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!

Friday, August 8, 2014

Back to School Tips Blog Hop: T/F Get to Know You Icebreaker!



True or False?  Your teacher starred in TV commercials.

True or False?  Your teacher traveled to all 50 states.

Back to School Tip:
One of my favorite things about back to school is getting to know all of my new students.   It can be daunting to learn 135 new names, but I find that "getting to know you" activities can really help me connect with my kids early in the year, and therefore help me reach them more quickly.   Have you ever used a TRUE/FALSE quiz on the first day?  I have, and it is always a hit! (At least after they realize that it is NOT graded...ha!)

How does it work?

Create some T/F statements about yourself and display them on the board.  Make sure to have a variety of both types and get as creative as you can.  Now is the chance to talk about that skydiving class you are taking or the fact that you used to work at Hooters.  Ok...kidding.  DO NOT tell the kids you worked at Hooters! (I was just checking to see whether you were actually reading this post, or just downloading the freebie.)  But seriously, take advantage of this opportunity to show the kids that you are REAL...and totally awesome.

Allow time for kids to answer and discuss their thoughts with other students.  It is hilarious to hear kids argue about whether or not I snowboard, traveled to Thailand for a summer or have 6 cats.   (The first two are true...the cats are definitely a FALSE!)  Go over the answers and have kids check their work.  I like to share some blurbs about my life and occasionally a photo following each question, and I find my kids really remember these things later in the year.

Follow-up by having kids create their own T/F quizzes to share with their peers.  These really get the kids engaged and connecting with one another.  My students are entering middle school from 4 elementary schools and this activity helps kids find commonalities on which to build new friendships.

Ready for a freebie?
Here is a FREE True/False Get to Know You Printable for use with your students.  After sharing your T/F statements, you can give kids time to share some fun things about themselves with the class!

This is a limited time freebie.  It will not be available for long, so grab it now :)


Thanks for stopping by Kate's Classroom Cafe.  I hope you have some True/False fun with your class this fall. You can see more great Back to School tips by clicking here to hop to the next blogger Finding Joy in 6th Grade.


WAIT....Don't forget to enter the giveaway below!!!

WIN some great BACK TO SCHOOL goodies! Our group of bloggers has a great pack of goodies to send to one lucky winner to help your year get off with a bang! Enter below:






a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Classroom Organization on the Cheap



This is the time of year when I start to get an itch to gather new items for my classroom, be it from garage sales, dollar stores or the queen bee...IKEA.  My husband has pretty much banned me from visiting this store during my paycheck-free months, but it. is. really. tempting!

Here are some super affordable IKEA finds that I use in my classroom!

Cheap Organization Idea # 1: Frames

Tolsby Frames are a must have for easy display of center directions, table numbers, rules and reminders.  I've even used dry erase markers on these as mini-whiteboards.  The best part? These things are a STEAL!
Tolsby 2-Sided Picture Frames with Center Stand...99 cents each.

Here is the entrance routine that I would like my students to learn in September.  I plan to post these mini signs on my student tables. 

Ok...not 6th grade classroom-related but I can't resist...

(I also used them for my son's Very Hungry Caterpillar birthday party....It was so stink'n cute.)

Cheap Organization Idea # 2: Shoe Storage Boxes


Ikea shoe storage boxes have (very strong) velcro and one see-through side.  I used these to organize colored paper and magazines.  One box can hold A LOT of stuff and they are a very sturdy nylon material.   They come in a 4 pack for $7.99 and can fold flat for storage in-between uses and they are sturdy enough to stack on top of each other.  

Cheap Organization Idea # 3:  Cardboard File Folders

These sturdy cardboard magazine files are 5 for $1.49.  I wasn't sure how well they would hold up, but I've had these for 2 years.   The edges are getting a little beat up, but I think they will last at least one more round with my 6th graders.  

I couldn't make up my mind about how I wanted to label these, so I got crafty and painted a  stripe across the top using chalkboard paint.  It worked out well because I've changed the labels numerous times with ease!



Thank you for stopping by my blog for some "Bright Idea" inspiration.   I love comments, so please leave me a note and say hello!   If you enjoyed this post, consider joining me on Facebook for future updates!


For more bright ideas from some awesome teacher-bloggers please browse through the link up below and pick a subject/grade level that interests you!








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