I just finished the first full week of school with my new students. For me, there is lots of new. New students. New school. New grade combination (Grade 4 & 5). New community. New room. I teach and learn in The Land of New.
Nothing was perfect. But everything was about learning. Sometimes, I was absolutely the biggest learner in the room. Sometimes, I felt the beginning faith in my students that they are both learners and teachers here. I want them to always know this.
Today I celebrate that some wonderful happened. This classroom that I worked on for endless days in the summer feels like so much more with students in it. Together we are building community. It’s exhausting. But it’s fantastic.
And, there is no way I could be doing this alone. My family (parents, children, sister) helped me with set up all summer. My husband has helped me multiple days this week to hang art, affix labels and shift furniture around the room. My new school community has been supportive and willing to answer my endless questions. Things I have needed have been sourced. An iPad charger. A classroom carpet (thank goodness!). Blue markers for the white board.
I am constantly inspired by the PLN I continue to grow. You will see in this celebration that I have borrowed, emulated, utilized, shifted and considered the ideas and work of many incredible educators, authors, illustrators and artists in the work we did this week. I am always bursting with gratitude to be connected with so many creative and thoughtful individuals.
Now to celebrate!
We completed two pieces of art to celebrate International Dot Day. I wanted students to approach their work playfully and to embrace the feeling of no one way to make an art piece. I discovered the wonderful blog of artist Michele Guieu and was blown away by all that she does. After resurfacing from her blog (prepare to spend hours!), I had the inspiration for our Dot Day pieces.
On one wall – our collective work! Can’t wait for students to walk into this on Monday morning.
We are learning to think like scientists by waking up our brains to be observant, organized and full of questions. Thank you to Jess Keating and her Animals for Smart People videos. These videos are all under 3 minutes so we watch them twice and then talk about what we learned and the questions the information inspired.
@Jess_Keating They are perfect! Informative, entertaining and ideal length to practice – summarizing, fact/react, asking further questions
— Carrie Gelson (@CarrieGelson) September 17, 2016
Our first response web was completed together. Students will begin completing their own next week. We talked about jotting down new learning and connecting this to further questions.
All last year my students and I participated in #classroombookaday (Follow the link to the presentation that Jillian Heise and Angie Huesgen gave at
We will be learning more about theme in the weeks to come, including how to think about supporting ideas from the text that confirm/illustrate the theme. What I love about this is the potential for students to be thinking and talking all week about how stories connect and what messages they include.
In math, we began our week with representing numbers in interesting ways. While students built and created, I learned about their understanding of place value and ability to “count up” to prove to me that their structure/creature represented the number given.
We have started Reading Workshop in full force. This group happily reads independently for 20-25 minutes and daily asks for more time to read. We have started to learn about genre through our picture book collection. This week we talked about fantasy stories, humour and books with rhyme and repetition. I have been trying to connect with each child to talk about books that are loved and what to read next. One important moment? When the child who told me he did not like to read and had no favourite books (on his reading survey) came to me on Friday and asked for my help in choosing a novel. The power of a reading community in a classroom full of books!
I finally finished covering exposed black board (non magnetic and marked up with tape marks) with book jacket covers. I call this book wall paper 🙂 The covers I selected are favourite titles of mine but I hope that they also convey a few things: we are readers here, we read fiction and nonfiction, stories are important, diversity is celebrated, we will be creative here, we will share laughter, we will learn together . . .
I celebrate turning out the lights on Friday afternoon (okay, early evening) to chairs up, art on the wall, student words in my head. Goodnight to my new classroom community.
Thank you to Ruth Ayres and the #celebratelu community!
Being part of a community that regularly shares gratitude and celebrations truly transforms my weeks.
Congratulation on completing this much anticipated, hard prepared for first week, Carrie. You shared so much about it and I loved every single bit. Not surprised about all the help getting ready; it takes a village when it’s new! And not surprised to hear that story of the boy who wanted a novel recommendation. You’re on your way! (FYI-the link on Ruth’s site is not working!) Hugs to you for a great weekend of celebration, & some R & R, possibly needed!
We are on our way! Thanks for always being in my corner Linda.
Love these words from your post: ” It’s exhausting. But it’s fantastic.” So true for the teaching journey, but especially as a new year begins and when you’re in a new place. So glad you’re off and running building a new community. Wonderful to see the pics from your classroom.
Thanks for your continued support Ramona!
Carrie, wondering if you’ll be at Poetry Camp at Western on Oct. 1?
No, unfortunately we can’t make it.
It is wonderful to read about your new class. I connect to so much of what you have written after changing schools (but not grade levels) this year too. Love the idea of living in this “land of new.” It is a place filled with challenge and so much potential. Enjoy your weekend, Carrie.
I hope you are enjoying your new place. A good move?
Yes! A good move — closer to home and great staff.
I am so glad you are off to a great start with all of your newness! I know this was such a big jump for you, but it sounds fantastic. What a brilliant idea to structure a week’s read aloud around a theme and have them guess what it is. So many great picture books to do just that! Hopefully you will find some time for you this weekend!
It is a big jump and it’s hard. But, I am loving so much of it!
Oh my goodness, what a classroom! I am so excited you are teaching in the middle-grade world. I love your adventures through Dot day, reader’s workshop and math. So excited for your year to come. Ready to follow every minute!
You are very kind. I am very much figuring it out but excited about the journey!
What a rich week you had! I love reading how intentionally you plan your learning environment – both physical and emotional. My favorite part was when you said that you are a learner – this sets a tone, you become an example, it allows you to be flexible and adapt to the needs of the students – so important in a new class and new school.
Oh, I am indeed a learner and making mistakes at every turn. Thankfully, I share the room with some brilliant and creative kids so we are figuring it out!
There are so many things to celebrate in your post…new learning all around. I love the photographs that show us just how much is happening! It sounds like you are off to a wonderful beginning.
So far, so good! But a big learning curve. Coffee, sleep and time to walk and think are all essential to this journey.
I’m amazed at all you have accomplished in getting ready for this first week in your new leaning community! I can’t wait to see where your journey leads this year. 😊
Susan, thank you. I hope it leads somewhere meaningful for these wonderful children I teach. We will learn a lot together.
It sounds like a lovely start to the year. You’re right, that artist’s website is amazing. I too love Jess Keatings videos. 🙂 I really like your idea of themes with classroombookaday. If I was in a classroom, I would definitely be trying that.
Isn’t her work incredible? Really was so inspired!
That’s a lot to celebrate! Thank you for reminding me that change and newness can be exciting and inspiring, and not just scary! 🙂
Well of course there is some scary but hoping the positives make it all okay!