Sunday, December 22, 2013

Copy Paper Box Lids

One common workplace item that I frequent scavenge are the box lids to the copy paper. They truly come in handy for SO many things! Here is one way I use them in foods:

When I refrigerate overnight ingredients (like sugar cookie dough/above left, or chocolate chip cookie dough/above right), I group the containers by class and nestle them in the box lids. That way when it's time to set up, I only have to pull out one box rather than four or five bowls. The dimensions of the lid fit the depth of a typical refrigerator perfectly, and the sides keep what I'm carrying from sliding off.

I have a kid in my third hour who writes about poop a lot. You've probably had a kid like this yourself, so don't judge : ).

The lids are also good for supplies that you only use on occasion. For example, this year I've decided to store the hand mixers together outside of the student kitchens. Outside of the baking unit they really don't get used much, they take up room, the cords get tangled, and so on. I also always do a quick check of all the mixers before a lab when we haven't used them in a while (make sure the beaters still fit well, the motors are running, etc). This is much easier and quicker to do when they are all together, rather than having to go kitchen to kitchen.

When we do need them, I just set the box lid out on the table with the ingredients and the kids grab one. It's also handy that it's easy to inspect the mixers for cleanliness when they turn them back in, rather than when they surreptitiously stuff them in a drawer.

More on copy paper box lids - and the boxes themselves! - later...

Saturday, December 21, 2013

My Agenda


I left work yesterday fifteen minutes after the final bell. All of my grades have been posted, my classrooms are sparkling clean and organized (thank you, extended final exam class periods), and my agenda for the January 6th Institute Day is taped to my computer monitor. Am I bragging? Nah..... well, yeah! I am walking away!

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Egg Cartons & Table Space

I don't know about you, but I think this semester just flashed by! Finals are next week already!

 Egg cartons can take up a lot of space on an ingredient table, so I have two cartons that I've cut down to a smaller size:

If my kitchens need a total of six or less eggs, I use the little guy; seven to twelve, I use the bigger one. I just take eggs out of the newest carton, place them in the appropriately-sized one that has been trimmed down, and set out for the kids to use. Then I store it for the next time I'll need it.

Extra hint: I usually place one extra egg in the modified carton, so that the kids don't throw it away by mistake.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

They Can Use Tools!

A couple of days ago my classroom was really hot. I mean, REALLY hot. And I'm not complaining, because I've been in freezing cold classrooms and I waaaaaaay prefer the heaters that work too well over those that don't work at all. During my last class of the day, a student asked if he could open one of the windows and sit by it while working on his cross-stitch project. Since it was legitimately uber-hot, I didn't have a problem with this idea; however, that window is nearly impossible to close. So I told him he could as long as he PROMISED he would not leave until it was closed, and warned him it was difficult to do so. He swore he'd take care of it, so I allowed it. Then during clean-up time he of course couldn't get it closed, and I reminded him of our deal. Here's how he came through:

He told me it was "hillbilly-rigged" - his words. True that. But I'll give him credit, he did figure out a way to get it closed.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013


Through random teacher-blog-stalking I stumbled onto #Nerdlution, and I thought what the heck? I'm in!

For 50 days straight (starting yesterday, Dec 2nd), I'm committed to writing in my 10 year journal every day. What's that, you ask?

An AMAZING journal in which each page is dedicated to one day of the year, you write just a few lines, then you come back to that page the next year and add a few more lines. Hence, you can easily see what you were doing on that day the previous year(s). Love this! Purchased it last December and could hardly wait to get started! And then... well, my last entry was March 14th, which was the point at which I admitted to myself that things at work were just not going to get better and I just did not want to remember the details of it in the future. Unfortunately, once I gave up the habit I didn't get back into it later, so here I am in December again and while I should have a full year completed I only have a couple of months or so.

And thus I am getting back on the horse! Every day for 50 days I will make sure to write my entry. That way when Dec 2, 2014 rolls around I will have a full year completed.

I discussed the whole #nerdlution thing and the 10 year journal thing with one of my classes, and I've got one of them hooked on the #nerdlution idea and a couple of them are really interested in the 10 year journal. Love it when I can get kids excited about stuff I'm excited about!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Currently December!

The last month of the year is officially here! Which of course means it's time for another Currently with Farley!

Listening - I LOVE the music from this show! And naturally, "A Charlie Brown Christmas" is THE best Christmas special of all time!

