- Grades: 1–2
As the school year draws to a close, I begin reflecting back on everything that's happened. What were the challenges this year? What could I have done differently? Join me as I answer these questions and more. You can also watch a cute video below of a few of my students reflecting on their 2nd grade year.
The end of 2nd grade is exciting and sad at the same time. My students have grown, learned, and changed so much in the past months. At our K–2 school, the 2nd graders will graduate and move on to our sister school across the street. They are looking forward to attending school with the older children and moving on in their educational careers.
Reflecting back on this year, I thought of the new things I tried and the things that I need to work on, including:
This year I changed my classroom library from front-facing, wall-mounted shelves to baskets organized by genre. It took me a long time to sort and label the books last summer, but I was ready by the beginning of the school year. I was worried that my kids would not be able to return the books to their proper areas and that the library would be a mess. After living with this new system for a year, I'm happy to report that the kids were very responsible about returning the books to their correct bins.
This year, in the middle of the year, I found a cool rainbow clip chart for classroom management from Rick Morris of New Management. I was using a stoplight, but I wanted to find a way to reward my great kids. It worked like a charm: it really allowed me to encourage model behavior in my well-behaved children while monitoring the kids who needed reminders and consequences. The kids really enjoyed competing with each other to move their pins up the chart during the day.
This is the second year that we have had to take a lunch count, and the magnets seemed to work out well. When the students came in the door in the morning, they moved a star to the area of their lunch choice. Last year I had paper star die cuts with the students' numbers on them, but it took forever for them to find their numbers, which caused traffic jams, with kids complaining and pushing.
As I have confessed in previous posts, I am not a naturally organized person. This is the first year that I both succeeded and failed at organizing my closets. The office supplies stayed organized in the correct bins, but the art supply closet didn't stay organized at all. The odd-sized containers for paint and watercolors never seemed to fit back into the closet the same way. My goal for next year is to reorganize the art supplies into smaller, uniform containers by media type. Also, the closet was overstuffed, so I couldn't readily get in and out of it. I also need to label the containers more clearly.
I have a love/hate relationship with these closets. They are wonderful in that they provide invaluable space for my shelving and a way to keep all of my language arts materials together and organized in a way that is easy to access and easy to hide. The curtain closet closest to my desk, however, is still a jumble of piles hidden behind a curtain.
So this summer, both the art closet and one of the curtain closets are in for a total overhaul.
This year we adopted a new math program that is different from our old program in that the students receive newspaper-type handouts every day instead of having a math book. Also included in the program is a large baggie of math manipulatives for every student. So in addition to organizing math materials that I already had, I had to organize 25 sets of counters, base ten blocks, pattern blocks, linking cubes, etc., while keeping them easily accessible for me and for students working on their own. Overall, this worked well. The manipulatives were easy to clean up and return to their containers and the teacher's editions and the supplemental materials I had collected were easily sorted into the magazine files. I will probably continue to use this system next year.
Come back next week when my students will share their writing in a special Author's Chair Book Talk video. We will be reading books that my students wrote for the Young Author's Fair in our school district.