Friday, January 27, 2012

Clean desk?!

I have been participating in the Clutter free Classroom Project.

This week the focus was the teacher's desk.
I admit that I my desk is a MESS!  I am piler...ok I admit it.
I lucked into a head start on this task.  I started with my desk during week 3.

My principal insists that we keep our desks, so I am trying to make it work.
The first task is to tell you what I like about it.
Not much!  It holds my piles! :)

The second task is to tell you what I would like to change.
I would love a new work area!
My principal insists that we keep our desks, so I am trying to make it work.

The third task is the changes I have made.

After following the rules I set for myself:

This was completely empty in back. 
The money bags are for a Student Council project.
After that, the space will be empty again!

I purged 14 files of paper!

My one big issue is still the top of my desk.  I had this much available space last week.  I tried to clear a corner.  I just haven't dedicated myself to that...yet.  Week 5 I will start to take care of that.

Also this week I finished purging a cabinet.


I don't know at this point if I have anything I want to put in this space!
All these went to my neighbor teacher:

The last task is my advice for others who are trying to clear clutter.
At first I thought I just needed to organize what I had in a better way. 
When Jodi kept talking about not just rearranging, but purging things, I was initially hesitant.
My concern was misplaced.  It has been great seeing what I don't need anymore.

The other best piece of advice I can give is tell your co-workers you are trying to declutter.  My fellow teachers have been great at supporting my effort and asking what I have purged.  (Believe it or not they knew I was cluttered!) 

Good luck!

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Multiplication Ain't No Repeated Addition

Yesterday, I and several other teacher leaders from across the district, had PD and I learned something that shocked me.
Multiplication is NOT repeat addition.
Ok, I am no Master Mathematician.  In Common Core language, I lack a mathematical mind.  (I mean it, I have never had this.)
So I have always taught math trying to avoid teaching formulas or having only one method. 
(Teaching the topic in multiple perspectives is an idea from my dad, did I mention he teaches Accounting at a university.)
Well, back on topic.  The 5th grade teachers were talking about a new term they were going to be teaching the kids, scaling. 
What is scaling you ask?
Well I Googled it, and this is what I found: Multiplication Ain't No Repeated Addition
The long and short of it.  I sat there thinking "I HAVE SCREWED MY STUDENTS UP... FOREVER!"
Of course, I know that's not true.
Apparently, multiplying whole numbers this strategy works well.  When it comes to multiplying fractions with other fractions, this does not work as a strategy. 
As a third grade teacher, how have I fixed my mistake?  I explained to my students that we are going to have repeated addition as a strategy, but when they get past 3rd grade, this strategy will NOT be an option, because the numbers will either be too large or too small for this to be a good use of our skills.

Please tell me I was not the only one who has taught it this way?

Friday, January 20, 2012

4 days of decluttering

I have been participating in the Clutter-Free Classroom Project.
Ok, so I have been working on this post all week.
On my first day to declutter, I have opted to take on my desk drawers first.  I started last week with this drawer.

Tuesday morning, I jumped right in.  I started with my marker basket.  If they didn't work, I pitched them.
Then I made this discovery.  Look at all this masking tape.

 Well I vowed to keep no more than 2.  So I slid them all on my arm, and walked them down to the community supply closet.  As I walked in the office, the school secretary asked what had happened to me.  You see from a distance, all this tape on my arm looked like a cast!
Here is al the stuff I happily purged on day 1:

Look decluttering can make you rich. $1!!!

Wednesday, I tackled another drawer and I did not take pics of it.  (I was a little too ashamed of it.)
My neighbor teacher said it best, when my grade level met and saw the mess, she said, "I always love seeing your desk.  It makes me feel better knowing I am not alone."
Look what I found:

I should have moisturized hands!
I have been looking for these batteries since BEFORE winter break!
Here is the wonderful after:

Thursday, I insisted upon making progress with the top of my desk.  I have again carved out about 2 square feet. 

This may not look great to some of you, but it has come leaps and bounds!

It's much prettier from the students point of view!
Friday, I excitedly tackled a couple of shelves in my tall closet.  They were picture perfect.

Look, room for my new Vera Bradley purse! 
Believe me this was packed before.
Can you see the empty part of the shelf?!
I also pawned a stack of copied material off on my neighbor teacher, because she plans to actually use it.  Yeah!  Look at how much space that opened up:

Reflecting on Week 1 of the Declutter stage, I found it helpful to take on non-paper related drawers.  Those will be for the weeks to come.  Also, I don't miss any of the "stuff" I got rid of! 
If you are someone who is in the declutter stage, Good Luck!  It's ok to let stuff go.
If you are not trying to declutter, maybe you should think about at least cleaning that one drawer. (You know which one!)

One final thought, I promise we will be posting next week about some new stuff.  Not just clutter.  Though it has been a great (albeit) time consuming challenge.


Friday, January 13, 2012

4321...Rules to Declutter

This is another post for the Clutter Free Project
All week I have been assessing my classroom.
Looking for ways to declutter. 
Thinking of rules I can make for myself. 

