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Classroom Organization

Math Center Organization and Set Up

I set up my math centers in the same way each week. Math center organization can be overwhelming if you don’t have a plan.  Since I started using math centers in my classroom four years ago, I have tried a lot of different ways to set it up and make it run smoothly. The way below is the best way I have found.

Step 1: Choose how long your math centers will last.

I have tried setting up math centers on a weekly basis, a monthly basis, a biweekly basis, and on a daily basis. The way that causes me the least amount of stress is on a biweekly basis. When I did them daily, I felt like I had to explain new things each day and I took too much time going over directions. On a weekly basis, I was constantly changing out my math centers every weekend. On a monthly basis, I would run out of centers for kids to do or have to prepare 40-50 centers to last the whole month. It was too overwhelming.

On a biweekly basis, I change my centers every two weeks. I only have to worry about changing out all of the math center boxes every two weeks and it gives me a break every other week. By the time two weeks have passed, I am excited about new math centers and so are my kids. It’s the perfect amount of time for each rotation to last in my classroom.

Step 2: Write down all of your math centers. 

 

I keep a list of what math centers I’m going to put out each time I change my rotations. I write my centers down in my plan book so I can’t lose the list either! I decide which stations are going to be my Teacher Choice Centers and which are going to be my Free Choice Centers. To learn more about Teacher Choice vs. Free Choice, click here.

Step 3: Put Out All of Your Centers

My Free Choice Centers are always Centers 1-10. I store them in a ten-drawer cart I got from Amazon. It’s easy to load and unload each time I need to change the centers. It’s also easy for my students to identify and put back things appropriately.

Students know which centers they want to go to during their Free Choice station by looking at their choice chart! My students are given a blank choice chart each time we start a new round of centers every two weeks. I tell them what is in each drawer of their Free Choice Stations and they write it down on their Choice Chart. Having them write it down ensures that they are paying attention while I am explaining the centers. It also helps with math center organization because the kids know my clear expectations. The box at the bottom shows the kids how many dojos they can earn by completing each center too! Each center is worth a certain amount of dojo points to encourage students to complete their centers and challenge themselves to be the best mathematicians they can be! You can find a FREE copy of my Math Choice Charts on TeachersPayTeachers HERE!

All of my Teacher Choice centers are put into Sterilite bins. These are the centers that I choose for my kids to complete each day.

Step 4: Decide Which Centers Your Students Complete

I use all of the items below to help me stay focused and keep my math centers organized.

I use three items when I’m deciding which centers each child will go to. Each day, I pull out my list of all my math centers (shown below),

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A blank sheet of paper with all my students’ names on it (shown below). I use this to keep track of which centers my kids have been to every day. Every day, I write down the Teacher Choice Center I choose for each of my students. That way, I know which centers each kid has been to and where I still need to send them within each two week period. It’s a great way to track each kid’s progress. I don’t keep up with which Free Choice centers they have been to on their choice chart. Just the Teacher Choice centers.

and a whiteboard that I write their centers on daily (shown below). I put the whiteboard under my document camera and project it on the Smartboard so they can quickly write down their centers without me having to call out which centers each child will go to each day. You can see in the picture below that where it says “me” is when each student will come to the back table to work with me, the number shows which Teacher Choice center they were assigned, and the blank spot is when they get to choose which Free Choice center they’d like to do that day.

I hope this helped you learn more about math center organization! To read more details about how centers run in my classroom, click HERE 🙂

Want to learn MORE about math centers? Check out these blog posts!

Part 1: Making Math Centers Work in Your Classroom

Part 2: Math Center Organization

Part 3: Math Centers Tips and Tricks (this post!)

Classroom Organization, Math, Uncategorized

Tires in the Classroom

Instagram is my newest obsession lately. There are so many inspiring ideas on the site! I found the idea of painting tires for my classroom on @cootiesandcuties Instagram page. Using the tires in the classroom has been a big hit!  I posted about how my tires came out and lots of people had questions about how to do it.  Here’s my step by step guide.

How to Paint Tires to Use in the Classroom:

Step 1: Lay a tarp in the back of your car. You don’t want grease from the tires in your car!

