Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Mash-Up of Mediocre Genius-Ness

First off, I'd like to update my hill-billy shelving organizer doo-dad picture.  So here's the new and slightly improved version:

So, I've got the two magazine files now for the writing and Spanish.  In between those, I have their dry erase pockets, where we insert different graphic organizers and math charts and the like.  In the basket of math workbooks, they worked better turned on their sides, and we wrote the names on the bindings so they could easily see whose was whose as they pulled them out.  The double decker letter tray has dry erase boards on top and clip boards on the bottom.  And then each table has its writing supplies bucket- pens of different colors, crayons, colored pencils and markers for illustrating, a pack of post-its and also a stamp pad and date stamper.  The drawer organizer has glue on top, scissors in the middle, and dry erase pens with felt erasers on the bottom.  So far, it is working splendidly, and the kids desks are staying free and clear of clutter.  I am PLEASED.

My next moment of Mediocre "Genius-ness" is with the dang bathroom.  I have tried everything to keep them from work avoidant trips.  We have signed names, we have put times, we have used sticks...blar blar blar.  So today I put up this:

 I laminated a great-big-giant piece of construction paper and used those 3m command strip hook deals with some yarn and stole some of my mom's clothespins.  Sorry, mom- but I NEEDED them!  The first string is just where everyone's clothespin "lives" at the beginning of any given day.  Then I put up notecards with the numbers 1 through 4 on them.  I did not laminate them, because I haven't decided if I will keep the messages I wrote underneath or not.  #1 says First Trip.  #2 says No Problem. (I don't mind, because after all, that's how many trips I take).  #3 says Ok, then.  (Which is pretty much my defeat phrase.  Our day is in three blocks, and I'm willing to throw them a bone for having small bladders) #4 says Um, I think you might want to see a doctor about that.  (Sounds terrible, but it made my kids laugh- and really! That's four trips in the classroom- we've got our own bathroom- plus I know for a fact that they go during lunch- it's NOT normal.)  Today I only had one girl go past four.  She had to put her clip on me, since we didn't have a fifth string.  And I think she probably SHOULD have that looked into. Seriously.

Anyway, I also made up a little doo-dad for the side to help with knowing if the bathroom was in use and who needed to go next.  I have been forever shooing away lines and having to teach "knock first, before you go in". I took a green piece and red piece of construction paper, laminated them, folded them in half and then glued two sides together.  I used the 3m strips to mount it to the door, and then added velcro tabs to both sides so you could flip the sign up and down.

 The green side is simple enough - Vacant "The bathroom is free to use".  On the red side, I wrote Occupied "The bathroom is being used" and then I made a space for five names.  I leave a dry erase marker and eraser by the sign.  If the bathroom is occupied they sign their name.  After five names are signed no one can sign their name until all five have been erased.  When you exit the bathroom, you check the list- WALK to that person and WHISPER to them that the bathroom is now available.  They go to the door, erase their name and move their clip and continue the pattern until there are no more names, and then that last person flips the sign back to green.  It worked quite well for a first day, I must say.  The only thing I will do different next time is write the words on the paper BEFORE I laminate- because even though it is Sharpie, when the kids have gone to erase the dry erase marker, it's smudged the Sharpie ink and it just looks sorta messy.  Ah well, live and learn.  At least the kids didn't hide in the bathroom all day today.

And for my last Huzzah! for the evening, I've got this little treasure working it over at my Guided Reading Table:
I picked up the child mannequin at a sale from a friend who was getting rid of some no-longer in use store fixtures (Love you, Gael! http://www.bluecanoecrew.com/ ).  I love all things kooky- and this mannequin warmed my heart like a pig roast on Labor Day. Anyhow, I stole some of my daughter's clothes (Wow, I've really been a clepto today, hermmmm.) so that the children would not go into a hysterical hoe-down over a headless naked body being in the room.  Because it serves a PURPOSE I tell you!  When I teach guided reading groups, we always chart facts that we find out, or story events and vocab and all that good stuff.  The only problem has been that I teach five groups, use tons of chart paper, and can't display them all at once so I was constantly hanging and taking down and rehanging and YAR.  So I bought these Elmer's Foam boards, and stapled blank copier paper to them.  I have one board per group, and when we start a new story I just staple on top.  It holds my old work as well as the new.  Perfecto multi-tasking!  

 And my little darling just holds her arms out perfectly waiting to carry the sweet burden of our thoughts...*sigh*.  Yeah, ok. I know.  But STILL! I looooove it.  The board fits nicely on my big table when we're talking about what we want to chart, and then when we're ready for guided writing day, I just pop the chart up and they can reference it for their story summaries.  This particular board we ended up adding a piece of paper to the top middle there on the last day of reading because the kids decided that they would have liked for the author to have included more of an emotional reaction on the brother's part when their father died.  And I was very impressed that they even thought up such a thing, needless to say that they wanted it added to the board.  At least two of them made a point of mentioning it in their summary as well.

Different stories often have different charting set-ups, but all the fiction pieces have a place for character, problem/solution, and events.  This particular story was good for discussing shifting emotions, and it also had some upper level vocabulary that we needed to reference.  Another one of my groups now is reading a story that leans itself to making predictions, but the vocabulary is very basic, so we have a predictions page instead of a vocabulary page.  And on the non-fiction pieces we often use the smaller top two pieces to make labeled diagrams.  It just depends on what your group needs, and how the book is set-up.

Oh, and I almost forgot, I promised the pic of the non-fiction resources library:
Brochures, menus and maps are in magazine files, and then magazines/newspapers, catalogs, and cookbooks are in baskets.  You can kind of tell I don't have a lot of menus yet...will take a restaurant tour this weekend I suppose to remedy that.  I labeled these baskets with letters rather than numbers- I don't really know why.  I think maybe because originally, I started labeling them before I fixed up my library, and I had set them on top of some other shelves and wanted to make sure they were easy to put away- but I was feeling a bit OCD over having the numbers out of order. Yep, just riddled with character flaws. But I like it.  And the kids have been visiting it regularly.  Maps still the fan fave, but cookbooks are coming on strong.  One kid did use the brochure basket today though to find out how to spell the word DOMINION, since he knew there was a King's Dominion flyer in the file.  Good stuff, minds are working, the hamster wheels are turning now! Yee Haw.

Ok, overtired, and wired.  Not a good combo...

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