Tag Archive | books

First Week Reflections

My goodness! This was one of the most exhausting first weeks of school I have had in awhile. Every day required a nap and when possible, I still went to bed early. However, I am still pretty excited about this school year.

My students are a pretty energetic bunch! I am looking forward to getting to know this group more. There are some comedians in the group, that’s for sure. I also love that I get one class of juniors with my students from last year. As much as I like my new group, I loved my students last year and am looking forward to working with them again.

The new name was interesting this week. After 7 years as Ms. B, I am now Mrs. Crawford. I still answer to Ms. B and noticed a did not respond to Mrs. Crawford or Ms. C a few times. It was funny to see the surprised look on some student faces when they realized this “new” teacher was actually me. I’m sure I will be used to the new name soon.

I am liking the desks in groups. Students are doing ok staying focused when needed and I love how simple partner/group discussions now are. The way they are arranged make it very easy to get around and confer with students and groups. Plus, my activity for Friday was all set up and ready to go at the beginning of each class. Huge time saver! I think this layout is a keeper.

I stole another idea on Pinterest for some positive reinforcement in the classroom. It’s giving the students a high five – a note on a piece of paper in the shape of a hand. I do not have access to a dye cut but I did find super cheap hand cutouts on Oriental Trading. I gave out some this week and they were a success. One girl expressed she wanted to bring it home and out it on her fridge because she has never received something like that. Two students asked for pieces of tape to hang them in their locker. Something so simple can have long lasting effects.

Finally, book check out was amazing this week! We did book speed dating on Wednesday and several students in each class checked out books. One student already finished This is not a Test by Courtney Summers and asked for more books by her. A variety of genres were checked out and more students found books on our first SSR day on Friday. I love seeing students with books in their hands each day.

Hope everyone had a great start of the year. Here’s to week 2!!


Classroom Tour 2012-13

Over the last week, I have done a lot of work in my classroom.  Going into my sixth year, I have made a number of changes in there and what I am going to do.  I thought I would take an opportunity to share what my room looks like and explain what I am going to do.

Just ignore the overflowing garbage cans.  They have yet to be emptied. 😉

Student Areas

This year, I am putting students in groups of 4-5 as opposed to sides or rows.  There are so many lessons and activities where students need a partner or small group, so I decided that instead of making them move all the time, they would already be in groups.  One thing I want to figure out is a quick switch to rows when needed for tests.  My assistant principal liked this idea and agreed that if they start in groups from the beginning and it is all they know, it will probably help.


Here are some other important student areas.  The organizer holds many important materials for students suck as pens, pencils, highlighters, sticky notes, and note cards.  It is actually storage for screws and nails and such that I picked up at Lowe’s thanks to an idea on Pinterest.  There is also dictionaries, thesauri, and MLA and APA books for students to use for reference as needed.  My books are on the second shelf.

The absent work crate is a system I have been using for awhile.  The current week folder has a folder for each day of the week and then I file the papers in other hanging folders as the week goes on.  This has been one of the best ways for me because students know where they need to go to get work when they were absent and it keeps me organized.  I have to put the papers in there at the end of each day, freeing up space for the next day’s handouts, and it make filing at the end of each trimester so much easier.

Finally, I use the 10 rainbow drawers for my in-box/out-box system.  It is consistent because students know where to go and it is easy for me to transfer work to grading folders from the drawer.  I am huge on color-coding all my classes.  





 Each day, students need their folder and notebook.  For folders, I give each student a file folder and they store it in the classroom in the appropriate bin (see the color-coding again?).  Notebooks are kept in the drawer cart – a great find at IKEA – and rotated to the top each hour for students.  This helps ensure all necessary materials are actually in class for students.





Teacher AreaImage

This is the year…the year I will stay organized and my teacher area will be clean.  I figure, you know, year six is a great time to figure it out.  Luckily, I found some inspiration to help me try to stay a bit more organized and less cluttered.

First of all, Pinterest gave me the idea for these folders on my desk to help keep paperwork off it.  I know it will be up to me to make sure those files are under control, but my hope is giving everything a place will help with most of that battle.

I also love the teacher organizer from Lake Shore Learning.  Paper is my downfall to organization so I hope this will help me know what is for each day and keep future handouts of out the way of what I need that day.

The small 12-drawer rainbow cart is for paper work such as class lists, grade sheets, conference notes as well as data for each class.  Again, if everything has a place I hope I can find it. 

Here’s hoping my desk looks like it does now all year! 🙂 


ImageImage Image


On The Walls

The weekly schedule is on my whiteboard behind my desk.  I do update it for the entire week so students have an idea what is coming up.  I am in love with the star clings on the board.  They are dry-erase and great for announcements all students need.

We have limited bulletin board space in our hallway. 😦  I try to make the most of it though.  The left board is the “Success!” board.  First trimester, this will be used in my Academic Enrichment (ACT Prep) class.  My co-worker who designed the class started a tradition of putting student names on cars when they scored proficient on a reading passage.  I am going to do this in my section as well.  In the other trimesters, it will be used to showcase student work and any other success students want to share.  The board on the right is for grade updates.  I will be using the chalkboard in the middle as a reading board.  My co-teacher Jacqueline and I will each write what we are currently reading on there, changing it as we finish books.  We will also showcase books, reading countdowns, and many other things related to reading.

