Saturday, August 16, 2014

Move In Ready

I spent this, the week before students arrive, doing 2 things: attending meetings and preparing my new-to-me classroom for this year's batch of enthusiastic learners. (And I mean that. No sarcasm.) I have nothing to say about attending meetings. It could get ugly.

My first job was to make the new room dark. One entire wall of the classroom is windows. There are no blackout curtains. Let me just say that aluminum foil is now my friend. I can now show images and videos of faint and low contrast celestial objects with some fidelity.

It has been my experience that classroom appearance is done extremely well by most elementary teachers. Creating an inviting yet organized and safe environment for young students, I'm convinced, is in their genes.  Every wall has something that tells the student this is a great classroom. From there the trend, again anecdotally, is for the nature and quality of the decorations and messages to decrease as the grade level increases. I teach some sophomores but mostly junior and seniors (that's 11th and 12th grades.) See where I going here? So one of my decisions was what would I use to grace and adorn the walls of my room? 

There is one bulletin board in my room that was crying for attention. It was covered with a faded and brittle construction paper background and cut-out construction paper letters of a terrific quote attributed to Thomas A. Edison about inspiration and perspiration. I overcame my initial fondness for the quote and decided to make a change. So I tore the letters and background sheets off, realizing too late that the brittle paper tore and left over 200 staples embedded in the board fibers (not cork). I removed them because I had made the decision that whatever was on the board was going to be mine. 

A colleague gave me a roll of white paper used to cover table tops and with 2 swaths I quickly gave the board a stark bright white appearance that I found slightly startling. I had to cover it up. But with what? Now I teach astronomy. I found some cool images from a calendar that I printed for 2014, so there were 5 months for me to mount. (Note to self, school years are different than calendar years.) I found a nice laminated image of a total lunar eclipse time lapse sequence. That's a winner since there are 2 of those eclipses this school year. (The first is in October. I will post about it later.) I decided I would wait to staple anything more for a few days. I am exploring options. The pithy quotes will have to come from the Activ board.

Then I found a package my wife had come across on a shopping trip some time this summer. It was vinyl type stickers of the planets and sun. When I say sticker, these were not your ordinary every day put in a book sticker. The sun was nearly 2 feet in diameter, the earth about 4 inches and Jupiter about 10 inches. Not to scale but still cool. I put the sun at the back of the room and the planets in order on one side of the room on cabinet doors. (My granddaughter helped me with the placement.) That's it for appearance except for a few boxes with stuff laying around looking for a home in the new digs.

Later on I will begin bringing out my collection of educational manipulatives. OK, toys. They will have their own post later.

Monday marks what everybody says is the first day of school. Ha. Teachers have been at it a week (or more) already. Let the count down begin. Remember, this is going to be a great year.

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