Saturday, May 30, 2015

Back to School Candy Grouping and *freebie*

Last year I wanted to start my students off in groups, but that made me a tab bit nervous. I decided to organize the process as much ahead of time as possible.

I decided to assign each group a type of candy and placed a sign at each group.

I then labeled each desk with their type of candy and a number.

Finally, on the first day a school students were handed an index card with a candy and a number which helped them find their group and their seat.

Check out the next few photos for a peek into my classroom!

8x10 group signs, Index cards, labels for each desk
All of my desks were grouped together in pods of 3. Each pod was represented by a different candy. Each desk within the pod was given that candy name and a #. 

When the students walked into the classroom the first day of school they were given an index card. Those index cards have a type of candy and a number. The student found their type of candy in a group of desks and sat at the number on their card. 

 I put the signs on picture frame holders from The Dollar Tree at each group because I couldn’t reach the ceiling to hang them like I originally planned. 

Each desk is given a candy label. I then covered them with clear packing tape for durability. This helps to randomize seating on the first day. However, throughout the first few weeks when I am still learning the kids names I can also say things like, “Skittles 2, what would you say the theme of this story was?” 

If you want to group your desks I have provided the files as a *freebie* in my TPT store:

Tour of last year's classroom

 I'm still playing a LOT of catch up, but I thought that I would take a little time out today to give you guys a quick tour of my classroom from last year. 

The first thing that I did differently is that I decided to start the year with my students in groups. I HATE chaos so I wanted to expedite and organize the process as much as humanly possible. 

I decided that each group needed to have their own bins, trash cans, and name/number.

Group Organization
Target was having a college back to school sale and I was able to get the drawers for a good deal with free shipping! 


I found these little trash can bins at the Dollar Tree, and they worked out great. It minimized the need for students to get up and wander the room to look for the "Trashcan"

I also got the picture frame holders from the Dollar Tree as well to hold each group's name sign (another post will be coming about that soon). 

Inside the top drawer of each group I had a supply bin. Each bin had: 
  • 3 pairs of scissors
  • Box of Crayons
  • Box of colored pencils
  • Box of markers
  • 3 Glues
  • 3 Purple pens (for correcting)
  • Mini stapler
  • Handheld pencil sharpener
  • Post its
I printed a list of the items that were supposed to be in the bins on sticky paper and stuck it to the bins. Each Friday I checked the bins and the groups that had all their supplies (and were organized) got a small treat. 

Notebook Organization 

This idea of mine actually failed, but if I had thought it through more it would have worked. 

I bought a hanging clothes rack and sweater holders and I planned to used them to hold the students journal and class notebooks. 

Each class had their own notebook (sweater) holder and each group had a hole within that holder. 

On the way into class one student from each group would just grab their group's notebooks and head to their group's desks. 

The clothes holder that I bought wasn't sturdy enough to hold the weight of the notebooks. 

However, I believe that if I had just anchored the clothes holder to the wall using string and command hooks we would have been in business!

Window Fun
I found some fun giraffe fabric at Walmart, a mini expandable curtain rod, and clip on shower curtain hooks and used it to make my own classroom curtain. When we had lock downs I could just lower the curtain to cover the window. 

 Classroom Rules

I kept my same classroom rules system going since it worked so well the last 3 years. 

Read more here:

Supply Table
I always keep a supply table of extra supplies, tissues, pencil sharpener, stapler, etc...

I ask that kids not interrupt when they need something, just quietly go over to the supply table and get what is needed. I especially love my Paper Pots! I use toilet paper instead of tissues because teenagers to not understand portion control when it comes to tissues...and tissues are not cheap my friends!

Look at the Amazon items I mentioned in this post at the bottom of the page. 
Board Organization
I kept my same classroom board system going since it worked so well the last 3 years. 

Read more here:

Classroom Jobs 
My classroom jobs worked the same way the old ones did, I just changed out some of the jobs. 

Read more here: 

Teacher Oasis
I like my school supplies and I like my space. 

My little area each year becomes my own little oasis. 

I used a hanging clothes rack (again) and shoe organizers to hold a lot of my school supplies where I could see them. I took this picture when I was still in the organizing phase so it is not fully realized yet ;)

I still LOVE my wine rack turned pen holder. It is probably my favorite project of all time. 

Read more here: 
I still have all of my supplies and binders in a book shelf next to my desk....this makes me happy!

