#MyFavFriday: How Are We Learning?

MFFOne of my favorite organizational things is Pinterest. I feel bad for those that follow any of my boards because I’ve been pinning things like crazy! Obviously it’s summer and I have time to spend hunting things down to pin to my boards; never mind the things I should ACTUALLY be doing…like those listed on my Summer To Do List.  (Note to self: add Pinning cool things on Pinterest to Summer To Do List so I can cross it off).

Earlier this week a teacher from my school pinned a neat anchor chart/poster titled How Are We Learning?  I thought it was a great way to clearly communicate classroom expectations, especially with CCSS and the push for inquiry and collaborative grouping students.  They really don’t always know what the expectations are for each situation or my 8th grade students pretend not to know.  The pin was only a picture, so I tried to hunt down the original author & even commented on the pin to try and find out more.  This is the problem with Pinterest, awesome ideas that aren’t properly linked to provide author credit or to provide answers to questions about whatever the activity, project, etc. is. If you know who created this or where it is on the web, please let me know so I can provide credit where credit is due!

I like using cute computer fonts and colors and I like having printed posters for my room.  So I decided to make an electronic version of the How are we learning chart.  AIH is believed to stand for Academic Intervention Hour, which we do not have, so I removed it and created just 4 sections.  I used the wording from the original chart, even though the teacher from my school who pinned it and I use different methods for students to get our attention.  I am not sure this is exactly what I will print poster size for my room, but I wanted to share anyways!

What would you keep, change or add to the poster to make it more meaningful for your classroom?


My Kryptonite – the *perfect* teacher plan book

MFFNo, I haven’t seen the new Superman yet. I’ve heard conflicting reviews, but I do want to see parts of the local town Plano, IL which is in the movie, so I might venture out to see it soon.  Anyways, one of my first posts was about technology as a time saver and how I used technology to create helpful teacher organizational documents.  I have found that I like when things are pretty and organized, it makes me happy and excited to use them.  In order to help me get excited for the new year, I updated my teacher plan book to create something organized and useful. I have to say I am pretty excited about the result!

My Plan Book Parts
*I have scoured the internet for what I wanted, therefore my parts are made up of self-created items and free items on the internet. Links to where I found things on the internet are provided, with permission from the author.

  • 3-ring binder – this year I scored a bright green binder (you can see the edge of it below) with the clear view pockets on the outside when a student put it in the trash in my room at the end of the year.  It was BRAND NEW!
  • Cute Fonts – Wish I Were Taller by Kevin & Amanda and Cinnamon Cake – I have hundreds of fonts on my computer (& I tend to add new ones daily), but I use these two a lot.
  • Custom Cover – I came across this AMAZING website by Miss Tiina, where she has tons of free printables.  I used one of her journal pages as my cover when I got tired of trying to create my own.  Amazingly enough it matched the bright green binder I scored at the end of the year!
  • Color theme – I fell in love with the stuff that Miss Tiina has created and spent HOURS looking through her freebies and printables.  Once I determined what I wanted to use, I couldn’t figure out how to match the colors she used exactly.  My attention to detail in this regard caused me to email her and ask if she would provide the colors used so I could create my own cover (which I didn’t end up doing out of lack of creative genius), but it did allow me to color match everything else! WOO HOO! With her permission, here are the colors to match! I am amazed every day at the things available online when you take the time to search and the willingness to freely share that other bloggers, teachers and designers have. Thank you Miss Tiina!!
  • Printable Divider pagesWHAT? WHAT? – Yes, you heard me correctly. Avery makes 3-ring binder tabbed dividers that you can print on using their template. I think I was skipping through Staples when I went to purchase mine. 🙂 I color coded the tabs using the same colors, and even decorated the divider page with some color and the same words that I put on the tabs. I probably could have made the dividers even more cute and colorful, but my impatience to print on them won out and I left them fairly plain. 🙂
  • 2013-2014 At a Glance Calendar – Used excel to create this on one page and used the same fonts and colors as other parts of the plan book
  • Dated Monthly Calendar pages – Again, Miss Tiina came through with exactly what I wanted, cute fonts, and color matched (by sheer luck) to everything else I was putting together. The calendars are one page per month with an area at the bottom for notes, which is great for us teachers because gosh knows things get added all of the time and we write notes everywhere! I uploaded her calendar graphics into powerpoint, moved them around so the 3-hole punch didn’t go through a bunch of dates when I printed them back to back and then used text boxes and Cinnamon Cake font to type in the District Calendar events on the calendars before I printed them.  Cute fonts are better than my ugly handwriting.
    Here is the link to her 2013 Calendar and Here is the link to her 2014 Calendar
  • Dated Plan Book pages – Earlier I posted about my plan book for this past school year, but (funny ha ha) I didn’t end up using it much and in fact didn’t print out anything other than the 1st quarter pages. This is largely due to  another way I organize my Algebra and Pre-Algebra files. But this year I really need to use it and keep myself organized in planning Geometry and History and I have nothing else to fall back on.  So I jazzed it up a bit, made curved edges and color matched it.  The best part is that I created it in Excel, so it is dated and the dates self populate for the entire year when I change the very first date! It is a 2 page spread per week.
  • Meeting Notes pages – I haven’t quite finalized exactly what I want to use for these pages. I have a few options, but I don’t exactly know where I got them, so I don’t want to post them here. I want these pages because I need to keep better track of discussions at team meetings, grade level meetings, PLC Meetings, etc.  I can print the agendas and put them in that section or write notes on a cute form.  To be decided I guess!
  • Dated Gradebook pages – I also jazzed up my gradebook pages a bit and used the same fonts. It is also dated with a two page spread for each quarter.  I have to wait until I get my rosters to print them…but I already love them! I have explained before that I have gotten burned once too many by our online gradebook program, so I record everything on paper and then transfer it to the online gradebook. A mix of old school and new school, but it has been quite a benefit, especially using SBG.

