Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Poetry Project

Poetry. That dreaded word. It sends shivers down our students' spines. It even sends some teachers into cold sweats. 

I remember thinking I hated poetry in school, until my teacher introduced me to Shel Silverstein. I fell in love with poetry, and I was determined to make my students do the same.

I decided to host a poetry slam and to make a fun poetry project that would get my class interacting with poems. I could just teach them the different types of poems, but would they remember them? I started off the unit with a bag of candy and told the class we'd be learning about how to write candy poems. That got their attention! We wrote odes to their favorite candies, and they were starting to come to the dark side, hehehe.

I decided to create a whole poetry project with a component that teaches the types of poems and a forum that let students exercise their creativity and write each type of poem. 

I bought a pack of felt berets and a pack of sunglasses from Amazon.

Guess what? THEY. LOVED. IT. I loved it. My entire class could tell me all the types of poems by the end of the project.

Help your students develop a love for poetry with this fun poetry project and poet craft. 

  • First, teach the different types of poems using the "Types of Poetry" booklet and slides. 
  • Next, have students create their own poems using the "Collection of Original Poetry" student poetry booklets. Each booklet has the necessary number of lines for each type of poem, which provides appropriate scaffolding and makes a great assessment. 
  • Finally, students create a poet craft using their own faces. This craft gets attached to students' poetry booklets for a fun hallway display. 
  • This is a great project for back to school, National Poetry Month, to accompany a poetry unit, or even for the last week of school.
  • Host a poetry slam as a culminating poetry project. Invite parents or another class to watch students perform their favorite poems. Bring in a stool, spotlight, berets, and sunglasses, and watch students' poems come to life!
Get it from my Teachers Pay Teachers store HERE.

Do you have any fun things you do to teach poetry? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Classroom Decor

Shot out the all the teachers whose classrooms aren't exactly spacious. There are a lot of perks to small rooms, and they really force a teacher to get creative. (Please excuse blurry picture quality. I'm using my old computer, because I kinda' killed my new one... oops!)

Empty Wall Space = DIY Bulletin Board

I didn't have a very big bulletin board, but I did have a big empty wall space. I bought a cheap black bed sheet, cut it, and used a hot glue gun to stick it to the wall. I attached border with a glue gun, as well. I took on this project solo, so I glued the center first. That way, it wouldn't fall down while I tried putting it up.

To figure out how long to cut it, I counted the floor tiles along the wall. Then, I spread the sheet across that many floor tiles and cut it to size. Next, I counted the number of cinder blocks on the wall and divided by two to find the center block. I put hot glue on the center block, stuck the sheet up, and worked my way outward. I also glued the letters on starting with the middle letter.

It's tough to see because the board is longer than my camera's view, but it says, "Our Best Work," with colorful clothespins. It makes it really easy to display student work throughout the year, because I can't use a stapler since it's not a real bulletin board, and we all know what happens when we try getting tape to stay on cinder block walls.

Filing Cabinet = Magnetic Board to Complement Classroom Door

I turned my filing cabinet into a matching magnetic bulletin board by hot gluing the rest of the bed sheet, letters, and some border. I have my students develop our class rules on the first day of school. We write it and put it on chart paper, which I then attach to this bulletin board.

The cute little stars from Graphics from the Pond are what I use for my clip chart. When a student's clip gets to the top of the chart, the whole class cheers. Kids can clip each other up and earn clip-ups for noting the positive in one another-- including those who aren't their bffs. This really has helped the climate of my classroom, and we were able to phase the clip chart out by the end of the year because they were just motivated to be nice to each other because it felt good.

Our classroom door makes up the word "WELCOME," and it reads, "When you enter this little room, consider yourself one valued member of a team that enjoys learning together." The word "together" fell off, but you get the idea! #keepinitreal

Student Materials Storage

This is a simple little classroom organization technique that we build in with our procedures. Every morning, students get morning work from the unfinished bin, and all completed work goes into the finished bin. There's a sharp and unsharp pencil cup, so nobody ever sharpens pencils during class time. One student is in charge of making sure the pencil cup is filled and sharpened.

I also keep caddies between students' desks containing all needed materials (i.e., pencils, highlighters, crayons, colored pencils, dry erase markers, glue, scissors, and paint brushes). Kids know where we keep paper, and all manipulatives are stored in plastic cereal containers so I never have to pass them out or collect them.

Desk Pops

On students' desks, I put some Wall Pops (or, as I call them, Desk Pops!). We have a competition to see who can respect his or her space and keep the Pops in good condition. To keep kids competing with themselves instead of with each other, you can try to get them to beat their personal records for number of days left in good condition. Or, you could just buy a bunch of them and accept that some kids need to pick at them and go on with your day, haha! These are great for word work or math facts practice if kids finish their work early. My kids who like to write to learn love using them. I use them as incentive for reluctant learners to finish their work so they could draw on their pops. Sometimes I write encouraging notes, reminders, or lesson materials on their pops. They work well for Scoot games, as well.

Old Chalk Board = Magnetic, Interactive Word Wall and Focus Board

I'm so fortunate to have a SMARTBoard-- so much so that I never use my chalkboard. I thought about having it taken down to free up some wall space, but then I thought- hey, why not use it as a magnetic word wall? It was easy to just write the words in with chalk. This year I'm going to try to make magnet-backed words so students can bring them to their seats to use while writing.

I also made a focus wall on the chalkboard. This goes along nicely with our Reading Wonders: Wonder Works curriculum. Last year, I wrote out my objectives each week as I went and wrote "Unit ___ Week ___ Day ___" on the back of each. During downtime (or the end of the year), we laminated them and filed them to use for next year. Should be really easy to just pull them out and stick them up! It's a nice spot for students to reference and for me to use for quick review.

I also have a "MUST DO" and "MAY DO" spot that I made with my Wall Pops. With dry erase marker, I write all of the assignments students need to complete in the top circle, and in the bottom I write everything early finishers can complete. You could also write incentives in the bottom circles to entice reluctant workers to complete their work.


I used the font MTF Jumpin' Jack for most of my classroom displays. Because I teach learning support and the original font has uppercase letters and some lowercase letters, I substituted some letters from Kimberly Geswein fonts. I love her easy-to-read KG Second Chances font. I used my Silhouette Cameo paper cutting machine to cut them out, but you could also print them in different colors and cut them out. I laminated the letters, but when I cut them out, I left some lamination between the letters so I ended up with whole words and not a ton of tiny letters floating all over the place.

Have any classroom decor ideas you love? I'd love to hear about them in the comments!