Math = Love

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Mathematical Autobiography Foldable

How is it possible to already be this far behind with blogging after the FOURTH day of school?!?  Oh, yeah.  It might be due to the fact that I still have lessons from last school year that need to be blogged about.  And, I have yet to finish my #TMC14 reflections.  I feel like I've been constantly on the go since July.  I guess this is the life of a teacher.

This year, I decided I wanted to have my students write a mathematical autobiography.  Not wanting to reinvent the wheel, I did some serious google searching.  It took a while to find, but I finally happened upon some questions that I liked.  This "Mathography" assignment asked students to write a three paragraph essay.  I wanted to use the same questions but make it less intimidating of an assignment for the first week of school.

Here's my foldable version.  Yes, I am truly obsessed.  I guess that's why people kept referring to me as the "foldable queen" at #TMC14... Plus, isn't this cuter than having your students right an essay?  :)

Students who wrote things on the inside of their autobiography that they didn't want others to see were given the option of stapling their autobiography shut in their notebook after I checked it.  

Mathematical Autobiography Foldable - Outside

Mathematical Autobiography Foldable - Inside

  Here's close-ups of the three sections:

The first section is just about "ME" in general.

 The second section is about "ME" as a student.
 And, the third section is specifically about "me as a math student."

Want to download the file for this mathematical autobiography?  Click here.  

Monday, August 18, 2014

Classroom Friendly Supplies Pencil Sharpener Review

So, if you've read my last couple of posts, you know that I'm pretty excited about my new, pink pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies!  I've seen this pencil sharpener touted as the "world's best pencil sharpener" on pinterest for several years now.  To be honest, I doubted how this could be true.  After all, isn't a pencil sharpener a pencil sharpener?

The answer to that question is a definite no!  My electric pencil sharpener broke at the end of last year, and I needed to think about a replacement.  I overheard Pam talking on Twitter about her pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.  She highly recommended it, and I trust Pam.  So, off to the website I went for more details.  I soon found myself watching youtube videos of the pencil sharpener, and I decided I HAD to have one.

Since I write a blog that generates a lot of traffic (thanks readers!), Troy, the owner of Classroom Friendly Supplies (who is a teacher himself), offered to send me a free pencil sharpener in exchange for a review on my blog.  How kind!  And, he even let me pick the color.  Of course, I picked pink.  :)

For days, I eagerly awaited the arrival of my pencil sharpener.  Finally, one day, I got back home from working in my classroom at school, and it was sitting on my front porch.  Yay!

You'll notice that I intentionally didn't include my rather sad (read: dead) petunias in this pic.  Sigh.  A green thumb I do not have...

Inside the box, I found another box!

And, inside that box was my pretty, pink pencil sharpener.

I couldn't wait to take out my pencil sharpener for a test drive.  

Reasons People Hate Sharpening Pencils
* Too Loud
* Inconsistent Results
* Annoying to constantly have to pull out the pencil to check and see if it's sharp enough yet
* You never know exactly when to empty the pencil sharpener

This sharpener fixes all these problems.  It's quiet.  You can talk and sharpen at the same time.  It holds your pencil at a constant pressure which means you get consistently amazing results.  It stops sharpening your pencil at the perfect time.  You can't over sharpen your pencil.  And, the drawer for the shavings is clear.  So, you (or your students!) will know exactly when to empty it.

I loved my first experience sharpening a pencil with my new pencil sharpener so much that I commemorated the event with a selfie!  Here's me and the first pencil I sharpened with this awesome new sharpener.

Here's my pencil sharpener in its new home on the window sill in my classroom.

So, you're probably asking yourself what makes this pencil sharpener any different from a regular pencil sharpener.  I could tell you, but I'm going to do one better than that and show you.

Yes, I made a youtube video of me sharpening a pencil.  Thanks to Glen for sharing the trick for using a cup to hold your smart phone to film at #TMC14.  That came in super handy.

[If the youtube video isn't embedded, click here to view.]

If you've never met me in person, I would say that this video pretty well captures my personality.  No wonder my students think I'm weird...  And, I apologize in advance for saying the word "pinch" weirdly.  This is really how I say the word.  I didn't realize it was a weird way to say it until someone pointed it out at #TMC14 during my session on hexaflexagons and mobius strips.  Then, a student pointed it out when I was demonstrating how to use the pencil sharpener in class.  Surely, I can't be the only person in the world who pronounces "pinch" this way...

Also - please ignore my sunburn.  I spent a few too many hours out in the sun at a car wash to raise money for prom.  And, my allergies have left me with this stupid annoying cough.  '

Ready to order your own pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies?

Troy was nice enough to give me a 5% off discount code to share with you!  The code is QPCCKW.  Hurry, this code expires November 1, 2014!

Now, if you don't want to take my word for it, let me share my sister's experience with this pencil sharpener.  She's an art major, so she takes sharpening pencils VERY seriously.  When I told her that I had just got a new pencil sharpener in the mail, she automatically assumed that I had ordered an electric pencil sharpener.  When I shared that this was a hand crank pencil sharpener, she was not impressed.  Still I took it by my family's business one afternoon while running errands to show it to my mom and sister.  Yes, I'm 24, and I still participate in show and tell.  :)

I demonstrated the pencil sharpener, and my sister tried to act like it was nothing to get excited about.  But, she then proceeded to sharpen EVERY single pencil that she could get her hands on in my mom's office.  I think that speaks volumes!  This pencil sharpener is just fun to use.

