Wednesday, December 3, 2014

My Big Classroom

Go Bears!
For the past seven years, I've been fortunate to teach in a BIG classroom on the third floor of beautiful Mission High School in San Francisco. Designing classrooms is one of my favorite aspects of teaching. I made a lot of changes to this one over the years. In the beginning, it was student computer workstations throughout, all the way from the front of the room to the back. The seats were spread out and there was a lot of wasted space. The first change I made was to concentrate all the workstations in the back of the room and turn the front of the room into a more traditional layout with tables and chairs for direct instruction, writing and drawing. I placed the teacher workstation in the middle of the two sections.

The view from the back-right side of the room.

The view from the back-left side of the room.

The view from the front of the room.

The printers and scanning workstation.

The view from the teacher workstation. Water and coffee at the ready. (Snacks not pictured)
More to come...

Monday, November 24, 2014

You rock, Fred.

Fred is the "science fanatic" character from Big Hero 6. He loves science. I mean seriously, massively, exuberatingly loves science. If science were a sport, he would be a season-ticket holder. If science were a hard-rock concert, he would be in the mosh pit.
I kept thinking of the character Fred from Big Hero 6 these past couple weeks as I was making posters for the middle school Next Generation Science Standards. Like him, I'm not a scientist, but I love science, and I had a lot of fun making the posters. The fifty-nine posters cover grades 6 - 8 in topics ranging from engineering to forces and interactions. 

Anybody who knows me knows I'm a bit of a weather fanatic. I love the forecast maps on websites like TwisterDataThe National Weather Service, or WeatherWest. (In fact, for an in-depth analysis of the California drought, I go to Weather West and read the comments on the latest blog post there.) So naturally,  I was totally stoked when The Earth's Systems section of the Next Generation Science Standards gave me an opportunity to use some of the public domain scientific images found on those websites to illustrate Earth science topics.
This one seemed like it should get a full-page poster of its own. It's a map of Earth's atmosphere. It doesn't depict a hole in the ozone layer, but it's just as spooky: it shows shows how much current atmospheric pressures deviate from the historical mean. I'm no scientist, but from the looks of it, the high pressure areas are higher than in the past, and the lows are lower than ever, too. The overall range of pressures form high to low is greater than in the past. 

Thanks to NCEP/ESRL and WeatherWest for help with making this image.

Images like that one gave me an opportunity to make posters that hopefully will intrigue and challenge middle school students. Some of the Earth and Human Activity NGSS standards deal with the topic of the human impact on the climate.
Most of the NGSS standards for middle school don't touch on anything nearly as controversial as climate change. I'm guessing Fred's, favorite topics in the NGSS might be engineering, energy, and biology, seeing how his super-suit is a fire-breathing reptile.

Again, I had a lot of fun making these posters. They're available in my store on TeachersPayTeachers, Teachers Notebook, and TeachWise. Thanks again to the scientists at NASA, the National Climatic Data Center, and the U.S. Geological Survey who contributed to the creation of some of the images I used on the posters. And an especially big thanks to you, Fred, for being a regular dude who's crazy about science. 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Spooky! Strange Visitors in the Classroom!

A student of mine made this photo below with Photoshop. He photographed the classroom with a digital camera, then used Photoshop to edit it. If you look, you'll see that Bigfoot and a creepy alien have lurked into my classroom. And there's some cryptic graffiti on the walls. I love it!

That's yours truly at the teacher workstation. I could control all the student's computers from my own (thanks to SmartSync software by Smart Technologies). I miss that classroom. It was HUGE!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Teacher Galaxy October Update

Halloween and Autumn Freebies

Halloween Borders and Frames for PowerPoint and Paper
Editable Print-Practice Paper - Autumn Theme
Munch Monster Halloween Craft Activity Game - Free for a limited time!

More Freebies and Updates

Over the last few months, I've made several new products and updated lots of existing ones. I’m especially stoked about finishing full-page versions of my Common Core Standards Posters.

Common Core Standards Posters For Eighth Grade - Math & ELA
Common Core Standards Posters For Seventh Grade - Math & ELA
Common Core Standards Posters For Sixth Grade - Math & ELA
Common Core Standards Posters For Fifth Grade - Math & ELA
Common Core Standards Posters For Fourth Grade - Math & ELA
Common Core Standards Posters For Third Grade - Math & ELA 

All of the poster sets are available separately as ELA or Math only. Full page 2nd grade posters are coming soon!

Below is a list of everything else I added or updated since July.



Polka Dot Stars Clip Art Pack
Class Notebook Orientation PowerPoint
Editable Print-Practice Paper - Autumn Theme
Editable Print-Practice Weekly Sign In Sheets
Editable Print-Practice Weekly Sign In Sheets - Autumn Theme
Halloween Borders and Frames for PowerPoint and Paper


Munch Monster Halloween Craft Activity Game
Editable Print-Practice Weekly Sign In Sheets Multiple Pages
Editable Print-Practice Weekly Sign In Sheets - Multiple Pages - Autumn Theme
Sixth Grade Common Core Math Essential Questions Printable Posters - Full Page



Roots of Numbers Word Wall Cards


Roots of Success Word Wall of Common Roots and Affixes. Major updates including color coding and MORE roots and affixes.

