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Classroom Decorating and Organization

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Argh, Classroom decorating can be such a time consuming thing to do?  Don't you agree?  Sometimes I wonder why I even bother with a classroom theme and then I realize that I am addicted to cute stationery and other cute organization things.  
I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.
I just put together a trendy package with a TROPICAL THEME.  Yes, I finally caved.  I didn't want to redo my room this year, but every time I went to the mall or Michaels I saw lots of cute stuff.  And then I stumbled upon this cute paper and clip art on TPT and my creative juices got flowing.
Here's a quick peek at what is in each package, and then I'm going to tell you about some of my plans for my classroom.  I am going to be SHOPPING in August I tell you. I have a lot of work to do to make this all work out, but for now, I'll just tell you about my plans.
First off, all of these great goodies are available in a BUNDLE with editable files included.
I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

The colors are super cute - right?

Anyway, here's what in the bundle.  You can purchase all of these individually.  But FYI, for editable files, you need to either buy the editable files by themselves, or get the bundle.  The editable files are not available in these smaller packs.  Click on the pictures to go to my store for  details and descriptions of each product.


I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.

I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.



I love this tropical classroom decor.  It has cute flamingos, pineapples, and palm leaves.  It has fun bright colors too.  Get all the pieces in a bundle.



Thanks for stopping by today!

Inquiry Based Learning Step-by-Step #5

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This post is #5 in a series.  CLICK HERE to go to post #1

Welcome to my fifth installment in this series on Inquiry Based Project Learning.  My class and I had a great time with this unit. 

This final post is about self-assessment and sharing children’s work.

First I left the kids projects out in a basket for silent reading for a day, to give the kids a chance to look over their friends' work.  Then the kids shared their work with the class.  I cannot show you any photos of the kids, so I cannot show you pictures of this actually happening - sorry.  So if you can imagine, first the kids did a pair/share with each other.  I paired up a strong reader, with a not-so-strong reader and each child took turns reading their final project to the other.  We have practiced how to partner read before so this was not difficult for the kids to do. I also modelled it with one student in front of the group so they could see how a good listener could ask questions about the pictures and text, after the first child was finished.  And I also modelled how the first child could describe some details of their work to the second child.

The next day I had the kids come up to the front of the class and read their report to the others as a whole class.  We did half the class in one setting, and the other half a bit later in the day.  The kids were able to ask questions to the child who did the sharing.  Some children stood up, read their piece and looked around at the audience, some kids sat in my rocking chair and some children read the text and had a difficult time looking up.  It was interesting to see how many kids had questions, and how many kids could expand on their topic when asked.  I teach in a high ELL environment and yet, most of the kids had learned a lot on their topic.


A few days later, when all of the above was over, each child filled out a self-evaluation on their project.  Next time I teach this, I will also get the kids to do a self-assessment on their picture, and on their presentation.  But this was really close to the end of the school year, so we were trying to finish this up before the last days of school.

Below you can see some photos of the kids self assessment.






I completely enjoyed this process.  This was only the second time I had tried an inquiry based approach to learning and I took away several points.

1 -  The kids were highly motivated.
2 - The kids made a lot of connections between what the curriculum said I HAD to teach and what they were INTERESTED in.   In my opinion this makes for a deeper understanding of the curriculum.
3 - The kids enjoyed this learning process - behavior issues were minimal.
4 - The kids took ownership of their learning.  They chose the questions to answer.
5 - The kids were really interested in reading each other's projects which helped them learn even more about the topic.
6 - When I did direct teaching (like on the water cycle, or reading books with them from EPIC) they were still highly motivated.  


This was a lot of fun.  I am so proud of the products the children made.  The parents were really impressed as well.  I can't wait to share more about this with you in the future.

If you are interested in doing project based learning, I have many products in my TPT store specifically designed for this.  Click below to find out more.

CLICK HERE for project based learning and inquiry based learning resources.

Click on the photos below to go to the individual products.









Inquiry Based Learning Step by Step #4

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This post is #4 in a series.  CLICK HERE to go to post #1

Welcome back to my blog series about Inquiry Based Learning.  Last week I wrote about doing research with Primary students.

This week we’re going to focus on producing a final project.  Inquiry based learning usually ends up with the children producing something to showcase what they have learned.  I decided to simplify the project as it is the last month of the school year.  I provided a mini booklet for the kids to complete which could showcase their learning. 




First the children needed to write up a draft.  I provided them with a template which allowed them to write down the parts of a paragraph with 3 facts.  Once the children completed their draft outline, I went through them with each child.  We did this one-on-one to make sure that their draft was aligned to their inquiry question and that it made sense.  I corrected their grammar and spelling and offered suggestions which would make more sense.  Even after all the work we have done on this process, some children simply did not understand what they were supposed to do.  There were children who just copied down complex sentences from their internet notes.  Of course, this is not what I was looking for. 

With those 2 or 3 students who could not grasp this process, I asked them questions and together we wrote down their ideas in sentences which made sense and were not copied down from the internet.  Because this was the first time we tried this process, I understood that some kids just didn’t “get it”.  I believe that some children will need to go through this process many times and it could take a few years until they can complete an inquiry project by themselves.  So, at this point in the process, I just wanted to make sure that they could showcase what they already knew and not get caught up in the process if they didn’t understand.

