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End-of-the-Year Reflections

By Nancy Jang on May 12, 2011
  • Grades: 1–2

As the school year draws to a close, I begin reflecting back on everything that's happened. What were the challenges this year? What could I have done differently? Join me as I answer these questions and more. You can also watch a cute video below of a few of my students reflecting on their 2nd grade year.

The end of 2nd grade is exciting and sad at the same time. My students have grown, learned, and changed so much in the past months. At our K–2 school, the 2nd graders will graduate and move on to our sister school across the street. They are looking forward to attending school with the older children and moving on in their educational careers.

Reflecting back on this year, I thought of the new things I tried and the things that I need to work on, including:


DSC00679 Classroom Library

This year I changed my classroom library from front-facing, wall-mounted shelves to baskets organized by genre. It took me a long time to sort and label the books last summer, but I was ready by the beginning of the school year. I was worried that my kids would not be able to return the books to their proper areas and that the library would be a mess. After living with this new system for a year, I'm happy to report that the kids were very responsible about returning the books to their correct bins.


DSC00676Behavior Management

This year, in the middle of the year, I found a cool rainbow clip chart for classroom management from Rick Morris of New Management. I was using a stoplight, but I wanted to find a way to reward my great kids. It worked like a charm: it really allowed me to encourage model behavior in my well-behaved children while monitoring the kids who needed reminders and consequences. The kids really enjoyed competing with each other to move their pins up the chart during the day.






Lunch Count and Closet OrganizationDSC00678

This is the second year that we have had to take a lunch count, and the magnets seemed to work out well. When the students came in the door in the morning, they moved a star to the area of their lunch choice. Last year I had paper star die cuts with the students' numbers on them, but it took forever for them to find their numbers, which caused traffic jams, with kids complaining and pushing.





As I have confessed in previous posts, I am not a naturally organized person. This is the first year that I both succeeded and failed at organizing my closets. The office supplies stayed organized in the correct bins, but the art supply closet didn't stay organized at all. The odd-sized containers for paint and watercolors never seemed to fit back into the closet the same way. My goal for next year is to reorganize the art supplies into smaller, uniform containers by media type. Also, the closet was overstuffed, so I couldn't readily get in and out of it. I also need to label the containers more clearly.









Curtain Closets

I have a love/hate relationship with these closets. They are wonderful in that they provide invaluable space for my shelving and a way to keep all of my language arts materials together and organized in a way that is easy to access and easy to hide. The curtain closet closest to my desk, however, is still a jumble of piles hidden behind a curtain.


So this summer, both the art closet and one of the curtain closets are in for a total overhaul.




Math Program

This year we adopted a new math program that is different from our old program in that the students receive newspaper-type handouts every day instead of having a math book. Also included in the program is a large baggie of math manipulatives for every student. So in addition to organizing math materials that I already had, I had to organize 25 sets of counters, base ten blocks, pattern blocks, linking cubes, etc., while keeping them easily accessible for me and for students working on their own. Overall, this worked well. The manipulatives were easy to clean up and return to their containers and the teacher's editions and the supplemental materials I had collected were easily sorted into the magazine files. I will probably continue to use this system next year.

DSC00682 DSC00691

Come back next week when my students will share their writing in a special Author's Chair Book Talk video. We will be reading books that my students wrote for the Young Author's Fair in our school district.

Happy teaching,





Comments (62)

Where did you find the clip chart? I have googled it and I cant seem to find it?

Hi Nancy, I found your advice/reflection on what works to be extremely helpful! I am a new teacher and will be teaching 2nd grade next year. I really cant wait and will definitely keep your recommendations in mind when setting up my classroom. Thanks! Happy teaching! - Jen

Sierra, Thank you so much for following me here at Scholastic. I hope that you will continue to find good stuff on my personal blog this summer and next year!

Happy Teaching, Nancy


I love the book suggestions that you provide with nearly every post! I put each one on my wish list. I look forward to your own blog for the summer!

Sharon, Thank you for sharing your reflections. Good luck and I hope you enjoy being back in the classroom again.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Hello, I enjoyed your post on your reflection. I am in a transition from Technology Integration Specialist back to a second grade classroom since my position was cut by the district to save money. I have been out of the classroom for 12 years and much of my classroom items I have given away. I would love to have your Art books since our elementary buildings to not receive art outside of the classroom. Thank you, Sharon

Felipe, Thank you for sharing your reflections. Transitions are something I want to work on next year too!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Great post, and I love the giveaway, specially the math one.

I am also going to make a little change to my classroom organization. I want to make everything more accessible and make transitions easier for my first graders.

keep the good job

Amy, Thanks for you for your comment! I have really loved posting this year. I hope that you found some good information and helpful tips. I am going to continue to blog next year, but not for Scholastic. Read my next post for my next blogging adventure. I hope that you will follow me there!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Sylvia R. Thanks for sharing. I found it helpful to organize my materials by subject area and type. I hope you find my tips helpful.

