April Showers Bring May Flowers (and spring fever!)

I don’t know about you, but April always seems to be a crazy month. It is filled with Spring Break, Prep for Testing, Testing and a plethora of other events. We are getting close to the end of the year, but school is not over. Sometimes it is hard to keep my students in that mindset!

I like to change things up at this time and I am sure to add interactive activities. Here are a couple of the ideas coming up in my classroom to try and avoid spring fever!

  • TASK CARD Egg Hunt: Basically regular task cards hidden in eggs around the room!
  • Jenga Review: What a great way to review key concepts with an intense game 🙂
  • Brain Breaks – to break up the monotony! We use dance breaks with baby shark and the cha cha slide. We also play quick games shake it out and Gorilla, Man, Gun!

Something that I have seen other teachers do for test review is a carnival! Check out this youtube video:

What kinds of activities do you do to avoid spring fever?

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Amazing Race: Destination Transformation

I had a blast yesterday sharing all of my passion for room transformations with awesome Georgia Science Teachers! In this post I am posting links to my session notes for you to look at – I will also be adding several blog posts about my room transformations over the next couple of weeks.

 

Amazing Race Transformation Session

Jenga Example

Spoon Directions

Room Transformation Ideas

One of the great things about presenting at GSTA is the opportunity to collaborate and bounce ideas off of fellow educators! The last link in the list contains all the ideas for room transformations generated during my session. If you have more ideas please share in the comments below!

Until next time 🙂

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Bonus – Okay so a few weeks ago I actually did the amazing race in my room for geologic timescale. Here is what I purchased for the GSTA transformation AND my classroom transformation!!

My Journey Using Classroom Transformations!

In October 2017, I was fortunate to visit the Ron Clark Academy as professional development. This opportunity renewed my passion as an educator. I was reminded why I began this journey, to share my love of learning with students and to make this process fun. I remember as a student impatiently waiting for a teacher to share something spectacular. Sadly that was rare, and not what I want for my students.

At RCA, Kim Bearden spoke about three powerful engagement motivators for students: building relationships, and incorporating music and movement. However, the third method quickly caught my attention- MAGIC! She explained that occasionally she brought magic into her lessons through classroom transformations. A classroom transformation is a classroom that is physically changed into a completely different place. At first, I was skeptical. I had seen transformations on YouTube and in teacher blogs, however, I never thought I would buy into this “madness.”

1Two weeks later, I decided to take a risk and create my first classroom transformation. It was very simple. I turned my room into a beach. I dug out my beach umbrella, boogie boards, buckets, and brought them to my classroom. Those items, coupled with a few tablecloths, suddenly transformed my room. The day before the transformation, I told them to bring a towel. I did not tell them why. This piqued their curiosity and built up to the moment when the room was revealed. On the day of the transformation, I played a video of a beach with ocean waves and steel drum music in the background. Students entered the land of “Isle de OCMS.” They spread out their beach towels, sat down, and waited for instructions. Several learning stations were set up around the room, combining what we had been learning about the ocean floor with a beach theme. The quality of student work I received from the students that day was above and beyond what I normally receive, and even my most lackadaisical students were engaged. I was inspired because they were completing rigorous activities and were fully engaged in the lesson.3

After my first classroom transformation, I could not wait to do more. My goal was to create a classroom transformation for each unit. Before the end of the school year, my students had reviewed geology in the Glow Games, studied weather patterns as meteorologists using a green screen and dug up fossils at Jurassic Park. Each magical transformation motivated the students to extend their learning beyond the boundaries of a traditional classroom lesson.

After I shared my transformations with others in my school and district, several teachers in my school had similar results with their own room transformations. I loved sharing my success with them and hearing about their successes.

2I am continuing to create transformations this year. So far my students have become CSI agents to tackle the mystery of the scientific method and next they will become space explorers on the Starship Enterprise. My hope is that others will be inspired to add some magic into their classroom and truly see their students come alive.

The Grand Tour

Before I  start packing and  transitioning into the new year I wanted to share my classroom. I am going to post some pictures of my classroom decorations and arrangement. Please keep in mind this is my first year and first attempt at classroom organization. I am so thankful that you live and learn, because I have tons of new ideas for next year 🙂

You will notice I have a boggle board, but you may not know that I have centers. I decided to try centers with my middle-school students. I was pleased with the results. I had four centers set-up around the room – Greek and Latin Roots, Non-fiction, Writing, Vocabulary and Game. I called them stations because it sounded more middle-schooly 😀

Most of my walls are empty. I like to fill them with student work. Sometimes it can get a bit chaotic. Next year I really want to find an easier and more efficient way to display student work. I made a sandwich bag quilt, but it only works for flat  and letter sized papers.

What are you going to change about your classroom next year?