2019-2020 Classroom Pics #MTBoS2020

Jennifer @jenfairbanks8 has set up a monthly blogging challenge described herehttps://docs.google.com/document/d/1bD-zYHpkP0RR7shkovBtOEB4c_rlSuiUKtJCQtid9QY/edit You should join!

I don’t think I’ve posted pictures of my classroom since I moved to my school in 2016. Since getting here I’m in my 3rd classroom and this year is the first time I’ve had the same room two years in a row. This is my second to least favorite room I’ve ever had because of where it is in the school and its dimensions, but I’ve made it my own. It does have its advantages – I was moved here because we put all Freshman Academy teachers on the same floor and all 3 of the freshmen math teachers are in the same hallway now. I’m far away from pretty much everything except the elevator. I try to use the elevator rarely, but it’s nice to have easy access when I need it.

I’m right now in the middle of the 2020 COVID-19 Pandemic school closure. It’s been exactly a month since I’ve seen my learners because of Spring Break leading into Illinois shutting down schools to help with social distancing. I was allowed to go back for about 15 minutes one day to pick up stuff from my classroom and decided to take some pictures. If you click on the pictures you can see it bigger.

*Disclaimer: I had to leave right away on the day before Spring Break and thought I’d be coming back to school during the second week of break to do this Catch Up Academy thing so I had planned on doing a lot of cleaning/organizing/preparing for 4th quarter during that time. I’d say this is what a typical start of each day looks like in my room.

Pictures of the outside of my classroom:


Some things you see here are (click to download or see where they came from if you want):


Teacher desk area:

  • Teacher of Awesome poster from Sarah Carter
  • Chromebook cart that houses a pencil sharpener, 5 computer mice, class set of TI-84 Plus CE calculators in chargers that are each numbered with a Plicker on the back, and each learner’s class folder that houses all their assessments, their grade tracker, and unit notecards.
  • An extra chair that isn’t attached to a desk and isn’t on wheels
  • The Bin where learners put anything they ever turn in to me (random signature things, a few homework assignments that are paper, things they need me to sign, Advocating Forms, assessments, etc.)
  • On the desk all the time: tape dispenser, two staplers, large and small paper clip dispensers, sharpened pencils for learners to use, hand sanitizer, lotion from hotel rooms, sticky notes, butterfly in a jar, chords for hooking my laptop up to Promethean Board/projector, printer, charger, speakers,
  • Next to the desk is a small table that doesn’t quite reach to my desk that leaves me space to hide supplies I’ll use in class that day and/or things I just need to put away and on top of it is a shelf with (from bottom to top): birthday cards and bracelets, mister for my plants, stereo with absent student cards on top, Delta Math assignment printouts, things I want to put up in classroom, two shelves of things to file away, all of the materials I’ve used in the past for the remaining units, a basket that sometimes learners use to put distracting things in (I was surprised that they brought that up), and then on the top some pictures of friends and family and my aloe plant and some 3D printed math stuff and my PCMI cube
  • White drawers of supplies such as dry erase pockets (shop ticket holders) and sheet protectors, printer paper, dice, decks of cards, hammer, screwdrivers, Allen wrenches, nails, tape measure bingo chips, tools, stickers, random stuff I honestly don’t know in the bottom drawer
  • On top of the white drawers on the left are a shelf of (from the bottom): things I need to take to the copy room, turned in Advocating Forms next to their signed syllabus/learner info sheets, assessments from any class that need to be taken/finished, Honors Geo assessment keys w/blank quiz retakes, Algebra I assessment keys w/blank quiz retakes, phone (new from a few months ago and I love it because it can show missed calls and can call outside area codes)
  • On top of the white drawers on the right are my colored class folders that hold things that need to be graded/handed back
  • A rolling cart that has (from the bottom): copies to hand out to classes usually a whole unit at a time, my personal printer that my department gives us ink for but it’s not the name brand ink and that means my color printing never has the right colors, terrarium and cup with large pencil and eraser but also usually other random things that I need to put somewhere
  • American flag and hanging from it all sorts of lanyards, Illini glasses, Mickey Mouse hat from the band I work with performing at Disney World, mask from Venice
  • On the wall with the window: phone extensions for the school and district hanging behind the phone and I’ve highlighted frequently used numbers, a metal pi made at my husband’s school, fluid painting from a learner
  • On the wall behind the desk (mostly from left to right): nice notes from people,  6-week dry erase calendar, weekly birthday list, Study Club advertisement, bell schedule, lots of magnets on the only magnetic thing in my room, each class’s Essential Question, homework, agenda (hasn’t changed all year except the one time I had a sub all day), my before and after school availability for the week, list of who needs to finish an assessment, popsicle sticks of destiny (from Sam Shah) for each class
  • Also held up by magnets behind my desk is: new student checklist, fundraiser reminders, dry erase markers for the calendar and EQ/homework/weekly availability boards

