Thursday, August 23, 2012


Great find! These are great for grading, and the kids love them!

Here's a quickie activity that I just checked for completion:

It's a nice way to add a little fun to papers that you hand back. And so cute!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Tardy Documentation

What do you mean that's my fourth tardy? I wasn't tardy no four times - when was I tardy?....

A familiar line, eh? Hence, always a good idea to have a good system to track tardies. In the past I just jotted down the dates of tardies next to the students' names on the roster I carry on my clipboard, and being able to rattle off the dates of previous tardies has usually been enough to subdue objections. This year I'm going to take it a step farther and have students sign when they have a tardy, just to avoid possible problems down the road. What I did was make a sheet of labels that can be kept on above-mentioned clipboard, and all I'll have to do in the event of a tardy is fill out name/date/hour/tardy # and have the student sign it. Then I'll slap it in his or her student folder, where it can easily be retrieved if need be. After each tardy I'll also go ahead and pre-fill a second label with name and tardy #, that way if they earn another tardy I won't have to look up what number they're on.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Neon Rules

As part of my at-home preparation, I have been making posters of classroom rules/procedures/etc. Here are the two that are finished, minus laminating.

This is on posterboard cut down to 13"x18", and has the abbreviated schedule for the first two days of school on it. On the reverse side is the regular daily schedule, making it easy to flip back and forth between the two. As we all know, having a posted schedule greatly cuts down on (but, alas, does not eliminate) "When do we get outta here?"

Here is the remainder of the original poster board, brightly decorated with the class grading plan.

There are a few others dealing with classroom rules and procedures that still need finishing touches, but they are equally as bright and (you would think) hard not to notice in a classroom.

But, for now, I must prepare for sleep - Institute Day tomorrow, and my very first few precious hours to work in my classroom!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Course Syllabus

My first class at my new school begins at 7:40am this coming Tuesday. My very first opportunity to work in my classroom will be 3pm-7pm this coming Monday. Not even kidding. Due to some repair work being completed in the gym (right around the corner from my room), my classroom was sealed off this week, with all sorts of tubes and machinery and zippered plastic walls blocking it. It actually looked a lot like the house in ET after it was taken over. On the one hand, I really enjoy that analogy (I wish I had pictures!). On the other hand, this creates an enormous challenge.

But what can you do? Moving on, I'm focusing all of my effort on the things that I can accomplish at home. One thing that I'm really happy with is a revamping of my course syllabus/expectations to make it more "junior high" friendly. I must admit, it was pretty terrific to only have to create a syllabus for one prep, rather than four or five like usual. Here's what I created.

The one I used last year was a little text-dense - fine for high school, a little too much for the junior high attention span. It covers class content, materials, and my classroom management plan. Also, a page for parents to sign and include contact information, which we all know usually comes in handy at some point (amazing how often the phone numbers in the student data management system are incorrect, isn't it?). It's a lot of information to include in one document, but you know you've got to cover all your bases at the beginning of the year or face CHAOS. And chaos in a classroom with knives, fire, scissors and needles is a bad, bad thing.

Speaking of knives, fire, scissors and needles, at the beginning of both the sewing and foods units I do have an additional document with rules/procedures specific to those areas. I'm sure you'll find them on here eventually.

Good luck with preparing your classrooms!

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Summer is... >GASP!<... ending!!!!!!

Well, fellow teachers, the end (or shall I say the beginning?) is near... time for Back to School! And before going any further, I just want to mention that I received my first B2S email ad, from Staples, on JUNE 19TH! Come on people, give us a break, eh?

Some big changes this summer... I have moved to a new city, and will be teaching at a new school. This year I'll be teaching junior high, 7th and 8th grades. Hence, LOTS of work to be done. Not the least of which will be re-starting color-coded kitchens. So glad I bought almost all of the smaller colored equipment for my last school with my own cash; however, of course very sad to have to leave behind my beautiful stand mixers and gorgeous colored pots and pans... sigh...

This Monday will be the first day I get to work in my classrooms. SO MUCH WORK TO DO. The kids start on the 21st, so I have one week to get as much as I can done. The good news is I won't start cooking for a few weeks, so I could hold all classes in the sewing room, giving me extra time to get the foods room in order.

I am also of course working on revamping curriculum - going from high school to junior high means big change! At my new school I get 7th & 8th graders together for one semester. Technically I suppose I could do the same thing with every class every day and only have one prep, a completely alien concept to me. However, I think you have to be a real masochist to want to run 6 foods labs in one day. My plan is to create a curriculum with four different units, and then stagger them among my classes. The first unit everyone will do the same, and then two of my classes will cook, two will sew, and two will study child care (from a babysitting angle); then they'll rotate every 4-5 weeks. This way only two of my classes get my first run in each of those subjects, and by the end of the year I will have taught the sewing, cooking, and child care units six different times - it's like combining six years of teaching into one!

My other challenge is that some of the 8th graders took this class last year, and they are mixed in with the 7th graders and the first-time 8th graders. I imagine that I'll be different enough from the last teacher that the veterans won't feel like they're doing the same thing again, but I need to plan for next year. I am tentatively sketching out a two-year curriculum, so that there aren't repeats. Like covering "cooking" one year and "baking" the next, alternating sewing projects between years, and swapping out child care for financial management or something else. 

One great thing about my new school is that they offer several professional development opportunities in the period before school begins. Yesterday I attended an all-day session on differentiated instruction, and I have to say it was the best workshop I have ever attended. Very informative, very useful, and immediately applicable. I'm excited to implement what I've learned!

One thing that I'm working on this weekend is "Welcome Back" postcards. I like to send one to each student the week before school starts. While it seems a little "elementary", a lot of students mention it throughout it the year (and it helps with the parents as well). I haven't been able to order my postcards with pre-printed contact info on them yet because I only just learned my contact info. So, instead, I'm using recipe cards!

I just write a very short message - welcome back, I'm your FACS teacher, see you on the first day, yada yada - then stamp and address on the other side. I don't have the greetings or addresses on these yet, as I'm still waiting for my rosters, but those'll be the last things I have to slap on 'em before mailing 'em.

Well, back to work for me! I'll keep you posted on any beginning of the school year ideas I come up with. Good luck with your own preparation!