Saturday, April 23, 2016

Flexible! Alternative! Amazing!

Is it Flexible Seating or Alternative Seating?  Whatever you want to call it, it has transformed my teaching.  I have to give thanks to the amazing inspirational blog posts, videos, and other social media posts by AngieOlson, from LuckyLittle Learners, Mr.Greg, from KindergartenSmorgasboard, and KaylaDelzer, from Top DogTeaching.  These posts motivated me to take the leap into flexible seating right after spring break. 

I decided I would take a test drive before I started planning for the next school year.  I was not sure how my students would handle being able to make their own choices.  I prepared my students by talking about our “classroom experiment”.  They were really motivated when I said the desks would be disappearing.  I wanted them to know how the “experiment” would work and how lucky they were to be able to participate.  My class is the only class fully implementing flexible seating in my school.  

I prepared my students for about three weeks as we slowly started organizing the classroom for a life without desks. We merged our textbooks into cubbies.   

 We organized our working folders into baskets.  

We started using community supplies and practiced keeping them organized.  We had to develop new routines.   This, in the long run, benefited us immensely when the final transition happened.  We had our routines in place and could focus on CHOICE.

As we were preparing for the transition in school, I went SHOPPING on the weekend!!!  (My favorite part)   
 I decided to post a project on Donors Choose to fund a new carpet for my classroom.  I wanted a centerpiece for my classroom to create a new feel for my students.  I was so lucky that my project was funded in a little more than three weeks.  (Thanks to many of lifelong friends from home in Virginia)

I bought four stability balls for $5.97 each online from Wal-Mart.  I was a little disappointed in them.  Some of them were not completely round.  I will probably replace them next year and spend a little more money.  

I made a trip to one of my favorite places in the world, Ikea.  These awesome black stools work perfectly under my guided reading table. 


These lap desks were such an awesome idea, however students need to make sure their legs are underneath to support the center of the desk.  I found these at Hobby Lobby. 
I found my green and orange bath mats at Target.  They are so soft and some of my student’s favorite spots to sit.

 Flexibility Eve
The Wednesday after spring break was an early release day for our school.  It took me about 4 hours to prep my room the way I wanted.  I even drew out a very rough sketch the night before to make my work a little easier.   
I used many of my desks to create long table spaces protruding from the walls.  I also used these spaces for my writing and word work areas. 

I created little sitting nooks around the classroom using little chairs from Ikea, bean bags, and beach chairs. 

I was not sure if my students would use a standing table.  I put one in the back of the classroom and added a little lamp.  I have one student that works here every day.  I might have to add another standing table next year. 
I lowered two trapezoid tables to make a large hexagon.  I used Target bath mats around the table.  This table is always full. 

I added another lower table made with desks.  Students use the crate seats to create a perfect little working space.  

My biggest worry was organization.  How was I going to organize and create new routines in the middle of the year without causing total chaos?  My students have BEE Binders (Bring Everything Everyday), textbooks, notebooks, and work folders. 
I decided to have students store their binders in their mailboxes.  That made sure everything was taken home each day. We placed the textbooks in a cubby I was using for
centers.  We placed all of the notebooks in baskets at the front of the classroom along with work folders.  It is working amazingly!

Work in Progress
Of course, this is a work in progress.  I have been making changes almost every day since I have started.  The key to making this work in your classroom is one important rule.  THERE ARE NO WARNINGS.   Your students have to buy into this rule or having choice will never work.  I have two students that still have a hard time choosing a place that is best for their learning and where they can do their best.  I have two regular desks just in case I have to put the NO WARNINGS card.

I am so glad I started flexible seating at the end of this year.  I know for sure I will start at the beginning of next year.  I have seen so many of my students come to life.  My students that have attention and hyper activity problems are able to choose quiet wiggly places to sit with lots of space.  My girls love to sit on the little carpets at the low tables or on the carpet with lap desks.  Also, my students that are creative and artistic have loved sitting in cozy spots and not in desks where they seemed to drift off and day dream.  It has been an amazing ride that I have jumped on, and I think it is one of the best choices I have made as a teacher.   

Sunday, August 2, 2015

All Things Bulletin Board!

I am so excited to link up with my heroes, Angie Olson from Lucky Little Learners and Ashley Schroeder from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd for the next two month to chat about B2S.  This month is All Things Bulletin Board.  I was really excited to get in my classroom and take pictures of my bulletin boards and all of my great ideas, then... I went to school.   Floors were not finished and I was not allowed to get any where near my room.  WHAT A BUMMER!!!

So then I had an amazing idea.  I will show you my plans for this year, things I have tried in the past that really work, and some amazing ideas from some fantastic teachers.

Please click on any of the bulletin boards and it will take you right to the original source of the photo.

One of my favorite things to do, as a teacher, is decorating my classroom.  I love the ooh and aah my classroom gets on Open House night.   I found these two bulletin boards on Pinterest and thought ooh and aah!  I also thought about the time it took this teacher to put the board together and how much their students must mean to them.  Wouldn't you love to be a student in these classrooms????
Bulletin boards can set off your classroom decor or set off your classroom for excitement to learn.  One of my favorite units of study is my fairy tale unit about Jack and the Bean Stalk.  We study several ELA standards and the life cycle of a plant.  Wouldn't these bulletin boards be amazing to add to my class to stir excitement?

Last year I decided that one of my biggest makeovers in Daily 5 would be my writing.  My students hated writing.   I would have the biggest class disruptions in writing.  So this summer, I read many blogs and found this awesome product from A Cupcake for the Teacher called Writing Center Starter Kit.  Many teachers have it.  You have to take a look at it.  It makes such a functional bulletin board.  No wasted space!
 The huge pencil can be found for free here.  Thanks to Lindsey, The Teacher Wife!!!

