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Saturday, 10 February 2018

Classroom Tour 2018

Class Tour 2018

I am so happy with how my classroom turned out this year! 

Every year I feel like it looks better and better. 

While I try hard to make my classroom look good, I by no means think it is perfect or 'Pinterest worthy'. Firstly because I am at a school where most of the classrooms are looking their age so it is hard to make them look good and secondly I wouldn't want a 'perfect' classroom. I want student work on my walls, I want to create the classroom with them so I need to leave space for that. I also don't want the students to feel overwhelmed or spend a butt load of money on decorating.

We'll start with a few overview shots first and then go into some things in more detail.
^ View from the door

^ View looking back at the door. Used as the 'front of the class'.

^Back corner on door side

^Adjacent to the door- the traditional 'front of the classroom'.

You'll notice I have a rainbow theme in my class.  

When I had my first classroom I bought things that were cheap, cute and practical. I don't think Pinterest was really around back then and I was 3 hours away from any store remotely like Kmart. I kept collecting items in the following year and each time I got a new classroom there were different coloured walls, doors and chairs. I soon realised the only thing connecting all my items was that they were all different colours so a rainbow theme it was to be!

Let's take a closer look.

To the left of where you enter is my Birthday Chart, clock and T.V. screen. Beneath that I have a desk for putting miscellaneous items. The tray in the corner holds note to go home. 

Sorry about the glare on this picture. I love my birthday chart because it is so easy to make it fit any space, no matter the size!

Above the door I have my Welcome sign. It's in a weird place but I didn't have anywhere else to hang it. The top of the wall on this side is in need of a paint job so I have covered in up with things I probably wouldn't otherwise put up in a year 4/5 class. Here I have Days of the Week and Colour Words display.

I left the green cloth the previous teacher had up on this bulletin board and surrounded it with a tie dye rainbow boarder. The purple drapped over the window is from my wedding- it always helps to add a spot of colour to my classroom. Above that I have my punctuation posters. I am adding them as we cover each one so they are not all up yet.

In the back corner I have my Write Any Number Display- again mainly there for colour but I have seen the kids refer to it a number of times. 

Here is my desk with my beautiful spotted chairs that my mum helped me cover at the beginning of last year. 

My rainbow trays hold all my worksheets for the term with each draw labeled (with my FREE Rainbow Labels) as a subject from my timetable. I have a few items on top like my bells, stapler, sticky tape, hand sanitizer and highlighters.

I like to keep my desk simple. It has my laptop, ipad, magazine holder (with planning folders, assessment folders, clip board and guided reading folder), pen holder, sticky note pads, drink bottle and the item in the top left corner is my timetable for the week on display. 

I am trying a portrait timetable this term with Monday and Tuesday on one side and the others on the back. We will see how it goes. I like having it on display so its easy for me, EAs and relief teachers to see.

Behind the desk is a bookshelf that I am keeping quite a few things on. I am constantly moving things around (you'll notice the items in the above picture are not the same as some of the other pictures as this picture was taken at the end of last year as I was just moving in to the room) as I constantly tweak where things are to get the best location. 

Next to my desk is my FREE Goal setting chart. I will eventually add student names to it as we identify the areas they need to work on

In front of that I have my portfolio's of student work, a work to finish tray, guided reading books and our current gem jar reward system.

Continuing along this wall I have my two borrowing boxes. These are items students may borrow when needed. The black box holds the school ipads. Then we have a comprehension box that I use during literacy rotations (when I do guided reading).

Lastly along this wall I have our class library and then trays with scrap paper and a few other things that need labeling.

I have my rainbow curtains up but I've tied them up this year as it's a fairly dark room so even just having the sheer blinds hanging blocked out a lot of light.

I have signs to show students where to stack chairs. I mainly do this because I change my classroom around so much the chair stacks constantly move location so the signs help the students keep up.

I am still using the Raise a Number system (FREE from Little Lovely Leaders). I don't use the sharpen pencil one but it looks funny to leave it out.

My FREE Spelling Poster is also along this wall.

 I have my Multiplication Display above the whiteboard.

My Number of the Day Display is on the whiteboard so we can write the answers up when we go through them.

This is my reading groups display and my No Fuss Flip Calendar underneath.

My Job Wheel currently sits under my whiteboard as I haven't worked out where I want to hang it yet. I also think I need to redo it with slightly different jobs so that it will work better with older students.

Lastly, is probably one of my favourite parts of the room- my Weekly Timetable. Yes it takes up a lot of space, but you could always print it smaller to take up less room. I love that it lets students know exactly what we are doing and we only have to make minor adjustments to it each week. 

I hope you have enjoyed the tour of my 2018 classroom! If there is anything you would like to know more about feel free to let me know in the comments!

