#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!


#MsSunFun: My Slightly over the top Sub folder

Sub plans…the bane of every teacher’s existance.  In most cases, I would rather drag my sick self through school than spend hours writing sub plans to find the sub wasn’t comfortable with math (even though they do SEE what subjects I teach before choosing the job), my students were naughty and half of what was supposed to be done was completed (usually due to the students being naughty). My school pushes us to not stop curriculum when we are out; they do not want us leaving busy work.  But they do require that we have a set of Emergency Plans in the main office…just in case. I still have not put my Emergency plans in the office.

To be honest, I am overly anal with my subs plans and the organization of the information & work provided to the sub. The main reason is that more often than not, the sub who picks up my absence is not comfortable with math and I teach Pre-Algebra and Algebra (& a section of US History).  OR no sub picks up my absence and they have to internal sub, which usually means a different teacher each period. Therefore, I find the more detailed I am the better chance things will get accomplished. I wish we could find good math subs! 

In the past few years the 8th grade have been naughty naughty students with their every day teachers and about ten times worse with subs.  We drafted a letter that parents and students sign at the start of the year in regards to sub behavior.  I won’t post it here, but if you want to see it, I will send the link. I also have a slip that I have needed to give to students AFTER a sub visit that requires them to write an apology to the sub and to write me a letter about what happened the day before.  After 13 years of teaching, I still do not understand why the students are so much more naughty when I am not there.  I rarely see the same behaviors they exibit for subs…I do not get it!

Here it is…my slightly over the top sub folder outline:

The best part about my sub folder is the actual folder I use to put it all together; it is an 8-pocket plastic wire bound folder purchased from Target years ago. I LOVE these folders! If you click on the picture, it will take you to Amazon, where I purchased them from once I started using them for everything since Target stopped selling them. I also use this same style folder for my tardies & classroom behavior and absence work; I even have some I haven’t used yet…I kind of hoard them. 🙂  I like them because the front cover of the folder has a pocket where a sheet has been inserted that clearly identifies the folder as my sub folder. The cover also contains the Regular and Wednesday bell schedules. And I love it because it is a VERY durable poly plastic cover and has enough inside folder pages so each class period gets it’s own folder page.

  • The interior 6 clear pockets are organized with one pocket for each period.
    • Each pocket contains:
      • seating chart with student pictures printed in color (visible in the pockets)
      • alphabetical class list
      • Substitute Attendance Form (we have to take electronic attendance each period, subs can’t do that so they have to send something to the office…I created this to make it easier)
      • Class behavior report
    • The pockets are labeled with peel and stick file labels. And I used my label maker to label the file labels with each period.
  • The first pocket contains the following: (listed on an index card taped to the pocket)
    • Welcome letter to the sub outlining expectations, attendance and behavior policys
    • Substitute teacher helpful information (bell schedules, teachers to go to, helpful students, copy machine directions, technology log-in information, smartboard directions, textbook locations, etc)
    • That day’s lesson plans with checkboxes, papercliped together
    • Overall report from the day form
    • Map of school, with my rooms highlighted (& cafeteria, office, library, computer labs & nearest bathrooms)
    • Building Evacuation procedure, with roster
    • Calvin & Hobbes Substitute teacher comics 🙂
    • Pre-Algebra/Algebra helpful reference sheet
    • 8th grade class requirements/policies
    • My math class syllabus
  • The last pocket contains the following: (listed on an index card taped to the pocket)
    • Extra pad of Hall Passes
    • Extra hallway & washroom passes
    • Tardy/Unprepared & Warning Passes
    • Detentions
    • Referrals
    • Hard lock down/soft lock down procedures

I place the folder on top of any papers/copies necessary for each class.  They are paperclipped together and labeled.  Subs have reported they love the folder and always have what they need.  Except when I change seating charts and forget to update the folder…it’s so hard to remember to do that!

Happy Sunday Funday!