Thursday, July 18, 2013

Bell Ringers

In the past I haven't used bell ringers, but after watching my colleagues I decided they would make a great addition to my classes.

Today, I've hunted for a few PowerPoint templates. Then I spent a couple of hours taking standardized test prep questions and made a couple of units worth of bell ringers for my 7th grade geography class. I still need to do the same for my 8th U.S. History and 9th World History.

One of my fellow teachers shared that she covered every standard with bell ringers for her students. I've decided to mix standardized test prep questions with content driven questions. I'm still trying to decide if I want to incorporate them into our interactive notebooks.

Speaking of notebooks, what do you do when you find a box of envelopes that have sealed themselves because of the humidity? You cut in them in half and make pockets for your students' notebooks! I found a box today and most were completely sealed. Normally I would have thought "what a waste" but not today. :)

I also walked into my computer lab today and found a wonderful surprise. They had moved in all my new computers, unpacked and installed them! They even fixed mine! I know they have more programs to load, but I'm just excited to see it finished.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Let the Planning Begin!

I am very techy and I haven't carried a planner in years. For years, I carried a thick planner with everything under the sun in it. Then I met the Palm Pilot and fell in love and even convinced my non-tech mom to carry one. It had all my contacts, calendars and needlework inventory in it.

Unfortunately, smartphones/laptops took over and Palm Pilots were out marketed by Blackberry. My first smartphone was a BB and luckily I could transfer everything over and from there my planners were permanent history.

This works really well for my real life but it doesn't really seem to work for my teaching. Last summer I saw these cool personalized planners, but I'm really frugal and just wouldn't purchase one. I thought about making my own and in some ways I did. I pulled my attendance book apart and my lesson planner, three hole punched them and made an organizing binder.  

I'm really horrible about not putting things in my planner. I tend to pull things for the week and have them stacked on my desk or in my classroom closet (really a converted office). This summer I kept following even more middle school bloggers. Miss Math Dork blogged about making her own planner and I was ready to follow her lead. Then something awesome happened, she put her hard work to great use and offered her planner on TPT store, totally personalized!

It took several weeks before I decided to have her plan one for me. But I really couldn't resist. She was wonderful to work with, I picked out colors and fonts and in just a little while, my planner was ready for me to have it printed. She even included a link to a coupon site for the printing. :)

Printing was easy. I uploaded my file to Office Max and made decisions on binding, paper and printing styles. My local store was really quick. I received an email in hours telling me it was ready for pick up. Unfortunately, they made a mistake and printed it one sided and on the wrong paper weight. So while I had lunch and did the grocery shopping they reprinted my planner.

It turned out to be a happy mistake, they discounted the cost and gave me the extra planner for free! I hate to see things go to waste, so at the moment, I'm uncoiling the binding to pull the pages apart. I'm not sure what I'm going to do with them but I am seeing the months added to my bulletin board. :)
Please excuse the picture layout, blogger isn't friendly tonight. If you like the planner, check out you won't be sorry.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013


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Planning for the New School Year

The school year is just a few short weeks away. I began planning before the year was finished last year. I keep reading blogs about organization, INB planning, and general teacher interactions. I have a long list on TPT that I want to purchase and my new pencil sharpener arrived this week!

I plan on going to my room tomorrow to start getting some things ready. I am teaching world history this year and the curriculum is new for me. I have a huge textbook to look through and the standards are changing next year. This isn't a tested class and I'm finding the current standards vague and loose. Which is ok, I will have a lot of leniency to pull in art and music appreciation as I teach different time periods.

I'm happy to be teaching the "new" for me class because in 2014-2015 Tennessee social studies standards change, this course will move to seventh grade. I will then be teaching it on that grade level. So I feel like I'm getting a head start on the new standards. The draft standards are out and I will be able to use those as a guide for this class.

My INB planning is going well. I'm hoping to get the first four weeks set in my 7th and 8th grade class. I won't be using them in world history. But I will be incorporating foldables and a lot of the same type materials. My goal is to have things planned four weeks out and I have been pulling scope and sequences from several other school systems. I don't think we've used a standard S&S for social studies on our system. I know we use pacing guides/ S&S in math and language arts.

I really work more at home during the summer and I had planned to spend more time in my classroom this year. But I classroom computer quit working the first week after school ended. IT hasn't fixed it yet and it's just been easier to do things on my personal laptop. I've gotten into the habit of saving everything in Dropbox so that I can access all of my new material. I find that I have too many flash drives and never have the one I need on hand. Dropbox is a life saver!

I welcome suggestions or tips on organization. Please feel free to follow me on Pinterest.