Decorate and Organzing needed for 7/8 grade English

Discussion in 'Middle School / Junior High' started by adavant, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. adavant

    adavant Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I'm a new 7th and 8th grade English teacher for August. How much decorating and organizing will I need to do for my classroom?

    What should I have?
     
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  3. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Do you know if your moving in to a room where a retired teacher was before? A lot of times they just leave decorations, etc., so you wouldn't need to buy much.

    Contact your school secretary and find out what they are going to provide you with before you start buying things on your own. Once you know that information, you can start figuring out exactly what it is you need to have.
     
  4. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I second that. This past school year was my first year teaching math and language arts to 8th graders. I was not left with much in my room. However, another new teacher was left with cabinets and bookshelves full of usable material. If at all possible, schedule a time to see your room and bring a camera to take pictures.

    Some things that are a must (to me at least) are a large calendar to keep meetings and important dates organized, lots of binders so that every paper has a place and a really nice 3 hole puncher. When I arrived at my room, there was a "getting started" box filled with a tape dispenser, stapler, markers, folders. Lots of stuff that I didn't need to buy myself. You'll also need to start thinking about procedures in your classroom (how will students turn in work, will students store materials in your room, how will late work or absent work be handled etc) and what organizational goodies you will need to make those procedures run smoothly.
     
  5. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I think that you will need to spend time getting organized. The more organized you start the easier the year will be. I love color coding my classes and keeping everything separate.

    I would work on creating a nice library.
     
  6. adavant

    adavant Rookie

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    Jun 16, 2012

    I'm going to the school on Tuesday to meet with the teacher who taught the last two years. She's still there at the school but will be teaching another subject so not sure how much she's leaving in the room.

    I will get to see the room and get info about what I can order, etc.

    Explain more about these "procedures' and what I will be needing to organize. Thanks
     
  7. RainStorm

    RainStorm Phenom

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    Jun 16, 2012

    Make sure to find out when she will have her stuff moved out of the room. One year I had to wait forever for another teacher to get all her stuff out of the room so I could set up! (By forever, I mean she was still doing it on the last preservice day!) It left me in a very difficult situation.
     
  8. Avalon

    Avalon Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Congratulations on the new job, adavant!

    I start each year with a new lesson plan book. You will want wall decor that will fit your room. My room has no bulletin boards, so I create them with butcher paper surrounded by colorful borders. You may want to buy or create wall posters - genres of literature, literary devices, etc.

    Check what equipment you will have. You'll need dry erase markers/erasers for the whiteboard, and vis a vis markers for the overhead projector, if you have one. You may have a smartboard or document camera - ask if the district has training if you don't know how to use them. Find out if you have access to a printer, and where the copy room is, also staff room and teacher restrooms.

    Ask if you can take your Teacher's Editions home, and ask for a pacing guide, if they have one. Also, find the state standards for the content area and grade levels you will teach (probably online, just google them) and become familiar with them. Ask about the students you will have - GATE, intervention (below grade) level, English language learners, etc. How many students per class? They probably don't have your class lists ready yet, but you can learn about the student population from the school's SARC, probably on the school website.

    I use office-type inboxes for student work, labeled by period. I also used electrical tape to make semi-permanent boxes on the whiteboard, one each for the date, content objective, language objective, daily agenda. You may want duplicate spaces for your two subjects.

    Review the school safety plan. Copy the evacuation map and post it on the wall. Also post classroom expectations (Bring supplies every day, Respect others, etc.) or leave a spot on the wall if you will develop expectations with students.

    My students get mini sentence strips to decorate and write their names. I tape them to the desk so the names hang down in front. Helps me until I know all their names, and helps students get to know each other. Just make them small enough so you have room for a tag for each student who will use that desk during the day.

    Think about a welcome letter for parents, and a supply list. Will students need pens, pencils, or both? I personally find electric pencil sharpeners disruptive, so my students have to bring a hand-held sharpener. I also require book covers, as the 75 class copies of books in my room are identical, and I don't allow class time for sorting through them all. Each student has to be able to immediately identify his or her book.

    How will you distribute papers? Passing them out during class is a time-suck. Consider passing them out between periods, or getting individual shelves or cubbies for students to get their copies of current assignments, work they missed, or graded work that is being returned. Or have one person (pre-designated) from each row or group get papers and pass them out. I didn't file the papers I created/distributed for various projects, just kept soft copies on my computer.

    Think about Bellwork or Do Now work to start each period. I used grammar corrections, and pre-made a whole year's worth of power points to present the sentences to be corrected. Desk placement is important. I encourage cooperative learning, so my students' desks are arranged in groups. Find out if you will need to make or buy hall passes.

