Friday, August 24, 2012

Back to School Time

It's getting to be that time... early wake up calls, lesson plans and meetings. When I'm preparing to go back to school, I always start with decorating and organizing my classroom. I truly believe that if the room starts out looking good, then the students will appreciate it and work hard to keep it looking nice. It's also fun for me to work on this stuff, so it eases me back into school mode. My classroom is not fully set up and ready for students yet, but I wanted to share what I've done thus far.

There is a wall right outside of my door where I like to post the standards that the students are currently learning. I made up a quick sign last year and wrote the standards on index cards for each unit. This year, I'm typing up the standards by unit and will post them that way. Now the students all know what we're working on before they enter the classroom and anyone else that walks by knows as well.
Another thing that I started using last year that worked very well was inspired by Pinterest. If you're on Pinterest, then I'm sure you've seen those "I love you because..." picture frames that people write on with a dry erase marker. Since I teach four different preps, my homework assignments were occupying a lot of space on my white boards. I decided to modify the frame idea and created a homework frame for each prep.
I bought inexpensive 11 x 16 inch frames at Walmart and used coordinating scrapbook paper and sticker letters to create the frame. Every morning I write the homework assignments on those boards, along with any upcoming assessments. This worked really well last year since the kids always knew exactly where to look to see their assignment. I put all 4 of the frames up front in a grid pattern.
The frames also added some much needed color to the room. I hung the frames using command hooks and they've been up there since last summer without a problem. Above the frames you can see a quote that I also found on Pinterest. It says, "It's ok to not know. It's not ok to not try." I used this particular quote because I wanted to students to know that their effort is really what's important to me. If they try hard enough then they will learn the content and be successful.

You can also see some laminated signs that I made for the front board. One is the classroom survival tips - another thing I found on Pinterest. I can post a close up picture of that too if anyone is interested. The other is the teacher's definition of talking. This really gets the point across - so here's a closer look:
Since the white boards are magnetic, I attached a strip of magnet to the back of these signs and now I can move them on the board if I need to.

One thing that I make a point to do is acknowledge the strong students often. I think that they seem to get left behind with the emphasis on test results because we know that they'll do well. Last year I started posting the "Star Student" for each class period and it is simply the student with the highest average in the class. The student grades consist of tests and quizzes, so it is a flat out achievement recognition. I was surprised at how it really made the students want to achieve higher scores. The students that regularly got 80s and 90s now wanted to get 100s on everything and were doing test corrections to raise their grades. I was thrilled that they weren't satisfied with 80s anymore! All of this just to have their name on an index card in the front of the room!
I made the banner out of scrapbook paper by just cutting out triangles and stapling them together. Again, I wanted to add some color to the very tan and beige room! Notice that blue sign that says "Mrs. Pickett"? Two students made that for me in technology class last year. They painted it blue and white because they knew that I'd want the Yankees colors. Love that!

Lastly, I had an extra curtain panel that we used at my first house on a closet in leiu of a door. I put it up on a tension rod and hung it in a big bookcase to hide the mess in there. Since my room does not have a closet, I love that I'm able to hide some of the chaos. When I pull the panel to the left, it covers the entire bookcase perfectly.
So that's what I've completed to this point in my classroom. Who else has gone into school to get settled in? If you teach younger students, make sure you check out the crate seats I made for a friend's third grade classroom.  I'd love to get more ideas from you guys about how you've made your classroom both fun and functional. I'm not trying to rush summer, but I'm ready to get things going with the new school year. I'm sure I'm totally alone with that idea!

Thanks for reading,
You can find me at IHeart Organizing


  1. Love, love, love the ideas. It might be fun for the students to take turns putting up the homework on the new boards.

  2. Thank you for sharing at Saturday Show and Tell. I hope you'll be back this week to link up again! Have a great weekend!

  3. I love love love you homework board idea. I can't wait to steal and try it out this year. I teach three grade levels of math so it will help me attempt to be more organized

  4. Love your ideas totally going to steal some of them when I go back.


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