Hello Friends!! Welcome to my first Back-to-School post of the 2019-2020 school year! Here in NJ, we still have some time before we head back. That means that for the most part, I am still on “summer vacation mode,” but I am starting to prep. And as a result of that prep, I’ve just recently stopped my #bookaday challenge over on Instagram. If you don’t follow me over there (and I can’t imagine why you wouldn’t be?!?), I took up Donalyn Miller’s challenge to read a book a day during the summer.
|Just some of the books I read this summer during the #bookaday challenge!|
Starting in the last week of June, I committed to read a book a day. Sometimes it was a picture book or graphic novel, but most of the time it was a novel or nonfiction. Then, I did an IG Story about it. One of my main goals of the challenge, aside from the reading, was sharing books and authors with you that you may not know about. I talked a lot about books needing to serve as mirrors, windows, and doors (thank you, Rudine Sims Bishop) for your students. I stressed the importance of kids finding mirrors of their lives in books, so it is ESSENTIAL that we have titles for kids of all races, ethnicities, and religions. We also need to make sure that our LGBTQ+ students and our students dealing with mental illness and disabilities, can find themselves in our library. I mentioned that not only are these books important to be mirrors, but also windows and doors for other students into the lives of those kids. There is no greater way to make your classroom “culturally responsive” and welcoming to ALL students than having a library that reflects everyone.
I loved this challenge for a lot of reasons. The first was that it definitely cut down on my scroll time. Since starting Musings from the Middle School, I spend more time on my phone than I like to admit. But, with my reading commitment, I had far less time to fall into the black hole that is social media.
The other thing I loved was getting to know you all so much better. Prior to doing these stories, I rarely received DMs via IG, but that changed this summer. So great to chat with so many of you!!
I can also say that I am FINALLY over my fear of stories. I felt so stupid for the longest time doing them, but making one every day changed that. I actually look forward to making them now.
Okay… so back to Back-to-School talk…
I don’t officially start until September 3rd and I won’t have students until September 5th. But sometime around the 21st, I can get back into my classroom to prep.
And I’ve got a LOT of prep to do because my position for this school year is changing!!
I will still be teaching ELA to seventh graders. However, my class is going be organized a little differently. Rather than being an ELA teacher on a team (like I’ve been for the past four years), I will be my own team, pulling 7th graders from all four of our teams.
My class size is going to be smaller, anywhere from 12-15 kids per class. These students are non-classified kids who just need a little more support in ELA. It’s not an intervention class per se, as these kids aren’t identified as intervention students. Instead, they are kids who just have a few gaps and our hope is that with a small class size, they will be able to quickly make up those deficits and be performing like average 8th graders by next year.
Anyway, as a result of that move, I’m going to be making some changes to my curriculum. I am so excited about that since I’ve been doing pretty much the same thing for the last four years straight. I love new challenges and I am eager to meet my students, assess their needs, and get into creating some new stuff!! So, be sure to stay tuned because I will be sharing my trials and tribulations along the way this year 🙂
In addition to changing up my curriculum, I will also be moving into a new classroom. While I know that moving is stressful and annoying to a lot of folks, I really don’t mind it. It gives me a chance to purge and I love the “fresh canvas” to decorate.
If you follow me on Facebook or Instagram, then you know I’ve teamed up with my good friend, fellow-teacher, and artist-extraordinaire Tim Smith, to create some new artwork for my room.
I first met Tim years ago when he was hired as a elementary school teacher in my district. He has since become a reading specialist in a new school district (the one where my own children happen to go!!) and has a budding art career. His style is AMAZING and when I started to imagine how I wanted my new classroom to look, I couldn’t get Tim’s work out of my mind. I approached him with a crazy idea of creating a line of artwork for schools and he jumped at the chance!
Tim has designed four pieces of art for my classroom. The jpegs of his pieces will be available for sale in his new TpT Store, Tim Smith Art, soon. Once you purchase these high-quality jpegs, you will be able to print them from your home computer or have them blown up to poster-size at your local print shop.
Aren’t these extraordinary?!? I cannot wait to see them hanging in my room!!
Soon, Tim and I will be doing a giveaway and some lucky teachers will be winning one of these pieces for their classroom. And one lucky teacher will win the entire set of four! Be sure you are following both Tim and me on Instagram so you don’t miss out!!
So, as a result of these new paintings, I’m redesigning my bulletin boards to match. I have three large bulletin boards in my room (about 44″ X 44″). Here’s what I’m thinking…
I have to have a “While You Were Out…” board. I’ve written about this board before and I CANNOT live without it. I also need a “Write Like This” board. This is where I hang copies of the mentor pieces we use for our writing units. It’s so helpful to have them all together in one place for the duration of our unit.
In the past, I’ve always had an “Article of the Week” board, but I think I’m making some changes to that routine this year. I’m really hoping to go completely paperless with AoW this year and do it through Google Classroom. I do not have the logistics worked out yet, but in anticipation, I’ve decided not to do the bulletin board this year. I’m replacing it with a “binge-worthy” reads board. I love that I can change the books out
whenever I remember each month or so and I think this will be a fun addition to the room.
I am in LOVE with the commUNITY clip art from Illumismart over on TpT and I can’t want to see it all blown-up and on the boards!!
I am hoping to have the boards (or at least pieces of them!) up on my store once they are finished.
So, what do you think? You like ’em!?! I’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop me a line here, or over on Facebook or Insta.
If you are already back to school, I hope you are having the BEST start. If you still kicking it in vacation mode, enjoy these last few weeks of sunshine.
I’ll be back soon with some more BTS info, so stayed tuned!!
Where did you find your ELA banner and labels for Vocabulary, etc on your cute board. Looking to make these for my daughter’s classroom.
I made them 🙂