Wam! Bam!

So I survived my official first day of school! Last year I compared teaching to waiting tables in the weeds for a 8 hour shift, and boy was that true today. 
If I am being honest I was a little let down. I have done the first day routine before, the luxury of teaching a semester class is that I get a new class every January, so I thought. But nothing really compares you for a true first day of school.
Our school is running a modified schedule for this whole week. One hour SEL(home room like class) all eight periods in a 30 minute window each and a 40 minute lunch where we walk them to the cafeteria, ending the day with 30 minutes in our SEL class.
From arriving on campus and showing up for duty, the day was a mess of a whirlwind. Nothing bad happened, nothing exciting happened and I talked A LOT!
In SEL we had to disburse schedules, show them lunch schedules, have students who were missing immunizations call home then send them to the cafeteria while going through the whole entire parent packet. Oh and get to know each other. Yea, even reading at maniac status I couldn't get through all of that.
Then we were in full on go mode! Thirty minutes to meet a class is just not enough time. I know its important to teach procedures, I have a lesson plan for 5 days of teaching procedures, I am truly that serious about procedures. But today I had to choose between a fun get to know you or procedures. So I chose procedures and talked for nearly the entire 25 minutes. In my room I need them to know at least understand how to enter, leave, calls for attention and run through the syllabus. By time I got through all of those items I had about 5 minutes left in class, I even had a bulleted powerpoint so I wouldn't deviate.
While I didn't expect to make any amazing magical connection on day one, I really wanted to have a more fun welcome to the school year.
One of the many joys of teaching is that tomorrow is always a fresh start, so hopefully I will have a better grasp of this 30 minute period day and we will devote a little more time for fun and a little less time to me talking, at least my throat certainly hopes so.
The Babbling Box!

Let's Go On a Tour!

Every poster has been taped down, every bulletin board has been hot glued and every box has been labeled. So I guess that means, I am ready! Fingers crossed and anxiousness aside I am terrible excited for tomorrow.

Follow me on my classroom tour, excuse the pictures if they look a little squished. I also uploaded a slideshow onto my classroom website and the space was small so I had to edit them once and I am a tad too lazy today to edit twice, although I did use picmonkey to create collages to help prevent this from become massively long.

My classroom as of November last year, after our first rearrangement. Keep in mind that everything on the walls was from the teacher two years ago.

My classroom as of today!

Both the welcome sign and in this classroom sign were images I made in publisher and then sent to vistaprint and I absolutely love HEART them! My classroom is on a hallway with just the life Lifeskills room so students get so confused when they first come down to find my room. The bookshelf right inside the door hold my six periods raffle ticket jars, six magazine holders for ongoing work, my SEL(sort of like homeroom two days a week) binders and various books.

This is my classroom from the door and from my desk, the pictures are definitely squished here because my room looks so much bigger than this, but you get the idea.

This is my west wall. First up is the student expectations and procedures, my favorite sign I made is the wrong is wrong sign. Also I made a sign that asks students to assess themselves, are you an expert, novice, etc and explains what all four mean, I am super excited about using that to have students do self assessments. And finally my TEK wall, I am lucky and that all three of my electives have the same TEK's and its a semester class so they are pretty short.

Here is the back of the classroom and east wall. My walls have a ton of metal piping on them, so a lot of my east wall gets broken up and is hard to beautify. On the back wall and east walls I have two Technology in Action sections to display student work, borrowed from Sent From My Ipad. Next to one of the Technology in Actions is my volume level sign, with an arrow that can move around to display what our volume level should be for the day. Next, my word wall is also on my back wall, just waiting for words! And finally I have a section of my wall devoted to What Inspires Us, to be able to display different brochures I get about various careers.

Here is the front of the room, which contains tons of storage and my desk area. I have seen tons of teacher toolboxes made during my blog stalking this summer and while I would of loved to make one I knew it wouldn't be logical for my classroom. Instead a covered another rolling cart with the fitted sheet fabric and will use it to store supplies that we need while leaving the rest of the supplies in the cabinets. Teaching 3 electives I need different things during different periods, so by having most of the cart covered I can keep all the supplies out but not on display for any sticky fingered students. My turn in basket is placed right on the corner of my desk for easy access for students as they leave or enter the room. Followed by my desk and whiteboard organization which I completely HEART, I feel like I truly have a place for everything and it will keep me and my students so organized.

