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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Parent Contact Form and Student Insight

I have a kiddo in Kindergarten, and it is a completely new world to me.  But between the 15 forms I had to fill out for kindergarten and the professional development I sat through, I came up with a new form to send home for my high school kids.  Why now ask the parents to help me decipher their kids, they know their kids.

I asked questions like, " What motivates your students?" and "At what point should I contact you?"  Some parents are funny!  That is an added benefit, it allows you to get an idea what the parents are like too (sense of humor, very involved, etc).

I have added this handout to the TPT store as well.  I had a super cute font, but this version is editable, I may upload a pdf so the font will stick even if you don't have it downloaded on your computer.

All About Me: Student Interests

The first week of school is always crazy, and I like to have lots of activities.  I want to get to know my students so I have a lengthy All About Me sheet. I refer back to these throughout the year if I feel like a need something to be a common interest for me and a student.

I made this in ppt and  uploaded it to our TPT store (we get $0.30, and you get our documents right away, and this one is completely editable).  Click here to check it out.   

I also have an All About me that I share with my kiddos.  I tell them a bit about my education, and then I answer some of these questions as well.  

I use prezi, so that it is a little more interesting than me just talking.  The only thing I suggest if you are going to use prezi, please download your presentation a few days in advance.  I didn't do this and we had no internet the first day of school at the beginning of the day -- can you say 'panic attack'?  Thankfully the internet was back on just in time for class, but if I had already downloaded it I could have saved myself some stress that first day.

I hope you had or will have a great first week!  And may you have no technology problems!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Name that Safety Symbol

The second day of school in my class is Lab Safety Day.  We go over the rues and safety equipment, then we play Name that Safety Symbol.  I have safety symbols on a power point and the kids shout out what they think the correct answer is ... easy, right?  

So I show this picture.

I am expecting to hear answers like "blood" or "sharp things."

Instead I hear "boogers."

(Have I mentioned lately that I teach high school?)

That spawned an entirely different conversation.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Top of the Closet! A Better View

A little better view of the top of the closet.  A few more things and I will be ready for the full tour.

First Day of School Reflections - Version:Sandy

As this is year number 10 or 11 for me, I don't expect any day to go perfectly.  But I also have "my act" down enough at this point that I am not overly stressed about the first day.

Crisis #1: I Heard a Velociraptor 

My kid still sounded like a velociraptor when he coughed ... and it was his first day of kindergarten.  He has bad allergies, after antibiotics (for bug bite), breathing treatment and Benadryl I was needing to leave the house to get to school.  My husband was very concerned about the teacher sending the kid to the nurse, and asked me to send an email when I got to school. No problem, I should have time ...

Crisis #2: The Wind

I always wear a skirt on the first day of school (the explanation of why is lengthy enough to be another blog post, and is not important for this story).  The problem with skirts is that there is the likelihood that you might flash someone when the wind blows.  I don't care what other garments you wear under your skirt, you still do not want it blowing up unexpectedly.  So I have developed a system of holding my skirt on particularly windy days.  Unfortunately, I needed to carry on a milk crate of files that had to stay in my vehicle because there was no way to carry them in and hold my skirt. I will wear pants tomorrow.

Crisis #3: The Internet is Down

Seriously?  All of my presentations for the first day of school are on prezi.  So after trying the wifi and not wifi on my phone, I decide I will have to wing it. Thankfully, the Internet was up in time to download all my prezis, just in case it wasn't up long.

Crisis #4: It's Hot in Your Room.

We just got a new computer system to control the air conditioners in the school ...and my room was 81 degrees ...

Crisis #5:  Can you Pass These Out?

I got suckered into helping pass out attendance rosters to some of the teachers.

Crisis #6: I Need Desks

On Friday as I was about to leave I sent a plea out to my fellow teachers for any extra desks they might have.  Fortunately, I have awesome co-workers who responded and offered me desks, and a few even carried some of the desks for me, but it was a scramble with everything else going on.

Crisis #7: Dress Code Violation

I got grabbed by another teacher to find a "kid she saw" with a dress code violatio. "That went that way."  I finally tracked down the kid, who thankful was prepared to change (she knew she was breaking dress code).

Did I mention that this is all before school has started?  I know, you are thinking I should also look up a definition for the word "crisis", but in this case it is more of a feeling ...

So classes start.

Crisis #8: Where is My Phone?

I was having a bit of separation anxiety, my phone and I are pretty tight, and I forgot to take it to lunch with me.  My husband had not sent me pictures of the kid at kindergarten or any word about the cough ...

Crisis #9: I Forgot my Homework!

I forgot to send myself the email that I worked on all day Saturday for one of my classes - so it was super boring.

Crisis #10: Where is That Prezi?

I swear I had a prezi for every syllabus, but apparently I deleted the one for my freshman class ... and I didn't have enough time to re-create one, but we survived ... somehow.  

