Classroom Tour

It’s the end of the year and I’m straightening up and jotting down notes before I leave for summer break. I thought it would be a good time to invite you into my world and share the things that work for us, in case you’re looking to add something different next year.

Here’s where the magic happens, folks…

A few  summers ago at the Reno NTPRS Conference, Justin Slocum Bailey shared about making lemonade when you get lemons. That especially resonated with me because I was bitter about getting relocated to a portable. I decided to embrace the philosophy and the following week I found this sweet lemon wreath at a rummage sale!

It’s fun having the baseball diamond right outside my classroom, unless the wind is blowing just right and the home runs smack your classroom. During an already crazy 7th period. Full of Freshman boys.  #MakeLemonade


Here’s the view from the door. We’re happily deskless.

Meet Don Fulano, the faceless Mariachi that I got from a Mexican restaurant a few years ago. I covered the Corona symbols with our mascot. Unfortunately Don Fulano’s Lady Friend had to stay at the restaurant…she did not comply with our dress code. The Sana sana colita de rana banner changes every 6 weeks or so when I introduce a new call and response quiet signal.

The Magnetic Whiteboard Spinners  (Disclosure: all the Amazon links are associate links- which means if you click on them and buy something, Amazon sends me like .002 cents, just FYI!) are fun to use during storytelling to decide details. I’ve got 4 rain gutter bookshelves that  organize our Free Reading books. You can read more about the star ratings and the novel organization here!  The lunch calendar and attendance clipboard both help keep things running smoothly. Love me the Neon Posterboards with useful phrases. Students help themselves and hold them up during class. Yesterday when I was giving my sappy goodbye speech to my Spanish 4s, I didn’t realize that Antonio had them and was holding them up behind me. ¿En serio? ¡Qué triste! ¡Qué romántico! ¡No lo creo! Another one of my Spanish 4s made us a Pobre Andrés sign, which has gotten a lot of use year. #GranHotelEsMiVida

No, I’m not passive aggressive at all… Like the Objective that I leave up all.year.long? Every time my admin comes in he notes that the objective is written on the board, but since he doesn’t speak Spanish, he hasn’t realized that it doesn’t change. But that’s really my objective for every single class!!  The emoji stickers clipped to the folder organizer are for kids to put on the inside cover of a novel when they finish reading it. img_3434

I know that grammar charts are frowned upon by the CI crowd, but hear me out before you get all judgey! I use them as I’m loading up my little darlings with Comprehensible Input. Can you see the dark black square next to each conjugation? Those are pieces of Velcro. The white subject pronoun cards also have Velcro on the back and it’s easy for me to move the subject pronoun to match the ending I’m using while I’m storytelling, movie talking, or just shooting the breeze. It draws their attention to the verb ending and clarifies the subject and tense without breaking into English.

Here’s my vocabulary list, where I jot down my new words. I encourage kids to quiz me and if I can’t remember a word, they earn a stamp on their stamp sheet.   My kids also have the same Palabras Personales page in their binder where they keep their personalized vocab list- words that they find interesting or useful.

I call this my Wall of Fame…those are my little darlings who have graduated and left our small town to see the world. The Suns and the Globes are my students who have lived or studied abroad. I am so proud of them! The postcards below are from students who have vacationed abroad. Nothing excites me like getting an email or postcard from a former student who is experiencing a new place. The yellow framed paper is my “Gaudy Goal”…it was a part of a PD class where we had to come up with a larger-than-life outlandish goal to inspire our work with students.

We support an orphanage in Baja California, Mexico and all year long we collect items for them. In a few weeks I’ll be taking down toothbrushes and the children’s books my little darlings wrote. I can’t wait! Just look at those precious faces!

Our school is issuing Chromebooks to all students next year. How on earth are they going to fit a Chromebook into their already jam-packed backpacks? So I’m going to encourage my kiddos leave their binders in my classroom and I’ve cleared shelf space for them.  I expect I’ll need a Binder Tsar to keep them nice and organized. We’ll see how it works!  You can see a folding table in the corner…I’ve got 16 plastic folding tables that live behind the bookshelf until we need them. My tables are similar to these narrow plastic folding tableson Amazon.

Here’s my little desk area. You’ll notice that there’s a sink full of crap. That’s because although I have a sink and a bathroom, there’s not actually plumbing to my trailer. #GhettoFabulous.  The sink is just for looks and to hold miscellaneous crap.  And since I don’t have plumbing, you’ll notice the Water Cooler/Heater, my most necessary teaching item. I schlep 5 gallons of water to my classroom every few weeks just so I can drink hot tea all day long. I can’t teach without it! I bought it at Costco as a birthday present for me…It’s similar to this one.   See that mess of cords at the back of my desk? I probably need to figure that out because once when we were doing Muévete si, a boy tripped and the computer came crashing down on him…he and the computer survived but I felt awful! Any suggestions for taming a mess of wires?!

This is my game cabinet, packed full of goodness! Those jumbo cards I use for the Lucky Reading Game and the Easter eggs are for Scrambled Sentences. I see my Mafia cards and the ¿Cómo se dice? envelope. And lots of dice, poker chips, Popsicle sticks, beach balls…you know, the fun stuff you collect when you’ve been at it for a while.

The man, the myth, the legend. What language classroom is complete without an autographed Blaine Ray photograph? (My friend and CI teacher Jayme Miller also has one in her classroom and she talks to Blaine during lessons, which I think is stinking hilarious!) Oh yeah, and there’s me and my hubby, after we hiked the Inca Trail. It reminds me that I can do hard things.

Look at that pretty llama guarding the hallway. La llama se llama Yolanda. (That was our first password this year and it was a hit!)

I’ve saved the best for last…step into my Secret Passageway of Treasures! The Hallway of Mystery!  This is the ONLY redeeming factor of my trailer. There’s a hallway that connects the two Spanish classrooms and we’ve packed it full of props!  When my dear friend Paula and I got banished (Spanished?!) to the portables, we pooled our props and organized them in the shared hallway. It’s awesome because kids can’t mess with them and they’re easy for us both to access. (My dear Paula is retiring this year. We’ve collaborated for the past decade- I don’t know how I’ll manage without her! I am going to miss her terribly but thankfully I won’t be missing her props. She’s leaving them for us to play with! ¡Gracias, Paulita! I don’t know how you will manage in retirement without your plastic steering wheel!)

So fun during storytelling! At the critical point in the story, I tell them “Momento, clase”, dramatically fling the door wide open and seconds later appear with The.Perfect.Prop. Their eyes meet across the crowded dance floor… Quick! Grab the battery operated disco ball from the “romántico” cubby!

Who doesn’t need a drawer labeled “Piratas” in their life?! There’s also two drawers dedicated to body parts (small and large!) and another labeled “armas” (written in Spanish, as to not worry the administrator who passes from one classroom to the other!)

That’s it! That’s Home Sweet Portable. I’d love to see pics of your classroom too! I’m always looking for new ideas!

Hope you’re school year and have a wonderful summer!


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