Wednesday, October 24, 2012

I'm an addict

I like coffee.  I have a habit where I bring my coffee cups to school everyday and then bring them home on Fridays.  My kids have started to pick up on all the coffee cups I have around and jokingly make fun of me for all the coffee I drink.

This conversation happened today at around 2:00 pm:

student: So how many cups of coffee have you had so far today?

me: 3

student: You've seriously had 3 cups already?

me: Yep, and I'm still feeling tired

another student: What happens if you don't drink coffee?

me: I actually get headaches in the morning when I don't have any

student: Miss, that means you're addicted

me: Yeahhh...I know

student: My teacher is an addict.  Wow, listen to how bad that teacher is an addict.

They seriously crack me up sometimes :)

What a mess...

I often find that I have many teaching ideas floating around in my head but I don't often find the time to use them all.  Today I got to use one of them that I've never quite found time for and I was strangely excited about it.  One of my classes entered my room today to find this:

They were not pleased.  They saw it immediately and started asking me WHAT happened in here?  Some kids started to complain how messy other kids are.   I just stood there smiling and told them that they had a do now to do.

This was the do now:

I still told them nothing about what happened to their baskets.  Many of the kids speculated that I just got SOOO angry that I started throwing stuff around.  Then some of them started to think that I did it on purpose and I must have had some reason.  I loved it.  They didn't complain AT ALL about cleaning them though, they just got busy and kept talking and guessing.  None of them guessed correctly though.

Then I put up the table of contents for the day:

13-14 Combining Like Terms

And then I got the ahhhs from most them.  :) One kid just looked at me and nodded approvingly and said, "Ok, I see what you did there."  Did I mention that I love this period?

It wasn't the most ground breaking activity, but I hope that it helped them to make connections.  One thing that I remember learning in college is that we learn by making connections to things we already know about.  So on it's own combining like terms can seem like an abstract thing, but now when I refer to a's and b's as scissors and highlighters  they will hopefully understand what I mean and why they are not the same.

When I look at an expression I am easily able to see which are and are not like terms, but for kids that aren't as math inclined really struggle with seeing this.  So I love being able to relate it to something concrete like crayons and markers.  I think of like terms like this picture:

Although we are all looking at the same thing, many kids just see one thing and no matter how hard they look they can't see the other.  They need us to help see the picture for what it really is.  But what's awesome is once they see it, it finally all makes sense.  

After we simplified the expression and ended up with 2a - 4b + 10 I picked up a basket and asked why they stopped when it looked like that.  Why didn't they "keep going" and then put the highlighters in with the scissors and then put it all in with the calculators?  They thought I was being silly and told me that I was just making it worse by doing this.  This is exactly what I want them to see with expressions- it's silly to combine 2a and -4b because they're just not the same.

And for some strange reason I really just enjoyed walking around the room making a mess of all their stuff.  I seriously couldn't wait for them to get there to see their reaction.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


Today I was talking to a few boys and told them that they would be able to focus on school much better if they didn't think about girls non-stop.  They then informed me of two things:
  1. Their school to girl thought ratio is about 50:50.
  2. This is pretty much normal for all of them, it's just that some do a much better job of hiding it.
Honestly, I would have guessed that they think about girls more than 50% of the time.  I seriously have to fight to get their attention if a girl so much as walks by the door.  When I give them "the look" they tell me to relax, it's only natural.  Silly kids...they never cease to make me laugh :)

Something I'm Loving

During the summer I usually spend a good amount of time planning for the upcoming year.  I come up with tons of all these awesome sounding ideas and decide that I'm going to try them all out and be the best teacher ever.  It's not until I actually get into the classroom and try them out with kids though that I figure out which ones are the keepers.

Remind 101 is one that I'm really enjoying this year.  If you haven't heard about it, their website does a great job of explaining the details, but it's a free secure way to send text message reminders to a group of people.  Initially the idea of texting might be slightly questionable, but it's very secure and well thought out.  Kids are always on their phones so Remind 101 takes advantage of that and makes it so easy to get messages out to them.

