Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Managing Multiple Preps!

Anyone here have more than one prep (class/course) that you teach in a day? Chances are, you do. Chances are, you might be like me, and have five! I'm here to tell you, that instead of panicking, as long as you have an organizational system, it is possible to still have time to breathe in your day!

Here's my current course load, just so you can see where I'm at.

1st Period- Planning Period (no students)
2nd Period- 8th Grade Language Arts Regular (Reading/Writing)
3rd Period- 8th Grade Language Arts Regular (Reading/Writing)
4th Period- 8th Grade Language Arts ET (Gifted- Reading/Writing)
5th Period- 8th Grade Enrichment Course (Genius Hour)
6th Period- SLC (Small Learning Communities/Homeroom)
7th Period- 7th Grade Language Arts 1 ET (Gifted/Reading)
8th Period- 7th Grade Language Arts 2 ET (Gifted/Writing)
9th Period- 8th Grade Language Arts 1 ET (Gifted- Reading/Writing)

Our classes are 42 minutes long, and my 8th grade classes only meet for one period, as these students take foreign language in lieu of a second period of Language Arts, so I teach both reading and writing in the 42 minute class)

1. Teacher Planner and Calendar

You must have a planner. I've made my Erin Condren Teacher Planner work for me as a secondary teacher, repurposing some of the pages that are more elementary. I love using the main calendar for meetings and reminders that are not academic, this helps me have one place to look for things happening in the morning and afternoon.

2. Monthly To-Do List

A to-do list that is specific to each month. This does not include daily copies I need to make, but more long-term/monthly goals that I need to finish. This includes forms I need to turn in, upcoming due dates, etc...

3. Weekly Planning

I use a paper planner to sketch out my weeks, along with Schoology. This is super helpful for me to sketch out and see what I'm doing, and writing it helps me remember. I color code my classes, and then divide my book out by course.

Keeping the colors consistent is helpful for me, and always putting the same type of activity in the same box (ex. bellringers on the first line, homework on the last two lines) helps me find information quickly.

4. Long Term Planning

I use my extra notes section to do long-term planning. Obviously this looks different throughout the year, but I can sketch out what selections I'm using based on testing data, and I can rewrite this each quarter to include specific selections. You can see that this quarter is very specific (2-3 week increments) and then they get chunked out for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th quarter. This will be super helpful to have a timeline as I get closer to maternity leave as well.

5. Short-Term To Do List

I have this awesome pad from C.Jayne Teach that is divided into four quadrants, "Things to Do", "People To Email", "Pages to Copy" and "Students to See". As much as I loved having it on my desk, I decided to fold it in half and laminate it. Then I clipped it into my TP with the coil clips, and I use a wet erase marker for to-do lists that change weekly. 

Here's where I mark things that must get done this week, as well as staff and parents I need to get in touch with. (Covered to protect parent names)

I make a ton of copies during the week, and having this right in my planner is very helpful! My students to see includes students who may be absent, or need benchmarking. 

6. Copy Folder

Here's my folder with all of the items on my "Pages to Copy" list. I keep this in my planner, and make sure I have it when I take my planner home. This way, if there are no meetings, I can go straight to the copy machine in the morning before I even go to my room!

Do I still get frustrated? Oh, yes. Sometimes I feel like my head will explode trying to juggle everything, but this helps me at least keep treading water!

Today is my Work Free Wednesday (no school work happening in this house tonight)! Did you take my challenge I posted on the Middle School Mob last week? How's it going?

Sunday, August 30, 2015

First week is in the books!

Hi All!

I skipped my regular post this week in favor of this Flipagram of my ISN that I posted on my Facebook on Monday or so!

I also had plans derailed because I *of course* came down with a massive chest cold within the first three days of school!

Today I'm going to talk about ISN's, yes, again. Are you doing them yet? Why not? Why are you?

Here are the top five reasons why I do the ISN with my middle schoolers:

1. Students are organized
2. Students are organized
3. Students are organized
4. Students are organized
5. Students are organized

Obviously there are many other reasons, such as ease of grading, less time spent looking for papers, clear expectations and routines, etc... but my biggest takeaway is that students know where to find stuff. We spend a great deal of time getting this ready to go at the beginning of the school year. More so this year because I really want to be prepared when my maternity sub comes in, and I want students to clearly see the importance of this notebook. We are finally starting content on Monday, as we spent two days doing this, one day with Library Orientation, and two days doing Performance Series testing last week. I'm so pumped to get into some actual content with my kiddos!

 I printed these out on Astrobrights cardstock so they would be more sturdy, and it was definitely cheaper than buying a ton of tabs for students!

