Sunday, August 19, 2012

2008-2009 to 2012-2013 Classroom Evolution

Phew!  We are one week into our school year, Orientation is over and went off without a hitch (worth mentioning, anyway), and the students have paid 4 of their 180 days' debt to society as fifth graders in my classroom *giggle*.  I've made quite a few changes this year and they really were more a product of the past four years' experiences.

I initially planned on doing my reveal today, but I have a few things that I finished up this weekend that I was going to take to school and hang first, so that will have to be my next post.

Obviously (based solely on the title of my blog), I have had a beach theme in the past.  That hasn't so much changed as it has evolved into more than just a beach theme.  It's also opening the door for me to transition into potentially changing the theme one day.  You know, if I win the lotto, get a wild hair, AND decide that I have nothing but time to dedicate to the cause.  I don't anticipate that happening ANY. TIME. SOON.

So, the evolution was caused by the team-teaching-turned-six-partner-switch that has occurred over the five years we've been working at OVE.  There have been a lot of changes, some good and others not-so-much, as far as the fifth grade team goes.  From the first year that we opened, out of a team of 8 (9 if you count our ESE Teachers, and I always do), only three of us remain.  *FROWN*  However, we've gotten the opportunity to make a lot more friends that way.

Short story EVEN LONGER, our grade level has been color coded since the first year we opened.  I was chose pink because red was already taken by the teacher who brought the idea from her former school--not being too big a fan of pink at the time, I have adapted MARVELOUSLY *patting myself on the back in an over-the-top-kinda-way*!  The first two years, I worked with Mrs. Teal (one of the originals ;)) and her color was...wait for it...TEAL!  For obvious reasons--though her favorite color was purple and happens to be my LEAST liked color (I detest purple and have no idea why)--and I am glad she went with her last name for the coding.  After that, my principal split us up to put two (what she called) seasoned teachers with two teachers who needed seasoning.  Hehehe, that part I rephrased.  My new partner, Mrs. Devine, was fairly new to teaching and I was excited because I conned convinced asked her to come to OVE when she was surplussed from GPE our first year of opening (she is the only other teacher that remains with us from the first year on our grade level).  Maureen (Devine)'s color choice was LIME GREEN.

NOW, we are split up in the grade level.  One partnership has the inclusion class and one mixed ability class (heterogeneous, if you will).  We remaining six have our homerooms, to whom we teach social studies, and then two homogeneous groups in our departmentalized subject areas.  For those who are new (and honestly, I'm not sure if I've even mentioned it yet), I teach language arts and reading to two blocks a day.

Last year was the first year that we did this and I really think that it went well.  I got the opportunity to work with five other teachers rather than just one, and also got the chance to know even more students rather than just the 44 I would have taught.

The color coding within my group began at that time with the three colors, as I was only using two in the previous years.  I had all of these left over teal and lime green storage  bins and areas, so it was just a natural color selection.  It wasn't all that obvious last year, but this year (and largely due to Pinterest and my constantly expanding blog reading/following) it took on a whole new dimension.  When former students returned to my room during Orientation to say hi--which I get VERY excited about because my babies leave the school after fifth so I don't get to see them in the hallways like other grade levels get to--they were oohing and aahing over the changes.  One student in particular, who I ADORE and taught the first year, said to her mom, "Mrs. Van Kampen has upgraded since I was in her class."   :D We had quite the giggle over that.

Well there you have it--I started using a beach theme, and it grew and grew for a few years and then this year I abruptly added a LOT of lime green and teal to my already pink accents and storage areas.  I am including a link to last year's sneak peek so that you can see the "before" from just a year ago.  My next post will have this year's updated (or upgraded, hehehe) look.

2011 Sneak Peek

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Sunday, August 5, 2012

Organizational OCD

I am sure this is a common ailment for many teachers, but I suffer from a bad case of Organizational OCD.  I'm not naturally organized, I have to work very hard at it, so I've become obsessed with baskets and bins to assist me in my endeavor to become organized.

That being said, I'm sure many of you have seen the rolling carts with the primary colors for storage, but if not, they look like this:
I bought them at Sam's Club for the lowest price I'd ever seen them.  Normally they are around $80 but Sam's had them for $25 so I bought two for my classroom.

 Now, unfortunately, they do not really go with the color scheme in my classroom, so I busted out the scrapbook paper and modpodge and VOILA:

Well, I decided that I'd really wished that I'd gotten some for home in my craft room/office so I went back with my fingers crossed they'd still have some and thankfully they did!  YAY! 

I think that warming up my craft muscles on the first two sets was a good idea because my set for home turned out just a tad different. Hehehe

As you can see, this time I gave them a COMPLETE overhaul using spray paint (creme and chalkboard) as well as some stencil and paint on the top.   I wanted to match them to these ADORABLE storage bins I found at Michael's last year.  

FYI: I thought that in the past I had seen these for around $70-80 but got curious and looked at a couple of teacher supply sites to see if I remembered correctly.  I did...kinda: School Aids has them for $99.99.  Now, I mean no disrespect towards School Aids, but WHOOT WHOOT!  I FINALLY got a deal when I thought I was getting a deal!  Now, that being said, I TOTALLY fell for a sales pitch on some carpet cleaner while I was there the second time, but that was only $40 and it DOES clean...just not NEARLY as well as this knucklehead told me it would.  Oh well.  I STILL SAVED MONEY!  

Curious again, after hearing that one of my colleagues went to our local Sam's Club to get some after seeing mine last week and they were sold out, I looked online at their website to see if you could order them and have them delivered to the store.  To what will likely be her dismay, but to my relief that I was not wasting a rare opportunity to get these so cheap,  they are selling them online at Sam's for $66.83.  To their credit (yeah, not-so-much), that does include shipping. ;)

Well, I need to my classroom so have a SPECTACULAR Sunday!

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Saturday, August 4, 2012

Word Wall Cursive Alphabet Letters

Good afternoon! I am sure that many of you are doing what I've been doing lately...preparing for another school year.  My summer was crazy busy so by the time I was done taking care of the litter of pups and getting them into their new homes, I had exactly 6 weekdays of summer to be "off."  Sheesh!  Don't get me wrong, they're a blessing to be around even though it was nonstop work, but they are now a blessing to their fur-ever mommies and families now.

As I was taking inventory and beginning the set up of my room this week, I got to my Word Wall letters.  They are super duper cute, but they were in print and it reminded me of last years' students often asking me how to write something in cursive.

So, to avoid that this year, I have created a new set using a cursive font.  I've continued my beach theme (because I simply cannot imagine the amount of money it would cost to change my theme at this point) but also really added a lot more pops of color in my color scheme of bright fuchsia, teal, and lime green.  But to make it quick and easy, I used the Just So Scrappy Lil' Red Brag Book Pages found here.

You can get your own copy here:
Cursive Alphabet

That's all for now!  I'm heading to my room to work on the chaos I left behind two days ago. :)
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