Would you love some tips on Differentiating your Reading and Math Workshop Centers? Check out my guest blog post over at The Primary Peach

Did you realize it is almost October??? You have to keep checking back with The Peach for amazing freebies and giveaways!!
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A couple of weeks ago, I excitedly announced I was going to start contributing to the amazing Georgia blog, The Primary Peach. They have a great September series going where everyone is sharing their favorite spot in their room, or a whole classroom tour. So I have been saving my classroom reveal this year for my post on the The Peach. So head over there and check out my room!! While you are there, you have to check out some of the other classrooms and drool a little.....ya'll beautiful spaces are created in Georgia classrooms and our little learners are very lucky!
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So, I was in a friend's classroom and she had the most amazing idea that I had to share.....oversized whiteboards! I love to have partners and small groups work on chart paper but often we don't need to keep the charts, or they make mistakes and want to start over. So whiteboards are perfect for this type of activity! Once we present our charts, we erase them and start over.

After school, I had to rush to Home Depot and buy some shower board. I asked the guy "very nicely" to cut it for me.....and he did it for free. The shower board comes in 4ft by 8ft so I had him cut it in half length wise first. Then he cut those in 18" pieces. So my final white boards are 24" x 18". I got 10 white boards and it cost less than $15.00. 

We've used them for our Maps and Globes Unit, each group had to make a chart on two different vocabulary words and today, we used them to make Freyer Models for Multiplication.

The possibilities are endless!

This will be the second year I am leader of my team, and let me just say...sometimes it is a very, very hard job! You always have to worry about making everyone happy, you often have to relay unpleasant news from administration or tell everyone more things they just "have to do". Every team is different and some teams collaborate better than others, but gone are the days when you can just shut your door and do your own thing. In my school we are strongly encouraged to collaborate on lesson plans, analyze standards and data and working together as a team makes life much easier for all of us. Here are just a few tips I have learned that have helped me and my team:
Have an efficient process for your meetings and stick with it. Our team has agreed upon Norms for our meetings. If your team has not set Norms, you really should think about doing this! Here is a great article to read about setting norms for your group. Here are what the norms for my grade level look like:
In this way, we ensure that everyone has a voice and no one feels like their opinions are not important.
As I am sure most of your schools have mission and vision statements, take some time to write a mission or vision statement with grade level. Think about what you as a group are working toward. What is the goal of your team?
When we turned our conversations away from ourselves and what we wanted and toward our students and student achievement, we became much more productive. 
Our team tries to focus the majority of our meeting time on analyzing a standard or analyzing student data. We can then take that information to drive our instruction.
This one is huge! Last year, we had a new team member who was always late and calling in sick. This put so much stress on our team because we had to pick up the slack for her, helping her substitutes, watching her class etc. Be the team member  you would want to have. Be there to lend a helping hand or a shoulder to cry on, but just make sure you are not the one relying on your teammates too much! But most importantly be there for each other in those life trials....this is what our friends are for and we couldn't imagine how we could get through this job without them!                                                                         
I don't care how you do it....Happy Hour, Birthday Buddies, Secret Pals or eating lunch together. My team does Secret Sisters, we give little gifts each month and then we revel at the end of the year. It is so fun because you think you know who your Secret Sister is, but then you are really surprised at the end! 

Take time to be nice to each other and celebrate the little and BIG things in life together. Being a team that works well together can make everyone's life so much better!
I love Class Dojo, and used it all last year. They have really listened to teachers and added some great features. If you use Class Dojo, you love the Class Dojo Groups feature. I love this because my class sits in teams, we do a lot of collaborative learning. The groups feature allows me to reward the groups that are working well together. 

This is how I organize each of my groups. I got these cute little easel chalk boards at Walmart, there is a chalkboard on one side and white board on the other. On the white board side I let the my students write their names. At the beginning of the year, our groups are colors but right now we have named all our groups after breakfast cereals! That is so much fun! Would you like to get some ideas on how I name my groups? You love this: here
Another change I have made this year, is trying to give more rewards to the class and monitor the whole class points. So I made a Dojo Meter! I wanted it to look like the points doughnut on Dojo. All I do after laminating, is color it in with an Expo marker. 
Would you like to use the Dojo Meter in your room? You can get it here for free!! Once we reach our goal, we we a whole class reward like extra recess, movie day or a game day.

I am so excited to announce I have been invited to join the awesome bloggers at the Primary Peach as a contributing blogger! September is going to be a fun month over at the Peach too....
Each day you can take a peek at our favorite place in our classrooms. And I will be sharing mine on September 20th. I hope you will join us and Sneak a Peek with the Peach!

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