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Now that I’m thinking about how to decorate my new classroom in a new district, I’ve realized that I never got around to sharing photos on this blog of my 2017-2018 high school math classroom decorations. So, my goal today is to fix that. I’m hoping you’ll enjoy seeing some decoration ideas, and I’m hoping that reflecting on this past year’s decorations will help me figure out what I want to keep/change in my new space.
Last year, I taught Algebra 1, Math Concepts (Course for 9th Graders Not Ready for Algebra 1), and Chemistry. Next year, I will be teaching Algebra 2, Pre-AP Algebra 2, and Pre Calculus/Trigonometry. It will be interesting to see how my decorations change since I will have zero overlap of classes taught between this past year and next year.
So, let’s take a tour.
2017-2018 High School Math Classroom Decorations
Here’s the view from just inside my classroom door. The big change for last year was that I moved from desks to tables for the first time ever. I really liked the tables for the most part. They were definitely helpful with teaching chemistry since students needed space to work together on labs.
Here’s another view from the door but facing toward the other wall.
Here’s yet another view from the door. This time, I’m focusing on my desk area.
This was the view from my desk. This photo was taken a bit earlier in the year than the previous photos because my bulletin boards were still empty and waiting for student work!
Here’s yet another overview photo. This time it shows what my room looks like from the podium.
Here’s the view from the back corner of my room looking towards my desk area.
Okay. Enough general photos. Let’s start looking at some specifics so I can start sharing links to downloadable files for all the posters I created!
Let’s start our tour around the room with what’s behind my desk.
This is probably one of the decorations that gets the most questions from my students. This is a unit circle project that was created by one of my trig students in 2017. His dad is the ag teacher, so he was able to combine the assignment to make a unit circle with the assignment to do some welding in ag class.
We used the TI-30XS calculators in Algebra 1, so I kept a calculator poster up so I could remind students how to do various keystrokes on their calculators.
I can’t show close-ups of the two clipboards by the calculator poster, but this was where I kept track of how often students left to use the restroom (this only lasted first semester) and a list of students who came in for tutoring.
I found it super helpful to keep these lists on clipboards on the wall so they weren’t cluttering up my desk. Keeping frequently used things OFF of my desk was a key tip I learned from Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Program. The program changed so many of the ways I structure my classroom and time in the classroom. I now am able to spend more of my time focusing on the aspects of my job I LOVE and less time stressing over the paperwork and other aspects I don’t love. If you do sign up, please list me (Sarah Carter) as your referrer. You will also need to include my email address firstname.lastname@example.org. Not sure if you should join or even what the program is about? Check out my full review of Angela Watson’s 40 Hour Teacher Workweek Club.
Above my calculator poster, I have my clock with my pi sign.
Under the clock, I have some expectation posters regarding the bell.
This is also the area where I hung my left/right reminder posters.
Above my window (which must be covered with curtains at all times if I wish to be able to read my computer screen!), I have a pencil that says “Mrs. Carter.” This was a gift from one of my sweet coworkers after I got married!
Teaching chemistry this year meant that I finally had an excuse to hang up these awesome scientific method posters from Scholastic above my SMARTBoard!
In between my SMARTBoard and dry erase board, I hung my Mistakes are…Expected, Inspected, Respected, and Corrected poster set.
Under that, I added a copy of our 2017-2018 Bell Schedule. Every year, I retype the schedule we are given and size it to be printed on 11 x 17 Cardstock. I ended up printing a bunch of extra copies this year because my coworkers saw the poster and wondered where I got it from!
Time to shift over to my dry erase board.
I used painter’s tape to portion off part of my dry erase board for the date. I also added two extra boxes that I wasn’t exactly sure how I wanted to use. Originally, I was going to make one section hold the names of students who were out of the room, but I didn’t end up following through with that.
Part way through the year, my projector stopped working reliably/properly, so I got in the habit of writing the daily warm-up question on the dry erase board. I continued this even after they installed a new projector many months later.
It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that I could use these extra boxes on the board to hold my warm-up questions!
The dry erase board also held my new timers. These were a life-saver this year. I used them for EVERYTHING.
When students would come in to serve their fifteen minute lunch detentions, I would set a timer for each student and write their name above the timer with a dry erase marker. When I gave students something to cut/glue in their INBs, I would set a timer for the number of minutes they were allowed to have. We used these timers to play various games with time limits. I took the timers with me when I led workshops, so I could keep the work time I gave participants on track.
