Classroom Simple

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Classroom Makeover

It's over.  A long process, but I love the results of our classroom makeover!  First, you have to see the before pictures.  Can you say CLUTTER QUEEN?  I know my mother always hoped I would improve that attribute.  She's still waiting.

So appreciative of this "intervention" created by Honeywell and Got 2B Safe.  They must have had an idea of how unsafe the students in my classroom were and decided to do something before I lost one amongst the clutter.

When I met with the designer, hired by Honeywell (part of the prize), I tried to be very explicit with the needs of our classroom.  I highlighted the problem areas (though the designer only saw the room empty, not as pictured above), stressed our needs/wants, and explained my issue with being extremely and overly frugal.  I wanted the room to look like something  major had happened.  I was more than willing to roll up my sleeves and sweat in our un-airconditioned building to save money. (And sweat, I did!)
The designer did a great job with meeting my frugal needs and even admitted to me that she wasn't a discount shopper, but overcame her fears and asked for discounts and donations.  LOVED that she did that!  It made a difference and I got nearly everything I could dream of for our room - except the loft.  For some reason, the fire marshal was not impressed with my idea that a garden hose attached to a lawn sprinkler would work for a "sprinkler" under the loft.  (Remember the frugal issue.)

So, without further ado.....
Overall view from the entrance.  Loving the custom made blinds - really reduces the direct afternoon sunlight.  The two white tables towards the front were upcycled and painted with dry erase paint.  No more whiteboards banging against the tables there!

One of my favorite parts - a pegboard wall with wire baskets! Community supplies will go here.  Also, the file cabinets have dry erase paint on them - perfect for word work, brainstorming, and math!
Painted the teacher desk (it was in rough shape) and put it to use. Disclaimer: This is the cleanest it will probably be all year.

Love the rug in the front. The school removed the carpet and replaced it with tile, so was glad to have this makeover to get rugs in place. The new computer chairs are great, too!

Classroom library....still in progress.  Shelves were painted. Need to get the book bins numbered yet and pull third grade books out of storage. I purchased the bins from The Container Store (bulk discount and educator's discount!)

Favorite part of the room for the students.  The pallet benches turned out great and are individual, so will be able to move those around.  Hammock swing...enough said.  The wall art was a poem I found and two local artists created out of wooden pallets.  The tree is a vinyl decal that doesn't like humidity.

Back of the room with newly painted cubby doors and butterfly chair.

So what all did we get for our $8500? Two custom rugs, custom blinds, two butterfly chairs, four ottoman stools, four computer chairs, three flat screen computer monitors, a countertop makeover (cut and turned into an island), four ipads, camera to ipad converter, apple tv, vcr/dvd player, Macbook Pro, upcycled tables and bookshelves, swing, palette benches with cushions, lamps, custom artwork, pegboard organizational system, a tool kit (I was seriously excited about this), two small white bookcases, hand fidgets, bubble gum supply, containers for library, room walls painted, and probably other things that I am forgetting.

We had a reveal the week before open house and I invited my students to come in to view our new learning environment.  Since it was the same students from last year, they really appreciate our new ambiance and can hardly wait to get back!

Here is a link to view the other four national winners of the Got 2B Safe classroom makeover on Facebook:
Got 2B Safe

This once in a life time opportunity is greatly appreciated and I loved how at open house this week, people walked in and said they felt a calming effect overcome them.  Many of my former students were wanting to come back to third grade, too!  I think I might have to bring the cappuccino machine to school (shhh - don't tell the fire marshal because he'll remember my garden hose idea) and enjoy our new surroundings.

Here's wishing everyone a great start to the new school year!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Organizing A Classroom Library

For the first twelve of my fifteen years of teaching, I searched to find the best way to organize our classroom library.  I have evolved in my thinking of the classroom library.  My first students probably wonder if I still keep them under lock and key (I didn't really do that, but I remember it crossing my mind).  Today's students probably wonder when my husband will put me on a book-buying-moratorium or when the fire marshal will condemn the sagging book shelves.  I. Love. Books.

Since I loop from second to third, I am still working on making that transition of our classroom library a bit better.  (Lugging home bags and bins of books I deem for third grade, is not ideal).  That said,  here is how we organize our classroom library:

-I really loved how The Sisters set up their library for Daily 5 framework.  The Daily Cafe (Disclaimer:  Some pieces of their site are members only, but if you have some extra moulah...they are completely worth it!)
-Based on The Sisters' ideas, our library is set up with book bins.  Each book bin has a card on the front naming the genre, series, or author.  There is also a number on this card.  Every book in that basket has the same basket number written on its backside in permanent marker.  For example: Bin #7 is Junie B. Jones and all of those books are labeled with the number seven on the back.  This makes it really easy for students to return books to the correct spot.
-I refuse choose not to label books with Lexile or Accelerated Reader levels because I do not like the mind set it puts children in when choosing books.  We work really hard to teach them how to choose those good-fit books.  (If you haven't read Donalyn Miller's "Book Whisperer", then you are missing out on a pivotal moment in your teaching career. Follow her on Twitter, too.)
-There are approximately sixty-five bins.  I typically start second grade with forty bins, so it is not quite as overwhelming for them and add as the year goes on, up to about fifty.

Due to the classroom makeover, the library is undergoing some adjustments right now.  However, after the reveal on August 21st, I will post some pictures of our system and its new "look".  Fresh coats of paint on some old worn bookshelves was the first step and new baskets is hopefully going to make the budget, too.

The latest piece we are working on in our classroom library is utilizing technology to catalog books.  Classroom Booksource has a FREE app (♥ that word) that you can put on your device.  We utilize the ipad and take a picture of the bar code on the book.  It scans it in to find the author, title, etc. I add the basket number that the book is located, too.  Students can check out the books using the ipad (we might try this feature out next year).  Another feature I appreciate is that I can access the account online, too.  As Martha would say, "It's a good thing."