Happy teaching, Nancy

M. Da Silva, Thanks for sharing. I'm going to check out "Power Teaching". It sounds interesting!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Jennifer Hines, I don't reward the kids for moving up unless they get to the top of the chart or off the chart. The students pins are clipped in number order on the chart, 1-12 on the left and 13-25 on the right. If you have really young kids, attach their pictures to their pins so that it's easier to find.

I only have them move their pins during a quiet work time (I'll tap them on the shoulder) or when I'm done teaching a lesson or giving directions. Usually if it's a lesson or directions, I'll tell kids that I am looking for good listeners to move their pins up. I don't reward students for moving up other than the top of the chart or off the chart because often times, the recognition from me is enough. I hope that this helps. Rick Morris also has a free e-book on how he used it on his web site.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Jaime, Those are great goals for next year. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Shannon B, I know that organizing the library is going to take a while. Don't be afraid to break it into chunks and enlist other people to help you if you can. I didn't get my whole library done this year. I still have to finish my non-fiction area. Thanks for sharing!

Happy organizing! Nancy

Michelle. Good luck organizing your library. Even though it was a huge undertaking and I'm still not done, it was worth it! I still have to organize the non fiction books. :) Thank you for your comment.

Happy organizing, Nancy

Jenn Harper, Thanks for sharing! That is a tricky situation with no closets at all. I found some cool metal garage shelves that are really strong and inexpensive (about $50) at Costco. You can configure them to be a tall shelf about six feet tall and four feet wide with four shelves or break them down to eight feet wide and two shelves tall. You could use those for shelving and throw a curtain over it to hide your stuff. If you have space on your walls, you might want to think about wall shelves. I hope this helps!

Happy organizing, Nancy

Hi Nancy, I enjoyed all your posts this year, I was so glad there was a 2nd grade teacher on the Scholastic blogs this year! I started using the clip-chart this year in January and it really helped my students, so I plan to start off next year with it. I have so many things I want to try next year, but first up I am getting my files organized and numbering the baskets and books in the library so book return will be easier. Thanks again for your ideas, I hope you're blogging again next year! PS Most interested in the math bundle

Jessica, I have LOVED using the rainbow chart this year too. It has really changed the attitude of several of my kiddos. They love competing to see who can be caught being the best and moving up the rainbow! Thanks for your comment.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Marybeth Moses, You can absolutely do this with Kinders. You could color code your books with colored stickers to match the correct colored bins that you want them to go in. For example, all "Silly Stories" are green dots and go in the green bins. OR you can use symbols for your labels like happy faces go in the happy faced bin and are Silly Stories.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Ashley P, WOW!!! Congratulations on your grants. That's truly amazing and I'm sure that you are going to have a blast with your new tech toys. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Adelia, Thanks for your comment. I love second grade too and I am glad that you found my posts helpful.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Katie, Thanks for reading and making on comment on the blog! Good luck on your move to first or second. I think that you will love it. The kids are sweet, enthusiastic and they love school.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Sara (#27), Thanks for your comment. Good luck with your organizing. :) I have really loved my Sterlite 10 drawer tower for math stuff.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Bunny, Thanks for your comment! I am entering you into the drawing. :)

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Anita, Thanks for your comment. I love that you are tackling reorganizing the library with the children's input. Thanks for sharing!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Jennifer Adams, Thank you for your comment. I have loved using the rainbow behavior chart this semester!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Jennifer Adams, Thanks for your comment. I am entering you into the drawing.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Jessica, Thanks for reading my blog. I modeled my library after Scholastic Advisor Beth Newingham's library. She is amazing and has an awesome video about organizing her library.

Thanks for sharing your reflections. Happy Teaching, Nancy

Bette, Thanks for sharing! I hope it works out well for you.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Sarah, WOW, moving from 5th to 2nd! well welcome to the wonderful world of second grade! I have a co-worker who recently did the same move and he absolutely loves second. I hope you will too. Thanks for sharing.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Rebekah, I got my idea for organizing my library from Beth Newingham. She is amazing and has an in depth post and video about organizing it. Megan Powers organizes it by writing traits. Thanks for sharing your reflections!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Kay Barth, I love the idea of writing offices! In regards to your library, Beth Newingham has an awesome organized library. I used her ideas. She also has "book boxes" that the children use to store their books. I am using that for next year because I had the same problem. Check out her site. If you google Beth Newingham and classroom library, you'll get it. Thanks for sharing your reflections!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Sara, Thanks for your comment! You forgot to tell me what bundle of books you wanted if I picked you. :) The enVision program is great, but there is a ton of STUFF. I'm glad I could help you organize it all. :)

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Jennifer S. I bought the magazine file boxes for a CHEAP at IKEA. I think it was 3 for $2, but it's nice that they are widely available at any office supply store. You can "pretty up" the office supply ones with a bit of glue and scrapbook paper. Thanks for your reflections.

