Monday, November 19, 2012

5 Minutes Left...What to do? What to do?

I remember sitting in my classes in high school and always getting that feeling of excitement when I saw the teacher close her book and say those words "That's all I have for today. Everyone do pages * and * for homework tonight." I would look at the clock and she would have 5 minutes left. Now, as a high school student I considered this awesome. This would be the perfect opportunity to check my phone (which was oh so cool when I was in high school...if you were one of the lucky ones to have one). I would talk with a friend or I would get in a quick nap. Now, 5 minutes doesn't sound like a lot but let's add it up.....5 minutes X 5 days a week = 25 minutes of class time and then 25  minutes a week X 4 weeks in a month = 100 minutes...that's one hour and 40 minutes of teaching time!!!! Now 100 minutes X 10 months for school (round about guess) = 1,000 minutes of TEACHING TIME LOST!!!

ARE THESE TEACHERS CRAZY!?!?! I made a vow when I started teaching...I would teach until the bell rings. A lot of times when we see a student grab their backpack, then another,  we end up saying "Oh heck, there's only 5 minutes." I admit it...I have done it myself! Don't let students hijack your class....let them know in the very beginning that THIS IS apart of your lesson plan and you're not done. If they abuse this rule, make them sit down, and keep them past the bell. Promise, they won't try wrapping up early EVER again.

Here's an idea of what I like to do when I have 5 minutes left and my lesson plan is completed. I give the students 30 seconds to pack up their backpacks, book, etc just so they are "ready" to leave. Ring a bell or set a timer and let them know when the 30 seconds are up...they are to quit moving. Have them put their head down, and just relax. They will think you are out of your mind!!! I keep a book of Spanish poetry on the corner of my desk ready to go at all times. If the internet is working great that day...I will type in calming music on youtube and play it while I read. Also, dimming the lights works great to set the poetry mood.  I have little chilis I like to plug in when we are doing certain activities. They love it AND they get to hear Spanish. If I have around 6 minutes or so, I will tell them to raise their hand every time they hear a Spanish word they know. 

I just love seeing those hands shoot up every two seconds and it reminds them they know a lot more Spanish than what they think. 

If you don't want to do poetry, you can always do just a listening assessment or a fake conversation and then ask the students afterward what they heard or could understand :)

God Bless & Happy Teaching!
             -Brittany B.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff

 Ever have days that looks like these? 

So let me first start out by asking....who has a robotic classroom? The next question is...who wants a robotic classroom? In the beginning of my teaching experience...I can honestly say this is what I was wanting...all the kids sitting in perfectly little rows, never talking, little to no socialization what so ever. I envied other teachers who had this in their room because being a student of old fashion teaching...this was structure (AND PERFECTION) in the classroom. I was led to believe this is when students did their most learning. 

Now, I won't argue that having the kids like little robots is a big step in structure (and can make teaching VERY easy) but it has taken me three years to see that it's not always the best environment for the class. I taught my first two years in a school that was associated as a "rough" high school....and looking back on the experience...I don't think I EVER had a robotic classroom...but...looking back...I KNOW FOR A FACT my kids learned Spanish....and learned it well!

Now, I am at a new school where if I just look at a kid with a stern eye he is apologizing and pleading for mercy....and I have realized I sometimes miss those days where the class was featuring a lot of personality...( BUT STILL LEARNING) but like  said, I guess you could say "there was a lot of personality."

I have NOW finally gotten my classrooms at my new school exactly where there is a perfect balance. The kids now know when we can have fun and they can break away from their perfect little rows and sometimes awkward silences.

I guess when it all comes down to it...don't sweat the small stuff. If a kid decides to stay up out of his chair longer than expected...redirect him and continue on. I remember oh so vaguely, I would throw my hands up in the air thinking "What has this generation came to?" but I am starting to see....there is some beauty in the chaos. 

As high school teachers, we have to understand..they are high schoolers...they are going to socialize, talk to/about each other, break the rules, and heck...even challenge us a day or two. But the one thing I have learned is not to throw my hands in the air but to pick my battles and be consistent...and at the end of the day...they DO know a little bit more than what they walked in with! 

-God Bess,
    Brittany Baxter

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

The Star Game

I wanted to create a game in my class that could be done very quickly everyday for practice, motivate students, and review as far back as we wanted to go. I often hear students say all the time "My teachers never go back and review." or "This is starting to get confusing." With my teaching experience...I have found it's not great teachers that can move through the content's teachers who are able to take two steps forward with their students and one stop backwards when needed that make great teachers. 

