Friday, July 30, 2010

Message Center

Keeping things organized as a teacher can be difficult, especially if you teach multiple classes with different subjets. However, good organization is paramount and makes your job teaching much easier.
The purpose of a message center is to allow you to quickly find what needs to be found. I'm often puzzled where I tucked a note, or a phone number, or a student list. A cork bulletin board is perfect to keep me on track during a hectic week in school.
What I used:
roll of fine grain and self healing hobby cork board
spray adhesive
wood puzzle pieces measuring 12' X 12 '
scissors and straight edge tacks or pushpins

It was so fun and easy to work with the hobby cork board. I had never used a spray adhesive and now I'm "stuck" - it's a wonderful, easy material to use. I simply sprayed both the wood puzzle piece and a piece of cork board, pressed the two together and rolled it with a kitchen rolling pin. I used the straight edge to trim around the puzzle piece.

I found these cute push pins and now I'm set for any message sent my way.

I probably had enough cork board to create a hundred piece puzzle, but I settled on this cork board grouping to hang behind my computer center.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Pen Pals

A pen pal program is a fun way to give students a real-life lesson in social studies, language arts, geography, and more. Students love receiving mail and eagerly wait until they get a response. This year my class is headed west to Washington. I'm creating a bulletin board to display pictures, news, and information we gather from our new friends.
In the United States, the official label for a postman is "letter carrier". Women have been delivering mail in the United States since the late 1800s. I've named our letter carrier "Miss Susanna" after one of those first known female carriers.
I've been reading about the value of environmental print in the classroom - - all the text that covers classroom walls. Environmental print is a resource, a reference, and a teaching tool. I intend to use even the whimsical to teach lessons - - thus the name Miss Susanna.
My bulletin board tip today is to color skin tones using face powder and a makeup brush. It's an easy technique to achieve skin tone colors.

Read more about pen pal programs for students here and more about women in the postal system at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum.

Friday, July 23, 2010


I'm creating a new birthday board for my students. I figured if I really want to get their attention, I should TEXT them - -and I'm using this 3 foot cell phone to do just that!

I wrapped "treats" as in the past. No one ever gets too old for chocolate!

The bulletin board will read,

T 4 BU

Here's a site to help anyone who hasn't mastered this vocabulary - Messaging and Chat Abbreviations.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Moving In

I've started moving pieces into my classroom. This new place is feeling like home. The bookcase with all my old friends is settled. I do believe it'll be happy here.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Final Curtain Call

My curtains are hung. I am liking the color and pattern they add to my room.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Fluency Flexors

I am taking an online class this summer and today I learned a new term - fluency flexors. What are they? "Fluency flexors are short, focused exercises designed to flex reading muscles by reading, rereading, and rehearsing sentences to convey different meanings." Fluency in Focus
I am going to enlarge this muscle man and create a bulletin board titled Fluency Flexors. Middle school students should "get it." I'm certain with an explanation of fluency flexors, students will be motivated to do the drills. Reading is a muscle and they can build fluency.
Check out this great curriculum for fluency practice. These fluency readers use quality literature from texts found in school and classroom libraries and best seller lists.

Friday, July 16, 2010

And the winner is . . .

I collect Newbery books for my classroom library. When I started the collection, it occured to me that I've read a lot more of these books than I realized. As I check my collected books off the list of winners, it's like stepping back in time. These books awakened my love of reading, and working on this collection is like finding old friends. The Newbery Medal is awarded to the year's most distinguished contributions to literature for children.
This summer I have searched the used book stores and I've shopped online. My collection is nearly complete. I intend to display the books in the bookcase created in this post.
I created bookmarks in Microsoft Publisher to tuck inside each book.
I'm working through details for a Newbery book club. Students will be required to read a set number of Newbery books to gain membership. The purpose is to motivate children to read quality literature. Students' interest in books is often triggered by their peers and marketing promotions. I intend to set up discussion boards online and promote my club with member incentives.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Name Change

I would like to change the name of my blog. I'm leaning toward naming it Classroom Scissors. Any thoughts?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

So Much Shel

"Bring in the poetry to get the language in so you can get the language out. Poetry is the silver pencil of writers, the golden spoon of language, and the heart and soul of our inner most thoughts." Lisa @ Effective Teaching Strategies.
"Rehearsing and rereading poetry gives readers a shared experience with literature. Many poems are short and lend themselves to repeated readings. With rehearsal, reading poems aloud enables students to feel the joy of successful fluent reaing, encouraging attention to expression and intonation."
Fluency in Focus Mary Lee Prescott and Nancy L. Witherell
To build classroom environment, I am creating a book display devoted to a "featured poet". I'll start the year with Shel Silverstein.
I created the bulletin board letters in Microsoft Publisher. Shel's caricature adds to the fun. I'm off to visit the laminator.
Shel Silverstein's most popular children titles inclued Falling Up, A Light in the Attic, A Giraffe and a Half, The Giving Tree, Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back, The Missing Piece, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Characters in Class

I've been surfing for author caricatures to hang on the walls of my classroom. One way to enlarge clipart is by making a copy on a transparency. I then project the image on a piece of butcher paper. You can make the image as large or small as you like. Once you have the size you want, trace the image onto the butcher paper. These caricatures are 2 feet tall. Laminate your project for durability.
I'm hoping these "characters" will speak to my class about the importance and fun of reading.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Curtain Call

I think fabric is a good way to make a classroom inviting. I am sewing curtains with these coordinating fabrics. The curtains will cover three windows that border the door into my classroom. I don't want to deal with "hallway kids" peeking in during class.

I've been surfing for ideas on decorating. This tidbit from "How to Decorate a Middle School Classroom" was found here.

"Stay away from primary colors like royal blue or bright yellow, unless these are your school colors. Neon colors are more trendy and will draw the eyes of older students. Primary colors are used more often in an elementary setting."
I don't know if there is any research on this statement, I just happened to find these great coordinating fabrics at JoAnns Fabrics and Crafts. Since they are predominately neon, why not?
I'm sewing what should be a simple gathered curtain that I will hang on a tension rod. I miscalculated the first curtain and it is an inch short. Back to the drawing board (or rather sewing machine). Pictures of the completed project will have to come later.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Traveling Bookcase

The bookcase from this post is traveling to the middle school with me. I decided it was time for a makeover. Decoupage is a fun and easy way to change furniture. You can use this method with covering basically anything from boxes to clipboards, or even to pretty up an otherwise boring school notebook.

I surfed the Internet and printed pictures of book characters. Technically, the term decoupage refers to gluing items that have been cut out - the term comes from the word "decouper," which means "to cut out."
I painted the sides and drawers with a flat black paint. I used Modge Podge decoupage medium for the book characters and red dots (paper punch dots) on the front drawers and design on the sides of the bookcase. The glue had to dry about 30 minutes and then another coat of the Modge Podge was put on top. I used 5 coats of Modge Podge to seal the bookcase.
I love this ol' bookcase because it displays the books with the covers facing out. I'm guessing it was once a store display. For years, Jim Trelease, international consultant and author of The Read-Aloud Handbook (2001) has advocated that books need to be advertised in classrooms and libraries in the same fashion that cookies and cereal boxes are displayed in the grocery stores - -with the cover facing out. Read more about creating "reading climate" here.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Moving On Up

On my desk today is a wonderful iced coffee made with this recipe. I am switching schools. Next year I will teach in a middle school setting. I'm sipping coffee and thinking my classroom needs a makeover. I'm considering replacing the whimsical safari theme with an older theme for my middle school students. Something to think about. Something to think about over a cup of my favorite summer drink.

Incidently, if you want to know how much coffee is too much check it out here.