Saturday, September 20, 2014

Pocket-Sized Class List Idea


Pocket-sized class lists.  Why didn't I think of that?  Thankfully my colleague Ann did and she graciously shared this with me so that I could be just a little more "with-it" this year!  I have over 125 students, plus 15 home base kids and these mini-lists have been SO helpful in keeping it together as I start this school year.

On each mini class list I included:

- Student names
- Number of students (Quick head count!)
- Class period
- Class start and end times (Yup...I'm that teacher who lets her class out late on occasion...whoops!)
- One confidential set has bee, nut and other allergies/conditions.
- One set has a place to write notes at the bottom.  (I paperclip these to class sets of collect papers.)
I took each of my five classes outside yesterday for a schoolyard habitat survey.  I loved having my class lists handy, plus all the information I needed regarding bee allergies...etc just in case!

When I typed up my miniature class lists, I made a few versions.  One version includes medical information that is coded by letter.  I only made one copy of this and it stays around my neck for obvious reasons.  The lists are covered, so that kids can't see them when I'm wearing my lanyard and with the letter coding, it would be difficult for my 6th graders to figure it out even if they did catch a quick glance.  I just feel better knowing I have this information at hand.
I keep the lists clipped on my lanyard which also stores my teacher ID, room keys and extra flash drive.  I pretty much NEVER take this off at school! Note:  I don't actually use the little cover "class lists" because I like to use a small binder clip to hold the cards together with my ID badge as the cover.  I wasn't about to show that here....Well, because my photo is me plus 60 pounds of pregnancy weight and a really bad pixie short haircut.  Let's just say, last year was NOT my best school photo year! 

I also made a set of class lists that did not have any medical or other information which I use a few different ways.  I keep this mini set near my door so that I can grab it and put it in my pocket if we are heading out for a fire drill (if for some reason my lanyard is at home or connected to my computer).   It is also right near my classroom phone so that I can reference it when the secretary calls and asks what class period "Sarah" is in.  (Hmmm....I have 6 Sarah's and 5 teaching blocks...lets see!)
The last super handy use I have for these pocket-sized class lists is collecting student work.  I copy a bunch of these for each class and keep them handy when collecting assignments.  I personally struggle to keep late/missing assignments straight.  This strategy really helps me remember the specific situations for each missing assignment so that I can record them in my electronic grade book later. 

If you are addicted to new, BRIGHT ways to improve your classroom instruction please to follow me at TpTFacebook or Bloglovin!
This month's bright idea comes from the most dedicated teacher in my school.  I see her car in the school parking lot late at night when I'm driving to the grocery store to buy the snack I forgot about for my son's preschool.  She's the one who remembers everyone's birthday (including my own children).  When I see her students' returned papers, they always have such thoughtful remarks, not just numbers...but real feedback.  Talk about "with-it-ness"...this women is an amazing teacher!  I'm so thankful to call her my friend and colleague.  So Ann, this bright idea is all yours babe.  Thanks for sharing!



I hope you enjoyed this bright idea post.  Please browse the link-up below for more bright ideas from over 100 other teacher-bloggers.  There are ideas for all different grade levels and disciplines.  






Thursday, September 11, 2014

Taming Desktop Clutter with September Desktop Freebie

Two days into the school year and I already couldn't see the surface of my desk.

How can I possibly be drowning in paperwork so soon?  I've got the Erin Condren life planner.  My plans are meticulously typed into www.planbook.com. (Both of which I LOVE by the way.) However, I still have about 6-7 post-its stuck all over my desk reminding me of IEP meetings, field trip permission slips and phone calls to make. What gives!

I created this September desk mat to help tame the chaos that is my teacher desk and I'm sharing it here in hopes that it might help one more busy teacher be a little more organized this school year.




Here is how I used this mat in my classroom:

Whenever I had a "note-to-self" moment that didn't fit in my other planners, I wrote it either on my September Think Mat or on a small post-it to attach to the mat.  Just placing all these random reminders in one spot seemed to keep my desk looking less cluttered.


Want to give this organization strategy a try for free?  Click Here to grab this freebie from my TpT store.  Remember to follow me so that you can be updated when I post the other monthly think mats that I've got in the works!




I hope this desktop think mat brings some cheer to your classroom this month!  Stay tuned, I plan to post the other 9 that I am working on SOON!

