#MTBoS30 – Day 1 – My “Secret” Passion

I enjoy blogging but usually need a little push to sit down and write a blog post…so when @sophgermain (Anne Schwartz) blogged about blogging for 30 days, I figured I could do that.  I WANTED to do a 180 blog, but that’s crazy…I couldn’t keep up, so I figure this has to be doable…right?

I have a secret passion that has grown immensely in the last 4 years when I bought a house and needed furniture and things for it.  My parents are antique dealers and I grew up going to estate sales, auctions, garage sales, toy shows, etc.  I enjoyed it then, but as a child couldn’t do much about it.  I like clean line well made furniture, stained glass, unique architectural items and unique art pieces.  I have a collection of Bill Olendorf prints of Chicago and some unique perspective state map prints of Wisconsin that are quite funny.  Recently I have enjoyed picking up poor sad pieces of furniture from the thrift store and painting them and/or turning them into something else.  I currently have 3 small projects in my garage and just this weekend picked up another one.  I can’t wait for the weather to get nicer so I can work on them in the garage!

My newest project is an old oak vanity missing the back piece and the mirror, which was fine with me.  I am going to cut the middle part out to separate the ends and create two bedside tables. They are the perfect height, the drawers all work and I love the clean lines! There are only three original handles, so I’m either going to use 3 different pairs of handles (each drawer pair will have a different handle) or I am going to use all glass knobs (which I love the look of).  My bedroom doesn’t have this dark wood…so it’s possible that I will be painting the oak white (Gasp!) or this will give me a reason to start changing up my bedroom colors.  I found this at a barn sale, bargained down the price to $45 and as you can see, was pretty determined to get it home.  Years of moving furniture with my dad, I know how to protect a car and tie down a trunk with my eyes closed. I didn’t have to go far and only on back country roads, so I was okay with this method of transportation. Side note: I may need to think about getting a bigger car to help fuel this passion of mine.



My newest project


A few previous projects:

This is a bookcase that now sits in my master bath and hold towels and baskets.


This is my FAVORITE recent project. My dad helped immensely with this one, but I’m a quick learner and had a lot of fun. I found it at a local estate sale in the barn being used as a tool bench and a mouse haven. The top even had laminate glued down with a metal edge…ick!


My second favorite project. I found the door at a barn sale for $4, asked the lady to keep it for a week until I could get my parent’s van to pick it up (no way my car could get that home). I knew I wanted it for a headboard and it was perfect because it had symmetrical panels (that’s the math teacher in me). It was also an old swinging door, so it didn’t have a door handle hole that needed to be filled or that would be visible.  The sides are from an old newel post that my parents had just laying around…we cut it in half to make the sides and added some oak around the bottom to bring it to the floor.  We left the wood as we found it, no sanding or painting of this.  Dad anchored it to the wall, should there be a tornado and the house gets leveled…I swear this would still be standing. (Notice the stained glass in the window…)


So that’s a little bit about me and my passion outside of school, my classroom and my students.  Again, my goal is to blog everyday…something about the day, something new about me, whatever comes to mind.



#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?


Posters, Signs & Labels

I warned you all that I was going to catch up on my blogging…this is post #3 in one day. 🙂 It does help that there is a huge thunderstorm going on outside; perfect day to get some work done! I am working on blogs and planning the next 7 days before Thanksgiving break at the same time, yeah.

I love inspirational posters, quotes, catchy sayings that are shown in a visually appealing way.  This summer August when I was figuring out how I wanted to decorate and organize my classroom, I came across some amazing sites that really helped me pull a decent looking classroom together.

Blog Sites
Technology Rocks, Seriously – I can not say enough about this fantastic blog and the woman behind it who is so helpful and creative.  The majority of the signs I have in my classroom came from her blog. THEY ARE ALL FREE! These are the posters that I have along the top of all four of my walls.  I also used her Group #’s signs to hang above my groups and to put on the group supply bins. You will easily get lost and spend an hour or more looking (& downloading) all of the great signs that she has available.  Did I mention they are FREE?!!!

Venspired.com – Another awesome blogger who creates posters and puts them on Flicker for FREE.  The sayings that she uses are awesome and she really has a knack for laying out a great poster with graphics and text.  If you really want to be jealous, check out her blog and click on the Classroom Decoration category she has…the ideas and the themes that she comes up with are AMAZING! Almost…almost makes me want to teach 4th or 5th grade.