Loving - I have always been big on Christmas cards - there's something so festive and cheery about them! Even with Facebook, email, etc, I've found Christmas cards one of the best ways to keep that "connected" feeling with people you've been separated from for a long time. I've moved around quite a bit my entire life (between being an Air Force brat, changing careers, changing schools, etc), so the annual exchange is really important to me. So anyway I make sure to keep up-to-date with my Christmas card list and addresses, and always strive to get those cards in the mail the day before Thanksgiving. Mission accomplished! Though I'll admit a few people at church today gave me a hard time about it : ).

Thinking - I'm trying my units in my "Orientation to Family & Consumer Science" class in a different order this year, and I've wound up in an awkward spot. We have two weeks of class left and then final exam week; I really can't stretch out our current unit (Child Care) any farther, but two weeks is too short for others I've done before. Perhaps a two week refresher on basic manners... ?

Wanting - Kitten + Christmas tree = uh oh. Not that I'm surprised by this, but it's a challenge nonetheless. The tree is braced, so he can't topple it - that's the biggest concern. Now I'm just worried about him chewing on the lights. At the suggestion of a great many people we sprayed the bottom branches with apple cider vinegar. The little brat walked right up to them and started licking the vinegar off. But, once it dries he doesn't seem to care for the scent. A good 'ol fashioned squirt with the water bottle helps too. I just hope there's not utter carnage when I arrive home from work tomorrow.

Needing - To finish writing semester exams; they are due to the main office by the end of the week! Yikes! I've never been required to submit them so early! About half of them were really easy, but since I have one new prep and am reorganizing another it's taking more time to complete those exams.

Favorite Tradition - Nothing beats a marathon of Christmas movies with a lit tree in the background and hot cocoa in hand!

Sunday, November 24, 2013


Sometimes keeping track of keys is a real pain. I wish I had taken a picture of the keys I had last year. Not kidding, they must have given me about 23 different keys. By the end of the year I knew what about six of them were for. 

Anyway, you need to have them close at hand, but you don't want them in the way or weighing you down, nor do you want a kid walking off with them (luckily this year I have little worries of the latter). So, I'm trying something new with my classroom keys this year:

At last year's school I was required to wear a lanyard around my neck with my ID, so the two keys I used regularly were on there - hated it. Always got in the way during cooking and sewing, of course. The six years before I always kept them on a lanyard that I kept in my pocket, but that only worked when I wore something with pockets - otherwise I just had the lanyard out somewhere, and it could be difficult to locate if I set it down in an odd place. Plus it was kind of bulky and annoying. And, honestly, with the lanyard dangling down it got caught on things fairly regularly, which was kind of embarrassing.

So this year I split the keys up into a few different places. The only key I need to have handy on a regular basis throughout the day is the master room key, so I decided to try it out on my water bottle. By the way, these Brita bottles are fantastic! Our school water is pretty disgusting, but you can't tell at all when drinking out of these babies. After fourteen weeks I can say for sure that I LOVE using this as my "key ring" - it's super easy to locate from anywhere in the room, and has the added bonus of reminding me to stay hydrated since I always have it in hand when on hall duty or traveling elsewhere in the building. Also, since my classroom door is never locked due to the fire escape, I just keep it hidden in a classroom cabinet at night so I never forget this key at home.

My "occasional" keys - cabinets/sliding doors/etc I keep in a safe place in the classroom, since I don't need them readily on hand at all times. My key to the outside door I keep on my car key ring, so again it's never forgotten at home and I never accidentally lock myself out when running out to my car for something.

So there you have an entire post on keys. And you read the whole thing. Haha! Time you'll never get back!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Job Wheel the Sequel

A year and a half ago or so I posted about a job wheel I created to assign miscellaneous tasks that need to be completed after each cooking lab. This year I've switched to displaying it on the projector during labs; it's easy to rotate the wheel in PowerPoint, and the different images accommodate classes with different numbers of cooking groups.

The morning Foods class only has four groups, so they are responsible for:

TABLE - clean off the ingredient table (close lids/boxes/containers, wipe off table)
FLOORS - sweep ALL of the kitchens and common area in between
TOWELS - make sure all towels are in the washing machine
POWER - check all kitchens to make sure all appliances are turned off

The afternoon Foods class has five groups, so one kitchen from that class is responsible for washing the ingredient containers. Meaning, if there was an ingredient I had poured out into a bowl or set out on a plate, I would take that item from the assigned kitchen and they would be in charge of washing and putting it away.

