Thursday, September 03, 2015

Teacher Week: Sanity Savers

It's Thursday already?!
When it comes to my classroom (and life in general!), I am often an overly-organized person. So having certain systems in place is key to my sanity! Here are three that I can't live without:

1. Washroom Cones
First of all, yes, there are only two cones. One boy cone and one girl cone (this works best for my classroom as, otherwise, there will be monkey business in the bathrooms!).
If a student has to use the washroom at any point during the school day (aside from snack, lunch, and recesses), they take the appropriate cone--male if the student is a boy, and female if the student is a girl--and place it at their spot on their table. This way, whether I am teaching a lesson, working with a small group, etc., I and the other students are never interrupted. Using the bright orange cone helps me to see who is in the room and who is out in a single glance. 

How they're made: All I did was buy two small pylons from Walmart (I found them in the sports section around soccer equipment). Then, I just printed a male and female washroom symbol off the computer and mod-podged the images to the cones. That's it! 

Yes, some stinkers will use the cones at the beginning of the year just because it's such great fun, but I find it only takes a few days for the novelty to wear off and they will use them only when necessary :P

2. Anchor Chart Solution
I like to "collect" specific anchor charts we make throughout the year and display them as a class big book in our reading centre for my students to read and refer to whenever they want. But wayyyyy back when I just COULD NOT figure out how to secure several anchor charts at one time AND allow students to easily flip through them without the use of a power drill! 
In the above pic I was using push pins to secure the anchor charts along the top. NOT good to have push pins constantly flinging out around your first grade classroom!
But then I remembered my love of  Command hooks
So off to Walmart I went and constructed this:
It's not exactly attractive but it works and I LOVE it!

How it's made: I stuck two Command hooks on the metal frame of my bulletin board and hung a $3.00 rod between the two:
Then I put my charts on binder rings and slid them on the rod. 
(I now also "fortify" my anchor charts around the holes by putting a piece of tape or two just above the hole to prevent the binder clips from ripping the paper...if you look closely enough you can see the tape in the picture below)

3. Literacy Centre Rotation Board
Click the pic below to download an *editable* file (directions included)!
So I made this *life-saving* SmartBoard file to help us rotate through our centres:
To rotate through centres, my Teacher's Assistant (which is one of my classroom jobs) moves the black bar down to the next activity each time I ring the bell. I typically ring the bell every 10 minutes or so. This works out really well for me because during this time I am pulling groups for guided reading. This way, when my Assistant rotates the centre board for me, the kiddies automatically clean up and quietly move on to their next centre *without me having to draw my attention away from my reading group once.* Love it. (This is one of the routines that takes LOTS of practice at the beginning of the school year to get everything running smoothly).

So anyways, each picture corresponds with one of our 7 centres (from year to year I might have less centres depending on how many kiddies are in my class, since I like to keep centre groups at no more than 3-4 kids). To help my little darlings remember where each centre is located around our room, specifically at the beginning of the year, I have picture and word labels at each centre:
(Sorry about the horrible image quality, I need to stop taking pictures with my phone!!!)
So above you can see the little label stuck above my Word Work 2 centre (the number beside the label is for my Math Tubs)

Here's another example of the label at my Listening Centre (see the black arrow):

Because the kiddies are walking around the room for my Write the Room centre, this label is just on a basket on the back counter where kiddies can grab their clipboard, worksheet, and pencil:

If you would like to download ALL of my labels for FREE, just click the image below!
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I feel like I have way more sanity savers to share but my brain is still on Summer vacation! So maybe I will be back one day with another post of my favourite tips and tricks...if I ever remember them ;)

Until then, head on back to Blog Hoppin' to read about some other brilliant Sanity Savers other teachers can't live without!

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