Teaching since Fall 2001 – 3rd year in 2nd grade

Classroom almost there

UntitledView from the door. I’ve got new curtains coming in. I had most of the furniture set up when I cane in and found 2 new desktops.  They took my writing center table for them, and that really needs to be replaced with a proper computer table because it is already bowing.

UntitledThe cupboards. The first long BB will have our schedule on it. The next will be the job board. The third will be our social contract.  The last two short ones  will have instructions about using the computers.



This will be the desk area. I deliberately organized it so it wasn’t focused on the Promethean board. Students will work in small groups or individually here. I don’t have a class list and the legislature basically threw class size limits out the window. So right now it is general. If the groups have to be close together. I’m going to hang ribbon in the areas that are not passages.

My guided reading/small group area. My word wall will go on the bulletin board. The letters were being laminated.

My CAFE board. I’m standing on the carpet whole group instruction area. It is centered between the CAFE wall, the Promethean, and the Math Wall


The carpet and Promethean Board area. I kept the carpet back from the Promethean area to give me a walk way. It is a big carpet, but the kids were crowded last year. The reason – We lost 2 – 3 feet of it because people needing a place to stand and use the Promethean.


My Math Wall. The area at the bottom is for the math word wall. I can’t finish the rest until we get our Calendar and stuff on Friday – then I’ll have a couple of hours to finish it before Meet the Teacher.

The other half of that wall is for my science wall. Including my science word wall. We are starting with states of matter. So I’m thinking about finding creative commons pictures of water, ice, steam to put up there and let the kids try to figure out the topic.

Oh and we are getting these huge number lines that have to go around by the ceiling. We are getting them Monday and Tuesday – I don’t know if that means
1. We will be handed them at the workshop we are attending and have to take them back to our school
2. Someone will be dropping them off in our room and we have to put them up
3. They will be having the aides put them up for us while we are at the workshop.

I think I’ll be trading off with my teammates. I’m tall enough to safely hang the number lines. They will help me with something down the line.


I made these math word wall cards for place value. The QR codes use http://qrvoice.net to read the word and give a definition.


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An instructional Technology Specialist from our district tweeted here, asking how much we agreed with the post 10 Things in School that should be obsolete. I couldn’t just respond in a tweet.

1. Computer Labs – I agree instead of upgrading labs we should be switching to laptops, tablets, and other portable technology. I think our district is doing a good job with this. New PolyConnect Computer Lab

2.  Learning in prescribed spaces.  Agreed. I like taking the kids out to our garden to work when possible. We are required to be able to see kids at all times. So I can’t have kids in the pod hallway unless I’m standing where I can see the room and the hall.

English: Social Studies classroom at Port Char...

3. TEACHER-CENTERED CLASSROOM – Agreed. I’m playing around with different classroom set ups for my room. I’ve pretty much decided to set up the desks so they are NOT centered on the Promethean board. I want to use the Daily 5 method. Teacher centered lessons are only 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Having the kids on the carpet, will help me keep from falling into old habits.

4. ISOLATED CLASSROOMS – Disagree with part of this. Yes teachers need to collaborate but the kids come first.  My school was built open concept in 1966. It was only a few years ago that we got our walls and doors. Before that the pods were unbearably noisy at times. Kids with ADHD, on the Autism Spectrum, and with various LD’s had a very hard time concentrating. Especially when one of my neighbors was a Spanish BIL teacher. Somehow it was harder to tune out the Spanish than English, maybe her voice just carried more. The kids simply could not focus. I remember a kid with ADHD telling me – Ms. Herbert my brain can’t figure out if it is supposed to be listening to you or Mrs. D. I know I’m supposed to listen to you but my brain keeps switching back and forth.  I have LD’s, and have experienced the same thing. One day last year, a tutor was working with kids in the hall. My door was open. I was supposed to be typing a comment from one of the students into a document, instead I typed what the tutor was saying. Her voice just over loaded my brain. (If I had been handwriting dollars to donuts I would have written the words in mirror image there were just to many distractions)

There are other ways for a teacher to connect with other teachers. I’ve been involved with online teaching community since the only options were BB and listservs. Now my district had a hash tag and I get tons of good ideas just following that twitter feed. If I need more information I tweet back or sometimes e-mail them.  Teachers are welcome in my room at any time.  Just please close the door behind you to keep the noise level down.

5. Departmental Organization. Yes teachers need to see the connections, so we can help our students build links between different types of knowledge.

6. School corridors – We have breeze ways between the pods – every pod opens into a central garden.  The halls in our pods tend to be used as a 5th classroom with various aids, tutors, and specialists.  Only the newest wing has a real corridor – and there are usually groups of kids with an adult working there.

7. Traditional Libraries – Agreed Our campus is heading that direction, but having growing pains as we figure it out. Kids at the library

8. Dark indoor gyms – Why not have PE outside most of the time. Kids need sunshine and fresh air. They shouldn’t be fussing that they NEEEEEED their jacket because the gym is cold.

9.  INSTITUTIONAL FOOD SERVICE. Lets make the food better first.   Hardly any fruit or veg (I don’t care what congress says ketchup and pizza sauce are NOT vegetables), frozen fried junk, pink slime.  I haven’t eaten the school lunches in years – but when I did I was often sick for days after because of the low quality. For some of my kids this and 2 bagged lunches over the weekend from Lunches of Love are the only food they get. We have to make it better.  If you walk through our cafeteria it tends to be being used all the time. 7 – 7:45 breakfast, 8 – 10 small groups, tutoring, PT and OT sessions, mentors with kids. 10 – 1 Lunch 1 – 2:30 small groups, tutoring, PT and OT sessions, mentors with kids. After school various clubs.

