Friday Five - Welcome to My Class

'Ello peeps!  It's been freakin' for-EVER since I've done a Friday Five.  Since I've been bogged down so much with school stuff, I thought I'd share where I spend the majority of my hours.


1. Warm Fuzzy Kind of Teacher - It's true.  I'm one of those teachers that tell students from the get go that while we're in my classroom, we treat each other like family.  Middle school students can be so mean and the competition is fierce.  Learning is all about taking risks; I want them to feel safe to take those risks without their peers making fun of them.  On the first day of school I share with them a poem about A Quilt and we discuss what quilts represent.  Then each student is given an index card to decorate and personalize.  Over the weekend I "sew" it together* and it hangs up in the classroom as a constant reminder.  

This year

Last year

2.  Group Work - You probably noticed that my desks are arranged in groups.  I strongly promote collaboration, and I mean, let's face it...if there is one thing that middle schoolers can do a lot of is TALK.  I'd much rather their conversations be focused.  Students are grouped together based on lexile (reading level) and then assigned a Johnny Depp character.  Every day they come into class and rotate through the various stations with their group.  

3. Johnny Depp - There is only one person who could compete with D, but considering he is living in France with his model girlfriend and children, D is not too concerned!  I've been crushin' on JD since I was a middle schooler myself.  My room is all decked out in JD fanfare.  I totally play it up because it gives the kids something to tease me about and gets me off the hook when answering questions about my personal life ("Miss!  Do you want to get married?"...I respond with, "I'm waiting for Johnny Depp, of course".)  My students bring in tons of Johnny Depp paraphernalia, and then, I turn it into something educational - like the Book Detective, or just add it to my little shrine.  
He IS our Book Detective 
Only a portion, all given to me.

Oh yeah, it's at least 4 ft tall!

4. Bookcase - My kids do not read.  Some of them truthfully barely can.  I have students on reading levels ranging from BR (beginner reader) to 9th grade.  Most tend to fall in the 3rd grade - 6th grade reading level.  Knowing how they struggle with reading, I try to make it as approachable as possible.  You will find everything from Judy Moody, Junie B. Jones, and Dr. Seuss with contemporary young adult fiction and non.  All books are purchased by moi.  My book buying habit is not just a greedy one.  *smile* But come on man, most of these kids don't even SEE books in their homes.  Sad.

The shelves are still growing...

5. Penguins - I bet you spotted them on the shelves, huh?  Yup.  I collect penguins.   I refer to my Corki as my Penguin Kitty.  (He's a tuxedo cat).  The penguins just caught on.  Once again this is a collection acquired after years of teaching, from students and staff.  

The big one is squishy!

Sooooo, there's my Friday Five.  I love my job.  I feel absolutely privileged to say that.  I mean, sure, I've been utterly exhausted lately and emotionally drained, but there's no way I would ever trade it.  I especially adore working with the high risk students that I do.  Every day is a new experience, sometimes a battle, but mostly a win.  *giggles* I will stop with my cheesy I-believe-the-children-are-our-future gushing.    Cut me some slack, though.  I don't want children (like, ever...) so this is the most maternal I ever get.

And finally just one more picture.  My desk last week.  Not too messy, is it?  Hahaha.


  1. It's amazing how much a collection like your penguin or JD ones can influence kids in a classroom. I know you work with older kids, but my son had the same teacher for kinder and first and she had an obsession with monkeys. There were monkeys all over the place in her classroom and they incorporated monkeys into everything they did. She had the same class for both years (moved up with them) so they all were exposed to the monkeys for that time, and nearly all of them that my son is still friends with say their favorite animal is a monkey, even years later.

  2. So that is why you reacted when I mentioned Jonny Depp! LOL. I wish I had seen him, I could have sent you a picture.
    I love the quilt idea. I think it absolutely beautiful and a wonderful way of connecting all the children.

  3. Ooh love your classroom!! Love the idea of the quilts too... (I can tell by the abundance of PR flags that you are def. in Orlando!) =)

    What a great selection of books for the kids!

  4. I LOVE your classroom. I feel inspired just by seeing pictures of it. It makes me want my OWN classrooms so I can go hog wild and really capture the attention of my students.

    Hardly ANY of the classrooms in my current high school have anything on the walls. The teacher I am subbing for has a couple small posters, but the room is so...white. I feel bored in it. I like action and color and wonderfulness.

    And I love that you have Johnny Depp everywhere. One of my classes (sophomores) is obsessed with asking me about my personal life-I wish I had that good of an excuse! ;)

  5. I actually can't get over all the Johnny Depp stuff in your classroom... I wish you had been my teacher! Then again, I do get distracted really easily when there are visuals of the Depp around, so it's probably best that you weren't hehe

  6. Great bookshelves! have you tried the Bluford High series or the Orca soundings books?

  7. What great ides for a classroom and treating everyone like family...does that include the arguments...? LOL

    I like the JD collection...I've got the same crush/obsession! I'm liking these links from your armchair BEA post.

  8. I love your quilt idea and am considering adapting something similar in my classroom this year. Can you possibly list a link to the poem you use? Thanks!

  9. I like it! I have grown to really, really love my job recently, despite all the BS that comes with it. Your class looks awesome. I bet the kids totally dig it. Great job! Oh, and you ant even see my desk underneath all the sh!t on top of it!


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