Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Anchor Charts

Today I stayed after school to create some anchor charts my regular 7th grade math classes. We are currently working on 7.EE.A.1 "Apply properties of operations as strategies to add, subtract, factor, and expand linear expressions with rational coefficients."  All my math students did ACT Interim testing today so I spent some time designing my anchor charts. I'm a bit compulsive when designing anchor charts and prefer to map out what I want to include on post-it notes and then transfer the information to chart paper.  I don't decide on colors until I sit down to write my anchor charts.  These three (well really four because I redid the Solving Expressions chart) took me over two hours to complete.

Below was the first chart I created.  I was definitely not happy with how the examples looked.  I should have had space between each line on example 2.

Solving Expressions Take One

I ended up redoing this chart after I created the charts for Distributing and Factoring.  I thought they were so much easier to read and see each example that I went back and and fixed this one up and was much happier with how it turned out the second time.

Solving Expressions Much Better!

I do not require my students to show the work of how they distribute, but put it on the anchor chart  as a guide to remind them they have to distribute to all terms in parentheses.  A common misconception is for them to only distribute to the first term.


I love the way this chart turned out and like the combo of blue, red, and purple with the black.  Stepping outside my comfort zone of my pink, blue, green color scheme.  When students struggle I always refer back to the anchor charts to guide them to solve the problem.


All ready to go on my front board for tomorrow.

I'm very happy with the finished products and hope they will be beneficial to my students as they work through this chapter.  In the past students have really appreciated having anchor charts to look at and often take photos of them on their phones so they can look at them at home.  I still need to make a chart for Combining Like Terms, but my family was waiting for me to get home so we could have dinner so that will have to wait until tomorrow.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Create a Classroom Setup Kit

One of the best ideas I had a few years ago was to create a kit of all the necessary supplies I would need to get my classroom set up in August.  There is nothing worse than coming back ready to get your classroom organized and decorated and not being able to find the tape or stapler you need.

This is a list of what I have in my kit.  I have been doing this for a few years now so I just edit my list whenever I add something new to it.  Most items fit into a small storage box.  The paper cutter and cardstock/paper get stored in a separate container.

  • Create a Classroom Set Up Kit:
    • Scissors
    • Stapler
    • Staples
    • Staple Remover
    • Masking Tape
    • Painters Tape
    • Double Sided Tape
    • Glue Stick (keep in plastic bag)
    • Goo Gone
    • Cotton Balls
    • Ruler
    • Fishing Wire
    • Push Pins
    • String
    • Paper Punch
    • Paper Clips
    • Magnets
    • Magnetic Tape
    • Post-Its
    • Pencil
    • Black Marker
    • Quart Freezer Bags
    • Gallon Freezer Bags
    • Fiskars Cutter
    • Astrobrights Cardstock
    • Astrobrights Paper

Everything fits in this Sterlite container except the paper cutter, freezer bags, and paper/cardstock

Every adhesive you can think of 

Magnets for displaying items on my chalkboard

Stapler and push pins

Scissors, ruler, pencils, eraser, black markers, paper punch, mini flashlight, chalk, and paper clips

I make sure I put this kit into a safe place where I will be able to access it immediately.  I have a wall cabinet that I store everything I need for the beginning of the school year.  That way nothing important gets misplaced or goes missing.  When I come back in August all excited to get my classroom set up I don't have to hunt around for the supplies I need.

Sunday, May 7, 2017

End the School Year With the Beginning in Mind

A few years ago I started being very intentional about planning and getting organized for the following school year while finishing up the current year.  I've had this blog post in draft form for a couple years and decided to pull the trigger and finish it so I could finally post it.  I wanted to post this now because I only have six weeks of school left and I know many other teachers will be done weeks before me (lucky!).

It's that time of the year when we as teachers are all thinking about the huge list of things we need to accomplish between now and the end of the school year or frantically packing up our rooms for the summer break. When packing up your room make sure you know where you are packing things that you will need to start off the year.  Seems obvious, but I can't tell you how many times I have started the school year wondering where I packed something important that I need when arriving back to school in August.

I have a blue wall cabinet that I clear out at the end of the year and I make sure to pack everything I need to start school the following year in that cabinet so when I return in August I just open it up and everything I need it write there for me.

I pack up everything I need for my classroom setup and the first weeks of school in this cabinet.

Start by creating the following:
  • End of Year Packing List.  This list should be customized to your individual classroom.  I made a list a few years ago and look it over every year as things change in my classroom set up as rearrange/get rid of furniture.  I start by sitting at the back of my room and looking at the door.  I then take a 360ยบ counterclockwise look around my room and make my end of the year packing list.
  • End of the Year Calendar (last six weeks of school):  This is sort of my To Do list put on a calendar so I don't ed
  • Classroom Setup Kit: This is a kit I put together of all necessary supplies for when I return to my classroom in August to set it up.
  • Classroom Setup List:  This list is sort of the reverse of the End of the Year Packing List.
  • Back to School To Do List:  This is a comprehensive list of everything I need to have organized for the first few weeks of school.
  • Back to School Paperwork List:  This is a list of copies I need to make or printables I need to create for the beginning of the year.
  • Summer To Do List:  This is a very lofty/unrealistic list of all the school related things I may want to work on over summer break.

