How Desk Towers Saved My Sanity

11th August 2015

I am currently in my 8th year teaching high school English and, like usual, I am loving it. It is extremely tiring and somehow over the summer I forgot the stamina needed to sustain such energy to engage 155 students, 6 hours a day (and no, I’m not exaggerating that number) but it is very rewarding and so far so good.

Over the summer I scavenged Pinterest and my favorite teaching blogs to find new and exciting ideas to add to my classroom. Here are two of my loves (more to come soon):

1. Desk Towers

While pricey, these Walmart Storage Towers have been AWESOME, AMAZING, and MIRACULOUS. My students are loving them as well and they are so convenient it makes me a very happy teacher. And happy teacher, happy learners.

desk towers

Here is the run down:

  • Top drawer – Cell Phones
    • My policy: Each day I notify the class if it is a “cell phone on desk” or “cell phone in drawer” day but putting it on my into class slide. If it is a “cell phone on desk” day, the students may keep their cell phones face down on their desks and may check them or use them for school purposes. If it is a “cell phone in drawer” day, students will put their cell phone in their table’s drawer and may not get it out unless instructed. If students choose not to put their cell phone in the drawer, that is fine, but they must not take it out of their bag/backpack that day otherwise I will confiscate it and place it in my drawer until the end of the period.
  • Second drawer – Team whiteboard (from Dollar Tree) and Expo Marker
  • Third drawer – Supplies (markers, crayons, rules, glue sticks, scissors, etc.)
  • Fourth drawer – Kleenex box
  • Fifth drawer – File folders to make stand up tents for testing in groups

There are so many options for these towers and you could modify to fit the needs of your students.

2. Evernote App for Iphone and Android

This has been around for years; but, I just recently found out about and have decided to use it to help my students with their note-taking this year. I have never really been into having student keep a “composition notebook” or “binder” for my class.

I have tried different ways but found that giving my students information seems to happen by handouts or Google Drive and I never know how to have them “save” or takes notes on the information that isn’t in a PowerPoint. I do a lot of “fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants” writing instruction when I am re-teaching concepts or talking them through a writing prompt and I want them to be able to save this information from the whiteboard when they need to.

2015-08-10 18.22.21

Here are my highlights:

  • Students can create a separate digital notebook for each class.
  • Students can create notes in that notebook for that class.
  • Students can take pictures of teacher’s board, PPT slides, or textbook pages and save to that note page (as well as take notes in between the images using their phones/tablets).
  • Students can SET REMINDERS FROM THE NOTE TO STUDY THE NOTES LATER FOR A TEST!
  • Students can share their notes from Evernote member to Evernote member.
  • If a student doesn’t have a phone, they have been taking notes traditionally in their English notebook.

It is only week 4 of the school year and I have used this app with my students in class several times. I did have to teach my students how to use it briefly but once they learned it they were asking their other teachers if they could use it in their classes (not sure how those teachers felt about it but at least they are using their phones for good). #win

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Hope everyone’s year is off to an energetic start,

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