Binder Day!

So you could have probably called today “Binder Day” in our classroom.  Sounds great, right?  I know you wish you could have been a part of it! 🙂

Why “Binder Day”?  Well, today was the day we put together two very important binders that students will use to keep their papers and data organized.

We started with this:

It might be hard to see (or understand), but it’s a binder that has a student planner, as well as 6 folders: Math, Science, Social Studies, Writing,Reading/Spelling, and Home/School.  During the day, this binder will live in their cubby, and they will put papers that they need to keep into the corresponding folder for that subject.  Then they can take the binder back and forth between home and school if they need something for homework.  It’s worked well for many other teachers, and it’s great practice for what they’ll do as big, bad 6th graders next year in middle school.

Then we worked on our data binders:


which also house our portfolios:


Tomorrow we’ll start to fill them as we begin to track our progress on beginning of the year basic facts tests.  An important part of being a successful 5th grader in our school is being able to set goals for yourself as a learner, and these two binders are two very important tools in helping our kiddos set and then ACHIEVE their personal goals.

What kinds of organization do you use to help your students?  Do you use data binders or portfolios in your classroom?  Tell us about it!

Marshmallow Challenge!

Welcome back to school!  We have been very busy already this year–hence the reason why I haven’t updated in a while–and are getting into a groove.  Forgive me if the next few posts are out of order (at least the order in which they happened); I still need pictures of certain things before I post about them.
Anyhow…we have spent much of the last 6 days getting to know each other better as learners (and people in general, really), as well as focusing on how to work well with a group.  One thing that our tribes did together early on was to take the Marshmallow Challenge.  What a great idea shared with me by my new friend and teammate Mrs. Hong! When you’re done here, you should definitely check out her class blog. 🙂

Alright, so here’s the basic idea:

We got ready, and I set the timer.  They built and taped and created, and at the end of the challenge we stepped away from our structures and….Every. Tower. Fell. Over. 😦

For a few minutes my friends wanted to claim “FAIL” on this activity and say it didn’t work.  But instead, I led them to reflect on what went right.  After a conversation, we figured out that many groups had the right idea of focusing on building a strong foundation, many had made a plan first, each group had a common goal and all groups worked well together to create a spaghetti structure.  Even if they fell over, we were successful in a lot of ways.  And so that day, we planned to do the challenge again, knowing that the next time there would  be many things we’d change–but many things we’d try again. 🙂

And so today was that day.  We planned and prepared before we went to lunch, knowing that when we returned we’d get down to business.  It was so great to watch the tribes busy, talking together about what to do this time around.  Many had plans drawn on paper, and most mentioned specific things they wanted to do differently.  Many groups decided that instead of trying to make their tower really TALL, really FAST, they’d focus instead on making it STRONG.

We got ready, and I set the timer.  They built and taped and created, and at the end of the challenge we stepped away from our structures.  This time, this happened:

WAY BETTER, RIGHT?! I was so proud of them!  And yes, granted, two of them still fell over, but sadly it was right at the last minute!  Those last two were upright and fine until the timer buzzed.  Bummer!

Like I said, we focused on what we can learn from this situation.  It wasn’t about the tallest tower, or whether or not it fell over.  It was about the team, the working together, the learning about our strengths and building on them.  And they totally rocked all of those things!  I can’t wait to see the other amazing things they are going to accomplish together this year!


We have a new theme in the room this year–WILD about learning.  I will add pics to show it later on, but just picture lots of animal print.  Believe me–it’s FABULOUS!

So one thing that I always do at the beginning of the year is create a set of groups that we use all year for a variety of activities.  These groups don’t change, unlike many others in our class.  I always have a name for the groups, which is usually based on our theme.  They originally started back when I taught 4th grade and needed to have groups to vote on laws that we made for our class state.  They were legislatures, in effect.  Back then they were called Districts, and then last year (during a construction theme) they were Zones.

As I thought about this year, I latched on to the “wild” part of our theme, and that lead me to thinking about tribes.  That tribe idea lead me to Survivor.  You know, the show on CBS?

Originally I was just going to use the idea so that I had something clever to call our groups, but then I realized that there was actually more of a connection to that show than I had realized.  We made a link to the purpose of the tribe on Survivor–to help each member of the group “make it,” to focus on the strengths that each member brings to the situation, and to work together to solve problems.  Then I remembered how on the show, each tribe gives themselves a name–a name that tells something about the group as a whole.

So a new tradition was born.  One of our first activities together was to create tribe names and explain what that name meant about the group.

May I introduce to you, the 5 tribes of Rm. 202:






I’m going to save the explanations for another time, but I wonder: do you think you can figure out what they may mean?  And if your kiddo is in one of those tribes, can you figure out which one?  Teachers: do you have groups like these in your classroom?  Tell us about them!

Wonder why?

I was thinking the other day about all of the posts I had made already by this point last summer.  We hadn’t even started school and I had probably racked up close to 10 posts on our blog (at least that’s what I think–I didn’t actually go back to count!).
So then I started wondering why I hadn’t done that same thing this year.  I’m just as excited as I was then to start school.  Probably more so because of all of the cool things I learned last year that I want to try new or try again this time around.  I’m more knowledgeable about blogging than I was then.  And I still want my new friends so learn about me and our classroom.  So why no new blog posts since July 25?


I know you want an answer….but I don’t have one.  😦   Wish I did.  Maybe I just have been so busy getting ready for school that I haven’t been able to tell you about it.  I’ve taken alot of pictures of our classroom spaces but haven’t taken them off of my camera.


So…we’re a couple of days away from the first day of school now and there’s no way I can post all the things I wanted to before that big day.  But how ’bout I promise to just try to fill you in on a couple of the “before” things–like classroom setup, schedules, etc.  Then I can make sure I stay on top of all of the GREAT things we’ll be doing in our classroom once we finally get started.  I’ll make it worth your while to stop by!


What are you most looking forward to reading about on our blog this year?  🙂