Here is what I came up with:
4  Questions to ask yourself about the items in your classroom:
    -When did I use it last?
    -Is this something I will use again?
    -Where will I keep it?
    -Is that the best place for it?
     (Note the hanging file, that isn't being properly utilized!)

3  Paper copies will number no more than 3.  (I can't commit to be all electronic at this point.)
    This is my attempt to purge extra copies of things.  I have a binder system for most paper copies.
    So I will store a copy electronically (when possible), a copy in my binder, and the original (if its in a resource book.)
    *The environmentalist in me is really nervous about this one!

2  Supplies of 2, is all I will do. 
    I discovered some how I have 5 staplers. (All of which worked.)  Why?

   I had tons of tape.  Why?

   I am lucky enough to work in a school where we have a communal supply of these types of items. 
   So I can go get more, or I can go find it from another teacher hoarder.
   *Beware 4 pen containers, I am coming for you.  2 containers will do!
   Here is my drawer after following these new rules:

1 Mantra
   If you get an item out, put it back as soon as you are finished with it, in the place you got it from, so you can be clutter free! 

I hope this helps someone!


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Are you triscadecaphobic? (plus a freebie)

Ok, I may be in the minority, but I like Friday the 13th. 
It may have something to do with the fact that my classroom
number is 13. 

I have planned a Friday (half day in my district, YEAH!) full of
activities using 13.  I have attached one of the activities.

13 people

Also, I am presenting for the first time at staff development tomorrow.
Wish me luck!!


Monday, January 9, 2012

Student Resolutions

Every year I have my students write New Year's resolutions.  I think it is important to instill long term goal setting in my students.  Even if it's only for a month!  When we talk about resolutions we focus on how to achieve the goal. This year my students were really insightful and very self aware.  I was so pleased with the final product.   (They were almost all super cute.  It was so hard to narrow down the images.  I know the words are difficult to read.)

She wants to better on her extra curricular activities.  (Her words not mine!)

She wants to be less shy by starting conversations with people. 

She wants to focus on following directions and talking less.

Loved the artwork!

He wants to get along with others.  (What a great goal!)

She wants to get better at studying at home. 
She was very proud of her artwork.


Friday, January 6, 2012


This post is part of the Clutter Free Classroom Project. 
Read more here.
Every fall I swear to myself I will be organized.  Every year after winter break I realize I let it get away from me.  Hopefully this challenge will help!  
Antoinette has opted out of this challenge.  She is feeling a little overwhelmed right now. :)

A little background info about my classroom:
-It is the 4th classroom I have been in since I have been at my school.  It will be my long term classroom, unless I change grade levels. (YEAH!)
-I have to keep my teacher desk and the half round table. Principal says!

Here are the pics of my clutter: (Forewarning there are a lot!)

My pen organization!

My desk top.  There are layers. 
For those of you with a clean desk every Friday,
 as Antoinette would say sarcastically with a laugh and a smile, "Bite me."

Look a clear spot!

My laptop table.  In my classroom last year I didn't have one of these. 
I don't know if I like it.  This one I could get rid of, if I wanted to.

Mentor text bookshelf.  A new purchase from this fall.

Behind my desk.  This is stuff I still haven't unpacked from the fall.
Do I REALLY need it?

Still more stuff behind my desk.

I thought this would help my desk clutter.
Does it look like it helped?

There is even a bin under my desk of papers to be filed.

Inside the desk I have to keep.

I swear in August this looked great...

This is a deep drawer.  I just can't figure out how to use them correctly.

This is the back of the deep drawer.

This is the student work turn in station by the end of winter break.

My tall coat closet.

room decor

My purse goes in here somewhere.

I have tons of buckets. 
They hold things like name tags, labels, sticky clips, etc.

The dreaded bottom shelf.

The good news is, I just close the door.
Clutter all gone! 

This is the cabinet above the sink. 
Where do you store a year's worth of Kleenex?
And the other part are Pringles cans.  (I will post about those another time.)

Craft storage, Pringles cans, and left over science kit supplies.

An unclear pic of the labels I have on every cabinet and drawer.

Class library storage.
And a shout out to Ladybug Teacher Files for the awesome crayon storage idea!

Scissors, writing, and glue.  Custodian says it can't be in their desks.

I bought these thinking I could use them.
I don't know what to do with them though?

My nemesis- the half round table.  My students use the mini laptops here.

Math manipulatives storage.  It doesn't scream organized like I hoped it would.

More math manipulatives. As well as the side of the Science kits.

That globe.  Where do you store it so it won't be in the way?

The most organized corner of my room.  :)

Seasonal decor storage.  Looks horrible, but is very functional.

The other half of my classroom library. 

Where I store my printed resources. 
I would LOVE to go paperless and just have it electronically. 
That takes lots of time though.

I have two file cabinets, a 4 drawer and a 2 drawer.
These are labeled and organized.   

What do you do with the stuff kids give you?

Look at how organized my copies are!  Shocking.

My poster storage.  It seems like this awesome unit should keep me organized.

But, I discovered this set of student newspapers where I didn't expect them to be.
I have been searching for them since NOVEMBER.
As you might be able to see, I have my fair share of clutter.  I would really LOVE your help.  To be honest these pics really did bring to light that I have a problem with clutter.

Best of luck decluttering your space!