I will be doing a series of blog posts in the coming weeks to help you get organized so you don't feel overwhelmed by all the end of the year tasks to close up your classroom.  I will also share tips on how to spend time now getting yourself prepared for Back To School so you can come back in August feeling relaxed and ready to start the school year.

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Currently January 2017

Well I don't even know where to begin with why I have not blogged since April of last year.  It's not that I have a lack of knowledge or content to share, but I life just got that busy for me with three boys and all their various sports and activities, along with my involvement on the Leadership Council of our local union and as a board member of my school district's Educational Foundation.  2016 came and went with only two posts from me and that's just how it went.

I'm not making any promises for 2017 and I won't start the year pressuring myself with unrealistic expectations of blogging, but you have to start somewhere and I think Currently posts were always the easiest for me to do so that's how I will start the new year.

Listening:  I have been listening to Christmas music for the past month and I have to say I just love it. I'm cutting myself off now that it's officially 2017, but I have been listening to the two XM radio stations and when they stopped playing Christmas music I resorted to my Andy Williams Christmas station on Pandora.  When not listening to Christmas music I am watching one of the 8 zillion Christmas movies I DVRd this holiday season.  Hallmark you are killing me by adding 17 new movies, while I have to watch all my old favorites.  I think at one point the DVR was down to 11% available thanks to my Christmas movie hoarding.  I'm still watching movies today.  I know, I need an intervention.

Loving:  Christmas Break. Although I feel it's a short one this year, due to how the holidays fall, I have soaked up every single minute of relaxation, productivity around the house, and fun with family and friends.  We had a wonderful Christmas Eve with my parents and oldest brother and then celebrated Christmas Day with my other two brothers' families.  I relish the time I get to spend with my family.

Thinking:  How blessed I feel to have a job I love (despite the politics and nonsense I have to deal with).  I have great kids again this year with great families and I adore my coworkers who make me laugh during lunch every single day.  We definitely keep each other sane, despite all the insanity these days in education.

Wanting:  I'm wanting everyone to be healthy.  My dad had a knee replacement last week so he is recovering from that.  My oldest seems to have a cough he can't shake, my youngest missed the last two days before break due to a fever and now has a cough that's lingering.  I had a cough for the past few months and finally got a chest x-ray the Friday before Christmas only to find out I had pneumonia.  I took an 5 day antibiotic and am now on Advair, but the dry cough is still lingering.  My teaching bestie is having surgery this week and will be out for several weeks. I hope she has a very easy recovery and don't know how I will survive all those weeks without her.  We are so in sync with our teaching beliefs and styles so I will miss her lots.

Needing:  The only thing I need to do is figure out when to finish my Christmas Break organizing projects I planned on tackling, but seem to have neglected (I blame you Hallmark Channel).  I had high hopes of organizing several closets and the pantry and start back on Tuesday so we will see what happens.

2017:  For the New Year I want to focus on health and all its aspects.  Physical, emotional/mental, professional, relationship, financial.  All of the above.  I want make sure my time spent is in line with my beliefs.

Here are a few photos from December that I want to share with all of you:

My December Bulletin Board

I was very spoiled again by my students.

I've been sipping Peppermint Mochas this break thanks to my students' generosity.

Our Christmas Eve Eve celebration.

Christmas Eve boys in bow ties.

Our Christmas card this year. I know it's a bit fuzzy on here, but I wanted to share it.

Thanks for stopping by and for your patience during my long hiatus.  I hope to have some new content to share with all of you in 2017.  I'm still loving my workshop model for math instruction.  I've been making lots of anchor charts this year so look for some upcoming posts about them.  I just finished a coaching cycle before break and we focused on conferring with students.  I really enjoyed the coaching cycle and will try to find time to write up some ideas for improving how I confer with my math students.  Feel free to comment on anything you are interested in seeing for new content.

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Currently April 2016

I'm linking up with Farley for her April Currently.  I can't believe I have not blogged since January.   I am having a great school year with wonderful students again.  Life with three boys seems to leave little time for blogging these days.  I am thinking of doing some posts about getting ready for the end of the school year and all that entails.  Feel free to email or leave in the comments any suggestions for future blog posts.

Listening:  I'm watching Live with Kelly and Michael episodes I have DVRd.  I hate when they do repeat segments and that is what the last week has been so I'm just watching the host chat portion and then deleting the episode.  

Loving:  My new black storage boxes from IKEA.  It was on my To Do List last summer to switch out all my ugly old white storage boxes for new black ones from IKEA.  Unfortunately I ran out of time last summer and was never able to make it to IKEA. My amazing husband indulged me and took me to IKEA in Schaumburg, IL on Monday.  I have not been there for nearly a decade and didn't realize how confusing the store layout is.  Afterward we had a delicious lunch at Joe's Crab Shack.  I spent a couple days in my classroom decluttering the contents of the white boxes (so not fun, but so necessary) and then reorganized everything in the beautiful black boxes.

