Saturday, August 24, 2013

Classroom Cribs

Hello my lovelies!  How are you?  Any fun weekend plans?  How many of you have started school already?  School started this past week and I am in GO mode!  This weekend my plan is to catch my breath.  I hope you enjoy this post AND video.  Did any of you used to watch MTV cribs?  Ha!  I used to love that show!!!  Here is my version of classroom cribs...

Is it a myth or a must believe that a classroom environment will enhance student calmness and sense of peace? alleviate some classroom behavior problems?  create a sense of community? The answer to all of these questions is yes! BELIEVE!!! Your efforts to create a classroom environment that works for students and for you is time well spent and will enhance all of the above conditions.   What does a student remember from your classroom?  You!!!  Part of the road to being remembered as a special teacher is your unique classroom design.  You may ask yourself: is my classroom  functional, student friendly, pleasing to the eye/ stylish, teeming with good vibes and excites students to learn?   Some of you are ready for a complete classroom makeover, maybe you want only a few tweaks, or you just like change and would welcome some new ideas. Consider some of the following suggestions that match your style. Creating a learning environment that works for you and your students is FUN!

Classroom function is a critical consideration. Function is about student friendly systems, easy access to materials, flow of movement, to name a few.  An example of a system is putting each student’s name on a strip of paper that has a magnetic tape strip on the back. A metal cabinet next to the door is all you need.  When the student enters in the morning the student puts the name plate under a heading that gives you information, such as “buying lunch”.  Students may also have a magnet with his/her number on it to be used to keep track of homework turned in on time.  If a student’s magnet is not removed from the class set of magnets because the student turns in  homework consistently, the student remains in the coveted homework club. Two systems on one metal cabinet that makes your life easier.  When students enter the classroom, they may be asked to pick up a text book or two.  Is your shelf of text books easy to access, close to the door and away from desks?  Which brings us to desk arrangements.  Straight rows can present problems when you want student proximity.  Desks arranged in pods of four or six give more aisle room and easy access to students and builds community.  Consider a chevron desk arrangement so chairs have plenty of room for chair movement. Also, a supply system is a design must!  Supplies placed strategically will save student time and energy.  Students even as young as Kindergarten will feel more empowered if he/she can access materials on their own.  A closet filled with supplies that are labeled will give a student a sense of ownership to the classroom and easy access. Supplies in bins that have wheels ensures even a heavy bin of supplies/toys may be moved by a couple of Kinder students. Supplies in a tote bin (erasers, stapler, pencils, highlighters, post-it notes, red pens, 3- hole punch), shared by four students in a grouping, will cut down on student questions, unnecessary movement and will provide  more work productivity.    Function in a classroom means less frustration and more learning fun. And a by-product is more student self-confidence and fewer behavior problems.  

Now you have an functional classroom, but what about your classroom colors? So your favorite color may be hot pink!  Be careful with color in a classroom.  Sociologists have done studies on the impact of color on human behavior.  Having every inch of the classroom in a red, white and blue theme to promote a patriotic flavor might be too over whelming for students who are hypersensitive to color stimulation.  Rather consider the mint color that is so popular now, which is soothing and calming, or a pastel blue, which receive the research approval.  Another color connection is the classroom ambient light.   Students may be sensitive to florescent lights, so consider turning off the over head florescent lighting and instead get some inexpensive lamps from Target with soft white light bulbs.  Leave plenty of white space on your white board to give the eye a rest.  Popular, small mirrored cut outs can be used as accents to words that you have on a white board. You can find these cut out mirrors at Target, maybe an owl, maybe a flower, add the fun factor.  The mirror glistens and catches the student’s attention. Spend a little extra for bulletin board paper that will not fade and consider fabric panels at Target to drape over a boring wood cabinet door.  Color done well shows students you care and respect the space.  So many classrooms are old and run down, so let color give the room some pizzaz!   

A kitchen has spices to bring the flavor forward; classroom supplies, furniture and possibly pets are the spice that flavor your classroom and ensure creativity!   Always keep a supply of magnet tape, velcro tape, painter’s blue tape in your closet. Maybe you will want to hang some framed pictures, consider velcro strips. Magnet tape can make any metal cabinet more functional.  Consider an ergonomic, comfortable chair that gives your back the best lumbar support.  Place your computer lap top or monitor high enough so your posture is not compromised.  Scrounge for some round tables that are best for small group conversations or parent conferences.  A visit to the district warehouse provides some unexpected treasures. Maybe you need some window curtains behind your desk to ensure some privacy.  Book shelves behind your desk are perfect for items that cheer you up, add a professional touch, and increase organization. Consider a few no flame candles, picture of your family, and some colorful containers or baskets. Two $27 bookshelves at Walmart can be assembled in an hour and a half.  Also, your curriculum binders will then be on a shelf at your finger tips. Now, every classroom needs more oxygen!  Buy a few no-fail plants to adorn your shelving unit or maybe a plant for each group of four/six desks.  More life in a classroom could mean a small or large fish tank with some inexpensive fish to add interest and spark conversation, or get a turtle or a bunny.  What fun!!!  When you give special thought to your classroom design, students will benefit from your happiness and organization and will eagerly enter the safe, cheery, student-friendly classroom.

Change it up and make the most of the space that you are given.  Have fun, and you will definitely reap the benefits of making your environment the best it can be.

Check out my classroom crib video below!  Are you subscribed to my teaching YouTube Channel?  Click HERE to subscribe and get notified when I post new videos.