This is the door area of my room, I have most of my individual lego kits stored in the cabinets just waiting for students to write their name on the labels. I also have the What Do I Do Now board for students to come up to when they are finished or of course a couple of extra chairs, some of my rosters are showing 33 students right now and I only have 30 workstations.

And finally the exit area of the room, I have my Give me an H sign which I adapted and borrowed from Inside this Book. I adapted mine to be Handshake, High Five or Hilarious saying and I posted a bunch of sayings. I also have the tardy consequences, sign in sheet and procedures posted by the door for easy access. And finally my "Cool Down Section" because my room is so far away from others I don't really have a buddy teacher to send disruptive students to, so I created a separate desk for students to sit at and relax and complete a reflection form. Both my reflection form and tardy form are hanging and ready for students to grab as they need it. My favorite sign is the someday your the pigeon, someday your the poop which I printed from Technology Rocks printables. I also have decided to use my door as a place to post quotes I HEART and find via blogging or pinterest, something I am doing on both sides of the door to add more color and visual interest.

And these are just a few random snapshots I took, I am bound and determined to find a good way to take a picture of my curtains, I HEART them too much for them to not be shown off.

Whew! If you are still reading thank you, I know this was a ton of pictures! I am just so happy with how the room turned out, I have more small things to do before our Open House night but I feel like the room is pretty much set. A big thank you to all of my fellow teacher bloggers out there, I tried to link up to as many as I remember taking something from but really every ones blogs have been so inspiring.

And last but not least I am linking up to a bunch of Classroom Tour linkys...

The Babbling Box!

Terrific Technology Tuesday

I am linking up again! When professionally developing myself blog hunting I stumbled across The Teacher's week linky at Blog Hopping. And guess what Tuesday was, Technology Tip Tuesday, um all I teach is technology so I was uber excited.

I have three little tips, to include, and hopefully not a lot of babbling.

1. Kidblog.org! Have you heard of it? It is amazing! Unexpectedly I ended up doing a four week unit on blogging and social media in my Web Design class last semester, that is how much I loved it. What it allows you to do is set up a class blog, super simple, no layout options or set up time needed. The hardest part is choosing the background since you can't really make changes. Then you can individually enter your students and assign them a password, or mass import if you have an excel list. All of my students had freedom to choose their own user name to keep them private, but you could make it a theme like literary characters.

Each day students logged in and wrote, added pictures and commented on each other's posts. And my post glowing moment, built each other up with so much positive feedback. The beauty of kidblog is that the teacher has to approve every comment, so nothing inappropriate gets posted! Also making all students anonymous, means they don't know whose post they are liking but just passing along those good thoughts. And they are writing!

Oh and did I mention it is free!

Just to prove I wasn't the only one who loved it, in two six weeks we had over 800 posts and comments added to our account!

2. We are super lucky to have gmail built into our students accounts so all students have access to google docs. In google docs you can set up an electronic form, by going through docs, create and form. Your form can ask any types of questions you want, open ended or multiple choice.

Where I see this being beneficial is with math, inferencing graphs and question writing. For example, a student starts a poll about what is the most popular television show and provides four answers, you share the form with all of your students and maybe students in another class. Then you can track percentages and even graph the results. I plan to take it another step further and have students create Infographics with the data they collect.

If you don't have a campus wide gmail, you could always use something like polldaddy or set up a dummy email account.

3. I HEART music! When I stumbled across this pinterest item I knew I would be using it in my classroom. You can set up your computer to automatically play songs during your classroom transition times. My plan is five minutes before the bell rings to have music go off and that signal its time to clean up. Plus, cleaning while you listen to music so much more fun! The link has all of the instructions.

I like love HEART technology, so if you want more information about any of my tips please let me know.

The Babbling Box!

Monday Made It...It's Crunch Time!

I survived my first day of waking up at 6:00 am, professional development planning and classroom styling today. Whew! I feel like I am knocking things off my to do list left and right. Then adding things on my to do list at an alarming rate. Seems to be a trend with teachers.

