Library Redo

Remember last year when we worked on organizing our classroom library?  You might not, because I couldn’t find it on the blog….:(  Maybe the post I thought I wrote got lost in the “it-has-to-be-finished-and-perfect” list I told you about yesterday.  Well, since my pledge is to tell all the stories, not just the finished ones, I’ll share the parts of this story that we have finished (and that I have pictures of!).

We left at the end of 1st grade with a (mostly) organized library, which we had worked on together little-by-little last year.  We packed it away in that same way, which always helps when I put the classroom back together the next fall.  We figured out, though, that we had never gotten the boxes fully labeled, and so as we started using the books again this year, they got all mixed up.  We decided we should probably just start over; I was the only one who knew what most of the categories were supposed to be.

We started by pairing up, and first going through the boxes we already had established.  I gave each pair a box, and their job was 1) to figure out what their books had in common, 2) decide if they had any that didn’t match that category, 3) and then make a label that matched their newly decided-upon category.  All of the extras got piled up in the middle of the room for later.

The second year together has been a great learning process in many ways.  Of course, for many reasons, we’re doing many things differently, but there are also some things that are the same that they are doing differently.  This is a perfect example.  The understanding they have of genre and the difference between fiction/non-fiction, as well as the ability to see similarities and differences is deeper than when they did the library sort as first graders, so the same activity is even more meaningful than the first time.  Even the way they “get” why we did it, why we did it together (as opposed to just having ME take care of it), and why we should keep it organized is different than last year.


Sneak Peek Take 2

I was working again today (be sure to see the Sneak Peek from Monday if you missed it!) and have a few more things to share.  If you can share this with a Rm. 202 2nd grader, please do so!  If not, enough it for yourself!  I have at least one place I need your help with (see the picture captions below), so please leave a comment!?  I think I’m almost there!


The calendar’s ready for Open House night, are you?? 🙂


I got the timeline all back up–whew! Because we wrapped it all around our room last year I had to take it all down and start on an upper row, so now it’s a double-decker timeline. That leaves some room under it now for our self-portaits–that we’ll redo during our first days together to show our 2nd grade selves! The black doors will hold anchor charts (right now I’m thinking one door for each subject to start out with), and the closet on the right will be labeled “Quote Worthy” and will collect smart words that inspire us.


Because I moved my kitchen table over from where it was last year, I decided to use this shelf space differently, too. The top shelves of books are still my stuff (the top is professional books, and the bottom one is books I teach with), but the bottom is now for kiddos. The bottom row is puzzles and games that kiddos would use for choice time or recess, and the upper shelf is reading and math games. We will work very hard in the beginning to make sure we put things back just this way every time. I might even post a picture nearby so they remember what it’s supposed to look like!


Ok, so this is the part I need some help thinking through. Because of the way I’m using this shelf space differently (and partly because of a different layout in the rest of the room), the whole left side of this wall of shelves is EMPTY!! Ok, well I threw some tubs and crates up there to see what would fit, but they’re all empty, too. I thought I could use the bottom shelf for tables tubs (they’ll hold pencils, iPads and Writer’s Notebooks for each team) instead of putting them on the windowsills. Not at all sure what to do with the rest of it. I know that having TOO much space is not really a problem, it’s a gift that not all teachers in all classrooms have (sorry, Mr. Bearden!), but i just want to make sure I’m not missing something. I like the idea of leaving it all free so kids can have it for whatever–display space, drying racks, places to house “stuff” they’re working on but are not finished with yet….what ideas do you have? And yes, I will ask Rm. 202 friends when they get back, too, because I’m sure they will have a great idea I hadn’t thought of!

One more…


Just doing a little bit of labeling tonight! Can’t wait to see it all tidied up and in place. Soon! 🙂

That’s all for now.  It’s coming together!!

(Just for fun…here’s a Sneak Peek post I wrote in 2012 when I taught 5th grade….)

New Caddies for a New Year!

We had a work day at the end of Winter Break, and I went into school for a few hours to prepare for my kiddos coming on the next Monday.  I could have (or maybe I should have) stayed the whole day cleaning out and organizing, but I only had one thing on my list that HAD to be done: cleaning out supply caddies!  There is just something about having fresh new pencils, brand new pens, and the rest of the supplies in the right place that makes everything better.  You know what they say: A clutter room makes for a cluttered mind.  Cluttered table caddies do the same thing!  Here’s to a new, organized year!

Beautiful, isn't it?  I took this picture so that kiddos would remember what goes where.  Now I just have to remember to print some to go IN the caddies so they can be used....:)

Beautiful, isn’t it? I took this picture so that kiddos would remember what goes where. Now I just have to remember to print some to go IN the caddies so they can be used….:)


I’m not sure which is better–clean caddies on the tables or clean caddies all in a row on the windowsill waiting for first graders to start the new year!


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!