Monthly Archives: July 2014

Classroom Organizational Ideas: Part 2

organization Pic 1





Courtesy of

EdTech537-Week 8-Blog Post 2

Here are six more things I do in the classroom to help maintain my sanity. Teacher Sanity = Teacher’s Family Sanity!! In organizational post #1, I focused on how to deal with paperwork. For this post, I am going to talk about organizing your classroom planning techniques. Do you plan for class the night before? Do you lose sleep because you are not sure if you have everything ready for the next day? Then these helpful hints are for you!!

6. Make Homework Calendars!!

  • These are good for the teacher, good for the student and great for parents!
  • Simply make a table of each section you plan to cover and the HW you want to assign with it.
  • This should also work for topics other than math.
  • It helps the teacher stay on pace in today’s demanding curriculum pacing.
  • When students are absent they already have the new HW assignment.
  • Post the calendar on your website so anyone can access it at anytime.
  • Make adjustments the first 2-3 years, after which time the calendar is most likely the way you want it!!
  • Is math HW important? Read this article!!

7. Update a Plan Book an Entire Unit/Chapter at a Time

  • I still write everything down in a plan book, then I can have it open on my desk, in hand when I update the agenda on my white board, or visible when I am entering assignments and dates for grade entry.
  • There is also technology available to keep track of your daily classroom plans, but I haven’t found it to be more efficient…yet.
  • I write down my plans in pencil, because plans can change and pencil erases.
  • I organize my plans by date and write down what I am doing in every class each day.
    • Each day I list my Entry Event (warm up or pop quiz), HW Discussion (or not), the New Topic, the Instructional Technique (guided notes, group task, computer lab) and HW Page.
    • I add pass back papers on review days, returning test days and Mondays as needed.
  • By writing down an ENTIRE unit at a time, you save yourself time by not trying to do this everyday.
  • By the time I am in the 3rd year of a curriculum, I can usually rely on what I wrote down the year before!!
  • Also during this phase, I put in all my copy requests for the unit.

8. Make File Folders for each Day of the Week

  • This is an unusual technique that I developed out of necessity due to not having a classroom for almost six years. You heard that right, I roamed classrooms for almost SIX years and still stayed at the same school…long story that needs a separate post!!
  • Make a file folder for each day of the week and simply label Monday, Tuesday, … Friday!
  • Make a set for each course you teach.
  • Use another portable file box to store these folders with your prepping materials.
  • Every other week, after school on Thursday or Friday, place all materials in the file that you need to teach class each day for the next week or two!!
    • If something is not ready yet, I highlight it in my plan book so I remember to prep it.
    • I put in warm ups, HW answers, my guided notes with answers, group activity notes, task cards, copies for the students, and quizzes or tests.
    • I put them in order so it matches my agenda for the day.
    • If something is bulky, I wait to get it out the night before.
  • After school each day I clean up my papers from the day, grab the folders for the next day and do a quick check for all materials.
    • If there is an activity, then I set out the supplies needed during the quick check.
    • This is when I will set out bulky items.

9. Keep 3-Ring Binders of Your Creations

  • Label another file folder, To File Later. I keep one for each course I teach in the portable file box from #8 above.
  • At the end of each day, put all your copies of notes and answers in this folder.
  • Pick a day when you have more time, and file everything away for next year…it takes me about 30-45 minutes.
  • I try to file everything for a unit/chapter at the end of each chapter.
  • Here are some ideas on what you should be filing to save yourself time the following year.
    • Previous Calendars – write yourself notes on what to fix the following year and just update on the computer later.
    • Lesson Plans –
      • Are you using guided notes, a group activity, an exit ticket, a HW worksheet? File everything here.
      • Not only do I file all master copies, I refile extra copies to save paper.
    • HW Solutions – Work out your solutions once and save them!!
    • Quizzes and Tests – Keep your master copies, extra copies and answers all in one spot ready to go.

10. Write the Daily Agenda on the White Board

  • One of my pet peeves is when students walk in the room and ask for a one-on-one conference about what we are going to do today in class!! Okay, why would I want to state the objectives for the day, 32 times as students enter? Instead I respond, read the agenda on the board…sometimes this is accompanied with a growl. Sometimes another student will answer for me as I walk away. (This is my fave!) However, I don’t know why this bothers me so much!?
  • After school, I grab my super organized plan book, and just write down the main highlights for the next day or two.

11. Do Not Collect HW Every Day

  • I have students keep all HW in one graph paper notebook.
  • My students grade their own HW the day it is due, then they have immediate personal feedback.
  • At the end of each unit/chapter, on test day I collect all HW notebooks from all students.
  • Every assignment is scored to hold students accountable and emphasize the importance of math HW.
  • Then my TA scores HW on a rubric system, which does not include accuracy.
    • Since you asked, my rubric is simple. I stamp HW the day it is due, students self score and make corrections in class.
    • Each HW is worth 5 points, then a point is lost when the stamp is missing, a score is missing or if a student did not make corrections.
    • Another point can be lost if there are three or more missing problems.
  • I do not look at HW…I repeat, I do not look at HW!! There are many other ways I would rather check for understanding then when a student tried a new technique for the very first time!! See my previous organizational post under #5 Get a Teaching Assistant…
  • I have to repeat my personal opinion – TEACHER ASSISTANTS ARE UNDER-VALUED!!

Final thoughts

To make this system work, I usually stay late at school one day per week. I have a busy schedule as I tutor two full nights a week then want to spend some time with my daughter too! The rest of the week, I try to leave at a reasonable time.

