30 Days – Post a Picture of Your Classroom

Describe what you see, and what you don’t that you’d like to.


About Time…

On Wednesday something interesting happened in my classroom, and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it.  This post might be a little bit fluff and story time and a little less content, but it’s definitely something I want to remember in the future.

So for the last two years, 5th hour staffing has taken place in my room every Thursday.  My room has become bright and colorful over the last few years, and I love finding new things to stick on the walls.  I post student quotes in the form of Twitter birds.  I have tons of motivational posters that I’ve stolen from the internet.  I have bizarre artwork that students have left for me over the years.  It’s pretty cozy, and it feels like home.  I try to keep it well-organized, and friendly.  Some of my colleagues like to poke fun at my ‘elementary classroom’, but I find that letting students play and cut and draw and create really gives my class a different spin than the rest of their day.

The decoration in question, however, was a set of arrows.  Before the 2014-2015 school year started, I realized that I was sick of students asking when classes ended, so I made a set of 8 arrows to mark the end of each hour and lunch.  I stuck the arrows around the clock, and it saved me a ton of headache.

Other teachers had really mixed reactions to this particular decoration.  Some thought it was a cute idea, but the majority of people who spoke up would pick on me about it.

“Can’t your kids tell time, Skinner?”

“You can’t hold their hands forever, Skinner!”

“Don’t they have the time on their phones?”

So this year, when the bell schedule changed, I caved and got rid of the arrows.  Maybe the other teachers were right…  Still I noticed myself wanting to gesture to the clock and point every time a student asked when class got out.  Was I too hand-holdy?  Would removing the arrows magically encourage the students to learn to tell time on their own?  I tried not to think about it too much.

But on Wednesday, during 1st hour, a student that I had last year stayed after class to chat.  He hasn’t always had the best grades in class, and even though he wasn’t in the exact same class he took from me last year, his lack of punctuality and general disinterest in school were part of the reason he was mine again this year.  He asked where the arrows had gone.  I told him that the bell schedule had changed, so my arrows wouldn’t be accurate any more.  This is true.

Then he asked me if I’d put up arrows again.  This is the only request this student has EVER made of me, so I asked him why.

“Because I’m not good at telling time, I can never remember the schedule, and I kept a picture of your clock on my phone so I’d know where to go at what time.” is what he said.

So that brings me to today, Sunday.  And you’ve probably already guessed what I’ve done.


The arrows are back. They’re up to date.  They’re snazzy, even.

And I feel like a heel because I let other teachers pressure me into taking a resource away from my students.  I’m ashamed that I allowed them to embarrass me for even a moment.

Because let’s face it:  These are only my kids for an hour.  The rest of the day, they’re yours too!

If you don’t like my classroom visuals, just remember that they’re not for you…they’re not for me.

They’re for him.

This young man wanted them back because this visual of the clock made this classroom feel a little more like home.  Enough so that a student who doesn’t always show up, or do homework, took the time to stay after class to request that this visual come back.

And after learning that it meant so much to him, I’m sorry that I ever took it away.

Lesson Learned!

30 Days – What do you love most?

Day 4:  Respond: What do you love the most about teaching?


30 Days – “Observation Area”

Day 3: Discuss one “observation” area that you would like to improve on for your teacher evaluation.


30 Days – One Piece of Technology

Day 2:  Write about one piece of technology that you would like to try this year, and why. You might also write about what you’re hoping to see out of this edtech integration.


30 Days – Write Your Goals for the School Year

Ok, so I thought I’d try the 30 day blogging challenge from Teach Thought over the month of Sept.

Day 1:  Write your Goals for the school year.  Be as Specific or Abstract as you want.


I Usually buy a Calendar…

But this year, I’ve just decided to grab this calendar from diy home sweet home.


Go check it out because the original has room for notes and to-do lists, and it fits nicely on one page.  This actually makes me really sad that I only have a black and white printer at home, because I do love the color scheme.  My plan is to laminate this and use overhead projector pens to fill in my month.

Keep Change Start Stop 2015

I decided to hand out the Keep Change Start Stop worksheets from Math Equals Love as the last pages in my students’ ISNs this year.  I had them do it twice…the first one said ‘I Should’ at the top for them to self-reflect…the second was ‘Mrs. Skinner Should’.

This was a great idea because we won’t be offering Intro to Algebra again next year.  I’m not quite sure what my math prep will be next year, and I wanted to give students a chance to tell me if they loved/hated the notebooks and the warm ups and all of the things I tried this year that I may or may not try with my new prep next year.


  • Your Personality Score one for me!
  • Teaching
  • Notebooks x 3 Three points for Notebooks…YES!
  • Doing Notes x 4
  • Taking Notes Completely
  • Pushing Us
  • Book Work
  • Small Assignments Everything was labeled as class work this year.
  • Daily Warm-Ups
  • Being Awesome  Score two for me!
  • Quizzes
  • Semesterized Finals I might be the only math teacher who semesterizes my final, but I’m glad someone likes it.
  • Worksheets


  • Nothing x 2 Score four for me!
  • To a Science and Math Teacher This kiddo might be a little confused…I am already a science and math teacher???
  • Creativity
  • Going Outside x 2 I’m not sure if this means they love going outside or hate it.  I’m guessing hate…because we went out three times this year and they were very vocal.
  • Size of Worksheets
  • Desk Arrangements
  • Seating people with others who will fight I wish I was better at this.  Sometimes I look at my seating chart and it feels like no matter how far apart I put the fighters, they’ll just pick a new target.  I am guilty of putting a class into the HappyClass app and seeing nothing but frownie faces…
  • Working Independent
  • The seating chart every month I change it every quarter, or when a new student joins.
  • The seating to rows Tried pods this year so they could share ISN supplies…
  • The Notes -1 for notes.


