Saturday, September 15, 2012

Classroom Photos-Part II

I finally got around to taking some photos of my classroom a week ago (and it was a dark rainy night at 7 PM so the photos are a bit dark).  I posted my Classroom Photos-Part I.  Those photos really just gave a 360 view of my classroom.

Today I am posting some more close-up photos for you to see.  The focal point of my classroom this year is definitely my Math Focus Wall surrounding my SMARTBoard.  I have to say I love it and promise that I will dedicate an entire post just to that once I get it completely finished.  It continues to be a work in progress.

My favorite addition to my classroom.

Another area that I love is the corner where I keep my Learning Stations/Math Manipulatives.  I moved my Desktop computer over there and the "Be a Star" bulletin board which is still under construction.

Do you love the zebra border?  It's magnetic!

Still under construction

These are a couple posters I have on the back of my classroom door, so when the door is closed students can see them.  I designed them on Vista Print and you may have seen them before on Pinterest.    I have seen others that have used my idea to make their own version.  Now that we are doing Carnegie Learning I would like to make some new posters that fit our delivery model a bit better, but these definitely work for now.

First Five Minutes Poster

Two Minute Countdown Poster

One of my favorite areas is my teacher corner.  I have a pentagonal shaped room that has a very small back corner area that is pretty useless, but it ends up being perfect for my desk and file cabinets.  Several years ago the custodians put up the shelves on the back wall which made the space much more useful.  This year I really pushed things back because of creating the focus wall and to give as much space for student desks as possible.  It is very crowded cozy in my classroom!  I love how my back corner is organized and this year it's even better than ever with the filetastics I purchased this summer.

One of my favorite purchases of the summer!

My desk.  You can see my hour files on the right.

The full view.

My no sew banner.  Those strips are where I pin all important information so it's right at my fingertips.

Back shelves.  Need to make labels for everything.

My paper sorters.  Don't you LOVE the zebra file folders?  And my fave the wall of artwork from my sons.

This still needs to be organized, but it is neat for the most part.

Love my lanterns.  I spy another filetastic.  I have four total.

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my classroom.  I am hoping to get back to posting more regularly on my blog.  The first couple weeks really kicked my butt with all the technology integration (well that part was easy, it was when the technology didn't work that was tough).  It has been a huge learning curve this year with a new curriculum (Carnegie and I LOVE it!) and the technology shift (not used to PCs at all).  The good news is that other 7th grade math teachers and I are all muddling through it together.  We have PLC time three days a week for content so it has been a blessing to be able to work together and troubleshoot together.

My students have been great and my class sizes are 26, 27, 28, and 28.  The poor 8th grade teachers have classes of 30+.  Fortunately for them they have much bigger rooms than ours.  I do not know where I would put too many more bodies in our tiny rooms.  I actually have 29 desks in my room so I am waiting for a little bit to make sure none of my classes go above 28 before I get rid of the extra desk.  That will give a little more space for walking between those two groups of desks.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Favorite First Day Activities

To see my post click on First Day of School 2014

To see my post click on First Day of School 2013.

I had a wonderful first day of school this year.  Things went just as I planned and I think my students enjoyed a couple new to them, getting to know you activities and of course no homework the first day. Things have been going very well, although all the technology issues that I have to troubleshoot with our new PCs are enough to drive me to the brink of a Technology induced Armageddon.

Today I am going to share my favorite new first day activities.  I posted my First Day Plan previously so you can click on that to see an explanation for what we did.  Today I am recapping how things went and sharing a few photos with you.

1)  I can relate.  This went really well and some classes had a much more interesting chain of answers than others.  One class ended up being several "I can relate because I have a dog" and another was "I can relate because I have cousins".  I think next year I will tell them that two people max can say the same thing and then we have to move on to another topic.  I have some kids that struggled to give an answer, but we kind of helped them along.  Overall it was fun, the kids enjoyed it, and I will definitely do it again.

2)  Post-It Note Activity.  I LOVED this!  I ended up buying the small post-it notes for my classes because I have 100+ students and I knew the 3x3 would not fit on a large poster.  It worked wonderfully.  I gave each class hour a different color post-it because then I figured I could track the answers by class hour.  I am glad I did it this way, and the poster ended up being very colorful.  I passed out four post-it notes to each person and then we filled one poster at a time.  I would read the statement/question and then one person per group would bring the post-its up and place them on the poster.  The kids enjoyed the movement.

The four completed Post-It posters.

What will Mrs. Nackel need to do to help you this year?

Our classroom should be _____ everyday.

My goal for math this year is...

Math is important because...

It was really fun to read through the answer and get a quick idea of what the kids think.  The two top answers for "Our classroom should be ____ everyday" were clean and quiet.  Clean was the overwhelming answer.  LOL The kids are on the same wavelength as me for sure.  :)

3)  I think we only had time to do either or in one class.  It was pretty interesting to see their choices.  This is an activity I will definitely use throughout the year.  My favorite choices were fractions or decimals, algebra or geometry, and textbooks or computers.  It was fun.

I had a great first day and really loved the the new activities we did.  They are all keepers for next year.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Daily and Class Files

Good Monday morning.  I did not have a time to post again this weekend because my weekend was crazy busy, with  a blissful massage Saturday morning followed by a quick trip to Barnes & Noble and my favorite bakery to pick up my son's bday cake.  Two youth football games on Saturday, one at 2:30 PM and the other at 7 PM.  I am happy to say both were victories.  It rained through the entire 7th grade game.  Boo!