I set up a group for each different class that I teach and everyday I just send them a quick text with the homework.  I've also sent out reminders about tests and supplies and stuff like that.  I even have a couple parents that signed up for it too so that they get the reminders sent to their own phones.

The most convincing part of it has been the reviews from my kids.  They are loving it.  I have one period that will often ask me to text things when I mention them during class.  I had another kid tell me that it's been so helpful to him and he really wishes some of his other teachers would use it too.

Just as a precaution, I had kids get a permission slip signed at the beginning of the year to make sure their parents knew about it.  What's nice about it is that I have the ability to remove kids from my lists, so if they didn't get the permission slip signed I can just take them out.  Also cool is the ability to schedule texts.  I don't really want to be texting them during school, but sometimes I would like to get the homework posted early so I can just schedule it to send after school and not have to worry about it later.  They have had an iOS app for awhile now and recently released an android app so now it's even easier.  I could probably keep going on, but instead I'll encourage you to go try it out.  Your kids will love it!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lesson Plan Binders

A couple weeks ago I mentioned these binders that I use to organize all my lesson plans and master copies.  There were a couple requests to see what's inside these guys so here goes...

First let me mention that I don't think there's anything groundbreaking or creative about this idea, it's just all about keeping track of papers.  I have a binder for each special reason other than that's just what seemed to fit.  So for each course I have two different 2" binders.  When I taught CMP2 I did one 1" binder for each book.

Inside it's just split into sections using these dividers.  Random, but I'm pretty partial to those dividers in particular because they are extra wide which means that the tabs will stick out past sheet protectors.  I've found that regular dividers don't stick out far enough which defeats the point..and also I'm really picky.
So inside each section is first the pacing guide from my school.  Then in each section I print every lesson plan on a separate, colored piece of paper.  After the lesson plan is any and all materials I may need to go with the lesson.  Worksheets and tests and such get hole punched.  Things like foldables or station activities go inside sheet protectors.  For everything that goes in, I also try to include an answer copy or rubric right behind it.  When I'm grading assignments or need to make an extra copy of something I know exactly where to look.

So for example, here is a plan for the math key words activity I did.  I don't get too technical as far as standards and things like that go here because the goal of this plan is really for my own reference.

Behind the colored sheet is all the stuff that goes with that day.  So for this day, first I did a pre-test and then did the activity.

algebra pre-assessment

sheet protector with the foldable materials

back view of the sheet protector

Inside that sheet protector is:
  • the blank foldable
  • a filled in copy of the foldable
  • the page of key words that the kids sorted
  • the sheet that went on the left side page

Some days there's a lot less.  Here's one for a quiz.  Even though there's not much to the plan, it helps me to see exactly what each day looked like.

Behind the plan is the quiz and behind the quiz is the answer key.

This system also makes it easy for me to figure exactly how I taught something the last time. Over the years I've tried a bunch of different systems but so far this one is my favorite.  When I'm creating a new one of these (as I am now) I always print the plans after I've already taught the lesson.  Very rarely do my plans for the week actually end up happening as I had planned so this way I can be sure that the binders reflect what actually did happen.  They also help me to reflect on my teaching.  If something needs to be fixed I'll try to fix it before I put it into the binder.  This way it's good to go for next time around.

In addition to all of this I usually have digital copies of most of the things that are in here, but I like having the hard copies as well.  There have been many many times where the network is down or my printer stops working or something like that where I've been grateful to have the hard copies to rely on.

Sunday, October 21, 2012


I'm a teacher.  So that means I teach for 210 minutes a day and spend the rest of the day just hanging out and drinking coffee right?  And don't forget that teachers get out of work earlier than most other professions so that must mean that I get to go home and relax on the couch.  Yeah ok.  The 210 minutes of teaching is the easy part.  See the thing is that the job title of "teacher" is a sneaky one.  Yes it includes teaching, but it also includes a million other things (and I'm not even talking about the usual ones that people bring up like lesson plans and grading papers).