Finally, I love this reading sign on of my coworkers got for me for my birthday.  So fitting! 🙂 





Classroom Library

One of the biggest projects in my classroom this year was organizing my classroom library.  Over the last two years, my library has exploded.  I wanted to make it more user friendly for students to help with organization and steering students to a great book.

First, I decided to sort the books my genre.  I used smiley stickers by color to help distinguish the books.  I have a master key on the white board and a smaller one over each section throughout the classroom.  I also switched to bins this year to help with the organization a bit.  I’m hoping that will make it easier for students to keep the library somewhat organized so it is easier to find books.




Fiction Section – includes realistic fiction, historical fiction, sci-fi/dystopian/fantasy, and horror/suspense




Window Area 1 – includes biography/autobiography/memoir, non-fiction/informational, poetry/verse, and graphic novels



Window Area 2 – Series and Collections

I am also trying to help students read series in order so they know what goes together.  That is how this area is organized (though I am almost out of space!).  Each books has a small dot on the spine with a number.  I hope author names will help show which books go together.  




Image Books on Display

Finally, I like to pull books out of the shelf and put them on display for students.  My current display is “Books Mrs. Crawford read over the summer.”  I have other ideas such as banned books (for banned book week), Halloween books, books I am thankful for (borrowed from Mrs. Andersen at YALove), student choices, top checked out books, if you liked the Hunger Games, etc.




 I would love to hear about your classroom and some of the organization methods you use.  I also would love to see other classroom libraries.  Feel free to share ideas for book displays as well. 

Happy school year!

#Summerthrowdown Week 1

This summer I am taking part in a fun competition known as #summerthrowdown between teachers and librarians to see who can read the most books. Over the last week, I have read 6 books that count toward my numbers, plus one I was over half way done with come Monday. Here are some of my thoughts on what I have read so far.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

I was actually rereading this book in preparation for the movie coming out this fall. I remember just loving it the first time I read it in my early college years. While I still enjoyed the story, I was not as crazy about it as I remember. It may be an age thing. I think I connected more with the characters when I was 18 and setting out into the world and figuring out who I was. I still love the story and Charlie, Sam, and Patrick as characters but not as much as I remembered. I am still excited to see the movie this fall, especially since Emma Watson is starring in it!

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Thank goodness for Twitter and Goodreads or else I would miss out on so many amazing elementary and middle grade novels that I would not have heard of otherwise. This book made me laugh and I found it to be incredibly entertaining. I love the Star Wars draw in and the many different voices of the students brought into the narrative. I think that some reluctant readers in my classroom would still enjoy this. I can’t wait to get my hands on Darth Paper Strikes Back.

A Dog’s Life: The Autobiography of a Stray by Ann M Martin

I had no idea Martin wrote other books besides BSC books, which I grew up on. I found this book as well as Everything for a Dog at the Scholastic Book Fair. I was looking for a light read one night and got through this in one sitting. I don’t mind books from an animal’s POV and found Squirrel to be a lovable dog. Some parts were sad and made me angry to see how people will treat animals, though I know it is true. Overall, it was a sweet story I read in one sitting.

The Name of the Star by Maureen Johnson

I have been following Johnson on Twitter for some time before reading any of her books. I find her to be an absolute riot! I loved this book! I love that the setting is London. It made me want to travel back to London the entire time I was reading it. I love the pull in of Jack the Ripper, one of the most terrifying murderers of all time. I love the supernatural aspect in this. And the cliffhanger ending makes me wait in anticipation for the next book in this series. I cannot wait to read more of Johnson’s work.

Armageddon Summer by Jane Yolen and Bruce Coville

I came across this book thanks to my coteacher. She added her vase YA collection to our classroom library this year. She recommended Armageddon Summer and I was intrigued so I packed it up with my other summer reading books. I found this to be very intriguing. First of all, there is something to be said about the whole cult following and mind set of people in that. The alternating point of views between Marina and Jed showed two different approaches to Revered Beelson and his followers. And despite the extreme conditions of being in this camp awaiting the end of the world, they go through typical questions and discoveries many people of all ages do. I liked the suspense I felt as I wondered what would happen on July 27.

Jumping Off Swings by Jo Knowles

This one was recommended by my good teaching friend Sarah over at YALove when I was planning my first Donors Choose Project. It was very hard for me to read this school year because so many students checked it out. I knew it was coming home with me this summer. I found Knowles’ writing to be honest and heartfelt. Again, I love alternating points-of-view and the idea of four in this one was amazing. There is a string message of how teen pregnancy affects many people around the mother and father. I found Ellie’s struggles to be very strong. I really felt for Corrine as the friend trying to be there for Ellie while also coming to terms with everything herself. This will be another one I will promote hard next school year.

The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

On the recommendation of a Twitter friend and fellow #nerdybookclub member, I listened to this on audio. This is one of the best books I have ever listened to and it is making it hard to listen to something else. Rex’s writing is hilarious and I love J-Lo and Gratuity both. There are also some strong messages that really make you think about our actions in the past. I have the paper copy of this in my room as well and will talk it up. The idea that this will be a Dreamworks movie starring Jim Parsons in 2014 makes it that much better.

Didn’t read as much this weekend as it was my birthday and I was visiting Shawn. Going to enjoy this beautiful day in the patio with my next #summerthrowdown book and I will share some more titles and thoughts next week!

Happy Reading!