Saturday, June 28, 2014

Quick, Creative, and Easy- 1:1 Classroom Organization Tool

Last school year, our 6th grade teams were the first on campus to participate in the 1:1 program. Needless to say, it was a year of firsts that included many obstacles to overcome and TONS of success. Just like with everything else that goes on in your classroom that needs routines and procedures being 1:1 is not an exception.  I can remember at the beginning of several classes throughout the year constantly repeating, "After you fill out your agenda, take out your laptop and get ready to begin" or "Don't take your laptop out yet. We won't need it until later in the class".  I definitely needed a better way to communicate to my students about the use of laptops at the beginning of class, but it was just one of those things that got pushed to the back burner. 

I knew that I needed to figure something out before the new school year began, but honestly I still wasn't sure what it was going to look like. Thankfully, our new Master Teacher at our school shared an idea from a teacher at her old school. This teacher used a nonverbal color code system with students that let them know what laptop use would look like in class each day. As soon as I heard it, the wheels in my head started turning and I immediately began imagining what that would look like in my own classroom. So of course, I had to pay it forward and share this brilliant and simple idea with you!

Here's what you will need:

Binder Ring
Velcro Dots or Strips
Hole Punch
Laminator (Optional-if you want to laminate your circles)

Step by Step Instructions:

After printing out the handouts, cut out your circles.

Use a hole punch to create a hole at the top of each circle. Be sure that your circle is located in the same spot on each circle.

I would recommend laminating your circles so that they are durable and will last the entire school year.

Cut the excess lamination off your circles. Use the hole punch again to open up your original hole at the top of the circles.

Use a binder clip to secure all of your circles.

Add your Velcro dots or strips to the back of each circle. If using Velcro dots, I would recommend using more than 1. I ended up putting three on the back of each circle.

Here's what the finished product will look like. I plan on installing this on the whiteboard in the front of my classroom.

This will easily allow students to know what computer use will look like at the beginning of class and save you from having to repeat the same instructions each class period.

It took me five minutes to complete this project from start to finish. Sometimes the simplest ideas are the best ones! I cannot wait to implement this into my classroom next school year and see how it goes. 

Until next time, happy crafting! :)

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

More Than Meets the Eye

If you are like me, you have read your fair share of articles that bash teachers and continually paints all teachers in a negative light. It gets so frustrating because I know that these assumptions do not describe me or the majority of the amazing teachers that I have had the privilege of working alongside over the past six years. While there will always be ineffective educators and leaders in education, the same can be said about every profession. 

That's why it was so refreshing to read "What You See in Today's Public School Classroom is a Mirage" from The Huffington Post. It was almost like Carla Friesen had been in my classroom and knew my story. As I read, I could only shake my head or put a check mark next to another example that she used in her article because it described something that has just become a normal occurrence to me. I don't even want to try to calculate how much money I have spent on my classroom and simple classroom supplies, like pencils or erasers. Is it required of me? No, it's not; however, there is no way that I could run an effective classroom without being able to provide the basic necessities to my students. 

While I was extremely lucky to have a large classroom and tons of technology, that didn't make up for the gray walls and uninviting space. I knew that I needed to brighten up the space and create that welcoming environment for my students. It's taken me years to create and finetune that colorful and inviting learning environment. Again, I didn't have to do this or spend countless hours and dollars on my classroom, but there was never another option for me.

This is what my classroom looked like before I began to put my time, money, and effort into it.

Four years in and still working on creating a bright and welcoming classroom.

My sixth year marked the biggest improvements to creating a warm and encouraging learning environment.

I purchased all the school supplies that you can see in this photo.
I want my students to have the best learning experience possible in my classroom. I want my students to feel welcomed and safe in my classroom. I want my students to only have to worry about thinking critically, collaborating with classmates, and challenging themselves during our lessons. Ensuring that these things happen each and every day takes hard work on my part-physically, mentally, and financially. It is a price I am happy to pay because there are few things in life more rewarding than seeing my students grow and experience success.

How do you go above and beyond to create inviting and engaging learning experiences in your classroom for students?

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Classroom Decorations on a Budget

If you are like me, you're always looking for some way to brighten up your classroom that won't cost you a fortune. That's a big problem for any teacher who happens to browse classroom decorations on Etsy or other online shops. The moment I saw personalized chalkboard signs I fell in love and knew that I wanted to incorporate them into my classroom; however, they can be quite expensive. 

I decided to sit down Thursday night and try to create my own chalkboard classroom rules poster. It took a lot of time to track down the right fonts, decide my color scheme, and develop what I wanted my classroom rules to be. There were quite a few times where I questioned whether this work was necessary and debated about just buying a chalkboard sign from Etsy, but I'm glad that I continued to work on my sign because I absolutely LOVE how it turned out.

I shared my poster on my Facebook page, The Creative Classroom, and the response was overwhelming. I decided to share a non-personalized classroom rules poster as my Facebook Fan Freebie. Again, I got positive reviews and praise from many of my followers. I definitely was not expecting such a huge response from this poster, but it is very much appreciated.

Ordering Information:

If you would like your own personalized classroom rules digital image, please download and complete this order form. Email me your order form at The cost of the digital file (300 dpi PNG image) is $5.00. Once I receive your email and the required information, I will begin to create your digital image. A proof will be sent to you so that you can okay the final product. After you okay the proof and send payment through PayPal, I will send you the final product.

You can then print your image at home, a local print shop, or at an online service. I used Vistaprint to print my poster. I would recommend the medium sized poster if you are using Vistaprint.

Classroom Rules Order Form

Summer is Here! TPT Sale

I've joined together with some fabulous TPT Secondary Sellers to host a TPT sale this weekend. You can save 20% off all products in my store until Monday and up to 20% off in the other stores listed below.

Danielle Knight

Juggling ELA

The SuperHERO Teacher

The Creative Classroom

Teaching High School Math

James Whitaker

The Classroom Sparrow

2 Peas and a Dog

Created by Mr. Hughes

Making it as a Middle School Teacher

Jean Adams

Ruth S.

From Chopsticks to Mason Jars

A Space to Create

The Math Post

Stay tuned for lots of exciting and creative things from my classroom to yours!