The Pros and Cons of a Looping Classroom


Have you ever wondered what it would be like to loop with your students to the next grade? It can be a difficult decision to make. Before making that decision, you should weigh the pros and cons. 

Looping means a teacher remains with the same group of students for more than one school year.  I have taught multiple grades over the years and have looped four different times. Each time I discovered new things I liked (and disliked) about looping. Today I want to share those experiences with you.

I think it's safe to say that if I have looped four times in the past, I have found more positives than negatives. 

Since I already knew my students academic skills, behaviors, and work habits, I had a very quick start to the school year. After a quick refresher of rules and procedures, my students fell right back into the classroom routine. Any new students that were added to the mix seemed to jump right in. In other words, I got to skip over the honeymoon period!

Since I already knew where my students were academically, small group instruction, enrichment groups, and intervention groups began much more quickly. I also spent less time on beginning of the year assessments.

I already knew the families of my students. Parents knew my expectations and I had already established an open line of communication and trust with my families.

I also found that looping with my students pushed ME to continuously improve. I found myself pushing out of my comfort zone, thinking more creatively, and finding new ways to keep my students engaged. I couldn't just do the same old things I had always done which helped me grow as a teacher.

This all sounds great, doesn't it? But there were some drawbacks and things I didn't like about looping.


Because I kept the same group of students, I was changing grade levels. This meant I needed to spend more time researching the standards and familiarizing myself with new lessons and units.

Changing grade levels also meant finding new materials. I needed new books for read aloud and the classroom library, math games, reference posters, and more! Sometimes I was able to borrow from our library or other teachers, but I'm not going to lie - my wallet also took a hit!

In some buildings, a change in grade level also means a change in classrooms. Fortunately, I never had to change rooms just because I changed grade levels. This is just something to keep in mind if your building is organized by grade level teams.

By March of the second year, my classroom really felt like a family. This sounds great, but it also meant everyone was getting a little too comfortable with each other.  The students would begin acting more like brothers and sisters who would fight and bicker over the littlest things. I could say this happens every year, but after two years together you could really feel it!

The most difficult part of looping for me (and the one I was least prepared for) was how hard it would be to say goodbye. After two years those goodbyes can be extremely emotional. And come September, starting over with a brand new group of students can make you feel like a brand new teacher all over again!

So, you might be wondering - would I ever loop again?If the right group of students came along I probably would.

Have you ever looped with a group of students? I'd love to hear about your experience!


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Punxsutawney Phyllis (Activities and Resources)


I don't know about you, but Groundhog Day always seems to sneak up on me each year. It has something to do with arriving so early in February and competing with so many other holidays early in the year. I tend to read several stories aloud to build schema about groundhogs and the holiday, but then we focus in on one story, Punxsutawney Phyllis (also called Wake Up, Groundhog).

If you aren't familiar with the story, here's a summary:

I've included some comprehension activities that can easily be added to my student's reading response journals. These comprehension spinners are a half page each and can be used with the other groundhog books I read throughout the week. They also get the students warmed up for writing their story summaries. 

My students love to make crafts to go with their writing. If you read other groundhog stories, you can let your students create their own groundhog character and write a short story. Since Groundhog Day is on a Thursday this year, you could also track the weather all week and have students write a weather report for an informational writing option.

I know most classrooms have students predict whether the groundhog will see his shadow. I like to take that one step further and incorporate some graphing activities in the classroom that can be used as fast finisher activities. There are two spin, tally, and graph options included. The first is whether the groundhog will see his shadow (yes/no). The other is graphing the weather:
Since students will be getting different results, you can have the students write 2-3 statements or questions on the back about their data. (ex. Rain was seen more than any other weather. How many more votes for yes than no?)

You can find all of these activities and more here:

For more Groundhog ideas, take a peek at my Pinterest board:

Happy Teaching!

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Sneezy the Snowman Resources


Are you reading Sneezy the Snowman by Maureen Wright to your class this month? Today I want to share a few activities you can use with your students! 
 

Here's a summary in case you aren't familiar with this story:

After reading I always do a comprehension check. My favorite ways to do this are by asking questions and having students retell (or summarize) the story. Since my students already sit in groups at their desks, I like to print the questions on different colors and distribute one set to each group. By doing this, more students get an opportunity to answer questions and the pressure is off my shy students to answer in front of the whole class.

After group discussion, I will have each student choose one of the cards to glue into their reading response notebooks. 

I have also included vocabulary cards that you can have on display during reading. To take vocabulary one step further, you can use these winter word templates with the vocabulary words. Students write the word on the hat. On the snowman, students can write an original sentence, draw a picture, write synonyms, etc. These can be put on display or even made into a small classroom book after adding other vocabulary words you are learning.

For a simple written response, you can have students change up the text and make small substitutions to keep the rhythm of the author's writing style.

I also love to use craft booklets to get my students to respond to reading. This snowman template comes in three different options (lines, no lines, and lines with a picture space). After students have completed their reading responses, they can staple the pages together with the craft on top to create a snowman booklet.

In the story, Sneezy ends up eating ice cream to stay cool when he gets too warm. So I included this ice cream cone template you can use. You can stack the ice cream scoops:

or you can staple the ice cream scoops together into a booklet:

You can find all of these activities here:

Happy Reading!

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Snowman Supplies (a Free Math Station)


A few years ago I was bored to tears trying to find engaging ways to practice addition in my classroom, particularly when needing to add up to four 2-digit numbers. I decided to bring a little real-world math into the classroom and let my students go shopping. Today I want to let your students go shopping with this little freebie:

 Just like the other stores in my shopping pack, Snowman Supplies has a colorful poster, two recording sheet options, and 8 task cards where students must find the sum of four items.

After reading the task card, students must use the store poster to record prices on the chosen recording sheet. Then students will find the sum of the four items and record the answer in dollars and cents notation.

You can grab this freebie here:

For more shopping & money activities like this one, check out this resource:

Happy Teaching!

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Cup of Cocoa (Math Freebie)


I hope your students came back to school ready and eager to learn! Today I want to share one of my favorite winter math freebies with you and show you some ways you can differentiate to support your struggling students.

One of the ways I review math facts in January is with 3-addends. I use this Cup of Cocoa pack, which is designed to be used as a Scoot or Roam-the-Room activity. Most of my students are able to walk around the room and complete the task cards on the go. This helps get the wiggles out and gets them moving after sitting during the lesson. However, there are always a few students who need a little more support. When this is the case, I bring the materials to my small group table. 


One of the ways I support struggling students is with a 20-frame card and cubes. Since we are working with 3-addends, I have cubes in three different colors. Students fill the frame in the same order as the task card.  This works well with the first eight task cards that ask students to find the sum.

For the last eight task cards students are given the sum and two addends. For these types of problems I provide a number line and two clothespins. Students place the first clothespin on the sum so they can see their target number. Then I have students add the two given addends together and mark that number with the second clothespin. Finally, students need to find the difference between the two marked numbers.

 You can grab this freebie here:

Happy Teaching!

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