Below you can see a green bowl set out under the salt (the idea being that they lean over that bowl when measuring, rather than their mixing bowls or the table); on this day the "green" kitchen was assigned to Ingredient Containers, so it was their extra job to wash and put that bowl away.

I have to say, I'm impressed with how well this works. They always remember to check the board for their "extra" job, and I don't have to nag them to sweep or whatever. I'll also add that they're much more careful about brushing stuff onto the floor, knowing that someone else will have to sweep it - or that the other group may get revenge on them later on when it's their turn to do the sweeping :).

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Pie Bags in Action!

Over the summer I posted about trying out pie bags, and today was my first opportunity to see them in action in the classroom. Epic success! They made rolling out the dough SOOOO much easier for the kids, and almost entirely eliminated the insane flour mess that usually accompanies such labs. Check 'em out!

Very little flour required! Nice clean rolling pin, too!

Check out the clean countertops!

The bag easily peels off after rolling.

See how little sticks to the bag, even with minimal flour usage.

There's still always one group that completely overdoes the flour, but look how contained it is!
(I concede it drives me crazy that they chose to line their cookie sheet AFTER getting a bunch of flour on it, but oh well...)

This simple, wonderful invention took an enormous amount of stress out of this lab, both for me and for my students. Highly, highly recommended!

Available at and miscellaneous kitchen stores (like Kitchen Collection at the mall), in two different sizes. Let me know what you think if you try one!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OCD Much?

Okay, I get that this is becoming borderline psychotic, but here's my latest classroom kitchen upgrade:

And now for the close-ups:

Lest there be any confusion whatsoever as to where I want these items to be stored after they are washed, rinsed, and thoroughly dried, there is now a visual guide in each of the upper cabinets. Drawers are next. Watch out, world.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Currently November!

November! I am not kidding, October FLEW! Awesome! Now it's already time for a new Currently with Farley!

Listening - I think that one's pretty self-explanatory. Never buy kitten toys; ordinary household objects are the way to go.

Loving - How I love the holidays! I was in Starbucks on November 1st and saw that they had the holidays cups and the holiday lattes out, hooray! While I am usually a "Christmas doesn't begin until the day after Thanksgiving!" kind of gal, I'm feeling a bit lax about it this year. One, Turkey Day is the absolute latest it possibly can be, so that shortens up the strict definition of the season. Two, I am so ready to embrace the holiday spirit! And three, I feel that Thanksgiving, an AWESOME holiday in its own right, often gets short shrift, so I'm ready to revel in festive thankfulness.

By the way, for those of you who Facebook, check out 30 Days of Thankful - participating definitely puts you in the right frame of mind!

Thinking - I am sooooo close to finishing up this second master's, and I am sooooo ready to be done! 

Wanting - I'd love a day (and the energy, of course) to dedicate exclusively to my home. Just a chance to take care of all of those things you need a good chunk of time to take care of. I'm also the kind that was trained by my mother that the house needs to be sparkling clean before Christmas decorations go up, and I want that tree up Thanksgiving weekend! (as much as I'm embracing an earlier "holiday" season, for every day you have a tree up before Thanksgiving, Santa drowns a baby reindeer)

Needing - While I'd like time for extra household matters, I need time to get some serious planning done! I need to set the rest of the semester in stone, so that I can write those exams that are due to the office the first week of December!

A Yummy Pin - Haven't made this yet, but O.M.G.! Ice cream sandwich cake? Brilliant!

Your turn! Link up and share!

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Allow Me to Clarify

Kid in class was asked to stop doing something ridiculous, but he hesitated to follow my instructions.

Me: Unless you'd like to spend some extra time with me.

Kid: Like a date?

Me: Like detention.

Kid: Oh. That doesn't sound like fun.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

You Know It's True

I have sliding glass doors that connect my sewing room to the main room; the glass is tinted, so you can't really see what's on the other side unless there's a light on in the other room or you're really focusing. You can, however, see your own reflection.

A kid noticed his reflection in the doors yesterday. He began barking at himself.

And you know it's true, because you just can't make this stuff up.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Oh Kids

Boy: What if Mr. Principal was a rapper? I'd buy all his albums.

Other Boy: Me too.

Note: Mr. Principal is a white guy in his mid-thirties with a southern Illinois drawl.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Currently October!

A new month! A new Currently with Farley!

