Saturday, 1 September 2012

My New Classroom (the back of the room)

The back of my classroom is where the majority of the display space is with a massive display board going, pretty much, across the whole of the back wall. I have made this my class 'Twitter' board to use with my 'Tweets Plenary' ( &

Here's the view of the back of the class from the whiteboard at the front:

Here's the 'Twitter' board up close:
As you can see I have already stuck a load of post-it notes to the board, this is to give students an idea of how the board will work and me an idea of how it would look. I will be encouraging students to post post-it note 'tweets' on the board at the end of our lessons (not necessarily all of them) and also when they have questions they want to ask. I have put up some example questions to think about when writing their 'tweets' such as 'what have you learnt today', 'what do you want to know next' etc
Underneath the 'Twitter' board I have a selection of the puzzles from the nrich website I hope students will feel inspired to try some of these out themselves in their own time. I may also direct students that finish work early to have a go at one of them? (thinking out loud again). To the left of the 'Twitter' board is my 'Stuck-o-meter'...
Here it is close up:

The 'Stuck-o-meter' was an idea I got from Jim Smith's Lazy Teacher's Handbook. My student's will be encouraged to put up a post-it note with their name and problem on the 'stuck-o-meter' during the lesson if I am busy helping another student. I will be keeping an eye on the meter during the lesson and will address the problems on the display (and will encourage my TAs to do the same). The board is a way of students assessing themselves how stuck they feel they are on their work and will give them a place to post their question which I will later address. In an ideal world, I will be able to do this in the lesson, but fully aware of the limitations of this I will at least be able to collect in any remaining questions/problems at the end of the lesson and attend to them by either speaking to the student at a later date or even e-mailing them with help, useful websites to visit, perhaps one of my YouTube videos etc.
Also at the back of the class is possibly the school's oldest book case (it's slightly falling apart at the back) and then a few other displays including my Escher posters and my hexagonal mirror.
Here's how this part looks:


The hexagonal mirrors will hopefully lead to discussions about Polygons, interior and exterior angles, tessellations, properties of shapes etc. The bookcase is already full of my class' exercise books ready for when they get these in their first lessons (including a box of spares for later in the year). There is also quite a random selection of books that seem to have been left from the library or other teachers. I've decided to leave these here for now but may go hunting around car boots and the charity shops to see if I can find some books that the students may prefer/look a bit better than those currently residing on the shelf. I will try and make this the 'station' where the student helpers go to at the start and end of the lesson to hand in/get the class' books. I will inform classes of when I intend to mark their books and at the end of these lessons I will get them to put their books on the top of the book case, open on the page where I need to mark them, in an attempt to try and save some time this year when marking.  If I'm not marking their books they'll just put them above their class tag.
And that, for now, is pretty much it in terms of my new classroom. I am hoping that my students will feel engaged and inspired by the room and it's contents. I also hope that the room brings out a bit of my personality; I have some space invaders stickers on the window...
I want the room to give my students a certain feel that what happens in the room will be exciting and interesting!? They're my intentions anyway. I'm sure I will constantly change things throughout the year as I/my students see fit - I haven't even put up my Arsenal badge yet (we'll see how the season starts).



  1. Mr Collins...I don't know you, but you, sir, are a wonderful man.

    I'm reading around the vast expanses of the web in preparation for training as a maths teacher with Teach First from Sept 2013. Mr Barton Maths pointed me to your blog, and I'm very glad he did. Your posts and ideas have inspired me to create a bookmark folder entitled 'utterly wonderful maths teaching ideas' and your Stuck-o-Meter is currently top of the list. I can see I will be reading your blog avidly as the next few years progress. Thank you!

  2. Thank you for your very kind words Max - I hope my posts are as useful as the year progresses! :)

    Mr Collins

  3. Any chance you could put a copy of the stuck-o-meter on TES? Interested in how you have structured this

  4. I can see much thought has gone into the displays as it should be for all of us. The student's first impressions of a room is as the first impression we have when meeting another for the first time. First impressions can make a difference.

    The old saying says, "You can lead a horse to water but you can't make it drink," had me thinking. Before a horse can drink, it needs to have the water available. The water is there in your preparation, let's hope they all drink deeply this school year.

    Teacher, N.S.W., Australia

  5. Hi there.

    I have 2 questions I was wondering if you could answer. I really like the fake twitter idea and have now also set up an area of my class where the kids 'tweet' me.
    However I am wondering how you set up the fake twitter page that you post the tweets on. My kids really want to follow the fake profile.

    Secondly the 'stuck-o-meter' idea is something I have been looking at doing for a while now but never knew how to set it out. Do you have any close ups of the display or as posted earlier can you put it on TES?

    You are doing a fantastic job.


  6. Hi J McNair,

    I'm glad you like the ideas...
    I don't actually put the tweets on any sort of page on Twitter - all I have is a fake Twitter ppt that is on my TES resources to download. So far this year I have just left the 'tweets' on the board at the back of the room and it's surprising how many kids look at it on the way in/out of the room, even if they haven't done the tweets plenary yet! It would be great eventually to have some sort of 'maths twitter page' for my class to tweet to rather than writing on a post it but due to e-safety issues i'm staying clear of this for now!
    The stuck-o-meter will be put up on the TES later so you can download and put up. I used it for the first time with my Year 10 2nd set and they enjoyed posting notes on it when needing help and it was quite useful when knowing who needed help next (and helps in terms of the prioritisation of problems). I also found that some students managed to seek the answer to their problems before I had a chance to get round to their question and so this helps promote independent learning!?
    I'll put a link to the Stuck-o-meter when uploaded below.

    Many Thanks for your comments,

    Mr Collins

  7. It's already on there!