In horrible devastating soul crushing news our school laminator is broken. I know that we are SUPER lucky to be able to use one for free but it being on the fritz has put a halt to any further room styling. I refuse refuse to hang anything not laminated, it just seems like a waste of time it will get ripped or drawn on. Tomorrow we are at district development at other schools so hopefully fingers crossed it gets fixed so I and 70+ other teachers can get rocking and rolling.

My plan is to have my room finalized Wednesday and spend Thursday and Friday working on syllabus, first week forms and lesson plans for all three preps through week 4. But you know what they say about plans...

In the meantime I am linking up with 4th Grade Frolics for a Monday Made It dos.

My first project is a new paper organizing system. I have tried a few different options for storing syllabus's, grade checklist and various other paper for 3 preps and all have failed and resulted in me and my desk being the manager of all things paper.

I decided to reuse a old fabric folder hanger and make it my new organization system. Anything a student would normally need from me: an extra syllabus, graph paper, printer paper, is all in one place and easily refilled from my locked cabinets. I always reluctant to put out too much paper because it will end up in my ceiling, so hopefully not using bins and being out of the normal student walk path will keep sticky hands away from the paper.

I spray painted the hanging system a navy blue instead of the red which just clashed, and hot glued laminated labels on each section to keep us neat and tidy. Side note, this also hid the ugly yellow/brown filing cabinet from sight! Double win.

Wish it wasn't so blurry!

Next is my word wall, which I am super excited about. Honestly, I know it looks a little uneven but I think the overall effect is great. On the back of each letter is a clothespin that has been hot glued to the wall. I have been seeing this tip everywhere on pinterests and blogs so I decided to borrow it! Each time we add a word to our wall we just have to clip it on rather than tape and eventually rip off.

I borrowed the title from Clutter Free Classroom word walls, rather than the standard Word Wall sign I think it's a unique way to stress the importance of strong vocabulary.

Also, I plan to let my students make all of our word wall contributions, rather than making them myself. Reinforcing vocabulary!

And finally, I painted a canvas for the room. My house is filled with my paintings so I thought it was about time I brought one into school.

Truth, my new desk is front and center so I can keep an eagle eye careful watch on all students during attendance and such, but this also means my cords were front and center for all students.

I have LanSchool on my computers, meaning I am the Big Brother of the classroom I can watch, monitor, close out and restrict all computers from my computer. Insert evil laugh, haha! But this also means if a student unplugs my computer, I have lost the power. And believe me it happens. So when brainstorming ways to outsmart  middle schoolers prevent this from happening I decided a canvas Velcroed onto the desk was perfect! I can easily take it down if I need to but for the most part, it just hides what needs to be kept hidden and adds the perfect pop of pink to my desk.

The quote is borrowed from Adventures in Sixth Grade and adapted from Harry Potter, I loved the meaning and I think it is a relatable quote for my age group. I added the learn on phrase, because I HEART it, first heard it will ziplining "zip on" and it just a great way to say lets start the action.

As the days before school starts dwindle I know I will run out of these Monday Made It's but I am sure loving hearting being apart of such an awesome forum for sharing ideas.

The Babbling Box!

Words For Teenagers

I was organizing my to do list pinteresting this morning and stumbled across an article that I read and immediately loved. And then reread and doubted my love. The article had great meaning but I questioned if it was too harsh to actually share with my students.

The article was actually written first in 1959.

In my classroom we are blunt honest, or at least I am and I push for it with the students, and if a student has a question I see no reason to overly sugarcoat the answer or avoid it all together. Middle schoolers pick up on the bs real quick.

I feel like I should add two things to this post. One, I teach career electives where my TEKS require me to teach career awareness, creating portfolio and fiances. So in a given day we discuss credit cards, salaries and college experiences. Two, our students are making adult choices: having babies, breaking the law, interacting with a probation officer and drug issues. I know that these are things happening everywhere and are not specific to any one school but I felt like I needed to add it in order to explain why I liked the article so much.