Anyone know of a classroom tour linky?  Let me know!

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Back To School Teacher Fashion

Today the talk is teacher fashion.  The colors, the styles, the places to shop will help you move forward on your back-to-school shopping!  Let's start NOW!

Click HERE for Part 1 Teacher Check List
Click HERE for Part 2 Classroom Management 
Click HERE for Part 3  How To Navigate School Politics

Part 4
How To: Teacher Fashion 

Teachers never grow old of the excitement that happens in August to mark the beginning of a school year. And I am not thinking about a new classroom desk arrangement!   Our unbridled excitement is, of course, SHOPPING for school clothes!!!!  Our heart races, our eyes dilate and our mission is intense.  We want comfort, color, some classic, maybe preppie, a tinge of trendy, and a whole lot of fun!  No teacher jumpers with the applique apples; we are talking about functional, fashionable and fantastic mix and match outfits.   

Yes, teachers can wear denim in the classroom.  Any fashion guru will tell you that denim in the work place must follow some simple rules.  Choose dark denim pants, with no holes that scream grunge look. Next consider the rise of the jeans/ pants; no low rise.  Bending over in the classroom needs to be part of your fashion consideration, so a mid rise pant is a must.  The high rise is not a comfortable fit for me.  But if that is your pick, try NYDJ for comfort and tummy control.  The new ankle length jean is ala Audrey Hepburn, and so stylish.  The trick is to find a pair that actually hit the ankle and that hug the ankle.  White House Black Market offers some very comfortable Jeggings that are not too tight and have the stretch that will give you comfort all day long and conservative pockets in the back.  A pair of dark, light weight trouser denims are so practical, as well.  And don’t forget a denim vest to punch up an outfit.  Note: the rage in California is a denim jacket with a black maxi dress, simple but classic comfort.

Pops of color will brighten up your day and keep the student’s attention on you.  Choose  a red/pink, coral skinny belt to put over your favorite Tee or blouse.  Bring the color pop into your shoes.  Don’t be afraid to give your feet the spot light.  Keep the color coming with some chunky jewelry to have that put together look.  Big for the fall is emerald green and magenta.  Some popular color combos include cobalt blue paired with black, steel grey and yellow, dark brown and black.  

Have fun with the top that you pair with your pants.  I love polka dots, rolled up sleeves, geometric patterns, the peplum look, and comfy cotton Tees.   Most of my tops are cotton knit to add comfort.  Vince Camuto has become one of my favorite designers of late.  His bold colorful top design, featured in the video, gives me a lot of color options for pairing.  Liz Claiborne created the cotton, roll up sleeve blouse with the pretty buttons.  I liked it so much I decided to get a black one as well.  Old Navy provided the  polka dot shirt, which will be a main stay for that fun Friday look.    

The classic black dress is a must.  The sleeveless black dress worn in the video was a Black and White store find.  I also found a mid calf knit black dress at the Gap that I have worn so many times this summer and will be a go to dress for school.  In recent years, my closet basket is full of colorful scarves that punch up the black dress.  I believe this caveat: One can never have too many white tops/blouses!  AND LBD’s  in every length keeps us on top of the fashion game.   

Where do you shop for your school clothes?  These stores came through for me.  Goodwill can be overwhelming for some, but if you have the time and you want to treasure hunt, give it a try.  Start with a vision of beautiful jewelry, fun scarves, a sweater, and with a positive attitude; you will find treasures on the cheap.  JCP really came through for me this week.  I found pants, shoes, tops, accessories at JCPenny.  When all else fails, I always have luck at White House Black Market.  Their clothes are so well made and have classic style with comfort.  Old Navy had a couple of shirts that worked and unfortunately Macy’s pants were not long enough, but I found a pretty black and white skirt.  This rounds out the stores that helped me put the outfits together.

Enjoy your back to school shopping extravaganza!  

Make sure to subscribe to my teaching Youtube Channel so you get an update when a new video is posted.  Off to pick up Mr. Winemaker's family from the airport.  All the way from New Jersey!  Can't wait to see them and have a fun week.  What are you up to?  OH!  And instagram me pics of your teacher outfits.  Be sure to tag me @shesparkletv and #teacherfashion.  I love to see your teacher looks!  


Friday, August 2, 2013

Currently and What's In My Teacher Bag!

Happy TGGIF! (Thank Goodness Gracious It's FRIDAY) teacher friends!  I have a song playing on repeat in my head!  

If every word I said
Could make you laugh
I'd talk forever
I asked the sky just what we had
It showed forever
(together my love)
If the song I sing to you
Could fill your heart with joy
I'd sing forever
(together my love)

Forever, forever
I've been so happy loving you

Name this tune and leave me a comment.  

I have been hard at work putting together my teacher bag.  This is a must do before school starts and I think I have all my necessities. Check out my video below to see what's in my teacher bag stash!  

Ok seriously how cute is Mr. Winemaker as a 5th grader!?!?!  His dad sent this picture.  LOVING the hair cut.

Harvest season is just around the corner.  During my busiest time of year (heading back to school) Mr. Winemaker is in the throws of harvest.  Students don't wait and neither do grapes.  Thank you winemakers for keeping teachers well stocked and happy! 

 I love this man so much. 

Flavored water is all the rage here in the wine country.  I took this picture so I could copycat the concoction at home.  Strawberries, mint, lemon... yes please!

 I could eat salmon all day every day in the summer!