Category Archives: Classroom Decor

Make it Stick Posters (and Poster FAQs)

[Updated at 4:00 to add “Delight” poster!]
[Updated 8/5 to add larger poster files and labels]

One of my (numerous) goals this school year is to introduce my students to the learning skills from Make It Stick by Brown, Roediger, and McDaniel. (I think @druinok should really get a royalty from all the people that have started reading this after seeing the #eduread discussions! Which reminds me, join us at 8E/7C/6M/5P this Thursday where we start discussing What’s Math Got to Do With it?)

Another one of my (numerous) goals was to encourage “strengthening a dendrite” from Chris Shore’s My Favorites–giving students a sticker of a dendrite whenever they do something growth-mindset-y or that shows mathematical thinking.

And one of the things I like to do is make posters and play with fonts.

Put them together and what have you got?


Strengthen a Dendrite

Fonts used (in order): Captain Howdy; Chowderhead; Traveling Typewriter; Grand Hotel; Budmo Jiggler; Antique No 14; Janda Elegant Handwriting; Ever After; Sofia; Waltograph; KG Let Her Go; KG Happy; Modern No. 20; Mountains of Christmas; Bodoni MT Black; KG Eyes Wide Open; Captain Howdy

(pdf file here) (doc file here-needs fonts listed in the caption or change to your favorites)


math brain is under construction(Pdf file here) (18×24 file here)


Dendrite stickers(doc file here for using these labels) Amy Fine made a file for 60 labels to a page in case those you have those instead! Thanks, Amy!

I also made an alternate brain poster using the same font as the first poster’s title in case you’re into that kind of thing:

Math Brain Under Construction(pdf file here).  I also couldn’t decide between having the “is” or not. Opinions?

If any of you went on the #TMC15 cupcake run to My Delight Cupcakery (or enjoyed the cupcakes from said run), you may remember a pretty awesomely accurate sticker that they used. I made a poster of it but wanted to make sure it was OK with them first and Melinda replied, “That’s awesome, Meg!  Sure, you can make a print for your classroom; the quote is meant to be shared with everyone!  So glad you got more out of your visit than you expected, and thank you for sharing our Delight with your coworkers.”  🙂  I am more in love with this bakery than I even thought possible now. (And I was in pretty deep after trying their ice cream filled ones. ICE CREAM FILLED CUPCAKES, PEOPLE.) Anyway, here it is!

True delight color(Color PDF) (BW PDF) (18×24 Color PDF)

Now for some poster FAQs:

Did you make these? Yes.

Where did you get the pictures? Try Wikimedia Commons, Graphics Fairy, and ClipArtETC (h/t to @mathequalslove for that last one. Check out their graphs, too!) Of course, you can always do a Google Image search and only use those images/photos that are labeled for reuse (as I’m sure we all do already, right?).

How did you make these? The first one (and most of my posters) are made using Word, then I use doPDF to print to a PDF. Try using textboxes and clipart to jazz it up. And of course some fonts! Pro tip: Expand your text to make it seem snazzier:expand font exHere’s how:

expand fontPlay around with the values in number #4 until you get something that you think looks nice.

The brain poster I made using Silhouette Design software that came with my Silhouette machine but is free for anyone to use – download it at the bottom of this page. I like it because you can have your text trace any path. In this case, I made a circle, then had the two different lines of text trace it. There’s lots of tutorials on how to do this if you’re interested!  (WARNING: The actual machine is WAY addicting. You’ll want to cover EVERYTHING in vinyl decals.)

You may also want to try Canva or PicMonkey online. Some people also use Powerpoint instead of Word. Just give it a shot!

How do you print them? Around this time of year, I keep my eye out for Staples poster deals. Usually they offer a color 18x24ish for about $5.  I made these black and white so you can also take advantage of their $2 engineering prints. These are printed black and white on lesser quality paper. [Updated: they also print color for $3. Read more here.]They are not recommended for photographs, but if you look on Pinterest some people have gotten beautiful, fun, huge photos made for super cheap! We are fortunate to have our own laminator at school and once laminated the engineering prints hold up pretty well, but I did have an issue with the corner puckering where I used hot glue on it. It was normal temp glue (I usually use low-temp but had run out), so I don’t know if that was the issue. Just wanted to warn you about that!

Now go forth and strengthen those dendrites!

The Things I Do For MTBoS (Posters & Function Transformations)

Casey (@cmmteach) says, “MAKE ME A POSTER!”  and I say, “HOW SPACEY?”


