Time is Money – A Fresh Start

While it is going to be my second year teaching, I’m starting at a brand new school and am really looking for a fresh start. There are two major things that I plan on implementing this year that I really hope improve my classes productivity and overall experience.

1. A Timer.

I want students to know that I value their time as well as my own, and I want them to know that in my class we use time wisely. Last year I would always say things like 5 more minutes and then what do ya know but 10 minutes would go by before I would actually buck up and tell them to quit what they were doing. I think because of this my students became more relaxed and knew they could take their good ole time. Not this year. I plan on implementing the timer on the first day to show that I mean business. Not only am I doing this for them, in terms of motivation, and as always preparing them for standardized testing, but I am doing this for me. A timer will give me more structure and help me pace my class. In terms of everyday class, I can say ok we are going to work on the warmup for 5 minutes, and set the timer. When its up so is the Warm-Up. Then I can set the timer for another 40 minutes – this will give me a ring a ding ding when it is time to close up class. I can give closure on the lesson, make sure all their notebooks are ready to go, and all supplies are put away. I can also use the timer and say ok peeps you got 20 minutes for this quiz – ready GO! The possibilities are endless and the more I think about it the more benefits I see.

Have you ever used a timer in your class? What benefits did you see or what did you not like about it?

2. Interactive Notebooks

So along with everyone else and their brother, I am going to give Interactive Notebooks (INBs) a shot (you can find out more information about what they are here). I think these are perfect for the classes I’ll be teaching which are Algebra 1 and Math 3. I think they will give the students great organization as well as a really useful tool that can be used in math classes in the future. I also think having a notebook like this will give students a lot of stability and a sense of consistency, without being necessarily consistent. I plan on incorporating all different kinds of ideas in my INBs, especially foldables. I used to think in college graphic organizers were things for 6 year olds because all they talked about were KWL charts – yawn. I love that foldables are a graphic organizer that have long term uses, especially when they are used to review concepts. I think students will immediately buy into them thinking they are an arts and craft project but really they are a way for students to keep all their thoughts and reflections in one place and in an order than should make sense to them.

Here are a couple of basics that I’ve made for my INBs:
Table of Contents

Intro to INBs: A total rip off of the one Sarah posted about here.

Rubric: Adapted from Megan’s Rubric which can be found here along with a TON of other INB resources.

INB Thoughts

For the past couple of days I have really been thinking hard about interactive notebooks and what I want to get out of them in my classroom. I’ll be teaching Algebra 1 & an integrated Algebra 2 course and I know that I want to use INBs in both of them. Go big or go home. The issue I’m facing currently is that interactive notebooks, in my opinion, have a lot of little details. I think these little details are important though to build a strong foundation for not only me, but for my students.


Materials I know I want my students to have:

– Composition Notebook (papers won’t fall out and they will fit in a gallon sized baggy – idea courtesy of @mgolding) – I’m thinking they will need 2 for the entire year – is this reasonable?

– Pencils/Erasers

-Tape (I don’t want to deal with the hassle of glue poop)

– Colored pencils

– At least 1 highlighter

*I will provide a class set of scissors


I want all of these things to be kept in a gallon sized baggy that I will provide to make for easy storing (whether it be in class or in their book bag). Students will always have all their materials as long as they all stay in the baggy. Hopefully by putting a couple pencils in the bag it will eliminate me having to buy them in bulk.

Since I want them to be able to store them in my room I want them to be able to find their baggy asap! I really want to avoid people huddling around looking for theirs 5 minutes after the bell has rung.

Ideas to make this possible:

– Decorate the composition book: duct tape, scrapbook paper, magazine clippings, numbers about me, etc. I think I might want to make this an assignment so it doesn’t take up class time and it still lets students have personal ownership of the journal.

– Also to keep classes separate I could have them put duct tape on the spine in a different color.

– Mark the baggy: I’m talking more than just black sharpie with the kid’s name on it. I think using patterned duct tape in a particular spot could help identify that student’s bag from others immediately.

Kind of like this but on a gallon bag. They can be different patterns and placed in different spots and on different angles. (Does this make sense, am I crazy?! Help me avoid traffic jams!)


Other cosmetic features that I’ve been thinking about are do I want

one of these or

one of these (but probably cut in half that way its like a 2-for-1)

The purpose of the pocket in either case would be to keep things that are in progress inside. I plan on doing warm-ups but these will generally be OGT test prep questions and since I don’t foresee students ever looking at them again I am thinking that each Monday students will grab a warm-up form and keep it all week and store it in the pocket, and on Friday I will collect them and make it either part of their homework or participation grade. I really want to stress to students that what is inside the notebook is testable material so I don’t want them thinking I’m going to throw some Geometry on their test just because it was a warm-up question.

I’m also thinking just for fun to keep the notebook together like this with a rubber band:

(for my personal INB I think I want these)

One thing I know I don’t want this to be are just worksheets taped inside a notebook. I want students to put their thoughts inside and reflect upon their learning. The left side page is usually where these things go- this is also the side that I’m most scared of. I want it to have meaning but I’m not quite sure I’m confident that I have the prompts that will make that happen. If you know of any websites that have good examples of “left side” pages please leave the links below!