Listening - Yep, it's HOCKEY TIME people! Seems like it just ended (Stanley Cup Champs have looooooong seasons), but so happy it's back! Especially since Chicago baseball was so ridiculously disappointing this year...

Loving - The end is near for my Reading Specialist master's! Two classes left: one to design a research project, one to implement and write up the research. Then it is finished!

Thinking - I feel like I'm forgetting something. Tomorrow's a late start day prefaced by a meeting, so I need to make sure I've got everything together. I'm hoping it's just a feeling and that I'm not missing anything!

Wanting - Unfortunately I am prone to neck-wrenching. Ugh.

Needing - A good night's sleep. Hard to sleep well with a painful neck. : ( On the bright side I have discovered BenGay patches and they are awesome!

Trick - "But I don't understand how my grade dropped all of a sudden!" says the kid who has been failing for four weeks. No longer! This year I've put a label in front of each student's folders that tracks their percentages week to week:

It's been ENORMOUSLY helpful in so many ways! Promise I'll write an update on this year's folder ideas soon, they've been working fabulously!

I think I'm actually going to be among the first 20 for this Linky this month! Woot! Woot!

Link up and share yours!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Can't remember if I've mentioned this before, too lazy to search.

I. Love.

The possibilities are endless! 

Here is a video demonstration of how to use this service!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Giving Tree - Awesome Idea!

Just found a truly awesome idea over at Tales of Teaching in Heels:

She put this up on a day when parents were visiting - each card has something written on it that a parent could donate to the classroom. FABULOUS! Now I REALLY wish we had some kind of Open House so that I could restock on dishtowels and the like!

Thanks for the inspiration, Ms. W!

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Quizzes and "I'm Done!"

Kids are usually good about staying quiet they are finished with a quiz/test until the rest of the students finish as well... actually, until the last two or three are finished. Then they start to get squirmy, then someone whispers, then... well, you know. So over the years I've tried a few different techniques:

-Being very specific about my expectations of their behavior .
-Having a short assignment for them to work on after. Usually this assignment would either be related to what we would learn next or a current news article about what we had just learned. 
-Allowing them to read or work on other classwork. 

These all worked fairly well, but there were some kinks. The slower test takers would become anxious about not having time to work on the assignment if one was given. Not everyone brought reading material. Allowing them to work on items from other classes inevitably led them to ask each other questions about the assignment. And so on.

A few years ago a guidance counselor mentioned that she knew of a teacher who always ran all of her tests/quizzes like a standardized test: when students were finished, they simply turned their quizzes over, kept them at their desks, and had to wait quietly until time was up. Just for the heck of it I gave it a try one day with a particularly short quiz. It worked like a charm. Apparently still having their quiz right in front of them made them more mindful of not talking or even whispering, because they didn't want to look like they were cheating. There was no shuffle of books or papers as they got out something else to work on, no questions or requests for help... just respectful silence. And a few nappers. I began trying it with longer quizzes and tests, and still consistently received good results. An unexpected result was that they spent more time double-checking their answers, as there was no benefit to rushing and finishing early. Also, as they were sitting there waiting for others to finish, a few students would suddenly think of an answer they were stumped on, and since they hadn't handed their test in yet they could go back and fix it.

The con for me was that since I didn't collect their work as soon as it was completed, I had less in-class grading time (always trying to reduce that take-home load!), but the benefits to the kids obviously outweighed my inconvenience.

The con for the kids was that some of the early finishers had quite a bit of time to stare into space. Although, since I always require some kind of drawing of a dinosaur on my quizzes/tests, I started getting some pretty darn elaborate sketches.

As I was writing my first quiz of this school year, I had a brilliant-why-didn't-I-think-of-that-years-ago moment, and I put a puzzle on the back. I made sure the kids knew that it wasn't part of the quiz and that it was optional, and the results were amazing! After finishing almost everyone worked on the puzzle intently, keeping them occupied past the time when the last student finished. Success! So I will definitely be doing this with all future items.

The puzzles I've included so far have had a wide-range of purposes.

One included vocab words that had been introduced but we were still learning:

One was simply a word challenge:

One was a review of past information we've covered:

All of these were created either in MS Word or by using a free online puzzle generator - there are dozens of good ones to choose from.

This may be my favorite "new thing I've thought of" for this year so far. If you think this would work for your kids, give it a try and let me know how it turns out!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

A Little Bit o' Awesomesauce

There really is soooooo much I have to share and write about, but it's just gotta wait until I can sit down and do it justice! Columbus Day, maybe? Until then, a couple of thoughts...

