We started school on Wednesday, so I've had three days with my kiddos. They are still being perfect little angels, and, boy, am I enjoying it! Aside from the fact that I have a TON of planning left to do to be ready for tomorrow, I'm excited for school. That was rarely heard from me last year.
Some great things from my week: (Sorry, no pictures of most of it ... I didn't take ANY with my kiddos this week! I'm so beyond grumpy with myself for that!)
- Teambuilding. My new principal supports us spending time team-building/building community in our classrooms even if it isn't content related! Yay! We did puzzles in groups (all 8 groups with the same puzzle. Thanks Dollar Tree!) and Saving Fred. Then we spent time talking about what worked well and what didn't. Thanks for these ideas, Lorraine at Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies! For those of you who don't know about Saving Fred, Fred is a not-so-smart worm (of the gummy variety) who went boating even though he doesn't know how to swim. He brought a life preserver (gummy lifesaver), but wasn't wearing it when his boat capsized. Now the life preserver is under the capsized boat and poor Fred is on top. The students have to work in groups to save Fred ... BUT ... they can't touch Fred, his boat, or his life preserver with their hands. They have to use paperclips only. I had them use toothpicks instead because I don't want them to think there can ever be a undone paper clip in my classroom (I think I'm a bit neurotic about that, but my first lesson of my first student teaching placement had a opened up paper clip poking fight interrupt it, so I'm forever scarred). It was an awesome way to end our first week of school!
- My Classroom Library. I reorganized my classroom library big time this year. Moving classrooms inspired me to take the time because the books got unorganized anyway during the move. Gotta love little helpers. I don't have a picture of my library from last year, but imagine two tall book cases (taller than many of my kiddos) jammed in a corner between cubbies and the door. Imagine them jam-packed with books. All you can see is the spine, which has the AR level taped to it. They are organized by level. Here is my library this year:
It looks so much more friendly. Books organized by genre, author, and series. You can see covers. Every kiddo can reach every book! I was happy with it before any of my students laid eyes on it, but their excitement confirmed mine. We spent some parts of the morning gathered near the library (it's my whole group floor area too), which I know was a tease of the library for them. After recess, we brainstormed how we choose books, and I introduced IPICK. We went over library rules and being respectful of books. They were practically drooling to look at books at this point. I gave everyone an independent activity to do and then called small groups over to choose a book. They were so excited for their turn and were hugging the books as they walked back to their desks. All they wanted to do was read. It was WONDERFUL. Almost every student asked to take a book home to read. I love the excitement over reading!
- My rainstick. I got a rainstick during student teaching. One of my professors ordered them in bulk and then sold them to us. They were cheap because of buying in bulk, but they are really high quality. For some reason, I never used it last year. This year, it was my first attention getting method I taught the kiddos. They are doing FANTASTIC with it! The look so quickly every time and are completely silent! When my new principal came in to introduce herself, they did it just as perfect as they had before, and she was impressed. Nothing like having your kiddos impress the new principal during the first week of school!
- Privacy screens. For state testing last year, I had a parent laminate file folders to make privacy screens (sorry no, pics, but it's two file folders end to end). This year, I have them where the students can get them any time they want. About half of my class has chosen to for every independent assignment we did this week. They were silent while using them. I'm hoping that will last!
I hope all of your first weeks went/go well!