1.19.2014

Classroom Dis-Organization: Organizing My Classroom One Step at a Time

Classroom Disorganization: Organizing My Cluttered Classroom   {Follow my journey on www.traceeorman.com}

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It's no secret: my teacher's area in my classroom is a cluttered mess. No matter how many times I try to keep it straightened up, the stacks of books and piles of papers find their way back. It doesn't help that I have a hard time throwing things away. If I make too many copies of a handout there's no way I can pitch the extras. But I'm not the greatest (i.e. I'm probably the worst) about filing them back in a neatly organized cabinet or binder. Who am I kidding? There is no such thing as a "neatly organized cabinet or binder" in my classroom.

My method of organizing is stacking things in piles and dealing with the piles later. The problem with that is that "later" rarely comes. I have piles stacked in a corner from two school years ago waiting for "later."
Stacks of papers waiting to be filed... {Classroom Disorganization: Organizing My Classroom One Step at a Time}
One stack still waiting to be filed in my classroom.
They always say the first step is admitting you have a problem. So here I am. I have a problem.
Stacks of papers waiting to be filed... {Classroom Disorganization: Organizing My Classroom One Step at a Time}
Another stack waiting to be filed.
Ok, now you know my dirty little secret. (Which, by the way, isn't really a secret. I mean, all my students know and most of the staff members—especially the custodians—who have been in my room know, unless they happened to stop by when I shoved all my piles into my cabinets and drawers so my room "looked" clean. Then they may think I'm somewhat organized. Until they open a cabinet door looking for a game or costume to borrow and everything comes tumbling down upon them...)
If you open my closet door, something might fall out. {Classroom Disorganization: Organizing My Classroom One Step at a Time)
I should have a "Beware of Falling Objects" sign on my closet door.
I'll save the pictures of what the inside of my file cabinets and drawers look like for another post. And you won't want to miss what the inside of my podium looks like, either. But for now, let me show you one small step I took to become better organized. Or, just plain organized.

Labels! (I know it's a teeny, tiny baby step. But it's still a step in the right direction! Besides, I have made bigger steps but I'm saving those for another post. Seriously. I have. Kind of.)
Classroom Labels: First Step for Classroom Organization
Labels for my drawers, cabinets, and "Class of..." labels for organizing my photos.
Before I decided to make some cute zebra-print labels, I used plain labels and wrote on them. They were functional. Just kind of ugly. Let's face it: if something looks cute or at least more appealing and uniform, it makes it easier to keep it organized, right? You can download these EDITABLE Zebra labels for your own classroom (or wherever) use. (I also have Chevron and Owls.)

Classroom DisOrganization: Using New Uniform Labels to Organize My Work Area

So, that's the first step in my road to classroom organization recovery. Feel free to comment below with any tips for organization you may have. I'll continue to post about the steps I'm taking and maybe I can even utilize your tips! Next time, see how I tackled the mess on the counter behind my desk...

Classroom Disorganization: Tackling the Mess Behind My Desk.

It's scary...I know.

1.07.2014

Blogging PLN Challenge Accepted





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Happy New Year, Friends! I can't believe it's been a month since I've blogged here, but that changes today. I was tagged by Mike Nitzel (@MikeNitzel) on Twitter and have accepted his blogging challenge. You can read Mike's answers and random facts HERE (they won't put you to sleep, contrary to what he thinks!). I could relate to many things Mike wrote because we live in the same area. Pretty cool, huh!? Anyway, hopefully I won't bore you to death with my answers...


Here are the rules of the challenge:
1) Acknowledge the nominating blogger (check!)
2) Share 11 random facts about yourself.
3) Answer the 11 questions the nominating blogger has created for you.
4) List 11 bloggers. They should be bloggers you believe deserve some recognition and a little blogging love!
5) Post 11 questions for the bloggers you nominate to answer and let all the bloggers know they have been nominated (You cannot nominate the blogger who nominated you).

Eleven random facts about me...
1. I'm from Iowa. (Insert your favorite Iowa joke here; I'm used to it.) 

2. Though I lived in Iowa for 22 years, I was born in Michigan. My dad was doing the sheet metal construction on the Pontiac Super Dome at the time, so that's where my parents lived temporarily for a year or so. They moved back to Iowa when I was seven months old.

3. I currently live on the other side of the river. (We Quad-Citians refer to the Mississippi River as just "the river," even though the Rock River is here, too. We call that "the Rock." Kind of confusing to visitors, I'm sure.) My husband and I have lived in a small town outside of the Quad Cities since 2001, where we both teach.


4. We have a 15-year-old son who is involved in sports and likes to drum. And is learning to drive. Which scares me to death. On the other hand, I do look forward to next fall when I can say, "Honey, could you run to the store and get..."

5. My favorite sport is baseball. I grew up going to all of my brother's games and was raised in an area that breeds baseball players (if you've seen the movie "The Final Season," then you've seen where I grew up).

6. I did many different things before I started teaching, including car sales. There's only so much you can do with a degree in English and Mass Communications/Journalism. Especially when the only newspaper hiring was for pro bono work. So back to school I went...