Next the children completed their good copy or final project.  Each child wrote down their inquiry question.  Then they copied the sentences from their paper pictured above.  I then went through and corrected any more errors, and once their paragraph was done, they drew a picture on the final page that was related to their writing and wrote a caption (this is a picture of...).


And there you go.  The final projects were put out for the other children to read.  They loved looking at each other's work and reading the paragraphs.  Next week we will talk about the self-assessment part of this process. 

If you are interested in doing project based learning, I have many products in my TPT store specifically designed for this.  Click below to find out more.

CLICK HERE for project based learning and inquiry based learning resources.

Click on the photos below to go to the individual products.






Inquiry Based Learning Step by Step #3

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This post is #3 in a series.  CLICK HERE to go to post #1

Welcome back to my blog series about Inquiry Based Learning.  Last week I wrote about our activities which helped the kids to come up with an inquiry question.

This week we’re going to focus on research.  Now as there were many different inquiry questions in the class, I wanted to give each child the chance to do their own research.  I started out with a few group lessons of reading a few books online with the class using the projector and the app EPIC.  It’s a great app, if you don’t already have it.  The books on it are great and it’s free.

Then we took a few periods to let the kids do their own individual research.  We used iPads and the website kiddle.co which is a kids version of google.  The students wrote down some notes.  After a week, I realized that kids were not actually taking very good notes.  They were copying down a lot of words from websites, but they didn’t understand what they meant, or even if it was related to their inquiry question.  So I realized I needed another strategy. 

I decided to ask the parents to help.  Now I work in a community where many parents work at 2 jobs or more.  They are very busy and don’t have a lot of time to spend with their kids.  Most of the parents are also immigrants and don’t always understand the school’s expectations.  So I knew that only a few kids might get this done with their parents, but I decided to give it a try anyway.


Well, I was pleasantly surprised.  I send the letter above home on a Friday.  2/3 of my class returned the notes the next Monday.  And by Wednesday all the kids had returned some sort of research.  I could tell which kids had continued to just write down words from the internet and which kids had actually had help from their parents, but at least they all returned another page of notes and most of them had facts related to their inquiry question. 



If you are interested in doing project based learning, I have many products in my TPT store specifically designed for this.  Click below to find out more.

CLICK HERE for project based learning and inquiry based learning resources.

Click on the photos below to go to the individual products.






Thanks for stopping by again today!

Inquiry Based Learning Step by Step #2

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This post is #2 in a series. CLICK HERE to go to post #1.
Welcome to my blog series about Inquiry Based Learning.  Last week I wrote about stimulating interest in a topic.  We spent some time going over artifacts to stimulate their ideas and interest.  Once we finished looking through the artifacts, the kids came up with a list of questions, which I also posted last week. 

This week I am sharing with you how we came up with our Questions of Inquiry, or Essential Questions.  This took a lot of work.  My hope is that as the kids become more familiar with this type of lesson that they will also build their skills and become able to come up with their own questions without teacher intervention.  But for now, I took the lead and tried to guide them towards some questions which will make their research more focused, and easier to complete.

After Lesson #1, I left the chart paper with their list of questions out.  We referred to it over the next few days, and whenever a new question popped up, we wrote it on the list.

Lesson #2 has several components to it, which I will be going over below.

First I started by brainstorming what the kids already knew about water.  We did it together on the SMART board and then the kids chose 6 ideas to write down on their own worksheet.  See the photo below.  I told the kids that they either had to write out a sentence, or draw a picture and write a caption in each bubble of the worksheet.


The next day we read through our list of questions and added several more to the chart paper.  Then the kids copied down 5 questions that they were interested in.  If they had a question that was not on the chart paper, they were welcome to write it down too.



The final day of this lesson involved coming up with their own question of inquiry.   First, I cut up the chart paper.  Each question was on its own strip.


Then I gave each child a strip with a question on it.  We sat in a circle on the carpet and tried to organize the questions together into groups that made sense.  I intervened a bit and made suggestions.  For example, when the question was about dolphins and living in water, I said, “Is there a group that has animals and water?” and the kids would put the question there.  After that I would just say “hmmm, animals and water…Do we have a group with that?”  So I guided the groupings.  Again, if the kids had more experience with this, I would leave them alone to make their own groupings. 

Once all the questions were grouped together, we tried to group together any “stray” questions who were all alone.  Some questions still didn’t fit with another group, but some did.

Finally, I sent them back with chart paper and a group of questions to glue on the chart paper.  Then we got together as a class and gave a label to each group.  



After that we worked together on the Smart board to come up with a list of questions for Inquiry.  It was difficult for the kids and I had to help a lot.  We came up with 6 different questions.  Then the kids chose one question and wrote it down on the worksheet below.  I felt I needed to help them find a question that was not too specific, but also not too broad for a quick research project.



If you are interested in doing project based learning, I have many products in my TPT store specifically designed for this.  Click below to find out more.

CLICK HERE for project based learning and inquiry based learning resources.

Click on the photos below to go to the individual products.






Thanks for stopping by and checking this out today.  Next week we will begin the research part of Inquiry Based Learning.