Thanks for following Teacher Galaxy!
Steve and Christine

The classroom is a solar system. The teacher is the sun!

Friday, October 3, 2014

6 Things I Did to Survive Back to School Night

Sign in Sheet+
Of course, having a sign in sheet is a no-brainer. But this year I added a note in Spanish and English welcoming the parents and kindly letting them know that we wouldn't be able to talk in detail about their child's grade. It's tough to put limits on that, but to me it's the only way to be fair, because otherwise other parents have to wait around too much.

Classroom Scavenger Hunt
I actually got this idea from my daughter's kindergarten teacher. Thank you Mrs. N. I made a scavenger hunt that each student and parent could do together. The hunt involved finding things around the classroom. I teach in a computer lab. Some examples are:

  1. Your seat
  2. The printer
  3. The tray for turning in work
  4. The keyboard-shortcut poster on the wall
  5. The paper cutter
  6. The can of pencils
  7. A specific book in the class library
  8. More.
This turned out to be a lot of fun, and it kept families busy as they came in. Next BTSN, I'm going to hide "easter eggs" around the room to make it even more fun. 

The last thing on the list was, "Your Teacher." This works out beautifully because it creates a "queue" for the teacher without having to actually tell people to wait in a line.

A looping Powerpoint
The PowerPoint had a welcome message and instructions about the scavenger hunt. It looped, and the slides are numbered so parents and students knew if they are walking in on the middle of it.

Light Music
It made for a more upbeat atmosphere and helped keep conversations private. 

A computer that students and parents could use to look at students' grades
I have around 150 students, so printing out grades wasn't an option. Instead, I had a computer workstation ready to go. Student were excited to log in and show their grades (well, not all of them). I do all my grading in School Loop, so it worked out well.

Be Up to Date on Grades
Otherwise, the previous tip would have been silly!

Leave Campus for Dinner!
The day started at 7:30 AM. Classes were over at 3:17 PM. I stayed until four to tidy up, update grades, put out the scavenger hunt and sign in sheet. Then I resisted the temptation to do extra work in the classroom and instead I left campus and had dinner in the neighborhood. It was nice and I felt recharged going back to the classroom for BTSN which started at 5:30 PM and ends at 7.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Meet the Teacher Team Linky Party

Hello!  We are excited to meet some teams of teachers who blog and author their own teaching tools. Thank you to Lisa Stephens at Created for Learning for putting this together.

Teacher Galaxy is a husband and wife venture. Christine taught Environmental Science in the past, before the kids were born, and plans to get back to it again in the near future. I teach and have taught Language and Visual Arts in middle and high school for the past ten years.

We are both big sci-fi fans. One of our first bonding experiences was watching the TV series Firefly. Christine turned me on to it. I had never heard of it. We rented and watched the whole season in less than a week. It was a unique, fun series with lots of memorable characters. We both wish it had lasted longer than one season!

Where did you meet?
We met online. The first time we met in person was at a sushi restaurant in San Francisco called Tokyo Go Go. Fr our recent seventh wedding anniversary, we went there again for dinner!

Who does what?
I do lesson planning and product creation and Christine does marketing like pinning, Facebook updates, notes to followers, etc. Since the birth of our second child, Christine has been less active with the business but she still gets plenty done during nap time!

What do enjoy most about your partnership?
The thing I enjoy most about the partnership is, well, the partnership! It's fun and exciting to be building something together.

Do you have nicknames for each other?
Honey and honey. (I know, not very creative.)

What is your teaching theme song?
When I'm in the classroom, I often find myself humming "So Fresh and So Clean," by Outkast. Especially if I'm having a really successful lesson. "Ain't nobody dope like me," students!

If you could dress-up to go somewhere, what would you wear and where would you go?
That's easy. Comic Con. I would dress as a Stormtrooper. Christine would dress as Gamora from Guardians of the Galaxy.

Which do you prefer, cookies, brownies, or neither?
Both of us: Cookies. Especially if they are from Anthony's Cookies. We love your cookies, Anthony!

Name something you've created that you love using in your classroom?
I love using my Greek and Latin Roots Mnemonic Unit.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

New Freebie! Honor Roll Certificates - Gold, Silver, and Bronze - Full and Half Page

I made these honor roll certificates for a family friend who teaches fifth grade in Claremont, California. She wanted something half-page, with blanks for filling in the student name, quarter, teacher and principal signature. They were a hit at her school so I figured I'd post it as a freebie on TpT and Teachers Notebook? I included a full page version as well and a paid version that is editable in Microsoft Word.

March 2014 TPT Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Congratulations are in order for Ursula Gamler, winner of the Teacher Galaxy February 2014 $25 Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificate. 

Want a chance to win in March? Click the link for instructions on how to sign up.

To see who has won each month since I started doing giveaways in August 2013, check out the timeline on my Facebook page. Winners are announced there monthly.

Stay tuned for more giveaways and contests in the coming months.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

3,000,000 Reasons to Shop at TPT February 27-28

To celebrate reaching 3,000,000 members strong, Teachers Pay Teachers is having a site-wide sale on February 27th and 28th. I'll be adding 10% to the site-wide 10% discount, making all my products to 20% off. 

Also, be on the lookout for my monthly $25 gift certificate give away. If you haven't signed up already, instructions for doing so can be found at this link. It's easy!