I hope everyone is having a great school year so far! This will be my 4th week with students. We spent the first week and a half making it a safe place for our students, getting to know to know one another and giving them a chance to get to know the space. I teach K-5, and this week was my first full week with my K students. Everything is so new for them that our school principal and their teachers feel that for specialists to start teaching them subject material from day one could be terrifying! I love this new approach of getting to know our students before we dive into our curriculums.
I have been working on classroom routines, classroom rules and encouraging them to use hand signals when we are in class. I have decorated my classroom with some input for them but will be adding more little by little. I feel that it doesn’t make sense for me to fill every space on the walls of my classrooms with signs that they don’t yet understand, and I know I am not in need of them yet.
I have been making some changes around the room according to the needs of my students. I have a deskless classroom. My K-2 students sit on the rug, and grades 3-5 have assigned seats. Each chair has a pocket where we keep our notebooks and pencils. That saves me time when we do writing activities.
I have a calendar, but I mostly use an online version projected on the board. The online version of the calendar has links to guess the day’s temperature in different Spanish countries.
I have about 115 students, so this poster has been helpful to remember dates. Every month we change it, and the children quickly write their name and date of their birthday.
I have a class list and have assigned a number to each of my students in each grade. I use these popsicle sticks (not a new idea!) to choose participants in the different games we play, since sometimes it is hard to choose. Students also have the choice to say “paso” to indicate “I pass.”
I added a reading corner to my classroom. I haven’t use it yet, but I plan to add copies of the TPRS® stories we do this year. I have some students who are heritage speakers, so I think they could benefit from other stories as well.
I also like comparing the time zones in different countries. I have a clock that shows Colombia, one for Austin and one for Equatorial Guinea. I might change the countries later.
I have decorated the classroom with some useful language, question boards and signals, and classroom rules. At the top of the board, I keep the flags of the countries of study. We do about 8 per school year with grades 2-5. One more thing is that this year the interactive board comes with a microphone which is great for the little ones. They can hear me better and are more engaged.
I have a projector that I can use to work on rewriting stories together or simply filling out worksheets in class. Best thing to have ever!
Next to the projector, I have a table with different props and with some Yoga cards that I use as brain breaks with my students.
I also keep a chime handy when the attention getters I use don’t work. Voice saver!
I have decorated the classroom with art from different Spanish speaking countries. I wish I had one to represent each country. So far I have a lot from Colombia, Panamá, La República Dominica, Guatemala, Ecuador, México, and Chile. I write the name of the country under the piece of art so students know where it comes from.
I also have have other small decorations around the room, mostly around my computer. I have a chair next to some furniture that is part of the classroom.
I use this chair for students to sit when we sing the birthday song.
This is a Friday selfie! Feeling ready to go home!
How is your school year going? Do you have a classroom, or are you traveling? I used to be a traveling teacher and wrote a post a while back about how I used to roll! You might find the post helpful!
Nothing like being in the middle of a fun and engaging lesson when suddenly you have a student interrupting because he or she needs to go to the bathroom, or even worse, you have a student who you thought was raising his/her hand quietly for a while when you realized it was a request to go to the bathroom and the student had been holding it for a long time. Then the feelings of guilt flood in. Time is precious for teachers, but no one wants to cause a student pain!
I taught in a Responsive Classroom school, and using signs was part of the classroom management model. So I borrowed some ideas from the Responsible Classroom framework and have added more to fit the needs of my classroom. I also teach my students useful sentences to ask for permission to go to the bathroom or drink water in Spanish. There are times when I see the hand signal for bathroom but still ask them what they need to give them an opportunity to practice the language or I also say you need to go to the bathroom or drink water. Once I started using hand signals with my students, I felt that I was able to teach a class with less interruptions, and it was also helpful for the students who were not yet ready to use the target language. I now introduce hand signals during the first class, and we practice them to make sure that they are clear for everyone.
Recently I found a set of images that go perfectly with the hand signals I use, and I will be updating my classroom signs this fall. I am sharing them with you. I hope you find this helpful!
A few months ago I shared an ice-breaker activity to help students warm up after returning from winter break. It turns out that this activity can also be used as one to close the school year. It’s a great activity to get everyone moving, using the language, and talking about plans for the summer break.
This activity is set up as an interview. Students have to move around the room asking different classmates about their future plans. I usually give them five to ten minutes to complete the activity. My rules are that they need to use Spanish and need to find one person per box.
At the end of the activity, you can count and see which student got the most names. You can also graph the activities to identify the most popular summer plan.
I used to be a traveling teacher, visiting classrooms all over the school, carrying heavy bags with everything I needed for class. After a few years of traveling, my school decided that I needed a room to settle and put a stop my itinerant ways 🙂 I was so excited, but I forgot that to keep a classroom efficient and effective also takes time and energy. Somehow, it doesn’t just happen magically!!
I decided to call this post “My Classroom: Make Over – Home Edition” because in the end, my classroom is the place where I spend most of my waking hours during the school year, maybe even more than my own tiny house.
This picture shows how everything looked when I first moved my stuff in:
First, I felt challenged to decide what theme I wanted in my classroom, and I finally decided that it was better to keep it simple for my sanity and my student’s clarity of thought. I find it overwhelming when teachers put so many decorations in the room that cause children to get distracted – staring at colorful eye candy but not paying attention to the teacher or classmates. This is especially true for me, since I’m basically a big distractable kid, and I get attracted to whatever is around me in my environment. When there’s too much, my head spins! So, I focused on what I needed to make a safe space for learning a foreign language with minimal distraction but still enough color and cultural elements.
This is what my room looks like now:
Flags that represent Spanish speaking countries.
A place to keep binders and folders for students’ work.
Family photos to share with my students.
A place with pictures of important personalities and books about Spanish speaking countries.
A little peace “garden”
Classroom materials with labels
Art from different places in the world
A homemade puppet theater for my younger students
Useful phrases in Spanish
Monsters mimicking conversations about the calendar in Spanish.
Reminders in Spanish.
Maintaining one’s classroom is a work in progress. I am sure I will rearrange it a few times before I optimize every single space for my students.
I recently discovered that my almost two year-old son is allergic to nuts. With the start of the school year approaching and him being new to preschool, I have become more aware about how big this issue is. I am very lucky that his preschool is a nut-free place, but it is still hard to avoid being worried. I know that not every school enforces a nut-free rule, but I am still encouraging teachers to post this in their rooms and let their school principals and nurses know how important and what a big issue this is!