Thursday, August 22, 2013

Getting There


Whew! What a crazy couple of weeks I've had. I've been in my classroom a lot, and just this week I'm starting to see some things come together enough to take some pictures. This post is going to have a lot of pictures, and believe it or not, I'm not even ready for my classroom tour yet. Cray cray.

First up is the area of the classroom where students should visit after they've been absent and they need to collect their assignments.

Last year was the first time I used the calendar method of posting daily assignments, and it is definitely a keeper. Like many of the things in my classroom, I've lifted this idea from other teachers. My absolute favorite thing to do is to troll other teachers' classrooms to get ideas. It's like Pinterest in real life.

Each class has it's own calendar, but I also have files directly under the calendars where students can find assignments that they have missed. I try not to keep much more than a week back of assignments, because I don't want to encourage extremely tardy assignments. Students can still make older assignments up, but they have to see me before or after school to get those assignments.

The other thing I keep in this Assignment File is my teacher copy of the Interactive Math Notebook. That way students can get their notes caught up as well. It's important that they have the information, and they are graded on it, regardless of whether or not they were present.

This was one of those quick, but extremely gratifying Pinterest inspired projects. It pretty much speaks for itself.

This is another Pinterest inspired project that seriously makes my heart go pitter patter. I have my crayons sorted by color on the left, and my colored pencils on the right.

I wanted to do this for a couple reasons. The first is because it's just so pretty and that just makes me happy. The second is because the kids take so ding dang long trying to find their colors, that there always seems to be a traffic jam at the colors. I can almost feel my blood pressure escalating on days when we are pressed for time.

Um, every day.

I had to go to two different Walmarts to find enough drawers to do both my crayons and colored pencils. I'm sorry if there are none left for you. If you go to look for them, there are 3-drawer versions and 5-drawer versions. If you want to do the rainbow, you'll want to get the 5-drawer versions.

The teachers at my school have been busy completing Pinterest inspired projects for their classrooms all summer, and just this week we've been at school at the same time and we squeal over the things we've done. I can't tell you how many times we've squealed "I saw that on Pinterest!" It's pretty funny.

I sorted my markers too, but since they don't get smaller with use like the pencils and crayons do, I opted for the cheaper route of spray painted tin cans within a basket.

I've been a little label happy this summer too. I used the template from Ladybug's Teacher Files for these particular beauties. They are free, by the way. Follow the link on her blog name to go to them. I printed mine on colored card stock. 

I made a bunch of these in Power Point with the Circle Shape tool and my favorite font of the moment, Sketch Rockwell.

Same deal with these, but on a smaller scale.

These trays are where students turn assignments in. Would you look at that dust?!!!

It's like my house that I've been neglecting all summer, because yuck. I loathe dusting. It's so pointless.

That's a lot of labels there. I was obsessing over how I was going to indicate which period was on each shelf, and I came up with this idea. I sure hope it holds up.

I cut a little rectangle out of the labels that was just large enough to slide one side of a binder clip through. Then I just clipped the label to the shelf with a tinsy little piece of a poster strip to the inside of the underside of the binder clip so that the label would sit at a ninety degree angle to the shelf. 

Whew! Run on sentence. I think that sentence needs a comma or two, but I'm not sure where exactly. Pretend it's perfect.

Anyway, the poster strip piece was on account of my OCD freakishness could not handle wonkily askew labels. I know my limits.

This is just a little step back view from that corner section.

And the other side. Surely you've noticed stray cords and such in my pictures. Let me explain. The part of my classroom that I'm not showing you yet looks like it's been hit by a tornado. Trust me, my neighbor teacher, Betsy, has exclaimed several times this week that my room looks like it's been hit by a tornado.

I'm not really a tidy worker. It always gets scary bad before it gets better. That's because when I unpack I just drag everything out into the middle of the room and then bounce around, ping pong like, working on things. It takes forever to accomplish anything because I keep getting distracted and half finishing things.

Still trying to figure out how to make that ADD work for me.

If I could just concentrate.

I started my bulletin boards on Monday. I got this hair brained idea that I was going to use fleece to cover my bulletin boards. Well, I was at school until 9:00 Monday night because the fleece was just a little too thick for the cheapness of my bulletin boards, and my staples kept sproinging off the board. You probably don't want to hear this, but I had staples in my underthings when I got undressed that night. Not cool.

Anyway, it's a good thing there were no kids around because I was whaling on my stapler like I angry eyebrow my students not to do. It was so bad that I thought maybe my stapler was broken, so I went to Staples to buy a new Stapler (ha ha, that's funny).

And it was not my stapler dang it! It's my stupid bulletin boards. 

And I guess it's okay that I have two staplers now because I'm sure I'm just going to break one of them anyway. They just don't make staplers like they used to.

Or do they? Were staplers ever awesome? I've never owned an awesome stapler before. Well, except for my electric one. I actually have an electric stapler so the kids don't have to touch my staplers. If they touch, they break.

Anyway, since I'm going off on a tangent already, let me just finish telling you about my electric stapler. It's awesome. I have to angry eyebrow instruct the kids on the proper use of the electric stapler every year, telling them that they cannot play with it, it's a privilege, blah, blah, blah, and I better not ever hear them using two staples in a row or else they're going to be paying me a nickel for each wasted staple. Because they're so expensive and I only make ten cents a day.

