What Worked....and What Didn't

The beginning of the year is so full of hope.  Hope that your class will be great.  Hope that you will learn all you have to learn and more.  Hope that those ideas you seek out on Pinterest and through blogs will be the magic bullet that makes your year complete.

Well, my year was filled with a boatload of hope.  I just knew all of the great things I was going to implement were going to be fabulous.  Now.....a year later....hope has turned into reality.  Some of those amazing ideas flourished, while others...not so much.  So I thought I would take a little time to reflect on what worked and what didn't.

What Worked

Math Workshop.  It went through many changes this year, but overall, I am SO excited with how it all turned out.  It is still a work in progress, and will continue to evolve next year (and the years to come) but it really is a happy spot in my schedule.  Here is a post I did about some of the changes (and it has even changed since then!) 






Read Alouds.  This year, I got immense joy taking literary journeys with my class.  I placed reading aloud time directly into my daily schedule so I was sure we would never miss it and I am SO glad I did.  Once again, we are in the middle of a story that took a bit to "get off the ground" but now, you could hear a pin drop when I am reading.  It is the best feeling ever to look out into a group of students and know you have 100% of their attention because of a book you are reading.  It really is priceless.


Paragraph of the Week transitioning to Essay of the Month.  You know how sometimes you make something and you aren't sure just how it will work in your classroom?  That is how both POW and EOTM were.  I knew what I had been doing, but wasn't really sure that organizing it in such a manner would work.  But let me tell you...it did.  My kids' writing was AWESOME this year.  When they took the district end of the year test, they rocked the writing!  I know that is because they had the structure that POW provided broken down even further into EOTM. 




Close Reading.  I did a lot of experimenting with Close Reading this year (since we were just entering into the CCSS) and I LOVED what was happening in my room.  There were so many great lessons that involved closely reading text and I am so happy about it!  Here are all of the posts I wrote about the topic.  Just scroll through and you truly will see some of my most favorite work.









What Didn't

This was before they were destroyed.
Wipe Off Dots.  I had this awesome idea to put these wipe off dots on my small group table.  Kids could come to the table, do the work on the dots, erase, and go back to their seats.  Genius!  Yeah...not so much.  By the end of the year, they were peeling off and they looked like a hot mess.  I eventually just got rid of the entire table in favor of a rug space for my small groups.





They do look pretty...but I couldn't take the colors.
Striped Ribbon Borders.  They were beautiful.  But they were different colors.  I just couldn't handle the fact that I had 5 different boards with 5 different color borders.  It drove me bonkers...so I eventually took them down.


See that HUGE chair foot shaped hole?

Felt on the Chair Feet.  I LOVED this idea.  No more chasing down runaway tennis balls.  No more noisy chairs on the hard floor.  The problem was that the felt either 1) came off because the rubber bands broke, 2) came off some other way, or 3) wore through so there was on felt on the actual foot.  I know there has to be a solution to these problems, and I am determined to find one.



OK....so now that you know what worked for me and what didn't, I want to know what worked (and didn't) for you!   This is a link up...so get to writing a post about it to share with us all!  (and if you don't have a blog, PLEASE share in the comments!)



26 comments

  1. HA! My wipe-off dots didn't survive so well, either! ;) Almost a genius idea ... what if we covered our group work tables with newsprint or butcher paper, instead? It would look like a graffiti wall full of awesome information after a few weeks or months. Which could be very, very cool. :)

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    1. OOOHH, that idea could work! Interesting...will have to think about how that will work....

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    2. One of my co-workers uses butcher paper at her small-group table and it works very well. She has them do their math on it and then switches it out every few days. We don't really use bulletin board paper for bulletin boards so it is a great use for it!

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  2. I had a similar problem when I tried to add contact paper for my small group table. It was horrible and I took it off before school even started! I didn't even give the dots a try because I was so beside myself with the contact paper. Thanks for sharing the paragraph of the week! I love that idea! :)

    This was my first year to teach and I tried a TON of ideas that flourished and flopped. This would make a great end of the year linky! :) An end of the year sharing of what we all tried. ;)

    Amber
    PeppyZestyTeacherista

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    1. Totally should have made this one a linky, huh? I guess I still can ;)

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    2. And....now it is a link up!

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    3. Aw, I've had contact paper on my table two years in a row (fresh each year) and it looks great until early May... I was considering dots, but can see how the edges would wear with picking.... guess I'll stick to my Dollar Tree vinyl!

