Well, I'm almost done with my classroom! For reals! You wouldn't believe how much work I did today. I was sweating buckets...seriously, it was gross! I don't think I've ever been more disgusting.
I should probably back up first and tell you about yesterday!
Yesterday we had our second Language Arts department meeting. It was really great and I no longer felt as overwhelmed as I did on Thursday. It is amazing what a good night's sleep can do for the body and mind! :)
We talked as a department about the Common Core standards and about deconstructing them more than what our district had already provided us with so that we could ensure that we were all teaching what needed to be taught. We also agreed that we needed to be on the same page with definitions of terms so that the kids knew what to expect from us.
Our principal, who is a former Language Arts teacher, also shared a lot of insight into writing rubrics that were effective for the kids and for ourselves. We then spent some time developing a rubric that we intend to implement into our unit. My colleagues and I agreed that the first writing piece the kids will do is writing their own myth about a god or goddess. So we looked at the big picture of our unit, our essential questions and the unit outcomes and then worked on our rubric. It took about 3 hours to get it all done perfectly but I think it will be really effective! We tried to think of any and all loopholes that we could find for consistency in grading. We also tried to make sure that we wrote the rubric in kid friendly language and precise language so that they would know what was expected from them.
We also discussed implementing more informational texts and trying to pull away from so much literary. This has been a big change on the Common Core and on our K-PREP test. I love to teach novels, however I find that kids are able to grasp concepts better when I use excerpts from novels and include additional short stories and informational texts to help teach the standards.
I understand that we are not supposed to teach the standards in isolation, however sometimes I feel like it is necessary for my kids based on their needs. If they don't know how to make an inference short readings how can I expect them to do it when reading a novel? I feel like sometimes I have to back it up and teach them these important skills and then let them apply them to their readings.
My colleagues and I also spent some time mapping out our units and looking at the whole year and planning how much time we hoped to spend on each unit. Right now we intend to have 2 weeks before testing to review everything that we have taught throughout the school year.
One thing we discussed was including more literacy centers. This was something that I did a lot more at my old school, however it was not done on a daily basis. Last year I didn't do centers at all! I think I was just a little overwhelmed being at a new school and moving back to 6th grade, etc. This year I really want to go back to implementing more centers for my students.
I read about an easy way to begin centers is to start with just Fridays. You can call them, "Fun Fridays" and the kids will know that every Friday are their center day. I really love this idea! I'm going to talk to my colleagues about it next week and see if they want to jump on board too!
This was a practice similar to what we had in place at my old school, however it wasn't just for centers. On Fridays we called them "Review Day Fridays." It was the day of the week when we were not supposed to teach new content and were instead told to revisit standards the kids struggled with or maybe even something that they might have forgotten. I loved the concept and I think it helped the kids a lot!
After the meeting hubs and I went to Home Depot and rented their truck to take my futon over to school. Remember when I mentioned earlier in the month that I bought a futon from an acquaintance at her garage sale?
They were the only owners and it was in great condition! I wanted chairs or bean bags for in my reading area and decided I couldn't pass up this deal! Futons can be expensive and this one is cherry and looks to be over $400 from what I saw online. They asked $40 for it! Steal! Anyways, we rented a truck and dropped it off at school and then returned the truck.
The principal sent out an e-mail that the school would be open today from 9am to 9pm if any teachers wanted to work in their classrooms. Did I want to work? NO! But I had so much to do! Remember that desk I showed you a few days ago?
I needed to weed through all of that paper work and figure out what I wanted to keep and what was garbage. I also needed to put everything away neatly instead of just jamming it in my cabinet (like I usually do) so that I could easily find whatever I needed.
I worked for 6 hours y'all! I didn't even stop for a lunch break. I was so gross by the time I finished. I had dust on me, my finger was bleeding, my face was glistening (ewww!) and I just felt disgusting!
Thankfully, I feel so prepared and so organized this year! I'm not ready to reveal just yet--I have a few things I need to laminate and put up on the walls first. I also noticed that my desks and chairs hadn't been Cloroxed so I have to do that. The student computers also need a wipe down with a Clorox wipe--then I will do the big reveal!
Here is a sneak peek: