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Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Keep those classrooms clean, people!

Today's guest post comes from Lauren Ray.  She writes with some suggestions for teachers on keeping their classrooms clean and neat throughout the year.

Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Classroom Maintenance For Teachers
Schools across the country have re-opened for a brand new year. Your classroom probably started clean as a whistle, but after a few weeks back, you've probably noticed that clutter has made its way back. As a teacher, there are a number of things you can do to maintain an organized, functional learning space throughout the school year. Make sure your classroom stays safe, stocked, and ready for learning with these tips!

·        Check your classroom furniture. Check your desk supply to ensure it stays stocked with plenty of paper and pens. Do weekly checks of your desk to ensure that all of the legs are intact, drawers work effortlessly, and there are no major scratches or dents on the surfaces. You should also check any shelving units that you have around the classroom to ensure they are properly anchored to walls, and that all screws and nails are in place. Also examine the construction of student's desks or tables throughout the school year. Anything out of the ordinary should be fixed so that students who enter the classroom avoid injury.
      Check your classroom's safety. Similarly each week, you should check for any questions of classroom safety. Make sure than any cords, wires, and other tripping hazards are tucked away or taped down to the floor. Keep heavy books on low bookshelves to prevent them from toppling down onto a student. Most importantly, check that all of the outlets, lights, and other electrical components are working in your classroom.  If a bulb is missing or not working properly, or any wiring is exposed in your classroom, let the janitorial staff at your school know so they can have the problem fixed as soon as possible. Exposed wires and unprotected outlets can potentially be dangerous to students, so having these problems addressed should be a top priority.

·        Keep your classroom stocked for students. Before you head to the store, take an inventory of the supplies you already have. Check pens and markers to make sure they still have ink, and pencils and crayons to make sure there's still enough left of them to use! Toss any supplies that might be broken or too worn to use, as well as scraps of paper or dated assignments that are no longer relevant. Then, create a list of supplies you'll need to pick up at the store. Many office supply stores offer discounts to teachers, so be sure to ask about those types of loyalty programs when you shop. 

·        Give your classroom a quick clean. While your school probably has a custodial staff and cleaning systems set in place, you may want to give your classroom a quick dusting at the end of each week, just to freshen up the space. Clear away clutter from shelving units and desktops. Use a minimalistic approach when decorating your classroom. If you want to hang a recent assignment on the wall to boost classroom morale, hang it up! Consider using decorative pieces sparingly to avoid clogging the walls with too much distraction. Your desktop should be clear and ready for you to work at the following week, so toss any scraps of paper or past assignments that are no longer needed. -
Make sure your classroom is a safe, healthy learning environment throughout the entire year with these cleaning tips.

Monday, September 21, 2015

Win a LMG flash drive!

A few weeks ago, Jeff from USB Memory Direct, where they make custom flash drives, sent me several really awesome Learn Me Good flash drives, and now I'd like to give a few away!

These flash drives are cool, compact, and practical.  They fit on a key ring, and they hold up to 8 gigs!

Here's how you can win one of these limited edition Learn Me Good flash drives.  Beginning today, September 21st, and going through Friday, October 2nd, entries into the raffle can be earned as follows:

1 (ONE) entry earned by taking and posting a picture of yourself holding a copy of one of my books.  Be creative!

2 (TWO) entries earned by posting a video about Learn Me Good or Learn Me Gooder.

5 (FIVE) entries earned by posting a picture or video of a celebrity holding and/or talking about one of my books. *

* I reserve judgement on what constitutes a celebrity.

Pictures and videos can be posted directly to the Learn Me Good Facebook page,, or Youtube.  They can also be emailed directly to me -  By entering this contest, you agree to allow me to repost any pictures/videos/statements you submit.  Don't worry, I won't put your face on a pillow case. :)

The final day for entries will be Friday, October 2nd.  Sometime during that weekend, I will pull names from the raffle.  I will be giving away at least one and up to five flash drives, depending on the number of entries.