Pictures of the whole classroom from the different sides:

  • 8 groups of 4 desks, each desk has a different color electrical tape at each foot to signify the group names (got that idea from the teacher that was previously in my room and it’s awesome – only replaced the tape at the beginning of the year this year because a few got torn up but probably didn’t even have to)
  • College Entrance Posters (.docx or .pdf) that shows some common and local college entrance stats and lots of University of Illinois stuff
  • Mathematician Alphabet of Not Just Dead White Dudes
  • Einstein poster from WeUseMath.org
  • Common Core Standards of Mathematical Practice in friendly phrases from Everybody is a Genius
  • My class website address
  • Classroom norms that I think I got from Youcubed but now I can’t find exactly
  • Pictures of groups doing the 100 Numbers Task from Sara VanDerWerf
  • Class rules made by each period
  • Good Questions and Good Statements starters from Chris Luzniak
  • Cabinets and a shelf that holds books (mathy/educationy/for fun), labeled class bins for resources like markers, highlighters, scissors, protractor, colored pencils, board erasers (cut up t-shirts), and rulers, blank Cornell Note lined paper, graph paper, scratch paper, Advocating Forms, Error Logs (pdf or doc), individual white boards, board spray, hole puncher, stapler, tape dispenser
  • Mathematics in careers poster from AMS
  • Power of Yet Poster that I honestly can’t find where I might have gotten them
  • White Boards that are numbered and the cups are old cans that I took the labels off and they’re used to keep the dry erase markers tip down and also to make sure that each board has an adequate number of markers.
  • Filing cabinets where a donated Tin Man stands
  • Absent work/extra sheets bin
  • A desk that sits under a play sign (from Sara VanDerWerf) where I put some 3-D printed puzzle things
  • Math Wall of Shame from Sara VanDerWerf

And there it is. I guess there’s a lot in it.

Ma salle de classe est ma maison.

Mathematician Alphabet (Not Just Dead White Dudes)

First, if you haven’t heard of the Mathematician Project aka Not Just Dead White Dudes from Annie, read this here: https://arbitrarilyclose.com/2016/08/21/the-mathematicians-project-mathematicians-are-not-just-white-dudes/

I think this project is super important and I’ve tried to incorporate it in a number of ways. I haven’t gotten the chance to actually have my learners do the project, but I’ve done it where I present mathematicians for a warm up, where I had a bulletin board of it, and where I used them as table/group labels after seeing them from Pam on her blog here: https://pamjwilson.wordpress.com/2018/01/05/table-labels/

But then I moved to a new room with desks instead of tables and got the idea from the teacher who had been in the room before to have colored tape on the feet of chairs to label the groups. So I put the 8 table labels (A-H) up on my wall to display since I wasn’t using them anymore. But I kept thinking that I wanted to complete the rest of the alphabet someday. Today was the day.

I made cards to print and put up that have a different mathematician that are Not Just Dead White Dudes. I know I’m not citing my sources correctly, but the information was all pretty much gathered from The Not Just Dead White Dudes Bank, Wikipedia, or the MacTutor History of Mathematics site.

It’s very possible I have a typo even though I tried to quadruple check everything. Let me know if you see anything weird or if there’s more you think I should do. It was pure luck that I ended up with an even number of men and women.

*Edit 1/2/20 – Thank you Amie @nomad_penguin for finding a typo on C. The file has been re-uploaded. Please let me know if you all find any more!

Feel free to use/edit them for yourself!

Google Presentation: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1huFNdJ2fWbvrNWONwDj1A5pn_l0icLM9LQCDZXl0ENY/copy?usp=sharing

PDF: Mathematician Alphabet (Not Just Dead White Dudes)

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C’est important que nos étudiants voient les mathematiciens comme eux.

My New #Plickers Solution

I love Plickers. I’ve presented the use of Plickers to my staff and at conferences in Illinois. Recently, I applied to be a Plickers Ambassador and now I am one!


This fall break, I had an idea about storing Plickers in the classroom. This was always the only bad part about Plickers – they take time for students to pick them up if you store them in your room or if you give them to students some inevitably will lose them. But in my class, the students are all assigned a calculator that I store on the wall. They are very used to grabbing this on their way into class because it’s in a hanging shoe organizer right next to the door. Their calculator number is the same as their Plicker number, so I realized that I could just put both together!


