June 26, 2016

Back to School: Summer Projects Week 1


Summer days are for relaxing and if you are a teacher you can add prepping back to school. This summer, I have decided to be a bit more organized with my time. A couple of days before the last day of school, I decided to count the days of summer vacation. Oh boy, and this where the concept of time hit me! I always knew summer vacation consisted of a couple of months,but didn't know truly we just have nine weeks. I noticed when the time is near to go back to school, I ended up with a whole bunch of incomplete projects and great ideas. Please tell me I'm not alone in this!  And, to make matters worse, I always tell myself that I will complete them during the year but, that doesn't happen! I get swamp with paperwork and other things start to get priority really fast.  This concept was an eye opener that I needed to establish realistic goals or at least finish them. 



This is the cute agenda I purchased. You can get one here.
With this in mind, I purchased a cute agenda and some nice pens and started to jot down goals I would like to get done. The result of this first week truly amazed me! The power of focus and determination truly shined this week! Now, I just need to aim for consistency while having fun under the sun. Because we all know that summer couldn't be complete without a balance of planning, shopping and sunshine. 

 In the light of getting things done, I have challenge myself to complete projects throughout the week to get the ball rolling. So far, I am doing okay, I think! I have completed five and half projects so far. And the reason, I say that because I decided to include organizing my classroom in the mix and this is a never ending project. Nevertheless, I am determined to finish it. Here is my progress! 


Making lessons or activities for the shelf can get overwhelming. In my office I have three bins full of lessons that need to get either cut or laminated. After sorting through the never ending stash I decided to tackle on Botany lessons. The reason for this is because botany is the area that I have the least things for. The kids this year seemed to take a keen interested for botany lessons this year. With the intention of following their interest, I have to get these done. Most of the botany lessons I am laminating are from Montessori from Everyone.


Next project is my new approach in merging  science standards in my current grade level and Montessorify them. I don't even know if that's even a word but, you get it. Since, I work in a public Montessori school there's always this struggle of getting the "public school work" and doing the Montessori work. My inspiration for this comes from the language towers and the lack of space and storage I have. I feel I never have enough space in my class or in my house to store lessons individually. In order to solve this issue, I decided to store the cards inside the plastic container that is used to house all of the language work. It works great and it serves its purpose. These science task cards is all about vocabulary. The kids here will be matching science vocabulary words to its meaning. I just finished the first unit out of five. Progress is progress!  


The third project is one I'm really excited to be implementing next school year. Again is another attempt to merge the standards with Montessori. This one is all about Primary Resources. Our focus this year will be our state and the US. Gathering all of these pictures and information serves a dual purpose. First , I finally have a place where I can put all of these things I have collected throughout the years. And trust me I do have a lot! Every time I travel I like to collect all of these educational souvenirs but never know how to put them together to make a lesson out of it. Second, I'm hitting multiple standards because the kids will have to analyze these sources and write about them. I'm still working out the specifics but for now we have a lesson.


And of course, all of these primary resources need some cute wooden boxes to hold all the cards. I decided to make these boxes because I love that natural feel that the wood brings into the class and it matches the traditional Montessori materials. I have built so many of these boxes this past week!  The cohesive look of the wooden shelf is going to make the shelf looking inviting and beautiful. I decided I need to put those high school wood shop class skills to practice! Below you will find some of these boxes in action in my class. The kids really find it comfortable and easy to put things away and get it off the shelf. 





 But really its so hard to find wooden baskets and storage materials. And as much as I love the Dollar Tree plastic containers, the feeling and aesthetics is not the same as wood. I highly recommend visiting your local Goodwill stores to find super cheap wooden basket and trays.
I have scored some really sweet deals. These wooden baskets and trays I found a couple of weeks ago total cost was $5.00 for the whole thing. I couldn't believe it!   I try to go at least once every two months. I noticed that by this time, I see different items on display. I have also build some positive relationship with the staff that works there. That's how many times I go there! The lady already knows me and what I'm looking for. She keeps an eye out and sometimes saves somethings for me. She is the sweetest thing ever. 


For the fear of not finding anything at Target, I had to get my hands on one of these pencils banner. Last year, I made it to late and was left with nothing. Seeing all of the Target items and the uses for them made me go early this year. This pencil banner is perfect for this year because I will be teaching FOURTH grade! I know its crazy. The move from lower elementary to upper elementary has been crazy but yet super fun! Going back to the upper grades brings a new sense of excitement. Anyways, so the pencil banner is perfect because fourth grade is all about writing. I purchased also these felt adhesive letters that are super easy to stick to the pencil. I purchased three packs of the pencil banner and felt letters. The banner will say " We have the write stuff". I'm going to be using it as a header for a bulletin board that you can see as soon as you come in the room. 

 On a side note, Target this year has really stepped up their teacher products. I always get trapped in the cuteness and modern look of their teacher products. This year the trend for cute desk storage among other things seems to be the trend.

And last but not least, my classroom.  This year the school moved to a new building. This mean new classroom and new space. I love my new classroom but dislike very much the moving process. After a week worth of work, all my boxes are finally in the new room. You never know how many things you have until is time to pack up. I already starting going through the boxes and realized that somethings need to be updated or thrown out. I don't know how I accumulated so many things throughout the school year. Therefore, the process of cleaning and organizing always gets extended. One of my major challenge is paper ! Something that I have to tackle next year. As you can see no teacher storage anywhere! My goal is to embrace community storage of materials and share space. Hopefully, this will keep me organized. 
After spend countless hours, I was able to set up a layout of the room. Opening up all the boxes made me realize that just like my summer projects I have a couple classroom projects that need to be completed. So, my next projects will definitely address some of these halfway done projects and ideas of mine.


For now, I'm proud of the progress I have made. I'm definitely taking the right steps to a productive summer.  The amount of things needed to get ready for back to school seems like a never ending list. But on the positive breaking down big tasks into small tasks have really worked out for me. I'm still having under the sun while getting ready for the new adventures that await me next year in fourth grade. How are you handling the back to school fever over the summer? 





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