I wish you all good luck, and I can't wait to see what you come up with!

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

I don't think that's what she meant...

Yesterday in the cafeteria, a little girl punched a boy in the arm. I talked to her and she said she did it because the boy was being mean to her. I told her that telling a teacher was a better idea than punching someone. She shook her head and argued, "No, my teacher last year told me I needed to be a problem solver!"

Yeah, I doubt that's what she meant for you to do...

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Some interesting thoughts on the population explosion

Friday, I was letting the kids explore a really cool website called worldometers that keeps rolling tallies of statistics like how many births and deaths were on that day, how many books were published on that day, how many emails had been sent on that day, and so on and so on. It's petty cool to see how quickly the numbers increase for each statistic. 

The top stat is world population, and I pointed out that it was well over 7 billion people. 

One of my girls remarked, "That's all because of Iraq and Israel, isn't it?"

I truly didn't know how to reply to that...

Friday, September 11, 2015

Not the kind of scaffolding I was hoping for

Two guys were up on a ladder directly outside my 2nd floor classroom window this morning doing some kind of "maintenance" that sounded like ritualistic animal sacrifice. 

Next time, I hope they have the decency to hold up math facts posters so the kids will learn something while they completely ignore their teacher.

Sunday, September 06, 2015

Week 2 in Review

Ah, the first 3 day weekend of the year!  I know it's only been two weeks of school so far, but it already feels super nice to have an extra day off.  Things are always so hectic and packed at the beginning of the year, and this time has been no different.

Now that September has begun, it sure is nice of RaceTrac to offer a card for teachers to get a free coffee or soda every day.  My friends back in Dallas ISD tell me they never received one, and that doesn't surprise me, unfortunately.  But looking on Twitter with the hashtag #teachertracfanatic -- it looks like lots of teachers in other districts have.

We hosted curriculum night in the school cafeteria Thursday evening.  I always get really nervous speaking in front of a group of adults, while I could talk to a sea of students without batting an eye.  I talked about bringing dry snacks and said that if fruits were wet, they should try not to be so wet.  I can only hope the parents were laughing WITH me and not AT me.

I gave out the first challenge question of the year - and the first for this new group.  It's a word problem for homework assigned Monday and due Friday.  The problem itself was pretty simple, but I really emphasized the correct use of steps, including drawing a picture and writing a complete answer sentence.  Not all submissions were 100% perfect, but the results were better than I could have expected, with only TWO out of my 55 kids not turning anything in, and less than 8 submissions missing a step.

I also gave the first note card quiz of the year, so some of the first kids got to see that I'm not bluffing when I say I will take points off for not showing work, regardless of whether the answer is correct or not.  I also learned that I might be taking a little bit for granted, having had the same group of kids for the past two years and them being used to my expectations.  One of my questions asked for the place value of a certain digit in a certain number.  The kids knew that they had to use a place value chart to receive full credit, and while most of them had a wonderful chart with the digit in exactly the right place, a LOT of them forgot to actually write the answer along with it. 

And finally, tell me if this conversation sounds familiar to any of you...

Me:  OK, now that we've completed all of the steps and gotten our answer, please raise your hand if there's something you don't understand about any of these steps or something you need us to go over again.  Are there any questions?
Student:  When are we going to the library?
Me:  Are there any questions about the math problem we just went over???

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Now you are playing with power!

A few weeks ago, Jeff at USB Memory Direct, where they make custom flash drives, contacted me and asked if I'd like some customized flash drives in exchange for a shout out here on the blog.

Of course, I said you betcha!  Jeff and I corresponded back and forth, he showed me what various pics would look like printed on a little drive, and I finally settled on what I liked.  They arrived in the mail a few days ago, and I have to say, they are pretty freaking awesome!

I plan on giving a few of these bad boys away pretty soon, and I'm still thinking up how I want to do that.  So stay tuned for how to win one!  But before too much time had passed, I wanted to give Jeff and USB Memory Direct their shout out!

Thanks, guys!