Just inside my door is a table that has a "handout" box where students who missed a day can grab anything they may have missed. I also added a container of tea, so students can make a cup if they'd like to as well. I was going to buy some cheap mugs, but I figured that if they want to partake, they can bring their own. One big rule for using the tea station is that they will have to make sure they clean up after themselves!
The board at the front of my room houses my Smart Board, so the chalkboard sections are rarely written on. Instead, I use them as a place to hang some motivational posters and reminders. The one above the book case reminds students of the strategies they can use when actively reading. (I just realized, looking at the picture, that the reading strategies poster is out of order and I'm missing a boggle tile!)
The chalkboard paint on my podium was easy to apply and will be a place for students to write a quote they find. Because we will start with reader's workshop, I'm going to ask students to use it to display great mentor sentence from their novels. The sentence could be chosen because it says something worth thinking about, or because it illustrates great writing. I don't know if we will do it once a day or once a week - I'm going to let the students decide. I also have the paint on my filing cabinet at the back of the room. Even though I'm not sure how this is going to go, I'm excited about the possibilities.
On top of my cupboard at the back of my room are my new group work kits. I am totally loving these, not just because they look cute, but because I know they will save me time during class. Inside each kit is a pile of post-it notes, six markers of different colours, four highlighters, a glue stick and some paper clips. They won't use all of these each time, but the supplies are there when they need them. And, instead of spending the first five or ten minutes passing out supplies, I can get started circulating and talking to the kids -- or conferencing -- faster.
I began by saying that I did this as cheaply as possible, so here's the approximate breakdown:
Color photocopying: $4.00
Chalkboard paint & roller: $30.00
Tea and container: $10.00
Group work kits & supplies: $12.00
The boggle board, the poster board beside it, and the READ letters were additions to my classroom last year. I try to add a little each year, so it doesn't cost too much. You can grab my new posters and group work kit labels for free HERE.
I'm almost ready to greet my students on Tuesday. However, I'm going to share something I learned this weekend. I left on Friday with the intention of spending a lot of time in my classroom over the holiday weekend, tidying and organizing a bit more, as well as working on my lessons for the week. And then, my father-in-law passed away suddenly that afternoon. Now, I'm spending the weekend surrounded by my husband's family, and my daughter who came home from Toronto. I'm not saying this because I'm looking for sympathy, but to point out that sometimes we spend far too much time on things that really don't matter. I will be there on Tuesday to meet my new students, but I will miss the next day for the funeral. I won't spend anymore time between now and then working on anything but a sub plan. After an initial panic about that, I let it go and have been devoting my time to helping my in-laws with preparations and enjoying all of the remembering. In a few weeks it's not going to matter that my first few days were not what they could have been; but the time that I've spent with my family sure will.