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Thursday, 4 January 2018

FREE Australian Curriculum Term Planners for Years 1-6

A few years ago I started doing term planners. A place where I could record the main idea that I was going to cover for particular lesson each week.

 They have been such a HUGE time saver for me! 

I look at the Australian curriculum outcomes and pull out the big ideas. I sequence them in an order that works best and make sure I take into account what I have to report on and when.

Each week I have a new focus for each of my learning areas and in first term I like to try and cover as wide a scope as I can in terms of curriculum content while reviewing what they should have learnt in the previous grade.

Having a term planner makes my life soooo much easier when I go to do my weekly planners. It means I don’t have to keep referring back to the Australian Curriculum documents and waste time working out what content to cover each week.

Not all topics are explicitly planned out on my term planner. For some topics, like text types, HASS and Science I do unit planners as each lesson can differ a lot from one another. Where as the ones that are planned out in the term planner are lesson that tend to follow the same style each week or in the case of maths are so big and dependent on the student level that I am not able to plan them out more before the term has started.

I know the beginning of the year is CRAZY! (Who am I kidding- the whole year is CRAZY!)

So I thought I would give you term planners for years 1 to 6 FREE to help you off to a great start this year!

These planners are editable so you can change and tweak them as you need but we all know it is easier to go from something already started then to start from scratch.

Just sign up below for the year level you would like:

I don't currently have these available for split levels and if you want more than one year level you will need to sign up for each one separately. Sorry in advance!

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Monday, 25 September 2017

How to Leave Work On Time!

I get to work 30 minutes before the kids are allowed to begin entering the room (mostly just to get good parking). I leave ten minutes after the bell has gone and I rarely do work at home.

Today I'll show you how to do the same!

Control Your Mindset
The first one is your mindset!
As a teacher we can NEVER get EVERYTHING done! We can get a lot done and we can do an amazing job with whatever time we have, but we CANNOT do everything!
Our own lives and our families do not and should not have to suffer for our job.
In any job there is always MORE we COULD do. Once we accept this fact we'll be more content with what we do get done. We need to focus on the things that make the biggest differences and impacts.

We need to focus on what will make the biggest differences and impacts on our students and prioritise those.
We also need to decide the priority of different aspects of our lives.
If I feel like I am behind I will work during my lunch hour (I say hour but its more like 35-40 minutes). I would rather lose time slowly eating my lunch or talking to my colleagues than lose time at home. Read more on prioritising here.

Maximise your Prep Time
I maximise my DOTT time (prep time). You can read all my tips on this in the blog post on Maximising Your Planning Time I did a while back, but in summary- plan out your planning time, don't get distracted by anything and have a schedule for each of your DOTT days. On Mondays I prepare reading groups and other weekly routine items that need changing out. On Tuesday I mark and file. On Wednesdays I plan for the following week and on Thursday I prep worksheets and resources and do photocopying. Knowing exactly what I am going to do and lumping things together saves SOOOO much time!

Get organised! 
Set your classroom out in a way that works efficiently so that everything becomes easier.
For me that's a set of draws with all my items for the week, a place to put marking/items to be glued and items still in process, a clip board with assessments I am in the process of doing and a file with templates, a file with assessments and a file with all my planners and related resources ready to go.

Plan well! 
You can read my blog article here on my Planning Documents.
Plan out your term at the start and you won't have to spend time later wondering what to teach or constantly referring back to the curriculum.
You can still have room to alter things if the students take you in a different direction or have different needs but a good plan in place will help you know where you are heading.

Identify your weaknesses and strengths 
Find ways to use them to your advantage or work around them. If your weakness is coffee and you end up getting caught up in the staff room gossiping too much then consider having a kettle in your room.
If planning isn't your strong suit consider making your life easier and purchasing pre-planned units and work. If resource creating is too complicated or time consuming, search for the resource you need online.

I have planners for Years 1-6 for writing text types, Health, HASS and more. Check out my stores:
Teachers Pay Teachers
Designed By Teachers

If you have a strength in working with others consider team planning. You break up the lessons/subjects/units between your colleagues and then swap.

Cut Down your Marking
You don't need to mark every single error on every single piece of work!  Seriously, you don't!
If it isn't a specific writing task let spelling errors and missing punctuation go....the likelihood of students looking at them again is slim. The chance of parents looking at them is even slimmer.

Marking keys can make marking quicker, using stamps or a basic tick can also increase flow. I find it better to give students immediate verbal feedback on most things so I use my verbal feedback stamp. Some worksheets are pretty cut and dry so I just glance and stamp.
Get students to mark their own work at the end of the lesson if possible.

Not everything has to be assessed every day of every week- get a rotation going of what you are assessing to keep your workload down.

