Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Almost complete

My classroom is finally looking like I envisioned it!  Today I put some of the final touches on.  I still need to go in Friday and put up the last paper and do some laminating.  But here are some pictures!

Last time I posted this picture it had only one rug.  I went out and purchased a second 5X8 rug.  It is so comfy to sit on.  The students will not be allowed to wear shoes on it!  Right now I have two heavy bins weighing one end down because it is all curled up at the moment. 

Next is my Language Wall.  3 Ikea shelves hold non-fiction, grammar, handwriting, creative writing and on the top I have my spelling and sandpaper handwriting cards.  The gecko tank still needs to arrive.  But I have 5 free cubbies on this wall, which will most likely hold lined paper and extra books that come in through the year.

My computers are all hooked up (did that myself!) and all the bins underneath hold outdoor equipment and indoor recess games.  The grey basket as Montessori mats for doing work on the floor.  Behind the door is my fraction pie shelf, which I washed and tidied.

Although I've blocked a lot with chairs, this is my cultural shelf.  Cultural refers to anything that is Social Studies, Science, Art...etc.  So I have art cards in the baskets, the provincial flags, the globe and several trays I will use for ongoing topics.  Also the kids have 10 cubbies for school supplies and I have ordered 13 more Sterilite 14L bins to complete the 7 I already have. 
You can see my map shelf on the far left with the projector on top!

In past years my teacher desk came out from the wall.  This year I decided to maximize the space by pushing it up against the wall.  Right now it has a lot of papers on it, getting reading for the year.  However, the drawers are student friendly.  I keep tape, scissors, stamp pads, and all office supplies in the drawers and students often use them.  The other small little wooden box of drawers houses small items like bandaids, rubber bands...etc.

My math wall!  You can see my two hardware shelves that have math cards.  It is very uncluttered because in Montessori you only bring out what the students are working with.  As materials are used less you put them away.  I will be bringing more materials out during the year.  For now there are materials out that the students know how to use already or can easily learn the first day!  I also spent most of my day cleaning out the shared Montessori storage.  It had many items that were broken and needed tossing.  I also removed all items that were not Montessori as they shouldn't be in the storage room!  What I did find for me were several materials that were new and shiny that I wanted to use!  So I moved them into my personal storage space.  All the bulletin boards are white or black, with one remaining to be done.

Finally a look at the 4 hexagon tables I have in my room.  Students will be free to work where they like as long as they are being respectful.  Can't WAIT to start putting all my ideas into practice.  I hope the kids enjoy the room as much as I do!

Friday, 26 August 2011

The Carpet needs a friend

So I worked on my classroom today.  I have painters on one side and me on the other so it's a slow going process.  Today I worked on one CORNER of my room.  Realized I didn't want my carpet in the middle of the room because it made the room very unbalanced.  So I've moved the carpet near my novel library.

Notice that you can see the Black Bulletin board paper.  Now once I put this carpet down I thought, it's not big enough for 20 grade 4/5 children!  So I'm going to a liquidation world tomorrow to get another 5X8 rug.  So in essence I should have originally purchased a 10 X 8 rug!  I will add the rug on to the back of this one.  Photo to come soon!

Next I focused on one of my 5 Ikea shelves.  I figured that since I had novels over there I would put my language materials and non-fiction materials on that side too.

So this shelf has non-fiction books in the bottom cubbies.  I am going to get the kids to sort them into subjects, write down the subject names and then I'll make labels for the cubbies.  As I found out with the novels (when the children alphabetized them), they take more ownership of keeping the materials tidy and neat when they created the system.
On the top cubbies are from left to right, my grammar material boxes in order of presentations.  So I teach the green pronoun boxes first.  However, just off to the left of the green boxes are my sentence analysis cards and symbols.   In Montessori all materials are put on the shelf from left to right in order of difficulty.  So I would teach them left to right.
On the far right are two sets of leveled non-fiction books and my Brain Bank non-fiction boxes which house leveled non-fiction readers in Socials and Science.  Red is grade 4 and Purple Grade 5.  I also have Grade 3 in blue if needed.
On the very top I have the gecko tank supplies in a basket, and the tank will go next to the supplies as soon as I get it back from T.  There is an outlet in the wall right next to the shelf which is perfect for the lights and heat rock needed.  My computer is NOT going to stay there.

This weekend I am on a mission to get the carpet and several baskets.  I need a basket to hold my non-fiction writing card material.  I have laminated photo cards with writing ideas on the back for Life Science, Physical Science and Earth Science.  They will be rotated into the basket weekly to keep them fresh and interesting!  Same for the next shelving unit which has creative writing ideas for fiction and journal prompts (photos) that also need baskets.

The third shelf to the right (there are three on one wall) needs the tupperware containers for the kids school supplies.  So I need to purchase 20 of those as well.  V has given me a sample size so I know exactly what size fits in my cubbies (2 per cubby).

On Monday I will be finishing up these shelves and putting my other 2 shelves together, but those are for cultural material and my fiction picture books (which sadly just don't fit in the language area...unless I move the school supplies to the side Cultural wall...hmmm.)  We'll see!  Stay tuned!

I also saw H today and realized I should get commission from Ikea!  Not only does V have 3 Ikea shelves but H has two!  Glad these shelves are popular! 

