Archive for the ‘School’ Category

At the end of every school year, I make a classroom scrapbook.  Not only do my students like to look through scrapbooks from previous years, but they are especially helpful at the beginning of each school year for giving parents an idea of the activities that we do.

All year long, I take photos of my students doing math, literature circles, science activities, etc.  At the end of the year, I narrow down the photos to an affordable amount, get them printed, and start scrapbooking.

This year, I printed 150 photos.  I purchased tape runners (I had glue sticks at home for when the tape runners ran out), background paper, coordinating cardstock, extra sheet protectors with expansion posts, and a scrapbook album.  You’ll also need a paper trimmer with a good blade and a Sharpie marker.

After you print your photos, sort them by subject or activity.  Don’t have more than 4 per page.  Then, put the groups in the order you want for your album.  Mine went something like this:  front page (pictures of all of my students), reading pics, writing pics, social studies, science (lots of pages!), parties, etc.

These paper pads were $5 each from Walmart.  They were fantastic.  I used the coordinating cardstock (right) behind each photo.

To keep things simple, match a background design with cardstock.  You’ll want two pieces of the pattern paper (they will go in the album side-by-side).  I fit 3 photos per page of cardstock, so if a side-by-side has 8 photos, you’ll need 3 pieces of cardstock.

In the above photo, you can see the side-by-side papers, selected photos, and cardstock.

Sorry, I can’t show faces (confidentiality).

Put glue on the backs of the photos, stick them to cardstock, trim around, and glue to the paper.  I don’t use fancy layouts or diecuts.  I just put the photos on the page at angles.

After you make all of your pages, add expansion posts and sheet protectors to your album.  You might need to add cardboard spacers, which sometimes come with the sheet protector packs.  Basically, they are strips of cardboard that fit between sets of sheet protectors to give your album more of a flat look, because the photos and scrapbook papers raise the thickness of your album.

The spine (between the covers) was 1-1/2 inches tall, so I expanded the paper covering the spine.  There were directions for how to do this printed on the spine paper (it came with the album).

For journaling, I cut a small rectangle of coordinating cardstock, wrote a word or two to describe what’s going on on the pages (in Sharpie), and then added a doodled border.  Examples:  Literature Circles, Measurement, Sheep in a Jeep!, etc.  Glue on the journaling rectangles, put the pages in the sheet protectors, and you’re done!

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Why I Teach

I recently had to write about how meaning affects my role as a teacher and how it affects my students as well.  After writing it, I realized it’s why I love to teach.


When stressed beyond belief, when your students are driving you crazy, when your To Do list is two pages long, and when you don’t know what you’re going to cook for dinner, because you’re too tired to cook, you sometimes wonder why you’re a teacher.  The pay definitely isn’t the reason.

After a long, aromatherapy soak in the tub, a soothing cup of herbal tea (or a giant chocolate bar – whatever works for you), along with a mental health day and some shopping, you start to miss your students – really miss them.  You think about why you went into teaching in the first place, and why you stuck with it year after year after year.  You know that your coworkers are like family to you.  They’re often your friends inside and outside of school.  Still, that’s not the full reason you stuck with teaching for all of these years.

It’s because of the kids.  It’s because of the experiences, the joys, the “Aha” moments, the struggles that you’ve overcome, and the vast amount of learning and strides that you’ve made in your teaching career.  Still, it’s mostly about the kids.  They’re your kids.  No matter how they may behave at times, you still love them.  You love when their eyes light up with joy and excitement during a fun learning activity.  You get such a sense of accomplishment, both for them and for you, when they finally “get it” after a struggle to learn, understand, and apply a concept, strategy, or skill.  As the year goes on, and June approaches, you start to get sad every time you think about the last day of school.  You don’t want the year to be over.

Thus, meaning affects my role as a teacher, because I care deeply for my students, my coworkers, and I have pride in the hard work I do every day, even during the summer, as I plan for the upcoming school year.  If my job didn’t have meaning for me, I wouldn’t stick with it, wouldn’t keep trying, never giving up on those kids that need you the most.

A teacher that cares motivates her students to keep trying, do their best, and help others.  A teacher that doesn’t care has behavior problems and academic issues with her students.  Her emotions, level of commitment, and pride have a definite affect on her classroom community – both in attitudes, behavior, and academic achievement.  This applies to all subjects, including math.  A teacher (such as myself) that enjoys teaching math, is excited about it, and strives to inspire others to keep trying, try new ways of solving problems, and to share what they are learning with others will have much more success and enjoyment from her students than a teacher that complains, doesn’t care, or has no sense of meaning from what she does.

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Moving Cabinets

I just found out that the cabinets ARE going to be installed in my classroom before school starts.  Therefore, I’ll probably have to move the bookshelves that my husband and I just set up, after being told that we could put things there.


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Amazing how you wake up, read your grad school textbook as you walk on the treadmill, teach children all day, come home, eat dinner, and only want to sit and watch TV for the rest of the evening.

So, since you need to do more grad school homework, you load up on dark chocolate.

A little while later, amazingly, you’re able to do more walking on the treadmill as you continue to read your grad school textbook.  A little while after that, you remove yourself from computers, TVs, etc., and force yourself to do more grad school homework.


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Where Have I Been?


Hello All!

On a whim, I decided to go to Grad School at a university about 30 miles from where I live.  On a Thursday, I received an e-mail asking if I wanted to apply.  There was a grant to encourage teachers to get their Master’s degrees and also become master math teachers.  Since the grant would pay for tuition and books, I applied that day.  The next week, I was accepted into the program, and I began class exactly one week after I applied.  Talk about moving quickly!

Today (Saturday), I’ve been doing things around the house during breaks from homework.  I never thought doing dishes could be something I’d actually WANT to do.

This morning, I’ve:

  • gone for a walk/jog
  • mailed some items at the post office
  • spent two hours in an online chat room with my professor and classmates in order to clarify this week’s assignments
  • made a loaf of bread (picture below)
  • cleaned almost every dirty dish in the house
  • cooked a giant omelette and chocolate chip pancakes for breakfast
  • completed one homework assignment (several to go)
  • started work on another assignment
  • made lunch
  • started cooking chicken for some potato soup for dinner


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