Dude, Where's My Shelfwork?


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Classroom Grouping

In one of my earlier posts, I talked about table jobs and folders. First, I will introduce the inspiration for our table “mascots”.  We have two fish tanks is our classroom, post on those later, and the tables have a species of fish pictured on them.  I have found that having a “mascot” has more of a team building effect than numbering the tables.  It also helps us organize for other things in the room such as the table jobs and folders.  The signs are cut in half so that when tables get rearranged in the room they can get reunited correctly when we restore the environment.

Table Sign

Table Sign

Fish signs we have are: Endler Guppies, Neon Tetras, Long-fin Blue Danios, Ramshorn Snails, Giant Khuli Loaches, Celestial Pearl Danios (CPDs), and Rachovii Killifish.

Most of the fish that I use for table “mascots” are ones that are in our classroom tanks, or that I have at home.  I have the CPDs at home, they are too expensive to have at school and they are skittish so not as much fun to watch.

There is only one fish that I don’t have either place because they only live for about 3 months, so if you can’t get them to reproduce, they are very heartbreaking.  We tried, unsuccessfully, to hatch some rachovii at home last year. Frustrating. They are very beautiful and colorful, so they seemed appropriate for a Montessori classroom table.

Bins with the table folders for each class period in them.

Bins with the table folders for each class period in them.

To coordinate with the tables, each class period has a color of folder and each table has a folder that matches their fish.  I can’t rave about this enough. ALL work that is turned in to me on paper goes in the table folder where students sit.  Post on this to come.

Flexible Grouping Assignments

Flexible Grouping Assignments

Another way that I group students for just the day, or alternative activities such as Literature Circles, is to create signs with students’ names on them.  I just laminated different colors of printer paper and use either a dry erase marker or overhead marker to write the names of the students on the sheets.  I intend to remake some so that each is a different color, these just happened to be the colors in the copy room the day that I needed to make them. I still have students turn in work to their original table folders to save confusion for all of us.

This allows for flexible grouping (big buzz phrase right now), which is great for Montessori classrooms since we are 6-8th grades mixed in one class.  Since the ability ranges in my students have nothing to do with their grade level, and students might have different levels depending on the skill (great at main idea, bad at compare/contrast), this allows me to regroup depending on the activity or skill we are working on.

Do you have great ways to group students? Please share in the comments!

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All Those Wonderful Manipulatives!

Grammar box word cards

Grammar box word cards

We were fortunate enough to get class sets of the official Montessori grammar boxes. The question was…where do we put all the cards so they are easily accessible?

Confession! I laminated the word cards. YEP! Laminated them.  I know that it is frowned upon to do so, but I have 90 students a day that need to use them and would like to get more than one year out of this very expensive resource.

 

Stack-On 60 drawer storage

Stack-On 60 drawer storage

One of my colleagues saw these great organizers at Fleet Farm, and realized they were just what we needed.  This particular one has 60 drawers, which was more than enough for the parts of speech cards.  I have been toying with the idea of creating some extra sentences, that are more complex, for my students that already have mastered the grammar boxes.  To be fair, there are very few students that have come to me having already done these despite two of our feeder elementary schools being Montessori focused.

While the grammar boxes are the only pre-packaged manipulatives that we have in our classrooms, my colleagues and I continue to create our own shelfwork that coordinates with and supports our Language Arts units.

After spending copious hours copying, laminating and cutting out the different root sorts, I realized that it was going to be interesting to get the box back to school without all the various drawers and contents ending up all over my car.

cling wrap

These boxes are also very helpful for the Greek/Latin root sorts that we have been doing throughout the year.  I like the 39-drawer Stack-on box for them because I can store larger task cards and sorting activities in the big drawers on the bottom.