An Enjoyable Home Workspace

When you teach, working from home is the name of the name of the game. I try to limit my work from home. (I recently have adopted a new grading plan that requires I work from home one night a week–will post more when I see how it goes). Between my 2 blogs, an up-and-coming YouTube channel, and 90 students to keep grades for, making my home workspace was CRITICAL. Below is a tour of my workspace.

The key to my space is that it is both inspiring and enjoyable to me. I love the color pink, so I wanted my office space to be both fun and inviting to me. With my makeup blog and YouTube channel, I also wanted a pretty blogging room with nice backgrounds so when I film, I’m not getting boring white walls.

1: My desk. I keep all of my school supplies in the photo box on the desk. Over the desk is a picture of a daisy that I painted (it is getting replaced with this picture from HobbyLobby). Below is a set of storage drawers with my craft supplies in them. Reorganizing that is my project for Christmas break. As I am typing this, I forgot to tell the story of my desk. I found it on Facebook at this sketchy thrift shop in my town. I went there and it didn’t have a price tag and I got it for $7!!
2. I believe in pink canvas from HomeGoods–because, I believe in PINK!
3. My TV and wall dots. The photo frame there needs to be hung and it needs to get a new mat.
4. My dresser mirror area. This is where I keep overflow clothes from my bedroom.
5. “Sir Cadogan”. He was a knight in Harry Potter. My biggest inspiration in teaching, Mrs. Sonafelt, gave me this as a graduation gift because it sat on my desk all year when I co-taught with her senior year.
6. XOXO and Lamp.  The XOXO is from HobbyLobby. The lamp is a cheap lamp that my mom had in her house. I took it, spray painted it silver, and then added the lampshade from WalMart.
7. The bed (had to push all the clothes to the end). There is a second bedspread that matches the damask patterned pillow. I just got lucky that the XOXO sign on my desk matches the LOVE pillow on the bed.
8. Desk again (:
9. Pictures of me and friends that I have around the room.
10. The basket on my dresser has all of my PoshMark shipping supplies in them. I like to send my PoshMark packages out in pretty packages. I stocked up on these pretty pink shipping packages from Target for $1.00 each. There are free packages from USPS behind them that I use for bigger packages.

That is my “pink room” as I call it. I hope it inspires you to go out and make a fun office space! Maybe it’s overwhelming to your eyes and you have decided on a stark white office space! Either way, it is important to find a place you can work from home that is designated for WORK and not where you sit and enjoy yourself. Keeping work and play separate is a huge help in maintaining your mental health during busy times of the year and lowering your stress levels.

–Miss Wyoming

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How to Enjoy Your Holiday Break: Cleaning Plan (Part 1)

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As a first year teacher or an any year teacher, any break is sacred time divined to you from the heavens above. I’m serious. I don’t know how often I just sit and think: “Thanksgiving can’t come soon enough!” Aside of killer Black Friday sales, there is also the added bonus of tons of food, seeing your friends and family, and NO STUDENTS or SCHOOL RESPONSIBILITIES. Except….if you are like me, you go on break and then finally have time to look at your house and realize, “Holy crap. I have to clean this place and grade all of these papers.” That’s now how your break should be! Below is a cleaning plan to help you get organized by Thanksgiving–starting Tuesday!

Each step below should be allotted 1 hour of your time! Depending on how much you have to clean, this may require you to work super fast. If your space is small, then you may have time to snapchat your cleaning progress!

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The mentality behind this plan is that if you don’t make it upstairs, it’s okay. Guests will typically be visiting downstairs unless you have overnight guests. Cleaning the places where people see is always more important. For sanity sake, it will make you feel like your house is clean because when you walk into it, you are seeing a clean space. You may just need to sleep on the couch to ignore the upstairs (:

Happy Thanksgiving! My holiday grading plan should be up soon!

–Miss Wyoming

Differentiating Notes for Struggling Readers

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I have always struggled with making notes for my inclusion class. The challenge is a lot of these students need notes to be taken for them or provided copies, but in my personal philosophy, you do not benefit from taking notes if you aren’t taking them. It’s taken me 2 years and a 6-weeks to finally figure out the solution to this problem and help students become better readers a long the way. Enter: Story Notes.

With the help of Ed Helper, I have started adapting my notes for my inclusion to be reading assignments. My inclusion class model is the same everyday. They come in and reading leveled provided material at the start of class (8:17). When they are done with this, they are allowed to read their independent reading books until 8:35. Providing them material ensures they are reading at their level. I try to filter the Just Right Books, but it’s not always possible to catch every book that comes in. At 8:35, I have them put their books down. We usually re-read the selected material out loud as a class. The resource teacher that aids me during this class always makes a fun game out of this and calls on kids by random labels–their clothes, their first initial, their seat proximity to the door, etc. Once the book is completed, we do a small activity or mini-lesson relating that book to the content we are discussing that week. I try to find material that is focused on that skill in the first place so it makes it easier to discuss all around.

With my notes, I type these into a story. I usually download Ed Helper’s version then adapt them as I need. Sometimes they are written on a 6th grade level and the students need a 4th, so I find places where I can cut down words or make the vocabulary easier. If I can’t simplify the vocabulary, I type in my own sentences that help to explain the word. Example:

Original Sentence: A catalyst often occurs that sets the conflict into motion.
What do I see wrong with this sentence? Catalyst is a hard word. Students will see that and immediately check out during their reading. “Sets into motion” is nothing a phrase that low readers often see or use.
Adapted Sentence: A catalyst (CAT-UH-LIST) happens in a story to help us learn about the conflict. A catalyst is an event that gets the conflict started or “sets it in motion” (think of someone pushing a ball down a hill. Their push is the catalyst).