So if a student asks me the question "you know you had fun in college, partied all the time and joined a fraternity" I try to be blunt. College is a lot of work, you have to get a job, you have to pay to be in a fraternity, manage your own studying time, group work is done outside of class and no professor cares if you don't show up to a class or turn in work they have hundreds of other students. I like to call this my reality check. Many of our students learn about what life is going to be like through TV and movies, so I feel like I would be doing them a disservice if I didn't play a little devil's advocate.

On the flip side to all of that is that I want to motivate my students to make some sort of plan, set any sort of goal and encourage them to achieve it. I just throw some realism into their goals. I have heard both positive and negative comments about my classes as a whole: we are giving students a reality check vs. we are discouraging students from dreaming the impossible.

I of course disagree with the negative, shocking I am teaching the course, its not like we are taking a five year old and saying you will never be the president. But I am telling the student that wants to major in pyshcology, that that is an over populated major by almost 1000% or the student who wants to be a Marine Biologist that they will have to leave Austin. The reality is not every student is going to go to college and someone needs to be preparing them with some sort of soft skills or realistic view of the choices and decisions they are going to have make in careers and in life.

I have definitely babbled too long and I am now getting down off my soap box and I will spend a bit more time dwelling on the article until I decide if I want to use it as a journal activity with my students.

Tomorrow marks the one week mark until kiddo's are back, my to do list is 2+ pages long and we report into professional development at 8 tomorrow. It should be a fun week. Good luck to all teachers starting tomorrow!

The Babbling Box!

Back to School Jitters

Tonight I am linking up with Jessica at A Turn To Learn, which I stumbled upon at the most perfect time. I have been super stressed with all of my training this week and my lack of time in my classroom that my to do list will never get done by the 27th. Honestly, its probably just back to school jitters, so why not blog about them. Bonus about this linky is the fun lego heads, I HEART legos!

Here are the rules for the Linky Party:
1. Put the text over the picture to talk about your back to school jitters.
2. Use the HTML code to link back to the linky party.
3. Comment on the two blog post before yours.

The Babbling Box!

Clean Up, Clean Up!

I heart ecards, they generally make me giggle while browsing the pinterest.

From the first day of school to the last day of school I am telling kids to clean up 6 times a day everyday. And all of summer I have been racking my brain for a better way to handle this process.

I am trying to put this scenario in a positive light: our school's students have a bad habit of walking out of class especially at the end of class, it becomes a repetitive habit that happens throughout the day so I feel like I fight a losing battle. Veteran teachers might be shaking their heads at me and saying "better classroom management" but consequences aren't something that affect my kiddo's very well.

So at the five minute mark I tell all of my students to clean up and then I stand and block the door to prevent the walking out. I can see most of the classroom from the door so I can easily tell students to fix something but that attention to detail is often missed.

Side note: I have 30 computers, 12 lego boxes and a cart full of wood, glue and various other supplies that is used in a 48 minute period nearly everyday. So messy can be an understatement.

In the short four minute passing period I run around the classroom and straighten every mouse and pick up lego's and various other supplies. I consider it my daily workouts. Throw in trying to greet my new class I suddenly feel frazzled before class even starts.

I wanted needed demanded a better plan for this year. On pinterest I stumbled across the idea of using music for transitions, so I plan to play music at the clean up time. This will trigger the students to begin putting up all of the supplies, saving work and logging off. Obviously this won't be magical unless I teach and reteach during my first week of procedures.

And instead of me trying to talk over cleaning I have provided a five step checklist at each workstation and, wait for it, a picture of how the workstation should look! There is no guessing on how to clean up and what the station should look like, its right there for them to match it exactly. I was giddy with excitement at my clever signs!

One of my sixteen workstations, I should of zoomed out each workstation has a library and open work area to the right hand side.

Five easy steps to success and a picture for the visual learners.

My favorite part of the checklist is the last step, to be seated. The more students seated the easier it is to be able to visually check the room. And a bonus for the class that cleans up exceptionally fast and efficiently could always be lining up at the door in order to get the most out of their passing period.

Trying new classroom management techniques always worries me a little, because if they fail it can cause a class to go lax. My students require consistency from day one and every day after. So I am hoping my new plan will work to keep my classroom as immaculate as I hope to have it on the first day of school without me doing classroom laps 6 times a day. Though that might mean more gym time for me.