Step 2: Call car repair shops and ask if they’ll donate old tires to your classroom. When I called a local one, they said they had over 100 to choose from each week and I could have the pick of the lot! It was awesome!

Step 3: I took them to the local car wash and put in $5 to get 10 minutes worth of suds. I hosed them down till all the grease and grime was gone.

Step 4: Let them dry out for 24 hours.

Step 5: Buy your spray paint. I got the brand shown in the picture above. It worked fine on the pink, yellow, green, and blue tires. The purple tire was a little off. More on that later.

Step 6: Put your tires up on a piece of wood or a brick so their not flat on the ground. Make sure you spray in the yard and not on concrete! I spray painted the top at about 1:00 in the afternoon and flipped them over at 4:00 pm to do the bottoms. I let them dry in the yard for 24 hours. It only took one can of paint for each tire. I bought two for each tire and got to return half of the spray paint to Home Depot!

Step 7: After the first 24 hours, I let them dry for a week on my screen-in-porch. I wanted to make absolutely sure that those tires were not going to get paint on my kiddos’ clothes but it was hard to wait to bring those tires in the classroom!

Step 8: A week later, the tires were ready to go! The tires in the classroom look FANTASTIC! The only issue I had was bringing in the purple one. It was flaky and the paint was peeling off though I hadn’t done anything different to it. I had my kids take it out to recess one day this week and shake it, throw it, and pummel it a bit to make sure all of the excess paint was off of it. Though the bottom of the purple tire’s uncolored now, it’s been doing fine since we did that. I’m guessing the purple tire was different because it’s a larger tire and probably a different brand than the others. The paint reacted different on it and didn’t bond quite as well.

Overall, the project only cost me about $35 total! Both my students and I LOVE the new additions to our classroom! They make great alternative seating when we are working around the room and are very popular when we are doing independent reading.  I think that it doesn’t matter what kind of paint you get at the store too! I did a lot of reading online before tackling this project and all sorts of brands work. Painting tires seems to be a kind of guess and check system to see if the tires you get will work with the paint you buy. If you decide to take this on, best of luck to you!! 🙂

Follow me on Instagram for more teacher tips and ideas! @TheLifetimeLearner

Classroom Organization, Reading, Uncategorized

Classroom Reveal

I am so excited to show you what my third grade classroom looks like. My grade level decided to change the set up of our rooms this year. All of our rooms have to look the same (furniture wise) since we change classrooms every nine weeks.  Let me give you a tour around my classroom…here is my classroom reveal !!

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When you first walk into the room, this is what you see. I’m grouping my kids based on Kagan seating arrangements this year and I’m super excited to see how it works. We had some training before the school year started during the first week of July about cooperative learning and how to implement it in your classroom.

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In this picture, you can see my collaboration wall up close that is right next to the smartboard. I’ve noticed the need for some question stems so I created these for my classroom wall last weekend. I think they turned out beautifully:)

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When you first walk into the room, to the immediate left are the cubbies and my small group table. I have been using my new classroom set-up for a week and I’m liking the table on this side of the room. I got the adorable metal stools from Five Below back in February. I can fit 9-10 kids around this table thanks to the stools (though normally, I only have about six at a time)! My kids also love to grab a stool for flexible seating during book buddies or math centers.

Behind the table, I keep my coupon rewards toolbox and more books from our classroom library. The very top shelf is where I store my small group materials each week.

In the first picture on the left, you can see that most of our computers are along the back wall. We use them for AR and Achieve3000. I have computers, iPads, and iTouches in my room for students to use.

 

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On top of the cubbies, I place my book bins. Students keep one book in their caddy on their table and the rest of the books go in their book bin on this wall. That way, students don’t shove them in their desk and ruin my books!

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In the middle of my room, I now have my large rectangular table. I used to store this table against the wall and a bunch of junk always got piled on top of it. It’s now housing my projector and document camera. I love how I’m table to keep my laptop and supplies on it too! I’ve even squeezed a few stools from Target underneath of it as well. We used to have big projector carts that we had to put the projectors on top of. Kids who sat in the back of the room would have trouble seeing the board but this table solves that problem!