Aside from actual teaching these are some of the other ways I spent my time this week:

As a psychologist...
  • Trying to figure out whether a kid's frustration was due to stuff at home, stuff in other classes, stuff in my class or just math in general.. and then trying to figure out what I could do to ease the situation as much as possible and avoid it in the future.
  • Trying to figure out exactly what triggers a kid's anger in my class and what I can do to make the situation better.  
As a tutor...
  • Took kids during my prep periods to work with them individually on missing assignments and bring up their grades significantly.
  • Spent a lunch period working with a former student on a project for another class.
As a counselor...
  • Spent time during a prep period talking with a former student that had gotten in trouble and then talking with another teacher to help ease the situation a bit and help the teacher and student to better understand each other in the future.
As a friend...
  • Let students teach me how to play the iPhone/android game that they are obsessed with one morning.  Consequently now I'm hooked and can't put it down.  The next morning instead of hanging out in the hallway like they usually do, they came into my room to talk strategy :)
    [sidenote: the game is insanely educational and I'm not sure that they even realize it]
  • Postponed what I had planned for one period to instead took the kids go down to a fundraiser they wanted to go to.
As a suporter...
  • Stayed after school to watch a soccer game & cross country meet.  One kid came in the next day and came right to my room to tell me he saw me there and to then talk about the game.

Did I have to do these things?  Of course not.  It's certainly not in my job description, but this is the stuff that makes the bigger impact.  These small actions make kids feel like I'm interested in their lives, like they have someone they can talk to, like I care about their success, and like I'm willing to take them seriously.  It makes me exhausted, but that's ok.

Anytime I talk with kids about what they value in a teacher, it's always about the way a good teacher makes them feel.  They usually can't pinpoint exact things that I've said or done or taught that made a difference, they just say it's a feeling they get.  I could be wrong, but I think it all this stuff that makes the difference.  Kids connect with a teacher that takes the time to be interested in them and for certain kids this can make all the difference.  

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Teacher Brain

Over the weekend I was reading through one of the state's new teacher evaluation systems.  It is made up of a checklist that contains many statements that are indicators of a teacher's proficiency.

One indicator of a successful teacher is the following:

Thinks systematically and critically about learning in their classroom: Why learning happens and what can be done to improve student achievement.

I read this and smiled a little to myself.  This is ALL I do.  In fact I have found that I can't stop doing this even if I try.  From the moment I wake up to when I fall asleep at night there is usually something about school floating around my head.  I am always thinking about what I'm going to teach or how I can make something better or how to reach a particular kid.  And the thing is that it isn't a conscious effort.  In moments of downtime my mind just always drifts to school.  Why is this??

Today I decided to make an effort to take note of all of these thoughts.  There's a good chance this post won't be interesting to anyone aside from myself, but that's ok.  So from the moment that school ended here are the manyyyy things that have been on my mind...

Last bell of the day.

  • Use remind 101 to text the HW to parents and students.  Also send a "good job" text letting them know that since there was no cursing all day I removed 4 marbles.
  • Earlier I had a good idea for ISN pages for my 1st period tomorrow, I made a note so that I wouldn't forget.  Take a few minutes to sit and really think through this idea.  Decide I like it so start to type up a foldable.  Print it out and start to work on it in my own notebook.
  • Decide that I'll get ahead of things and actually make the copies now instead of tomorrow morning.
  • Feel like I'm on a roll so sit down at a kid desk and put together exactly how i want the pages to be.  Take notes on a piece of scrap paper because I don't think I like the definition wording that I usually use.  Realize that I really don't like it- make a mental note that i need to come up with something better.
  • Decide to just bring everything home and finish working on it there.

Get in the car to go home.