10 Large bathrooms – in absolute and complete agreement. The school I student taught in had 2 restrooms in EACH classroom. I believe the plumbing was part of a WPA project.  It was fantastic. You never had to interrupt learning for a group bathroom break. Especially good if you were in semi lockdown.  Several times last year we were in semi lock down due to tornadoes/hail/lightening. Our kids couldn’t go to our large bathrooms because they are outside and the set nearest my room were flooded with 3 – 5 inches of water. (On those days what corridors we have and the cafeteria were filled with classes from the portables.)

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Cover of "The CAFE Book: Engaging All Stu...

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I finished reading the Daily 5, and now I’m reading The CAFE book.

CHAPTER 1 is and introduction focusing on how they developed their system and the research that they used. What I liked best was they were upfront that teachers are going to have to adapt things to fit the requirements from principals, what the students need, and the teachers own style. People who know me know I consider “You must follow my directions exactly every single time” to be nothing more than CYA statements by people hustling frauds on schools giving themselves a ready made escape hatch that blames the teacher. That way when miracles don’t happen they can blame the teachers. Gail Boushey and Joan Moser do the opposite they say take what we found and run with it make it fit around your classroom.

Chapter 2 is about forms/ record keepingI like the record keeping method they have developed. I will be converting part of it to forms I can keep on google docs and/Evernote because that is easier on my dygraphic brain. Also I like the idea of having written notes with audio/video recordings on Evernote.

Reading Reading by couros Some rights reserved Creative commons Attribution, Non-commercial, Share alike

Chapter 3 is step by step how to use introduce CAFE during the first days of school. It gives you plenty of room to adapt, allows integration with other typical first week of school activities. I am going to commit haressy here. I am not a big fan of cute decorations or multitudes of anchor charts. I walk into some beautifully decorated rooms and feel like I’m trailing behind the Tartis as it hurls through time and space. How do kids with dyslexia, ADHD, and/or sensor integration problems cope with being in those explosions of color all day long.

In cintrasr The CAFE bulletin board is simple, clean looking and the kids,and teacher will be using it regularly. The one thing I will have to change is the cards with strategies on them. I will type these up ahead of time, because I avoid my dysgrapic hand writing being posted at all cost.

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CAFE Book, Book Study Chapters 1 -3 by http://wp.me/p2lyr-ef is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
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The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary GradesThe Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades by Gail Boushey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really like this system it is practical and not about cute little centers. The idea of breaking whole group teaching into smaller parts will help me stay focused and not go off on my GT tangents. The kids get large blocks of uninterrupted reading time.

I recommend this book for all elementary teachers. There are some modifications that would have to be made for the intermediate grades – but that will result in longer periods of reading. Also the techniques used for introducing Daily 5 would also work great with literature circles.

View all my reviews

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Daily 5 Chapter 1

1. How do I teach these behaviors –

Our scope and sequence for the district actually has Introduce Reading and Writing Workshops for 15 days at the beginning of the year.  We are encouraged to model, practice, and correct repeatedly the first weeks of school. Our principal feels this saves us much more time during the school year.  So this isn’t going to be a problem.

2. How do I teach these expectations

Again modeling, practicing, monitoring, and correcting problem

3. How do I monitor student behavior?

I am worried about students helping monitor each other. Our students have problems with being corrected. I am going to have to model how to ask people to stop doing things, and how to respond to such request often all year long.

4. What do I do when a child is not exhibiting the desired behavior?

I like the idea of having the children model the correct behavior during recess. We do that will walking in SSS lines. Why not do it with other behaviors.

5. Who’s classroom is it?

Our classroom. I’ve always felt that way. I was in authoritarian classrooms as a kid and was never safe because the bullies were favorites of the dictator teacher. I was safe in more democratic classrooms because the teacher listened.

6. Locus of control

I will continue to use a treasure box. I don’t see it as harmful to the kids. It is something we do at the end of the day to celebrate a good day.  In general I like to reward good behavior with more freedom and responsibility. I never like the whole class goes to the bathroom at the same time thing. This was a time I was bullied. I let the kids go the restroom as needed, unless I’m directly teaching. I do have them sign out and only one boy and one girl can be gone at a time.  The sign out is a small white board slate at the door. That way I can grab it during fire drills and the like.

7. Where will supplies be stored?

I start with supplies out for the students. If something is abused the class loses it for a  short period of time.

My own thoughts.
I love the schedule. I always have a problem with workstation fatigue. I like the idea of many lesson – rotation – mini lesson – rotation

The inspiration for this Math Station came from this post http://mrsjumpsclass.blogspot.com/2011/03/zoo-part-2.html .

I thought the anchor chart/whole group activity could easily be changed into an individual or pair activity for a Problem Solving Math Station.

The station includes a instruction sheet and a series of pages for the students to show their work on. The student picks a student sheet. Across the top it says And the Answer is …………. Followed by a QR code. The student then uses an Ipad 2 or Ipod with a camera to read the secret answer. The student comes up with a word problem that fits the answer. The word problem is neatly written on the paper – and the paper can be illustrated. Finally the student will post the problem on a problem solving bulletin board. For the other students to solve. It might even be picked to be spotlighted on our blog. The posting is the main reason I put the answer a QR code. This way other students can try and solve the problem and give feed back about any difficulties solving the problem. One thing I need to emphasize is that we want people to be able to solve the problems. You don’t “win” if your problem is too difficult to understand. There is a link to the center from the picture below.

Picture of Math Station Cover Sheet

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