Monday, 2 September 2013

F13 - My New Classroom

Over the past week I've been setting up my new classroom ready for the new school year. I've spent 2 and a half days getting it the way I want it and putting up all my displays etc, I figured it's worth putting in the effort now as it will save time later in the year when I'll undoubtedly have other things to worry about. As you may know from seeing my previous post 'my blank canvas'  my classroom (F13) was redecorated over the Summer holidays and so I had a fair amount to do...cue before and after photos...

Front of the classroom



I've kept a lot of the front of my room the same as I had it last year in my NQT year. I have my 'Mathematical Alphabet', laminated letters of the alphabet made using to have all mathematical words beginning with each letter of the alphabet made into the shape of that letter of the alphabet. I have a big number line above my whiteboard that I downloaded from teacher resources on line (see my 'go to' resources blog post for the link to this site and my others Above the IWB I have one of my new starter displays for this year - my 'number cruncher' (see for more information). To the left of the whiteboard I have a selection of the 'Minds at Work' posters available from as well as a self indulgent 'Mr Collins Maths' sign (I could, so I did) :)
Behind the class door I have one of my 3 display boards that were put up on Thursday when I wasn't at school - I was so happy on Friday when I came in and they were up, as well as the curtains). I backed this using some bright wrapping paper I got from Ikea. Below the board is a bookcase with some textbooks that were in the class last year. I'm not sure If I'll make much use of these this year, but they're there if needed, or for students to use if they get stuck whilst I'm helping others. I also have some '1, 2, 3' pots (also from Ikea). I'm going to use these in a very 'Primary School' style way...they will be filled with mini whiteboard pens and rubbers for use with the mini whiteboards, I may also put other equipment in them for each table as the lessons dictate. I will then plan to have these on the tables for groups of students to use from 'the off' each lesson. One thing I found last year is that I wasted a fair amount of time handing out resources (especially the mini whiteboards). So, to minimise this 'downtime' I will have the resources ready on the table for my students much like they do in the Primary setting. I'm expecting to have to make my expectations very clear with these as I can see them being 'fiddled' with when not needed if not instructed as to their 'proper' use. We'll see how this works (or not).
You will also see the nrich posters displayed on the beam going across the centre of the classroom. I have picked challenging puzzles that all my classes will be able to attempt, some are harder than others, but each class will be able to do at least 3 or 4 of them. See my 'go to' resources post for the link to their posters page of their website - they're great!

Back of the Classroom



Tables and Chairs! These were one of the last things to go into the room as I was trying to leave the premises team space to get to the walls to put up the displays and the curtains. Also, I wasn't really sure how or where I was going to fit them all in. I'm still not 100% sure they will stay like this, but for now I have 4 groups of 6 and then 4 individual tables each seating 2 students. So, as my reflections on my seating arrangements from last year gave me I have gone for a mixture of 'rows' and 'groups'. To see my reflections on all my seating layouts last year see my blog post here --> You can then just about see another of the display boards on the right of the picture - again, the wrapping paper to back them was from Ikea and I used my department's borders to finish it off. In between the windows at the back of the room I have a selection of displays that I (and my students) will use over the course of the 1st term. I have: my 'the number of the day is...' starter display (see for more information), my Twitter board, my 4 fours challenge and some 'why do I need maths' posters and revision posters from (free and rather good, I'm going to order their revision cards for students soon too).
Lastly, above each window there is a cover to hide the curtain rails. So, on each of these I have put a formula that students are required to know for the Mathematics GCSE examinations. I have: Pythagoras' theorem, area and circumference of circles, sum of interior angles of a polygon, SDT and DMV. I also have a website url for my YouTube channel above my desk's window and I plan on putting a Manga High/MyMaths login/password reminders up too once I've got the details.

Here's my Twitter board...for my 'tweets plenary'...

I've used one of's A1 whiteboards so the post-it note tweets can be better 'stuck' to the wall as they don't stay on the walls for long for some reason? Plus, for my smaller classes they can write their tweets straight onto the whiteboard! I bordered the display with some Twitter images and a few #s.

My 4 fours challenge display...

I've done this a few times over the past few years and it has always worked really well and it keeps amazing me how many students are keen to find solutions to the target numbers 1-100, especially when there are only a few left!

The best thing about this is when I'm not teaching in my room (this will happen very rarely this year due to my full timetable now I'm no longer a trainee/NQT) and other classes/students do some of the target numbers.

Other views of my room...

The view from the back corner of the room looking towards the 'room of the room' room. The table for 2 that is right in the corner will only be used for my class of 32, otherwise it will be a 'free' desk for anybody that will visit my room this year.
This is the view from in the 'room off of the room' room. As you can see I have my dartboard (see my '180!' blog post for more information, a magic whiteboard ready for a round of '501' and...'Mathematical Mario', see other picture below for more on him...
This is the view from the centre front of the room. On the pillar in the middle of the class I have the 'Fail Safe' resource posters I downloaded from I'm hoping these, and other displays will help build an environment where students won't be afraid to make mistakes.
You can then see my CD player/stereo on the windowsill. I'm my school's resident DJ and have used certain types of music (not to mention my Maths DJing) in class to help students focus. So, I'll use this at points throughout the year as required...and it'll be there for me to chill out to after school when I'm planning, marking etc. I'm hoping to do more work at school this year and less at home so this will hopefully allow me to create a similar atmosphere to that I'm used to working in at home?

My class door...

I love my 'Mr Collins' on the front of the door. I used an Origami app I downloaded for free on my iPhone and made each of the letters from a piece of Marvel wrapping paper I managed to find in Primark of all places. I've also backed my 'room divider' in this - it looks pretty cool. I then put a F(sq rt)169 on the door so everyone knows what room it is (there's an F(2^2 + 3^2) on the back)!

Mathematical Mario

Inspired by a YouTube video I saw where someone made a stop motion video of Pacman and Mario using just post it notes I have created my own post-it note Mario character. I found out the hard way that the post-it notes I got (PoundWorld) didn't stick to the wall for long so I laminated them and 'blutacked' them to the wall. I plan to write key formulae and words on each post it note. It's more of a 'WOW' factor display than anything else. Much like my Space Invaders window decals I had in my classroom last year I hope it brings out a bit of my personality.

I'm also thinking of jazzing up the wall outside my classroom door by having a post-it note Tetris display using the same sort of method as I have here. I'll see if I get enough time, otherwise it may be left until I can find some time.

So there it new classroom. I'm really happy with it and already feel right at home in my 'new' school. I'm looking forward to seeing the reaction of my students (and colleagues) to my room and can't wait to get started. We have 2 INSET days on Tuesday and Wednesday this week and then all the kids start on Thursday. Here's to a great year...


  1. This is a fantastic effort! So jealous - we don't have our own rooms at our school. You've got some really unique ideas. I don't suppose you have an electronic version of the Alphabet you made you could share? Thought I could recommend we get sets done for the rooms so when we make a maths spelling error they can use the alphabet like a dictionary

  2. So wonderful to see my Twitter poster being used! Thank you =D