Wednesday, July 16, 2014

#July2014 Challenge: 5 Things

5 Things I can't live without in my classroom

Seating Charts
In 2014, this method feels pretty low tech, but it soooo works for me.  I made these seating charts in excel about 10 years ago, and I use them every year.  I make copies for the entire semester at the beginning, staple them together, and take a new packet out each Monday.  I can record attendance, classwork, and homework scores in the same place, and there is space in the margins to write notes about late work.  

Computer paper in different colors  
I haven’t tried interactive notebooks yet, but we make foldables in my class at least once per chapter.   Sometimes we will make a sophisticated foldable such as a flipbook, and other times we’ll just fold the paper into fourths or eighths and put a problem in each box.  Students like foldables for warmups because they can easily find the paper at the beginning of each day, and if you spiral the problems from the chapter it can help students study.

Flipbook Envelopes 
Not sure where I got this idea from, but I have used these envelopes for many tasks.  I keep a set of index cards in one of these with group progress grades to place on tables during group work (though I’m seriously considering changing to red-yellow-green cards after reading several posts this month).  Another is for name cards organized by period so I can randomly call on students.  A third is for sets of problems to use during groupwork activities.  

To make a flipbook envelope you first make a flipbook. Take several sheets of paper, and align as shown in the picture below.

Fold all the sheets over so that your papers look like the picture below.  If you want a flipbook you put three staples across the top.

If you want a flipbook envelop (mini-filer) rotate 180 degrees and staple along the sides.  

My smartphone  
This device replaces many of my must have tools from a decade ago.  I use the timer, the camera, name picking apps, just to name a few.  I even made a Google form to use as a to do list, and I put the icon on the front page of my cell phone.  The results of the Google form are recorded in a spreadsheet, which makes it easy to edit and prioritize at a later point in time. I can also open the spreadsheet from any computer or device, making it easy to keep up with all of the little items

Need I say more?  I use this as a demonstration tool, and also to make lots and lots of diagrams for worksheets and class activities.  Having access to quick visuals really gets the students talking, and helps me to check for understanding.  One of my favorite discoveries was that you can take the tick marks and numbers off of the axes.  I’ll do this and graph several functions of the same type, such as parabolas.  Then I’ll write the equations for the functions on the whiteboard and ask students to match equations to graphs.  Without numbers on the axes the conversations tend to be richer, and we can generalize by naming other functions that could potentially represent those on the graph.

Definitely looking forward to reading more of these 5 things we can't live without posts, AND taking more notes on my reading so that I don't forget.


  1. I need more information on this envelope flipbook. I'm really interested. Help! Do you have a picture or video to help me?