I can tell my new big thing this year is going to be these "task" sheets, as I've done them a handful of times this year already with the ISN, Learning Styles activities, and the stations!

I would LOVE to offer this in my TpT store, but I wanted to get some feedback first. I'm planning to include the following in this bundle, but I want to know what you would want from this!

What do you want to see on the tabs and cover pages? What more would you want in here? What other questions do people have about "doing" interactive student notebooks?

So what's coming next? Look for a content heavy post coming up soon on how I do my introductory unit with students to teach anchor skills! :) Hope everyone is happy, healthy, and making time for themselves!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

So unprepared, but here we go!

Here we go!

So I am finally feeling at peace with the fact that my room is not finished, and it's ok! One of my awesome colleagues suggested we have students help us on Friday during our PBIS day, and it was like the heavens opened up and angels started singing. Genius!! We had two hours today for work time on our own, and guess how much of that time was productive? If you guessed ummm....none of it, that would be correct. So I left, went home, greeted my forlorn puppy, made some quick handouts that I needed to copy, and headed back to school. I was SO much more productive when I got back! I was in and out in a little over an hour, and I'm feeling at least ready to have students enter my room!

I've been stalking The Literary Maven for a few weeks now, in fact, this particular blog post has been open in my tabs forever! She had the awesome idea to do stations for her first day back, and I just think it's an amazing idea. I get really nervous for no good reason, and I HATE reading through my syllabus over and over again all day while the students sit glassy- eyed. I tweaked her stations a bit to fit my needs, but I'm so excited because her plans fit right in with mine to start off the year with Literature Circles!

We have about 35 minutes in class on the first day, so they will have about 7 minutes for each station.

Here's Station #1. A scavenger hunt using the syllabus and classroom to answer questions in teams. 

Station #2: Goal Setting. The Literary Maven provided a link to these adorable bubbles on the blog I linked earlier! This will be great for parents to see at Open House!

Station #3: Read Dating. I chose One for the Murphys, Out of My Mind, Schooled, Ungifted, Stargirl, The Pretenders, and Wonder for my lit. circle choices. Students will examine the books and rank their picks and turn it in. I can organize lit. circles immediately to begin within the next two weeks!

Station #4: Materials Pickup. Students have to pick up their two homework assignments, a manila folder, and copy down the homework on the board and put it in their agenda to have me sign. This gets them used to the idea that I expect them to write down their homework each day.

Station #5: Classroom Utopia (questions). Students will share ideas on what an ideal classroom, teacher, school, and student would look like.

Here's my truth time. TWELVE boxes packed full of books that need to be sorted and put on shelves, plus the ones already on the shelves. I'm hoping I can get some students to volunteer to help get these out for me. I could tell when I got home tonight that I pushed it a little too hard today!

Here's my homework board and daily schedule (which is still on a to-do list to be printed). I got this chalkboard vinyl from amazon!

So here we go! Cheers to all of you incredibly hard-working teachers going back into the classroom!

I'm also setting some expectations for myself in my blogging life. Here's what you can expect from me this year:

- I'll be blogging on Mondays or Tuesdays each week!
- My goal is to have 2-3 new products a month in TpT
- I also blog once a month over at the Middle School Mob

One last thing, TpT is having a ONE-DAY sale tomorrow! Everything in my store will be 28% off, so click on the picture to stop on by!

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Classroom 2015 "Lite"

This year, I realized that I will need to tone it down a bit with my classroom, as I was exhausted just unpacking boxes! My husband and dad were so awesome, because they helped empty out the storage unit we had unnecessarily rented for the summer, and were able to load in my room in just a few hours! I was left behind on their second trip to start unpacking, and the value in completely purging and emptying your classroom is that there isn't that much to move back in, and it's really organized if you take the time to do it when you're packing!

To compare and contrast, feel free to check out my classroom reveal from last year, featuring all of my classrooms through the years here!

Here's the view into the pod. I'm going to be covering up the garage door with Astrobrights paper and binder clips to hang student work. The bookshelf will house all of my classroom dictionaries, along with other books and resources we are using. Next to the bookcase is my pocket chart, which I LOVE using for my ISN handouts!

Here are my "cubbies" from last year. I made some new signs to hang for each class period, and students will store their ISN's and materials in here. In the top cubbies are canvases students painted, and one small box of student examples.

The custodians took all the vinyl that I painstakingly put up two years ago on these back white boards, but I think it will end up being a blessing in disguise! I was mighty irritated at first, but I realized that I project my agenda every day at the front of the room, so it's slightly unnecessary to have the whiteboards at the back taken up with an agenda board too. Instead, I'm going to put a homework board at the front of the room that serves as a permanent reminder of what's due. These back boards will be used for Writing Invitations, Notes, and other whiteboard space for student use!