This game is EASY and can be used for ANY subject. You'll need to get some name charts (I got these at Dollar Tree for $1.00 each), some star stickers (or any small stickers), cups for your different classes, and Popsicle sticks for writing their names on. 

After making putting the names on the sticks and writing the names on the're now ready to make this a component of your class routine. Everyday after the bell ringer, I do 21 Preguntas (21 Questions). I ask 21 random questions of our material for the class...I usually start off hard and then adjust. If a student raises their hand first, I call on them. If a bunch raise their hand....I pick a stick and call on that person. I give a kid a sticker EACH time they get an answer right (therefore I am handing out 21 stars a day (told you---you need ALOT of stickers.) THE KIDS LOVE TO PUT THEM ON THEIR FOREHEAD...ESPECIALLY THE BOYS. The girls like to put them and decorate them on their binder.

 At the end of asking all the questions, I say raise your hand if you received one star, two stars, three stars, etc. Whoever has the most star gets A STAR placed by their name and a prize for the day (usually candy or a peso, extra credit.) 

You'll need to find an easy place to store your chart so you can get to it quickly. I placed mine on my cabinet handle. Also make sure to laminate your charts to prevent them from ripping, hole punch, and place on a jump ring. 

Also, find a good hiding spot for your cups. High schoolers can be mischievous and pull out their name stick so they don't get called on....can you believe high school students would do that?! (sarcastic, completely).I hide mine in a filing cabinet drawer and switch them out each class. The filing cabinet is behind my desk so I know the little rascals won't be touching the sticks!!!

Hope this helps for an engaging review game in your classroom :)

-God Bless,
       Brittany Baxter 

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

The Grading Box

I will admit as a high school teacher with 5 to 6 classes and all the assignments that go along with them...grading can be a messy situation. In the past, I have done folders/files and I end up stuffing them in my bag at the end of the day for them to get scrunched up, misplaced, or even...I'll say it...LOST (only twice out of 500 students). I finally found this little miracle tool on Pinterest and knew it was for me ;) It was simple to make and no more lost organization plus!

It was super easy to make. It took about 7 minutes and about $14.00 to make!! Wooh- Hoo. I bought the box from Wal - Mart for $14.00 and used color card stock I had left over. I color-coded my classes, measured the label sizes, created the categories, cut out my labels, stuck them in...and wah-lah. Done. Here is my final product:


- God Bless,
     Brittany Baxter. 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

The Room Re-Do!!!

So I do not think I have ever been this excited and inspired to make my room look "Pretty" This is my third year teaching and it seems like it has taken me three years to get pumped!!! When I walked into my "new" room...I'll admit...I was a little disappointed. I was coming from a brand new school with all the new technology, and even the new school smell. Everything was freshly cleaned and my new room was well...a little dusty. After doing all this work though, I feel so at home in my room and wouldn't trade it for anything! (Crossing Fingers - "I hope I never have to move, I hope I never have to move.") Here are some ideas of things I have done to make it organized and engaging to the students....Enjoy and feel free to Copy :) Hey, we gotta look out for each other! 

Back of the Room: The first thing I had to do was take care of those OLD Bulletin Boards that I believe still had the same paper from 1990...I love colors that POP so this was easy...I want each area of the room to serve a purpose so my bulletin boards say "Grades and Info, Welcome, and Student Work"...In the middle there is a chart that has basic conversational skills on it....I will change it out and switch it to whatever we are learning. I added some framed "Spanish sayings"on top of the boards, some shiny bulletin board borders, and already looks like a different room.

Now making our way can see all the posters I have hung over my white boards...this room was packed full of white boards...Hey, I'm not's awesome!!! I bought a pack of Spanish Posters at the Parent-Teacher Store for $10.00 and my kids are already using them!!! This space was going to be hard to fill anyways so I thought I'll just use something useful like posters over the boards! I had a few kids the first week of school copy down all the vocabulary....Lahhhh...."Is this Heaven?" Also, you can see I have the tables in groups and each desk has a number. This is SOOO easy for assigning students to desks on the first day and switching out those little "Chatter Boxes" It looks kind of squished but I can get to all my kids actually and they can do group work :) Win Win! Also, each group has a certain color number so that is their "Group Color" 