    Just some thoughts based on what has worked in my room. Try a Google search for "classroom decor" or similar keywords, you will get lots of ideas. Everything I have mentioned can be found at Lakeshore Learning, Target, Office Depot/Staples, or Amazon.
     
  9. mopar

    mopar Multitudinous

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    Jun 17, 2012

    How you organize is really a matter of preference. I like to use binders for papers, but some people prefer file folders.

    You will need a way to get your classes started right away, some kind of bell work. Usually I write these on the dry erase board, but some people prefer to have them prewritten and organized.

    You'll need places for students to turn in homework. I have bins that are color coded for each class. So my first period class has a different color than my second, etc. The students know their color so they know where to turn in work. I use stacking trays so that current work goes in one bin and missing work goes into the bottom bin. Now, a co-worker likes to have the students had her all their work at the same time, so she just has places for missing/absent work to be turned in. She puts the work into color coded folders for grading.

    You'll probably want something to transport papers. I like a large collapsible folder. I can put all my papers into different slots, so I have three for each class period. I have one for papers to grade, one for rubrics, and one for graded papers to return.

    You'll need a way to collect work for absent students and a place for them to turn it in. I have a sheet made that a student writes down what we do in class and then attaches extra copies to the sheet. Students then pick up their absent work the next day or when they return.

    Keep in mind what you plan to keep throughout the year, writing samples, reading logs, etc. You'll need a place to file these so that they can be gotten to quickly.
     
  10. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Jun 17, 2012

    What everyone has posted so far is REALLY awesome!

    I had a binder for each aspect of my curriculum (mine was scripted and had MANY parts!). You could do a binder for each unit. Keep all associated handouts, worksheets, notes, activities in the binder. I also kept exemplary student work (to use as examples) in the pockets of the binder.

    I am a special education teacher, so it was important for me to keep IEPs organized. I bought a plastic crate at Staples that could hold multiple hanging files. Each student got a hanging file. Within the hanging file, I had three file folders: one labeled "IEP", one labeled "Work Samples" and one labeled "Behavior". In the behavior folder, I would keep sensitive information like guidance reports, write-ups, conversations with parents, etc. in there. I think the other two folders are self-explanatory! Although I liked this system, I think I will move it all (except the IEPs) to binders this year.

    My students had an "in" basket and "out" basket to turn in work. They were just small wire baskets I found at Staples. Each basket was labeled. Students turn in all work to the "in" basket, I would leave papers to be passed back in the "out" basket and a student volunteer would pass them out.

    I had a very small class, so I didn't really find a need for a "absent work" procedure. However, another teacher I know has a folder for each class period. When a student is absent, she writes that student's name at the top of the papers they are getting that day, and puts it in the folder that corresponds to the period that student is in. The folders were all in a basket at the front of the room, and absent students were responsible for collecting their missing work and copying down any notes that they missed.
     
  11. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    Jun 17, 2012

    I'm too lazy to type it all out, but here are pictures of my classroom for a few years. I've been in the same classroom since 1998, so it doesn't change a whole lot from year to year. I teach 7th grade language arts. I'm also a visual person, so I'd rather see pictures.

    2011-2012 Classroom

    2010-2011 Classroom

    2009-2010 Classroom

    2008-2009 Classroom

    2006-2007 Classroom

    My 2010-2011 room has been my favorite. Last year was close to that arrangement, but I had 35 kids per class compared to 18-23 the year before, so I was a lot more squished.
     
  12. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Congrats on getting the job!!!

    I tend to focus a lot less on decor than some others. MY idea of decor is a twin flat sheet from Walmart on the buletin board. (It doesn't fade, is incredibly easy to put up, and it won't tear. It costs somethign like $7.) I put up a monthly birthday card for members of my homeroom. (In the days before I could get it from Power School, I passed around a sheet on the first day.) Then I put up a few inspirational posters-- every thing from Ziggy to the "Follow your dream" type of stuff. Know that you'll have a lot of memos to put up-- everything from a map of where to catch the late bus to signups for yearbook staff-- so you don't need to really cover the board. A pack of border for the front of the room, and I'm basically set.

    What I would suggest is that you find out, as soon as possible, whether the kids have been given any outside reading for the summer. (Our 7th and 8th graders have to read 3 books over the summer; they take a Summer Reading test in the fall. If your school does something similar, it's time to start reading!

    Also, you'll probably have several different classes. Color code them. EAch period has its own color folder, and everything from that class goes into the folder of that color.

    I also find it helpful, especially in the beginning, to include "row number" on every test and quiz I give; it makes giving them back SO MUCH easier before I get to know who they are.
     
  13. adavant

    adavant Rookie

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    Jun 17, 2012


    WHere did you get the posters with the types of writing. Love those.
     
  14. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Jun 17, 2012

    Ima, how did you attach the fabric to your book shelves and how is it holding up? Thanks.
     