 I changed up my reading nook this year, and I'm loving it! I still need to bring in my floor pillows, but Bella has been enjoying them so I'm waiting. Check out my Instagram to see some pics of her on said pillows. :) I moved my desk out of this area from last year, and I like how wide open it is. I also ditched one of my bookcases, since I purged a TON of books from my classroom library last year. I haven't unpacked those boxes just yet, so I hope they fit!

Here are said boxes of books...this is what I'll be doing when we get time to work in our rooms on Monday, along with my usual to-do list (see end of post!)

Here's the other side of the bookcase. I house the laptop carts for our grade level, and then I'll be putting up a bulletin board where the wood is!

Here is my desk area, with my filing cabinet. I LOVE this desk, and I am using my extra chair on the other side so that I can conference with students.

I love this area, and my goal is to keep it clean and tidy this year.

On the other side of the room is my supplies area and materials pickup area for students. I'll be putting up my Organization bulletin board here again this year, for students to pick up all their classroom forms!

I put this on my instagram last night, but I was super inspired by a lesson plan template I saw and decided to adapt it for my daily agenda. I use Microsoft OneNote (one of the only Microsoft programs I like) and I'll simply fill this in every day and project at the beginning of the period!

I've put a copy of my template in Dropbox that you can download for free! I used KG Fonts: All of Me, Falling Slowly, and Flavor and Frames. Please note this template will only work in OneNote!

Now here is the part of my room that I am most proud of. It used to be that every single cabinet and shelf behind my whiteboards was FILLED with stuff. If you look at the pictures, I have a lot of cabinets. Other than our textbooks, this is all I have in my room, so it feels so awesome to declutter!

Supply Station for students

Here are my novel studies, I only have six of each out, and the rest are packed away in the boxes. I also gave away quite a few last year!

Bulletin board and classroom decoration supplies

Extra supplies!

Empty boxes and bags

I plan to keep foldable materials in these two long drawers!

My absolute favorite sterilite bins that I use for extra supplies. Students can refill easily for me since these are labeled.
This is my only "teacher storage" area. It can be locked, and I have a first aid kit, small tools, teacher books, my Keurig, and a laminator.

Finally, this is usually a pit, but I would love it if this could stay this clean looking all year!

To Do List:

Bulletin Boards: Grammar Invitations, Inspirational Quotes, Organization Station
Student Work board
Finish "decorations"
Put away Classroom Library Books
Put away copies/make copies

This might be the shortest to-do list I've ever had going back. How are you paring down to make life easier this year?

Monday, August 3, 2015

Searching for Motivation

Has anyone seen it? I've been looking everywhere for my motivation to get prepped for back to school, to blog, to create some new resources to use in my classroom, and I just can't seem to find it. I'll have random bursts of energy where I'll decide to redo my teacher toolbox,



which I'm SO glad I decided to do this! The sun had completely bleached out the scrapbook paper, and the colors I had originally picked did not go at all with my blue and green color scheme!

To see more info on how to make this box, check out here and here!

or I'll make a new anchor chart,

try Pioneer Woman's iced coffee recipe, which was delicious and easy...

or clean my office (which I've been doing for two weeks!)
I hate this mess!

or go into school and get a bunch of printing done...

but then I come home, see this adorable baby below, and crawl into bed.

Have I ever mentioned I suffer from some pretty severe anxiety? I'm usually pretty good about handling it, but with the upcoming school year and the baby it's been pretty awful, and I have felt like I'm heading over a cliff multiple times this summer. So I put sunglasses on Bella to make myself laugh...

She loves it...don't call the aspca.
However, I'm trying to keep a positive attitude this year, and live each day like it's the best day ever, because it totally CAN be! So I won't complain, I'll just do the best I can each day, and that's going to have to be enough for me this year! We are always our own worst critics, and I need to tune out the voice in my head telling me that my room should be completely sketched out by now.

I'm not heading to my classroom until Friday of this week, but you better believe I'll be posting some pics! My theme this year is simple and streamlined, minimal with pops of color, and reusing as much as possible that I already had!

Finally, tomorrow is the last day for the annual TpT B2S sale! You can get 28% off in most stores, and make sure you enter the code BTS15 at checkout. Happy shopping! I purchased a ton of resources today, my favorites came from The Superhero Teacher, Laura Randazzo, and Teach Inspire Change!

Stay tuned Thursday, where I"ll be blogging over at our new collaborative blog, The Middle School Mob!