How do you clean up a room, hold middle schoolers accountable for a clean workspace or dismiss middle school students?

The Babbling Box

It's The Little Things

Today was a day of progress, frustrations, lamination and a lot of sweating. Makes you just want to come and join me. By 12 today (4 hours after I arrived to the school) I was feeling pretty accomplished: I was laminating like a crazy possessed person and was highlighting things off my to do list rapidly.

But all good things must come to an end. Around 3:00 today I was still tackling my TEKS wall, which I started two weeks ago, and was beyond frustrated. I am not sure what my problem is but I can not hang posters straight, I like to blame my cement walls but even that seemed extreme for the amount of duct tape I wasted wadded up ripped off walls today. The classroom was even mocking me today, I would hang something with tape on the back, climb back down to get duct tape to seal the edges and the stupid poster would fall right off.

Let's just say my ten minute drive home, thank the traffic gods, was a road rage drive. Thank goodness for Mr. B suggesting a sushi happy hour. Now in a better state of mind I can appreciate the little things: my classroom progress and spending an evening out with Mr. B before he goes back to work for the next 6 or so nights.

First, I love sushi so finding a sushi happy hour right across the street with $2.50 rolls was AMAZING! And they had a strawberry Saki which was quite interesting, almost desert like, and came in the cutest carafe.

I have a few accomplishments in my classroom to share. My favorite wall so far is: What Do I Do Now? I saw something in a much smaller version on pinterest and knew I should recreate it. My classroom is a project based classroom so when a project is finished by the lone A+++ student I fell into a bad trap of giving the student preferred activity time. Honestly, there is nothing wrong with this since it was usually a student per class, but I have set a new years resolution of less down time and I want to stick with it.

The concept of the wall is to take the guess work off my shoulders. If a student is done early, they can go up to the wall read the 4 steps. Finished early? Double check your agenda. Help a neighbor. Or grab an extra activity. The activities are all fun small assignments that will be used as extra credit. But the beauty in this is that I don't have to make up anything on the spot. They go, they grab a page, they follow the instructions and this keeps the whole class working on something educational.

I broke my assignments down into five categories: a boggle section, color it, journal it, create it and read it. In each sheet protector there will be multiple assignments they can choose from. And every six weeks I will try to rotate the assignments. With a 120+ students I doubt any student would ever be able to do all the assignments. In a big bonus this provides me a way to incorporate more of their core classes into my elective. Writing, reading, math, science and even social studies, for example: create a facebook page for a history figure you are currently learning about.

I was so super excited about this concept I felt it needed to be tackled first today, though it certainly wasn't the most important even a top ten project.

The first attempt.

After staring at the wall most of the day it was bugging me. The title was just too small, my room is huge so it needed to stand out. So I went back to the drawing board aka microsoft publisher and created a better title. Then back to the teachers lounge to the poster blowup and lamination. And then I had to take down the old title. UH OH! I was using hot glue so this meant holes in my table clothes. I about cried. I was able to cover them with the word bubbles and I think it looks ten times better. Although I think this means I am either entirely too dedicated or just plum crazy. Who spends this much time on a title?

It still needs four more hooks from Walmart, but that is a super easy fix.

Before this blog gets too long, here are some other cute little things I am loving in my room right now.

Curtains over my exit door windows. They were a dollar store find in the shower curtain area but the colors matched so perfectly and I love that they are opaque enough to let a little light in since I have no windows. And anything beats the hideous puke green curtains that were there last year.

The glare was horrible on all of these photos, grrr!
A rug from Ross, which also matches the curtains. I feel like it really defines my desk area, brightens it up and for a selfish reason I love being barefoot so I can actually do it in a small area of my classroom now.

Rug even covers my extension cords, which means no tripping!
It's really about the little things as I prepare for 120+ new faces in 13 days!

The Babbling Box

Made it Mondays!

I have been wanting to link up to the Made it Mondays with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for a few weeks but it seems that all of my projects are sort of in a half made status.