So far, my students are LOVING it.  As one student put it, "This is one cool gadget!"  Or another, "Do you want me to sharpen your entire pile of pencils for you, Ms. Hagan?"

Sunday, August 17, 2014

30 Awesome Facts You Should Probably Know About Ms. Hagan

Inspired by John Mahlstedt and his My Favorites presentation at #TMC14, I made a slideshow of "30 Awesome Facts You Should Probably Know About Ms. Hagan" for the first day of school.

I still need to blog about the first day of school, but that's a lot harder than just talking about myself.  So, I thought you might want to learn these 30 awesome facts about me, too.

So, here we go.  Hold on to your hats!  It's going to be an exciting ride that is chock full of random childhood photographs of yours truly.  

For a lot of my students, I may be the first vegetarian they have ever met.  

 Vegetarianism was never a conscious choice.  It just sort of happened to me.  My dad's family is vegetarian for religious reasons, but my dad isn't.  My mom's family eats meat.  When she was in her mid-twenties, she got sick from eating a bad hamburger and vowed to never eat meat again.  That was before I was born.  So, when my sister and I came along, we didn't eat meat either.  My parents made it clear to me growing up that I could choose to eat meat at anytime, but it honestly terrifies me.  There's so many rules and you have to handle it properly or you could die.

All year, my kids will quiz me on whether or not I can eat certain items.    I do eat eggs and dairy products.  Just no meat or seafood.

Students always seem to want to know how old I am.  This is probably due to the fact that I look like I'm still in high school.  And, I thought it would be best to just announce my relationship status on the first day of school.    

I can't believe I'm already starting my 3rd year in Drumright!  I always take a little time to explain where I'm from since I'm not from Drumright.  I didn't even know where Drumright was when I got the call to interview here.  I put stars on the map where I live now and where I grew up.  It's an hour and fifteen minute drive between the two towns.  #TMC14 people will recognize Jenks on the map!  

I talk about my sister a lot in class, so I wanted to introduce her day one.  

And, here's a random fact about me that you might not know.  

I guess I should explain this one.  Whenever I'm driving down the road, if I see a tractor, I feel compelled to try to guess the brand and model number of the tractor and then verify the results as I pass it.  Does that make me officially weird?  I come by it naturally.  Growing up, my dad would point at tractors out the window and ask my sister and me what brand they were.  

My family runs a tractor salvage/component remanufacturing facility/machine shop.  That means they build engines, transmissions, axles, final drives, shuttles, and more.  My parents started taking me to work with them every single day from the time I was a couple of months old.  I grew up around tractors.  My childhood pictures have backdrops of tractor engines and backhoe buckets.  In high school, I started working for my parents full-time during the summer.  I answered the phones, handled accounts payable and accounts receivable, built the company website, arranged the shipping of our engines across the country, and ran errands.  I continued working for them all through college.  My parents offered to give me a job following graduation, but my passion isn't in backhoes, loaders, and dozers.  It's in teaching.    

I took for granted my first year of teaching that students knew that all public school teachers are required to have a college degree.  I was able to attend TU on a full-ride scholarship for being a National Merit Scholar.  I hope that sharing the fact that I went to college on scholarship will help encourage my students to apply for more scholarships!  

Then, I did something super scary.  Something I've never really done before.  I told my students about my blog.  Am I insane?  A few students had already found it.  I don't write anything that I'm ashamed of here.  So, I don't think it should be a problem.  If I don't want a student to read it, I probably shouldn't be writing it.  

Like my warning?  Anything you say or do in my classroom may be posted on the Internet.  This year, I have 41 students who I have taught previously.  After hearing this announcement, many of them wanted to know if there was something about them on my blog.  

They were AMAZED that there are that may people out there in the world who would read a math teacher blog.  Then, I rubbed the fact that I have more twitter followers than them in their faces.  :)  This drives them INSANE.  

I showed them this picture from Twitter Math Camp of our INB party.  They wanted to know why we didn't have chairs at the conference... 

This is a question I've been asked several times by students.  When did you decide to become a teacher?  When I was around 8, somebody asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  My half-sister wanted to be a teacher at the time, so I copied her and announced that I wanted to be a teacher.  Unlike most kids, I never changed my mind.  Though, there was a short stint in the 7th grade where I toyed with the idea of becoming a journalist.  But, that was only because I made a mild crush on the journalism teacher.  I didn't decide what grade level/subject I wanted to teach until I was a junior in high school.  One day, I was looking up something to help me in my trig class, and I ended up on Math Teacher Mambo's blog.  I loved it.  Bookmarked it.  Told my teacher about it.  Came back and read every single blog post she had written.  Pretty soon, I started going through the comments to find other math teacher blogs to read.  I've been obsessed for a while!  The #MTBoS and I have long been friends!  

Another common question is if I have any pets.  I think the pictures speak for themselves on this one.  