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  3. I tried the felt feet last year and had the same problem! I was thinking about doing the wipe-off dots next year, but think I'll think of something else. I like knowing if ideas really work or not! Thanks for sharing your "nots"!
    ~Rachel

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  4. I started using the dots around March... 3 of them are still in excellent shape- one not so much. They are not good for students who are "pickers" (pick at their eraser tops, pick at their name tags, etc.). Other than that, I actually found great success with them. I'll give them another try next year starting at the beginning of the year to see if my tune will change. :)

    And I totally agree about read aloud- I didn't think it was as necessary in older grades, as all the classrooms I student taught in rarely used them, but MAN, so wrong! They are so valuable and the kids love them! I'm glad we carved in a set time for it as well this year... totally paid off. I hope to write a post and link up sometime soon. Great idea!!

    Kelli
    Tales of a Teacher

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  5. they make those felt chair pad dots I think those might work better than the felt??? worth a try? I use them for my dining room table chairs; not quite the same as kids but might hold up at least most of way through the year?

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    1. I will have to try those. I am not ready to go back to tennis balls yet, so maybe those felt pads will be the next best solution. How expensive are they?

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  6. I was thinking about trying the wipe-off dots. You helped me make my decision.

    Meagan
    oodlesofteachingfun

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    1. Well, they worked well in the beginning...and part of it could have been because I was gone for 3 months for maternity leave, but still, I was not a fan at the end.

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  7. Instead of wipe-off dots, I use shower board from Home Depot. It's cheap and they'll cut it into nice sized boards for you. All you need to add are dry-erase markers and washcloths for erasers. :)

    Question: When did you transition from POW to EOTM with your class? I bought your bundle during the teacher appreciation sale and have been studying the materials....would love to learn more about how you used it. :)

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  8. I also used the felt this year and it wasn't successful. My colleague used the thicker felt and it worked beautifully. I'm going to check in to finding it--it was about 1/ inch thick.

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  9. What worked: Socks as white board erasers, not only does it erase, but it's a handy place to store your markers! Interactive notebooks, love them, was glad to get to use them again this year (if only until the dreaded testing season).
    What didn't: Felt on the feet of the chairs, so sad this didn't work. It was nice, until I was picking up felt all day. Book clubs...so sad this didn't work, seems like time and other things got in the way too often. Have to figure out how to rework this better next year.

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  10. I got rid of my desks this year and scrounged up tables from all over the district. Then I used the white board paint from Home. Depot-a coue coats of primer and four rolled-on coats of the white board paint. The tables are gorgeous-shiny, clean and all white! Students can write and erase at their seats. Pink Expos cause a shadow but all other marker colors work great! I love that there is no more clutter/junk trapped in desks and that my tables all match. :)

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  11. This is so helpful! The wipe off dots seem like such a great idea, but I guess boring white boards are sometimes best. I also love the idea of using read alouds with older students. What books have you used and which did your students enjoy most? Thanks for sharing what worked and didn't work in your classroom!

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  12. I love this blog post link-up idea. I feel like we are constantly finding things that worked and didn't work.. what a great way to share your successes! :) I am your newest follower! Stop by sometime!

    MissMcDonald'sMemoirs

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  13. I love read aloud time! It is a favorite time of the day for me and my students. Thank you for hosting this linky - It's such a great idea!

    Mary
    Fit to be Fourth

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    1. Read aloud time is a favorite in my classroom as well. My students are disappointed when they miss.

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  14. A teacher at our school uses thick squishy shelf liner on the bottom of desks. She uses zip ties to hook them permanently around the leg. She uses them to keep the desks from moving on carpet but, it may do the trick for you. :)

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    1. I had mixed success with the zip ties. I think it's my style of desk and the certain children who spent class time under the desks loosening them. :(

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  15. Thank you Stephanie for hosting this. I saw it earlier this week and knew what I wanted to share. I finally had some time this Saturday morning to write it up and link up.
    Artistry of Education

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  16. Have you redone the fluency in a minute video? I saw it once and would like to see it again. Thanks

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  17. THANK YOU for this post! I love reading successes and "nots" from other classrooms -- great ideas here. I am entering a 5th grade math classroom this year (down from a 7th grade SS class) so big changes in store for me :) I'm absorbing everything I can from all of you while I have the time. . .before, of course, I hit the ground running as we all will sooner rather than later!

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