.pdf  and .doc and yeah, because that would use a crapton of ink, bwpdf and bwdoc.



.pdf and .doc

Then no one says “MAKE ME A POSTER OF THIS QUOTE, TOO!” but I think they just didn’t realize their classroom was incomplete without it so YOU’RE WELCOME, EVERYONE.

Capture4.pdf and .doc

Updated: I also made a color version of the above poster: .pdf 

Temporary Postponement of Success Color

Then Friday night on twitter we got into quite the discussion of (h, k) and function transformations, because that’s what cool kids do on Friday nights.  Julie was lamenting at kids not sure what to do first…reflect, dilate, shift?  So I mentioned what I call the S.S. method of graphing after one of the best math teachers with whom I’ve ever had the privilege to work.  I’m not going to lie to you; I didn’t trust it for a while. But then after a couple of years (!) she finally convinced me and it is beauty and efficiency all at once.  Then Julie says “GIVE ME AN EXAMPLE” and I say, “WELL HERE’S A WHOLE BLOG POST ABOUT IT ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?”

So you spend time talking about what the various parts do, maybe with some discovery desmos, or some crazy function match game with worksheet.  (hint: don’t use the t-tables! it just confuses the issue!), or the beautiful HOLY COW SO THAT’S WHY f(2x) COMPRESSES activity (which yes, here’s a quick showme video because Elissa said “CAN ANYONE HELP?” and I said “I WILL SHOWME YOU” even though other tweeps answered her much better than I did).

After all of that, it finally gets down to the nitty gritty of graphing a real function with all sorts of exciting things happening. And yes, yes, you could do all the shifting and dilating and reflecting, and substituting (M, N), but then I don’t know how that would be any quicker than just plugging points into the original equations after all that work (don’t get me started on the people that have them draw a graph for EACH TRANSFORMATION like we’ve got all the time in the world) and the Cal teacher would like them to be quick and efficient at these graphs.

But the good news is I can multiply and divide really well and I’m also really good at counting from the origin.  And that’s all that’s needed.

1) Mark (h, k) with a small x.  This is your new origin.

2) Take your basic t-chart (-2 to 2 normally does it for me, unless there’s domain or excitement issues).  Multiply/divide x’s/y’s as needed.  Feel free to multiply/divide by negatives in the SAME STEP if a flip is involved because we are that CRAZY GOOD AT MATHING.

3) Graph your t-chart from your new origin.  SHAZAAM.  Feel free to label points counting from the original origin if your teacher’s into that sort of stuff.

Here are some examples:

Capture5 Capture7The one catch–a negative INSIDE the function.  We just have to do some reorganizing:


(and some of us need to learn the difference between flipping horizontally and vertically. I know which way to flip; I just always call it the wrong thing. I’ve started going with “flip across x-axis” or “y-axis”).

Anyway, maybe this is what most of you do anyway?  But I always have some teachers that are freaking AMAZED by it when I start graphing these babies at workshops so maybe you were, too. If you want more, here is the notetakermaker and the filled-in version.

Full disclosure: Of course y’all know Casey, Julie, and Elissa are three of the sweetest people on twitter and would never ask for things in the manner in which I implied. So I hope y’all consider this post just a feeble start to paying back all that MTBoS has done for me!

First day!

Tomorrow is the first day of school. These are the good things that have happened over the past three workdays:

1) I got a new parking spot in the shade.

So I’m hoping things will get better when the kids get here.  I should have a good group this year, just a lot of them (over 160 at last count).

Instead of lesson planning last night, I thought I should make some posters because fonts > freaking out.

First my classroom rules:

CAM00136Three cool things about this 1) I made it using PicMonkey, from the same people that brought you Picnik if you used that back in the day before Google killed it.  I haven’t played around a lot with PicMonkey, but I definitely could see myself spending lots of time there.  2) I printed it as an engineering print at Staples for $1.85! Warning: after laminating, the hot glue affected it oddly as you can see in the corners.  I was using high-temp glue which I normally don’t use so I don’t know if that was part of the problem.  But I’m willing to live with it for $1.85 (that’s including tax, my friend.)  3) Here’s the file.

Then I went to work on Glenn’s 3 Essential Rules of Math  Behold:

CAM00137Thanks to some crafty suggestions, I’m going to jazz it up with some washi tape and/or bulletin board border, but I still like them.  Here is both the pdf and word.

