Thursday, July 18, 2013

Shift Happens!

Even though school does not officially begin for another two weeks I have been working in my class, as I am sure a lot of you have.  Today I took some time to just sit and reflect on a few things.  These are some of the questions I am trying to work out. Maybe you can help.

Flipping in Fifth
This year I will have a class set of iPads.  Will I really need all of these dictionaries?  There are more on the table.  Students can use instead of the actual dictionary.  Or do they need to have "real" dictionaries?  I won't even mention that I inherited 2 sets of encyclopedias last year.  Yes, encyclopedias!   I thought the students could use them to research topics in social studies (that information does not change).  For that matter do I even need to make room for my textbooks?  We really don't use them a lot (said in a whisper voice).  If I needed to use them, we could use the online version. Side note:  I think I might have some hoarding tendencies.

Flipping in Fifth
I have used tables instead of desks in my class forever.  It makes it easier for students to collaborate and it promotes the type of environment I want in my classroom.  Do I really need all of these tables?  Does everyone have to have an assigned seat? Or can I just make sure I have a place where everyone can work?  It could be on the carpet with a clipboard, on the low table in front of the couch, or on a couch.  I was reading Flipped Teacher's post, Setting the Scene, it really sounds like the type of environment I want to have.

Flipping in Fifth
  This year I will have 29 students (that's 7 more students than I had last year).  That means I need to make my whole group area larger.  I like the students to come to the carpet for whole group instruction and discussions. Yes, even in 5th grade they sit on the carpet!

Flipping in Fifth
  I had to make my class library a little smaller. There's a single black chair behind the couch for one person to sit and read.  Students can also sit on the carpet and on floor pillows.  Back to the tables thing.  Each student has a blue book box (on top of the bookcases) where they keep their independent reading books, writer's notebooks, poetry notebooks, and reader's notebooks.  And will they still need those or will they keep them on their iPads?  So I'll ask again, do I need a traditional table and chair (or stability ball) seat for everyone? Some of my students use stability balls instead of chairs.  I wish I had balls for everyone.  In case you're wondering why, here is the page from my class website explaining why we use stability balls.

Next question...What am I going to do about their other notebooks. . .  their social studies and science interactive notebooks and math journals.  If I have a class set of iPads do they need to keep these notebooks or should they set up notebooks on their iPads?  Will they take their iPads home?  If not, they won't they need these notebooks?  And won't they need to still have a math journal?  That's what they use to take notes while watching their videos at home.  Then they use their notes for their WSQ chats.

I'm thinking it's time to shift how we do school.  If we are changing our delivery of instruction and how students show what they have learned, then shouldn't the environment in which we teach and learn change as well?  These are some of the things I am trying to work out.

How do you organize your class environment?  Do you have a class set of iPads?  If so, what do you do about interactive notebooks and journals? Any thoughts are appreciated!


  1. I struggle with this too. I think I'm going to stick with a math interactive notebook for them to take home with them and take notes on my videos (since I'm going to be flipping). We do most of our writing and responding to reading on the laptops so I might do away with our reading and writing notebooks. The jury's still out on that one. I do not use textbooks since we have the digital version of Pearson reading and Envision math. In my classroom, my kiddos sit in table groups (4 to a table) since they do a lot of partner/group work. Keep me posted on what you decide.:)

    iTeach 1:1

  2. Thanks for the input! I definitely could use the extra space that the textbooks take up. Just keeping them in the kids cubbies (I call them lockers) takes up room they could use for other things. I used Kidblog last year for responding to text and I will probably use that again. I've got to figure out what my students will use to complete and turn in their assignments. I am going to look at ebackpack on line. I will still use Edmodo.

    Now that I will have the technology I have to make a conscious decision to give up some of the things I've been using for years. Whatever It is, it has to be easy to use. I've got less than 3 weeks to make up my mind! Yikes!!



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