Feelin’ Patriotic: Student Council Voting Booth

Thinking back on when I was in middle school, I know I was a classroom representative at least one year. And from what I remember of that time wielding that sacred position, other than attending some meetings, I did absolutely nothing. It was almost like it was a made-up position to make the ones who didn’t get an elected office feel a little bit better about themselves. Which that very well could have been the case.

When I became the advisor for the student council at my school this year, I wanted each position the students held to be of importance and for them to contribute to the club in some way. I also wanted the students to view the positions as a big deal in our school. So, with the help of the lovely people over at Pinterest, I wanted to start the election process off with a bang by creating our own voting booth.

My grandpa graciously brought me a refrigator box to school one day, and with the help of a fellow teacher, wrapped it up in red butcher paper. Then, I taped red, white, and blue streamers to the front to create a “door” and stuck a desk inside for the students to write on. So easy and simple, and the students loved it!

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I would love to hear the ideas you are doing with your own student council!

~Jess

Pretty, Proficient Planners: Plum Paper

I am very particular about my planners. I had a great Martha Stewart planner from Staples then my world ended when they quit carrying them. It came with monthly calendars and there were weekly spreads big enough to write my lesson plans. But, the best part had to be that it was built to hold all the pages as inserts so I didn’t have to buy the binding each year.

Sure, I tried other planners, but they just weren’t like Martha’s. All of the planners I saw had weekly spreads that you could fit a paragraph on for each day. That just doesn’t cut it for me. Until one day, Ashley notified me about Plum Paper planners. Cue the singing angels. They are everything I had been looking for and more. There are a variety of cover designs you can choose from plus you can customize it. I chose the pink stripes with my name in grey.

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On the inside there are tabs for each month and each week is divided into classes! Plus, if you choose, you can have your classes actually printed onto the paper for weekly lesson plans.

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Love the colored tabs! This planner runs from August to July.

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Here is the weekly spread. I love this template, and it’s enough space to write what I’m doing in each class each day.

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Along the left side are the row boxes where you can have your classes printed.

There are also sections for class lists, contact information, and notes. The paper is also shiny and kind of feels luxurious compared to the usual lame paper my other planners had. I almost don’t want to write on it. The only thing about the planner that can’t touch Martha’s is that it isn’t reloadable. But, other than that, two thumbs up.

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They come in two different sizes, and I chose the large. I like my planners spacious enough to see everything.

I don’t even want to think what would happen if something happened to these planners. I can’t take another Staples debacle.

~Jess

Classroom BFF: The Quietest Pencil Sharpener

As I was planning what I would do for classroom management this year and how I would change it from last year, I couldn’t help but think about my students and how much they would sharpen their pencils. There were quite a few times last year when a student would go to the pencil sharpener (as I was speaking of course) to sharpen his or her “dull” pencil on either my mechanical or electric sharpener. Imagine me using air quotes around dull because, more often than not, the pencil did not need it. I think we all know what would happen then. The sharpener would be so loud I would have to pause as they sharpen so they could get a nice point to continue working. It was a big pet peeve of mine and I wanted none of it as I went into this new school year. This is when I heard about the “quietest classroom pencil sharpener” from my fellow teacher friend. I had to try it out.

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sharpener c/o Classroom Friendly Supplies

Every student who has tried the new pencil sharpener has loved it! They think it is so cool, because really it is. When you place the pencil in the sharpener, the metal holder actually comes out, and then as you crank the handle, the metal holder moves closer back in place until it is done sharpening. This is to prevent over sharpening done by nearly all students. If you are having trouble imagining this, watch this video!

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Once it is done, the pencil has the sharpest point my students and I have ever seen! They love it, and to clean it is simple. You just have to pull out the clear plastic disposable tray, dump it in the trash and replace.

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The pencil sharpener costs $24.99 and comes in a variety of colors. I love it because it has a retro look to it! There is also free shipping, and specials if you want to order more than one at a time.

This sharpener has definitely cut down on the noise in my room made by all of the previous sharpeners that are now in the past! Plus, it seems that my students have not needed to sharpen their pencils as often! Check out the website at Classroom Friendly Supplies.

To buy your own sharpener, click the link here!

Happy Teaching!

~Jess

 

Back-to-School: A Secondary Classroom

Today is the first day back to school in my system. It really hasn’t hit me yet that back-to-school time is now here. Summer has completely flown by, and between trips and work, I feel like I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to plan for the new school year. I had only a few days to prep my room, and luckily, I had the help of my mom and my friends Ashley and Caleb to get it together! I really let them take full reign with decorating, and I am really pleased with how it turned out. This year, I am teaching English and history to sixth-eighth graders, so I needed my room to reflect those subjects.

Here are some of my favorite parts of the room:

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I love this hinged cabinet door that I bought from Hobby Lobby. I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with it but I knew I needed to swipe it up fast! Luckily, I got it for really cheap (cough…13 bucks…cough)! I ended up using it as a reminder board for my students.

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My mom actually had the idea to put brown paper as the background to my Word Wall. I was hesitant at first but, momma’s always right!

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I wanted to add some new posters to my classroom so I went to AllPosters.com to browse. I ended up with a Rosie the Riveter (pictured with the word wall) and this King’s Cross poster! Obviously, I had to have a Harry Potter poster. I thought it would tie the whole room together.

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I tried to brighten the picture, but I needed paper trays for important student documents. And to be honest, all of the ones I found were black and depressing-looking. So, I went to The Container Store and found these pink, green, and blue stackable paper trays! They really brighten up my student center.

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My mom tapped into her crafty side and covered my swivel chair with this patterned fabric. Two thumbs up Mom!

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My friend and fellow teacher, Caleb, created these labels for the student-section of my board. I needed a spot for my agenda, I can statements, essential questions, and homework for each of my classes. So he whipped these up for me! He’s really awesome at creating essential/decorative items for the classroom. That guy has vision. He also put together my grid pictured here. The grid is made from magnetic strips from School Craft.

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Caleb also made the quotes for the back of my classroom door! I love them all…especially the one from Napoleon Dynamite.

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And last, but not least, I have my class mascot, Teddy Roosevelt. He came from the White House gift shop.

Good luck to all teachers and students going back to school! Hope you all have a great year!

~Jess

End-of-the-Year Grammar Project

Since we are beginning to wind-up the school year, I wanted to find a grammar project for my seventh-grade grammar class to complete. I found what I was looking for on Teachers Pay Teachers, with this Create a Menu activity by Pride and Prepositions.

It is a fairly simple activity for students to do, and it mainly serves as a review over the different parts of speech, but it applies it to a real life situation.

The students have to create their own menu for their “restaurant.” They have to create at least 10 menu items with creative descriptions for each item. They also have to pair an appropriate price for each item. For each description they have to underline so many nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, and prepositional phrases in different colors.

My students worked pretty hard on their menus and seemed to really enjoy doing it. However, I found that it needs to be reiterated that most of their grade comes from underlining the different parts of speech. A few of my students either forgot or did not bother to do it (even though I went over it in the instructions and it was clearly stated in their rubric).

I should also mention that I had my students complete this activity as a sort of “brain break” after state testing. For seventh-graders, this activity might be useful for the beginning-of-the-year as opposed to the end-of-the-year, so it can help the teacher see which parts of speech the students all ready know. As an extension activity, it would be good to identify verb phrases and other different types of phrases in their menus!

Here is the final product from one of my students! She did a fantastic job and really made it her own. I love how she drew a picture of each type of doughnut by the item name.

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Hope everyone has a good couple of weeks left of school!

~Jess