Ok, so this time of the year, teachers have a lot going on — classrooms to set up, lessons to plan, new students to meet — but let’s not forget one of the very best things about the beginning of the school year, and really, in all of teaching:
From my very first kindergarten school supply list to my present day classroom, I have always loved school supplies. I love everything about them (well, except the cost, of course). And the smell when they all come together — ahhh.
Now that I’m going into my fifth year at my same school, same position, I don’t really have to get as many supplies as I used to, and my school is really good about covering the basics, but here is what was on my list this year:
My co-worker gave me the tip on these — they are at least two dollars less on Amazon than at other stores, and they are perfect for grading because they write like a dream and don’t bleed through the paper. I just opened this package today, and as I reverently put them in my desk, they became the inspiration for this blog post. Thank you, Sharpie.
2. Word Magnets
As I wrote in my previous post of my classroom setup, I have a “Poetry Corner” where I have a bunch of different magnets, and students will put words together into interesting, profound, or just plain weird lines of writing. They often work on these in the morning before school starts, or the infrequent times we finish class early or have some down time. They sign their name next to the line when they’re finished, and then I tweet them on my account @SchroTeach when the board is covered. I’ve gotten a box every year the past few years to keep building up the amount of words — a basic PG one, Jane Austen-themed, happiness-themed, along with a random one I already had to begin with.
If you get these, do keep in mind that middle schoolers are not very mature, so…you might want to take out “balls” or similar types of words.
Here are some classic lines from my students this past year (punctuation is added by me):
Chocolate is like a thousand kisses.
Soar away through a cool forest.
Picture the luscious diamond, a watery mist.
Those elaborate whispers boil time. Oh, no.
I also talked about these in another post, but sticker books have come in handy as a cutesy way to give rewards; the more random, the better. The small groups in my classroom compete to get a homework pass every two to three weeks, and they get a sticker along with that.
At some point, I was bequeathed with a large sticker collection, mostly made up of sunflowers and crayons with motivational words, and those were very popular, but the sticker books that are for small children are the best. Students might get a mushroom, or umbrella, or a boot, and I guess the anticipation is what makes this special, even for middle schoolers. I can’t find the one I got last year, but this one is very close:
My sister-in-law found a dancing solar-powered pumpkin and gave it to one my sons on his birthday, and I loved it and gave it a new home in my classroom after I felt my son had enjoyed the gift for an appropriate amount of time. My students and I affectionately named it “Jack” for jack-o’-lantern.
Those little things are mesmerizing to watch, and they also demonstrate how to dance for people who have little or no moves. If a student gives a great answer in class, I like to do the solar-powered dance sometimes. If people are looking tired or I hear crickets when I ask a question, I make everyone stand up and do the solar-powered dance.
Unfortunately, the pumpkin disappeared from my room at some point last year, and I finally got a replacement this week — a little dancing flower. We will have to have a name brainstorming session and ceremony at the beginning of the year, along with an solar-powered dance party.
Last year, I was teaching an introductory photography class, brought Christmas lights from home to use for a project, and then just never took them home. I ended up putting them along my back whiteboard because I liked how they looked in my room. By the end of the year, some of the lights had gone out, so I got another set to put up along the wall.
I also got a taller lamp from Wal-Mart, and will bring one or two lamps from home that we don’t really use so when the students are having independent reading time, we can have both natural and lamp light. I want that time to be a calm and relaxing part of their day, and I think turning off the bright fluorescent lights will help in that endeavor.
What are your must-have school supplies or items you splurged on for this year?