Sunday, September 1, 2013

Pics of My Classroom...FINALLY!!! (and a freebie)

Hi Friends!

So, after three weeks of madness, I feel like I'm j-u-s-t starting to settle in to the 2013-14 school year.  My first week with kids was great!  I teach ELA and Social Studies to 4th and 5th graders (my teaching partner teaches Math & Science, so we switch groups for part of the day).  I'm loving all of my kiddos (and have already identified the two that I'm going to have to keep a tight rein on!).  We had a great week learning and practicing routines and procedures (although I did get some eye rolling when I actually made them come into the bathroom with me so I could model EXACTLY what I expect their behavior to look like in there...including washing hands thoroughly and throwing the paper towel IN the trash can...not AT it!).

The kids did an AWESOME job of building reading stamina for the Read to Self piece of Daily 5!  I only had to stop my 4th graders once the first day (the 5th graders took 3 attempts to get it right) and they just took off.  We made it to 15 minutes this week, and I'm hoping we'll be at 30 by the end of next week.  Then we'll add in the next component.  Any opinions on what that should be?  I was thinking of either Word Work or Work on Writing.  I know that I'm saving Read to Someone for last (I use our read aloud for  Listen to Reading).

We also set ourselves up for success by putting together our Reader's and Writer's Notebooks, including putting in a Table of Contents and numbering EVERY page!  And the kids wrote their first letter home in their Friday journals.  I had them include 3 things that we did this week, 2 new things that they learned, and 1 goal for next week.  I hope some of the parents write back!  I made a cute cover for the front of their here or on the picture below if you'd like a copy :)

Ok...on to the Classroom Tour!!!  I don't know if I have ever worked SO HARD in my entire life as I did during the four days before our open house.  We couldn't get into our rooms until Monday, 8/19, and open house was on Thurs, 8/22.  The first two days I didn't stay very late because I could only get so much done, and then needed to wait for other people to take care of some things (like taking down whiteboards, hanging bulletin boards and moving a piano out of my classroom used to be the music room).  So I felt like I was working against the clock on that Wednesday and Thursday.  The end result was SO worth it.  I LOVE my classroom and feel like its a place that my students will enjoy spending time in (at the open house one of my girls told me that she wished it was her bedroom!).

Welcome to my classroom!  I got this cute Welcome printable from Creekside Teacher Tales.  I'm still thinking about changing it out to match the pennants that I made for my room (you'll see those in a minute) but I haven't had time yet.  I have a feeling that May will roll around before I know it and I'll still be thinking the same thing!

I was standing in the doorway when I took this 'desk' (a semi-circle table and a credenza) is in the far corner below the world map.

Just to the right of the door is my 4th grade reading board...this has the Essential Question for the current reading unit, the Concept Question for the week, Daily Questions, and Words to Know.  These will change weekly as we move through the reading curriculum.  We use Reading Street, and I'm planning to use the stories as mentor texts for us to read together as I model/teach reading strategies.  A matching 5th grade board is on the other side of my SmartBoard.

Just below my 4th grade reading board is my birthday display.  It took me FOREVER to decide what I wanted to use for this, and I finally decided on this one from...ummm...I thought this was from Second Grade Shenanigans, but when I went back to look, it's not hers.  Hmmm...well, if you know who gets the credit, can you let me know?  I just got all of my kiddos' birthdates last week, so I'll be finishing those up tomorrow so I can add them on Tuesday when we go back to school.

To the left of my door is this little piece of heaven!  My wonderful administrators let me go and buy these Expedite shelves from Ikea...LOVE!!!  The book boxes are from Ikea too (Flyt magazine holders, 5 for $1.99).  I spray painted them earlier this summer and they turned out great!  I have the 5th graders' boxes on the right and 4th grade on the left.  I made the seat cushion from some fabric I had at home, upholstery cushions from Hobby Lobby, some plywood that was in the garage, and a staple gun.  This, and my classroom library, have quickly become the favored reading spots for Read to Self time :)  The bins under the bench are filled with all of the supplies that parents sent in.

Another view of the shelves and bench...and there are some of my pennants :)

A closer look at my FACE board.  I decided to rearrange the letter in CAFE to say FACE.  I'm going to talk with the kids about the things good readers do.  As we add reading strategies to the board, we'll talk about how the 'FACE' of a good reader looks like this (it ties in really well with using VOICES for writing - both are freebies from Ladybug's Teacher Files)!  The sweet little wreath above the board was a Valentines gift from one of my 2nd graders last year...I think that's the perfect spot for it :)

This is my classroom library!  I still want to get some bean bag chairs, but that will have to wait until I get my next paycheck :)  I love the paper lanterns AND the polka dot rug (Ikea again)!  The backs of the bookcases are painted with chalkboard paint and outlined with bulletin board borders.  I'm planning to get some chalk markers so the kids can write book recommendations on there.  I hate to admit it, but I ran out of time to organize my books (I was planning on sorting them by genre) and now I don't know how I'll ever find the time to do it.  I guess I could put genre stickers on the books in each basket as I have time, and sort them on our next work day.  We'll see.
Another view of the library...and more pennants above the window :)

A closer look at the VOICES board.  We'll be adding strategies under each header as we learn them in our Writer's Workshop mini lessons.  Using these strategies will give us the VOICE(S) of a good writer.  I was SO excited to find out that many of the teachers at my new school share my love of Writer's Workshop!  In fact, a few of them got together this summer to put together a wonderful curriculum for our school called 'Write From the Heart'...LOVE!!!

This is looking from my 'desk' back toward the other side of the room.  I've got the daily schedule on one side of the whiteboard in a pocket chart and our objectives on the other side.  The pocket chart closest to the right side of the pic is the one I use for our Daily 5 rotations

And looking back across the room from my 'desk' toward the door. 
Thanks for sticking with me through this ridiculously long post!  I just had to share pics of my classroom...I worked my tail off getting it all put together and am really happy with the results.  I can't wait to make lots of great memories in this space with my students :)  


  1. Kris, your room looks fantastic! Hard to believe this is your "first" year!! I love the hardwood floors and your colors. Kudos to you! I'm doing Daily 5 right now too and we are working on Read to Self stamina. At the "Sisters Conference" I went to this summer, they strongly suggest to do Work on Writing next. If you don't have a long block like me, they said if you only get to 2 of the Daily 5, do Read to Self and Work on Writing! The rest you can add as the year goes on. Hope that is helpful. I'm also doing the Friday Journal home! Love,love that idea. Could not get your freebie though as I needed permission ?? and I would like to use it. Have a great second week!

  2. Kris...your room is so cute!!!! Hardwood floors? Super jealous! I'm totally with your student and want this to be my bedroom too! Your hard work paid off big time!
    A Tall Drink of Water

  3. Your room looks so great! I spent part of today putting the finishing touches on my room for the big day tomorrow. Have a great week!
    Grade 4 Buzz

  4. We got Read to Self going this week, too. We will start Work on Writing this week. We are up to 9 minutes on Read to Self. Not great, but I am really stressing focus!

    Simply 2nd Resources

  5. Kris~

    I LOVE your room! I know I've told you this already, but it's so stinkin' CUTE! I'm so very happy for you! I also love your spin on the Friday letters home. I'm going to adapt your spin to what we do maybe the 2nd quarter of school?! I love your creativity and am so glad to have you to bounce ideas off of! :)) We have a work day in October so hopefully I can swing by and check out the new room in real life! Have a fantastic weekend!


  6. Oh my gosh....THAT room! I want to be in there! What a fabulous job you've done.