  15. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Maven

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    They came from Really Good Stuff. I love them. They really do have really good stuff.

    The curtains are made from flat sheets that I got at Walmart, and I made button holes along the top. I fastened clear Command hooks (small ones for Christmas lights, I think) to the shelf, and then hung the curtain on the hooks by the button holes. This is the second year for them. I had to put the hem back on one at the end of the year, but when I washed them they looked great. Going to use them again next year.
     
  16. sumnerfan

    sumnerfan Comrade

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    Jun 19, 2012

    I think I might actually have some of those clips if Hubby didn't put them in the yard sale last week. :blush: He's the household declutter-er.
     
  17. Aussiegirl

    Aussiegirl Habitué

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    Jun 21, 2012

    Based on personal experience, I'd not spend much on decorating. My school provides rolls of plain colored bulletin board paper. I went to Dollar Tree and purchased some border strips. I did invest in a few inspirational posters and Dollar Tree also had some basic language arts posters - parts of speech, etc. I create most of my own "artwork".

    It will probably take a couple of years to decide what works best for you as far as filing - most of my info is on a thumb drive, but I also have several binders with various lesson plan items/ideas, which I sort through every couple of years.

    Student papers:
    I have a tray labeled "Late & Missing" in which they place late/missing (absent) assignments. They may also hand in work early in this tray if they are going to be out the day the work is due.

    There is a separate tray labeled "Signed Papers", which I put out whenever signed papers are due in HR or in class.

    Finally I have a tray labeled "Nameless Papers" in which I place papers without names (duh!) even if I recognize the handwriting! It is their responsibility to head the paper with their name.

    I have two class secretaries in each core class who hand out/collect papers. Each of my students has a number based on where they are alphabetically on the team roster. They use this number all year in their header. It makes it easier for the secretaries to put all collected papers in alphabetical order and thus makes it easier for me to grade/enter grades since my gradebook is in alphabetical order. Collected papers are alphabetized and placed in the appropriate in-box for that core. After grading, I place the papers in the corresponding out-box. I use a sorter I got at Costco - it has 10 slots: 5 on each side. It is chrome and since it is vertical, it does not take up too much room.

    I have a crate for each core class, which contains a hanging folder for each student. There is a pocket folder and a manilla folder in each hanging folder. I file graded papers in the manilla folder when I get the time (I plan on helpers doing it this year). At the end of the six-weeks, I have the students quickly go through the manilla folder and file major writing work in the pocket folder and they get to keep or recycle the rest. I do this so when progress reports go out or when I post "missing" work lists, they can check to see if the work is in that folder. Sometimes I make a mistake and miss recording someone's grade so if the paper is there, I can correct my mistake. More often than not, though, they find the paper in their binders after accusing me of losing it, of course!

    I have a student central table (lifted that idea from someone on this forum) where I stock extra paper, pencils, tape, stapler and post announcements, schedule, bus list, etc.

    As far as a classroom library, go to garage sales or Goodwill. If you hand out Scholastic book club order forms during the year, you will get points for every $ the students spend. I use those points to stock my library. Be prepared for books to disappear every year. This year we had a doozie of a group of kids and I ended up missing over 30 books! I just hope they didn't throw them out. Do not spend a ton of money for the books unless you come up with a fail-proof way to track them.

    The student central table has a curtain around it attached by velcro. I have storage bins under that table. Imateacher has a fabulous classroom. It has windows, closets... amazing. I have no windows (tip: if you have no windows, be sure to clean the plastic panels covering the lights. They gather dust which cuts down the light. ) I have a cabinet on wheels for storage and had to instal my own lock. I had nothing in my room that locked.
     
  18. DRBenjamin

    DRBenjamin Rookie

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    Jul 27, 2012

    I'm a middle school, die-hard decorator. I love a cool room with lots of inspirational posters, things to look at. I collect post cards from around the world and use them to decorate my bulletin boards. The kids love my room. It's not too busy, but it's not boring.

    And, I tried something new last year that I really, really liked for organization. I taught six periods. I gave each student a folder (bought myself) with the sides representing "turned in" and "graded." Each student had a folder with all turned work in, then, when I graded it, it was all in the folder. I saved myself SOOO much time. Plus, no more lost papers, papers without names. Students grabbed folders as they came in, turned in as tney left. I also used it as a classroom management thing for when students had questions. If they're raising their hand, they're off task. So, I had them stand the folder up versus raising hand, then move on to the next question. If I see a folder standing up, I went to help and it prevented off-task behaviors quite well.

    MS is a lot of fun. Really, try to keep things simple. Trying to keep ultra organized sometimes makes you a little crazy. KISS Principle. :) Good luck.
     

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