First, I'd like to again thank Mrs. S over at The Crafty Raider for donating this AWESOME Snoopy flag to me!!!

Seriously, could this BE any more perfect???

And next, check out the improved artwork that one of my students has added to my doorway:

That chef's head has been there since the last time I worked here, and my name was painted on just before school started this year. She added the "Be Awesome!" - I LOVE IT!

Tomorrow is a half-day with kids and then SIP time, so the weekend is almost here. I hope you have all had a fabulous week! Happy Friday!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Mild-Mannered Antioxidants

This is how I explain antioxidants and free radicals in class:

And yes, this does go in their notes:

By now they've pretty much all figured out this is no normal class.......

Monday, September 9, 2013

Good Criminals Have to Follow the Rules

I just read a news article about a guy who was busted with over $22K of heroin in his car when he was pulled over for speeding. My question is: if you know you have a small fortune worth of heroin in your vehicle, WHY WOULD YOU SPEED? That's like transporting a dead body in your trunk and rolling through a stop sign. It seems to me that if you're going to be a good criminal, you've gotta follow traffic laws, don't you think?

Watch me connect this to teaching.

I've taught in two different districts with substantial gang populations. One was a high school, and the gang members really didn't cause issues in school - in fact, some of the most respectful kids I have EVER taught were Latin Kings. The other was a junior high, and those kids were always in trouble.

And here's the difference: the high schoolers knew it was about conducting business, while the junior high schoolers thought it was about acting like a punk. The high schoolers understand that you can't sell the drugs when you're constantly being sent to the office and being watched because you're a repeat offender; the junior high schoolers don't quite grasp this. So again, to be a good criminal you've gotta follow the basic rules.

Yet, I don't think I'll go over this in class.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Google Fail & Vitamin Poem

So we're all familiar with this internal dialogue/scenario:

"Hmmm, you know what would be great in this lesson? ____________! Let's Google that..."
6 seconds pass...
"There we go! Modify this a wee bit, combine with that... boom! I'm done! Now for Boardwalk Empire!"

And we're also familiar with this one:

"Hmmm, you know what would be great in this lesson? ____________! Let's Google that..."
16 minutes pass...
"What the heck??!! I CANNOT be the first person who has thought of this! What is the deal with these scurvy pirate teacher hoarders??!! Don't people know how to share??!! Dagnabbit!"


Yeah, so I fell prey to Scenario #2 tonight, and I had to {gasp!} create my own wheel.

All non-teachers are now completely lost. Too bad.

In Foods 1 I'm working my way through a very basic introduction to the major nutrients. First, I will digress and discuss my Foods curriculum philosophy. I do not cook first quarter. For one, IT'S TOO DARN HOT! No air conditioning does not lend itself to a pleasant lab experience. Two, I find that it's absolutely crucial to spend a substantial chunk of time right out of the gate on nutrition; once we start in the kitchens the only thing the kids care about is "When're we gonna cook again? What're we gonna cook? Why do we have to learn this? This is stupid, why aren't we cooking?" and so on and so forth. So I start out with a big nutrition push, then go deeper as we cook our way through the different units.

And I begin with a basic overview of the six major nutrients, and drill them until they've got the real basic info and then we can begin to have intelligent discussions and really dig into the issues.

All this to say that this afternoon I was revamping the notes we take on vitamins, and I thought I'd really like them to be able to recall what each vitamin does, which is actually quite a bit of information and I don't want to spend days upon days just on vitamins. So, I'd need to boil it down to just the key information and give them some tricks to help them memorize them. At which point I thought, "There must be some kind of little poem or song out there about the vitamins!" Wrong. Could not find anything. Well, anything at all useful. Some weird stuff and some incomplete stuff, nothing helpful.

So I wrote my own. And since I am not a scurvy pirate teacher hoarder, I am going to share. Let me forewarn you that this is no work of genius; also, you really have to want it to make some of the syncopation work. Here it is:

And as I am big on both skeleton notes and graphic organizers, here is the form of the poem that my students will actually receive:

 And here's the filled in version:
We'll see how it works out!

And in case you're wondering, once we get into the more complicated stuff, I make them come up with their own stupid poems and memory devices, but first you gotta model, model, model.

Happy Sunday night!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Ah, Adolescent Absurdity

Consider this a post in honor of a blogger I much admire and have mentioned before, M from Teenagers Are Ridiculous.

