I’m excited to show off my 2014-2015 high school math classroom decorations. I currently teach algebra and trigonometry, but many of my decorations can be adapted for math classes of all levels.
It seems like everyone has some sort of comment to make when they walk into my classroom and see it for the first time. My principal: “Well, it’s certainly colorful in here!” Others: “Are you sure your room isn’t too visually stimulating for your students?” “A student could sit in your room for 3 weeks and still not read all the posters in here!”
Here’s my philosophy. My school is old. It’s the oldest public high school building still in use in the state of Oklahoma. It’s beautiful on the outside, but it is falling apart on the inside. Going “all out” in decorating my room is the first way that I can show students that I care. It’s my way of saying, “This year is going to be different! It doesn’t matter how you’ve done in math in the past. You can learn math in here. We’re going to work together to make it happen!”
I sometimes spend 10-12 hours a day in this classroom. It’s got to make me happy. And, this room does just that. It’s fun. It’s colorful. It makes me smile. And, my students seem to love it, too!
Previous Year’s Decorations
Want to see what my math classroom decorations have looked like during other years?
If you would like to just see all the free posters I’ve created and shared over the years, you can do that by visiting my posters page!
2014-2015 High School Math Classroom Decorations
When you walk in the door of my classroom, this is what you see:
Here’s the back corner that is cut off in the previous picture.
The next pictures are going to focus in on details of the decorations which I’ll try to explain.
These “Think Different” posters from Apple are a new addition to my classroom this year.
My mom and sister are the queen and princess of bargain shopping. I tell my mom what I’m looking for to decorate my classroom or use in a certain activity, and she always manages to find it for a ridiculously cheap price. Garage sales. Thrift Stores. Craigslist. Ebay. Clearance Sections. Somehow she manages to be on top of them all! If it wasn’t for my family and their support, my classroom would look radically different.
My mom picked up these posters, a duplicate set of these posters, and probably 5-7 other posters at her favorite thrift store for me. It’s an interesting thrift store. Nothing is priced. You just load up your shopping cart, go to the front counter, and the sales person gives you a price to pay based on what’s in your cart. That day, all the salespeople had to go through the posters and try to identify who was in them. They really liked the posters, and they charged my mom $5 for the entire pile of posters. Being a bargain shopper, my mom felt like she had gotten kind of ripped off with this price. But, she loves me, so she paid the $5. When she called me to tell me this, I reassured her that it was a very fair price. Any single poster at a teacher store will cost you at least $3. She had bought an ENTIRE pile of posters for $5.
Then, my mom and sister start researching the people posters to figure out who all the people are. It turns out the Apple Think Different posters are highly collectible. As in, the sets sell for hundreds of dollars on ebay. And, she bought two sets. The one set that is hanging on my wall is laminated, and Gandhi is missing. But, that’s okay because I like the symmetric 3×3 arrangement of posters. She told me that I was more than welcome to sell the posters and make a profit, but I really like them. So, I hung them up on the wall.
All the adults who walk in my room have to try and guess who the people are. Most have a hard time identifying them. Not a single kid has mentioned the posters, though. I guess there is a lot of other stuff for them to be looking at, though…
I bought a new bell for my classroom this year at Mardel. I had one during my first year of teaching, but it was stolen. And, my filing cabinet is rocking its new Mathalicious magnet from #TMC14!
The summer before my first year of teaching, I made this When you enter this classroom… decoration that was Pinterest inspired. For the last two years, it has been on my door. This year, I decided to change things up and put it on the bulletin board outside my door. This is one of the bulletin boards that my parents made for my classroom! Love having this extra space to expand my decorating to the hall
The next few pictures were taken before I finished decorating, but they give you an idea of how the desks are arranged. My first two years, I started with the desks in groups of four. Then, as my classroom management skills failed, I moved the students back to rows. This year, I’m being honest with myself. I have to become better at managing my classroom before I let students sit in groups all the time. The center rows face forward. And, the rows on each side face the center of the classroom.
I’ve got 24 desks in my room, and that’s about all it can hold. I’d like to have less, but my Algebra 2 classes this year are at 22 and 24. One of my desks actually disappeared this summer when the janitors were cleaning. I came back to start decorating, and for some reason, I decided to count the desks. 23. That’s weird. Count again. Still 23. Ummm… I’m sorry. I know I’m a math teacher, but I can’t really deal with having an odd, prime number of desks in my classroom. The number of desks must be divisible by 4. So, I had to go steal a desk out of the storage room and put it back in my classroom.
I kept the date portion of my dry erase board similar to what I did last year. The date is written as a math problem every single day. Kids hate this. I love it. If they ask me the date, I will read the math problem to them.
Below the date, I look up the daily celebration. These are wacky holidays that I get from HolidayInsights.com.