Happy Teaching

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Classroom Management Tips for New Teachers


"Don't smile until Christmas."  Famous classroom management advice for every new teacher.  This was never an option for me, since I love to laugh and smile with my students everyday.    How do I keep order in my classroom while still leaving room for FUN?

Tips for Classroom Management:

1.  Organize your room to promote order.  A controlled flow of students, materials and paperwork keeps things "under control."  Kids feel comfortable when they know how a classroom functions and their role in keeping the classroom organized.

2.  Discuss classroom procedures regularly.  A rookie mistake is is to make class rules and procedures a one-shot-deal.   Talking about how the class can function smoothly on a daily basis is important and will remind kids that you mean business!

3.  Plan, plan, plan really great lessons.  (Oh and also be ready with a backup so that you can change gears in an instant.)  Something I've noticed after 14 years in the middle school classroom, is that engaged, active learners who are excited about the lesson rarely misbehave.   

4.  Be ready to deal with the small percentage of kids who will still misbehave no matter how awesome your lesson is.  Know in advance what and how you plan to say and/or do in response to poor behavior.  You'll be less likely to let your mood impact your response if you are prepared.  Remember...keep your cool and NEVER let your class see you sweat!

5.  This probably should have been # 1, because it is what I consider to be the BEST way to manage a class.  Go out of your way to connect on a personal level with every single student.  This takes a lot of effort, especially when you have a curriculum that seems mapped to the minute.  Children behave well when they know that you care about them and that you are genuinely interested in their success.

Wishing you all a great start to the new school year!

Happy Teaching,



Saturday, August 16, 2014

5 Ways to Use Classroom Window Space


If you are like me, you try to utilize every inch of your classroom.  I'm fortunate to have a room with an entire wall of windows, so I have some suggestions here on how to use them.

Here are 5 ways that you can use that valuable window real estate in your classroom

1) Learning Goals, Homework Assignments and General Announcements-  If you have a small about of board space, these items can take up a lot of much-needed instruction space.  Why not display these on the window using dry erase markers instead?


2) Problem Solving-  When I taught math, my students gained a lot from displaying their problem-solving skills on the board.  When students see their peers working, they can learn by example.  There was never enough space for each math pair to show their work for the class.  Maybe its because it feels a little rebellious, but kids LOVE to write math problems on the classroom windows!

As you can tell, the weather somewhat impacts how well you can read the writing.

3) Concept Mapping-  In science, using giant whiteboards has transformed my teaching.  When students can SEE what other students are recording, observing and thinking they tend to stay focused on the task at hand.  My windows are about the same size as my large whiteboards, so now I have even more room to display student ideas.


4) Essential Unit Questions-  I often break up our science units into big questions, which I display in my room and "check off" as we explore the content.  These usually take up space on my whiteboard, but why not post them on the window?


5)  Inspirational Quotes-  I love all the inspirational messages that I stumble across on Pinterest, and I've been known to share quite a few with my kids.  The window is a great place to share a weekly quote or message!

Now...for all you TYPE A people (which is pretty much every teacher I know)...

How does it clean off?  

1) Students can wipe the dry erase markers off the surface with a regular dry eraser.  It doesn't come perfectly clean, but it is good enough for correcting errors or erasing for the next class (if you have multiple classes like I do).
2) At the end of the day, clean the windows with any glass cleaner and a paper towel.  It comes off perfect with NO marker residue!

I hope you all have a wonderful start to your school year, and that you make use of every valuable inch of learning space you have in your classroom.



Thank you for stopping by my blog for some "Bright Idea" inspiration.  If you enjoyed this post, consider joining me on Facebook and Pinterest for future updates!

For ideas from more than 100 other super teacher-bloggers, check out the link up below.  Pick a topic that best matches your subject/grade level.

Wishing you your best year yet!



Wednesday, August 13, 2014

E Book Packed with FREEBIES!

I'm not sure about you, but it was only about 6 months ago that I discovered the fabulous ebooks that Teachers Pay Teachers puts out seasonally.  It has THE BEST freebies all in one place!  Here is the latest version (with a page from Kate's Classroom Cafe of course)!

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/ELA-Back-to-School-Free-eBook-Grades-6-12-1382179


Happy back season to school folks!

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