Optimise Small Chunks of Time
Set aside the last hour or half hour of the week for finishing off time for the students and YOU.
Use this time to finish things off like assessments while the students work on what they need to finish.

Make use of student down time to get things done. I have students tell news all on one day. That gives me a solid half an hour to do student writing conferences and mark their diaries. During silent reading I do one-on-one assessments such as running records.

Before school, do any last minute prep for the day.
Before leaving school ensure your classroom is clean. I do the bulk of the cleaning while my kids are packing and stacking. Learn to direct your students as you yourself are packing up. Organise your desk, put things back where they belong. An organised classroom means everything is easier to find and you don't waste time searching. If I have any extra time in the 10 minutes before I leave school then I do some quick tick marking from the day or get ahead on filing.

Start Jobs Early
When things are due such as reports, start on them early! Leaving them till the last minute will make you feel rushed and unprepared. Read more on Making Report Writing Easier here. 

Don't Reinvent the Wheel
If you are in your first few years of teaching you will naturally have to spend more time as you build up a repertoire of resources and plans. Stick in there, each year will get less and less time consuming! Make sure anything you make or plan is going to be useful and obtainable the following year.
Make files on your computer for each subject and mini files within those. This also works for lever arch files and page protectors. Sometimes I go back looking for things from my weekly planners from my first year of teaching or resources I created then. I am often disappointed when I can't find something or my plans weren't detailed enough that I can't actually remember what I did.

So now you need to put all of this into action. Choose what you want to priorise, choose the times you would like to start and leave work and work out what actions you can put in place to get you there.
Try not staying back late for a week and see that the world doesn't tumble down!

Good luck!

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Thursday, 31 August 2017

Five EASY Lessons to Leave for a Relief Teacher

Often when relief teachers have to take our class we don't get much of a heads up, whether we are sick or have a scheduled meeting or maybe even a pleasant surprise of extra DOTT!

When this occurs it may not be practical for the teacher to just continue your normal lessons, especially if they require something you haven't fully prepared or is just to 'messy' to leave in the hands of someone who just isn't you.

These activities involve NO PREP, can be easily adapted to ANY YEAR level, require minimal resources (if any) and will be ENGAGING and have education value to the students. 

While there are some very special relief teachers who will come prepared with their own lessons, you still need to have lessons prepared in case they don't.
I leave a note for my relief teacher that tells them where to find my timetable for the day and class routine information. On the note I leave 5 optional activities in case they need it and they are so easy and fun that I wanted to share them with you today so you can use them too!

1) Foldable Monsters
This is my go to lesson when I need something quick. Hand out an A4 piece of paper. Fold into 3 sections (the more equal the better but it is not crucial). Take the top section and have students draw the head of a creature then fold and ensure the neck lines cross down into the second section. Fold so the top section is not longer visible, Collect and randomly redistribute. The second person draws the body including arms but not legs, they must extend the torso lines down to the next section. Fold out of the way, collect and randomly redistribute. They then draw the legs and open up to reveal the monster. Do a gallery walk to see all the creations! As a follow up students can write a descriptive writing piece or a story about their create of a profile.

2) Would you Rather Questions
There are so many activities you can do with would you rather question and students LOVE every single one!

Here's an example you can use with the questions above.

Speech Bubbles 
Present a question and allow students to write their reasons for picking a particular side and write onto a speech bubble (key words or sentences depending on age and time allowed) and then put these up on display. This encourages natural classroom conversation and debate as students visit and read the display.

Find more questions and activities in my Would You Rather Pack or read my blog on Would You Rather Activities for more ideas. 

3) Where's the Teacher?
I don't know whether this one is more fun for the students or for you to read when you get back! Students are asked to write a creative narrative piece about why their teacher isn't at school/in the classroom. Unique and funny ideas are to be encourage along with a reminder to use the correct structure of a story (beginning, middle and end). If there is spare time students should definitely read them to their peers or add pictures!

4) Before and After Reading Activity
Show students a non-fiction book and discuss the topic of the book. Have them brainstorm their current knowledge of that topic. Depending on their year level you might do this together on the board or have them divide a page into thirds and write it in the first third.
Read the book. After you have finished get students to record the information they know have about the topic. Then ask them to write any questions they know have. These may become research questions as another activity.
You can find the template above in the pack below:

5) My Numbers
Give students a sheet of paper and have then draw a circle in the middle and then divide the rest of the paper into sections stemming from the middle (or provide them with a template).
Students think of numbers in their life and complete a section for each. For example their age, number of siblings, year born etc. Lower primary students can simply write the number while older students can make up equations that have to be solved to work out the number. Students can fill up the rest of the space with a picture.

You can get the blank template above and one with prompts already included in this pack.

So the next time you are away, chuck a few of these lessons in and relax!