Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Organizing The Chaos

My husband curses my Mother (in a loving way) because she passed on her severe anal retentive-ness to my sister and I. I'm the most OCD person/teacher you'll ever meet. In fact, I considered opening my own business of "Organizing for Busy Teachers" because I hated walking into other classrooms and I just wanted to fix everything because it hurt to look at. I have issues... But I realized quickly this would fail because teachers spend their money on more important things (as they should!).

One of the great things about Pinterest is the plethora of Organization links. Some of the first things I bought before even setting foot in the classroom were inspired by Pinterest. Here's my go-to list:

1. Binder Clips - Perfect for organizing those piles of loose paper. Use them for clipping onto a metal tray organizer. Mine say "To be filed," "To be graded," "To enter into ESchool."

Binder clips can also be used to make charge cords or USBs easily accessable - attach them to the side of your desk!

2. Organizing Files by Topic - My file tabs say "Me gusta," "AR verbs," etc. I have sections for puzzles, memory games and hide my candy in the very back of the file cabinet! I also have a folder that says "Smile :)" that's filled with nice notes from students.

3. Clear Sheet Protectors - I use these for my Word Wall (as required by LFS). I used to spent time hand-writing and taping my vocabulary words onto my board, but this is WAY easier. You just write as many as you can fit onto a landscape formatted document, print, and Voilà!
4. Absent Students: I've got a "command center" wall where students can find any papers we've worked on in the last few days. They come in and know right where to go if they missed a day of note taking. 

5. Ask in Spanish! I only let students leave the classroom if they ask in Spanish. My teachers always made me do this and it stuck out in my mind as a rule I needed to have. If anything, it makes the shy ones speak Spanish! Here are some of the ones I have posted above my "command center."

6. Hit up Target's Dollar Section! - If you haven't experienced Target's dollar section when you walk right in the door you haven't experienced life. Alright I'm exaggerating, but it's AWESOME. I found these great TO DO lists for a dollar. There are about 50 sheets per pack and I tape four of them to the inside of my planner. They fit perfectly and it's a great way to plan my To Do list by week. When I'm done I just tear them out and put new ones in - No more lost Post its everywhere in my purse!

Many of the organization pins found on Pinterest are for the Elementary classroom. I don't know about you, but teaching Spanish doesn't exist is the Elementary schools in our district YET, so some of these pins are hard to relate to. However, here are a few photos of some helpful ways to organize your Secondary level Spanish classroom!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

The End to Pencil Thieves!!!

One of my biggest pet peeves is my ever-diminishing pencil cup on my desk. I started out the year with leftover packs of Staples pencils from last year. PACKS. I now have zero. Where do they go??? I know we're not writing that much in class.

As a middle school teacher, I'm always on the lookout for "sneaky" students...you know, the ones that sit there breaking crayons on purpose and then throw them across the room when your back is turned. I mean, come on. I oftentimes find my pencils broken in half on the floor, only to be swept up by my custodian, Mike. All I can say is SMH ("shakin mah head," as my kids would say).

SO, after being known as the teacher who had endless pencils on her desk, I decided I needed a solution (It only took me 6 months to figure this out). Here goes:

The Pencil Wall of Shame!

Ok. You're hooked. Here's how it works. EVERY time a student wants to use a pencil, they need to ask in Spanish "¿Puedo usar un lápiz?" (This is usually enough to scare them away). If they succeed to ask, I say Ok, go write your name on a sticky note and leave it on my desk. This is so I know WHO has one of my pencils. I typically have about 3-5 sticky notes on my desk throughout the class. 

When it gets to be the end of class, I say "If you borrowed a pencil, please return it and turn in your sticky note!" They must return their pencil, then walk their sticky note to me and I stick it on my hand. 

Here's the kicker... IF there's a name left on my desk and I notice that one of my pencils is missing, I take their name and put it on the "Pencil Wall of Shame." It's an empty wall at the front of my room right next to the calendar and lunch menu. Having their name on this wall means that they are NEVER allowed to borrow a pencil EVER again...and maybe they're subject to ridicule by their classmates :)

So far it's worked! Most students are lazy enough that they don't want to go through the entire process, and they're afraid of having their name on display for all of my classes to see. The class really get into it too and checks on one another for me..I'll hear them yelling a student's name for them to return their pencil!

I found this to be such a great solution to my disappearing pencils! No more rogue pencil thieves!!

Holy Pinterest!

So I've been a member of Pinterest since August 2011, and let me tell you that it's been both a blessing and a curse. As of today, I have about 1,200 pins. RIDICULOUS!! That's a lot of time spent on a computer/iphone...unless you believe that the time you enjoy wasting isn't wasted time (I'm a firm believer in that).

Anyways, I've come across a TON of great Spanish class resources on Pinterest, and also a ton of crappy ones (believe me, I've tested them first hand). More importantly, it's also lead me to some other great blogs. Here are some of my faves...

The Creative Language Class
 One of the greatest sites and most used by and Spanish teacher I know. Great for fun ideas but also rigorous speaking and writing activities as well. If you haven't tested this out PLEASE do so asap.

Señora Baxter's Spanish Class
A great new blog with awesome ideas for introducing vocab and classroom management.

I'll add more to this list later - I'm in a rush to get to the good parts!!