Saturday, August 10, 2013

Welcome Back Mustangs!

** Warning: The following post is ridiculously long... 
                      but also ridiculously awesome. So read it! :) **

Welcome back banner I painted!
After a full week of pre-planning, school started back for our kiddos on Wednesday (middle of the week.... weird... I know)! I'm so excited and ready for year two of teaching!! I'm determined to make this year run even more smoothly than last year.. and in order to achieve that, I worked on my classroom quite a bit. Some things have been physically rearranged to provide more efficiency and my classroom management strategies have been altered. Only three days into the new school year and I can already say that things are going MUCH better!
During our pre-planning, my principle said something that really stuck with me.

"You get what you expect, and you get what you allow."

This really made me think about the way that I had run my classroom last year. I presented my expectations to my students, but I often had poor follow-through with discipline. The second I "allowed" my students to challenge my authority, I essentially gave them the green light to do it all year.
NOT this year! :) Year two Ms. Gram is slapping down bad behavior (figuratively of course) as soon as it occurs and I am refusing to accept anything less then the standards I set for my kids.
I'm teaching each one of my classes to wait SINGLE, STRAIGHT, and SILENT outside my classroom door until I invite them in. I did this last year... but would often let them in when they were still talking. NOT this year! I am also being a lot more conscious about the noise level in my room.
During my first year I had trouble balancing being the fun teacher and being the more strict classroom management teacher. This year I have finally realized that I have the ability to be both at the same time. Hooray for professional growth!

Anyways... now to show you around my room.

My classroom
 
...and more of it!










Don't you love my teal
cabinets? ;) hahaha
 This year I moved my drying racks from the back corner of my classroom to the front area close to my storage closet and sinks. This way as I am helping to load my student's work in, I can also be close to the sinks to monitor behavior as students wash their hands (an issue last year). I also made colored arrows to direct the three tables on the one side of my classroom to one sink and the other three to the other sink.
As a result of that move, I also moved my bookshelf over to the side of my student computer table. This creates a more enclosed area by my desk which I really enjoy (and my fake plant is closer now!). It also creates a more defined carpet/reading space for my kids.
Front of my room.
I also angled my desk which allows for better supervision and creates a more dynamic space for me to work in. It's also just a nice change from what it was. New year, new class.

Underneath my "Elements of Art" space on my bulletin board, I transformed what used to be my supply table, to an independent working student table. So now I have a completely separate space for students to work at if they need some alone/behavior reflection time.
Independent table.
Each year in my county, art teachers at each school are allowed to select one "bid item" from a county-created list. This is how teachers can get new kilns if they are needed, storage carts, and other bigger ticket art tools (the other art teacher at my school just got a new slab roller). Last year I selected to get a new wares cart. Unfortunately however I do not have enough space in my storage closet to put it in there... so I decided instead to put it next to my desk (in front of the bulletin board) and am using that as my supply/storage area.

Centers! They're a little scattered now.
Hoping to organize them even better later.
I also decided last year that this year I really wanted to better establish centers in my classroom (for when students finish early). So this year I put my two overhead projector carts near one of the windows in my classroom and am using them to hold all my centers. So far I have a magnetic mosaic patterning block center, a weaving/sewing center (more to come on this), a playdoh center, a texture rubbing center, an origami center, a how-to-draw center (so far I have a dragon drawing book and a graffiti book), and then several different art worksheets and scrap paper. I spent Thursday and Friday rotating my 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grade students through all these centers so that they would have the opportunity to explore the possibilities of each center and learn the proper usage and cleanup procedures for each. This is also great because now I know that I can trust these students to do centers on days when I need a sub!

Jobs Chart
(There is a zip-lock bag stapled to my
bulletin board behind the chart to hold
additional job cards.)
I also implemented a new "jobs" management system. At each of my color tables, I have my seats numbered from 1-5 (the numbers are written in sharpie on the tape wrapped around each table). For K-3rd I assigned seats, and for 4th-5th this year I let them pick their own and then had them write their names in on my seating chart. So each student has a color table they belong to and a number from 1-5. On my jobs chart I have the numbers 1-5 and them have a job card next to each number. These cards can be rearranged as needed, so jobs can be constantly changing. Each student is responsible for looking at the chart when they come in to my classroom and are responsible for completing said job. My jobs are as follows...
1. Super Supervisor - Supervises to make sure all jobs are being completed correctly at their table and are ultimately responsible for making sure they all get done. These students may help with other jobs as needed and are the "subs" in case someone is missing from their table.
2. Table Wiper - Makes sure tables are clean and wiped down at the end of class.
3. Art Collector - Collects all the artwork at their color table and brings it to me to be filed away in the correct color folder in their grade level drawer. 4th/5th grade art collectors are also in charge of taking out and putting sketchbooks for all students at their table.
4. Helping Hands - Helps to pass out and collect supplies for their color table. Also makes sure that things are put away properly.
5. Bucket Boss - Makes sure that the table caddy at their table is clean of any trash, contains 6 sharpened pencils (eraser-side up), 3 bigger erasers, and crayons.
6. Scrap Monster - Cleans up all the scraps and trash from around the table.
7. Paintbrush Police - Helps to fill up and empty water buckets from tables when we paint, helps to manage paint refills, and may help clean brushes if needed.