I adore puzzles!  

And, if a student wants to bring me chocolate or leftovers from the food prep and nutrition class, I will not complain!  

Of course, I had to tell them about my travels.  

And, this is the point where non-math people probably start thinking I'm really weird.  I call this foreshadowing.  :)  

I get to go to school on my birthday for the second year in a row!  Woot!  My birthday almost always falls on Thanksgiving Break.  So, this is a special occasion indeed!  Last year, I ended up with two birthday cakes and a birthday cupcake from my students.  I blogged about the experience here.

 Since one of my students educated me last year about golden birthdays, I decided I should educate my students.  Your golden birthday is when your age matches the day you were born on.  My birthday is November 25th, so my golden birthday will be my 25th birthday.  #CannotWait

I also used this as a chance to introduce my students to the concept of Friday Letters which I am stealing from Rebecka Peterson.

I can't help but mention the current competition going on between my sister and myself.  We're competing to see who can read the most books during 2014.  I'll let the image speak for itself.  Let's just say the score is not pretty right now.  I need more time!  

Students also want to know what type of person you were in high school.  I went to a much bigger high school than the school I currently teach in, so we had the option of taking Academic Team (Quiz Bowl) as a class in lieu of athletics.  Academic team was my thing.  I wasn't in band.  I didn't play sports.  My sister and I both competed from 7th grade through our senior years of high school.  My senior year, I was named to the All-State team.  

I also tell students from Day 1 that I am super-involved in my church.  It's a tiny country church, so I wear a lot of different hats.  Pianist.  Sunday school teacher.  Vacation Bible School director.  Church camp sponsor.  Children's church teacher.  This year, my 14th year to go to camp, I climbed up 40 feet in the air inside the "fish net."  I made them take my picture climbing so I could prove to my students that I did it!  

Students usually figure this one out pretty quickly.  I type unnaturally fast.  When I started the 8th grade, I was probably the world's slowest typist.  But, I refused to look at my fingers when I took typing, and I slowly got faster and faster and faster until I was typing faster than anyone else in the school.  I've slowed down a bit because I'm out of practice.  But, I took a quiz the other day and typed 103 words in a minute.  That's not too shabby.  My students say that it sounds like I'm shooting bullets out of my fingertips when I type.  Apparently, that can be a little distracting during a quiz or test....  It is one of the most useful things I ever learned to do, though.

After riding public transportation for the first time in my life this summer in Denver, I started to think about all the things I have still yet to do.  I've never flown.  #TMC15 is going to be in LA though.  And, that's a pretty long drive.  I may just have to get over my fear of flying!  Though, driving would allow me to add several states to my list of states visited...  I haven't been on a cruise either.  And, I'd love to travel by train.  I've rode the train at Silver Dollar City and Dry Gulch USA, but I don't count those.  I want to ride a train that goes somewhere!  

I've never quite understood why students want to know what kind of car I drive.  First, I told them that my driving test grade was the worst test score of my life.  But, I have never been pulled over or wrecked, so I can't be that terrible of a driver.  I included pictures (from Google Images) of my first car and my current car.  I really hope they DON'T key my car!  

I've never broken a bone.  But, my sister has.  And, apparently both times were my fault.  The first time she was 3.  We were both on the teeter totter.  She fell off.  I think she should have been holding on better.  She claims it was my fault though.  Debatable.  The second time she was five.  I convinced her that it would be cooler if we sat on the back of the couch to color in our coloring books.  It's not my fault that she doesn't have the best balance in the world.

I like to be honest with my students that there are things I am not good at.  Swimming would fall under that category.  I probably won't drown.  But, you won't find me swimming laps.  I just can't do it.  Or, I should say, I haven't put in the effort to learn how to properly breathe and swim at the same time.  

Can you figure out which one I am in the picture?  This is my 4th grade class on Land Run Day.  I used to assume that everyone knew about the Land Run.  But, apparently that's something that people outside of Oklahoma don't necessarily learn about.  

I'm on the far right in the blue dress with the white apron.  Want to know what my prize was for winning my class' dress up contest?  I was deemed a Sooner in the Land Run.  I had to try to sneak past the guy with the gun and claim my land before the shot was fired to start the land run.  Do you know what happens when you do that?  People start chasing you, catch you, and throw you in jail.  If you know me at all, you know that I am NOT a rule breaker.  If I'm not supposed to go before a certain time, I don't go before that time.  While I was hanging out in jail, everybody else got to claim their land first.  I think I'm still traumatized by that experience.

What sports did you play in high school Ms. Hagan?

Ha.  Ha.  Ha.  Might was well tell you on Day Uno that I did not play any sports in high school.

I did serve a volleyball over the net this summer at church camp.  This was something that I was never able to do when we played volleyball in PE.  Well, to be honest, I was the girl who ran and screamed anytime the volleyball came near me.  I was the girl that you did not want on your team.

We'll conveniently ignore the 19 or so times that my serve did not go over the net, though, and focus on the one time it did!

I want to train and run a 5K.  I'm not a runner.  So, I figured that there was no better motivation than telling my students about my plan to run a 5K.  I did end up running the first day of school, so I guess that it did help.  

