Monday, September 1, 2014

Focus Wall

I feel like the walls in my classroom are prime real estate.  My little firsties spend six hours every single day surrounded by these walls!  That is HUGE.  I try to make sure that everything in our room is engaging, meaningful, and educationally relevant for my students. 

For the past few years I have felt conflicted about posting standards in my room.  I was teaching kindergarten when it was first mandated by my district to post standards and teaching points.  However, my students couldn't READ them!  I could not bring myself to post things that were not going to be meaningful for my students.  Since then I have played with several different ways of posting standards.  I've found ways to make it "better" but not "right"... until now!   I am SO happy with my Focus Wall!

I decided that this year I was going to create something that would satisfy the "posting requirements" but would also be meaningful to my little students.  When I started brainstorming my requirements were:
  1. Make it cute and colorful - The kids have to be interested in looking at it.
  2. Make it EASY- I have about a million things to think about and do each day.  I do not want to have to spend more than a few minutes each morning getting the board organized.
  3. Make it versatile- I know myself and I know that the way I THINK I want to use this is probably not the way I will ACTUALLY use it.  Therefore, it needed to be something that I could quickly and easily change.
  4. Make it MEANINGFUL- This was the very, most important.   I do not want to put one more thing on my walls for the "grown ups" that walk in.  I want everything in this room to be meaningful to the 6 year olds.

So, as I began creating this set, I kept my criteria close at hand.
  1.  Cute and colorful was easy... no problems there.  I used bright, cheerful colors, a fun pennant header, and added some cute "happy kids" for fun.
  2. Easy took a little thought. I decided to make a ton of subject headers.  I made one for everything I could think of from Math and Reading to Character Education and Close Reads.  I also made editable cards to it would be easy to add any headings I forgot.  Then, I printed, cut, and laminated the cards and stuck magnets on the back of them. I only post the headings that I need each day and I keep the "extras" in a basket near the wall for the times that I many need them. I plan to write on the cards with dry erase markers.  I think this will be much easier for me than typing, printing, and posting standards.  I can write the "I can" statement right in front of the students when I introduce my teaching point.
  3. To make this set versatile I made different sized and shaped blank cards to write on.  I plan to use these for many different things so having different sizes available will make it easy to use in different ways.
  4. Everything about this set was created to make it meaningful for my students.  I color coded the subjects and the blank cards, I have the subjects in an order that follows our flow of the day, and I have enough room and blank cards to put EVERYTHING they need for that day's lesson in one place.
You can see that yesterday I was able to post the "I can" statement, an example, and vocabulary words easily in one place.  When my students need this information to write in their math journals in the morning it will all be together.  (No more "I can" statement by flow of the day and vocabulary across the room on another board!) As you can see in the photo below, I have even started adding other little anchor charts or informational posters to this area.  It is truly everything the students need to focus on for the day.
This has become the "focus point" for everyone who walks in my room and it has been fun to share it with other teachers at my school.  I love to see the way that other teachers are making it work in their classrooms. 

I was really surprised to see how nicely this teacher fit everything on a small bulletin board.  I hadn't pictured it this way but I love it!

 Do you have a great way to post standards and teaching points in your room?  I would love to hear your ideas!  If you would like to make your own Focus Wall you can get my set HERE.

1 comment:

  1. I love how you set up your focus wall. Thanks for sharing!