You see, I know boys, and electric staplers can sound like a machine gun if you repeatedly put a piece of paper under the sensor to see how fast they can staple. Don't ask me how I know, I just know.

After that ordeal, it took me another three days to get around to finishing the boards.

This board went right back up because it's one of those things that I repeat until I'm blue in the face. Now I just point and sigh. Not really, but I can if ever I'm that weary.

I know Anne Alagna, an internet stranger, is going to give me crap about the unbalanced look of this board, but I just wanted it done at this point and I was tired of fighting with the sproinging staples.

Deal with it, Anne.

If it gives you any comfort, I completely stapled the pads of each of my index fingers. Completely. As in I had to pry the staples out with pliers, and I felt the flesh squeakily, reluctantly give way like a raw steak.

Too bad I don't teach science, right? Kids love that stuff.

Maybe I can recreate it for a special lesson. I just have to find the math in it. I know it's there, it's everywhere.

This board is near and dear to my heart because I super big, pink puffy heart LOVE Divisibility Rules. They save lives, man.

I should probably be kicked out of the Bulletin Board Club for this one. I totally popped out a bulletin board kit and slapped the whole shebang up there Willy Nilly. You can tell, can't you?

Super Skillz I have. I know.

That's it for now. I'm delirious with exhaustion. My plan, although you should never hold me to it because of that time-space continuum deficiency I have, is to get back on here Sunday evening, or Monday-ish, to share with you the progress of my vinyl white board grid.


  1. I love your classroom set up! I have to say thank you for making me LAUGH OUT LOUD as I read your post. It was awesome for me to think that someone else works in the same messy ADD way I do. I love your sense of humour and how your blog posts make me feel like we are having a conversation. Again, thanks for writing with such great "voice" in your posts.

  2. Your room almost makes me miss teaching middle school math. Setting up my room became one of my favorite things to do. I always went in early so I could relax when others were stressing out. Hahaha. You know that never happened. I just found other things that needed to be done and/or stressed over.
    I totally understand about the electric stapler. I had an electric pencil sharpener that I was equally possessive of.
    I hope you have a wonderful school year!

    1. I know, right? We just have one Teacher Workday before school starts, so I feel like I have to have my room ready before that. On the work day there are so many interruptions and other things to do, not to mention get ready for Back to School Night.

  3. Your classroom looks absolutely fantastic and your hard work definitely shows! I love the bright and happy colors you used. I'm sure you'll have a great start to your school year thanks to all the prep work you're doing.

  4. Love the horizontal and vertical on the door. Adding this one to my to do list. :)

    Thanks for sharing.

  5. We've been back for two full weeks! I love all your labels. Time sped by, and my room organization stopped mid-project. It's waiting for the first teacher work day.

    1. I'm so glad the kids don't come until after Labor Day. For the first time ever I feel like I've had enough time to most of what I want done in my classroom done before school starts. I know what you mean about waiting for the next teacher work day. There's not enough time for anything extra in the regular work day. We always feel like we're running from one fire to another.

  6. So not dealing with it. I'm over here trying to reach through the screen and straighten things, just a nudge on that one corner should be enough.... ACKKKKKK noooo!!!!

    I'm honored that you mentioned me by name and I was trying so hard to keep from commenting on it but since you brought it up.... IT LOOKS GREAT!!!!! I'm so proud of what you and your ADD have accomplished!

    Now, I do need to know (NEED) why are there white board erasers and dry erase erasers? They aren't the same thing???? Are those boards that are white not all the same??? I'm so confused!

    Love ya!

    1. Hello Anne, I was wondering how long it was going to take for you to see this post and comment. There are Dry Erase MARKERS for student white boards (and mine) and White Board ERASERS as well. They are two different things. I didn't say Dry Erase ERASERS because that sounds redundant. Is that really bugging you? When I give you wonky bulletin boards?

  7. Wow! Wow! Looks incredible. Very organized and ready for kiddos!

  8. If math looked that good when I was trying to learn it I might actually have learned something!

  9. Ahhh, Jill, you light up my life with all your organizational skills. If only Ken would let me put contact paper on the cabinets and bring in a mismatched file cabinet and let me design and label it to my heart's content. Do you think he would have an OCD meltdown??? I'm sure he would, but it would be kinda fun causing it.

    1. Oh, this is Judy Blue Eyes. I just figured it out. Critter Ritter. Doy. Ken would have a coronary if you contact papered anything. It might be fun to do, just for the reaction. It comes off easy peasy, but HE wouldn't know that.

  10. Dear goddess of chaos,
    I just wanted to let you know that I have truly appreciated your blog this year. I am teaching departmentalized middle school ELA this year for the first time in about 5 years, and I have been drowning with how to keep everything organized! Your ideas and organization have seriously been a lifesaver....God bless you :-) Keep up the good fight!

  11. Have you tried printing those labels on BLACK cardstock? I was wondering if it might reduce the amount of "paid-for-by-me" ink for the basket labels.