Can it already be time for another middle school classroom tour? Welcome to Ms. Henry’s 5th grade math classroom! She has basically been my other half when it comes to math talk at school, and I am so glad that we are featuring her room today. Many of her classroom ideas are not only brilliant but also practical!
A few things to note:
- Ms. Henry has been teaching math for 15 years, so she has quite a collection of supplies!
- She brings her two dogs to work, so it’s their classroom, too.
- She is in a portable, so she has her own restroom. So much teacher jealousy!
- Her classroom is tiny, but it is mighty! She uses every square foot strategically.
CLASSROOM IDEA #1: MANAGEMENT STARTS WITH SET UP
To help with classroom management, Ms. Henry has tables set up so that students (for the most part) are facing the board and not each other, though they are still able to collaborate with their peers during group work. She has situated her document camera in the back so she can SEE the whole classroom. Remember, you do not have to be at the front of the classroom to see all of your students. Here is a view from the document camera.
Her small group table is also strategically placed. When she pulls students later for differentiation or stations, she can still see every student.
She uses floor tape to keep her furniture in the correct place and to help guide students for when it is time to line up.
CLASSROOM IDEA #2: PERSONAL TOUCHES AS DECORATIONS
Ms. Henry is an all star when it comes to creativity. She can sew (she sewed her team matching fanny packs one year as a back-to-school present), and she is handy with tools. She built that pencil-holding pencil! I shouldn’t be surprised that she can also make her own classroom art. Because our advisories are named after the colleges the teachers graduated from, Ms. Henry uses university pride to decorate, as well. And the prize wheel that she uses to sort students into houses and later to give students bonus points can be found here.
CLASSROOM IDEA #3: VISIBILITY IS KEY
Ms. Henry uses a similar behavior incentive system as Miss 5th. She keeps the House points where students can see them updated daily. Her mastery trackers are also visible — empty but ready to be filled with student mastery! You can read more about mastery trackers here.
As a school, we have a standard way to set up our front boards so that students see the same information in each class. I like how Ms. Henry added some twinkle light flair to hers.
Lastly, this timer is something I still cannot believe I do not have yet! You can find one here. Middle school students not only need to know how much time they have left, but also the visual of the time remaining helps support their understanding of fractions!
CLASSROOM IDEA #4: Have a place for everything
On our campus, if the work room doesn’t have it, Ms. Henry’s room does! In fact, one time I texted her asking for a very specific pink-colored card stock. Turns out, she was absent that day, but she could tell me exactly where to find it. I popped in, said hello to the substitute, and found the card stock in seconds. She uses Ikea shelves to hold all of her supplies: clear containers for items she needs to see and fabric containers for the not-so-pretty supplies.
Another great teacher hack from Ms. Henry — label exactly what goes where. She knows what she is taking out to recess each day and what should return.
CLASSROOM IDEA #5: LITTLE THINGS MATTER
As teachers, we practically live in our classrooms. So, it makes sense to have many items that you would have at home. I love that there isn’t just one broom in her classroom but two! I have had three instances of breaking glass in seven years of teaching, and it was only this year that I had a broom to save the day.
Ms. Henry also made her document camera set up super functional. She will never have to unplug something to plug something else back in thanks to her power strip. Any pen or marker that she might need is also accessible. And so are her speakers!!! They have a spot in her writing utensil caddy so she doesn’t have to detangle or frantically try to set up speakers as students watch a video with no sound. Am I the only one?
Last but not least: Ms. Henry’s dogs, Whiskey and Bella, have their own space to go rest after they have completed their math work. My school is a dog-friendly campus. As long as your canine is sweet and up-to-date with vaccinations, your dog or dogs can join you in your classroom. Does anyone else get to bring their dog to work?
Thank you so much, Ms. Henry, for allowing us to enjoy a classroom tour and learn from all your teacher wisdom!