Friday, August 21, 2015

Finally! How Can Decorating a Secondary Classroom Inspire Your Students?

English Language Arts Classrooms Just Got Colorful!

There are many beautiful Pinterest boards of elementary school classrooms with the most wonderful themes, colors, decoration, and inspiration. Let's face it, decorating a secondary classroom is different.

How is decorating a secondary classroom different?
  1. You might not stay in the same room all day. Therefore, you are sharing a teaching space.
  2. Decorating for a particular subject matter can be tricky due to the lack of up-to-date and stylish decor.
  3. Many high schools are used on the weekend for community events. This opens up the chance for things to be moved, removed, and sometimes destroyed.
  4. As secondary teachers, our mindset is that our students don't typically get excited about a decorated classroom.

I've found a resurgence of excitement in decorating my classroom. I do it for my students. But I realized something. I also do it for me. It makes me feel really great to be in a colorful and inspiring learning space. The last two school years I've been lucky to be in the same classroom for the majority of the school day. 

I always loved classroom pennants. They look great on bulletin boards, hanging on walls, doors, windows, above a book shelf, draped on a teacher's desk, and even across the room hanging from the ceiling. I am most passionate about teaching literature and it is the center of my lessons. I tie everything in with our readings.

Literature + a pennant = ELA Classroom Decor: Make Your Own Pennant Banner

I took the three genres of literature I teach. I made a list of the novel studies I cover during the school year. Then, I went to the web to search, "top literature," lists for middle school and high school students. Finally, I came up with 26 British Literature titles, 60 Young Adult Literature titles, 29 American Literature novels, and 22 kindergarten-grade 2 books.   

I went to work! I had the template from two book themed pennants I made earlier this year. 
Here are mine printed in color. I laminated each one, too. You'll notice I mixed-and-matched my pennants. I teach two levels of English with many titles between the two. 



I had the wonderful privilege to have teacher friends on social media share their literature pennant pictures with me. 





i love how everyone displays their literature pennant in a different way.
I love the reading corner. Thanks to Mrs. McLeod's Classroom! 


I displayed my pennant by hanging the twine string across the wall. I did this without measuring and by "eye-balling," the length of the area I was going to fill. I didn't have to worry about going in a straight line, because pennants typically do not fly perfectly straight. 
Then, I attached each pennant over the string adhering it to the wall. This gave it the appearance like it was hanging from the string.    
Not only did I print the pennants of the novels I teach during the school year, I added some more titles based on what I thought would inspire my students (Divergent, Wonder, The Outsiders, Dracula, Tuck Everlasting, The Lightning Thief).

Are you ready to reveal your pennant? 

Here are the links to the four pennants available for your own classroom:

 ELA Classroom Decor {British Literature}: Make Your Own Pennant Banner


  Some of my favorites

I hope this gives you an idea of how wonderful it is to have a cheerful teaching and learning space. You spend a lot of time in your classroom. Why not make it inspiring and engaging to look at!

Visit my friend Secondary Sara's blog to learn how to make-your-own banner from an old book. She walks you through the process. It's pretty cool!  

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Back to School with the Right Stuff...I'm Wanted, Read More and Thrive!


You Got the Right Stuff, Baby!
An alternative to interactive notebooks? Yes. I have one for you. It's student centered. Encourages ownership. Watch your students engage in independent thinking. A Study All Knight layered flip book covers the common core standards. And, there's only one trip to the copy machine.

Follow my Lead, Dancing in September
I always preach, "September is the most crucial time of the year to start routine and to model expectations."

I Got my Mind on My Flip Books and My Flip Books on My Mind

starting with flip books bundle is a beneficial teaching pack for the beginning. There's enough materials included to keep your student centered going until you decide what to do next.

 Short Story Flip Book is Included in this awesome back to school bundle

Bringing the Mini Flip Back.

The RACE mini flip is a useful reference tool that you students will refer to the entire school year. This is particularly true during state standardized testing.

 RACE Mini Flip

Crisp Air, Fall Leaves, Haunted Tales

Want add a spooky short story? During the week of Halloween you can be a big hit and show the film, The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. The flip book has a craft/activity for the cover. Your students will love the 3-D effect of he cut out headless horseman.

Going off the Rails on the Supply Train.

You'll need a classroom supply of scissors, a few staplers, crayons, and colored pencils.

Before school starts, cut, color, and assemble a flip book for your students to see. I pin one up above the white board as a good visual.

Stapled it off, Staple it off
Prior to giving out the flip books, I like to stack and staple them all. This way there's no "issues," with stapling. Let's face it, some students struggle with this and not all staplers are built to last.

I'm Wanted, Read More and Thrive!

Good luck this school year!  I hope your students "flip" over your class this year. You'll be the envy of your colleagues and the praise of your administration. Be sure to visit my secondary teacher author friends!