Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Prepping for Class

at 5:53 PM
Yup! It's that time of the year again. With school starting in just over two weeks, I've been busy planning and prepping. I hit the sales for school supplies and got some ok deals - nothing crazy awesome enough to brag about.

But I did happen across a sweet deal when looking for a plug in microphone for my classroom computer. Office Depot had some on clearance for $3.11. Yes!

I wanted to get a microphone for my classroom computer so that I can use this awesome website to control volume in the classroom. I have an app that does the same thing on my phone, but I'm wary of leaving my phone out under the doc camera in a middle school classroom. So when I found this website, I was ecstatic. I can show it over my projector and will it work in the classroom? Thus began my search for a microphone.

The idea is that the balls bounce like crazy on the screen while the students are loud, and they settle quietly at the bottom when the kiddos are quiet. I'll see how it works.

I found some other cool websites I wanted to share. is a slide sharing website that has a lot of pre-made slideshows and powerpoints. No need to recreate the wheel, one of my professors in the credential program always said! has tons of different notecards already on it, but you can also use it to make your own sets of flashcards. I'm going to be using it with my class in the computer lab. Kids love technology, so why not try to integrate it as much as possible? They can review the words with the flash cards, and take a quiz as often as they want, to practice the words. I created a free account with them (they have paid accounts too, but I can't see the necessity) and made a deck for Q1 vocab. I had my friend check it out, and you can find and review the cards without making your own account - that's great news, because it means my students won't have to waste time creating an account name they'll just forget.
Best part? There are multiple apps for both iPhone and Android that sync with the website, so you can review your flashcards on the go! (I think you need to create an account for that to work, but still!)

If you haven't heard of Prezi please go check it out! Look at some of the sample ones. I haven't created any of my own yet, but it's such an awesome idea. Almost as cool as Animoto.

My mother's summer school has been using this website. It has a ton of books, especially for mid-grades (3-7) and if you can find a book you're teaching on there, it's awesome. The website has the text of the novel, and it's been made interactive. There are links to images, explanation/websites/etc for references and allusions within the text, to help students understand it better. Check it out.

Of course, I've been scouring Pinterest. I've also been perusing educational blogs, and skimming through my educational theory books. There are a lot of ideas out there.

My mom's summer school is using GLAD strategies, and while I'm not what all that entails, I do know that I like their idea of having just 3 rules.

So I'm going to try it this year.

The rules are
1. Respect
2. Make Good Decisions
3. Problem Solve

I also believe that classrooms should be full of color, inspirational quotes, and affirmations - as well as content-based posters.

So I scoured Pinterest and blogs and found a bunch to print out. Most of these came from (which has a TON of free posters to download) but not all of them, and I forget where most came from. But feel free to peruse my boards at your leisure.

Some of my favorites in close-up:

I also re-created my voice level chart.

This is what my board looked like last year. I'm thinking of changing the voice chart, so I made a new one. It won't be the same size, but I think it'll be ok. I added two more levels, gave them numbers, and added the descriptions on them, like for my movement levels. 

I printed them out on paper, and then taped them to various colors of cardstock and paper. Our school has a laminating machine, so I'll use that on them individually, and then use sticky tack to put them on the board. I have a tiny clothes pin for each chart, that I move so the students know what level they should be at.

It worked very well last year, especially when I used it consistently. I think adding more levels will require me to stay even more consistent, but I needed to add a difference between normal voice level and group-work level. 

Level 5 is only on the chart as a reminder to students who are at that level. 

Some of the conversations I expect to have: 

"What level voice are we at?" "...3" "And what level are you at?" "...5" or "What voice level are you at?" "5" "And where should you be?"

I use my handy dandy paper cutter when I make the posters. This was a complete impulse buy at Target, for like $12, a few years ago. But I love it and use it all the time. I'm tempted to get another one for my classroom. 

Two of the posters I printed had faux glitter on them that didn't look as shiny printed as they did on the computer, so I glitter-fied them myself. XD 
They're GROUPS and PARTNERS procedural posters created by Journey of a Substitute Teacher. She made them in all different colors, too!

This is one of my favorite finds this year. There was a more complicated version of this going around Facebook a few months ago, but this one will work better for my students, I think. I'm teaching an ELL class this year, too, for the first time. It's a double block (two periods long) of CR 3, which means these are the students who are right on the cusp of becoming reclassified. I think using this poem as an introduction to the class will help me gain rapport. I want them to know that yes, English is hard, but that I'm here to help that, and we can get through it together. 

I'm already looking forward to reading this aloud with sarcasm and confusion in my voice. XD 

Just some ideas and websites to help you get inspired to start prepping for your classrooms, too! Happy rest-of-your-Summer!


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