Crisis #11: My Feet!!!

If you know a shoe manufacturer, I seriously have a million dollar plan/idea.  I have the perfect line of teacher shoes and I know the materials we need, just contact me!  Seriously!  After standing on hard tile floors from 7:30-3:30, my feet want it to be summer again!!

Now after all the overly-dramatic rants, I must say it was a pretty first good day.  I hope you had a great day, and hopefully each day will get progressively better as the year goes on.

Thursday, August 20, 2015

First Days of School

I am revamping everything in my first day of class file folder. I think my flashdrive might think it has been abducted by a great teacher who actually changes things from year to year! I have a new “Get to Know You” form, a new syllabus, and a brand new “Things to do” form for this coming school year.

My information sheet is pretty generic, but it does have some fun information on it, so I can see the true personalities of the students in my room.  I love to see the responses to “pick a music lyric that describes you” and “what’s your favorite animal and why”; these questions really let me see a different side of my students.
I have scaled my syllabus down from 4 pages to 1 page this year and I am so excited about it. I created my syllabus in hopes to get the vital information to the students and parents, but not overload them with information all at one time.  The syllabus contains the following headings: my contact information, lesson plan information, materials list, expectations, grading policy and extra credit, flipped classroom information, tutoring times, and my tentative course outline.

I have also created a “Things To Do” sheet for the students. Scaling my syllabus down from 4 pages to 1, some information was cut, but it still needed to get to the students. My “Things to Know” sheet will be handed out the first day, and it just allows students to have an idea of what to expect on any given day. It also allows students to see my expectations of them.  This sheet will be added to students’ notebooks and will be kept all year, so less miscommunication will occur.

I hope everyone’s first day of school goes smoothly!

Absent/ Student Center

With the first day of school quickly approaching, I have been working feverishly on making sure I can stay awake all day and fit into to my work clothes. I also I have been putting my classroom back together piece by piece.  Teaching high school, students are out of class for a number of reasons. This year I am trying a new system of keeping students up to date with assignments when they return to school from an absence.  After attendance is taken, I will write down students who are absent into the log. When students return to class, they will fill out the rest of the log and take their assignment (s) they missed while they were out of class. I will be able to have a running list of absentees and proof they received their missed work. Also in my “While you were out” corner, I have my “411” or make-up work policy poster . This poster provides my policy on make-up work, so there is no confusion on who is responsible for getting the assignments and when assignments are due. There is also a copy of the policy in my log notebook.  In this area, I also keep my students folders and all the supplies that my students are free to use without asking. I can’t wait to see my new system tested in a few days. I hope the new school year is good to you all!

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Nerdy T-Shirts

Do you have enough nerdy tee shirts for jeans days?  I never have enough, but mine are a little past their primes at this point.  I bought most of them years ago from CafePress. It's a pretty cool site, type in any subject or even unit you teach and you can find a variety of products, most of which are very witty, but be careful, some are inappropriate.  

I can't write more, I need to shop, or at least browse

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Classroom Organization: Papers to Hand Back

I have been working with these IKEA Flyt boxes for years.  They are $2 or $3 for a five pack, and they will stand up to several years of use before they need to be replaced.  If you are willing to reinforce them with clear packing tape it could last even longer.  I tend to just replace them, because they are cheap and I am always looking for a reason to head back to IKEA.

I am using these for all those papers that are graded and waiting to be handed back.  I bought scrapbook paper from Michael's and used my silhouette to cut out the numbers for the periods (5th is my conference period).   Then I used Modge Podge under the paper then over the paper.  I may end up giving it a few more coats so it can stand up to high school kids.  

How do you organize graded papers?  Did you see Chonte's Math Classroom post?  Did you see her paper organizer?  Are you jealous?  She has the best finds.

Friday, August 14, 2015

High School Math Classroom

I have revamped a few of my organizational items and rearranged a bit. My kids always comment on there being too much green in the room. I don't know what they are talking about... but I try to appeal to my customers. I took a few of the things on my desk and repainted them so it wasn't too much green. What can I say...It's my favorite color, and I love it, and if I see something green at the store I will probably buy it. Plus I'm the one who sits in here all day long and I want to enjoy my space.

So here is a tour of my high school math classroom.

As the students come in the door, there are shelves with crates for each class. Most of my classes will create a binder or composition book and leave it in the room. I put a set of each math textbook on the shelf for math lab (extra tutoring after school on Monday's and Wednesday's open to the entire school).

To the left is my calendar. I saw this 12 years ago when I first started and it is a must in my room. I keep the bell schedule posted so I don't have to answer "When is this class over?" I write out the title of the lesson for the week for each of my classes. This way they know if a quiz or test is coming up or if they were absent they know what they missed. Next to my calendar is my handy dandy calculator holder (aka a shoe rack). I assign each student a number and they use that calculator number in class.