We had our new teacher orientation at the campus today and I was able to meet a bunch of the new teachers, we have close to 20 joining our team, so it was a full day with little time in my room to complete any projects. I am skipping the district orientation tomorrow as all of this new teacher training is optional for me and plan on knocking out a bunch of half done projects.

I spent this weekend being a little crafty for myself. All across pinterest I have been seeing these Menu Boards that were super cute and organized. While I might not be cooking for anyone besides myself most nights, I still struggle to come up with dinner ideas every night. So I was doing what I do best, pinteresting for new recipes like every other day. A complete waste of time. Probably not the best use of my time. My hope is that with the menu board I will always know what needs to be defrosted before work. Also, I have a large amount of options that I can add to and on the back of each slip of paper I can write down where I found it and won't have to check between my bookmarks, blogs and pinterest for the recipe. This should also streamline making grocery lists. I have been way too lax this summer with little gym time and eating out, so now that the school year is starting I think the menu board will get me back on track.
The board came together very simply: a cookie sheet from the dollar store, fun scrapbook paper from Michael's, Mod Podge Glue, magnets and a grocery list. All of these items can be changed out depending on your needs which is one of the reasons I thought the project was so fabulous!
The basic supplies.

Finished Product!
On a off topic side note, I have been going back and forth on my whole class rewards. I already use Preferred Activity Time on Fridays as a classroom motivation, which works wonderfully! But I also like to use a secondary reward to keep up with often changing moods of middle schoolers. I have the template for the 100 chart from a workshop, does anyone out there use it? Explain how it works or if it would work with 6 different periods? Suggestions are greatly appreciated!
The Babbling Box!

Call Me Maybe?

"Hey I just met you,
And this is crazy,
But here's my number,
So call me, maybe?"

Oh, I have such a love hate relationship with this song. The first time I heard it I groaned, flipped the station and came to the realization that I will most likely here it for a good chunk of the upcoming school year. When you teach middle schoolers, you get to hear some of the most delightful songs, period after period, after period. I don't necessarily allow free music listening in my room, its a prize in my Friday reward box but they still come in singing it. A LOT!

And then I heard the song on Fox's commericials. It was danced to on SYTYCD. I saw the spoof with the cookie monster, HILARIOUS! I saw the dance with the Olympic swim team, the armed forces, etc, etc. And then I get to Orlando and it followed me, played in bars and even by Erica and her boyfriend.

So I give in. It wins. And I decided that it was the most appropriate theme for the Orlando picture dump I am about to do. I love HEART pictures. If you haven't noticed.

Orlando was such a wonderful time. It was the perfect vacation in that we just went with the flow and had soo much quality time. Often times with vacations you spend so much time going, doing, seeing that you need a few days off when you get back from vacation. I saw a few things in Orlando, went to the beach but for the most part neither one of us was in a hurry to do anything or be anywhere but in each others company. Ok, that is even a little too mushy for me.

We went to Ripley's Believe It Or Not and had a awesome lunch dinner first meal of the day at 3:00 at the Crab House. Steamed crab is amazing!

We went to downtown Orlando and had a true Sunday Funday with the locals. Found a Texas Bar called Stagger Inn and even tried moonshine for the first time.

As per my curse, it rained every day I was in Orlando.

We went to Cocoa Beach and spent most of the day walking around the beach sipping on delightful yummy concoctions.

All and all it was exactly the vacation I needed before diving back into a new school year. Over the last four days I have gone back to school shopping, gotten my first pair of glasses, stocked the fridge, made a lunch for the week, cleaned the house, completed all of my laundry. Gosh this list makes me feel more productive than I thought I was. And tomorrow I report back to school for the first day of two weeks of pre-planning professional development I am not sure really what to call it besides crunch time of getting my room and lessons prepared.

Hopefully I won't be too tired tomorrow and can finally participate in a Monday Made It, I have been crafting away in between all my mundane to do's.

The Babbling Box!

Morning Glory

On my last night of summer, I enjoyed a good bottle of red wine and a really bad romantic comedy. I must admit my girl crush is Rachel McAdams, so when I saw Morning Glory on Netflix it became my only option best free option.