We shopped till I was ready to drop
After-one box is still empty
Fruits of my decluttering labor

Love the posters from Carnegie Learning I finally put up

Thinking:  About some of the projects I want to create with my new Astrobrights packs I ordered from Amazon.  They will arrive tomorrow.  I also need to go back to Office Depot today and pick up one pack of cardstock that was much cheaper at the store than on Amazon.  I plan on sprucing up the blue wall cabinet shown in the photos above.  I never got around to putting up anything on the right side last summer before school started.  I think I might redo the posters on the left to incorporate some more color.  Please share any favorite Astrobrights color combos you may have.

My name is Sherrie and I'm obsessed with Astrobrights paper
Wanting:  The weather to warm up once and for all.  We have had lots of sun and warm weather lately, but the picture below shows what's happening right now.  We have LAX and BB games this week with rain and snow in the forecast so things might be interesting, not in a good way.

Snow snow go away and don't come back until November
Needing:  I'm going to spend some time this weekend trying to finish up the most important items on my Spring Break TO DO list.  Our trip to IKEA was very productive and we got a bench for shoes and backpacks for the laundry room and new shower curtains and rugs for the boys' bathroom.  RIP Pottery Barn Frogs that I loved so much, but my youngest is 10 now so it was time for a redo.  I also spent a couple days in my classroom and got those boxes done which was a major project.  Lots of housecleaning left to do this weekend.

Spring Break To Do Lists
Whatever:  This week marks the beginning of 4th quarter.  Every year I feel like 4th quarter is over in the blink of an eye.  School will be busy, but family life will be even busier.  My oldest plays Varsity LAX. My middle plays BB, and my youngest plays LAX and BB.  I love this time of year, but it will be crazy and suddenly it will be summer break.

My room all ready for me to return from Spring Break

The adorable and super yummy cake my mom made for Easter

I hope you all enjoyed your Spring Break and wish you the best of luck on successfully finishing up this school year.

Saturday, January 2, 2016

Currently January

I cannot believe 2016 is here already.  2015 seems to have flown by with the blink of an eye.   I'm linking up with Farley for her January Currently.

Listening:  Right now all three boys are still sleeping and my husband is making breakfast.  I am very lucky to have a husband who is also enjoys cooking. I smell eggs, polish sausage, and hash browns  Yesterday he made individual beef wellingtons for dinner.  We always invite my parents to a fancy dinner every January 1st to ring in the new year with them.

Loving:  This has been a wonderful break.  It's been filled with family, fun, and lots of relaxation.  We celebrated with my family Christmas Eve and I have to say, having my 5 yo niece and 2 yo nephew just makes family gatherings so much more fun!  Other than them, my son Cooper is the youngest and he is 10.  So much fun to see Christmas through the eyes of little ones.  Thanks to Direct TV's Binge-a-thon I watched "The Knick" and "Flesh and Bone".  Loved them both.

Thinking:  I really want to refocus my time & energy on what is really important.  This from both a personal and professional perspective.  Sometimes in education we are forced to spend too much time on meaningless tasks that don't end up benefitting students. I want to be more purposeful on how I spend my time.  It's too precious to waste.

Wanting:  Can I just hit the pause button?  Or even rewind?  My oldest is turning 17 one month from today and sometimes I have trouble grasping where his childhood went.  He is driving, has a job,  and even has his own truck thanks to my dad. My middle son is in 8th grade. Even though he goes to the school I teach at, he rides the bus this year so he can be with his friends.  Because I teach 7th grade I never see him at school.  Due to the different bell schedules for 7th & 8th grade it's as if we have two separate schools where I teach.  The thought of him going to high school next year blows my mind.   Don't even get me started on my baby who is now 10 and in 4th grade.  I feel 4th grade is the shift from little boy to big boy and it saddens me greatly that he no longer wants to read our favorite picture books together and watch episodes of "Little Bear".  The boys have spent much of their break hanging out with their friends which has provided me lots of time to read and relax.  

Needing:  I usually spend some time on NYE reflecting and thinking about my goals for the coming year.  This year I did do that.  I'm going to spend some time this weekend thinking about how to achieve the goals that important to me without sacrificing family time.  I feel as educators we often sacrifice our own family time for the benefit of our students.  I have really tried the last couple of years to get a better balance between school and home life.  I feel it's so important to continue this as my boys are getting older.  I want to cherish the time I have with them all still living under the same roof.  Exercise and Whole 30 are going to be coming back in 2016.

One Little Word:  Declutter  I know it's not a profound word, but I really want to declutter my home, my classroom storage, and my schedule.  After this Christmas I have made the conclusion that we have way too much stuff and I want to start getting rid of the stuff that does not in fact bring me joy and satisfaction.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

My Top Ten Blog Posts from 2015

I hope all of my teacher friends out there are enjoying a very relaxing and rejuvenating vacation.  Today I'm sharing my Top 10 most clicked on posts from 2015.  I also threw in the last one as a bonus because Friday Letters is one of my favorite new things I've implemented this year.  I'm hoping to spend some time over break getting myself back into blogging about all the great things that are going on in my school and classroom this year.
1)  Workshop Wednesday #1: Getting Started