My cardinal direction signs also made another appearance this year.
During the first semester, my math concepts students did an Estimation 180 problem each day as a warm-up. I got super tired of writing the formulas on the board, so I turned it into an Estimation 180 Poster!
Underneath the dry erase board, I hung up a set of SI Base Units posters I created for my chemistry class to reference. This was a super-fun set of posters to create. I even had comments from my Algebra 1 students over these posters when they recognized things that had been learning about in science!
Above the SI posters, I hung my SBG grading scale posters.
Above the whiteboard, I added a horizontal number line poster that has become a staple in my classroom. I also created positive and negative infinity posters to hang at each end of the number line.
Beside the dry erase board, I hung up my often-referenced prime number posters. These are starting to show a lot of wear, so I’m thinking I need to make a new set for my new classroom.
Above the number line, I added two posters this year in an attempt to help students realize the difference between -2^2 and (-2)^2. Sadly, I’m not sure they actually did much good.
Along the ceiling line, I added a set of Greek Alphabet posters I made several years ago. Students LOVE looking at these posters! I always reference them in Algebra 1 when we learn about using delta in relation to the slope formula. When I teach trig, they come in even more handy! I’ll definitely be hanging these back up in my new classroom since I’ll be teaching Pre-Calc!
Above my small bulletin board, I posted my YET posters which are part of my effort to promote a growth mindset in my students. I don’t want to hear “I can’t do this.” I want to hear “I can’t do this YET!”
I love this bulletin board with the “Chromaflies” my chemistry students created using chromatography and coffee filters.
This Pi filing cabinet has been with me for my entire teaching career.
The top drawer currently holds my colored paper stash in hanging files.
The other drawers are labeled alphabetically and hold all of the activities I have done in my classroom for the past 6 years.
Let’s just say the drawers are filled to the brim!
I get lots of questions about how I sort my activities. Each activity is kept in a plastic envelope. These plastic envelopes are my secret to organizing all of my puzzles and activities that I plan on reusing again and again.
I label each plastic envelope with removable file folder labels. I only discovered these a few years ago, and they have been life-changing!
I love that these are easily removable and leave zero residue behind if I decide to rename something or completely change the contents of the envelope!
My 11 x 17 activities (printed on 11 x 17 cardstock) are too large to fit in the filing cabinet, so they currently live in a paper box. They are also sorted alphabetically with Post-It notes as tabs.
The corner of my room holds one of my most favorite classroom decorations ever – my math-y welcome banner.
This next wall is one of my favorites! The Adventures of Slope Dude posters get a lot of attention from students. Some students took to holding their graphs up so they could compare their slope with the names of the slopes on the wall to check their work.
I absolutely love this coordinate plane dry erase board, and I am so sad to leave it behind as I switch schools.
You can also download the horizontal and vertical lettering that surrounds it. The coordinate plane labels that include quadrants, x-axis, y-axis, and origin are actually magnetic so they can be moved around as needed when you graph something on the board.
Up above, you will find my reminder to students to always ask themselves WWSDS – What Would Slope Dude Say?
This Diatomic Elements poster was frequently referenced by my chemistry students. They were broken hearted when I had to take it down for the ACT.
Up Next: my What Should Your Answer Look Like? Posters.
The top of my filing cabinet became a make-shift home for some awards I have received over the years.
I also made use of the side of the filing cabinet as a home for some more posters. The N/O and O/K posters are helpful for reminding students about the results of having zeros in the numerator and denominator of a fraction.
Below that, you will see the poster featuring the names of every student who has become a member of the Fraternity of Petals Around the Rose since I started using that puzzle in class. Students love looking at the poster and spotting names of other students. I’m a bit sad that switching schools means that I will need to start a new poster for this purpose. But, I’m sure it will be filled up within a few years!
My black storage cabinet held my naming polynomials poster.
My large bulletin board spent most of the year holding the SolveMe mobiles that my math concepts students created.
Above the bulletin board, I created a reference for students with perfect squares and perfect cubes.
I kept finding that we needed to know if higher numbers were perfect squares, so I ended up adding a list of “More Perfect Squares.”
The thermostat was in a really weird position in this classroom. I added a reminder to students to not touch the thermostat, but it didn’t really work. 🙁
Along the back wall, I hung the stellated iscosahedrons that I created a few years ago using straws and curling ribbon.
These open shelves on my back wall were home to most of my science supplies.
The cabinets held other supplies and were perfect for hanging posters on!
