Saturday, August 23, 2014

When Are We Ever Going to Have to Use This?


A few months ago I watched a very inspiring video clip on Upworthy featuring a teacher, Justin Solonynka. I was inspired by this video because Mr. Solonynka answered the question that teachers loathe hearing from their students--a question that students frequently ask multiple times a day.

It's very difficult to not get defensive when asked this question, and I am personally guilty of waggling my finger at my students and replying "You, My Friend, are going to use this to get out of the Eighth grade!"

Although my response seems to address the question, it always leaves me feeling as if I've failed to impart the importance of what I'm trying to teach my students. As if I can't give them a good enough reason to want to learn what I'm teaching.

 I've tried to explain to students that while they may not use a particular concept in their adult lives, they might use it. Then I go on to explain that they are relatively brand new and they don't know what they don't know. As they learn more they will discover what interests them and by continuing to learn, they are actually expanding their opportunities. 

I was so happy to have Mr. Solonynka's lead in for my attempt at an explanation, that I decided to make a poster that explains it. I love it so much, that I'm going to put it in my introductory Power Point to my students, and I'm going to refer to it often because it's going to be displayed in my classroom.

I created this poster to be uploaded to a photo center and ordered as a 20" x 24" poster print. I've personally uploaded and ordered mine from the Sam's Club Photo Center and I cannot wait to hang it up.

Since the file size is too large to ensure good resolution when printing as a poster, I've also uploaded it to my Teachers Pay Teachers store and it is $1.50.

If you want to get this poster for yourself, click here

I hope you like it!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Customized Teacher Planner


I'm currently on my last week of summer vacation and I'm not doing a whole lot of relaxing right now. This is the time of year for teachers where we are frantically trying to prepare our houses, families, cars, classrooms, etc., for a fast-paced school year. It's kind of like nesting, but on steroids.

Don't feel sorry for me though, because I've had a fabulous summer and have had lots of rest. I'm pretty happy with the summer I've had.

Throughout my summer I've done little things to help me get ready for school, and have been chipping away at my To Do list. Of course I started with the fun stuff though. For me, it was my Teacher Planner. I had been drooling over Tiffany Ford's Lesson Planner from this post, and I took the plunge and ordered one of her planners from her Teachers Pay Teachers store.

I haven't used a traditional lesson planner for years because I get so annoyed with the whole write, erase, rewrite process. In this digital age, I just can't justify the waste of precious time. I even tried out Erin Condren's Lesson Planner and not even that cuteness could sway me. 

What sealed the deal for me with Tiffany's planner is the fact that I could type my lesson plans into her templates and print them out. This way I have the cute without the crazy.

You can use the editable planner in a plain old three ring binder, you can bind it, or you can go the Martha Stewart route.

You can guess what I did.


I have a love-hate relationship with Martha Stewart.

I love that when the planner is open it lays flat, and it is very similar to a spiral notebook in the amount of space it takes up.

Of course if you go this route, you need the specialized punch, and it's probably not for everyone. Like I said, a three-ring binder works fine, but since I've done that, I wanted to give this a try.

You can find the punch and the basic system at Staples online or in the store. My store didn't have the punch on hand, so I ordered it online.


Here are the sections in my notebook. I didn't love the Martha Stewart dividers, so I took plain old dividers, cut the hole punched edge off, and punched them with the special punch.

Since I took these pictures, I've added more sections for the courses I teach.


I have those sections behind this Curriculum Map tab.


Here is an example of what that looks like for me.


And here are even more detailed plans that I follow pretty carefully when I'm planning my week. I like to make notes about homework assignments, videos I've used, notes, etc., so I don't forget what resources I have that I can pull in. It's kind of anal, but it's how I roll.


My actual weekly plans go here.


I went ahead and typed in days off, early release days, and anything else that I know about ahead of time, and then I printed a paper copy so I could sketch out my plans when I'm planning with my team. When I actually go to plan for the week, I'll make those changes in the Power Point file and print them off as I go.

In my planner you'll see only a one-page spread since I teach secondary and don't need the two-page spread. I ended up just deleting those extra pages.


These are the title pages in the Curriculum Map section for the courses I teach.


I have one more, but for some reason I didn't take that picture.


This is something else I added just this year. Previously I was using Standards checklists to keep track of when I taught certain standards, but this year I'm going to use the "I Can" statement format for those standards. I'm moving to these "I Can" statements because they're what I'll be using with the kids. 


If you're interested, I have the "I Can" statements and the Standards Checklists for 7th and 8th grade in my Teachers Pay Teachers store, and they are super cheap ($1.50).


This is the other thing that I've been working on this summer. They are "I Can" statement posters for the Common Core Standards for math. I made sets for 7th and 8th grades and they are $5.00 in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

There are three different styles and this is what they look like.


I call these rainbow lines.


Chalkboard, of course.


And plain. I ended up printing the plain version for my 7th grade classes so that they would look different than my 8th grade classes' statements. I printed each strand on a different color of neon card stock.


This is how I was planning on displaying my "I Can" statements, but it turned out to be a total flop. The longer it gets, and it will get longer in some units than others, the more crooked it gets. Just looking at it makes me twitchy.

I've resigned myself to just slapping them up on the wall as we hit them. I'll show pictures of that later. It's still coming together.


I've been doing a lot of printing this summer, and I was reminded today of how much better the print quality is when I use Photo Paper as compared to regular card stock. I don't use it for everything, just posters and things I want to display.

For example, I used photo paper for my 8th grade "I Can" statements because I used the chalkboard design. I just used regular card stock for my 7th grade standards because I used the plain design.


This is an example of something I printed for display. It's a vertical number line and I will laminate it before I hang it up. As you can see, the copy at the top is not as sharp and the color is not as vivid as the one on the bottom.


Here's another example. Can you tell which one is on Matte Photo Paper and which one is on plain card stock?


Last picture, I promise. As I mentioned I have been printing like a mad woman. I've used more than ten ink cartridges this summer and I don't want to stop and figure out how much money that is.

This picture happened to me twice in two weeks, both times at Walmart.

I bought ink cartridges that had no evidence of being tampered with at all, but when I opened them up there was an empty Setup Cartridge. This is not an accident. Some dishonest person went to the trouble of opening the package very carefully, weighting the empty cartridge with pennies, and sealing it back up.

Thankfully Walmart exchanged them for me, but I was ready to open a can of Whoop A** on them if it didn't happen. That would not have been pretty, so I'm just glad that I didn't have to go there. 
 
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