Then today I went to work on my beginning of school Powerpoint.  Do you like memes?  Well then, you’ve come to the right place. Enjoy.

Also if you note in slide 5, TMC put me over the hump in states!  Thanks, Jenks!
One final image: There was a discussion on twitter that some people don’t own 12 different rolls of washi tape, or perhaps not even know about washi tape!  It is “pretty” masking tape that you can write on and also peel off of most things without damaging it.  You can usually find it in the scrapbooking section.  Office supply stores also carry it, but they are sometimes a bit pricey. I don’t know if Target still has the four rolls for $4 in the office supply section, but it’s worth a look.  There are many things you can do with it, but this is my fave:
01-washi tapeWe have a table in our entryway with all of our different white power cords.  Add some washi tape to the end to easily identify.  If you’d like to be even more clever, add the same color to the other end of the cord in case you have to unplug it.  And if you’d like to be super clever, you can put the tape just on the top of the plugs that have an orientation.  Yes, that means always plugging it in correctly on the first try.  You’re welcome.

My Classroom

I start my first day back at school tomorrow, with the students coming back Thursday. Mr Craig & I spent some time last week trying to rearrange my room into groups. I think I may have at least one class of 30 AND I have a really bad closet/projector/projector connection/whiteboard layout AND I have attached-chair-desks. All of that meant that I could not get any traditional grouping to work, so I ended up with this:

11-classroom from front

Need to do some poster rearranging. Don’t you love Rosie with “MATH: We Can Do It!”?

There are a couple of issues, the main one being that I have only have enough big whiteboards and card sort games for 8 groups, which means I’ll have to think of something if I end up having to use the full 10 groups.  Plus I’m not sure how easy it will be for the guys on the end to share with each other if the middle one is working.  But, as @mathtans said, it’s the “least worst” of the possible options I had. Here is the view from the doorway:

12-classroom from door

Cleanest my desk will ever be. Also note the requisite “what if the Earth was…” geometric shape posters.

And from the back:

06-classroom from back

Don’t be jealous of my curtains that I’ve never hemmed. Also, no, I don’t know why they didn’t mount the flag higher.

If I end up with less kids, I’d like to try groups of four but my computer needs to be where it is so it can connect to the projector, which means I lose the best “in front of screen” desk locations.  The desk on the left is a standing-height desk that I use with my document camera; I got it from Overstock last year. It’s much better than playing hunchback over the cart I had previously and I can spread out all my papers.

Now for a few closeups.  This is my make up work station.

04-makeupI write what we did every day on the calendar, then use the calendar to help with planning the next year.  I use this hanging folder to hold handouts for absent students.  I put the name on top of each worksheet and then stick them in the period folder.  If you look closely, I tied paper clips to the folders so I can clip half-sheets to the top of each folder (my paperclips kept walking off and I was too lazy to keep going over to my desk for new ones, which is why they are tied now.).  No excuses for not getting a handout! Since I fill out new notes with the document camera every period, I put the filled-in notes in the pink folders-students can either copy and put back or keep the copy (first come, first serve).

This is probably the most important part of my room, my Wall of Cute:

10-wall of cute

Sometimes you need a picture of a corgi butt to get you through 6th period.

Some people post growth mindset posters. I have these:


Click the pic to read them easier.


Ok, ok, I also have a few motivational posters, too.


Capture5 Capture6


Any fans of Wonder out there?

The first two I made: PDFs here and here.  (If you’d like one with a different background color, Contact Me!)  The third one is available here.

I didn’t even plan the color coordination on these two:

05-DFTBAThe first one is a sign from the second one I printed, but I can’t find my original source. 🙁

I forgot to take some closeups of my Harry Potter ones.  Here they are.

I can't remember who I stole this idea from originally, please let me know if it was you!

I can’t remember from whom I stole this idea originally, please let me know if it was you!

Capture4Capture2Capture3They can all be found in this folder.  If you want the “PEMDAS” version of the curses poster, it’s the original one in the folder.

This last one I stole from Math Teacher Mambo, with modifications. We have two different schedules throughout the week, one with a 7th period study hall.  The long arrows are for long period days and the short arrows are for short period days.  I made the arrows using my Silhouette machine.

08-clockPlus it’s a fun thing for kids to guess about on the first day of school.

I’m also linking this post to Made4Math. Sure wish a lot more of y’all’s projects were listed on there (hint, hint).

Hope you enjoyed my classroom tour!  If you have questions on anything, don’t hesitate to ask!