The big moral of the movie is that the main character finds a home at a news station and an important role but then gets offered her dream job some place else. She weighs heavily on leaving the place she made a home and suddenly she gets this sign that she should stay.

As I embark on my second year of teaching I reminded of my journey to teaching. I had this incredible place that I felt was home, the law firm, and had made my nitch there. But I ended up leaving it for a job that impacted me more. I will never doubt my decision because I believe it was possible the second most important decision of my adult life, followed by moving in with Mr. B. Although I do miss having a close relationship with my coworkers and that familia relationship I had at the law firm. My hope by doing the new hire training this week is that I will have the chance to form some of these close relationships and if not I will work harder to make these relationships this semester. A promise to myself or new year resolution, if you will.

This post was completely unexpected but I always wanted this blog to be a representation of my life and where I am at, so it felt completely natural.

Posts with classroom information or pictures from my trip are to follow.

The Babbling Box!

Days of Splishing and Splashing

Boy oh boy am I beat. While traveling is so enjoyable, it can also be super exhausting. New hire training starts Monday, which I have been given the option to attend since I did not get to last year and when I heard the word stipend I dragged my feet committing to ending summer a week early signed right up. Teachers need any extra money they can get!

Yikes! That means my summer officially ends Sunday. I will most likely be scrambling over the next few days to care of all of my personal errands, some of which I could of taken care over the last two months but I have a such a problem procrastinating in my personal life. 

I decided to dedicate this post to my little brother, Daniel, who is turning 6 today. We celebrated as a family two weekends ago with a swimming party so that everyone would be able to attend, having three older adult siblings makes that very difficult. From someone who also has a summer birthday I know how disappointing it can be to have birthday parties and have no one show up. While my brother only had five kids attend he celebrated like any typical six year old: splishing, splashing and water gun fights.

For me he is always a breath of fresh air and a constant reminder to try and spend more time with my family because each time I see him his personality changes and grows. We might never have the closest relationship being 21 years apart but I want to be a constant in his life.

The Babbling Box!


I have been wanting to try out one of these currently's for a while and what better time then when I am supposed to be tackling my long pre-vacation to do list, link up to with Oh' Boy Fourth Grade to grab the template.

My B2S must haves are the next three I plan to focus on when I get back from vacation.

I have seen some amazing Master Teacher Binder examples out there on Pinterest and have loads of ideas from The Curriculum Corner and the binder cover has already been made and dividers purchased I just need to take the time to sit down and lay out what I want in my binder. My goal to ultimate having a folder for each class, binder for lesson plans, and my teacher binder. I want the MECA of binders!

A refocus zone has been in my mind for a while but my old classroom set up had too much furniture as it was so I could never really make it work. I have just the space in my new design so I think a single desk for the annoying disruptive out of hand student is the perfect way to remove the student from the class as a whole but still keep them in my room and allow them 3-5 minutes to collect themselves and complete a reflection sheet. Just need to bribe the custodians for a single desk, they must be sooo sick of me!

The silly side of me loves pictures with fake mustaches, bow ties and big glasses. With my awesome Manda Pro's there is a built in camera at each students work space, lucky me! My get to know you project is going to last over the first five days as we go over procedures, and with only 30 or so minutes on the first day of school I thought the perfect ice breaker would be to take silly pictures for their project and enforces the concept of saving items on their personal drive to break up me just talking about procedures. Yes, I just found a way to make mustaches, bow ties and big glasses apart of my lesson plan, hehe! I found some awesome sets of 3 mustaches on a stick for a $1.00 at Walmart, so I scooped up 3 packs but I definitely need to find some more cheap props.

I am off to pack before Mr. B officially hides my computer, so I leave you with my sillyness!

The Babbling Box!

Classroom Redesign Part 1

Whew! It has been an exhausting four days and I feel like my classroom is still no where close to being "ready" but I figure I should celebrate my small accomplishments and start sharing slowly or my blog posts could get REALLY long, as if my posts aren't long enough.

I am pretty sure my school administrators think I am a bit crazy, spending four straight days in my room when there are no other teachers on campus but I knew I would never be able to enjoy Orlando if I didn't at least make a dent in my to do list.