  • Being the Best You mean I’m not already the best?  Ouch…my ego. -1 for me.
  • More Class Activities x 2  I agree!  I need to work on my class management a little bit so we can have more fun time without me worrying that all of the supplies will get destroyed and that I’ll have to send someone to choices for being disrespectful.
  • Changing your ways of notes. -2 for notes
  • Kicking people out if they don’t try.  You can’t just boot someone out of a core class.  Sadly several of my students stopped participating after they no longer had to worry about being kicked out of sports…I’m working on what to do about that.
  • Being More Strict x 2  I need to get a little more creative with my discipline…because every teacher seems to give detention.  So ‘those students’ that choose not to work at the beginning of the year usually get it piled on so thick that they can no longer visualize how long they have to serve.  By Halloween, they are daring me to give them detention because my half hour would just be another drop in the bucket.  I also have the option to send them to the choices room if they’re a distraction.  But any time I send a student out, they miss notes, they miss homework, and they miss the chance to positively interact with their peers.
  • Punishing Slackers x 2 I give so much ‘Noon Tutoring Detention’ for incomplete classwork…The students who actually turn in their work have NO idea…
  • Having 1 extra credit assignment per quarter I kind of like this idea…
  • Taking away Phones I was a little more lax with phones this year because I know our school goal is to bring tech into the classroom properly.  We played with Socrative and Nearpod and the students loved it.  Physics didn’t have a problem with phones day to day, but my intro students are total addicts…we’ll see what I do with the level of math student I get next year.
  • Working in Class Together
  • Working together for warm-ups Confession:  I make them spend 5 minutes working on the warm-up alone so I can take attendance.  After that we do work through them together…
  • More Worksheets


  • Nothing x 3
  • Letting us go to the lunch room Agreed…
  • Giving Us Slack
  • Book Work x 2
  • Being late to class  Confused by this one.  This student is in 1st hour and usually shows up about 20 minutes early to sit outside the door.  I’ve never been late, but this student always beats me here.  Alternately this class is full of students that show up late.  So either I need to get my butt in gear and show up earlier, or stop the students from coming late?
  • Giving us Finals Sorry…school policy.
  • Playing on Phones  Yes, the phones are ridiculous.
  • Giving out Homework x 2
  • Warm-Ups x 2  Sorry, the school is adopting these as policy next year…you will see them EVERYWHERE!  FWAHAHAHA!
  • Sitting in Pods

This was actually way more useful than my formal staff evaluation this year.  (Hoping this changes when we switch over to the Marshall evaluation method for next year.)  Even then, I will highly recommend this activity!

My intro class dynamic was a little unique this year.  I started with large classes (25-30).  Students have come and gone, but a quick check shows that only 60% of the students who were in my class at the beginning of the year made it to the end.  I’ve also seen more than 80 unique students across my three sections of intro…many of them only staying a week.  One thing that I KNOW that I have to work on is getting these new students included and assimilated so they don’t become behavioral issues.  I haven’t yet found the book on how to get a student to buy in when they show up in remedial algebra with only a month of school left…but I’m trying!

I also think I need to work on a better way to contact parents.  Next year if I have another freshman-level math, I hope to use Remind to send out the classwork assignment every day.  And oddly enough it seems like the parents I need to contact most don’t have updated numbers in PowerSchool.

I’m three years in, and I think I’ve learned how to initially balance a classroom.  I’m still working on rolling with the changes that occur with students constantly coming and going.  I still really fight non-participation.  I think that’s partially because perfectly capable Algebra students are placed in Intro because they were non-participatory in 8th grade.  If you’re in a class that’s not challenging enough…you get bored!  The notebooks were great, and I think I’ll keep them until the school goes more tech-based.  I will definitely try a limited-scale notebook for important Physics stuff next year.

This was a good year!  Next year will be even better!

Teacher Appreciation 2015

TAW 2015

I feel like the placement of teacher appreciation week is genius.  It’s always about the time when students decide that all work is optional and seem determined to spend the last two weeks tanking their grades.  And of course it’s about the time that I become extra determined to get some of that work handed in so I can prove that ‘Hey, these guys know enough to move on!  I know they do!  I have proof!’.

So the week has started with an awesome sign on my door.  (Which I’m contemplating making all of my kids sign at the end of the week to serve as a yearbook type thing…)

…and I opened my mailbox to find a package of pop rocks.

and after I find a can of Coke to drink with these…I’ll be back to chasing down students to bring up those grades.

Honestly…they could call this Teacher Motivation Week…because it totally works that way.

IHWH Slope-Intercept and Point Slope Form

Necessity is the mother of invention today.  Last Thursday, my projector died.  State testing for my students is today and tomorrow.  (Some classes today…other classes tomorrow…)  It seemed like a good time for a sponge activity.

Enter my variation on the I have… Who has… game.IHWH Intro Equations

My game is a little bit different in that it does not make a loop with the entire class.  I like the idea of having them find their partners, and then doing eliminations each round.