The supplies that students needed to access were stored in these labeled drawers.
During the first week of school, I took a page from Sara VanDerWerf’s playbook and showed my students the escalator and beagle videos mentioned in this blog post. I even made a “Do you need to get off the escalator?” poster to hang up as a reminder throughout the school year!
The back counter was home to the scientific calculators, graphing calculator dock, and electric pencil sharpener.
I also put my place value posters back here. The red paint was a bit over-powering, so I thought the white posters would help balance that out a bit.
The cabinets were home to their own set of posters.
Roman Numerals were useful for my chemistry students when writing the names of chemical formulas.
These significant figure posters were used a lot by my chemistry students because significant figures ended up being a struggle ALL YEAR LONG.
This prefix poster was used by students when naming covalent compounds.
I find that students often confuse accuracy vs. precision, so I created a set of accuracy vs precision posters to illustrate these concepts.
One of the most referenced decorations in my classroom is this set of Includes vs. Excludes posters for graphing inequalities.
We’ve made it to the last wall of the classroom. This wall features my 16 foot long dry erase board that my parents bought me off of craigslist because my first ever classroom had zero dry erase boards.
Along the top, I have hung my math symbol posters.
I designated part of the dry erase board as a home for no name papers.
Another section held some posters I made to help students with translating between algebra and words. I still need to blog about this!
The table under my dry erase board held lots of frequently referenced/used materials.
All of the extra copies of worksheets/notebook pages lived in these hanging files.
This three drawer container held notebook paper, graph paper, and plain copy paper for student use.
These three magazine holders held table folders. These were a success for my chemistry class. They weren’t such a success with my Algebra 1 and Math Concepts classes. I need to think about if I want to use them again next year.
One lifesaver I implemented for the first time this year was an appointment calendar. Students wrote their name down if they planned on coming in before school, after school, or at lunch. This helped me figure out if I had time to go and run copies at lunch or if I needed to hang around my classroom to help students.
A magnetic holder was placed on the dry erase board that held a marker and eraser for students to use to sign up on the appointment calendar.
I also ended up designating a place on the dry erase board to post the lunch menu each month. Even though it was on my to do list for months, I never got around to creating a Lunch Menu sign to hang above it…
I read somewhere that hanging a mirror would cut down on the number of times that students asked to leave and go to the restroom. Not sure if it actually helped, but it did occasionally come in handy!
By the door, I hung my flags and some school required signs.
I also chose this as the home for my Keep Calm and Combine Like Terms Poster.
I also used my classroom door to give myself a bit more room to hang posters. My door is home to my order of operations posters.
New this year was a set of posters about what characteristics that graphs should have. We’re relatively close to Tulsa, so I took advantage of that fact when making this set of TULSA Graphing posters!
I wrote a grant this year for some manipulatives for teaching fractions. As part of that grant, I got some new stuff to hang on my wall including this Equivalency Center.
I bought this 100 number chart from Amazon myself earlier this year.
The fraction magnets were purchased as part of the grant I mentioned earlier. They are available from EAI Education.
Another late addition to the classroom decoration scene was this set of triangular number posters.
And, that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this little tour of my 2017-2018 classroom. Hopefully, I’ll have pictures of my new classroom up in a few months instead of waiting until the entire next school year is over…
You can find my entire collection of free downloadable posters on my posters page.
Tuesday 12th of June 2018
I've been following you for about two years now. Thank you for posting recently all your room posters as I'm moving from teaching fifth grade to middle school. I'm so excited to finally teach higher level math Honors gifted and Alg 1 so I will be spending my summer before I leave for China to teach, downloading all your files and printing! Thank you again. Love all your stuff. :) Kym
Monday 4th of June 2018
I have blatantly stolen your Slope Dude display. I downloaded a picture of Slope Dude to add to it. I love your stuff and will probably steal even more this year. IF I'm allowed to hang it. We just remodeled (I moved back in first of April.) and the first rule was no holes (good rule). The next rule was NOTHING hung on walls. After I had an ugly cry because of that (and that EVERYTHING was piled in the middle of my room and I was supposed to teach that day) caused that to change to only hang with permission. My system around that is to email it to my principal and if I don't hear back, the answer is yes. So far, so good. When I moved back in, I spent 15 minutes putting things away. I'm continuing that with creating and putting things up. I don't have to take anything down over the summer, so everything I accomplish now is less to do in the fall. (Plus it gives me more times to send e-mails that won't be answered.)