Saturday, 13 August 2011

Reading up

I'm taking some time to refresh myself on Maria Montessori and her philosophy and methods.  I'm looking for a link between what I feel is necessary in my classroom design and her philosophy of education.  Today I found one!  Montessori was the first person to have furniture designed specifically for children.  She felt that children should be able to move their own chairs and tables around without adult help and therefore create their own learning environment.  Her first school was built in a room with nothing, so there were no preconceived ideas of what a classroom should look like.

This got me thinking.  Can the students in my class move the furniture themselves.  Well, they can move the tables with help and the chairs no problem.  I want them to feel free to move the tables around and decide where they should go.  But I also need to stress the safety of having a partner or two to help move the desks and to lift with the knees.  I think in September this will be added to my mini lessons - how to move a table without hurting yourself.  Also, I forgot I wanted to get tennis balls to dampen the sound of chairs moving in my room.  I think I will add, how to move a chair properly too.  Maybe I can have parents help cut the holes in the tennis balls?  First volunteer sign up! 

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

New ideas in the room

I need to take pictures of my room soon!

Today the two shelving units were built and put up.  I'm waiting for the last two shelves and then H is going to put wheels on them (I have to buy the wheels).  I noticed that my rug is big enough for the space.  If I buy another one I will have no room for tables!  The tables are up and in place.  I also noticed that my map station, which is on wheels, is perfect for holding my projector.  I can just wheel the projector away when I'm not using it.  Very functional.

This picture is very similar to my map cabinet except that I have a full piece of wood on the top that holds the projector.  Then I have my 6 continent puzzles and Canada underneath.  I don't have Antarctica cause there is no point, it would be one giant puzzle piece.  I am missing the world map though.  I'd like to find who has that. 

So what is left?  I have to buy 2 more shelves, 1 comfy chair for my carpet area, 20 or so storage bins for the kids school supplies, and a hardware storage unit for my Math Cards.  These are my most pressing needs.  I also need to check on how many storage baskets I need for Montessori cards etc, that are without a holder and get some patio lantern lights for my ceiling.  I'm going to try that idea.

S and V were also in setting up their rooms and we all went with black and white for our bulletin board colours.  I have to finish one more board and then put borders around them.  I have decided that the back two white bulletin boards will be for the kids framed work (they choose), the front two black bulletin boards will be for things the kids want to put up (on lined chart paper, like spelling words, ideas etc.)  The final Black bulletin board will be for birthday charts, information of importance, notices etc.  I am going to put their mailboxes right under that board so it will be a great place for parents to find up to date notices, info and maybe a list of items we need or volunteer sign ups.  So far that is the plan!

I find each time I go in my room I find something I don't really need or want to alter.  I have PILES of textbooks I'm not going to use.  I think I'll keep a few for reference books and take the rest to the storage rooms.  I have three areas of clutter to finish, one is a pile on my filing cabinet of random books I don't need and outdated Encyclopedias, one is my filing cabinet, and the other is my computer table which is piled with other text books I don't need.  My filing cabinet was reorganized this year.  It is at bare minimum.  I have files for each subject and put anything of interest in there.  The next drawer is files for events like Sports Day, Track, etc that always come up in the year.  Everything is alphabetical so it's easy to find.  I have two bottom drawers that are random crap that needs to be sorted, cause I just through stuff in there throughout the year.

Whew!  It's a big job but I love the minimalist look of the room and the clutter free feel.

Monday, 8 August 2011

Lamp failure

Well I figured out a few things today while busting a move in my classroom.  ONE:  I'm a HUGE keener...I was IN SCHOOL!  TWO:  SOME of the outlets in the ceiling work.  THREE:  the lamps worked and looked cool but to unplug them I need a 6ft ladder DAILY...that is NOT happening.  So back to Ikea I went to return them.  I've decided that maybe some patio lanterns hanging from the beams with an extension off switch would work.  That idea is currently on hold.

Going to End of the Roll tomorrow morning for a second carpet.  I've figured out how big the two will be and how to space my tables, now I have to build them.  I will take a picture when the carpets and tables are up.  Right now I'm happy to have cleared out all my floor space.  I think I'll be getting shelves, a chair, magazine holders and storage containers from Ikea very shortly.

Friday, 5 August 2011

The Math Cards ARRIVE!

I am so excited.  I came back from Toronto to see a nice package of math cards.  For those of you who teach Montessori these are wonderful.  Basically they are small cards based on every Montessori Math Material for ages 9-12.  You store them in boxes with small pull out drawers (like from a hardware store).  They come with an answer book (for children to mark their work), a master sheet to keep track of which cards each student has completed, and labels for each small drawer.  I have to laminate them.

I was thrilled to find them!  They go with my Math program which I follow from North American Montessori Center. 

Check this link if you are interested.

I can't wait to introduce them into the classroom!!!  I'm going to Canadian Tire to get some clear drawer sets.  There are 80 sets of I need two 40 drawer cabinets. 

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Decided against the lamps

Going to return my lamps.  I figured that the main reason for them was not going to actually happen as planned.  My reason for the lamps was to light the classroom in a soft white light.  However, the lights are not strong enough to light the room.  So, lamps will not be happening.  Flourescents it is.  If I do get a lamp it will be for a small private reading area that I have an image of.  We shall see.