  • I think about the activity I did during one of my periods.  One kid in particular did awesome, but another kid was struggling and ended up really frustrated even though he was truly trying.  Said he just sucks at math.  Try to think about how I can make him feel more successful tomorrow, but still manage to make sure other kids don't get bored.  This kid has enough problems going on at home...the last thing he needs is to come into my classroom and feel dumb.  I suck for letting this happen.
  • Get a free drink from Starbucks and think for awhile about how good it is and how exciting it was that it was free.
  • I think about how there was no cursing today so as promised I removed four marbles...decide that for each consecutive curse free day I'll remove an extra marble (so if tomorrow is also good I'll take out 5, and then 6 and so on).  Think about how I hope this works because I REALLY don't want to give out detention.
  • Think about a girl that came in today with her baby.  I can't even believe that this girl is worrying about raising a baby and worrying about graduating high school.  I think about the fact that when she is my age she will have a child in middle school.  I can't even wrap my head around this.

Get home.
  • Check school e-mail as soon I walk in the have an online assignment due tomorrow and of course almost all of them waited until the last night to do it so I'm sure there's going to be questions.  No e-mail.  Check to see how many kids actually started it.  7/16 are complete.
  • Watch a little TV but start thinking about the ISN pages I'm going to do tomorrow and how I really want a good way to word the definition.  Search google and Pinterest for ideas.  Find nothing.  Come up with something myself and decide I'm happy with it.
  • I think again about how I can do a better job of working with 7th period tomorrow so that kid isn't frustrated again..that really bothered me and I can't get it out of my mind. 
  • I think about a new program that I'm starting in a few weeks and how I should probably talk to the other teacher doing it to see what she's planning on doing (if you're reading this...I'll be e-mailing you tomorrow!)

Take a shower and change into comfy clothes.
  • Check my e-mail again.  Someone has a problem.  Fix problem and e-mail back.  Get a reply that there's still a problem. Ugh.  Go back and forth a few times until all is resolved.
  • Start writing this blog post.
  • Check to see who else has completed the assignment.  Check their scores.  The computer is marking something wrong when it is actually right, so go in and manually correct #8 on each kid's assignment.

Eat dinner.  
  • Check e-mail again.  No e-mails.  Good.
  • Continue writing blog post.
  • Check assignment again.  10  completed.   2 in progress.  3 not started.  1 hasn't even signed up for the textbook.  Make a note to print out the assignment because she's clearly not going to have it done tomorrow.
  • Look over algebra ISN pages for tomorrow and decide I'm happy with it so put it away.
  • Keep thinking about what to do about that one class.  Decide to make a new seating arrangement for tomorrow because that'll be a good start.  Decide that I'll give them a graded differentiated assignment on percents and let them work on it during class tomorrow.  I'll also give an ISN page on it first.  Yes some of the kids will be a little bored with it, but the other kids will really be able to use it for help and I think that's my top priority right now.  After that I can spend the rest of the period focusing my efforts on helping out the kids that need my help.
  • Check results of the online assignment and decide that instead of reviewing for the test with Jeopardy that I will split them into groups based on the results of the assignment and create study groups.
  • Finish blog post.
  • Get two more e-mails about problems.  Reply back.
Close computer.

So that has been my post-work day.  Who was it that says teachers have it good because they get out of work early?  Or have summers off?  So yeah I may not be physically working from 9-5 but most days I feel like I never stop working.

I have to admit that there are some days I wish I could shut it off.  When I see kids having a really rough time I just can't get it out of my head.  Or when I hear terrible stories about their lives it just sticks with me.  But often what it means is that lessons are in constant development.  Even when I'm not writing lesson plans I am working on my lessons.  Frequently I'll get an idea that pops into my head out of nowhere and I'l scratch everything I had in mind.

So tell me...does anyone else have a serious case of teacher brain or am I just crazy?

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Another Scavenger Hunt

I have one period that is doing pretty well so on Friday I decided to really make them all work.  I created a worksheet using Kuta of 16 problems adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing signed mixed numbers and turned it into a scavenger hunt.  And they had to do the problems without calculators.  This time I also gave them a worksheet to go with it, just to help keep track of their work since there was going to be a lot.

Kids wrote down the question, did the work, wrote their answer and then
the letter of the card where they found the answer.

I was completely unsure how this was going to go over.  I expected whining because I was taking away the calculators and making them do work by hand.  But I also have a couple kids in the class that like a challenge so I thought they would enjoy it.  I was impressed how well it actually went over.