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Lori Archer, I purchased the rainbow clip chart at NewManagement.com from Rick Morris. He also has a free e-book that goes with it. I had a year where I taught out of boxes all year. I moved three times DURING one year when we were undergoing construction, so I feel your frustration! :)

Happy Teaching, Nancy

Ginny, I have had a few of those years too. Good for you that you are going to stick to your intuition. Keep in mind that the warnings are just words. Judge for yourself. Many times in my experience, the teachers that warned me have a different teaching style than I do and it has all worked out. Thanks for your reflections!

Happy Teaching, Nancy

I will build a better "community" at the beginning of the year. I feel badly because I was "warned" that this year's class was ... and so I began a little too "hard" ... and our community took forever to build. I really am sad that I didn't stick to my intuition. I will definitely be better next year. Thank you for allowing us this opportunity to reflect. And improve. (Art)

I love the rainbow chart where did you get it?

I badly need to work on organization for next year. I had surgery just before school started this year. So I wasn't able to get my classroom really ready before school started. I still have books and supplies stuffed in my closets.

I would love the art resources but I could use any of them. Not for my own class but for the students I work with afterschool or that I tutor.

I'm keeping the "rainbow" behavior chart this year, too! I started it during the 2nd quarter, and love how it rewards my students in a positive way! I'm changing: my math storage for supplemental materials - love how you have them organized in the magazine file boxes. I'm going back and forth between the file boxes and using hanging files in a file cabinet. (Oh yeah, I'll be cleaning up my file cabinet, too!) If I win, I'd love the math pack or the science pack. Thanks!!

Thanks for sharing how you organized your Envision Math supplies! Our district adopted that curriculum for next year and while I love all of the manipulatives and "extras" storing them is becoming an issue. Thanks for the pic of your supplies!

This year I have made some good changes from the previous year but I am still thinking about things and ways to change and make the year better. Over the summer I am putting together mini writing offices for my students to use during English and Writing time in class. I am working on figuring out a better classroom library management system. This year I found that kids had 2,3 or sometimes 4 of the class library books in their desks and had forgotten about them. I don't know yet exactly what I will do but that is something I will be thinking about over the summer. This year my school was supposed to get the science kits that go with our curriculum but they didn't arrive until the last quarter so next year I want to use those kits to enhance their learning in science. I think the bundle that would be most helpful for me is science. I love teaching science and want the kids to love science through out the school year.

I love your idea for your classroom library. I have been trying to think of a way to set up my classroom library because I don't have them sorted out and I have students asking to read a certain type of book (animals, silly, ect.) I will be working on that this summer. I also need to find a way to organize my art closet. I have found that this is a tough area for me to keep organized since I use it everyday. As for the bundles, I will take any of them but I prefer science or art. Thanks for the wonderful ideas!

Rebekah Fravert

I'll be doing a lot of different things next year... I'm moving from 5th to 2nd... from one end of the school to the other. I've read several blogs that use the bucket filler method to increase positivity and community in their classrooms. I want to try that next year. I think it might work well in our low SES school. In organization, I've been trying to label more, have a place for everything (and everything in its place), and put stuff away as soon as possible. I also want to try a new behavior chart. I am interested in all of them, really, but probably the language arts bundle the most. Thanks!

I really liked the rainbow behavior chart. It's a must try:)

I am going to try your classroom library system. My assistant is forever straightening bookshelves after we have explained to the students numerous times how to shelve books. I also like your rainbow chart because it rewards good behaviors. If I win, I would love a language arts package.

Those are some great ideas from your classroom! I like your rainbow behavior chart. Since I teach 1st grade, I think the Art bundle would be best for me. I'll be checking back!

I love the rainbow management system! I would also be interested in the science bundle. My kids are always so into science experiments!

This post was great! I have also been reflecting on my year as well. This year I decided to place my reading books out in subject related categories; free choice, science, social studies, math, religion. The students did I really good job keeping the books in order but I didn't like how I was unable to track their reading progress with their leisure reading. Next year I plan on using readers wokshop and organizing the book collection by genres, authors, favorites, and even letting them come up with other categories. I will also have children record and reflect on their reading using a reading response binder. If I am selected I would like the Science Bundle!! I am always trying to find great Science experiments!!

Thanks for the great post.

I love the classroom library and the student behavior chart! I am currently purchasing the chart, and now know how I will set up my classroom library!! Thank you so much for sharing your ideas! (LA bundle)

This summer, our school is replacing our ceiling tiles - so it is a good time to go through things and clean out/organize/share with others. I need to organize my math manipulatives and center activities. They are all in 2 big tubs - impossible to find things!

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