Read more about: 

Learning Styles
Each year on the first day of school I do my Learning Styles Prezi

After we do the prezi, students are given an colored index card (color depending on what class they are in) and they are asked to write their name artistically and draw things on their card that relate to their learning style. We then glue the cards to big posters displaying each learning style. 

Not only do I (and everyone else) get to see how many students are each type of learning style, but since I color code the cards by class I am able to see what the majority of each class's learning style is also!

Here is an older version of this project so you can visualize it:

Extreme Desk Makeover
Yes, I decorated my desk in duck tape....and yes it is fabulous!

Read about it here:

Vista Print Banner
Besides my wine rack turned pen holder, this is probably my other favorite thing in my classroom. 

I had a banner made at Vista Print with my name and owls...You can't go wrong there can you?

I hope you liked my tour of last year's classroom (almost an entire year late)!

I'll be back soon to talk about how I did my classroom groupings!

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Funny Posters for the English Classroom

I was SUPER busy and overworked last year so I had to put aside making new things, blogging, basically anything creative had to fall by the wayside. I really missed it! :(

However, now that the school year is over for me (YAY!) I have been able to start a new routine that involves creating things again! I have a list a mile long of ideas of things I wanted to create for my classroom (and potentially yours) that I am slowly working my way through.

One thing I wanted to make sure I had ready to go for next year was fun and bright decorations for my classroom. There are not a lot of options out there for the secondary English classroom in terms of decorations (Believe me I have looked). They are either really cheesy or everything is surrounded by woodland creatures (Note: I have nothing against woodland creatures). 

I finally decided that it was time for me to make my own. I figured that at least that way I could put a humorous spin on them!

I am going to have these printed and displayed in my classroom in a few different ways. 

1. I am going to have a few turned into: Vista Print Window Decals

I have not tried having a window decal made yet so I am excited to see how it turns out. I think I will try to have some of the pink/purple ones done in a window decal so that the sun will really make them brighten up the room!

2. A few will be turned into: Vista Print Car Door Magnets
I have had some car magnets made there before and I LOVE them. They are bright, shiny, and were quality made. I love that they have held up from year to year.  

3. I think I am going to get all the posters turned into a: Walmart Poster Collage that I can hang by my desk (or maybe in my house for fun).

4. The remaining posters I plan to have printed into: Walmart 8x10 prints. These are only $2.84! I can get dollar store frames and hang them around my classroom with command strips or hot glue!

If you want to perk up your English classroom check out the full bundle here:
20 Humorous Posters for the English classroom

I'll write another post once I decorate my classroom later this summer! 

Monday, May 11, 2015

Extreme Desk Make Over

When I was at my old school I had the best desk ever!

It was wooden and HUGE! You cannot tell from the picture but the top of the desk is almost the size of two normal desks put together. 

At my new school I got a standard, metal, crappy desk. Well that just wasn't going to fly with me!

I decided to do an extreme desk makeover!


I searched Ebay and Amazon for Duck Tape Variety and found many people selling groups of duck tape. Some of the sellers on Ebay sold partially used rolls of duck tape, which worked out fine for what I had planned!

20 minutes and a steady hand later, I had a snazzy new desk! All I did was snip pieces of duck tape to  the size of my desk front and placed them carefully on. I made sure that they wrapped under the bottom of the desk (made it nearer and no one sees under the desk anyway!)

I just adore how it turned out!
Duck Tape Desk....don't mind the mess!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Wine Rack Marker/Pen Holder

A few years back I saw an idea on Pinterest to use a wine rack to hold cups that can hold pens and markers. I loved the idea, and I had a small wine rack hanging out in the basement, so I gave it a go. 

This six cup wine holder has been in my classroom for the last few years and I love it!

I decided that I wanted to go BIGGER!

I kept searching until I finally found one that I lurrrrved. 

Oenophilia Bordeaux Chateau Wine Rack- 23 Bottle

It took awhile to find cups at the right size (and price since I needed 23) but finally I found them at Walmart (I couldn't find them online, only in the store).  They come in packs of 2 for $1.98 each and are 29 oz. They fit PERFECTLY in the wine rack and the lips on the rims of the cups stop them from falling backwards in the rack!
Here is my completed project (sans markers and pencils because those are still packed away for the summer!)

I Love it!