the definition of "ballin" is "Living the good life" in and out of work. This is what makes me love life.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Ask and you shall receive...

On the website Teacherspayteachers a teacher can put in an idea or a request for something that they are looking for. This morning I checked the website and somebody requested a timeline that they can print and then post on their classroom wall to show the evolution of life on Earth. 

All I could think was "what a great idea" and I wanted one I got to work.

Sure, it took me several hours but I'm excited to hang it on the big empty space in my new classroom. Yeah, teachers really know how to relax over our seasonal unemployment, right?

I'll be sure to post pictures when it's up but there is some asbestos abatement going on now so that won't be for a while. 

Here is what the file looks like:

and here is where you can buy it: Evolutionary Timeline of Life on Earth

For a limited time I have marked it down and given you a $3 discount for being my loyal blog reader.

Enjoy those last days of summer.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Interactive Notebooks in Biology

Do you use interactive notebooks in your classes? I've used my summer to create new interactive notebook pages called "Brain Breaks" of concepts that my students have struggled with in the past.  I cannot wait to use these with my classes this year!

Here are some examples:

Because you are one of my loyal blog followers I'm giving you a $5 discount...for a limited time only. You can buy them here: 24 Interactive Notebook Pages for only $10.00

You can see the rest of my products here: My TeachersPayTeachers Store

Do you use interactive notebooks in your classes? If them on Teachers Pay Teachers and I will most likely buy yours too!

Monday, August 10, 2015

New Classroom?!?!

     I am moving into a new classroom. I have been in my current room for a good chunk of time (11 wonderful years) and I love the light and storage it has. When I think back it blows me away that I moved into this room before my two sons were born. I have changed from a newish teacher into a mom in this room. I am welcoming the change as a new rebirth in a way. I've loved the current room but I am looking forward to a new change. 

     Eleven years ago Pinterest didn't exist and over the years I have found inspiration in other teacher's classrooms and eventually from blogs and slowly changed my classroom into everything I wanted it to be. A place for me and my students to find comfort and fun and I wanted a room that embodies that. 

     Moving into a new room allows me to rethink my decorating scheme and what I want the room to project to my students. My new room is an older room, and it has some serious strengths (amazing long bookcases and office area) and some weaknesses (small old sinks, leaky windows, how to organize those bookcases, small teacher lab table, etc) but I think that this will be a great challenge and will make me a better teacher. With the addition of Pinterest, this time, I'm able to study different philosophies about classroom design. Did you know that most blog posts about classroom design are about elementary classrooms? Why is that? Do secondary teachers not need to create an enjoyable space for themselves and their students? I don't get it and that's the main reason why I am posting this now. 

     During the school year (September through June) I spend the majority of my hours in that room and so do my students. I want it to be a place that they and I want to be.
     Over the years I have been following different movements in classroom design. Most of the classroom design you find on the web involves bright colors and visual stimulation everywhere. I have followed the "BRIGHTS!" design philosophy in the past by thinking that I needed to make my room more exciting. After studying what has been done with 3rd Teacher and the Reggio classroom movements I am starting to rethink my philosophy. I'm looking to streamline the visual stimulation in my classroom so it is minimalized and is more meaningful.

Here's a sneak peek:
My Classroom design board on Pinterest
The Reggio-ish classroom posts I have found on Pinterest.
The Third Teacher's book can be purchased on amazon at this link.
Make Space can be purchased at this link.
Blueprint for Tomorrow can be purchased at this link.

     I have studied these books ad nauseum and wish that I had an unlimited budget. I am unfortunately restrained to a budget that most teachers need to follow: "How much of my own money can I use before my spouse gets mad?"

     I'm not in the room yet but wait for more blog posts to see what I have planned and what I am working on. Some of it might be useful to you and your classroom too. Feel free to send me ideas that you have for your classroom or designs you have found useful.

Monday, August 3, 2015


Teachers! I need your attention... If you haven't seen Plickers then you need to go to right now! (OK, after you read this blog post)

What is a Plicker?
A free and easy way to evaluate what your students know like you would with a "clicker" but with a card that you print out and the students can keep in their binders. No more handing out clickers, recollecting clickers, dead batteries etc.

When you go to the Plickers website you can set up your classes and print out Plicker cards for each student. 

Each card has a black box with a pattern on it, the student's number in your class, and the letters A, B, C, and D. 

When going over multiple choice questions you can ask the students to hold up the card to represent their answer. The students rotate the card and the letter that they hold up at the top of their card is what they are choosing as their answer.

You scan the cards with the plicker app on your smart phone or iPad and you can see who answered the question correctly or not and get instant feedback. 

You can get feedback to see who gave what answer, and if it was correct or not. You can even project the screens up on to your Interactive white board.  I often don't let the kids know immediately if they got it right or wrong and I then call on certain kids and ask them to explain why they picked the answer that they did.

After I print out the cards I laminate them on my Scotch Scanner (which I have raved about in past posts)

You can purchase laminated cards on 

but it's MUCH cheaper to print and laminate your own. It's recommended that you laminate them with special matte plastic but I couldn't find that...I just used regular glossy and it works fine. Sometimes (very seldom) there will be a glare on one of the cards and I just ask that student to slightly tip their top edge down.  

I'm telling you...check out  You won't be disappointed!