Last year, I did a monthly celebration. But, this year, I wanted to try something new. I put an area on the board for a countdown. So far, we’ve counted down to the first day of school and school picture day. The number of days is also a math problem. Would you expect any less from me?
Every week, I want to pick a different class norm to focus on. I’m writing it on the board to remind myself and my students.
And, I’m continuing with the quote of the week this year. I’m trying to incorporate as many growth mindset quotes as possible. I may also feature some math quote posters. If you can’t tell, I LOVE posters! And fonts. And making posters. And laminating posters. And looking at pictures of other people’s posters in their classrooms. And, I guess you could say I’m obsessed! I even have an entire page on my blog dedicated to all of the posters I have made for my classroom over the years.
Another new thing I’m trying this year is using Remind for sending text message reminders to my students and their parents. I wrote the instructions on the board for signing up with the hopes that students and parents would do that on meet the teacher night. But, I had so many students in my room since I was the place to go to get freshman class schedules, that it was chaos and didn’t happen. We ended up taking some time on the first day to sign up.
Here’s the right hand side of my dry erase board. This dry erase board was one of the things my parents bought for me off of craigslist. It’s 16 feet long, and it was a pain to move! But, I love it and use it everyday.
The blue mitt thingy is from Dollar Tree. And, it works perfect to erase the dry erase board. The blue pocket chart is something I picked up at Target last year. I’m planning on using it to assign groups and group roles randomly.
I decided that I wanted to give each of my class periods a chance to have their own class twitter status. I envision this as being a way to share achievements or funny things that are said in class. Plus, I get to have my own twitter status, too!
In order to update the class twitter status, a student in that period has to nominate a new status. And, the class has to approve it by a vote of more than 50% in favor of that status. I planned on printing and laminating a cute little twitter bird and title for this plus laminating the class period twitter handles, but it has yet to happen. This will have to do for now.
I finally found a place in my classroom to hang my filetastic from Mardel. I actually own a bunch of these. I found the purple ones for 75% off and some jungle green ones for 80% off, and I just couldn’t pass them up. But, I sadly don’t have the wall space for them in my current classroom. I’m thinking that my sister will probably end up using them in her future art classroom. I can’t believe this is her last year of college!
I’m planning on using this as a station for students to pick up work they missed when they are absent. I will be more organized this year. I will be more organized this year. I will be more organized this year. My students have told me that this new obsession with organization is only going to last a few weeks. As my students would say, I should let my haters be my motivators. 🙂
Here’s the door to my classroom. The polka dot cling border around the window is something I picked up at Dollar Tree last year. It’s one of the few decorations I left up over the summer because it was a PAIN to put up! The Garfield poster is one that came in the $5 bundle of posters.
Bullying is a huge problem in my school. In the past, we invited Stand for the Silent to come in and speak. What an amazing, heart-felt, tear-jerker of a presentation. Bullying truly does kill. If you haven’t heard Mr. Smalley speak, you need to! The kids were asked to sign an anti-bullying pledge. I have one hanging on the wall of my classroom as a reminder.
This is my new absent work board. Were you absent? Look at the calendar for the day you were gone. It will tell you if there was a homework assignment that you missed. Get the homework assignment out of the filetastic next to the board. I’m hoping that this is more sustainable than the absent work organization methods I’ve used in the past. Everyone has to comment on the fact that I have three calendars. Hello, I have three preps!
The punch-out lettering is from the Dollar Tree. I love that store! The string art on the bulletin board was made by my sister when she took high school geometry.
I call this the “Words I Want to Hear More” section of my classroom. Please. Thank you. Yet. My sister didn’t understand why I would hang the word “yet” on my wall. Instead of hearing “I can’t do this,” I want to hear “I can’t do this YET.” It’s one of my efforts this year in developing a growth mindset in my students and myself.
I love the never, never, never give up poster! Below that, is my senior picture bulletin board. In two years of teaching, I was only given 3 senior pictures. And, all 3 of those are from last year. I’m hoping that keeping these posted will encourage more pictures!
I’m going all out with SBG (standards based grading) this year! I did a quick google search for SBG posters, and I ended up on Sarah Rubin’s blog, Everybody Is A Genius. (If you’ve never visited her blog, you should definitely check it out!) She posted a flow chart that she had adapted from a flow chart posted by Kelly O’Shea.
I liked the poster, but I envisioned something bigger. This may have been influenced by the fact that I had two blank bulletin boards in my classroom at the time… Since SBG is going to be new to my students, I wanted something that would let us have conversations. If a student is struggling, I wanted them to be able to see where they were in the SBG process. I used four different colors of paper to illustrate the four steps in the process. Learning (INB/In-Class Activities), Practice (Homework/Redoing homework until they have earned an A or B on it), Quizzes (Redoing Quizzes until they have earned an A or a B on it), and Demonstrating Mastery. Don’t let the letter grades throw you off. This is SBG on a four point scale. I just call a 4 an A, a 3 a B, and anything below a 3 is “Not Yet.”