Boy: If we bring in music can we listen to it during work time?

Me: Um, I dunno. I'd have to hear it first.

Boy: And could we sing along with it? No singing isn't one of the class rules.

Me: No, but keeping me happy is one, and that might not make me happy.

Other Boy: What if our singing is so beautiful it's a mixture of Fergie and Jesus?

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Monday, September 2, 2013

Currently September

A new month, a new Currently with Farley!

Listening - If you have cats, you know they love plastic. This guy goes nuts for duvet clips - especially now that he's lost another tooth and is teething again. The shape is perfect for him, he carries it around like a little binky. It also glides well across floor & carpet, so he loves to bat it around and chase it.

Loving - Ahhh, a break from the 90s! I was roasting on the third floor of my non-air conditioned school this week. I have to say the kids did very well given the circumstances. It'll be great to be in a cooler room tomorrow, though the forecast says it won't last!

Thinking - I've probably written about this before, but I would definitely work longer days four days a week in order to get a three day weekend every week. Three days gives you one day for recovery, one day for work, and one day for play. On a regular weekend, by the time you've recovered, completed your work from the past week, prepped for the coming week, cleaned house/finished laundry/grocery shopped/gone to church, Sunday night bedtime is already here!

Wanting - These first two weeks have been wonderful! I hope the year continues to be this great!

Needing - I am pretty behind on my grad school work - the business of the beginning of the school year has absolutely pushed it to the back burner. Must get butt in gear! Luckily the end is near - we're finished in January!!!

For Me - #1: I need to find a running schedule that works with school being in session. Even though I ran at 5am most of the summer (to beat the heat), that time has become more challenging now. I think it's because it's now pretty dark out at 5. Because of that, I have to pay extra attention to everything, which slows me down, which means running the same distance takes longer, and I begin to lose steam farther from the finish line. Much as I love working out first thing in the morning, I think I'm going to have to try moving it to the afternoon when it's light out. We'll see!

#2: I'm working hard at not staying late, but I also don't want to leave until everything's ready to go for the next day. Now that my commute is longer I'm striving for more efficiency in that regard. This means staying ahead of the game and utilizing every minute of time during the day effectively, especially since I'm trying to minimize my "working at home" time as well. Last year I was a slave to the job which really ran me down; must avoid this year!

#3: Girlfriend time! One of the best decisions I made for myself last year was committing to seeing my best gal in Chicago at least once a month. My husband is my best friend and my favorite person to spend time with, but he can't replace female companionship (nor would I want him to). There's nothing like hanging out with the girls!

So what's "currently" going on with you? Link up!

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Plan B...

Yep, this is how you want to start your day:

Plan B it is!

But I'll tell you what - my IT gal took care of the issue in record-breaking time. Something like this would have taken WEEKS at my last school. Soooo great to be back here!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Feeling Like a Rock Star

Not gonna lie, I am feeling like a rock star this weekend! For one, it was a GREAT first week of school, fun even! Two, my readers are definitely making me feel loved. I got a shout out from M over at Teenagers Are Ridiculous. If you don't currently follow her blog you simply must check it out - she is HILARIOUS! You can totally picture all of the absurdity that she reports from her classroom. Also, Mrs. S over at The Crafty Raider offered to send me a Snoopy flag that she is not using. You know I love me some Snoopy flags! (Not so much grammar, apparently, but it's Sunday!) So thoughtful!

I've got lots to share, but for right now I've gotta make sure I have everything ship-shape ready to go for tomorrow - the half-hour preceding 1st period is booked full of 504 meetings, so there will be no time for any foolishness in the morning. More to come about back to school adventures in the following days!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

And That's My New Philosophy!

If you're a fan of "You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown," you know that the title of this post comes from Sally's big number in the musical. It's been going through my head a lot this week, the reason for which you will soon read.

BUSY, BUSY, BUSY! Kids come on Tuesday! We had our first of two Institute Days on Friday, so it is GAME TIME, PEOPLE! I've been working hard at getting my room ready to go, as well as organizing all of my classroom materials - just like the rest of you. Unlike the very few of you non-teachers who read this blog either because you know me and I told you to, or you... well... I don't know why you would read this if you don't teach and you don't know me. Must be my winning personality! Anyway, here's a peek at what I've been doing.

First, a big scrub-a-dub-dub of all five of my new kitchens (thank you, mini shop vac!). God bless my new principal, who gave the okay for me to use the school's industrial dishwasher in the cafeteria to speed wash and disinfect everything!