So far this jobs system has been AWESOME and significantly more effective then what I did last year...
Me: "Number 3's collect scissors, number 4's collect glues, number 5's ......"
Student (3): What is my job again?
Me: (In my head) "Ahhh I can't remember."
       (To student) "Maybe you should ask someone who was listening!"

The students really enjoy the jobs too!

This year I decided to do the colored "A R T" behavior system that I did last year (you lose a letter if your class is too loud or not following directions)... but this year I took it a step further. Now the color that they end on at the end of class determines the color "ticket" that is given to their teacher for the day. A green ticket means they did a great job and kept all letters, a yellow ticket means they'll need to try harder the next day and they lost one letter, and a red ticket means they had a difficult day and lost two or all their letters.
All teacher's names are written down the left side.
I also created a chart to record the results of each class each day they are with me. I told them that the class (on each grade level) that receives the most green stickers throughout the school year will win an art party with me on the last day of class. When asked what we would do at the art party.. I told them that we would either watch a movie, play art games, do a really cool art lesson, talk, and perhaps even eat food... but we would vote on what they wanted to do if they won. This pretty much wins all the kids over because they get excited that they'll get to pick the direction we take the art party in.
So far this has been a really effective way to get the whole class on track (because they all really want that art party!).

Empty sketchbook bins
This year I also decided to do sketchbooks with my fourth and fifth graders. I was advised against this at first because my school does have a VERY transient population (we serve a group of 32 apartment complexes). Students are CONSTANTLY being added and withdrawn from our school.
I decided I really wanted to do it though because I felt the pros outweighed the cons. In order to stay organized, each fourth and fifth grade class was assigned a color of construction paper (which was used for the cover of their sketchbook. We added 4-5 sheets of 12"x18" white drawing paper, folded it in half, and punched 3 holes down the sides. Students then used yarn to bind their sketchbooks together. The color of yarn they used was determined by the color table they sit at. So if I saw a sketchbook sitting out I would know which class it belongs to and which color table it originated from. I love this idea too because if I have to move students around to different tables, we can just snip off their old yarn and exchange it for their new table color.
One class of 5th grade sketchbooks
I gave students two days to decorate the front and back covers of their sketch book. The only requirements were that they included their full name, teachers name, and grade level on the front and then write a brief "pitch" of themselves as artists on the back. So if I picked up their sketchbook and read the back cover, I would be intrigued and want to take a look at the inside.
Sketchbooks will be used for "Think-about-its" (questions students are going to answer about various pieces of artwork at the beginning of class while I'm getting stuff ready), sketches for projects, free-draw, and note-taking.

I know this has been A LOT to read. So if you've actually made it this far.... yayyyyyy! :)
This year I will once again be posting all my lessons with student and teacher examples up on my blog... so stay tuned and hit that follow button to stay up to date!

Hope you all have a wonderful beginning to your year!

2 comments:

  1. With time comes knowledge! You seem to have already learned from past mistakes and are ready to set forth and stick to your expectations! College can teach you book smarts but the only way you will begin to figure out what classroom management techniques will work for you is time and experience! Over the 26 years I have been teaching I have had more than one ( or two or three....) teachable moments for myself on how to manage my classes. There are still times I think to myself, I could have handled that different... Good luck and have an awesome second year! :)

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  2. LOL this has me cracking up: Me: (In my head) "Ahhh I can't remember."
    (To student) "Maybe you should ask someone who was listening!"

    Hahaha. Your jobs chart is a really great idea and the centers are absolutely brilliant. I am going to slowly try and introduce more centers this year too. I can also relate to the struggle you had last year with discipline and being consistent with consequences and expectations. This year we will do much better! :)

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