I am so excited for this book study to finally kick off!!!!!   Can you believe over 600 people signed up to participate?!   I know there is going to be some serious (and fun) learning, sharing and collaborating this summer!!!
#teachingwithintention   (Let’s use that hashtag on social media!)
My ideal classroom is what you see when you walk into my room.  I love cute, colorful classrooms that are uber organized, but I also refuse to  spend all of my time organizing and cleaning.  If you walk into my classroom, you will see a well used classroom that is evident of students working, sharing, collaborating and HAVING FUN!  I am a firm believer in ignoring the paperwork, the “stuff” we are told to do and focusing on my students and their needs.   My classroom is child centered and everything else can wait!  (Hence the paper piles and less than stellar organization…but hey, it’s our room and we love it!)
I was also very excited/relieved/validated when Debbie Miller said an ideal classroom has anchor charts and student work everywhere (pg 11)!   I love having anchor charts and student work everywhere.  People always comment on my classroom and how much stuff I display.  I am an advocate of displaying all of their work!  I would hang up every piece of work If I could.  Most of what’s in my classroom is anchor charts, student art and student work!   If you want to take a fun GoPro tour of my classroom you can check it out on YouTube!
In my classroom, my students have a lot of choice and independence.  They are free to sit where ever they choose (we don’t have tables or desks!)!  During our hippopotamuses time (centers/workstations) they have choice on which centers to work on and where they work!   This freedom and choice is empowering to students which leads to more buy in and engagement and less behavior issues.  I have a lot of visitors in my classroom and this choice and freedom is one thing that people talk about the most!   It’s a defining piece of our classroom!  It’s OK to give up some control…but as Debbie says, this doesn’t just happen, you do need to train your students to handle the freedom and set the expectations so everyone can be successful!
On page 14, Debbie writes that “the teacher is on the side…”  When I read this I was reminded of an amazing college professor who taught me that my job was to be “a guide by the side” and that’s what you see in my classroom.  The students are the leaders.  They’re in charge of their learning.  It’s THEIR classroom and I’m just there to be a guide by the side!

One thing I am most proud of is something I was made aware of quite by accident…you see, we have teachers visit our classroom all of the time (Our door is always open so come visit!).  One day there was a group of 6 teachers observing (no biggie for the kids…) and I happened to notice one of the teachers’ notebooks had this written on it:  “Mr. Greg doesn’t do a lot of talking!”   After reading that, I realized that I don’t do a lot of talking!  My ‘staches do a lot of the talking…Less teacher talk is key to a successful classroom!  The more my students can talk, the  more they learn!!!   (PS  I promise I wasn’t snooping on her stuff…really…it was an accident…I’m not a snooper!)

You will also hear music!   In the morning for arrival we’re jamming out to Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, Bruno Mars.  And I mean jamming out…I crank our music (and yes, sometimes the librarian comes to me because it’s too loud…)…during our work times, I like to play lullabies from Rock A Bye Baby on iTunes!   They take popular songs from Michael Jackson (for example) and turn them into lullabies!  It’s AMAZING STUFF!   It’s soft and quiet so we can work and talk and read and write but gives the room a nice atmosphere.  And the ‘staches ask for  the music to be on all of the time!

In my classroom, my students are engaged in learning and exploring and you can find me doing a few things!   I might be at my guided reading table with a small group or working 1 on 1 with a student.  I also like to sit with students and work on their hippos (centers/workstations) with them!  
In this SmorgieVision video, you can see and hear one of my staches working on her hippo.  I love how we’re able to listen to her as she works!  This is what we do in our classroom!!   I love having a GoPro camera in the classroom but it gives a rare opportunity to hear some authentic “buzz” as Debbie Miller calls it!  

This is easy!  ORGANIZATION!   I need to do a better job of keeping up with the paper piles.  I start every year with the best laid plans…and day 1…BOOM!  The paper wins!  Then I loose what I need and get stressed out…you know…I will beat the paper monster someday….I will!!!
My friend Keri at Enchanted Kindergarten has inspired me to do something else next year….Keep my door OPEN!  First thing I do when the 8:00 bell rings, is pull the door closed.  No more!!  I am throwing that door open and sharing our fun with the world!!!   Let’s start a movement!  Let’s all pledge to keep our doors open and let the magic of kindergarten fill our buildings!
I have systems and routines and expectations in place that allow us to have the freedom and choice that is so key to a successful learning environment.
We have a hippopotamus (Center/workstation) system that works beautifully and is student friendly and teacher friendly.
We have a classroom library that is cozy and inviting and STUDENT FRIENDLY to use and teacher friendly to keep organized!