It was really just practice, but since there were so many cards there was an additional challenge involved in finding the cards that they had fun with.  The activity was very independent with kids all just moving around on their own working at their own pace.  If a kid really couldn't find the answer then they would come to me to check their work and then I'd help them correct their mistake.

On Friday I had a new girl enter the class after a schedule change.  I worked with her a little bit and explained what exactly was going on (since we had done it before the other kids didn't need any explanation- they just wanted to get started).  At one point I overheard her ask another kid, "Are you actually doing this?"  I guess she's used to kids slacking off when there is independent work?  But it was great- the kid looks at her and said yeah he was doing it.  She then asked why and he just shrugs and carries on with his work.  It made me happy.  They could have easily pretended to be working but for the most part the kids were actively working.  Because of the challenge, and the cards all over and the letters one kid said it was like National Treasure.  Gotta love it.

At the end of the period I had two kids beg me to stay for the next period (and miss their english class) to keep working.  I told them I wasn't authorizing them missing english, but if they somehow got the ok from their english teacher then they were welcome to come back.  I loved how excited they were, but I didn't think they would get the ok to miss class.  Low and behold, they showed up about 10 minutes later after finishing tests.  What I really enjoyed though was that one of the boys is very strong in math, but the other struggles a lot.  The two of them worked SO well together- the one that is stronger was truly explaining what to do and helping the other one.  I only caught a little bit of their conversation but he was really doing an awesome job of teaching which I loved.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Angle Pairs


This past week my sophomore class was working on angle relationships.  I wanted something that went beyond the definitions because many of my kids could tell you that complementary angles add up to 90 degrees, but then have trouble turning that into an actual equation.

This was an attempt to make something that was more useable than a definition.  The kids started by cutting out the first six card fronts and attaching them to index cards.

Next we went through them card by card labeling and coloring the angles, writing the relationship in words, and then writing an equation.

After going through all of them, I gave the kids the six card backs.  They had to look at each one and decide which relationship it showed and tape it to the right card.  They needed have me or someone with the correct answers check their cards before actually taping.

Here is a kid matching up his cards
After putting the problems on, we went through the problems and discussed how to use what we knew to write and solve an equation.  Going through this took very different amounts of time in different periods of mine.


After creating the cards, we are now using them to solve problems.  On Friday I had them work on this worksheet:
Get the whole worksheet here

Before solving anything, I had them go through the entire front of the worksheet just labeling each problem with either: complementary, supplementary, vertical, or none.  I had them take out their complementary, supplementary, and vertical cards to use as a references.  I was really impressed with how well this worked.  They looked at the problem and then compared it to their cards to help make a decision.

The first 8 problems were just naming the angles, but the rest involved solving for variables.  Even when the directions didn't say to, I said that they needed to first write down what angle pair was being shown.  This is a habit I want them to get into because often kids look at problems like this and just completely blank out on what to do.  This way it at least gives them a starting point to the problem.

This is a kid using his cards to work on the activity.

For the second part of this we'll be doing the same thing with the angles formed by parallel lines and transversals.  Before working on this, I'm going to have them create a card for consecutive interior angles.  We did a quick coloring activity on Friday that you can kinda see in the picture above.  Just an easy visual to show which angles are congruent and that the two angles will add up to 180 degrees.  The consecutive interiors card will be nice to build on this a little bit and to help for the next activity.  

Get the whole worksheet here

For any kids that had trouble classifying the angle pair being shown, I had them color in the two angles we were looking at and it really helped them to compare the example to their cards.  This activity was lengthy because I didn't want to rush it.  We created the cards over a number of days because I wanted to make sure that the kids got down all the correct information so that they can now use the cards.  I also wanted to make sure to give them the time to really think things through on their own (like matching the back of the cards and classifying and coloring angles) so I really took time on it.

I felt like they were really using the cards on Friday to solve the problems so I was happy with that. During the course of this we also went through how to set up and solve two step equations so I also liked that I was able to sneak that in and now I won't really have to go over it too much later.