Love my last slide.  I am super excited about this school year.  Disclaimer: I'm almost as excited for this year as I am for my new pencil sharpener!  You might have seen the picture of it in my classroom pics for this year.  

It's super awesome, and it's from Classroom Friendly Supplies.  It gives you such a good pencil sharpening experience that I *had* to take a selfie with the first pencil I sharpened using it.  That's completely natural, right?  

I've got plans to write a full review.  Look for it in the next couple of days.  Until then, if you can't wait to order your new best friend, here's a discount code or 5% off a pencil sharpener.  It expires November 1st, so act fast!  


So, there you have it.  30 awesome facts that you should probably know about yours truly.  I hope you learned something!    

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Growth Mindset and SBG Bulletin Board Downloads

I already included the pictures of my two new bulletin boards this year in my massively long post of classroom pictures today, but I wanted to create a separate blog post that people could use to easily find the downloads to duplicate these bulletin boards in their own classrooms.

I don't think I've ever been this happy with my bulletin boards before.  They make me smile.  They represent what I think is important.  They are useful to students.  They spark conversations.  

The bulletin board behind my desk is called "Change Your Words - Change Your Mindset!"  This year, I'm working to help my kids develop a growth mindset.  Many of them have had a fixed mindset instilled in them through their families.  They have been raised to believe that they are either a "math person" or "not a math person."  This summer, I read Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  I do believe that this was a life changing read for me.  It's changed how I think about things in my own life.  And, it's changing how I structure things in my classroom.

This is not an original idea.  It was inspired by a pinterest link from @druinok.  I took what was supposed to be one poster and made it into an entire bulletin board.      

Change Your Words - Change Your Mindset Bulletin Board

The words printed on gray cardstock represent a fixed mindset.  People with a fixed mindset believe that we each live in a box.  There are skills that are in our box, and they will always be in our box.  There is nothing we can do to change that.  And, there are skills that are outside our box.  They, too, will remain where they are. They believe that intelligence and ability are fixed, defined.  Effort is not required.  Failure is bad because it is viewed as defining.  Those with a fixed mindset avoid challenges for this reason.

The words printed on colored cardstock represent a growth mindset.  People with a growth mindset view themselves as plants.  They have the ability to grow, but they must choose to grow.  They believe that we are in complete control of our intelligence and abilities.  If there is something we cannot do, it is because we have not put in the hard work necessary to master it.

I'm asking my students this year to listen for people speaking in the fixed mindset and to offer them a statement in the growth mindset instead.

My other bulletin board stems from this theory of mindset.

If I truly believe that mistakes are good and that is how we learn, my classroom grading policy needs to reflect that.  This year, I am adopting SBG in all three of my preps for the first time.  I've kinda played around with it in my Algebra 2 classes, but I've never started pure SBG from Day 1.

SBG How to Learn... Bulletin Board

While searching for posters that embody the elements of SBG, I found a flow chart poster made by Sarah Rubin who blogs at Everybody Is A Genius.  This flow chart was inspired by the blog of Kelly O'Shea and her work with SBG.  Again, I liked the idea of a poster, but I really wanted something bigger and better than a poster.  So, neither of these bulletin boards are original.  I just put my own spin on them.  

I changed the coloring to better represent my grading structure.  The orange cardstock represents what we do with interactive notebooks and in-class practice activities.  The purple cardstock represents homework.  The pink cardstock represents quizzes.  And, the yellow cardstock represents demonstration mastery.  Yay!  
Someone on twitter mentioned that this is how you learn anything.  Absolutely!  It's actually SBG generic.  I just titled it "How to Learn Math" because, well, I teach math.  

The arrows are cut out of sparkly silver art foam, in case you were wondering.

Disclaimer: This post contains Amazon Affiliate Links.  

2014-2015 Classroom Pics - My Most Colorful Room Yet!

Welcome to my high school algebra and trig classroom!  It seems like everyone has some sort of comment to make when they walk into my classroom and see it for the first time.  My principal: "Well, it's certainly colorful in here!"  Others: "Are you sure your room isn't too visually stimulating for your students?"  "A student could sit in your room for 3 weeks and still not read all the posters in here!"

Here's my philosophy.  My school is old.  It's the oldest public high school still in use in the state of Oklahoma.  It's beautiful on the outside but falling apart on the inside.  Going "all out" in decorating my room is the first way that I can show students that I care.  It's my way of saying, "This year is going to be different!  It doesn't matter how you've done in math in the past.  You can learn math in here.  We're going to work together to make it happen!"

I sometimes spend 10-12 hours a day in this classroom.  It's got to make me happy.  And, this room does just that.  It's fun.  It's colorful.  It makes me smile.  And, my students seem to love it, too!

Want to see pics from previous years?
Year 1 Classroom Pics (Includes pics of what my room looked like when they gave me the keys.)
Year 2 Classroom Pics
What's On My Classroom Walls Post
Year 3 Classroom Pics - You're Here!

If you're one of my facebook friends, you've already seen some of these pictures.  In this post, you will find more pictures and more descriptions since the audience is a bit different.  :)  I figured you guys would appreciate more details about how I made certain things or plan to use certain things for than people who I haven't seen since I graduated high school would.