Some other functional bulletin boards I have used in the past are the Add It Up! board and the Boggle board.  These are great boards for centers or morning work.  I change up the Add It Up depending on the number of digits we are working with.  I also change up the letters on the Boggle board depending on the sound pattern we are practicing.

The Equation Station is a new activity I have found on Pinterest this summer.  It looks awesome.  I think I can use it when I am teaching addition up to 3 digits and mental math strategies.!+Mail

Tracking students progress is very important.  In my second grade inclusion classroom, I do not like to track grades on bulletin boards.  I track them privately, so it is between the student and myself.   I do like to track how much they are reading.  Since most of the reading practice happens in school, all students have a chance to shine.  We use 100 Book Challenge at our school.  In my class last year, I made a gigantic vine across the back of my class.  Students were little bees flying from flower to flower as they read more and more books.  This was a great motivator.  I celebrated every 50 steps.  

I had to take my vine down last year because it was so dusty.  This year my theme is going to be gardening with bugs and mason jars.  I found this fun bulletin board from Clutter-Free Classroom this summer.  Isn't it cute.  I am going to try my own version in the colors I am using.

Bulletin boards are wonderful tools to beautify a classroom or to make a classroom an engaging and functional place to learn, however nothing is better than to have a bulletin to show off student work.  Student work is why we are teachers.  Student displayed work shows the students that they are truly valued.  In my class, everyone's work is displayed.  Each and everyone of my students gives me 110%, even if it is not grade level work, I value it.  Sometimes a student only has you as cheerleader.  So, on that note, I leave you with an amazing example of a student work bulletin board.
I can't wait to get into my classroom on Monday so I can show you what I can really do.  So watch out for our next link next month... Classroom Reveals!!!!!  I can't wait!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

B2S Sales at Teachers Pay Teachers

Hey guys!  I am so excited about the Teachers Pay Teachers site wide sale that starts on August 3-4!  Most sellers will be putting their entire stores on sales for 20% off.  TPT will be giving an extra 8% if you use the Promo Code at check out, BTS15.

300 × 250

I have so many things in my in box... Here are my top 4...

Number 1

Writing Center Starter Kit by A Cupcake for the Teacher

 This is going on my Daily 5 writing wall!  All you have to do is print out the posters, laminate, and staple.  I love it.  It even comes with printable worksheets.  My students will love this!  I even read  Amy Lemons' Blog, Step into Second Grade,  about how she uses this center.  She places a star beside the pieces of writing she has introduced to show students which pieces of writing they are aloud to use in her writing center.

Number 2
Math Centers (2nd Grade) by Catherine Reed - The Brown Bag Teacher
Who doesn't need more print and go math games to reinforce Common Core math standards?  Catherine has created a fun product my students will love.  They always love when the dice and cards come out.

Number 3
No-Cut Interactive Math Notebooks Bundle 2nd Grade by Teacher's Clubhouse

Who is not a fan of Teacher's Clubhouse?  Teacher's Clubhouse has been my go to WAY before TPT was ever heard of.   These NO-CUT interactive notebook activities are great for extra practice, centers, and enrichment.  The activities are made with Common Core in mind.

 Number 4
Directed Drawing for the Entire Year by FirstGradeBlueSKies
I am so excited to use these this year.  I have promised myself that my students will publish most, if not all, of their writing this year.  I have taught 2nd grade for 8 years.  I have only had a handful of students that could draw.  I feel that it is so important for students to develop spacial sense and drawing is a great way of teaching this skill.  

I hope you visit these amazing teacher authors and their stores.  We need to make sure we are supporting each other all the way.  Have a great night!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

<a href="">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>

Wednesday, January 21, 2015


Howdy!  Boy I have been busy setting up for our next big unit, Habitats.  I am in the process of finishing up my last two units, ocean and rainforest.  I have already finished my desert, polar, and pond units.  Each unit includes a habitat reader, habitat research, plant research and project, animal research and project, and a life cycle project.

My class just finished up on our science fair project.  My students always learn so much about being little scientists.  This year I got smart I smart.  I compiled all of my science fair research, student logs, and print outs for my display board all in one place.  If you need a quick science fair idea for 2nd Grade, check this out.  I have included 3 evaporation experiments!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Native Americans!

Wow!  It is almost the end of winter break.  I can’t believe the time has flown by so fast.  One of my New Year’s resolutions is to make sure I try to blog at least once a week.  I also need to remember to take pictures of all of the cool things we do in our classroom.  Sometimes I get so caught up in the excitement (engagement) that I forget.  

I wanted to take a quick minute to show you some of the pictures; one of the teachers on my team took, as we were studying our Native American Unit.  The students LOVED it!!!!!  

I actually took two complete weeks before Thanksgiving to study all four regions.  I incorporated the unit into our whole literacy block.  I used two to three days for each tribal region.  The first day I introduced the region with a power point.  The students took notes using a circle map. 
I then used the printable readers in our differentiated reading groups.  They highlighted important information, and then used the book to complete a tree map where they classified the information into clothing, food, shelter, and transportation.  They really became good at researching on their own by the third tribal region.
In writing, the students used their information to complete a planning flee map. 
The second day, we studied and made the craft.  The students also completed the writing that was planned the day before.
The research projects were amazing!  The students were so excited to show them off.  We were able to visit one of our kindergarten classes and share our projects the day before Thanksgiving break.  We paired each second grade student up with and a kindergarten one.  I was so impressed with how much they really learned and how they were able to teach, I took a speaking and listening grade.  

Until next time…