I printed the Plickers so there were two pages on one and that shrunk them so that they fit right onto the battery cover of a TI-84. I taped them on with packing tape to create a pseudo-lamination.

My students even said this was a great idea! I will admit, these don’t work quite as well as the regular-sized Plickers. I have to usually go across the room one extra time – so I spend an extra 30 seconds to scan but gain so much time figuring out who has and doesn’t have their Plicker!

As a side note, I’m glad to be blogging (and will continue blogging). I have missed sharing things. It’s not really something I get to do at my school anymore. Funny how I move from being a single math teacher in the school to one of 10 and I feel like I’m sharing less. I’m really glad Zach @z_crass posted this to the #MTBoS the other day:

Also his message at the top of his sheet is spot on for me:

If you like to blog and see the value in it but seem to always put it off (like me) join the group and we’ll keep each other accountable!

We all know I only blog when there’s a challenge, so I’m taking this as a challenge. I will post more because it helps me (and maybe some other people, too).

Mes étudiants aiment qu’il n’est plus nécessaire de trouver leurs Plickers!

Pens I Love #MTBoS30

I’m not one of those people that goes crazy in an office supply store, but I do have some pens that I love having.

I used to love the multi-pen, but when all my ink ran out on all of them I saw someone tweet about these erasable pens and I couldn’t handle my excitement! Like my students actually were commenting about how I talked too much about my pens. I make so many mistakes writing but I know color is nice and pencil doesn’t show up well under a document camera, so this was perfect. They also write almost as nice as the Pilot Gel pens (which I got from @numerzgal in the #MTBoS School Supply Swap and also absolutely loved!). I do miss having all my colors in one pen, but the erasing makes up for that loss. I just have to invent the multi-pen with an eraser and I’m all set.

I also started using the Sharpie Highlighters that I got from Reddit Teacher Gifts after my other highlighters ran out and I also love those! However, I do wish they were a little wider.

Yeah, I know I’m the crazy one who posts about pens now.

Je ne suis pas si folle, je le jure!

Classroom Wishlist #MTBoS12days

I’ve been in four classrooms since I started teaching (I have to say my favorite was when I was in a science classroom for a summer), and in each one I’ve always had my own wishlist. It’s like I can’t be satisfied anywhere. Also, as a kid I used to spend hours just drawing out my dream bedroom that in reality would have to be as big as my whole house to fit everything…But now in my current classroom, even though I am really fine with how it is, here’s my wishlist:

  • More room! OR less students/desks that have to be in the room – I have all classes of 15 or below except for my one class of 25 that means I have to have so many more desks than necessary in most classes and then in the big class, we just have no space to move around all the backpacks and kids. OR desks that have detached chairs that are easy to move around
  • More whiteboard space. I love that I have a full wall of windows and another full wall that’s a big bulletin board, but I’d rather have whiteboard space – or a set of big group whiteboards!
  • An interactive white board – I had one at my old school and I really do think it can add a lot to some lessons
  • If no interactive white board, then a projector that projects onto the board – I work with an HDMI hook up to an LCD monitor and it’s ok, but I wish I could go up to the display and point to things or have students come up to it
  • Wall space outside my classroom to display stuff (I could do this but my room is in a cave with the special ed teacher and outside of the cave is the LA teacher’s room so I don’t want to get in her space)
  • Visible storage for supplies that kids can just go for
  • Furnaces that don’t sound like an explosion every time they kick on
  • A plant that’s just as low maintenance as my terrarium but is outside of a bowl (does that exist? I’m thinking like a bigger plant like a tree)
  • Space for students to work sitting on the ground with pillows and lapdesks/clipboards or standing with standing desks
  • One of those cool clocks that has math expressions instead of numbers

Je suis certaine que je peux penser des autres choses, mais ils ne sont pas nécessaires.

My Room

Well I’m a few weeks late (lol that’s funny – I almost posted this just a few weeks late) in doing this, but better late than never. I’ll admit, the desks were in rows for the first few weeks. I had struggled in finding a way to fit 24 in groups with the types of desks that I have and had resorted to rows, but then my principal came along and mentioned some ideas and now we have this. These pictures were taken a few weeks into the school year.

