Sunday, October 11, 2015

Project Menu: Differentiated Expression

As the end of the marking period started to approach, I thought to myself, "How can my students demonstrate their understanding in something other than an end of the unit essay or exam?"

I have seen menu approaches before, and I thought, why not try it this year? The students will choose which topic and which approach they would like to use to prove  their understanding of a major concept we covered. 

I'm anticipating that some students will ask which is the easiest option, but I made sure that all of the items to choose from are relative in difficulty. I'm also going to encourage students to pick other types as well to really bring out their creativity.

I can't wait to see their responses and projects! Have you tried this approach before? How did it work for you and your students? I'd love to hear!

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Book-it!: An Interactive Reading Board Game

Motivating students to read can be a stressful process. As I prepared for the 2015-2016 school year, I contemplated on ways to motivate my students to want to read.

I came up with the idea of Book-it! which would become an interactive board game that students could literally play on the whiteboard.

I needed materials first:

  • Something magnetic (whiteboard or sheets of magnet)
  • Magnetic labels
  • Circles (board game pieces)
  • Stickers for START/FINISH signs
  • Tape
  • Baskets for game pieces and reading bubbles
How students will play:
  1. Students will read a book.
  2. Students will complete a reading bubble for the book that they finished.
  3. Students will put their name on a magnet and move their game piece.
  4. The first student to reach the end WINS!
The book bubbles give me a better idea about whether the student actually read the book. Sure, they can cheat, and this game will be on the honor-code system, but I'm optimistic.

Originally, I was going to cut magnet strips and make labels, but then I found these amazing dry-erase labels from Teacher Created Resources at Jo-Ann Fabrics. A set of 30 was only $9.99, and I had a 40% coupon. Score!

I used my Cricut to cut out 7-inch circles for the game pieces.

Then, I arranged my board game on my whiteboard. I called the game Book-it! because students will have to "book it" to the end by reading books! :) As you can see, students will move their game pieces accordingly. The pennants are from Target's dollar spot, and the little black magnetic cubbies for the magnets and book bubbles are from Dollar Tree.

Thanks for checking out my blog! Be sure to check out my other posts.

Saturday, July 11, 2015

High School Classroom Makeover

The 2014-2015 school year has offered something I had never experienced before: my very own classroom. During my first year of teaching, I used a cart to travel in style from classroom to classroom. When I found out that I would be getting my own classroom, I found myself on Pinterest more so than I'd like to admit, pinning everything from what to do with Popsicle sticks to bulletin board ideas. The problem that I ran into was the limited amount of high school classrooms. Don't get me wrong, I loved the elementary classrooms; they were so cute and colorful, but I knew that my teenagers wouldn't really get into owls and Dr. Seuss books.
With some inspiration from Pinterest and a color-themed classroom in mind, I set out on a three-day quest. Below are my before pictures.
Here is what I walked into: 

First Impression
Does anyone else love those room dividers as much as I do?
As you can see, there was A LOT of work that I had to do, and with school starting the following week, I had little time to prep.
I decided to start with the door since that would be my students' first impression. I had originally planned to cover the entire door with some kind of paper, but at the last minute, I decided to save myself the stress and instead just used a fun chevron border. I bought majority of my supplies at Becker's School Supplies and Party City.
I was so happy to have so many huge windows in my room, but the window shades were falling off, didn't roll up, and they weren't pretty colors. Luckily, my fiance's sister had a sewing machine, so she whipped me up some pretty curtains to fit my theme. I got the cheapest fabric I could find from Jo-Ann's. I used the extra fabric to make a pennant for that odd space of wall up top (right).
In staying true to my color themes, I assigned a color to each one of my classes. That helped me stay organized. In the below picture, you can see my in-bins. I used a Cricut to make the labels. My sister-in-law also made the table skirts for me. I used Velcro strips to adhere them to the tables. Table skirts make ALL the difference!
I saw a pin on Pinterest in which the teacher simply faced the book forwards, and I think that made all the difference in the presentation of some bookshelves that were left in my room.
I used ribbon to weave in and out of the milk crates that I bought from Target (they were around $3.00 during back-to-school shopping). Again, I labeled my bins with the same colors as the in-bins. These bins are storage bins for my students' folders and journals. Yes, they were color-coded too. :)
I LOVE the Chinese lanterns, and I was able to find some in the exact colors that I was looking for at Party City. I hung them in two corners of my room.
I am fortunate to have a pretty large classroom, but my OCD mind was having a hard time accepting that nothing was symmetrical, but what could I do? I did have two small bulletin boards to work with, and so I decorated them from an inspirational pin. I decorated both the same way except I tried to do some symmetry with the puffs. I bought the puffs from Party City. I could have made them myself for probably cheaper than what I paid, but I heard that it was a hassle.
I used a Boggle board on one of my boards. I found that many elementary teachers use them in their classrooms, and I thought how cool would that be to have one of my own? Again, I used my Cricut to cut out all of the squares. Even my teenagers love the Boggle board.
I also found that many teachers had an early finishers table. I decided to make an early finishers bulletin board. I stapled these folders to my other bulletin board and put fun educational worksheets in them. They can cash in a completed worksheet for a lollipop or piece of gum!
Although it took me what seemed like forever, I am so glad that I took the time to establish a welcoming and fun atmosphere in my classroom. My students like it; many of them have said it feels like there's about to be a party. You CAN decorate high school classrooms, and you CAN be inspired by elementary teachers!
Thanks for checking out my FIRST blog post!! Check back for more lesson ideas in the future.
Don't forget to check me out on Teachers Pay Teachers for some cool, engaging activities!
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