look a little beat up or kids pick at the tape (usually at the quarter or semester).

Looking forward to adding my "finishing touches" to my classroom and taking pictures to share with you!





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