Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classroom set up Tips

Hi All,

I was recently asked to share my tips for setting up the classroom.  I have been delaying writing this post because I'm not in a classroom this year, so I couldn't include pictures.  But...I have been in a classroom the last 10 years (12 if you count my time as a teaching assistant), in a lot of different settings, so I can still offer my advice.


I have been a teaching assistant in a few different special education, self-contained classrooms, I have been an adjunct college professor (only on campus to teach my course), and then taught in the district I currently work in.  I have been in 3 different classrooms in that district, and one year was on a cart.

There are certain features that I think are necessary in setting up a classroom, no matter what space you are in.  I would like to share those here.   I was also asked to share advice on setting up a classroom for multiple preps or multiple labs, that will also be part of this post.

Here are some views of a few of my classrooms over the years. (These are not all the classrooms I've been in, but those that I have photos of)




In all of those classrooms I think it is critical to have the following information (in no particular order).  I will highlight how I did a few of those in some photos below


  • Agenda so students know what is going on that day (and it helps keep me organized).  If I have multiple classes in the same room I have done a few things:
    • Erase and re-write
    • Write on a smaller white board that I can prop up and switch out
    • Write on chart paper and switch
    • Divide the board down the middle and write both agendas up
  • A place for students to hand in work.  I usually just accomplish this with a bin (the dollar store dishpans work great).

  • Student supplies.  This can be split into two types depending on your students, or grouped together.  
    • Things that are left out for easy student access, such as pencil sharpener, kleenex, maybe tape, lotion.
    • Student supplies that may be left out, or gotten out as needed.  For me, these are crayons, colored pencils, markers, glue, maybe extra tape, rulers.  I like to have these in small bins (pencil boxes from the dollar tree work fine, or other bins), so that you or a student can quickly put one out on each table. The colored bins on my cart were for that.
    • A place for you to keep upcoming copies, emergency sub plan, answer keys, etc that is readily accessible.  When I was on a cart I used a file box.  Otherwise I usually had a divider on my desk. 

  • A place for students to get missing work or make up work if they are absent. I just use a file crate and make a folder for each day of the week.  Then I make folders behind those for each week of the marking period.  At the end of Monday I put the extra papers in Monday.  When the next Monday rolls around I put them in week 1, etc.   You may want to post near this updated grades by ID number, or a list of missing work. 

  • A schedule or list of times you are available for extra help. 
  • Seating chart posted, if you plan to use one, so students can quietly go check if they were absent or forgot where they sit.
  • I also think it is important to have plenty of wall space or hallway space to display student work.  Students make poster assignments, concept maps, anchor charts, etc. and it is great to show those off, and to use them as a reference point later in the year.


Finally....lab space....

Since this is a science classroom (although I have taught lab science in classrooms that were not labs as well. I think it is key to have a space to set up equipment before class that students know not to touch until they are instructed to do so.  This might be a counter, a cart, a cupboard or wherever you have room.  Ideally each class, or each different prep will have a space.  When instructed, depending on how you run things, each group can go pick up one of each supply, or pick up a supply bin (my favorite), but you can get things set up and not have them right in front of students until you are ready.  The gray bins on my cart are usually perfect for this unless you are doing something really big.

The other key, I think, with lab space is to have some space (again, a counter, cart, cupboard, wherever you can find room), where you can leave some lab equipment out. I'm not advocating a mess, but if you have some students who don't finish, or an experiment that goes longer than one day, or even want to leave out just one set for absent students, it's great to have a designated space to do that.  Again, if you teach middle or high school and can designate a space for each different prep/class, that's even better.  Work with what you have.

  • Optional ideas, depending upon your school policy:
    • bathroom pass
    • early finisher ideas
    • work with no names, hanging up to be claimed
    • late sign in.
    • emergency sub folder (sometimes this is on your desk, or in the office)
I have resources that help with some of these (classroom scavenger hunt and signs, editable seating charts, and a few other goodies in my Back to School Pack).  If you made it this far in the post, you may want to check it out by clicking below :).


All of this is personal style, and may be different from teacher to teacher.  These are my preferences, and the things that I think are necessary, to whatever degree is possible, in any classroom setup.  

What are your classroom necessities?  What other questions do you still have? 



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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Tailwind feature you may not know ...