**Disclaimer: At the current time many posters have fallen off the wall and I haven’t found the time to put them back up. I also have a huge pile of stuff (styrofoam cups, Barbie dolls, extra supplies, a calendar poster) that is behind my desk and have put some stuff up on that bulletin board but I have a lot more to put up. I keep saying it will happen this week and then all of a sudden it’s Friday and I’m leaving…

 As you can see, many posters from Math = Love. That is an LCD monitor on the wall. There used to be a projector but I guess they replaced them all recently with the monitors. Some days I hate it, some days I love it. Almost every day I am missing my interactive white board, though.
  I am incapable of writing in a straight line. And the bottom clock has been replaced by a digital clock. Neither clock worked, and they tried to give me multiple analog clocks but they wouldn’t stay in time or work for more than a day. My room was cursed. So now I have a digital clock that you can’t see unless you’re at a certain angle, but at least it tells time.

   Each desk has its own white board and one desk out of four has a box of markers and rags/erasers. I don’t really know if this is the best way – they get kicked out of those holders all the time and put back in the wrong desk (as you can see from the empty one at the bottom). Still trying to figure that out, but we use them fairly often and I thought this was better than handing them out each time. I may just make a pile somewhere on the side of the room if I get too annoyed.

Outside windows

My room looks out to the only entrance into the school parking lot and is also one of two rooms you can see when you’re coming down the street from the north. So I had to add my flair of school spirit. I also thought that they were blue lights when I found them in my parent’s basement, which would go well with the school colors, but they’re actually teal, which just looks green. But that’s ok.

Je survis maintenant, mais j’espère que, un jour, je vais avoir un peu de temps libre.

My Classroom

I spent a lot of time looking at blogs last summer to help get my classroom looking as awesome as it could be. I have a small room with bright blue walls. My first year, I covered almost every inch of the walls with quote posters because I thought the blue was a little overbearing. This year, I embraced the blue a little more. A lot of the posters are printed from Math = Love and other sites. I do share this room with the geometry teacher but she really doesn’t take up a lot of the wall space. Descriptions are above each photo.

Wall 1:

  • YET: On the first day, my students claimed I had “yeet” on my wall…had to correct multiple students who came into my classroom for the first time throughout the year. :-/ But my principal did ask about it after my first observation and liked that I encouraged the use of that word. I didn’t let students put idk in responses – they at least had to say idky.
  • Star Bulletin Board: On the first day, students write a goal they have for 6th grade on a star and put it on the wall. At the end of the year, I remind them of that goal and they reflect on why they met it or didn’t. Next year, if I do it again, I will put the words “Anything’s Possible” across the top.
  • Math Practices Bulletin Board: In the first week students looked at a CC Standard for Mathematical Practice and made a poster of it. It’s hard to see but I did try to refer to their posters somewhat often.
  • A few anchor charts the kids made on fraction and decimal operations – I will try to get more student work/anchor charts up on the wall next year.
  • Supplies are behind the cabinet doors and the checkered shower curtain

Wall 2:

  • On chalkboard (I discovered chalkboard paint this year and it is amazing):
    • Date – written as an expression
    • Focus Question
    • Quote of the Week
    • Daily Agenda
    • Daily Work Page Titles
    • Vocabulary for the day
  • On whiteboard: Homework and upcoming events
  • Another set of the CC Standards for Mathematical Practice (now that I type this I notice the redundancy)

Wall 3:

  • Problem Solving Tips from Math = Love
  • Student-made factor pairs in area models (also helps fight the glare from the windows on the Promethean Board)
  • Lots of student drawings behind my desk – the ovals are all different kinds of pi that a student made for me for Pi Day
  • Student portfolio bins: Students cleaned out binders every unit but kept all Daily Work and Assessments in their portfolio. I’d like to make this an actual portfolio of their work next year instead of just a stuffed folder of everything they did that they never look back on again.
  • Math Symbols poster that I found in my room when I got there

Wall 4:

  • Geometry: She put up the shapes posters to help her class but my classes also liked trying to see if they could understand parts of the posters in our area and perimeter unit.
  • Unit Goals
  • Calendar
  • Challenge of the Week – need to find a better place for this
  • Word Wall – loved this this year! Students could always look back and be reminded of the vocab they learned or to see if there were words they missed when they were absent.
  • Back table for supplies and forms

My tables are also in groups of four. Sometimes I wished I had singular desks so we could move around a little easier and I think the tables are a little bigger than they need to be. With a small room like mine, it is hard to get around most of the time. But I do like that the tables encourage partner work and talk. Also, if I have more than 26 students in one class (very possible) I will have to rethink my desk arrangement.

Ma salle de classe est ma maison, et je l’adore.