So this is the other side of the room...I have the "question words" hung so the students can easily refer to key words and I hung up the North, Central, and South American map. Believe it or not...I refer to it several times a year when talking about certain countries. For some extra color and pop...I hot glued my Mexican blanket in the back...just gave it a little Spanish twist. Now...the ugly green heater and the air conditioner need some spicing up...but those are a later date and a different blog entry ;) By the way, I made the question words myself with Microsoft Word and construction paper, laminated and boom. I bought the maps ready...THE DOLLAR STORE! Win Win ;) 

Now, you are looking at the front of the room, and in the corner where my teacher area is...This is a HUGE improvement! I have my bookshelf close and near by that has many of my teacher resources. I also like to use the bookshelf to store big packets and materials for upcoming classes. I have 2 filing cabinets, a small filing cabinet, and a table. Believe it or not...I don't like taking too much room for myself...I feel like that is more space that can be used for something beneficial for the kids. I have my desk which has my own printer, my computer, and my phone. I have started to cover my desk with orange paper and the kids will be signing it as the year goes on. This is something I will always have and can take with me. I don't spend ANY time at my desk while I'm teaching anyways so this is more for just beneficial use after and before school. By the way...need your desk area to be more "homey" get a CUTE lamp!!! Mine was $7.00 at the Dollar General. I also got the Burberry, yes Burberry looking small bulletin board for $3.00!!! Gotta have my microwave and fridge (both were 24.00 total) Nothing like those great bargains! 

Now, you have the front of the room. I have this huge long wooden bookshelf that is awesome. I have all my baskets for turning in papers and homework. They are now labeled, "1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, and 6th" I have my pencil hospital which I will be posting more about, the sharpener, hand sanitizer, lotion, etc. I have all the Spanish 1 books which will not be used a lot and some organization bins and buckets. This is more for the students. Everything they need is right up here. I teach them when to sharpen their pencil and when they can visit this area. the will see one of the "UGLY" bookshelves that I posted in the has been healed! I bought a set of sheets (used the tuck sheet and pillow cases for myself) but used the loose sheet to cover up my bookshelf. I hide all my props for skits like Toys, dolls, play food, musical instruments, and know all those things high school kids would linger straight to and pull out during an inappropriate time! I used velcrow (?) and hot glue to hang it up. ;) Nifty, eh? I also have my rules (front of the room) and my projector screen is right here. I have a lot of space to use for presentations, project share time, and teaching in general. I like having this area...I don't feel cramped and the students can easily tell where the front of the room is. :) 

And we have made our way around the is just a small area that needed some jazzing up...I have my black cabinet which is WONDERFUL for storing needed materials. I of course laminated and hung up some small posters. I have my door that has "Salida" which means "Exit" over it...I will be putting more posters on the classroom door soon. Notice a small basket on TOP of the black cabinet...that is my candy bowl. ;) 

There ya have room has been converted from a bland old' English room into a Spicy and Colorful Spanish room. I have lots more to do but for now...I think this will keep my students engaged and organized. 

Thanks so much. God Bless!

-Brittany Baxter 

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

My New Clock

My freshmen will be getting the joyous task of learning how to tell time in Spanish I. It is one of the most challenging lessons due to having to learn tons of vocabulary. Not only do they have to learn vocabulary, but they have to do a little math....oh, that mean math..gggrr! I decided to make something fun that might be able to help them out some ;) 

We all know that high school students will be watching the clock like crazy through-out the class, so here's my Sunflower Spanish clock. Maybe after watching the clock everyday, this will start to catch on. This can be easily manipulated for teaching little kids to tell time or any foreign language. 

It's so easy to make the  flower clock. You just need card stock, scissors, a marker, some tape, and a round clock. 

Monday, July 16, 2012

New Classroom Means a New Journey

Hello All!!!

I am so excited to start this blog. I love getting new ideas and sharing my own. I have moved to a new high school, not too far down the road, and I have a BRAND NEW classroom. I was so excited to get my new room but it needs some tender, love, and care. Here are the BEFORE pics: 

One of these bookshelves will be moved, thank goodness. There is a lot of space in the room but some things need to be moved out.

Here is the front of the room. It needs to be pretty if I want the students to pay attention to the board and the projector :)

This is my teacher's corner but it needs some spicing up and some color!!! 

Here is the larger space of my classroom. I love to do group activities so I will be putting the desks together in groups. They will stay like this for a while and I will switch them up later in the year. 

That's all for now :)

God Bless - Mrs. Baxter