Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Classroom Tour 2014 and Changes in A104

If you've been around this blog for a while or if you've checked out my 2013 and 2012 Classroom Tours, you may notice an immediate difference in my room.

I've always been a "desks in rows" kind of teacher and now... well, definitely not rows! I've been calling them pods. There are currently four pods of six students and two pods of five students, though rumor has it my largest class (34!) is continuing to grow (!!) and I'm going to have to try to stuff at least one more desk in here (!!!) if not more!!!! (I hope the grave misuse of exclamation points accurately conveys my freaking-outness over these class sizes.)

Ah, yes, change is in the air in Room A104. It may be because my personality profile (according to the work of Jung and Briggs Meyers) identifies me as an INFJ so I feel a constant need to reflect and perfect. It may also be a little bit of nesting instinct thanks to being 25 weeks pregnant. Either way, I've gone hog-wild and decided to make several changes to my room, my curriculum, my class organization, and my grading policies.

Today is just a room tour (with a few sneak peeks at some of my changes I'm making) but I hope to elaborate on some of these changes over the next week or so before I return to school.

So, here are a few more full-room views, from my classroom door.

Here's a closer look at my bulletin board by the door.

1. Consequences List - I keep a list posted of the positive and negative consequences that follow choices made in my classroom. After a conversation with a student at the end of last school year, I realized that I do a really good job following through with the negative consequences and a LOUSY job with the positive ones (a.k.a. "rewards") and that made me fell like a total asshat, so that lead to one of my changes I'm making this year.

2. Classroom Procedures - I keep my classroom procedures posted all year too. A few people have asked about those, so I posted my own classroom procedures and consequences for your viewing pleasure.

3. Lanyard with Rosters - I found this idea somewhere over the summer and for the life of me I can't recall where, but it's a damn good idea. I printed off my class rosters, clipped them to the lanyard, and hung it up by my classroom door. Now, in the event of a fire drill, I can just grab the lanyard on the way out the door instead of hunting for my seating charts.

4. Class Rewards Card Poster - my solution to the positive consequences issue. Students will be issued rewards cards (just like you get at mall stores and gas stations). 10 punches = 1 filled card = incentives. Punches will not necessarily be easy to earn, though. I don't want them working only for incentives. I want the incentives to be a bonus. More details at a later date.

5. Skills Grading Rubric - part of my new grading plan that I was mulling over in this post. I took the idea and most of the wording from here at the Everybody Is a Genius blog. That chick is awesome and has inspired me greatly this summer. Check her out and give her some internet love!

Here are some more pictures of the same old thing, just updated labels. (My old ones were looking a little rough around the edges.)

My board calendar I love so well! I had to ditch the ribbon because it didn't stick well and it goes really fugly as the year went ont.

Homework grid

Homework trays, absent binder, book suggestions binder, paper storage...
Oh, see those pencil pouches in front of the absent binder? I finally put together some storage for the mini-whiteboard fake-whiteboards-that-are-actually-white-cardstock-sheets-stuck-in-a-paper-condom supplies.

Some new bins for handouts, right by the door.

New this year. This wall is doing double-duty as an early finishers wall and a supporting assignments wall.

This is the bin of supplies at each pod. The supplies bins (and the pod seating) found their way into my classroom with the decision to try doing interactive notebooks this year (which I am fondly referring to as Smash Books).

So, that's my room this year! Lots of changes. Are you making any changes to your room this year? Tell us about it in the comments below. I love hearing other teachers' ideas!


  1. Ooohhh is all I can say. I am anxiously awaiting the posts to follow this one. I like calling them smash books. I am hoping to use them in my new civics and economics class that I get to teach for the first time this year. If all goes well, I will add to English. Oh, and I am making that sign for my void you sent me!
    Kovescence of the Mind

    1. Definitely post a picture of the finished product! I haven't made one yet, but I'm seriously considering it. :)

  2. As an INFJ, I totally get you on the need to constantly reflect. I adore your redesign, and I am so in the same boat when it comes to class sizes. I am personally torn between requiring students to bring a composition notebook to create an interactive notebook or just making it a section in their 3-ring binder. It seemed to me to be a constant struggle last year to make sure students had their notebooks; any suggestions?

    1. One of the reasons I'm going with the interactive notebooks (and, in particular, using composition books for them) is because our three-ring binders just weren't doing what I wanted them to do. I LOVE binders and I have always been a binder teacher until this year, but they don't work well for students who don't take care of them. The rings get crunched and don't line up, papers fall out, and the kids just saw them as a tedious task. I feel like the comp books will be hardier. In addition, I'm not a big believer in binder-check grades so not all students felt the need to hang on to it. My hope (key word) is that the notebooks will seem (to them) to be an absolutely essential tool for passing the class. I'm also hoping to help them build a connection to the notebook by personalizing it like crazy, so maybe they'll want to keep it.

  3. How are you using interactive notebooks? I'm thinking about incorporating them myself. I could use some information, please!

    1. Sarah, I just published a post about this.

      There are tons of amazing resources out there for using ISNs. I would definitely recommend checking out the blog I mention in the post, Everybody is a Genius. It was a huge inspiration!

  4. Thank you for sharing your procedures with all of us first year teachers!!!

  5. I am so happy to know I am not the only one who is changing a lot in their classroom! I am doing groups, standards based grading, INB, and game based learning all in one year. I have experimented a little with each except standards based grading but that was a department wide movement. I can't wait for later posts to see how all of your changes are working for you!

  6. Are you planning on going into detail about the rewards card? As a preserve teacher, I am interested in classroom management, especially in regard to reward/incentives. Thanks for sharing!

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