I wanted to take a minute to show you what my classroom looks like this year. So here are a few snapshots of what my students see when they walk in the door each day:
I had my TA’s put this ‘How to Learn’ bulletin together on the first day or two of school. I got the posters from Everybody is a Genius. Love how it turned out.
I teach three preps – 8th grade math, 8th Honors, and 7th accelerated. I use the hanging files at the back of the room to keep handouts for students who are absent or who loose theirs. I have 5 files, labeled Monday-Friday and only keep papers out for a week. Notice my red, yellow and green cups? I grabbed those from the dollar store for students to use to give me feedback about how they’re doing and when they need help. My classroom has changed a lot since I started teaching, but the one thing that I’ve kept since my first year of teaching is my “This is a Positive Thinking Area” banner.
I don’t buy yearbooks. Instead, I take pictures of my students and photoshop them into yearly posters. You might not be able to see it unless you zoom in, but those posters that say Geometry, 2012-2013, Math Seven – they have the faces of my students from each year in the letters. It takes me forever to create these – and I still haven’t gotten around to making my 2013-2014 poster. But I love them and my students love looking at them and finding pictures of their friends and older siblings. Whenever students come back to visit me, the first thing they do is find their picture in my poster collage. So I think they’re 100% worth the time I invest into them. The other picture up there are of my family. The cartoon-portrait of myself was done at the Discovery Seimens STEM Institute that I attended summer 2013.
Moving around the room, what you see in this corner is my ‘teaching station’. I do most of my direct instruction from this desk. For some unknown reason the computer isn’t connected to the network right now so I don’t have internet, which is really cramping my teaching style and making it surprisingly difficult for me to keep accurate attendance records. Hopefully this gets resolved soon. Years ago, one of my TAs made my 8x² poster, which labels the parts of this expression as Coefficient, Variable, and Exponent. It’s so helpful!
See that interactive whiteboard? It won’t be there for long! A few years ago, another school that was giving them away, so I applied to receive it. Even though there are some things I like about it, I find that I really miss having my regular old whiteboard. The interactive whiteboard will soon be re-gifted to a teacher who will hopefully cherish it much more than I do. I can’t wait to get a regular whiteboard back! Is that weird?
I use every single one of these posters to teach. I am a particular fan of my Less Than, Greater Than poster. For years, I would write this up on the board any time my class was working on inequalities until I finally got fed up with it and had a TA make me a poster. So helpful! I also really like my ‘Multiple Representations’ poster which I created on photoshop. I stole this idea from another teacher in my district, who stole it from an NCTM publication. Notice the big pile of papers sitting on top of my group whiteboards? I’m still working up the motivation to find a place for those in my file cabinets.
I made these learning goal posters a few years ago when my district officially began teaching the State Common Core standards. I refer to them all the time and I love how, toward the middle of the year, my students start asking which goal we’re going to work on next and how much pride they feel over mastering a big learning target. They feel really great knowing that they only have ‘3 posters left’.
I’m trying something radically different with the way I grade and collect Math Practice this year. I’ll tell you more about it in a week or two after I’ve worked out some of the kinks. But here is where I list the practice assignments/activities that students will be graded on throughout the week.
Do you like how there is an arrow sign that says “Fire Extinguisher” that is pointing to a non-existent fire extinguisher? Ya, me too. The room just came that way. The arrow is actually pointing to my hall pass. Next to that, I have a poster explaining the hall pass procedure.
A few years ago I was legally required to post a ‘No Peanut Zone’ sign as an accomodation for a student with an allergy. It seemed like a really good idea, so I’ve just always left it up. I know I always have students with peanut and nut allergies and have a hard time keeping track of who they are, so I treat all students like they have an allergy. I think my pencil sharpening poster is the only other poster to survive all the way from my first year of teaching.
Notice the screen behind my desk? That also came with the room, because it’s hiding the server for my side of the building.
The server makes a light buzzing noise which really bugged me when I first moved into the room, but I don’t even notice it any more. One of my students asked me last year, “Miss Moore, do you use that screen to change your clothes in the morning?” I pulled the screen aside and showed her all the wires and explained, “I just keep the screen there so that Austin (her classmate) doesn’t get too distracted by the wires and start pulling them out. The next day in class, the student said to me, “Ms Moore, Ms Moore, you should show Austin what’s behind the screen.” Austin looked very excited and asked, “Ooh, ooh! Is it a puppy?”
And what is my favorite part of my classroom? This poster:
I once told my students that I have a secret crush on Josh Groban. Two of them took that statement and ran with it. They planned this poster for months and arranged to leave their first period classes on my birthday so they could present it to me at the beginning of the day. I love it! I don’t actually love Josh Groban as much as they think I do (although I do call him Joshy to myself, so maybe I really do), but I still love this poster. I didn’t want it to be a focus of my classroom, so I hung it on the inside of my cupboard and I wait every year for that moment when someone finally discovers it when I open my closet to fetch some staples or masking tape. I love watching them freak out over my Josh Groban stalker poster. It’s the best.