Welcome to my collection of third grade classroom photos! These photos of a classroom in Broward County, Florida, were taken by me in 2006. I’ve kept the text exactly the same as when I first uploaded them to this website so that it feels like you’ve just walked into my room and are taking a tour!
11/05- SORRY FOR THE DELAY! Many of you have emailed me in recent weeks saying you understood how busy things must be but that you were anxiously awaiting updates to the site. I have been, too, and I really appreciate all of your mail. So why did it take so long for me to put these pictures on the site? Well, the most recent delay was Hurricane Wilma, which shut down schools for 2 weeks. The roads were pretty much impassible at first, but since I live in downtown Ft. Lauderdale, I walked over to the school board building after the storm to take a look at the damage. These are the pictures I took with my cell phone camera, so the quality isn’t great, but you can still see the tremendous amount of devastation–almost all of the west-facing windows were blown out! There were papers and chairs and keyboards all over the street and sidewalk below- it was a truly surreal scene. Fortunately our payroll info is safely stored in duplicate and we never missed a check.
These pictures were all taken more than TWO WEEKS after the storm, when a lot of clean up had already been done and debris removed from the roads. This is the school parking lot. The fence in the background had most of the wire blown off and just the poles standing, and the trees used to be full and thick and with tons of branches (remember, the trees don’t lose their leaves here in the fall so they should look just like you would imagine a tree in most parts of the country to look like in June). I saw trees MUCH larger than the one on the above completely blown over–massive palm trees just smashed into rooftops.
This was taken from the school parking lot, as well. The biggest problem was the downed trees–the flooding wasn’t too bad and while 70% of the people in the county had to file insurance claims, most homes were still intact, with the exception of the mobile home communities. The majority of those families are still displaced. My friends and I are going to go out to some of those areas over the Thanksgiving weekend with teams from our church to help out as much as we can and just be there for these people whose worldly possessions were completely destroyed in a matter of hours. I feel so blessed that my condo and car are completely unscathed: in fact, none of my friends had any damage to any of our property!
This picture makes me so sad because one of the main reasons I moved to south Florida was a love for the lush, beautiful scenery. This is how the school’s main road now looks–to the left used to be a huge forest of trees that was so thick you couldn’t see what was on the other side (homes, as it turns out) with gorgeous palm trees lining the median. Right after the storm it looked even worse than this because all the missing branches and leaves were piled up in the middle of the street.
THE OTHER REASON FOR THE DELAY!
This is a new building–if you’ve been following my saga over the years, you’ll remember that we moved into it just 5 weeks before the end of last school year, and it wasn’t completely finished. I wanted to wait to take pictures until the shelves were installed, then I wanted to wait until the rugs arrived, then until the bulletin boards were installed…and then school was out for more than 2 weeks because of the storm. I figured, it’s now or never!
I stuck with the two desk arrangements shown in the above pictures for most of the year, and really loved them. I had fewer than 20 kids all year, so I was able to be a lot more creative in my set up than in years when I had nearly 30 students. I like having the desks amphitheater-style because all the kids are facing me, making it easier for them to concentrate and for me to see if they are on task, and because it’s easy to move around the room. At the same time, the kids can work with partners without having to move their desks because they are sitting right alongside one another. The U-shape was good for the end of the year when I was doing less direct instruction and the kids were working more independently (with their desks that far away from one another, it can be hard to teach everyone at the same time).
The biggest change in my classroom appearance this year compared to years past: no lamps! They are considered a fire hazard now. No lamps, curtains, or things hanging on more than 80% of the wall. We get one fire-retardant rug. I feel like the room is not nearly as cozy but what can I do, right? I’m going to decorate more with plants now… at least until they tell me plants attract bugs or the kids are allergic or something.
I started using one of the shelves as a podium after a co-worker figured out how perfect it would be! I keep my teacher’s guides, laptop, worksheets for the day, reading group supplies, mini-offices, and even a trashcan inside! It’s slightly off-center in the room so that when the kids sit on the rug, I can sit on a chair at the front of the room and write on the board without the podium blocking their view.
I keep our recess equipment in the purple bag on the floor. The desk above it has materials for small group math lessons: white boards, dry erase markers, felt pieces for erasers, and activity books. (I often work with small groups of kids on math skills at the table by the desk while the students who have mastered the concept do centers in other areas of the room). The missing work form box is on top of the desk. I also have a candle which I can’t burn, obviously, but it smells really good as soon as you walk in the door. On the side of the cabinet are folders for students to turn in papers for a math program our PTA does: a volunteer comes to pick them up, and having everything right by the door allows her to come in and out without disturbing the class. I use the door itself to display birthdays and character education awards.
I always get emails about how organized my room is, and I have to say at this point, I feel pretty good about my systems. You can ask me for pretty much anything from pipe cleaners to smiley face stickers and I can find it within sixty seconds max. My biggest weakness is papers, though. I still spend a tremendous amount of time digging around for papers that I have misplaced and it’s extremely frustrating. I have tried a million different systems and if they are too general, everything gets thrown together, but when they’re too specific, I can’t decide where to place things and have to search 10 different possible areas before finding what I’m looking for. I also get behind on my filing because I HATE doing it. When I find something that I think works really well, I’ll share it, but the truth is, this profession just requires a million different types of papers that fall into millions of different categories and it’s nearly impossible to keep it all straight all the time.
The best I can do is keep all papers in one general area–my desk and the file cabinets and mailboxes next to it. I recently hung this pocket chart on the wall by my filing cabinet, which I did a few years back in Maryland and really liked it. These are forms that I access all the time (health clinic passes, individual student’s behavior mod forms, fax cover sheets, etc.). Keeping them here prevents me from having to go into the dreaded black hole I call a file cabinet and also allows other people to get forms for me as needed- when other teachers need extra copies or a kid needs a paper, I can send them to find it. UPDATE: I found a paper system–plastic drawers have saved my life! See the Organization page!
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