Monday, November 07, 2011

A sweet conversation

Today, I finally was able to catch up with a dear sweet woman that has walked with me for over 10 years. We were able to share our hearts from the past year, and I am so thankful for her sweet trusting spirit in the Lord. She spoke such encouraging words. I hope I can learn to speak like her.

She has taught me so much about hoping in the Lord through extremely difficult hardship, and has that kind of faith that you find in people who have truly been refined by fire.

I think the best part of our conversation was rejoicing in what the Lord has taught us through suffering: that joy is not being joyful about the situation, but it is about being joyful in the growth of sweet relationship with the Lord. I would not wish to go through certain trials in my life again, but I am so grateful for what Christ has taught me through those things. He has loosed so many chains in my life, to where I am more free today than I was 2 years ago.

We spoke about redemption and anticipation of our future hope...the sweet peace of redemption in the present, but the unspeakable joy when all things are made new.

It was such a good reminder, on a Monday in North Raleigh after a normal day of school, to look to the eternal.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


This is my fourth year of teaching, and I've learned a few tricks along the way. I have always valued other teachers' willingness to share ideas and post the routine things they do in their classrooms to make the day smoother.

So I have decided to post pictures and ideas from my classroom, some borrowed from others or worked out after months of frustration in terrible routines. I hope they are helpful!

This post is dedicated to some simple organizational techniques that keep me sane. I am not naturally inclined to organization, but have become better by sheer necessity.

First: I label everything now. I downloaded a cute font to make me more likely to use the labels (it's truly the little things), and I bought these magazine files from the Target One Spot. In the important basket, I've placed my grade book, contact information, plan book, and observation notebook. Done. These baskets are lined up on top of a bookshelf that contains all of my files. I don't really use my file cabinet. It's not easily accessible, so I have all of the objectives that I teach labeled on cardboard magazine files. I then placed folders of each set of activities within that file. For example, I have a box for "Measurement," and file folders for elapsed time, length, capacity, and mass within that box. It's right behind my desk for easy access. It's not the cutest looking thing in the world, so I made a polka-dot curtain to cover it all up!
I make anchor charts for EVERYTHING. If we learn it, I write it down.

It's really easy to lose these anchor charts on the walls. It's only the second quarter, and I've already run out of wall space. So a couple of years ago, I covered my cubbies with homemade curtains. Behind the curtains is, well, a mess. But it's out of sight! I laminated circles with numbers on them. I only put the most important anchor charts here.

That way, I can refer to a specific chart when conferencing or doing a mini lesson. One year, I had students who really had a hard time responding to text. I ended up having them choose a number and focus on that skill when they were asked to respond in their journals. It wasn't my favorite thing to do, but it worked for those kids.When we're finished with that skill, I have the hardest time throwing away anchor charts. They just contain so much learning! So this year, I have started taking pictures of the charts and printing them off. I have one notebook labeled "Reading Anchor Charts" and another for "Math Anchor Charts." I keep them in the area of my room that contains extra practice activities.

Lastly, a stolen idea for managing Writer's Workshop. I give each student a number at the beginning of the year. It corresponds to their cubby, mailbox, job chart, etc. I despise remaking things year after year, so this helps cut down on wasted time and resources. During writing, students move through the writing process by moving down a clothespin. I used to use magnets, so the clothespins are attached to a magnetic strip. The magnets drove me insane, so I threw those away this year.
What are your techniques for keeping your classroom organized?