I have just recently started using tailwind and am still learning my way around, but I am impressed. Here are he increase in stats that I have seen since I started about two weeks ago. I wanted to share with you an easy way to find and save pinterest content.


However, as I have talked to more people, I wanted to share what my workflow, or my plan looks like, at least at this early stage, because it seems I am using a feature that not a lot of people are talking about yet.

Throughout the week, maybe when I'm sitting waiting somewhere, I look on pinterest on my phone. When I find new content that I want to pin I use the method below to save a draft.

If you are logged into tailwind, and go to settings and then mobile scheduling. Tailwind will give you a strange looking email address. You can send that pin as a message, from within pinterest, to that email address. You only need to type it in or set it up once and then it will be there when you hit send pin.


Then, when you log in to tailwind, all those pins are sitting here as drafts. I can change he descriptions, check them, select which boards I want them to go to. At that time I also add any product or blog post pins, select intervals, and schedule. I can schedule a lot of more successful pins in a short time.

I will keep this post brief, and in the future I hope to stick to more education oriented pins, but I I am really loving that effortless way to build up drafts and haven't seen much mention of it so I wanted to share.

Please leave you favorite pinterest or tailwind tips in the comments.
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Sunday, August 16, 2015

Using Pinterest in Education









Most of you are probably familiar with using Pinterest to look for gift ideas, clothing, home improvement ideas, and craft projects, but did you know it can also be a great place to look for classroom inspiration, or to solve problems in your teaching? 





Keep your ideas organized? 

If you are anything like me, I frequently see an idea that I want to use later in the year "when we get to that topic."  But then by the time we get to that unit I have lost or forgotten that pieces of paper.  With Pinterest, I made a board for each unit that I teach, along with a general teaching board, a classroom organization board, and a technology board.  As other things come up, I can add them as well.  When I see a great idea for genetics, I can pin in there.  When I go back to teach genetics, I just quickly scan through the images on that board for ideas.  Even if I didn't pin it correctly I can search and find it.  Technology is so much easier to find things than paper. 

Click on the image above for a link to my boards.  

Looking for visual inspiration?
Its true, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Pinterest is visual so you can easily type in a topic or search and get videos, images of lesson plans, and resources that you can assess at a glance.  Sometimes you can quickly see how to use a resource, or find an image that will grab your students attention.  Of course you can search for lesson plans, as well as many other things. 

I even have a board for amazing science images.  These are great warmups, or engagement tools or readings for increased literacy. 



Other collaborators in your subject area? 
There is no question that it is immensely helpful to collaborate with other educators in your subject area.  If you can do that within your school or department, but sometimes you can't.  Pinterest offers a great way to collaborate with other educators in your subject area all around the world.  You can search and click and see what they are doing in their classrooms, or build up collaborative boards with other educators. 

News articles or inspiration for your subject? 
Did you know you can also just browse by topic on pinterest? Of course, you can browse education, but you can also browse for popular pins, or those related to your content. 




What are you favorite pinterest boards? 
I teach high school science, so not surprisingly, my favorite pinterest board is called "High School Science," but I also like the general board "HighSchoolHerd" and some of my general teaching and science teaching boards shown above. 




What are your favorite pinterest boards?  Please comment below and share your favorites. 

A big thank you.  This post is part of the  
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Saturday, August 8, 2015

Super Secondary Science Teacher Resource Giveaway! 8/9-8/14

Winners have been chosen!  Congratulations to Cherish Eagan and Emily Roesngren



Who: Science Teachers 

What: Back to School Science Giveaway -- Enter here to win $15 store credit to my store, and follow the links below to win many more great science products from other teachers for use in your classroom!  Update!  There are so many entries I will be picking more than one winner.  
Where: Right here, with links to many other science teachers below
When: August 9th to 14th
How: Use the rafflecopter below, and the links to enter at other stores. 

FAQ's:


Why store credit? Good question.....I have a variety of science products and general products in my store, and what if I am giving away middle school products, but you teach high school?  Or giving away Earth Science products, but you teach Biology?  I want this giveaway to result in a prize that is valuable to you.  So, store credit it is. 


What do I have to do to enter? Follow the steps on the rafflecopter below to enter.  The more entries, the better chance of winning.

What can I use my store credit for? Anything in the the Science in the City store.  When the giveaway ends and rafflecopter helps choose the winner, I will contact you.  You look through my store and let me know which items you would like that total $15.  I will email them directly to you.

