Time 4.5 hours
After cleaning and arranging the large items in my classroom, it is time to start prepping for the students’ arrival. I purchased an additional 10 cardboard magazine files to be used as book boxes. That makes a total of 24. I am prepping for 24 because that, in theory, is the maximum number of students that may fill the classroom — however, there’s always the possibility that more students arrive than anticipated.
After assembling the magazine boxes, I used some large format Avery shipping labels and created book box labels. I use numbers, not student names, to label the boxes. The student will use their “number” as their address at the mailbox center and for the book boxes. Finally, I placed a line of yellow painter’s tape on the countertop so that the students can replace their book box on the counter at the end of the day without interfering with the countertop vents.
Each book box has the bare bones of a Readers’ Notebook and a baggie filled with essential reading supplies. The baggie idea came about as a result of reading To Understand by Ellin Oliver Keene — and it’s one of those “why didn’t I think of this long ago” moments. Each baggie contains a pencil, a highlighter, and some sticky notes. After I assess each student using the F&P Benchmarks, we will make a Reader’s License and that will also be put in the bag for reference. The Reader’s License has the student’s name, picture and a color dot corresponding to the student’s independent reading level. This has proved to be very helpful in reminding the student — and me — where the student will find books that are “just right”.
After seeing the Fountas/Pinnell Reader’s Notebooks — and calculating the cost — I make my own version of a Reader’s Notebook for my students. I chose a red 1-inch flexible vinyl notebook (it bends and fits right in the magazine box) and have been able to recycle these notebooks now for the 3rd year. Inside the notebook are 5 dividers labeled “Record & Goal” (daily reading record and a recording sheet of what the students & I agreed would be a next step), “Genres” (defined genres and a monthly tally of the genres student has read), “Interests” (books and genres that student would like to read at some point), “Responses” (weekly letters about how reading is going/teacher directed responses to a shared text), “Reference” (mini lesson reminders). I have a different organization system for Literacy Circle materials and storage which uses a plastic see-through box.
Once we have our Reading Workshop up and running, it is my expectation/hope that students will be able to take this book box with them to any corner of the room without scrambling to find all the necessary materials for 5 minutes.
Next up, I needed to check to see that all the materials I need for starting school are available. We have particular requirements for our academics: a composition style notebook for recording Buddy Tests (Fountas & Pinnell, Word Study), a math journal (I use a spiral notebook and have students paste or copy a problem onto a blank page before solving), and a Writer’s Binder. Having worked in school districts where ordering and budgets are frequently challenging, I have been in the habit of replacing the essential school items with a portion of my previous year’s classroom ordering budget. Luckily, last year was no exception and I have all the essentials that are needed. Our ordering for the current school year was delayed and, had I not stockpiled, it would be a bit less than organized for start up.
Finally, I looked through the masters of essential printed materials that I use in the notebooks — things like the students’ reading record and the conferencing/goals forms. I organized these items into folders so that, if copy assistance is offered, I can take advantage of it. These are mostly materials that will be introduced to the students during the first month of school as we build both the Reader’s Notebook and the Writing Binder.
On the way home I stopped in the office to get an updated roster. Our class lists can be pretty fluid from June to September so expecting the unexpected is always a good idea. However, I like to write to my incoming students about a week before school starts to welcome them to Grade 3 and, if nothing else, help them to remember their new teacher’s name! But my main goal in writing to the students is to begin the process of opening communication between home and school — and this is the first step of many. I keep my letter to the students brief — welcome, a few hints of the exciting things we’ll be doing in Grade 3, and a reminder about bus passes and dismissals on the first day.
Feeling a little better about being ready for the First Day, next up will be some long-range planning with my new Special Education partner and some specific planning for the first week of school. Lots to do!