I have these posters from Sarah Carter. Last year one of my students asked if we could include "him" on the poster that says, "I'll never be as smart as her," so we added that. I make my students repeat the growth mindset phrase if they ever say one of the fixed mindset phrases. When they whine, "Do I have to?" I threaten them with detention. They know I'm kidding, but I've since caught them warning each other to "say the colored one or else you'll get detention."
This year I added the Mistakes Grow Your Brain curtain. It hangs in the back of my room next to the Retake Request Forms. The plan is that when students receive back a quiz, they will add a post-it note to the Brain curtain with an error they made. I want to make time for students to reflect and respond to a post-it one of their classmates put up to really enforce the idea that we can all learn and grow from everyone in class.
I recently blogged about this here, but I originally saw the idea from Sara Buck. I have 30 pouches filled with supplies that students may need on a regular basis. This includes a pencil, tape, glue stick, scissors, highlighter, dry erase marker with pom-pom eraser, regular pencil eraser, and a straight edge. Each pouch is numbered and the wall hooks are numbered to make it easy to hang back up at the end of class. I originally let students pick which pouch they wanted (some hang much higher than others, so I didn't want to assign alphabetically), and that has since become their assigned pouch. I have a list taped to the back of my clipboard so that I know who uses what pouch number in each class, and which pouches are not being used.
Additional supplies are found on a back shelf next to the cart holding papers for each class.
Another new addition this year is the Play Table, an idea from Sara VanDerWerf. I LOVE HAVING A PLAY TABLE IN MY CLASSROOM!! If students get to class before the bell, I find them at the Play Table. When they finish their work in class, I find them at the Play Table. When they're waiting for a friend after school, I find them at the Play Table.
Kids have taken pictures of their creations and wanted to show me. They've spelled out messages and told me to make sure I read them before someone creates something new. So far, I've noticed significantly fewer phones coming out because kids have something interesting to do when they're done their work.
This year I added a few more books to my classroom library. I had a few chapter books before, but it's not often that a student wants to borrow a book that would take some time to read. Usually, they're looking for something to read during the 20-minute enrichment period before lunch. The number of eighth graders who have asked me if I have picture books was always a little bit concerning to me, but I've since changed my mind about that. My library now includes nearly a dozen children's books about mathematicians and scientists. They are perfect for our enrichment period, because students can finish a book in one sitting. So far, I've found that kids are more likely to read a book during that time if they know they're going to finish it.
Many of my posters come from Sarah Carter. This year, I tried to be mindful of how much I put on my walls. When I thought about the posters I hung up, I realized that my students really do reference these during the year. Some of the most-referenced posters from Sarah are: Perfect Squares and Cubes (thanks as well to her husband, Shaun, for making the Geogebra files available to download to create posters that go higher than x=10), GEMDAS (plus a version from Shaun), and Vertical and Horizontal Number Lines. Some posters that sparked the most questions and curiosity are: Pythagorean Triples and Prime Numbers.
I'm trying to incorporate more Vertical Non-Permanent Surfaces into my classroom this year. I moved my agenda board to a wall without a whiteboard. That meant I needed to create a make-shift erasable surface, and I was quite proud of my white-paper-in-sheet-protectors agenda "board" until it fell off the wall.
|The old make-shift agenda board.|
I finally got around to painting that area of the wall with whiteboard paint after school last Friday. It needs to cure for three days, but I'm excited to start using it again. This has freed up a real whiteboard on the side of the room for students to use (see photo above of whiteboard near student supply pouches). I also have a coordinate plane that I created on sheets of laminated paper on a wall in my room.
Additionally, I used the extra whiteboard paint to cover the doors of my wall locker and a table top. I don't know that I really intend that students write on these surfaces, but at the very least, I think the white paint looks nice. The wall locker is home to my Prime Numbers and Pythagorean Triples posters (at least, it will be again once the paint dries!).
I'm excited about the way I arranged desks this year. Student desks are in groups of four, but in an L-shape, rather than a typical rectangular group. The L's on each side of the room face each other, with pairs of desks in the middle, which creates a U(ish)-shape. I like that students are in groups, but that they also fit into a whole class structure and fewer than half have their backs to anyone else.
I feel as though my classroom is always a work in progress and I think that's a good thing. It may not be the most important thing about teaching, but our classroom environment does affect students and I think it's important that we show flexibility and growth in that aspect as well.