Back to School

What a wonderful whirl wind week and it was only 3 days :)  This is the first year I have been able to dive right into curriculum (2nd day) as my kiddos are rocking the procedures part of it.  
A quick peek into the things that have really helped my year start off right.  

Having the kids read 1st thing in the morning...no more papers to hand out etc just nice quiet indulgence :)  this is new for me this year and I'm loving it. 
 After reading a few blog posts I read Book Whisperer...

I haven't implemented all that I read but this small change made a HUGE impact.

I also started the Daily 5 (wowa weeza this is amazing) (and the ebook is cheap on kindle)..although i don't have a kindle i still read it on my laptop and phone)

 I have only done a few mini lessons but my kids are begging to read more...Their stamina is through the roof.  Here are a few pics of the bulletin board I'm building with them.

I also love brain breaks...I have made a huge effort to chunk the modeling and work time into more manageable sections and then build in cooperative learning structures (Kagan)  for them to process with team members and of course brain breaks...I have used brain breaks for a while but they are all over Pinterest and blog land now...who knew.  Just search on you tube and you will find tons of videos of students modeling them :)  (I forgot to take a picture of the bucket i keep them in...just craft sticks with the names of brain breaks on them.

Another hard line in my classroom is a whole group area.  I don't keep them long but I like the sense of community and focus!

My students sit in teams of four and to keep things organized ( I hate messy desks and long transitions when things are missing) they have team tubs for slates markers crayons etc. Each week we rotate to a new team leader to be the materials manager..promotes ownership team work and responsibility all in one shot :)

Another part of teams is they have 3 other people to help them before they come ask me for help...love this!

This year I am also promoting I CAN statements like crazy...this is my focus board and all the goals and essential questions for each lesson are posted (and referred to throughout the day) here!  I plan to use different color marker to add vocab as well.

Our district has gone grade less for K-4  ok so we use standards based evaluations with levels..advanced proficient developing and beginning ...anybody else do this?  I LOVE it...So for the kiddos and myself :) I do a mini lesson with presents wrapped in varying degrees of perfection that serve as a visual all year long.  These work for all curricular areas including behavior!

So what has been the biggest change you've made this year?  Or what do you implement that works like a charm every year?


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