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9 Amazon Back to School Products for the High School Classroom

When back to school season rolls around, I always have my guard up when it comes to shopping.  There is always SO MUCH that I WANT, and so little that I actually NEED. What I’ve done for the past few years is this:  I set a budget and I set a limit on my projects. The point of summer break is to recharge and relax, but for me, part of that recharging does involve some school work - the fun stuff that I never have time to get to during the year!  But, also knowing myself, my list of projects can get unreasonably long, and so can my impulse buying at Target.  

Here are a few questions I ask myself before making a purchase or starting a project:

  • What is the longevity of the item or project?  Will it/should it last?

  • Does this help solve a problem or frustration in my classroom?

  • Does this contribute to a classroom management strategy?

  • How often will I make use out of this product?

  • How does this benefit students?

Armed with those questions, I spend my summer browsing.  I use the save feature on Instagram, I get on Pinterest, and I mostly look for inspiration for things that will help me solve problems or pet peeves I have in my classroom.  Now, this doesn’t mean that I never do things that are cute simply because they’re cute - I do! But I try my best to make sure my time and money are spent on things that are functional and long-term solutions for my classroom.

These are my top 9 Amazon purchases for my high school English classroom:

I did not make these purchases all in one summer; I have accumulated these items over time and I only recommend them because they’ve actually worked and I’ve been able to answer my questions above in purchasing them.

  

CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT:

Wireless Doorbell

I can’t think of a strategy that I use more frequently than stations.  At the start of the year, one thing I do is practice my routines (more about that here).  As my students move through stations, I use the wireless doorbell to signal when it’s time to rotate.  The kiddos get a kick out of it and love that I can change the ring tone.  

3-Tier Cart for Classroom Library

This one was my new purchase for the 2019 back to school season.  My classroom library had always been a disorganized mess, so I decided to reprioritize and makeover my library.  I ended up with a mini library on this rolling cart. The money spent on this cart has solved so many problems that I once faced in my classroom and makes an impact on students every single day.  Totally worth it!

Power strip & shoe hanger

My go-to classroom management strategy with cell phones is to use a charging station.  Using a shoe hanger and a sweet power strip, I’m able to encourage students to stay off their phones and focus on the work we need to get done. More on that policy here!




CLASSROOM ATMOSPHERE:

Vertical String Lights & Fairy Lights with USB

For ten years, I taught in a classroom with enormous, gorgeous windows.  I never turned my lights on and I never needed any lighting solutions for my classroom.  Then, I changed schools and my new classroom is a box with some tiny little windows around the upper perimeter of the room, and when my lights are off, it’s a dark place to be!  I can’t stand flourescent lighting and floor lamps are obnoxious with teenagers, so I opted for a sting light solution. These lights I hung across my ceiling and they are BEAUTIFUL.  They bring plenty of light into the room and set a peaceful mood in the room. Paired with these fairy lights (they come in a two-pack...I bought them for my house and only needed one set!), my room twinkles and glows.  

Essential Oils Diffuser

And, for whatever reason, my classroom (and schools in general) always have such a distinct, unpleasant smell.  Enter: essential oils diffuser. This one is my favorite and I use whatever oils I have lying around. The scent is light and I’ve never had a student complain of the smell being to overwhelming, so so far, a win!

CLASSROOM SUPPLIES

Crayola boxed marker set & boxed colored pencils

This is the list that tempts me the most to overspend, but, simply put, after over a decade of teaching, these are my three favorite school supplies.  The boxed Crayola markers and pencils last the entire school year. They’re already organized in their own box (no more supply caddies per table!). I can put them away and take them out easily, there’s plenty to share, and it’s a one stop shop.  They’re a little expensive (I always make sure to request them from my department - don’t pay for them yourselves!), but I used to just run out of supplies halfway through the year and have to replenish anyway. I’ve never had to do that with these boxes!

