Teacher resources and professional development across the curriculum

Teacher professional development and classroom resources across the curriculum

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Creating Contexts for Learning.

Tips For New Teachers


Creating a Vibrant Classroom

The best classrooms are not only efficient, they're enticing. They are brightly colored and almost magical in terms of their appeal to children. They include lots of books, objects, student-produced work and artwork. They have snakes, birds, and other animals for students to look at and think about. However, building a classroom environment doesn't happen overnight. If you are just getting started, here are some ideas to consider at the beginning of the year and in the months ahead.

Click on images below for a larger view.

Things to do at the beginning of the school year:

  • Supply your classroom library with books of different genres, topics, and reading levels.
  • Arrange books by genre, topic, and reading level.
  • Create a chart for signing out and returning books.
  • Place colorful alphabet letters on a wall for a future "Word Wall."
  • Designate a bulletin board for student work.
  • Design a wall space where students can introduce themselves to each other (an "All-About-Me" poster, a letter describing some favorite activities, etc.).

Things to do throughout the year:

  • Add section for student book recommendations to the classroom library.
  • Add new books to your library based on your curriculum and students' interests.
  • Co-construct colorful charts as you teach reading and writing strategies (see examples above).
  • Develop bulletin boards and displays for units of study.
  • Add to your Word Wall.

Grouping and Routines That Support Learning

One of the most difficult decisions teachers face is how to group students in ways that promote reading, writing, and talking. Below are some ideas for building a framework of grouping options and related routines throughout the school year.

Grouping Option What It Entails Teacher Responsibility Routines
Reading Workshop (Independent Reading)
  • Student-selected text
  • Independent reading level
  • Individual response to reading
  • Apply strategies from mini-lesson
  • Mini-lesson (5-10 min.) for whole class
  • Individual conferencing (assess and record reading behaviors) (30-35 min.)
  • Wrap-up (5-10 min.)
  • Using the classroom library
  • Procedures for signing out books
  • Recording reading
Whole-class reading
  • Teacher-selected text
  • Grade-level text
  • Individual/group response to reading
  • Apply strategies from mini-lesson
  • Mini-lesson (5-10 min.)
  • Flexible grouping to support or extend reader understanding (30-35 min.)
  • Wrap-up (5-10 min.)
  • How to partner read
  • How to respond in a journal
  • How to respond with a partner or small group
Guided Reading Groups
  • Teacher-selected text
  • Instructional level text
  • Individual/group response
  • Apply strategies from mini-lesson
  • Mini-lesson (5-10 min.)
  • Guided Reading Groups (30-35 min.)
  • Wrap-up (5-10 min.)
  • What to do when teacher is working with a group
  • How to get help when teacher is with a group
Literature Circles/Book Club
  • Before students choose books, teachers give a book talk on each book
  • Teacher-/student-selected text theme or topic-related books
  • Interest-level text
  • Individual response
  • Peer discussion
  • Mini-lesson (5-10 min.) for whole class
  • Monitoring student reading and discussion
  • How to ask questions
  • How to listen and respond
  • Turn taking

Next > Put It Into Practice

Session 1: Printouts | Assignments | Resources


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