I wish I had been able to scrounge of some pictures of the way my classroom looked when I walked in last September and had a three day weekend to prepare it and my lesson plans. I still shudder at those overwhelming moments of pure panic. I had absolutely no clue where to start or what was necessary. For some reason they had divided the room in half with large metal cabinets and had all the round tables up front and 30 computers behind the cabinets. Students climbed over the cabinets, I missed fights due to being on the wrong side of the room and it was just a mess.

So on Veteran's Day my AMAZING custodial staff moved my classroom around to a classroom set up of my design and it worked for the rest of the year. With many compliments from fellow teachers and administrators, I patted myself on the back often.

View from my old desk area.

View from the front of the room, its HUGE!

Front of the room

I had no real need to make any further changes over the summer until May when I was told that they would totally be redoing my Tech. Careers Modules, which meant further rearrangements, I had to have 12 module stations for the students set up. Gosh if I had money I would buy my custodial staff something incredible.

I received 37 boxes worth of module equipment to label, arrange and put away in a manner that would be easy to access but prevent as much stealage (not sure if this is the correct word but I probably will use it often when I discuss my classroom design) as possible. Without a doubt I believe my students will love the modules but it has been a daunting task that has definitely taken away from my classroom decorating. Every time I think I have the organization down I stumble across something new, like 24 headphones, splitters and sound cords. The nice vendor rep told my to just have them at the computers ready to go. Oh naive vendor, they would be stolen on the first day, so it was back to Walmart for more containers.

Here are a few shots of what the classroom looks like now, its still a work in progress.

New view from the front of the room. Having no windows makes it super dark!

New view from my desk, I can see everything! HAHAAAA!

Computers and keyboards are labeled and zip tied. I also spent the time to label each chair in order to keep them in a specific place. I have plans to put a clean up checklist and picture at each station but me and the ipad didn't agree on things today.

One of the 16 work stations in the room.

My big accomplishment for the week is my classroom procedures wall. I should first add that I have cement walls which means absolutely NO bulletin boards and hanging anything is terribly difficult. My room gets really hot or really cold and everything just falls off the walls. With all the bright new duct tape colors out there I decided reinforcements were needed. Each classroom procedure sign has been blown up on our school poster maker, laminated, taped and duct taped onto the wall. Take that humidity

I have to admit that it is definitely not perfectly straight, hanging things straight does not seem to be my speciality but I still really like it. The wall is bright and eye catching but still reinforces the important procedures that I have.  I will spend the first five days teaching these procedures but I love having them posted so each student recall what I expect in the shop. I am still missing hall passes and tardy procedures but I figured our PBS committee would be writing those after last years hallway issues so I will add those quickly during professional development.

My other project was skirting my teacher desk. Last year I didn't really have a practical desk just a whole section of the room where I stored the stuff I wasn't sure what to do with and sometimes hid depending upon the class. Practical use of space. I had to give up my section of the room to space out computers, and I moved my desk to the front of the room and added a side table to keep students out of my area. Honestly, its too much space but I sure like the very distinct space.

Ignore the stuff still on my desk, it needs a home.

I purchased a XL-Twin set of sheets from Target for $12.99 in my staple navy color and cut the flat sheet in half and hot glued the rough sides it onto the two tables so I didn't even need to worry about hemming them. I think it makes them look like they belong together and gives me the ability to keep my area a little more private. And I still have the fitted sheet to use within the room later.

My white board was my third and final large project of the week, some teachers might be jealous of my massive board but honestly I just find it odd. It's hung so high that I need to stand in a chair to write on it and its just huge. Last semester I sometimes remembered to write the date but that was about it and it felt like a huge waste of space. I used more duct tape, I should probably invest it its stock at the rate I am buying it, and sectioned off 7 parts, created labels for each part I felt should be displayed, lamented and secured magnets on the back. I can always move the sections around if I need to or change something out but I hope that it will be a useful section of the room this year. I have something brewing in my head for above the white board but that will be for another post.

Note to self: things are always clearer on the ipad.

And that wraps up my first classroom redesign post, I feel like for 4 days I should be able to post more projects, but I am super happy with the way the room is shaping up. 25 days until students are back!

The Babbling Box!