Bic intensity dry erase markers

Now these dry erase markers fit virtually none of my listed criteria that I shared with you at the beginning of this post, however, they’re still my favorites!  These dry erase markers on Amazon are only 12.00 (and there are 12 markers), they’re bold, and they seem to last forever. You should just try them and see for yourself!

 

Looking for more favorites? Check out the rest of my Amazon favorites here!







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My Classroom Library Makeover: Downsizing & Prioritizing

In my own classroom, the library has never really functioned the way I wanted it to in my dream scenario.  The time, effort, and focus that it takes to truly run the library the way it deserves to be run never really seemed to be worth it. I am already dedicating so much time to other things that the classroom library feels like a chore. That corner of the room is always a disaster.  I never know what’s there -- it seems like all of the good, favorite books disappear and I’ll I’m left with are the random books from garage sales that I’ve never read (and no kids want to read either!).  But when I was a young teacher, I believed that MORE BOOKS meant a BETTER LIBRARY. I have decided that this simply cannot be true.  

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The First Ten Days of School - Routines, Rigor, and Relationships

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The First Ten Days of School - Routines, Rigor, and Relationships

It’s every teacher’s most stressful, most highly anticipated, and most powerful time of the year:  back to school! After over a decade of first days back to school, I’ve finally found a plan for the first ten days that streamlines the three most important things for me:  routines, rigor, and relationships. Here, I will outline for you the importance of routines, rigor, and relationships, then, provide my daily plans for the first ten days.

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How To Build A New Novel Unit From Scratch

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How To Build A New Novel Unit From Scratch

After teaching for ten years and then switching schools, I was very quickly reminded of how much work goes into writing curriculum from scratch. For a long time, I was in a happy place of continual revision of curriculum that I liked, but was tweaking here and there for relevance, rigor, and for fun.  

Now?  It’s the Wild West.  It’s intergalactic chaos.  It’s constant guessing and unpredictability.  All that aside, however, it’s also invigorating and exciting.  I would call myself “a curriculum person” because this kind of blank slate challenges me in a way that sparks joy in my life, despite the chaos, so I’d like to share with you how to most easily navigate through a first attempt at writing and implementing a new curriculum for a new novel in your secondary ELA classroom.

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"How to Be A Person" A Spoken Word Poem to Reset Your Classroom Culture

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"How to Be A Person" A Spoken Word Poem to Reset Your Classroom Culture

Whether I’m starting a brand new school year, returning after winter break, or even just starting a new quarter, there’s always this itch in my gut that tells me to take a breather on those first few days together to regroup and reset our classroom culture and community. It’s vitally important to take the temperature of your classroom - has it been feeling toxic lately? Are students there to be the best versions of themselves? Are we having fun but not working hard? Are we working really hard and don’t know each other at all?

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A Cell Phone Policy that Actually WORKS!

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A Cell Phone Policy that Actually WORKS!

Every school and every teacher has a different philosophy with student cell phones, but with classroom management as a whole.  Whether you are on the FORBIDDEN end of the spectrum or on the “do what you want, it’s your grade” end, I just might have a solution that will help in your classroom.

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How to Work with Words Without a Workbook

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How to Work with Words Without a Workbook

In order for our students to succeed across subject areas, we must all acknowledge the critical importance of vocabulary instruction.   There are so many best practices out there, so many specialists, and so many approaches, it can feel daunting to choose a streamlined and effective strategy for your classroom.  No matter your favorite method or style, I have a thoughtful yet efficient strategy for you to try in your class this year.

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The Pinterest Perfect Classroom:  What's Missing?

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The Pinterest Perfect Classroom: What's Missing?

As I’m writing this, you’ve probably already pinned 100 new ideas for your back to school decor on Pinterest.  You very well might be simultaneously stalking a corner of the Target Dollar Spot.  Maybe you’re even wish-listing things for your classroom on Amazon.  And if you’re not doing one of these two things, you’re almost certainly scrolling through Instagram with major “Insta-classroom envy” every other post you see.

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