Download Here 
Disclaimer (7/29/17): These aren't the exact cards you see pictured because I actually no longer use them. Instead I use the chart that is also included in the file. There are pieces of the original still in there though and it's editable so you should be able to piece together the cards if that's what you're looking for.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Absent Students and the ISN

There have been a bunch of people that have asked how to deal with absent students or students that enter the class late.  My method isn't perfect, but for the most part I'm happy with it.  

When kids are absent, it is mandatory that they make up the notes.  Every time I collect ISNs and mark kids off for missing pages, I inevitably have kids tell me that they were absent for a particular day.  This isn't an acceptable excuse.

When I make a foldable or take notes I of course make one for myself.  I have also started to copy a finished version of it.  This is my one for scatter plots that I did earlier this week.  Much of it was filled in during class as part of the lesson.  I photocopied the completed version to give kids.

The extra copies then go in a filing cabinet.  Each course that I teach has its own separate drawer full of folders.

 The numbers on the folders correspond to the date on the ISN page.

When kids need to make up pages, I give them my book and they update theirs from it.  They use my notebook to get the table of contents, page headings and use the page headings to tell them which folder to look in.

The only issue is when extra copies run out.  At the beginning of the year I was making only enough copies for the number of students I have.  Somehow this wasn't enough and then I would need to print out extra copies for the kids that needed them.  Also the extra copies were blank so kids then had to copy down all the writing.  I just don't have enough time for all of this.  So instead my new goal is to make the extra filled in copies each morning as I make my new copies for the day.  It might require a little extra effort, but having the extra copies makes things easier in the long run.

Update: Many people have asked what to do about kids that enter the class late.  For kids that came towards the beginning of school, I had them make up the pages that we had done.  Any later than a couple weeks though, and I just have them start their ISN in whatever spot we are in at the time.  So for example, if I had a kid enter tomorrow I would just have them start their table of contents with page 16 and keep up from there.  They will leave blank pages for the rest of the table of contents and words worth knowing and then start numbering at page 16.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

My Most Used Item

In a previous post I mentioned using clear dry erase sleeves for an activity that I did.  The kids were given a list of words in the dry erase sleeve that they needed to sort out.  I gave them the words in the sleeves so they could cross out words as they went along and so that I didn't need to make a lot of copies of something that would just end up getting thrown away.

After writing about them and answering some questions about them I thought they deserved their own post.  I seriously love these things and use them pretty much every single day.  I have actually been using these since student teaching and keep coming up with new uses for them.  Over the summer they were sale a bit so I picked up 20 of my own.  Then I also have some more that belong to my school so I have a bunch of them, which is good because of how much I use them.

I love how sturdy they are and how the two sides of them are open so it's easy to put papers into them.  I also love the little blue cloths.  I have never found anything that erases dry erase so well.  I actually started using them to erase my big whiteboard instead of the regular erasers and it kept it so clean that I never had to wipe down the board.  This year I also use one to erase my blackboard and it cleans up all the dust perfectly.  When they get dirty, it's simple to just bring them home and toss them in the wash.

I know that sheet protectors can be used as well and I'm sure they work great, but with the frequency that I use my SmartPALs I wanted to spend a little more on something that is really durable and will last.

EAI Education's SmartPAL Jr. Classroom Kit

These are just some of the ways that I've used them:

When I do stations, I almost always use the dry erase sleeves.  It keeps kids from permanently writing on the table copy, and makes things feel a little more important than just a worksheet.  I can also color code the stations using the dry erase sleeves so it's easy to keep track of things or to differentiate.

Do Nows

This is one that I've started fairly recently.  I don't want things like Do Nows to go in the ISN because they are usually just a quick problem or two designed to check where the kids are that I don't need them to keep.  In the past I've just had them jot these down in their binder somewhere, never to be looked at again.  Instead I started having them do their do now on the dry erase boards everyday.

I keep these right by the door.  Inside each sleeve I keep a marker and eraser so they're easy to grab.  The kids take one on their way in and do the do now on the board.  As I walk around I check their answers and tell them they can erase when I see that it's correct.  It also lets me know when everyone has finished the do now.  As they leave at the end of the period, the kids just toss them all back in the bin.

