Using Privacy Partitions

Back in September, I bought a stack of privacy partitions. I had never used them before, but when I saw them in a school supply catalog, they intrigued me. They are plain, black cardboard pieces with two flaps. They fit most school desks and are meant to help students focus on their work.

Since they arrived in the fall, I’ve been using them for test days. I don’t use them often, as the boards are meant as a environmental signal that things are getting SERIOUS!! It’s helped immensely. When they come into the classroom and see the boards set up, they stiffen up and sneak around the room quietly, making sure not to disturb anyone else who’s already arrived. Whispering and discussion between kids has now gone down to minimal and they seem to be able to focus better.

Here is a shot of y Grade 11s writing a math test.

Today, I also began collecting cellphones and electronics too. Most of my Grade 11s are fairly respectful and know how my classroom works, so no one batted an eyelash or hesitated when I produced the basket with an outstretched hand.

Definitely a great investment if it’s in your budget!

End of First Week!

Just finished my first week of teaching!

It’s true what they say, the first couple of years is always the hardest. Being in my third year now, I feel as if things are coming together. It really helps a lot that the I have been teaching most of the same students for two years and they know what my expectations are. I couldn’t have imagined a better first week with such a smooth running classroom (although once I lost misplaced the photocopies I was going to teach with).

I took some more photos of my class.

Read on!

Below: Took an old cardboard paper sorter that the admin didn’t want anymore. I snatched it up as soon as I saw it! These things are actually quite expensive, often over $50! I covered it with some colourful wrapping paper, but still need to relabel the shelves. The students pick up their daily handouts from here.

Below: The pencil case system is working quite wellI. Pencil cases #1 through 10 are on blue and the others are red. A sign on the wall explains that each case has a calculator, a red pen, a pencil and an eraser; if anything is missing, the teacher should be notified during the same period. It is the first thing students pick up when they come in and they get the pencil case with their “special ninja code”.

About 90% of the students do this on their own; I still have a few stragglers that come in and sit down empty-handed, wondering what to do … I have to gently chide them but I never, ever, EVER help them get their pencil cases.

I have reinforced these expectations with a few resentful rants that “I am not anyone’s waitress.” I really got tired of cleaning up after every period last year. In the last five days, I have had practically no issues.

BelowThe ladder of consequences, which I started today. Each student – in total, I have approximately 44 on paper – have their name written on a clothespin. If there is any misbehaviour, their clip goes on “verbal reminder #1”.

I explained to students that this is how I treat everyone fairly; everyone is given the opportunity to have a couple of warnings. Transparency and consistency reduces escalation as students can clearly see the consequences and where they stand.

Below: One of my favourite posters. I printed this a couple of years ago and found that it was still fairly intact. These posters help students with their metacognitive skills and encourage students to flip from a ‘fixed mindset’ to a ‘growth mindset’.

One of my favourite students, L., was reading this aloud from the bottom to the top and dancing as he read the last sentence! It was pretty funny.

Below: Yesterday, I made a foldable for our INB (interactive notebook) to review the place value system. While this might obvious to a lot of kids, second language learners can struggle with the terms, so it’s imperative to review the basics. This is also an opportune time to do some diagnostics and helps me figure out where each student stands.

Today, we did a lesson on rounding and I encouraged them to review using their foldable; these good habits build independence and gives them a set of tools for them to refer to, when they need it. Better than flash cards and I don’t have to run around the room answer the same question half a dozen times!

Below: A little poetry to help with our rounding lesson! This rhyme comes from Math with Mrs. D.


Below: Our secret math ninja codes on their pencil cases.

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