Up front is my teaching table. I have my document camera that I use to work out homework problems and I will sit here with my iPad (or move about the room for fun) to teach. Side Note - I use Doceri to prepare, present, and make videos to post on YouTube. I love it!

Next to my teaching table is my Ikea shelving unit. I used it last year for their binders, but decided to put my nick-knacks and tiddly-winks on it. I also have some fun math books that I am always lured into buying from the Barnes and Nobles bargain section. On the right side of the white board are my absent work folders. I try to put worksheet for students here so they know what they missed. I can also write out the names of students that missed a quiz or a test.

Here is my desk and home. The mini-fridge is parked under the table and all my technological devices are ready to go. I try to keep my desk pretty neat and organized. Some days are better than others of course.

This is my workstation for my teacher's aide. We are able to have a senior student help us out for one period of the day. They make copies and grade and cut stuff and whatever my heart desires that I don't want to do. I have been pretty lucky in the aide department and they are always a great help. On the right is my turn-in/pass-out box which is sitting on the student supply cart. I have it loaded with extra paper, rulers, protractors, pencils, markers, and pretty much anything they need.

In this corner are the calculator cabinets and file cabinets for miscellaneous things that need a home.

And finally my tables. I love these tables. It took a little convincing to get them, but I won. Each table was the same price as one desk. And I can fit three kids at each table if I need to. So math wins and I have 10 tables instead of 20-something desks. I love them because they can be rearranged in so many ways...and the kids hate it. You never know what my room is going to look like each day. I like this arrangement because it is a lot like what they will be sitting in at college (college readiness bonus points). If they will be working in small groups, I push two together and have 5 groups. I have also lined them up in long dining room style fashion...that's fun and they are so confused when I rearrange!

So that's the tour of my classroom. I hope you saw something different and maybe you'll change your room up a bit too.

Let me know if you are doing something cool that I am not...I always want the latest and greatest in high school classroom layout and decor!

Thursday, August 13, 2015

We Have a Teachers Pay Teachers Store!!

With school starting up, we don't want to keep you waiting for anything we post about, so we made a Teachers Pay Teachers (TPT) Store.  Check us out at We Teach High School.

This is not our retirement plan, but it does allow us to have items ready for you to download at anytime and have it right away.  I have left our most popular request as free - the Cellular Respiration Summary Sheet (available in black and white or color).


There's not much there yet, but we will hopefully be adding some of our "First Days" handouts and organizational paperwork.

Let us know if there is something you want or need and we will see if we can make something for you.

Have a great day!!

Up-cycled Classroom: more ideas

This is what I am take no to school soon to put on top of my closet!

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Friday, August 7, 2015

Class Tour: Up-Cycled Makeover

This is my new view each day as I walk into my room.  The shelf is an old tv stand I had in the garage, I painted it and used fence pickets from our old gate as the  back and sides.  It has never looked better. And those weird sides areperfect for composition book paper.

I bought the picture frames from my favorite Front Porch Finds, painted them and added chicken wire. And they hold pictures that students have given me (mostly senior pictures and graduation announcements).

The clock is from target and my J is from Hobby Lobby, and has recently needed a new home. 

The little table at the corner was honey-colored until I stained and painted it.  And it was a free table my hubby picked up from the curb.

This is a better picture of the table at home.

The frame is another curb find and I added plywood (already in my garage) and painted the plywood with chalkboard paint.  I plan to use this area for my daily quotes or quotes of the week may be more realistic ... or quotes or the month ...

The two benches/shelves are completely new builds. $11 per crate & $12 for the wood for each one. I still want to put 4 casters on each one.  This is where my forensics and biology students will store their composition books.

More up-cycled frames with paint and chicken wire a new IKEA paper holder, and a bulletin board I found got I had. 

I wasn't wanting to use the wire shelving, but don't have a replacement yet. 

Stay tuned for posts with the details for each project as well as more views of my room as I clean, organize and decorate new spaces.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Up-cycled Classroom Makeover: Table

This is my first summer off, and instead of accomplishing my very long to-do list, I watched a whole bunch of HGTV and DIY Network ... too much ... way too much.  I also read about making your classroom feel like a home.  I have been scouring teacher sites when I should have been looking at decorating sites or shows. Then I started thinking about furniture in the garage or already in my classroom that I could up-cycle.

First up is my table.  Of course, I didn't get a good "before" picture, but you can imagine what it looks like right-side up, right?

I started by cleaning (serious gunk), then repairing, then sanding.  I then stained the top with an ebony stain.  It was a little disappointing, because it wasn't as dark or as even as I hoped, but it was still better than with out any stain.

Next I painted the bottom of the table with a light grey chalk paint.  I bought the stuff at Joann's (I think the brand is FolkArt), I think it is a little cheaper than other brands, but it looks amazing!  And Joann's gives a teacher discount, and they have coupons.

Can't even tell that my husband picked this up on the side of the road!  Soon I will have a picture of this guy in my classroom!