When you walk in the door of my classroom, this is what you see:

Here's the back corner that is cut off in the previous picture.

The next pictures are going to focus in on details of the decorations which I'll try to explain.

These "Think Different" posters from Apple are a new addition to my classroom this year.

My mom and sister are the queen and princess of bargain shopping.  I tell my mom what I'm looking for to decorate my classroom or use in a certain activity, and she always manages to find it for a ridiculously cheap price.  Garage sales.  Thrift Stores.  Craigslist.  Ebay.  Clearance Sections.  Somehow she manages to be on top of them all!  If it wasn't for my family and their support, my classroom would look radically different.

My mom picked up these posters, a duplicate set of these posters, and probably 5-7 other posters at her favorite thrift store for me.  It's an interesting thrift store.  Nothing is priced.  You just load up your shopping cart, go to the front counter, and the sales person gives you a price to pay based on what's in your cart.  That day, all the salespeople had to go through the posters and try to identify who was in them.  They really liked the posters, and they charged my mom $5 for the entire pile of posters.  Being a bargain shopper, my mom felt like she had gotten kind of ripped off with this price.  But, she loves me, so she paid the $5.  When she called me to tell me this, I reassured her that it was a very fair price.  Any single poster at a teacher store will cost you at least $3.  She had bought an ENTIRE pile of posters for $5.

Then, my mom and sister start researching the people posters to figure out who all the people are.  It turns out the Apple Think Different posters are highly collectible.  As in, the sets sell for hundreds of dollars on ebay.  And, she bought two sets.  The one set that is hanging on my wall is laminated, and Gandhi is missing.  But, that's okay because I like the symmetric 3x3 arrangement of posters.  She told me that I was more than welcome to sell the posters and make a profit, but I really like them.  So, I hung them up on the wall.

All the adults who walk in my room have to try and guess who the people are.  Most have a hard time identifying them.  Not a single kid has mentioned the posters, though.  I guess there is a lot of other stuff for them to be looking at, though...

I bought a new bell for my classroom this year at Mardel.  I had one during my first year of teaching, but it was stolen.  And, my filing cabinet is rocking its new Mathalicious magnet from #TMC14!    

The summer before my first year of teaching, I made this When you enter this classroom... decoration that was Pinterest inspired.  For the last two years, it has been on my door.  This year, I decided to change things up and put it on the bulletin board outside my door.  This is one of the bulletin boards that my parents made for my classroom!  Love having this extra space to expand my decorating to the hall!

Files to make your own classroom welcome display can be found here.

The next few pictures were taken before I finished decorating, but they give you an idea of how the desks are arranged.  My first two years, I started with the desks in groups of four.  Then, as my classroom management skills failed, I moved the students back to rows.  This year, I'm being honest with myself.  I have to become better at managing my classroom before I let students sit in groups all the time.  The center rows face forward.  And, the rows on each side face the center of the classroom.

I've got 24 desks in my room, and that's about all it can hold.  I'd like to have less, but my Algebra 2 classes this year are at 22 and 24.  One of my desks actually disappeared this summer when the janitors were cleaning.  I came back to start decorating, and for some reason, I decided to count the desks.  23.  That's weird.  Count again.  Still 23.  Ummm...  I'm sorry.  I know I'm a math teacher, but I can't really deal with having an odd, prime number of desks in my classroom.  The number of desks must be divisible by 4.  So, I had to go steal a desk out of the storage room and put it back in my classroom.

I kept the date portion of my dry erase board similar to what I did last year.  The date is written as a math problem every single day.  Kids hate this.  I love it.  If they ask me the date, I will read the math problem to them.

Below the date, I look up the daily celebration.  These are wacky holidays that I get from  (The link will take you to August 2014's holidays.  But, you can easily change the URL to go to a different month.)

Last year, I did a monthly celebration.  But, this year, I wanted to try something new.  I put an area on the board for a countdown.  So far, we've counted down to the first day of school and school picture day.  The number of days is also a math problem.  Would you expect any less from me?

Every week, I want to pick a different class norm to focus on.  I'm writing it on the board to remind myself and my students.

And, I'm continuing with the quote of the week this year.  I'm trying to incorporate as many growth mindset quotes as possible.  Download the growth mindset quote posters that I made this summer here.  I've also made some sets of math quote posters that can be downloaded here and here.  If you can't tell, I LOVE posters!  And fonts.  And making posters.  And laminating posters.  And looking at pictures of other people's posters in their classrooms.  And, I guess you could say I'm obsessed!  :)

Another new thing I'm trying this year is using Remind (formerly Remind 101) for send text message reminders to my students and their parents.  I wrote the instructions on the board for signing up with the hopes that students and parents would do that on meet the teacher night.  But, I had so many students in my room since I was the place to go to get freshman class schedules, that it was chaos and didn't happen.  We ended up taking some time on the first day to sign up.    

Here's the right hand side of my dry erase board.  This dry erase board was one of the things my parents bought for me off of craigslist.  It's 16 feet long, and it was a pain to move!  But, I love it and use it everyday.
The blue mitt thingy is from Dollar Tree.  And, it works perfect to erase the dry erase board.  The blue pocket chart is something I picked up at Target last year.  I'm planning on using it to assign groups and group roles randomly.

