From my last post, you can see I am very taken with blogs at the moment and love all the interesting ideas that help me keep my classroom environment and teaching skills fresh and engaging for the children.
One favourite is the Clutterfree Classroom blog. I have spent many happy hours on this blog, gaining inspiration and motivation. In the wee small hours, sleep often doesn’t come easily and this is my favourite way of passing the time!
From this blog, I have implemented two ideas in my classroom, which I love and the children appear to appreciate.
The first is a ‘focus wall’. I have dedicated a large display board at the back of my classroom for this focus wall and can answer most children’s questions by directing them there. I am currently on Spring Term break and have not yet taken any photos of the wall, but upon my return this will be remedied and the post updated!
One side of the board is dedicated to learning intentions. Here you will find the children’s input as well. Although I don’t display planners on the board, any parent or teaching colleague will immediately have an idea of what I am currently teaching. I display the children’s ‘what I know’ and ‘what I would like to know’ for our current topic, along with our focus for Numeracy, Literacy and Phonics. The rest of the board is dedicated to the current month’s birthdays, the ‘word of the week’, our current newsletter, task self-evaluation, a ‘boggle’ board and a ‘must do’, ‘may do’ board. I have attached small whiteboards/lapboards to the display board, so I can easily wipe off what I don’t need and add what I do. The whiteboards are very light and were easy to attach with blu tac (I had visions of hot glue guns and mess!). The ‘boggle’ board is made up of an attached magnetic board, using strips to create a a grid to contain the magnetic letters. This board is updated on a weekly basis. The ‘must do’, ‘may do’ board has been created using two lightweight, but very large whiteboards that I managed to find on the internet for next to nothing! The boards have their titles, similar to the pic below. I have laminated labels for every eventuality (!) and the children know what needs to be completed for the day. If work remains unfinished within a particular teaching session, they know it must be finished at some stage in the day, before they can spend any free time on the ‘may do’ side of the board. The ‘may do’ side is made up of a variety of fun activities/challenges that the children can complete should they be an early finisher. This board also directs children towards a task board for their colour of table, which is changed on a daily basis. If the children do not wish to complete a task from their task board, they can move on to other activities on the ‘may do’ board. The list of activities is handwritten, so it can be changed regularly. The activities can be random or related to a current teaching focus. When I have photos I think the set up will become clearer. Although it might sound like a lot of preparation, I was able to set up the focus wall in a day and it is very easy to maintain, if kept simple. The biggest advantage is that the children can have most of their questions answered by just looking at this board, which is especially useful if I am currently engaged with a guided reading group. I have recently attended a number of courses, therefore leaving the class in the hands of a substitute teacher and believe that this set up makes life much easier for anyone entering the classroom, as the children are much more independent and autonomous within the classroom setting.