PHEW! I think that is it (for now at least). 🙂  A few teachers at school heard about and saw me creating this at the end of the year and I have made a few custom plan books and gradebooks for them using my Excel self-created documents above.  Isn’t it funny how cute fonts and colors gets us teachers all jazzed up? Oh that and really nice pens!

What is in your teacher plan book/binder? What have you found invaluable to keep in your plan book/binder? Do you use something that you think I need to add? 🙂

#MyFavFriday: Loving the Internet & Seating Chart Heaven

MFFIn the past when we needed help, or needed a fresh idea…what did we do without the internet? without Twitter Tweeps to ask? without blogs to search?  I am continuously amazed at the resources that the MathTwitterBlogosphere puts out there for all to use.

My current example of how awesome you all are:
Due to the implementation of the Common Core in my school this year, we are also working on cooperative learning and putting more of the ownership of learning on the students.  I love all of this, but my 8th grade students DO NOT know how to effectively work together.  It’s been a long first half of the year teaching them how to work together and I hope it gets easier. (Anyone with helpful ideas, please share!)  My favorite comment from a student earlier in the year when I moved the desks from groups of 4 to rows for the quarter final…”can we just stay in rows, I like that so much better.” It made me laugh because all of last year the students didn’t like sitting in pairs and would have loved to sit in groups…they were such a social group.

At the start of the year, with my desks in groups of four for the first time in my teaching career, I never created a seating chart on paper that I liked.  Our gradebook program, while it does have a seating chart option, does not and will not fit all of the desks I need in the right spots, so all it does is confuse a sub (& sometimes myself).  So I have to create it on my own.  A teacher at my school shared the seating chart word document he created and I was just using that the first two quarters.  The problem was it just had boxes for names, nothing for attendance or assignments or behavior.  I would use a different color pen each day and create a key at the bottom of the chart to keep track of it all.  It didn’t work so well, or at least as well as I had hoped.

Enter my desire to find the perfect seating chart (or at least the perfect one for now). I searched online and in an images search came across this beautiful picture of joyous desks with boxes for all that I needed.  Low and behold, the image comes from another math blogger and it was from 2008!!! How did I not find this before? Thank you Ms. J at Sines of Learning for your awesome creation! You can find her blog post here: http://sinesoflearning.blogspot.com/2008/10/seating-charts.html

Sadly I needed a different layout and many more desks because I have 9 groups.  Enter my evening messing with Ms. J’s graphics and creating my seating chart in powerpoint. Check it out below:

I added numbers to my groups because that’s how I have them labeled in class and I added grouping numbers and letters to the desks as well.  I do also have those taped to the desks for the students, but I thought I might like it on my seating charts.  I used some of my fun fonts and love the way it turned out.

Similar to @gwaddellnvhs and his #MyFavFriday post about Pens (http://blog.mrwaddell.net/archives/673), I created new groups for the new quarter and used my favorite pen to write in the names for easy copying so I can have enough sheets for the 6 weeks we will be in groups. What is it with teachers and pens? 🙂

I am looking forward to the new quarter, new groups and a fun start with my shiny new seating charts! Yeah!