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In the corner, I have my supplies cabinet and some flexible seating items. I keep all extra classroom supplies, some manipulatives, some games, and random odds and ends inside of it. On the front is my reading and math charts that the kids fill out on a daily basis when they complete their homework or pass a multiplication or division quiz. On the other side of the cabinet, I have my stunning new schedule from Ladybug Files. I am still swooning about how pretty it is.  I also store a rolly cart with some classroom books and some pillows/stuffed animals for kids to grab during reading time in the corner. It’s a great hiding spot for the mess!

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Against the far wall, I now house my math center bins and my teacher desk is back to back with my large teacher cart. I have students complete math centers three days a week in my room. They check the smartboard to see what centers they are going to that day and then grab the appropriate boxes. I was so happy to find these large plastic containers on sale at Target this past spring because buckets and bags just weren’t doing the trick the past three years! These work perfectly and do a great job keeping both the kids and me organized! The reading posters you see are also posted as a reference for students year-round. I put an arrow above the one we are currently working on. They are from Jen Sykes on TPT!

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I’m also liking where my teacher desk is now because it’s more open and available to the class. I almost never sit at it but now that it’s moved closer to the action (from where it was in the corner), I’m hoping I’ll use it more or the kids will have access to it for rewards on a weekly basis. I’ll see where this year takes me!

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The large teacher cabinet has my calendar on the side of it. It also has my Super Improver Wall on the front and my birthday chart. This year, I made my own Super Improver chart with animals that the students will level through. I’m super excited about it and they are too!

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Right next to the teacher cabinet is now my FAVORITE PART OF THE ROOM! It’s my reading nook! I have never had a place where students can go and read. The kids are already flocking to it on a daily basis and we’ve only been in school a week. It has about half of my classroom library books in it, a bin filled with rugs and carpets, and a cool chair I use for my Super Improver of the Day to read in.

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As you head back towards the door, against the final wall, is my whiteboard and built in bookshelves.

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I keep my job chart and classroom rules (from Whole Brain Teaching) on the board. I use the whiteboard and SmartBoard pretty evenly. I really like to hang my anchor charts and book lists on the white board as well throughout the year.

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This cute little cart was found last January and I couldn’t pass it up! It’s perfect for every time we have to move rooms. I keep my Teacher Toolbox on top of it and random odds and ends on the other two shelves. On the very top, I keep wipes to clean hands and the board, RallyCoach pencils, checking pens, and tape/staplers for the kids to use.

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And that leads us back to the door! I hope you enjoyed seeing my classroom reveal and I’d love to see yours! Leave me a link in the comments below!

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Classroom Organization, Uncategorized

Teacher Toolboxes

Teacher toolboxes are all over the web. I first saw them when I was teaching my first year and I fell in love. I made one for myself and for every teacher on my team to thank them for being so amazing!

Here are the ones I made for my third grade teammates: a two-toned purple theme, a crazy polka dot theme, a blue and purple theme, a green and white polka dot theme, and a NC State one for a NC State fan 🙂

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The pictures aren’t the best quality since they are from 2013!

 

Here’s the one I made for myself. I still have it today! It’s blue and pink with polka dots!

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I struggle with organization a lot. So a few weeks ago, I decided to grab two more to make things run a little smoother in my classroom. This time, I got larger toolboxes with drawers that have equal-sized containers.

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The first teacher toolbox I made was filled with coupons that students earn each time they reach 100 dojo points on Class Dojo. For the past three years, I’ve kept them on a list in a drawer. When students got a coupon, I had to dig through a big box to find the one they wanted. My students love the new system and it’s very easy for them to choose the coupon they’d like.

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The second toolbox I made was filled with my student’s technology supplies. My class always seemed to forget their passwords to the different sites we use, lose their earbuds for technology centers, and library tags got lost or broken on a daily basis when I used a pocket chart to organize their tags. When I realized a toolbox could hold all of those things, I was eager to move forward with the idea.

My students now keep their earbuds, library tag, and a list of all of their passwords inside their number. It’s made my life easier already!

Now that the idea of using teacher toolboxes for all types of supplies has dawned on me, I may end up making a few more this year! Have you ever used a teacher toolbox for something other than its original purpose? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below!

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Classroom Organization, Uncategorized