Saturday, July 19, 2014

What's on My Walls

I have not been very faithful about the #july2014challenge, but I find myself with a moment or two and will share what is on the walls of my classroom.

My room is interesting, to say the least, and to just tell you what is, or is not, on the walls is too hard, so I am just going to share the room with you!

It is a portable classroom.  Small: fits 20 desks in a pinch, but this year I had 23 PreCal seniors, so we had to import a table and get rid of one of my storage units.  The portable is only one classroom wide, so it has windows on both sides of the room, leaving us with VERY little wall space.  It also came with no built in bookshelves or closets, so all that had to be imported as well.

The back wall has the 8 Standards of Mathematical Practices, and a few other things. The side wall between the windows has a few pithy quotes and whatever poster I need to put up to remind a certain class how to do a certain thing!

Then we move on to the rest of the back wall.  As you can see I use the door to the next room as a bulletin board!  Past the cabinet is my desk area: A mess, so I will not share it with you!  These pix were taken to hang up on the board for the janitors so they know how to put my room back together. Normally desks are in pairs or fours:  Gives the illusion of more space!

The front of the room is taken up by the white board, and the SmartBoard (yes, it still has holiday decorations around it.  The girls who decorated wouldn't let me take it down!).  There are no more desks to the left, because the students in the front left wouldn't be able to see the white board.  The SmartBoard is on a "bump out" in the room (the mechanicals are behind it, I am told:  airconditioning and heating units) and had to be hung on plywood which is hinged so I can swing it out. Otherwise the kids on the front right wouldn't be able to see it.

Way over on the right is a metal "bulletin" board that the Metal Fab shop made for me. I LOVE this and think every room should have one! I needed a place to hang things with magnets and with only one white board, it just wasn't working out for me to use up space on the board.

This helps you see how close the desks have to be in the front of the room.  We are VERY cozy.  That door opens out onto a deck, which leads back into the school.  Lovely in the fall and spring.  Not so nice in the freezing winter.  Or in the rain.  

It is a constant challenge to keep organized, and it is kind of lonely because you have to go outside to get to us and there are only 3 of us out here.  However, we rarely get interrupted by people going by, or someone just sticking their head in to say hey.  

This will be my 15th year that I have been out in the portables ("trailer trash" as one gym teacher called us!:), and while I miss hanging out with my colleagues, my little kingdom has been a fun place to practice the trade!

Saturday, July 5, 2014

5 Things

I love the challenge (#5things from @druinok) of thinking about the 5 things I absolutely could NOT do without in my classroom.

Here are my 5:

1.  SmartPal sleeves from EAI.  These are used as personal white boards.  I put velcro on them and attach them to each desk.  I buy 30 of these most years.  It is worth every single penny and if we take good care of them, I can get more than a year out of a lot of them.

The best part is when I say, "Get your white boards out."  There is one big "riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiip" sound that never fails to make us all laugh!

2.  Name Cards:  I make a set of these for each class.  They are color coded, so all I have to do is grab the right color from the Bucket where they are kept, and I can randomly call on kids, set up groups really quickly, make teams, etc. Sometimes if I want kids to sit at different seats, I just put their name card on the desk where they should sit (before they enter class). I could not teach with out these.  AND it helps me learn names quickly at the beginning of the year!

3.   Document Camera:  I do not know how I taught before this came into my life.  I saw it used at a conference, went back and told my IT lady I needed one bc I was having rotator cuff issues, and bam, there it was!  It sits on an extra student desk and the kids and I write directly on the desk with a white board marker.  

The bonus of this piece of technology is being able to share student work quickly and easily, show worksheets, sketches, interactive notebook notes, etc.

4.  Different Color Correcting Pens:  I buy a couple of boxes of green, purple, and red pens.  They reside in the Correcting Pen Box (made in word working class by #2 Son).  We frequently correct our own homework, or formative assessments and students are required to make a check mark for correct answers, circles or stars for problems they had issues with.  This requirement keeps them in the game as other students share answers. I can wander and see at a glance where the class as a whole is having issues or where a particular student is struggling.  Every so often I collect these homeworks or formative assessments, just to keep them on their toes!

5.  Warm Up Books and Little Black Books:  ( Yeah, yeah, this is kind of a cheat because it is really two things, but so closely related! )

Thank goodness I work at a Vocational School!  Our Graphic Communications Shop always has left over bits and pieces which they kindly put together into warm up books.  These are passed out each day at the beginning of class, and the students do their Wm Ups in them.  This means they can look back at warm ups from previous weeks if they come across something they forgot.

The Little Black Book is a composition book (I like the quadrille).  We use these for our Interactive Notebooks.  

And speaking of Interactive Notebooks:  I would like to hear from people who do these.  Do you have students take them back and forth with them or do you keep them in your classroom and what is your rationale?  Do you let students use them on assessments?

Mamah Palmah's Real Life Skills and Unsolicited Advice Academy: Day 2

The second day of Mamah Palmah's Real Life Skills and Unsolicited Advice Academy involved some important things I made sure my own boys could do before they headed off for college:  

they had to sew on a button, iron a dress shirt and pants, and mend a hem or seam.

I nabbed some of Hubby's older shirts (cut off all the buttons), a pair of too small trousers that had belonged to the sons (ripped hems/seams in several places), my ironing board & iron, and my sewing box.

Since it was sign out day, I informed these PreCal cherubs that their last exam was to do everything on the agenda:  I would not sign them out until I saw them do some of every task.  The pix on the board are of me ironing a shirt, step by step, so the could refer to them while I helped others with the mending.


They claimed it was the most useful day they had in 4 yrs.  Not sure how I feel about that: some had me for 3 of 4 yrs!!