Thursday, August 8, 2013

It's a Blank Slate!

I was having a conversation with a friend about the concept of "Tabula Rasa"--someone she had met had never heard of the concept. We had a good chuckle about it, but it did get me to thinking. We have a VERY unusual profession in that we have a clear start and end to every year. We get a new group of students for a set amount of time, have to prepare our rooms and our resources, give 110% effort for an academic year, then collapse in a heap. We get a little time to try to breathe--and then we repeat. It is a roller coaster--but it has its advantages. One of them is, for me, the idea of a "fresh start" or blank slate. Whether you think of it literally--like this:

This bad boy is huge (looks like I need to tighten that fabric again...grrrr).  I think it will be my math board.  The smaller black one I think will be a "Challenge" board and/or math rotations.

The back of my room as the boards in the top photo and these three. No idea what is going here yet--probably a welcome to fourth grade board and some "content" stuff to start the year.

To the left of this photo is my calendar board, this "up high" black bulletin board, and the purple and blue ones.  What is going on those?  Ummmmmm . . . 

or more figuratively . . . 

*We get a chance to redo things that didn't work well
*We get a chance to start with a new group of students
*Students get a chance to start with a new teacher
*Students get a chance to build new relationships

and so on!

If you are like me, this time of year is one where I am really reflecting on what practices I want to keep, what routines should be changed or eliminated, and what I want to do with this "fresh start" to make this year the best one yet.  I am making lists and checking them twice, starting to order copies, gather resources, and . . .

PLANNING

MY

BULLETIN

BOARDS

As you can see above, my "blank slates" are very blank and very big and very plentiful.  Time to start brainstorming!  I know I will have a math board of some sort. . . and my calendar board . . . and a writing board, but I have lots of sketching and organizing to do!

What am I doing "new" this year?  Oh . . . just a few things.

*Genius Hour
*Words Their Way
*New math series
*Using my 6 iPads from my grant to do student blogs and online math portfolios
*Who KNOWS what else?

So--let's hear it!  What are you doing with your "Tabula Rasa" this year?  Making any big changes?  New routines?  New bulletin boards?  New resources?  Let's hear what everyone is doing to make the fresh start the best ever!  Here are some of my new "classroom initiatives"!



10 comments:

  1. I had never heard the term 'Tabula Rasa' and had to look it up...now I know :) You learn something new every day!

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    1. HA! See--you can never be done learning! :)

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  2. After begging our administration to have more time for language arts, we finally have our wish! :) I am devoting 30 minutes a day to vocabulary instruction using the book Word Nerds as my guide. I have spent this summer organizing the year and creating and organizing materials.

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    1. WOW! That's a big commitment to vocab! We are CONSTANTLY talking about how we need to improve our vocabulary instruction--I'd love to hear more about how this unfolds for you! Investigating Word Nerds now...

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  3. This is year is going to be very interesting for me as I am looping with my class but not changing rooms, my challenge therefore is to make sure my room is different enough from last year that my students actually feel like first graders not still kindergarteners. I am keeping my ocean theme from last year but I have been making stuff all summer to change things up so the room "feels" different and I'm still hoping they get me desks for the students, not there as of yet. I have juiced up my writing center and gotten when I'm done math stations for the kids, don't want them playing the same centers as last year. Here's hoping!

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  4. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to do my board. I have one huge one (about 20ft by 4 ft). Thinking of splitting it up into 4 parts, but not sure what I want. I'll be teaching 6th grade science.

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  5. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to do my board. I have one huge one (about 20ft by 4 ft). Thinking of splitting it up into 4 parts, but not sure what I want. I'll be teaching 6th grade science.

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  6. I'm trying to figure out how I'm going to do my board. I have one huge one (about 20ft by 4 ft). Thinking of splitting it up into 4 parts, but not sure what I want. I'll be teaching 6th grade science.

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  7. I LOVE that we get this blank slate - a chance to try new things and fix up ones that weren't working so great! I think one of my biggest changes is going to be how I do my language arts block and that I need to figure out how to incorporate the 6 mini iPads each upper grade classroom at my school is getting. I can't wait to read what you do with yours (I'm thinking about student blogging too!)
    -Dani
    A Place to Thrive

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  8. I just got done ordering Word Nerds. Stayed up way too late last night trying to cram this wonderful info into a very tired brain. I sure wish I would have found this earlier this summer!

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