I decided that I wanted to give each of my class periods a chance to have their own class twitter status.  I envision this as being a way to share achievements or funny things that are said in class.  Plus, I get to have my own twitter status, too!

In order to update the class twitter status, a student in that period has to nominate a new status.  And, the class has to approve it by a vote of more than 50% in favor of that status.  I planned on printing and laminating a cute little twitter bird and title for this plus laminating the class period twitter handles, but it has yet to happen.  This will have to do for now.

I made a recycling sign to hang over our recycling bin.  But, then I did some rearranging and had to move the trash can.  So, the recycling sign is no longer centered.  Don't worry.  That will be fixed!  You can download the recycling poster from this folder.

I finally found a place in my classroom to hang my filetastic from Mardel.  I actually own a bunch of these.  I found the purple ones for 75% off and some jungle green ones for 80% off, and I just couldn't pass them up.  But, I sadly don't have the wall space for them in my current classroom.  I'm thinking that my sister will probably end up using them in her future art classroom.  I can't believe this is her last year of college!

I'm planning on using this as a station for students to pick up work they missed when they are absent.  I will be more organized this year.  I will be more organized this year.  I will be more organized this year.  My students have told me that this new obsession with organization is only going to last a few weeks.  As my students would say, I should let my haters be my motivators.  :)

Here's the door to my classroom.  The polka dot cling border around the window is something I picked up at Dollar Tree last year.  It's one of the few decorations I left up over the summer because it was a PAIN to put up!  The Garfield poster is one that came in the $5 bundle of posters.

Bullying is a huge problem in my school.  In the past, we invited Stand for the Silent to come in and speak.  What an amazing, heart-felt, tear-jerker of a presentation.  Bullying truly does kill.  If you haven't heard Mr. Smalley speak, you need to!  The kids were asked to sign an anti-bullying pledge.  I have one hanging on the wall of my classroom as a reminder.  

This is my new absent work board.  Were you absent?  Look at the calendar for the day you were gone.  It will tell you if there was a homework assignment that you missed.  Get the homework assignment out of the filetastic next to the board.  I'm hoping that this is more sustainable than the absent work organization methods I've used in the past.  Everyone has to comment on the fact that I have three calendars.  Hello, I have three preps!

The punch-out lettering is from the Dollar Tree.  I love that store!  The string art on the bulletin board was made by my sister when she took high school geometry.

I call this the "Words I Want to Hear More" section of my classroom.  Please.  Thank you.  Yet.  My sister didn't understand why I would hang the word "yet" on my wall.  Instead of hearing "I can't do this," I want to hear "I can't do this YET."  It's one of my efforts this year in developing a growth mindset in my students and myself.

I love the never, never, never give up poster!  Below that, is my senior picture bulletin board.  In two years of teaching, I was only given 3 senior pictures.  And, all 3 of those are from last year.  I'm hoping that keeping these posted will encourage more pictures!

I'm going all out with SBG (standards based grading) this year!  I did a quick google search for SBG posters, and I ended up on Sarah Rubin's blog, Everybody Is A Genius.  (If you've never visited her blog, you should definitely check it out!)  She posted a flow chart that she had adapted from a flow chart posted by Kelly O'Shea.

I liked the poster, but I envisioned something bigger.  This may have been influenced by the fact that I had two blank bulletin boards in my classroom at the time...  Since SBG is going to be new to my students, I wanted something that would let us have conversations.  If a student is struggling, I wanted them to be able to see where they were in the SBG process. I used four different colors of paper to illustrate the four steps in the process.  Learning (INB/In-Class Activities), Practice (Homework/Redoing homework until they have earned an A or B on it), Quizzes (Redoing Quizzes until they have earned an A or a B on it), and Demonstrating Mastery.  Don't let the letter grades throw you off.  This is SBG on a four point scale.  I just call a 4 an A, a 3 a B, and anything below a 3 is "Not Yet."  I need to write up an entire post about my SBG plans for the year.

The arrows were cut out of sparkly art foam.  There is now glitter EVERYWHERE in my classroom!  Let me just say, I am in LOVE with this bulletin board.  I was going to change out this back bulletin board once a month.  Nope.  This is staying up ALL year!

Download the How to Learn (SBG Process) Posters here.

You can kinda see it in the previous picture, but I put up horizontal/vertical reminders on my wall this year.  I'm not exactly sure why it is, but my algebra 1 students struggle terrible with remembering which way horizontal is.  And, they don't know what the horizon is either.  I think that's part of the problem.

Here's a better pic of the letters.  They're vinyl letter decals from Target.  Of course, my mom picked them up at a yard sale for 25 cents.  Win!

My black cabinet is now home to posters for group work roles (inspired by Ilana Horn's Strength in Numbers: Collaborative Learning in Secondary Mathematics ) and Classroom Rules (inspired by Harry Wong's The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 4th Edition ).

Download the Group Work Roles here.  And, the Classroom Rules Posters here.