I hope these ideas help someone, anyone out there. More importantly, I hope these ideas potentially help save a teaching career. Teaching is a super intense commitment during the school year. Both teachers and students need those vacations to recharge before the next session begins. Good luck to everyone reading this!!



Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

Classroom Organization Ideas: Part 1

organization Pic 1





Courtesy of

EdTech537-Week 8-Blog Post 1

Just as school was ending, a teacher came to me asking about organizational ideas. This reminded me that some teachers have a great rapport with the students, some teachers have amazing behind the scenes organizational skills, and some teachers have both. So I want to help that teacher and all new teachers with some simple organizational ideas to help you save time. A happy teacher equates to happy students! Here are five must-do organizational techniques for the high school classroom.

  1. Designate a “Turn it in Here” basket for your students.
    • One trick here is to NOT make it complicated. Just have one basket for all of your classes. This way students are not constantly asking you where to turn something in.
    • Then sort through the basket when you are not distracted. (Everyday? once or twice per week?)
  2. Designate a “Pick up Worksheets” location.
    • I put this location right next to the Turn it in Here basket.
    • Usually it is the absent students that need this feature, but some students lose their copy or want a second copy.
    • For this section, I do separate hanging files by course. I have three preps, just about every year in my high school math classroom.
    • I use a portable file crate and make a section for each topic.
    • At the end of the day, I gather up all the extra copies, paperclip them and put in the FRONT of the class’s hanging file. Everything will be in date order.
  3. Designate a Folder for Daily Warm Ups.
    • You may not do daily warm ups, but do you do something else regularly in class that absent students need to make up?
    • Get a 3-ring binder or a 3-prong portfolio folder.
    • I put this in the portable file crate, next to where students Pick Up Worksheets.
    • I write the class title and warm up on the outside in sharpie pen…along with Does Not Leave the Classroom!!
    • At the end of the day, I simply put the warm up in the folder, in the back. Everything will be in order by date.
    • This could work with any daily or frequently performed classroom task.
  4. Designate a Hanging File for Papers to be Passed Back.
    • I label another file folder and put it in the portable file crate, next to where students Pick Up Worksheets and Daily Warm Ups.
    • This time I designate a separate file for each class period.
    • I tell my TA’s to put all work that has been scored and entered in the corresponding file.
    • I also put all work I have finished grading in the folder.
    • About once every week or two, I grab the folder and have students help pass back the work.
    • I make sure to pass back all work on a review for a test day. As soon as major exams are scored, I pass everything back as well.
    • I do pass back all tests myself to maintain student confidentiality.
  5. Get a Teaching Assistant!!
    • This can be a student (teacher assistant/TA) or a parent volunteer. But the extra help to shuffle paperwork is priceless!
      • Unfortunately teachers do not have ANY executive assistant help.
      • I do not know of any job with so much paperwork/grading, data entry, meeting attendance and regular client/parent communication expectations without any hired assistant. You have about 1.5 to 2 hours each day to do a ton of behind the scenes work.
      • Visit my teacher job description post for further thoughts on this topic.
    • As the teacher you need to see your students’ progress, but do you need to see absolutely everything? NO!
      • Pick one piece of vital work per week that you want to see to check for student understanding.
      • I give a pop quiz every week. It is very short. The quiz is only covers one skill. My TA scans it, then I score it.
      • By looking at one skill each week, you can quickly keep tabs on which students have it and which need more right away.
    • I do not personally grade all student homework (HW) assignments. I have my TA do it.
    • My personal opinion – TEACHER ASSISTANTS ARE UNDER-VALUED!!

Math Homework is probably its own conversation!! I listen to many veteran teachers struggle how to deal with math HW. I think this topic and some other organizational techniques are needed in my next post. If this can help just a few people, then I have done my job too!!


Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

Something fun for summertime…

Something fun for summertime…. How to make those word clouds!! I always wondered about how much time is would take to make those…ah, there’s an app for that!!


Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

EdTech 537: Some of my favorite Tweets this Summer

EdTech 537: Some of my favorite Tweets this Summer. By Kim Hefty!!

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Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

EdTech 537: Fun with Images

EdTech 537: Fun with Images. These are too funny to not share again!!


Filed under AECT Standard 2.4

Revisiting Math vs. Stats

A Poll Entry

Earlier this summer, I posed a question about taking math senior year of high school or taking AP Statistics. Now that I know how to take a poll, here is a more simple way to tally everyone’s choices. Comments of course are gladly excepted as well!! Here is the original post information…

AP Stats vs. AP Calc

For many years, my high school did not offer AP Statistics. Then towards the beginning of 2013, the College Board in conjunction with Google offered my high school a grant. The grant was offered to help fund the initiation of an AP Stats course, because the “statistics” from our PSAT scores indicated that we had many females who qualified to take AP Statistics but were not able to do so. The great news is, this past year my school had 54 students take stats and next year 147 students signed up!! I think that is fabulous growth in a class after one year…

With the offering of AP Statistics available, it inadvertently created a new scenario; students dropping out of AP Calculus to take stats instead.

So here is the new conversation going on at my high school…should students take AP Stats or AP Calc? I don’t think students have enough information, nor can they foresee their own future, to make this decision.

Instead, I would like to hear from any adults out there who have ideas on how to handle this?
If you could do it over again, would you take math, stats or both?
What advice should we give students?
Do you have any personal experiences that can be shared?

 Your Turn to Vote

Please vote below and let’s see what the adults think the best option is…

If you are having issues embedding a poll, here are some helpful hints.


Filed under AECT Standard 2.4