Once we have read the notes, depending on their length, I have another reading out and ready to go. I read this to the students because by the time they are done with their notes they are usually mentally exhausted. Once I’ve read the read (usually a short 1-3 paragraphs), we discuss what I read in relation to their notes.

Today, we didn’t have time to read another story. Instead, I left blank space in the bottom of their notes and had students draw a plot diagram with the help of me on the overhead and my 2 instructional aides floating around. We labeled all of the relevant vocabulary on the plot diagram as well.

That’s all for today!

-Miss Wyoming

Google Apps for Creativity and Collaboration

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Google is the Apple of the internet, I swear. I head the technology committee at my school and was recently asked to present on Google Apps with a co-worker of mine. Though a headache at first, we soon realized just how beneficial Google Apps were in the classroom. We presented on the most “fun” 3″

  1. Google Draw
  2. Google Slides
  3. Google Forms

Our motto was the 3 C’s–Create, Collaborate, and Collect.

Some ideas for Google Draw in the classroom:

  1. Diagrams (great for science)–You can importat a diagram into Google Draw and have students label it or create their own
  2. Graphic Organizers
  3. Pre-Writing
  4. Post-Reading Comprehension
  5. Posters
  6. Flow Charts

Some ideas for Google Slides:

  1. Collaborative Presentations
  2. Timelines focusing one event per slide

Some ideas for Google Forms:

  1. Worksheets
  2. Quizzes
  3. Tests
  4. Exit Tickets
  5. Warm-ups
  6. Reading Logs
  7. Surveys
  8. Data collection when speaking to parents, students, admin, etc.

These are just some basic ideas! I will do a post later elaborating on each idea individually!

Until next time (:

–Miss Wyoming

Dealing with Parents and Grade Complaints

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Do you ever have parents email you complaining about their child’s grade? “Why does my child have a C in your class? She is not a C student!” “Why did you give my child this grade?” These are some of the common complaints from parents about their child’s grade. The bottom line is: It’s never the child’s fault. It’s always the teacher GIVING the grade, not the student EARNING the grade.

I recently found the magic formula to squashing these complaints and it is only one word long: PHOTOCOPYING.

I kid you not…..it’s that easy! If you are having an issue with a parent complaining about grade and you feel the student is not being honest about the quality of their work, collect their papers, writing, and whatever else you feel are contributing to poor grades and photocopy them! I like to send a parent an email stating the follow:

Dear Mr. or Mrs. BlahBlah:

Thank you for your concern about your student’s grade. I have printed a copy of your child’s progress report off and attached photocopies of his/her work to the back of it. I have highlighted the assignments that I feel have brought his/her grade down. In class, we stress (neat handwriting, complete sentences, putting the question in the answer, or whatever else you are focusing on in class). As you will see on these assignments, I do not feel that (student name) is performing to his or her best abilities. I let (student) know that I was sending this email home in addition to the copies of their work. Hopefully between the three of us, we can figure out how to get your student back on track and following the directions to get complete scores on his/her work. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact me.

Sincerely,

Your Child’s Teacher Who Isn’t Giving Them Bad Grades

In the past, I found this has nipped the problem in the bud. Parents like to assume teachers do not assess the quality of the child’s work but assigned grades either randomly or by picking favorites? They also assume that their student is more educated than their teacher. When you send home physical proof that their child has either not been honest about their work or their child is not following directions, it’s a huge wake up call to the parents and often it proves to them that school work is ultimately a child’s responsibility and not a teacher’s.

I hope this was helpful to anyone who is getting stressed by parents. Parents are people too and naturally they are both defensive and trustworthy of their children. Sometimes it takes proof that their child is attempting to “skate by” to get them on your page. I promise they will respect you more for it!

Happy Teaching,

Ms. Wyoming

Fast Classroom Management Tips

Good afternoon,

As I sit listening to my neighbor’s classroom scream and yell when they are supposed to be doing work, it occurs to me that as a first year teacher, I am sure my classroom sounded like this many days. It is now my third year teaching and I feel that my classroom management is on the way to being more “locked down”. Below are some fast classroom management tips to get your students motivated, but also keep them behaved.

  1. Seating chart—Spend time on your seating chart once you get to know your students. This can make or break a class.
  2. Set your expectations early–I met my students in the hall the first day and told them that once they traveled through my door, they were to be silent.
  3. Have work for them when they walk in the door–The second your students walk in the door, they should have work to do. This might be sometime as simple as reading or it may be a warm-up. Make sure your directions are clear and easy to follow so they are not asking questions.
  4. Make an example–I like to lay out my expectations and then make an example. This means the first student to upset these expectation gets a consequence. I don’t go easy because its’ the “first time they’ve messed up”. Once the rest of the class sees you are serious, they will understand your expectations are set in stone.
  5. Offer some flexibility and movement in your class stucture–Seriously, brain breaks are a real thing! If you as an adult cannot sit through a staff meeting without checking your phone and email, how can a student be expected to sit through your class and not get bored?

Happy Teaching!

-MIss Wyoming