The arrows were cut out of sparkly art foam. There is now glitter EVERYWHERE in my classroom! Let me just say, I am in LOVE with this bulletin board. I was going to change out this back bulletin board once a month. Nope. This is staying up ALL year! You can download the files for this bulletin board here.
You can kinda see it in the previous picture, but I put up horizontal/vertical reminders on my wall this year. I’m not exactly sure why it is, but my Algebra 1 students struggle terrible with remembering which way horizontal is. And, they don’t know what the horizon is either. I think that’s part of the problem.
Here’s a better pic of the letters. They’re vinyl letter decals from Target. Of course, my mom picked them up at a yard sale for 25 cents. Win!
My black cabinet is now home to posters for group work roles inspired by Ilana Horn’s Strength in Numbers: Collaborative Learning in Secondary Mathematics and classroom rules inspired by Harry Wong’s The First Days of School: How to Be an Effective Teacher, 4th Edition.
The side of my filing cabinet is covered in beautiful math posters I downloaded from around the Internet.
And, here’s my classroom bookshelf.
More posters. I thought these were fitting to hang next to the people who thought differently.
I couldn’t find a good place to hang my greek alphabet posters. I’m not happy with their placement. I wanted them to be more like an alphabet banner. Maybe next year… The sentence starter posters are also inspired by Ilana Horn’s Strength in Numbers: Collaborative Learning in Secondary Mathematics.
Here’s a view of the entire back corner.
The window sill will hold daily supplies. Right now, the magazine holders are holding construction paper and dry erase boards. The tub of foam dice and stuff will go in my cabinet. And, then there’s my awesome new pink pencil sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.
At #TMC14, Rebecka Peterson talked about Friday Letters. I mentioned wanting a mailbox in my classroom so I can make this my own classroom tradition. This is what I ended up with. My mom bought a vintage Versafile at the thrift store. She was worried about kids stealing the letters of other kids, so she insisted I get something that locks. My dad took the box over to the machine shop at work and cut a nice slot in the top for me. And, then he painted it Drumright Red. It’s now sitting next to my new aloe vera plant that my mom decided I needed.
Also in the window sill – my new spider plant (also courtesy of mi madre), hand sanitizer, air freshener, and one of those paper weights that you turn over and watch the three colors of corn syrup flow through. Let me just say. My kiddos are AMAZED by this thing. It’s ridiculous.
Along the wall are these random storage containers that I wish I had a better home for. But, when they built my classroom in 1919, they weren’t really thinking about built in storage.
I’m still using the curtains that my mom made for me the summer before my first year of teaching. They add a nice touch to the room.
Then, there’s my ceiling decor. The origami is still hanging from the ceiling. But, I’ve added some tissue paper pom poms. I bought a kit to make these at Tuesday Morning, and they were ridiculously easy to put together.
One of the other teachers asked me what their purpose was. Duh. They look pretty!
At the end of my student teaching, my cooperating teacher gave me a name plaque because his cooperating teacher had done the same for me. It’s still on my desk. I think it convinces my students that I’m a professional. 🙂
Behind my desk are a couple of reminders to myself. I made these based on an #EduRead conversation that I was lurking on. They go perfectly when my emphasis this year on the Growth Mindset. They remind me that I should praise process over product and that fast learning is not always the best and deepest.
These posters behind my desk summarize my grading scale. If a homework assignment or quiz is PERFECT, that’s an A. If there are a few tiny mistakes, that’s a B. If there is a major mistake, that’s considered “Not Yet.” Students will be required to redo the homework or requiz until they earn an A or a B.
Behind my desk is this awesome pi plaque that my sister made for me! She painted the heart white. Then, she used wavy painter’s tape to add the purple stripes. The pi symbol is purple glitter. And, the whole thing is coated in something to keep the glitter from coming off.
It hangs right above the Ms. Hagan sign that she painted for me two years ago.
Behind my desk, I have several sets of plastic drawers to keep me organized.
I picked up this dry erase calendar at Dollar general last year. I’m hoping to keep it updated with meetings and such.
This wire shelf used to set on my back wall on top of a science lab table. I moved the table, so the shelf had to find a new home. It’s currently sitting behind my desk. This is great except for the fact that I keep running into it with my chair which makes it fall apart. I’ve put it back together at least 15 times so far.
One of my students made this origami crane last year and taped it to my computer monitor. He threatened dire consequences if I took it off. It’s still there!
The bulletin board behind my desk was inspired by @druinok. She posted a link to an image on pinterest on twitter. I fell in love with it. Her hubby made an awesome poster, but I decided I wanted to go bigger than that. Plus, I did have that one last empty bulletin board that needed something.
This summer, I read Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.
