July 27, 2007

Classroom prep

Posted in classroom appearance, lesson plans at 6:05 pm by mrsmauck

With only two full weeks until school starts, I’m starting to get a little anxious about getting everything done. I’ve got a magazine deadline August 6, so next week will be divided between that article (on Oklahoma blogs–whoop!), Claire, and hanging out with visiting relatives. That leaves one week to ready my classroom. Here’s my to-do list for that week:

1. Walls: minimal in the beginning, as I plan to create posters to remind them of things we learn.

  • Class rules: Respect yourself, Respect your classmates, and Respect your teacher
  • Promises to my students (jacked from the perfectly seasoned Graycie): I promise that I will not ask you to do anything you cannot do, I promise that if I ask you to do something new, I will show you how, and I promise that if you do the things I ask you to do, you should pass this course.)
  • Book recommendations: I post brief reviews of books I’ve read recently, replacing them with student reviews as they finish books.
  • 6 +1 Writing Traits

2. Class Syllabi

3. Lesson Plans, of course! I’d like to have the first couple weeks planned when we start school.

4. Class Library: I’m up to about 70 books now, and I’m going to arrange them by genre, and then within each genre, I’m going to try to order them from less difficult to more difficult.

Question about SSR: I’m now planning on devoting the first 10 minutes of every English class to SSR, with weekly journal entries or creative projects due, book talks every other week, and frequent mini-lessons on choosing books, active reading, authors, and genres. I think I’m going to require that every student read at least 5 books per semester, with books with more than 250 pages worth two books. Any other ideas on how to make this SSR beneficial and effective for students?



  1. Shelly said,

    No suggestions on SSR, sorry. I teach Elementary Spanish. Good luck, though. Teaching is a lot of fun, but that first year is definitely scary. New mommy and new teacher? You’re going to feel like you’ve been pushed the wrong way through a blender. Get lots of sleep when you can. That’s my suggestion.

  2. Emily said,

    Your classroom decor choices sound good, and I think SSR is as good as anything else for bellwork. Make sure a fairly big chunk of their grade hinges on it so they don’t blow it off.

    One thing you might think about adding to the mix: a small scrapbook or wall album/collage/whatever containing pictures, favorite quotations, and various ephemera from your own life. Make your selections carefully so you’re telling the kids exactly what you want them to know about you (for instance, if I were entering a classroom this fall, I would tell my kids I’m tough, fearless, and community-minded by including pictures of myself finishing a marathon, riding a Clydesdale, and working on a preservation project from a boom lift 30 feet in the air).

    The kids will get a kick out of it, and it will allow you to communicate some things about yourself in a quiet, subtle way.

  3. Athena said,

    Last year my students did SSR. I was a first year teacher and experimented alot. Last year I didn’t let them read “Goosebumps” “Sweet Valley High” etc. This year, after hearing Kasten speak last year, I am going to try to let them read whatever they want. Their final project was a powerpoint on their book. This year I am thinking an entry on Library Thing. Sorry for the long comment, but I am trying to figure out how to do SSR too.

  4. Jennie said,

    One of the most powerful ways I’ve “tweaked” SSR is to get rid of the pages/books requirement and encapsulate it into one rule:
    “You are never allowed to stop reading”.

    That way, the slow reader with the long book and the fast reader with the short book have the same job–to read everyday and pick up a new book when they finish!

    I also use librarything in my classroom–although I use it mainly as a place to “check out” books (when a student checks out a book, the make a note on it, and I know where my books are!)
    Have a great year!

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