Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tour of my classroom

I finally (mostly) finished putting my classroom together - just in time for all the parents and students to stop by for our back to school barbecue.  Last year I was hired after the school year began, and didn't start until two weeks into the year.  All year I felt like I was playing catch up, especially since we had a brand new textbook and no pacing guide.  I didn't have time to decorate my classroom, or reorganize it the way I liked.  I made sure I had plenty of time to reorganize all the resources that came with the textbook series and decorate this year.  I decided to go with a color scheme as my classroom theme - and after looking at the colors of butcher paper we had available and what colors I like, I decided on black, teal and lime green. I think it looks pretty good! (Ignore all the random colored sheets of paper - they're for an icebreaker game we will be playing the first day.)

This is the view as you enter the room.  I really hate the curtains, but I inherited them with the room, and since we're supposed to PCS (move) next summer (meaning this is my last year at this school) I don't really want to spend a lot of money on new curtains.  Also, the selection at the BX (basically my only store choice other than the Internet out here) was limited.

This is my student office set up this year, with my awesome student office poster.  I've always had a student office in my classroom - a place where students can get any supplies they need without asking me if they can borrow it.  My very artistic sister made me that poster my first year, and when my husband went home on leave this summer I made him bring it back in his suitcase for me.  There are scissors, rulers, markers, crayons, colored pencils, highlighters, glue sticks, calculators, and so on located here.  I really wanted to put the paper bin here as well, but I didn't like how it looked so I put it on the opposite counter. 
 I also have my new system for absent students located here - an expanding file folder with a section for each class.  I stole this idea from my new favorite blog, Middle School Math Rules.  When someone is absent I put their name on the sheet and file it in the correct spot.  Then students will know to go look there for any missing work.  I'm hoping this will solve my problem of trying to locate what was missed and make sure the student receives it.  I didn't have an issue with that when I was teaching fifth grade, but it was a big problem for me last year.  I'm excited to try this one out.

This is my word wall - I try to make sure that correct vocabulary is used in my classroom, and so a big part of that is surrounding the students with the vocabulary.  Their interactive notebooks will have a section devoted to vocabulary and we will add the words to our word wall as we go throughout the year. 

This is our brag wall - students can put up anything they want on this board that they want to show off.  I also stole this from a couple of places - they called it a proud wall (which may be more appropriate, but I had already cut out the letters.) 
The green bulletin board next to it is the one thing I have left to do - I was going to make it a CSI (continuous school improvement) goals board, but then remembered I have a problem solving activity planned for the second week that creates a bulletin board.  That's why that one is still blank.

This is my set up at the front of the room for my SmartBoard, and ELMO.  Last year I had a smaller table there, and not only was everything crowded, but I actually shocked/electrocuted myself on the floor outlet.  The kids kept tripping over it and would unplug it, which would unplug everything on the table. As I was plugging it back in I touched an exposed wire and ouch!  I made sure to rearrange tables this year so it was covered up. 
I LOVE my ELMO - for those that don't know, it's like an overhead projector but will project opaque objects.  I can put a textbook under it, and the page will project onto the screen.  I'm not so in love with my SmartBoard here, only because it's not hung level, and so no matter how many times I align it, the writing is still wobbly on one side.

This is my teacher corner.  I love my Who is Mrs. ? bulletin board - and the kids love looking at all of my photos.  I do let students behind my desk, especially since I only have five computers in my room - when we do stations, I sometimes let a trustworthy student use the one on my desk, they just have to ask first. 
 I like where I put the desk this year; now I have some extra counter space to work with.  I also cleared out those cabinets this year, so I have lots of storage space as well.  I keep my colored paper back there, and a lot of teaching resources (mostly books, and hard copies of activities).

These are my days of the week folders.  I put everything I need for each day in the folder, so its ready to go.  This year I made cute labels for them and laminated them so they would last longer.  In the past I've had to replace these at least twice a year because they get so worn out.  They're also not nearly as cute.  :)

This is my assignment board - its on one of the side walls in my classroom.  I put the homework, daily schedule and learning objectives up here every day.  This year I made some labels to make it look nicer.  I got the idea for labels from Middle School Math Rules as well - I'm telling you, that woman is FULL of great ideas!  (You can also see my journal bulletin board that I showed you here.) Also - already have my plans up for the first day - I am on TOP of it this year!  :)

This is my desk, with my planbook that I got from teachers pay teachers.  It's not my perfect plan book, but I think it will work out for this year.  Maybe I'll get super creative this year and create my own.  I do LOVE the color though - especially since it matches my room.  You can see I already have two to do lists - the post its.  I use the first one to tell me what I need to do NOW, and the second one tells me what I need to get done within the next few days.  As I finish the first list, I rotate them.  It's not technologically sophisticated, but I love being able to cross something off or rework my lists as needed.  If I don't write it down though, I do not remember it.
This is the far wall of my classroom - its all windows here, so I can't hang a lot up.  I've assigned a bookshelf to each class for them to keep textbooks or their math journals on.  The black bin is where students will turn in their work, and the yellow bin is for paper.  It will hold plain white paper, notebook paper, graph paper and missing assignment sheets. 
I stole this particular sheet from E, Myself and I.  If students are absent they grab one of those yellow sheets, fill it out, and turn that in instead.  When they finally turn in the assignment you cut off the bottom part, and staple it to the assignment and keep the top part for your records. If they never turn it in, you record that and keep the sheet. I tried something similar last year, but it didn't work out very well.  I wasn't using a full sheet of paper, and it wasn't a different color.  I also didn't make sure it became a part of the routine, so I am going to reinforce it a LOT this year.
Also, you can (barely) see the blue buckets further along the counter - this is where I'm going to put station work this year.  I need to get some more buckets, but the BX was out.  Hopefully they restock them, otherwise I'm going to have a mismatched room.  I'm also keeping all the math games students will be allowed to play on the counter as well.  Other than that, I'm trying to keep it clean - we will see how that goes. 
This is the view of my room from my desk.  I'm really excited that I was able to get a round table this year for my small groups.  I had a rectangle one last year, and it just doesn't work as well.  Above my white board is my number line (-15 through 15).  That comes in handy when we are working with integers.  I also have a spot for no name papers (I put the period on them, and then use a magnet to put it up there.)  That way I am no longer responsible for keeping track of where the papers are or trying to figure out who they belong to.  I also have two signs that I made - one says 'you may use a calculator' while the other says 'you may not use a calculator.' (Also stolen - I'm a good thief!- Fast Times of a Middle School Math Teacher.)  Now I shouldn't have to answer that question 500 times a day. 
I have a sliding white board for all of you who are wondering where my SmartBoard is - it's behind the board!  I can push the panels so they overlap and out comes my SmartBoard!  There is also a TON of storage behind there, so that's where most of my math manipulatives and the textbook resources are kept.  I'll have to show you that another time.  One thing I love about this room is how much storage there is!  There are cabinets underneath the entire length of the board as well.

Sorry for the monstrously long post - I'm just so excited and wanted you to be able to see everything!  What do you think?  What new ideas are you using this year?



  1. Brittany, Your excitement and enthusiasm is contagious. You are making teaching middle school math look fun! I also struggled with math in school and cried many tears while my father tried to help me. It's highly likely that you will make a difference in the lives of your seventh graders. I also love reading about your resourses. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Your blog is FANTABULOUS!!!!! the more I look...the more I find!!! I'm getting sooooo many great ideas!! thank you for sharing your awesomeness!!!!


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