This book has completely revolutionized the way I want to approach certain things in my classroom. There is power in the words we speak. And, we change our mindset by changing out words.
I typed up the sentences, and I printed the fixed mindset statements on gray card stock and the growth mindset statements on colored card stock. They ended up being bigger than my bulletin board, so I overlapped them a bit. I think it gives a nice visual effect. I’m hoping this will be something that we refer to the entire year. I want my students to recognize when classmates, themselves, or even I speak in a fixed mindset. And, I want us to work together to change these statements to a growth mindset.
I decided to call this bulletin board “Change Your Words – Change Your Mindset.”
The front wall features a ton of free posters that I requested online.
You’ll also notice the cursive handwriting banner. Students are always asking me how to write a certain letter in cursive. Now, they’ll have a place to reference!
Decorations around the SMART Board:
Like last year, my problem solving strategy posters have been hung under the SMART Board. I need to do a better job of referencing them this year!
This is my collection of mathematical toys. My kids love to play with these. Especially the monkey who multiplies!
And, I use these free posters from Texas Instruments a lot to show where certain buttons are. I added reminders to my scientific calculator poster last year for my Algebra 1 students. This year, I’m going back to using the TI-84 in Algebra 2 instead of the TI-NSpire. We’ll see how I like this…
I picked up these anti-bullying posters from Dollar Tree.
And, I love this poster about attitudes.
Here are my order of operations posters.. I still need to go back and add let to right arrows. A lot of people ask questions about these posters when they walk in my room. Hey, at least they’re eye-catching.
Here are my red/yellow/green cups for group work. The artwork in the window is courtesy of my sister.
I got new stacking trays for students to turn in papers to! So excited for these. For the past two years, I’ve had all classes turn papers into a single tray. It was a pain to sort and grade. I picked up these at a yard sale for $2!
They’re sitting on my pretty, pink cart that I paid $5 for at another yard sale. This year, I’m actually going to label the drawers! It holds extra notebook paper, graph paper, etc. I’m thinking it will also be perfect to hold frayer models and table of contents sheets for INBs.
My weekly schedule posters are up, and I LOVE them! They’re a good reminder for me and my students as we build classroom routines.
I have a mini poster of the Pledge of Allegiance below my flags. I printed it off somewhere on the Internet.
The box next to my date/holiday/quote stuff is for discipline. Consequences of breaking rules involve having your name written on the board. One of my students dubbed it the “Wall of Shame.”
I’m planning to do more cold calling this year because in the past I’ve always ended up calling on the same few kids because they are the ones whose hands are up. These canisters are going to hold popsicle sticks with names of students for each class period. I’m super excited about this!
Now, I just have to wait for the class schedules to get finalized so I can have one of my aides make the popsicle sticks.
Here’s the front corner of my classroom. You can see my TU flag in this pic. Love my alma mater!
Our bell schedule this year is wonky. 53 minutes first hour. 52 minutes second hour-seventh hour. 5 minute pass periods except one for the passing period before lunch which is 6 minutes. I like the bell to ring on a multiple of five. That’s NOT happening this year.
After complaining about it on twitter, Meg Craig suggested I make arrows to put around my clock that point at the time each class period ends. She posted about her clock and its arrows at the bottom of this post. Meg took the idea from Math Teacher Mambo who took the idea from someone else.
So far, it’s been super helpful to me. I’m not sure if my students are using the arrows, but I sure am!
View behind the podium:
Front of Classroom View:
Back of Classroom:
Remember the table that used to sit along the wall where the calculators now are? I didn’t get rid of it. I just moved it by the door. In a way, it’s kinda in the walk way. But, I really, really, really want a flat surface to set papers and stuff on for kids to pick up when they walk in the door. So, I’m going to live with it and start looking for a smaller table to replace it with that’ll be less in the way.
The math teacher across the hall asked me if I was going to stand at the table and charge admission to my classroom. Ha. Ha. Ha.
Outside my door is a sign with my name and room number on it and a reminder that no food or drinks (except bottled water) are allowed in my classroom.
Okay. Back to my shoe holders/calculator holders. I’ve wanted to try this idea for several years, but I just didn’t have the wall space. This year, I decided to move the table and claim the wall space behind it. I managed to find three matching shoe holders at Tuesday Morning for $7.99 each. I found a ton of stores with cute shoe holders, but most are 60 inches tall. The space below my bulletin board is only 53 inches tall. These only hold 20 calculators instead of 24, but they fit the space perfectly!
You may have noticed my pet monkey that hangs out by my calculators. His name is Henry if you’re in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 5th, or 6th hour. My 4th hour insists on calling him Cinnamon. He’s our talking piece when we do classroom circles. He was a Valentine’s gift last year from a couple of my students.
I guess that about sums up my classroom. Sorry for the overwhelming number of pictures! Hope this gives you some ideas for decorating your own classroom!