Scrap Paper
Since they have them at their desks, some kids have started using the dry erase sleeves as scrap paper.  I'm not sure what it is about them, but they just seem to like doing work on them better.  Maybe because it's different, but I think they might like that the non-permanence of it.  If they make a mistake or something they can easily erase it and start over.

Teacher Scrap Paper
I find myself always walking around the room dry erase sleeve in hand.  When a kid has a question or needs help I'd prefer to write anything down on my own sleeve.  It lets me help them and not have to carry around scrap paper or have to write on their paper.  Occasionally I've used my iPad for the same thing, but this is much easier.

I feel like these were made for geometric transformations.  They really help kids to picture and work with translations, reflections, and rotations.

I love to use these for graphing.  It's so easy to pop in a graph or number line to do work on.  When we are graphing things, often I'll have them do their problems on here so it saves the time of creating a new graph on graph paper for each problem.  I keep sets of these paper templates in file folders so that I can just pull out whatever graph or number line I need for the day.

Anyone have more ideas to add to the list?  I'd love to hear what other people are doing.  :)

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Some things from today

Today I overhead this:
"I was just thinking about it, and this notebook is seriously going to make it so easy to study for finals at the end of the year."

I love stuff like that.

Curse jar update:

  • yesterday- 1 marble
  • today- 2 marbles
  • total count- 18

These numbers are WAY down from last week so that's a really good thing.  One kid has changed to saying "flippin" instead of something worse.  Others are just stopping themselves.  Overall I'm really happy.


It's taken far too long for these to get started.  I keep binders to organize all my lesson plans and papers according to unit.  The cluttered piles of paper in my room were driving me crazy so I finally sat down and organized these.  I will be a much happier person from now on.

I separate the unis with dividers and print out each lesson plan on its own brightly colored sheet of paper.  Behind each lesson plan is all of the things that goes with it.  Things that I don't want to hole punch are stored in sheet protectors.

Monday, October 1, 2012

My new favorite thing

I seriously love Pinterest.

My biggest hobby is making things and I can't even list all the ideas I've gotten on Pinterest for things that I've made...not to mention the recipe ideas, outfit ideas, classroom ideas, or new blogs to read that I've found there.  I often make things to solve some problem I have and I find now that when I have some problem that needs fixing, I'll often remember something that I saw on Pinterest.

So on Friday during first period I remembered this pin, which led me to this blog post.  The idea is to turn an iPad into a document camera.  It is a stand that holds the iPad above a table and to use it all you need to do is connect the iPad to a projector and turn on the camera like you're going to take a picture.  Boom- instant document camera.

I've been teaching using my iPad and a projector and it's working out great, but this idea just took it to the next level of awesomeness.  My school has a lot of resources so I knew there had to be a way to make something like this happen.  So second period I asked a couple people for help who were SO nice to go out of their way to help me and they found me some supplies from the science department to create this masterpiece:

So it's fairly self explanatory but it's a stand from the science department with a ring clamp on it.

The original idea had a clamp holding a clipboard to use as a stand but my clipboard wasn't too sturdy. Also note the rubber band holding it all together, very high tech stuff.  But the reason for the rubber band is that the VGA cord that I use:
doesn't stay connected to the iPad very well.  Without the rubber band it falls out really easily if the iPad moves even the slightest bit.
You may also notice the high tech projector screen in the picture- it is large sheets of white paper taped together.  Now this all may not look very fancy, but it's how I roll.  If I want something, I figure out a way to make it happen.  I'm certainly not going to go out and buy a screen and I really don't even want to spend the $13 to get a sheet of showerboard to put up there.  The paper was free and perfectly accomplishes what I wanted.

Instead of complaining about what I do or do not have, I think that my time is better spent coming up with creative solutions.  The added bonus is that I end up crazy proud of the things I make, regardless of how silly they might look.  For the whole rest of the day Friday I was pretty excited to show off my creation to all of my classes.  They looked at me like I was crazy, but that's ok.  :)

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