Ideas from Online
Dear Students Poster – from MissCalculate – If you read in the comments on her blog, she posted a box.net link to her poster file.  I LOVE this poster! I also had a similar one pinned on Pinterest and was over the moon when I read her post and she posted the link to the file. Funny thing was that I even had the font she used already on my computer! I didn’t change anything (except my name) because she did such a great job.

Two Nice Things Rule – I mentioned this in a blog post on 9/23/12, but it’s such a great rule, it deserves to be mentioned again. This year I adopted MissCalculate’s Two Nice Things rule. I am SO glad that I came across that before the year started. I have always disliked the students being mean to each other and they love calling each other out with this rule when they are. It works great for my students and I do think that it is helping them consider what they say. Thank you @misscalculate! I created a poster for my room, I printed it on three sheets of paper taped them together and laminated it. Actually, I sent it to my district print center after the fact because I thought it was too small and had them print it on 11×17 paper in color and then I taped it together and laminated it. I hung it right above the smartboard in the front of my room. Here is the file if you want it:

Classroom Expectations – from Sarah at Everybody is a Genius – I loved the organization of the expectations, the wording and the clean outline and design.  I printed it as a poster for my room and colored it before laminating.  I had gotten away from posting expectations over the years and wanted to change that this year.  Her post and her expectations was exactly the change I needed.

Correct ISN Heading – from Sarah at Everybody is a Genius (again!) – In her post about ISN set up she outlined the Left side/Right side and the proper heading for the ISN pages. I loved the wording and after a quarter of using our ISN’s one would think my 8th grade students would get it…they do not.  So I compiled it into a poster so I could send it off to get made into a poster to put on my wall.  Still waiting for the poster to arrive, but I am hoping it will help. Here is a link to my version of the Correct ISN Set Up.

My Own Creations
All of the below signs were created for something I needed (or wanted…same thing right?). Let me know if you want the non-PDF document to modify for your own uses.

Class period & material labels – to label ISN bins, Skill Folder Holder, plastic drawers that hold extra materials

File Folder Labels – to label ISN bin folders, Extra Handouts files, my turn in bins, etc.

Class Period Headings – used on top of my poster sized TOC to give students a place to check their TOC for accuracy & updating

Stop Light Folder Labels – Attached these to Red, Yellow and Green file folders (that are stapled to the wall by the door). Students turn in Exit tickets, Entrance Tickets, etc. in these folders based upon their current understanding of the material. It gives me a great way to see if their feeling about their understanding is correct.

Highlighter Cup Sign – This is new as of today. I was doing some grading today and couldn’t enter grades because of all of the no names.  I am TIRED of the no name papers; in 8th grade it’s a little ridiculous. I saw this on Pinterest and wanted to create it myself. Not sure if I am going to have them highlight their name or under their name, we will see. If their name is missing, they must write it in pencil/pen, not highlighter. 

Bathroom Thank you – I just saw a picture of this saying from a classroom one someone’s blog this morning and can’t find it. So I apologize for not linking to the right location where I got the idea. Let me know and I will update the post with the link.  Either way, I created my own version with some of my fun fonts.  The students know this rule, but as of the start of 2nd Quarter were doing a lot of bathroom and water fountain visiting.  I am not against them going and I will let them go; I just prefer that they don’t go. 43 Minutes of class goes by fast so I try to maximize every minute.

Make Mistakes – I have this quote on my mirror and wanted to type it up, mainly for me, but then I realized it could apply to the classroom as well. 

Thanksgiving Stationary – Each year we have the 8th grade students write Thank You letters to a staff member (other than their Core teachers) who has helped them in some way throughout their time in middle school.  They can do more than one, it’s just their first one can’t be to one of their core teachers. I updated our stationary this year to include a different picture.  The students this year like to color, so I found a picture that provided more coloring opportunities. We do these letters the Monday before Thanksgiving break and place them in the teacher’s mailboxes so they get them before we leave. The teachers appreciate receiving the letters and it’s nice to have the students take time to thank a staff member.  I love reading the letters the students write because it shows how hard working, dedicated and caring the staff I work with is.  Here is my updated stationary, I turned it into a card. I made it all grayscale because it will be copied that way and we want the kids to color. 🙂

PHEW!!! I am done for a while, until tomorrow’s #MsSunFun. Enjoy!