Sunday, 19 July 2015

Setting Up For Success- WORD WALLS

WORD WALLS!
Ahhhh....love/hate relationship. We are told to have them in our rooms, but if they are not set up correctly and the students aren't taught how to use them, it's wasted space.

Why use one?
Most, if not all students are visual learners. Yes, they also might be kinesthetic, verbal etc., but we all learn best by seeing and doing. This goes the same for words.

Seeing words on the wall helps students become excited about words and understand that words are important and can be used over and over again. The word wall helps them learn the names of letters, ABC order, and letter-sound relationships. It provides extra exposure and challenge for students who are at many different skill and interest levels. 

In lower-grade levels, word walls display words students meet in their reading and other frequently used words. As students move up the grades, word walls begin to take on other forms and purposes.

The key to using one---->referring to them often so students get in the habit of using the wall in their work/assignments.

Every year I try out a new way to set up a word wall. With limited/varying space inside of our classrooms, word walls will all look very different.
 I loved the use a personal word wall/dictionary for each student.... especially in the younger grades. 


Colour coding words is also beneficial if you don't have the space. For example, I would make all "math related" words blue, and all "science related" words green etc. 

If you have a math corner or a specific subject boards in your room, this is a neat idea. Once you have completed a math strand, for instance, you can take the word down and add it to your math corner/board for future reference and/or use.


Really lacking room? Haha! How about this idea?

In addition to my word wall, I also do this (see below). I will often take words down off of the word wall once they are mastered and add them a ring that students can take to their desks to use.



This idea is great for Kindergarten. Every word has a picture next to it, so that if the student can't read the word, they can at least recognize the picture.


Whatever layout you choose, the word wall can either be a static/inanimate object or it can come alive.

Suggestions:

* Word walls should be student generated

*New information should be added on a regular -- even daily basis.

Content-area material from the curriculum rather than randomly selected words should be utilized.

*Word walls should be referred to often so students come to understand and see their relevance.

*Word walls are a group effort; allow students to make suggestions for content.

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Looking for some word work activities?

    

Have a great week! :)

~Kaitlin~


Thursday, 9 July 2015

What do you want your classroom to look like?

Oh goodness. A year ago today, my friend and teaching partner, Christine and I were in VEGAS!!! Takin' in the sites and embarking on the first ever Teachers Pay Teachers Conference.
Hard to believe that was a year ago today. Hard to believe that one year later (to the day), I am at home with a 5 month old..... pretty much living a completely different life! HA!
 
I wouldn't change it for ANYTHING!! Our new little one has become our world..... and everything else has taken a backseat. It's like we've been given new eyes, and everything looks different.
 
Including this blog! Hahahaha! There are lots of tumbleweeds rollin' around here! Sorry to be so M.I.A. 
 
With not being in the classroom (on maternity leave), it's hard to share the new things I am doing or rather, not doing. However.....the sickness still lives inside of me, and I still from time to time, think about ideas for the classroom and new things I would like to try.
 
So.... yes, it is summer, and who really wants to think about going back to work?!! BUT--- this is the best time to start thinking about setting up your classroom and engaging/hooking those kiddos in during the first few weeks. Maybe even grabbing a few ideas here and there, and putting them on the back burner until you are ready to get into gear.
 
My goal is to blog once a week while my munchkin naps :)
 
Soooo......Today's blog is to get you thinking about "Inviting Classrooms".
 
IT'S ALL ABOUT THE INIVITING CLASSROOM
 
Does your classroom feel like an extension of a house? Is it cozy? Is it inviting? OR Is it overwhelming, with too many colours and posters etc,? Are there lots of "things" everywhere, that aren't used on a daily basis? Start thinking about layout. When parents and students walk into a classroom it is always clear what kind of teacher they will be with for a year.
 
Here are a few ideas/layouts and questions to get you started:
 
Does everything have a place and can your kids access and take care of the room (know where things belong) when you are away?

Are bins labelled?
Do students have a place to come together? (carpet, centers, desk groupings, etc.)
Are your bulletin boards simple.... Blank canvases for your students work?

Are your teaching resources easy to get to? Are things labelled so that you USE them, and don't pile up in a closet or a drawer? Remember, if you can't see it, you won't use it.

Are your manipulatives accessible? Can ALL students use them? Are there picture cues on them for the students that can't read? 

Do you keep extra school supplies anywhere? What could you purchase and have on hand for when kids run out and need a few days to buy more? Or supplies on hand for kids who maybe can't afford any?

Do you have your room set up so that time is never wasted? See below. How many times do kids just stop working because their pencil is broken! Really??!! Give them little reason to waste time.

Do you have a place for each student to display his or her work?
Do you have things like lamps or cushions or anything to make reading or working more enjoyable and relaxed?

Are YOU organized? What does the inside of your desk look like? If another teacher asked to borrow something and they went inside of your desk, could they find what they were looking for?
 
Now is the time to plan out your classroom. Even if you have had the same classroom setup for years and don't feel you have the energy to make changes, make 2 or 3 changes this year and next year change a few more things.
 
No matter the grade you teach, setting your classroom up to engage is ageless. Students like structure and organization. Set your room up this year to reflect your teaching style :)
 
It's ok to start thinking about it. No one will know! Ha!
 
Happy Summer!
 
~Kaitlin~