7. We have a nine-year-old Italian Greyhound named Sparky. He's our baby and is spoiled rotten. But he's pretty high maintenance, too. With our son being in high school sports, we feel pretty guilty leaving Sparky at home. Which is why he usually comes with us for football and baseball games. I did mention he's spoiled, right?

8. Wow...eleven random facts is harder than I thought. I can count this one, right?

9. I teach high school English. Lately I wonder why I wanted to torture myself with a career that guarantees I will always have an endless stack of papers to grade, pages to read, tests to write, lessons to plan. Then I remember the perks: sharing my love for reading and writing with dozens of teens each year. (It's too bad my love for reading doesn't include poorly-written essays. Then my job really would be a dream-come true!) 

10. You may have noticed that I have a second job besides high school English teacher. (I'm saying this sarcastically...) I started selling my teaching resources on TeachersPayTeachers in 2009. I never dreamed that teachers would even care about the activities I create for my students, let alone want them. I'm very humbled by the amount of teachers who have used my resources. Their comments and notes mean the world to me, even though I can't respond to all of them. 

11. Lately I've been considering writing full-time... More on that below.

Whew...that was hard! Now on to the specific questions from Mike...

1) Coke or Pepsi? Pepsi products, for sure. (Diet Mountain Dew is my choice. I know it's terrible for me. But I love it.)

2) List the items you would have on the menu for your "last meal". My favorite meal would have to include portobello mushrooms, caramelized onions, steak, my mom's green beans (she cooks them in butter and garlic and I can never replicate them no matter what I do), and cheese cake. And a scoop of Whitey's ice cream. OK...now I am hungry...

3) If you were not an educator, what profession would you have liked to pursue and why? For my random facts I said I was considering writing full-time. That was always what I wanted to "be" when I was a kid, though finding a career as a "writer" is pretty tough, as I learned. I love journalism, but I really didn't want to be a reporter forever. Then I started to get into design and layout when I was a newspaper/yearbook advisor. (When I was in college we still did the "cut and paste" layout. And I mean literally cut and paste.) I loved it. It spilled over into my lessons and I could seriously see myself writing novel units and educational resources full-time.

4) What is the best leadership book you have ever read and why? Would it be awful for me to say I haven't read any "leadership" books? Does Donalyn Miller's The Book Whisperer count? ;)

5) What is your favorite movie and what about it makes it meaningful to you in some way? The English teacher in me absolutely loves "Dead Poets Society" and "The Freedom Writers." And the Stephen King fan in me loves "The Shawshank Redemption" and "Stand By Me." And then there's so many baseball movies... 

6) What is the one place you would like to visit in the world that you haven't been to? Italy. My mom is Italian and has family there none of us have ever met. It would be amazing to meet them and see the country.

7) Who has had the biggest influence on your professional life? My husband, for sure. He is an amazing teacher (social studies) and coach (baseball, of course). He inspires me to be a better teacher.

8) Share your favorite joke. This is one of my favorite "jokes" of all time. I've had this picture taped to the window next to my classroom door for years. I put it up one year for some spring break/Easter humor, and it has stayed there. It makes me laugh every time I see it.
 
9) Who is a hero of yours and why? (Caveat--You cannot say your parents. spouse, partner, or kids.  That's just a cheap way to win brownie points!) Perhaps it is because we just completed To Kill a Mockingbird and have been talking about the Civil Rights Movement in class, but I think Mamie Till is an unsung hero. She had the strength to allow the world to see what happened to her son—to show the world what racism looks like. She had nothing to gain herself; what she did was for all humanity. The amount of people she affected is countless.  

10) What is one thing about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn? Most people are surprised to learn I was a sprinter in high school and went to state my junior and senior years. Let's just say I'm not much of a runner these days... 

11) Smooth or crunchy? Hmmm...I'm going to be difficult and say it depends. Or perhaps, both. 

If you made it this far, hallelujah! Now it's your turn!

I have to tag 11 fellow educators, so I've chosen:
3. Addie @ Teacher Talk
4. Tammy @ Juggling ELA
6. Ruth @ The Teacher Park
and anyone else who wants to participate! (I have to cut it short because my ride is waiting for me! I'll add to it soon.)

Here are my 11 questions (and I'm doing the same...borrowing from Mike's!):
1. Coke or Pepsi?
2. Favorite teaching tool?
3. What is the biggest change in education since you started teaching?
4. In ten years, I'll be...
5. Funniest thing said in your classroom?
6. If you were not an educator, what profession would you have liked to pursue and why?
7. What is the one place you would like to visit in the world that you haven't been to?
8. Who has had the biggest influence on your professional life?
9. Favorite book?
10. What is one thing about yourself that most people would be surprised to learn?
11. If you won the lottery, what would you do with your winnings?

And thanks, again, Mike, for tagging me. I needed a little push to get back into blogging. ;)


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I teach high school English in Illinois; enjoy family time, baseball, collecting PEZ dispensers, and talking about anything related to my favorite books. They include The Hunger Games trilogy, To Kill a Mockingbird, the Chaos Walking trilogy, and anything written by Amy Tan.

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