May 28, 2012

My Teacher Notebook

One of the things I do every summer is tweak, edit, and modify resources for next year. I'm sure this is a universal teacher hobby over the summer. This past year I began using an all-in-one-place teacher notebook and I'm expanding it for next year. Here's your own personal tour :)

my cover

when you flip open the cover you are greeted with wonderful little tabs 
custom made by yours truly.
these make my heart happy. :)

section one: Important Information.
This includes my contact, school map, master schedule, etc. 

 section two: Year at a Glance
 this section includes monthly calendars with topics for each day.
I LOVE having my year completely planned out before the kiddos ever arrive.
Of course some tweaking will take place along the way, but this helps ensure that I will get to all the glorious info my students need to learn. It also makes weekly lesson planning much easier.

section three: Unit Outlines
 this section includes general topics per 9-weeks...
(this page is nowhere near completed yet. it will be complete after my summer CCSS work)

 ...and the standards that are included in each section for quick reference.

section four: Lesson Plans
this section is currently empty since it's summer.
I'll do a post and show you my personal lesson planning template some other time.

section five: Cooperative Grouping
 this is my go-to section for my Kagan grouping info.
This page is how I group students by level before I create cooperative teams. Their names and assessment scores go in the first two columns, I then decide which category they fall into for our current content (high, high medium, low medium, low). 

This second page is how I keep track of my groupings throughout the year. Next to the #1-7 I write down the team names that my students come up with. This is an entire activity that helps promote unity, team pride, and interdependence within teams. I then list out which H, HM, LM, and L students are in each team. 
I generally rotate groups every 6 weeks, or three times per semester. I use one page per class period per semester. It helps me make sure students are not in the exact same groupings. I also record notes about which students should or should not be grouped together in the future.

 section six: PLC Notes
this is pretty self-explanatory

You probably noticed that I don't have a section for grades or parent contact, two very popular sections in most teacher binders. Since I teach at the secondary level, I have anywhere between 120-150 students each year. I also take a LOT of grades throughout the year to continually monitor learning and development. Therefore, my grades get their very own gradebook. Here is my cover for next year :)
This gradebook is often stuck inside my notebook and carried around that way, but I love having it separate.

My parent contacts also get their very own binder. Maybe I'll do a post about that some other time.

Do you have a teacher binder? What are you favorite parts?

May 26, 2012

Paper Gradebook

Do you use a paper gradebook? I do! I love it and wouldn't give it up for $20. $100 maybe, but definitely not $20. Do you want to give me some grief for it? I'm okay with that. I love my gradebook that much! I also make my own gradebook every year. I just haven't found one I like as much as my own version. 

My cover from this past year looked like this:
p.s. our school mascot is the Leopard

and my inside pages look like this

I run copies of my inside pages front and back for the entire year. I then take all these copies and my cover (printed on cardstock to make it a little thicker) to my local Office Depot. They laminate the cover, add a thick plastic back cover, and spiral bind the entire thing for $2.50. Perfection!

Here are just a few of the reasons that I LOVE my paper gradebook:
  • I divide my pages by unit and not by 9-weeks, what typically comes in store-bought books
  • I print my students' names for each new unit and just paste them into my book. They fit perfectly since I made the original template myself :)
  • I color code my gradebook and make lots of little notes to myself about my students' learning during that unit, this just doesn't work as well digital (at least for me)
  • we employ Mastery Math at my school, meaning my students take two unit tests and keep their best scores on each section of the test. A paper gradebook allows me to reference all of their scores quickly and easily.
Okay, I said a few reasons, I'll stop now.

Here's a quick and blurry pic of one page from last year. :)

 Please let me know if you use a paper gradebook and have any wonderful modification ideas for mine.

May 23, 2012

Yearning for Summer

Alright, if you will afford me just a couple moments I'm going to whine. I want summer--badly! I want to sleep in, relax with my cup of coffee, sit outside with a good book soaking up some vitamin D, and go for an afternoon run. Ahhhhh bliss. 
But alas, no. The kids' last day was Monday and my summer doesn't really begin until June 9. I am working with some fabulous ladies and we are writing curriculum for next year. Common Core...heard of it? If you are in the world of education I sure hope you have! The Common Core State Standards are national standards that will increase rigor in US schools. I am excited about the future promise that these standards hold, but the next few years are going to rough as educators and students adjust. Now, back to why my summer is currently on hold. The middle school and junior high level classrooms in our district implement Common Core in August. That means that we need to wrap our minds around (and create assessments and resources) before August. So, that's what we are currently trying to tackle. 
We are taking all 7th grade, 8th grade, and Algebra 1 standards and combining them into one large and cohesive curriculum. We will create units, then write assessments, then look at how best to teach these ideas. Here's what we have: about 120 standards that range from adding rational numbers to synthesizing functions to understanding geometric principals. Some are worded clearly and some are worded like a bad translator was drinking. We are working very hard and I feel confident that our final product will be amazing. I cannot wait to look at all the glorious splendor we have created here in a few weeks. But for now, my head hurts. We are reading, processing, trying to understand, and exhausting our mental capabilities. I am proud of the work we have done in last couple days, here's to hoping we can continue!!

Please hold my place, summer, I'll be there soon!

May 22, 2012

VistaPrint Freebies

Like many teachers I've jumped on the VistaPrint bandwagon. Here are my latest freebies!

Bathroom cards:
I actually ordered these a couple years ago and really enjoyed them. I'm thinking of replenishing my stock. Each student gets one at the beginning of the year and must keep track of it all year long to go to the bathroom. Yes, that's quite a large feat for some 8th graders. As long as it is an appropriate time (not right in the middle of a lesson) they may show me their card, I will hole punch the appropriate area, and they go to the restroom. I let students go 3 times per 9 weeks. Each edge of the card is for one 9-week time period. Do you already have three punches on your left side and it's still the first nine weeks? No potty break for you today...

Tutoring sign:

Well, this is advertised as a car magnet, but who says I can't stick it to my classroom board or filing cabinet instead of my car??
It is a nice little reminder to students that I am here to help. It also helps them remember where to sign up for a tutoring time.

Homework stamp:
Next year I am going to try using Interactive Notebooks in my classroom. I am SUPER excited and cannot wait to try this out. I have been gathering lots of resources but if you have any personal experience with interactive notebooks at the secondary mathematics level I would love to hear about it! One of my dilemmas that I am pondering in my head is homework. Students must practice Algebra, and I want to often see how they are doing in their practice. I don't want to collect the notebooks daily because they need them in their possession, and I want them to work practice problems directly in their notebook, not on a separate piece of paper. Hence my little dilemma. 
Through my research and talking to people someone mentioned (I'm sorry I can't remember exactly who. If this was your idea please let me know, I'd love to give you credit!) spot checking key problems in the notebooks while students work on a brain booster/warm up activity. Then when I do a formal notebook collection and check, I know exactly who had their work done completely and on time. Enter my cute little stamp. :) This should make spot checking much easier.

And lastly, my pen:
It doesn't have a super great purpose, it's just a pen with my name on it. And it was FREE!

I only had to pay about $10 in shipping for all these items. I cannot wait for them to arrive! Fun new goodies!

May 20, 2012


I am entering my third year of teaching (fourth if you count my student teaching year, which I do since it was induction by fire!) and am very excited to start my teaching blog. I have had a personal blog for about three years now which included classroom posts, but a blog all for teaching? I'm pumped!

Let's Be Better Together!