Flashback: 2011 - 2012 My First Year Teaching in 2nd Grade - The Learning Effect

Flashback: 2011 - 2012 My First Year Teaching in 2nd Grade

For my very first full-time teaching job I was hired right before Thanksgiving and started the following week. I was luckily hired on at the same school that I completed my student teaching at, so I was familiar with the school, faculty, and the whole educational philosophy and plan. I was assigned a 2nd grade position and my classroom was a disaster to start with. I whipped it into shape quickly, and things ran smoothly through the end of the year. It was definitely a successful first year of teaching.

The pictures are kind of in a random order. I'll credit where I was inspired by others.

My word wall was created with Erica Bohrer's Polka Dot Word Wall Labels from TPT. The ELA program for the district is Harcourt's Storytown. I added the high-frequency words to the wall, and words I was constantly being asked how to spell.

Every morning, my students came in and got started right away on workshop. They worked on workshop while I meet with small groups for reading instruction. It's not busy work. Everything included in workshop is a review or practice of things we're doing in class. Here's what they did: daily proofreading, spelling word work, daily language review, daily math review, number of the day, handwriting, skill practice, and treat sheet. When they finish workshop, they turn everything in and choose what they'll do next from a list of "approved" activities (such as flash cards, silent reading, making a map {it's in our core}, writing a story, etc.).

Oreo moon phases idea from Pinterest, uploaded by user.

Valentine Monster Bag idea from The Teacher Wife's Valentine Math & Writing Fun Unit on TPT.

I had a super successful DonorsChoose project funded last year. We ended up with over 100 books for the classroom. Super exciting. I needed book baskets after receiving all of those books, so I ordered a set from Really Good Stuff.

Winter Bird Art Lesson from Deep Space Sparkle {absolutely love that blog}.

Oil pastel and watercolor fish art. Idea from Art Treasury by Rosie Dickins.

I found an idea on Pinterest to add velcro squares to the calendar and calendar numbers. {Though I didn't pin it, so I don't know where the original idea truly came from.} This is so much nicer than using pins.

Each week we had "Science Friday" after lunch. It's hard coming up with engaging science experiments on my own. Thank you, Pinterest and education blogs. I got the idea for the Jelly Bean Experiment from 2nd Grade Shenanigans. The kids loved it.

3-D shapes. I totally had to brainstorm with students on how to make the cylinder and cone, using as little materials as possible.

African butterfly masks, courtesy of the Utah Museum of Fine Arts. They actually came to my classroom with their Art in a Box program. My students loved it.

Daily schedule labels. These will be available in my TPT store soon.

Solid figure flap book. Idea and printables for pieces {free} from Today In First Grade.

My colorful behavior clip chart. Love it. Students can go up or down. There are some kids that make great examples - starting work without being told, coming into the room from recess and sitting quietly while reading, etc. - and they deserve recognition. I got this idea from Sunny Days in Second Grade. I'll be posting the labels for this in my TPT store soon.

Magazine boxes for organization {purchased from IKEA at a killer price}. These hold small whiteboards, dry erase markers, and mini erasers. They are numbered for each table.

Loved by students (and me) - the birthday chart. I used clip art from ThistleGirl Designs. I chose clip art that looks like each student. They loved it.

Classroom Helpers - a.k.a. class jobs. Confession: I always forget the pledge of allegiance. My bad. So I made it a job. I used the kids' clip art pictures here as well. The cut in half envelope at the bottom holds the kids who don't have jobs. {Labels are available for purchase in my TPT store.}

Pencil sharpening station.

Workshop turn-in basket. Sign inspired by Ladybug's Teacher Files.

My Thirty-One Organizing Utility Tote...in love. I take it with me to school on Monday, and home on Friday. I store things in the file throughout the week that I need to take home. I have everything with me that I need when I go home for the weekend. And when I come back on Monday, I have everything organized for the week. (The plastic open-top file box (the medium size) is from The Container Store.)

Yes, I am guilty of planning and grading over the weekend when I have crazy weeks. No, I do not have a workload like this that I take home every week. This picture was taken when I first started and I had a lot to get caught up on. It makes planning with other teachers easier, it makes having my important files at my fingertips easier. It does not always go home with me every weekend anymore {although, it might once I start at my new job - at least for a few weeks}.

My Erin Condren teacher's lesson planner for last year. So expensive, but a great discount coupon comes with each teacher planner, I've learned. I really, truly loved having this planner last year, so I was okay with purchasing another one for this next year, with the discount and all.

Club Cranium is a cross between ideas I found here and here on Pinterest. Each day when students finish their morning work, they can choose a challenge from the Club Cranium can. They can only choose one and if it's too hard they may no choose another one in place of it. If they don't want to attempt it, they can put it back if they haven't written on it. Once they solve the challenge (by themselves, only asking me for clarification, if needed) they put it in the mailbox. During lunch, I check the mailbox and check answers. Correct answers get a punch on their Club Cranium card.

Line art. This lesson can be found here. Students loved this project. I loved this project. Everyone in the school loved it. My 2nd graders are so talented.

This next lesson can be viewed here. We talked about perspective and read Snowmen at Night. Each student wrote a story to go with their painting about what their snowman does at night. Super cute.

Language Arts focus wall.

African huts students made.

Daily Learning Objectives labels. I've updated them {I think they look so awesome now} and offer them in my TPT store.

I cannot wait to see what my new classroom looks like in my brand new school. As soon as I can get in, I'll be sure to take some pictures.


  1. Thanks for sharing these pictures with us. Your classroom looks like such a fun and inviting place to be! I look forward to seeing your new pictures once you get set up. :)
    Learning Is Something to Treasure

  2. Congratulations on what looks like a fabulous first year. As a fourth grade teacher in California, I look forward to reading about and learning from your creative ideas this coming year. Best wishes to you.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Tiffany,
    I love your classroom! I am nominating you for the Versatile Blogger award. Visit my blog to pick up your award. :)


  5. I just found your blog and I am IN LOVE with it! Thanks for sharing so many amazing pictures!
    ☼ Kate
    To The Square Inch

  6. What is the Treat Sheet and do your students rotate (during workshop) their responsibilities in groups while you work in groups or do they work at their own pace independently while you work in groups?

  7. Hi Anonymous -

    Treat sheet is a fun worksheet that covers a skill {in any subject area}, but less formal than those that come with curriculum programs. For example, a word search for verbs or a coordinate activity that creates a picture, when complete.

    Students work at their own pace while I work in groups. Depending on the activities that I have set up for each day, I'll let individual groups know what I expect them to complete, if necessary. Activities are also differentiated, when needed.


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