The side of my filing cabinet is covered in beautiful math posters I downloaded from around the Internet.

And, here's my classroom bookshelf.

More posters.  I thought these were fitting to hang next to the people who thought differently.

I couldn't find a good place to hang my greek alphabet posters.  I'm not happy with their placement.  I wanted them to be more like an alphabet banner.  Maybe next year...  The sentence starter posters are also inspired by Ilana Horn's Strength in Numbers: Collaborative Learning in Secondary Mathematics .

Download the Greek Alphabet Posters here and the Sentence Starter Posters here.

Here's a view of the entire back corner.

The window sill will hold daily supplies.  Right now, the magazine holders are holding construction paper and dry erase boards.  The tub of dice and stuff will go in my cabinet.  And, then there's my awesome new pink pencil sharpener.

It's from Classroom Friendly Supplies, and it's AMAZING.  I'm going to write a full review soon, but you can trust me that you're going to want one.  If you do decide to take the plunge (and you should!), here's a code for 5% off your pencil sharpener purchase!  Act fast because the code expires November 1st!


At #TMC14, Rebecka Peterson talked about Friday Letters.  I mentioned wanting a mailbox in my classroom so I can make this my own classroom tradition.  This is what I ended up with.  My mom bought a vintage Versafile at the thrift store.  She was worried about kids stealing the letters of other kids, so she insisted I get something that locks.  My dad took the box over to the machine shop at work and cut a nice slot in the top for me.  And, then he painted it Drumright Red.   It's now sitting next to my new aloe vera plant that my mom decided I needed.

Also in the window sill - my new spider plant (also courtesy of mi madre), hand sanitizer, air freshener, and one of those paper weights that you turn over and watch the three colors of corn syrup flow through.  Let me just say.  My kiddos are AMAZED by this thing.  It's ridiculous.

Along the wall are these random storage containers that I wish I had a better home for.  But, when they built my classroom in 1919, they weren't really thinking about built in storage.

I'm still using the curtains that my mom made for me the summer before my first year of teaching.  They add a nice touch to the room.

Then, there's my ceiling decor.  The origami is still hanging from the ceiling.  But, I've added some tissue paper pom poms.  I bought a kit to make these at Tuesday Morning, and they were ridiculously easy to put together.

One of the other teachers asked me what their purpose was.  Duh.  They look pretty!

Here, you can see my number line on the south wall.  Plus, the class norms posters that are below it.

At the end of my student teaching, my cooperating teacher gave me a name plaque because his cooperating teacher had done the same for me.  It's still on my desk.  I think it convinces my students that I'm a professional.  :)

Since this is going to be the year of organization, here is my newly made tickler file.  It's based on David Allen's Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress-Free Productivity.  Whenever a paper comes across your desk that you don't need to take action on for awhile, you put it in the tickler file.  There is a folder for every single day of the current month.  And, a folder for each month in the next year.  So, I have a reminder in my October folder to hang up my new Halloween decorations.  At the beginning of October, I will open the October folder and decide what day each thing in the folder needs to be handled on.  I will then sort them into the numbered day folders.  At the beginning of each day, I empty that day's folder and take any actions that need to be taken.

Behind my desk are a couple of reminders to myself.  I made these based on an #EduRead conversation that I was lurking on.  They go perfectly when my emphasis this year on the Growth Mindset.  You can download these posters here.

These posters behind my desk summarize my grading scale.  If a homework assignment or quiz is PERFECT, that's an A.  If there are a few tiny mistakes, that's a B.  If there is a major mistake, that's considered "Not Yet."  Students will be required to redo the homework or requiz until they earn an A or a B.

Grading scale posters can be downloaded from this folder.  

Behind my desk is this awesome pi plaque that my sister made for me!  She painted the heart white.  Then, she used wavy painter's tape to add the purple stripes.  The pi symbol is purple glitter.  And, the whole thing is coated in something to keep the glitter from coming off.  

It hangs right above the Ms. Hagan sign that she painted for me two years ago.  And, I can't forget to mention my origami fish from #TMC14.  He even knows how to swim!

Behind my desk, I have several sets of plastic drawers to keep me organized.

I picked up this dry erase calendar at Dollar general last year.  I'm hoping to keep it updated with meetings and such.

This wire shelf used to set on my back wall on top of a science lab table.  I moved the table, so the shelf had to find a new home.  It's currently sitting behind my desk.  This is great except for the fact that I keep running into it with my chair which makes it fall apart.  I've put it back together at least 15 times so far.

One of my students made this origami crane last year and taped it to my computer monitor.  He threatened dire consequences if I took it off.  It's still there!

The bulletin board behind my desk was inspired by @druinok.  She posted a link to an image on pinterest on twitter.  I fell in love with it.  Her hubby made an awesome poster, but I decided I wanted to go bigger than that.  Plus, I did have that one last empty bulletin board that needed something.  

This summer, I read Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  It has completely revolutionized the way I want to approach certain things in my classroom.  There is power in the words we speak.  And, we change our mindset by changing out words.