Sunday we were supposed to have two fall ball games at 8 and 10 AM, but they were cancelled due to the previous two night's rain.  That proved to be quite a blessing because my husband was around to help with getting the house ready for Cooper's 7th birthday party.  We started the day a quick run to the grocery store and then Dunkin Donuts for the birthday breakfast.  I spent the rest of the morning making food for his family birthday party which started at 1 PM.

The party was great.  He loved hanging out with his brothers and cousins.  The five of them get along so well and have such a great time when they are together.  We also watched the craptastic Packer game.  The party ended around 3:30, as my nephew had a fall BB game to get to, but my parents stayed for dinner.  My mom and I ran to JoAnn's and I got some Crayola poster markers I'm excited to try out.  I seem to have an obsession with buying markers lately.

Now for my Made for Math Monday.  I have two file sorters that I place back to back on my desk.  One sorts any handouts for absent students.  Students know to check these files anytime they are absent to see if they missed any important information.  This year I jazzed up my folders a bit to fit with my zebra theme.  They turned out OK, not my fave, but they will do for now.  I have assigned each class a color so when I make a list, or seating chart I use that color to keep things coordinated and so I can easily tell what class I am looking at.  So far I am loving the color coded classes.

My new class hour files with a little zebra.

This is where papers get filed for any absent students.

I have previously posted about my Daily Files and you may have previously seen them posted at Pinterest.  I just wanted to add them to this MFMM post to keep them in one place.

Day files for any handouts or lesson plan materials.

The digital kit is Pi Are Squared by Libby Pritchett.
Check out lots of other great M4MM, hashtag #made4math on Twitter.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Classroom Photos Part I

I survived my first four days of school and promise to a do a blog post all about it later this weekend.  I FINALLY took photos of my classroom.  If you look closely at the clock in my classroom you will see that I was there last night until after 7 PM.  The good news is that my room is in great shape for the upcoming week.

Without further ado, her is a 360 degree view of my classroom.

You can see the door at the right.  That is my assignment board.

The view of my Math Focus Wall from my door.

I condensed my teacher corner even more this year.

My bookshelf and computer cart.  I will explain the post-its in another post.

I hope you enjoyed this very quick tour of my classroom.  I have lot more close up photos that I will share in another post.  I know some of you have been wanting to see what my classroom looks like this year with the zebra accents added.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

First Day of School Butterflies

I'm talking about myself, not the kids.  Although I am sure many of them do have butterflies.  I packed my lunch last night.  Starting off the year packing lot of veggies, as well as, hummus and spinach dip.  I also have my leftover pasta from lunch at Carraba's yesterday so I will definitely not go hungry today.

I bought blueberry mini muffins, powdered sugar donuts, and juice boxes for my 1st hour students who will be with me the first two hours for orientation.  I started doing this a few years ago and I think it's a nice welcome for the students, who are new to our building.

Hopefully I will not lose my voice from all the talking I seem to have to do for orientation.  And hopefully my feet will withstand me standing on them all day.

My plan for my shortened math classes (30 min) today is to

  • Play "I can relate".  My names is _____  and I went to  (previous school) and I can related because...
  • Do  a Post-It Note welcome activity like this.
  • Play either/or with math terms, like "geometry or algebra"  "fractions or decimal" "protractor or ruler"  I seriously thought this up between waking up and setting my snooze button this morning.  I thought it was a brilliant idea to do it with math terms which might give us some interesting conversation.
Today there will be no seating charts.  I will try my best to personally say hello and welcome every student into my classroom.  No homework or information sheets will be filled out.  My two main goals for the day are to have everyone see 1)  my classroom as a fun and safe place to learn 2) me as a kind and caring teacher who will take them on an amazing educational journey this year.  I will sneak in a reminder about supplies that are needed, but that is it!

As the saying goes, "you only have one chance to make a first impression" and I want to make a great one!

Happy Back to School everyone!  Can't wait to fill you in on how my first day goes and finally share photos of my finished classroom (if I can get some space on my phone)

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Homework Policies

I did a blog post on homework back in February,  you can read it here.  Make sure you read that post for a pretty detailed post on how I did homework last year.   Several things have changed for this coming year and because we have a new curriculum (Carnegie Learning), are heading to standard-based grading, and a new personalized learning delivery model things are going to change quite a bit, but I have not figured out how everything will work yet.  Let's just say that this year will be a work in progress.

I do know that our percentages for grading have changed to the following:
Tests 50%
Quizzes 25%
Mathia Computer Lab 20%
Homework 5%

Our district is currently in the first year implementation of a new Common Core Aligned curriculum called Carnegie Learning.

At my middle school we had many thoughtful discussions last school year about grading and homework.  I really spent a lot of time reflecting on the amount and type of homework I give.  I started to give them the odd problems so they could check the answers in the back of the book while working, to see if they were on the right track.

I try to do so much more of the practice in class so I am available to answer questions and guide the students.  I also found that the days where students had time at the end of class to work on homework homework completion was much better.  We also have a twenty minute home base period at the end of the day where students can work on homework.  I would tend to pull my chronic homework non-completers in and have them work with me or just work independently in my classroom so I would monitor them and help keep them on task.

Now that I have my own middle schooler (my son is on 8th grade this year) I am able to see how multiple assignments from different teachers can really add up the homework.  Kids and families these days are very busy after school.  I definitely see the value and importance of homework, but I have also seen throughout the years some ridiculous (IMO) homework assignments and projects.  Thankfully the ridiculous have been few and far between, but that has made me even more reflective on what I assign for homework and why I feel it is necessary.