What would you recommend as best buys? 

Depends on what you teach, but here are some suggestions....


  • General classroom products I would look at the following $15 package


Pack of 50 Exit Tickets (Formative Assessment)     Back to School Classroom Organization Pack    Tarsia Puzzle Template Set
This set would be good for any class (not just science) and includes many types of exit tickets, classroom organization tools, and a puzzle template set that can be edited to review or reinforce any set of vocabulary.


  • Biology...I might pick
Photosynthesis and Respiration Foldable - Two Versions      Human Body Pack - Biology
  • Earth Science....I might pick
Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition Unit Pack    Solstice and Equinox: Hours of Daylight and Seasons Lessons
If none of those strike your fancy, feel free to browse my store and choose your own prize package. 


Where else can I enter? At the bottom of this post is a link up to many other science teachers who are participating.


a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School Sale


Did you know the back to school sale starts tomorrow?!  Most stores (including mine) are 28% off.  If there are certain items that you have been looking at buying, but put off because of cost, or were debating purchasing, this is your chance!  

If I were purchasing from my store on sale, here are some of my best buys.  

For general classroom use I would buy this pack of exit tickets, or the back to school pack.  This will be tools you will utilize all year long for classroom organization, seating charts, keeping organized yourself, etc.  The formative assessment can be used in any subject area as tickets out, or assessment within a lesson, or even as a jumping off point. 

 Pack of 50 Exit Tickets (Formative Assessment)

Back to School Classroom Organization Pack

If you teach Earth Science, you may be interested in the curriculum guide, list of "I Can Statements and Vocabulary Lists."  Also, there is always Buy My Store for Earth Science, which entitles you to every Earth Science product, and any that I add in the future.  This would be HUGE discount if you purchase it on sale.  

Earth Science Curriculum Guide
Entire Earth Science Course Student"I Can Statements" and

Buy my Store - Earth Science


I also feature a curriculum and resource guide for AP Environmental Science, and many biology items.  Some of my most popular are the Buy my Store for Biology (again, every biology item now and in the future, already discounted, available at a further discount for the BTS sale), or the human body pack, which includes many of the most popular human body items grouped together.  Again, these are already discounted, and available at a further discount.  
AP Environmental Science Curriculum Overview

Human Body Pack - Biology


Buy my Store - Biology

Even if you choose smaller items just to explore, or whatever you choose, make sure to get your cart ready, and use code BTS15.  

Contact me with any questions about my products (sciinthecity@gmail.com). 



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Monday, July 6, 2015

Leaf Stomata

If you are looking for a lab to do with your students that only uses a microscope and basic supplies, here is a great one.  I tested it out ahead of time and got very excited at how successful it was!

I have used this lab to practice microscope skills, experimental design skills, homeostasis and adaptations, or to teach leaf structure directly.

Did you know that by just using clear nail polish and tape, with almost any leaf and a microscope you can clearly see the stomata?!   We teach about stomata but they always seem like an abstract concept that we can't see.  Not TRUE!

It is very simple to put nail polish on the back of a leaf, peel it off, and make an impression slide where you can clearly see the stomata.

In this lab activity students read about the leaf structure and color a diagram.  They also create a slide and view stomata, draw and label and answer a few summary questions about their knowledge.  There is a second version included that allows students to design an experiment related to stomata.   Finally, in the teacher resources guide I have included a few other links for information, and a video clip about the leaf parts.

Here is a direct link to my product below.
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Flower Reproduction Lab - A Great Seasonal Activity

When the weather gets nice, everyone loves flowers!  Its even better if you can integrate them into an educational lab and reinforce science content.

This flower reproduction lab is one of my personal favorites.  Students can dissect a flower and study the parts.  I use the lab after teaching sexual reproduction, and students answer the questions "do flowers reproduce sexually or asexually?" through their lab work.  In the lab, however, I have also included a more traditional version of the lab that allows students to learn about the parts of a flower.  This lab also includes links to some great videos on flower parts, and suggestions on sources for flowers, and type of flower to use.

This was one of my students' favorites on course evaluations.  I love the fact that they get to take a closer look at something they have probably seen, but never studied before.  It would be a great lab for summer school, because flowers are so readily available.





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