A HUGE thank you to our hosts for chapter 1:  (Be sure to head to their blog to read their thoughts on Chapter 1 and SNAG SOME AWESOME FREEBIES!  And if you’re a blogger, please blog about chapter 1 and link up with these ladies!)
Keri at Enchanted Kindergarten
Jessica at Mrs. Plemons’ Kindergarten
Stephany at Primary Possibilities
And now I have a huge and exciting announcement about our book study.  
You see what had happened was….I emailed the publisher of the book who emailed a lady who emailed DEBBIE MILLER!   I asked if it would be possible to set up an “interview” with Debbie at the end of our book study.  AND SHE SAID YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!   People, we’re working on details but DEBBIE MILLER is going to wrap up our study in July by answering our questions!
SHUT THE FRONT DOOR!!!!!!!!!

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  • Reply Keri June 3, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    The surprise is AMAZING!!!!!! How stinking cool is that! I cannot wait until the end now. Thanks for letting us join in on the fun! I'm loving this book already.

  • Reply Jessica Plemons June 3, 2015 at 3:39 pm

    OMG an interview with Debbie?!?! That is amazeballs! CANNOT wait. I love your classroom so much, who doesn't need a little morning dance party? Now that I stay home with Madelynn that is pretty much what we do most of the morning. I crank the T. Swift and we read, play, and blog…well I blog, she colors Daniel Tiger;)

    Mrs. Plemons' Kindergarten

  • Reply Robin : ) June 3, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    Thank you for doing this book study!! I haven't received my book yet????! A major case of the bummers here in Columbus! I believe it will be here tomorrow! I'm excited to catch up!! I read your blogs all the time!! You're the best!! Thanks again!!!!

  • Reply Sparkling in Self Contained June 3, 2015 at 5:04 pm

    I love your classroom!!! I also allow my students to sit where they would like when they come in each day. I think it is great to give the students some choice 🙂 I AM SO EXCITEDDDD about Debbie Miller!!!! That is AWESOME 🙂 What a great way to end this book study I can't wait!!

  • Reply LeAnne Cooper June 3, 2015 at 8:58 pm

    Fantastic surprise to end the book study! 🙂
    LeAnne
    Hangin' with Mrs. Cooper

  • Reply Primary Possibilities June 4, 2015 at 1:16 am

    I have to check out that Rock A Bye Baby music… I download Vitamin String Quartet music from iTunes (Bohemian Rhapsody is my fav) and play it during Silent Reading. I am envious of all of your room to display student's work! I wish I had the guts to do away with my tables….I may have to try to work towards that!

    We have to keep our doors open at our school. It's great because people (principal, social workers, etc) stop in throughout the day to say hi!

    (And also… TUBE! That picture/word is the biggest pain in silent e word work! We need more u_e words! 🙂 )

    Stephany
    Primary Possibilities

  • Reply lorena June 4, 2015 at 2:15 am

    Awesome surprise! So glad to have joined this book study, thanks for helping to put it together. Great way for me to reflect and plan for the new year! definitely need to reorganize my library and make it a larger area in our room. Inspired by you, I took out most (not yet all) of our tables after spring break and the students have a choice of sitting at a table, standing at a table or working on the rug. I spoke with them about the change before doing it and they were all on board so it helped the transition. I think student buy in is huge! All our K team is great about displaying student work and I love that our students see how much their work is valued just by it being displayed.

  • Reply Tracy Ledford June 4, 2015 at 1:27 pm

    I love your music choices! My kiddos latched on to Two Cellos last year, which was fantastic. They especially liked the cello versions of “Sweet Child of Mine” and “Smooth Criminal”. What does that say?!? Thanks a million for orchestrating this study and being so transparent in your teaching process.

    Tracy
    kindergartencrossroads.blogspot.com

  • Reply Joan Strassman June 4, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    YAY!!! Looking forward to “talking” with Debbie Miller 🙂 Can't wait to see what I learn from this book and the discussions we are going to be having.

  • Reply Kristin June 4, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    Thanks for setting all this up! How do we know who is hosting each week? Is there a schedule somewhere so we know where to look?

    Kristin
    Teaching In A Nutshell

  • Reply lornamarga June 6, 2015 at 1:46 am

    I am so excited for a book study! I read the book a couple of years ago, amazing!! I live in CO and always have hoped for a chance encounter!! I can't wait for July!

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