I typed up the sentences, and I printed the fixed mindset statements on gray cardstock and the growth mindset statements on colored cardstock.  They ended up being bigger than my bulletin board, so I overlapped them a bit.  I think it gives a nice visual effect.  I'm hoping this will be something that we refer to the entire year.  I want my students to recognize when classmates, themselves, or even I speak in a fixed mindset.  And, I want us to work together to change these statements to a growth mindset.    

Download your own change your mindset posters here.  

The front wall features a ton of free posters that I requested online from AMS and BYU Math.  

You'll also notice the cursive handwriting banner.  Students are always asking me how to write a certain letter in cursive.  Now, they'll have a place to reference!

Decorations around the SMART Board:

Like last year, my problem solving strategy posters have been hung under the SMART Board.  I need to do a better job of referencing them this year!  You can download these posters here.

This is my collection of mathematical toys.  My kids love to play with these.  Especially the monkey who multiplies!

And, I use these free posters from Texas Instruments a lot to show where certain buttons are.  I added reminders to my scientific calculator poster last year for my Algebra 1 students.  This year, I'm going back to using the TI-84 in Algebra 2 instead of the TI-NSpire.  We'll see how I like this...

I picked up these anti-bullying posters from Dollar Tree.

And, I love this poster about attitudes.

My podium posters are pinterest inspired.  Here's the original pin.  And, here's my version:

Here are my order of operations posters that I mentioned and uploaded files for here.  I still need to go back and add let to right arrows.  A lot of people ask questions about these posters when they walk in my room.  Hey, at least they're eye-catching.  :)  

Here are my red/yellow/green cups for group work.  These are also inspired by @druinok. I blogged about my plans for these cups here.  The artwork in the window is courtesy of my sister.

I got new stacking trays for students to turn in papers to!  So excited for these.  For the past two years, I've had all classes turn papers into a single tray.  It was a pain to sort and grade.  I picked up these at a yard sale for $2!

They're setting on my pretty, pink cart that I paid $5 for at another yard sale.  This year, I'm actually going to label the drawers!  It holds extra notebook paper, graph paper, etc.  I'm thinking it will also be perfect to hold frayer models and table of contents sheets for INBs.

My weekly schedule posters are up, and I LOVE them!  They're a good reminder for me and my students as we build classroom routines.  More details and a download of the posters are here.

I have a mini poster of the Pledge of Allegiance below my flags.  I printed it off somewhere on the Internet.

The box next to my date/holiday/quote stuff is for discipline.  Consequences of breaking rules involve having your name written on the board.  One of my students dubbed it the "Wall of Shame."

I'm planning to do more cold calling this year because in the past I've always ended up calling on the same few kids because they are the ones whose hands are up.  These canisters are going to hold popsicle sticks with names of students for each class period.  I'm super excited about this!

Now, I just have to wait for the class schedules to get finalized so I can have one of my aides make the popsicle sticks.

Here's the front corner of my classroom.  You can see my TU flag in this pic.  Love my alma mater!

When I laminated the class norms, it made them hard to photograph.  You can download the class norms files here.

Our bell schedule this year is wonky.  53 minutes first hour.  52 minutes second hour-seventh hour.  5 minute pass periods except one for the passing period before lunch which is 6 minutes.  I like the bell to ring on a multiple of five.  That's NOT happening this year.

After complaining about it on twitter, Meg Craig suggested I make arrows to put around my clock that point at the time each class period ends.  She posted about her clock and its arrows at the bottom of this post.  Meg took the idea from Math Teacher Mambo who took the idea from someone else.  

So far, it's been super helpful to me.  I'm not sure if my students are using the arrows, but I sure am!

This the back wall of my classroom.  It has my How to Learn bulletin board, my horizontal and vertical reminders, and my calculator holders!  More about them later in this post.

View behind the podium:

Front of Classroom View:

Back of Classroom:

Remember the table that used to sit along the wall where the calculators now are?  I didn't get rid of it.  I just moved it by the door.  In a way, it's kinda in the walk way.  But, I really, really, really want a flat surface to set papers and stuff on for kids to pick up when they walk in the door.  So, I'm going to live with it and start looking for a smaller table to replace it with that'll be less in the way.

The math teacher across the hall asked me if I was going to stand at the table and charge admission to my classroom.  Ha.  Ha.  Ha.

Outside my door is a sign with my name and room number on it and a reminder that no food or drinks (except bottled water) are allowed in my classroom.

The no food or drink sign can be downloaded from this folder.  

Okay.  Back to my shoe holders/calculator holders.  I've wanted to try this idea for several years, but I just didn't have the wall space.  This year, I decided to move the table and claim the wall space behind it.  I managed to find three matching shoe holders at Tuesday Morning for $7.99 each.  I found a ton of stores with cute shoe holders, but most are 60 inches tall.  The space below my bulletin board is only 53 inches tall.  These only hold 20 calculators instead of 24, but they fit the space perfectly!

You may have noticed my pet monkey that hangs out by my calculators.  His name is Henry if you're in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 6th hour.  My 4th hour insists on calling him Cinnamon.  He's our talking piece when we do classroom circles.  He was a Valentine's gift last year from a couple of my students.

I guess that about sums up my classroom.  Sorry for the overwhelming number of pictures!  Hope this gives you some ideas for decorating your own classroom!

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