What would have taken me DAYS to do by hand took about 90 minutes. Yes! So it wasn't long before my kitchens began to look like this:

Still have labeling, shelf lining, etc to do, but since we won't be in the kitchens until several weeks into the school year this was a good enough start.

I livened up my entryway, since it's the first impression my students will get of my classroom. My doorway is at the end of a hallway directly across from the stairwell, so they'll see this as they climb the stairs.

My Snoopy flag was of course a given, and will be changed out with the seasons - as will the apron. The red sign on the left is my daily schedule of classes, and the yellow is a sketch that a student from this school actually drew for me 5 years ago of a possible logo for outside of my door to replace that little chef guy - the sketch has Snoopy sewing and baking!

While the standing chalkboard in the classroom was charming, it was not nearly as practical as a whiteboard - especially since I'll be adding a projector to the room! Luckily there was a 4' x 6' whiteboard attached to the recessed wall past the flag (where no one can really see it, wha???), so the maintenance crew was extremely kind and moved it from the wall and attached it to the chalkboard at my request. It has of course been Snoopified with bulletin board border found at Joann's!

My desk has also been Snoopified in the same manner:

We're required to post a large display of our classroom rules (which I'm in the habit of doing anyway), so I took advantage of $1.60 engineering prints at Staples to make these:

After reading the "Whole Brain Teaching" book I added #6 - I love how it covers all of the loopholes you could argue for the rules! I made a really big schedule because I much prefer pointing rather than constantly answering the "When do we get outta here?" questions. In April. Hmf. On the back is our late start schedule, so I can just flip it over on days with a different schedule.

This year I've decided to also post "Class Philosophies" in addition to the class rules. These are the things that I say over and over and over again to the kids, to the point where I only have to start the sentence and then they finish it. I'd rather focus on these concepts than the rules, so they are much bigger in the classroom:

1. "Take Care of Self, Take Care of Others" is a phrase I learned through Link Crew, which I think encompasses the whole "respect" idea, as well as all the dangers that a FACS classroom has to offer - needles, scissors, knives, fire, etc. The language is a little less PBIS-y as well.

2. "Go Slow to Go Fast" is another tenet of Link Crew, but has been a mantra of mine since well before I encountered it there. I learned very early on that if you have students go too quickly nothing will sink in and you'll have to start all over. I say this every time a kid is rushing and will clearly have to redo or start something over, or when they complain that it takes us too long to get to the "good stuff."

3. "Say I can't YET." Gets rid of the whole "I can't" business.

4. "Make it AWESOME." I am still a huge, huge fan of Kid President's Pep Talk, so I think about this a lot. I've also found that "awesome" is a whole lot less subjective than you would think. This is my response every time a kid asks me "Is this good enough?" When I ask back "Is it awesome?" the answer is usually a pretty obvious "no" and it's back to work for him/her. I'll mention my sister thinks I should have made it "AWESOMESAUCE," but that's a lot of letters... : )

So this year I am going to try emphasizing these "philosophies" over the rules, in an attempt to make the classroom culture more positive.

And that's my new philosophy!

Monday, August 12, 2013

Mini Shop Vac {Bet You Didn't Know You Needed This}

I'm borrowing an idea from "The Clutter-Free Classroom" blog, which has a series on helpful classroom items that she finds absolutely necessary. Here is my necessity:

This little guy is FABULOUS for cleaning out cabinets, sucking up loose threads, random food particles, and the very worst custodial offenders: hole punches! It is soooo worth the investment (less than $30 at Lowe's) to have my very own shop vac that remains in my classroom. Just make sure you write your name all over it. It's no guarantee that it won't walk off, but it's more likely to be returned.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Summer Worker Cinnamon Rolls

As I've mentioned before, I think it's very important to show appreciation to the people at school who help you to do your job! As a FACS teacher, I usually rely on baking to accomplish this purpose. In the summers I like to bring in a pan of homemade cinnamon rolls for the summer work crew to chow on during their breaks - nothing says "Thanks!" like an insane amount of butter and sugar!

Doesn't it drive you nuts when you remember to take photos of every step except for the finished product? Or am I the only one? Sheesh...

I brought these puppies in for the adults and kids working to make my new school all shiny. Like magic, they disappeared pretty quickly.

What do you do as a "Thanks" for making the school pretty over the summer?