page > Power
Tools > How-To >
in dealing with those first days of school depends on planning and organizing
now, and a number of Teachnet readers have shared ideas for doing
so. We'll visit this topic regularly; here are some of their thoughts...
We'll skip the usual items such as paper clips, rubber bands and pencils,
and move right into emergencies. Safety pins, extra clothing and needle
and thread are some of the things to have handy just for your own use,
if not your students'. Do you have an apron or large "work"
shirt to protect your clothes? Even an extra pair of old, cheap comfortable
shoes will work if you break a strap or lose a heel. Most schools now
have a plan in place for medical emergencies, supplying a bag of cleaning,
disinfecting and wound-covering supplies for your use or for handing to
your minor-injury-prone student (depending on the age). This kit should
also include the obvious such as bandages and rubber gloves for wound-handling
and the not-so-obvious such as magnifying glass, tweezers and mini flashlight.
Mandatory for many classrooms now are baggies with emergency medical items
to carry out to the playground or to field trips. Know your school's protocol
for dealing with medical situations and for sending students to the office
or the school nurse.
Even if your school doesn't allow you to THINK about hammering a nail
in the wall, a tool kit is as indispensable as one for the home. Tools
need to still be safe and usable, of course, but save money by rounding
up some older, less-used items from home or from your friends and family.
Hammer, pliers, phillips and slot head screwdrivers (including micro ones
for eye glasses), nails, a small assortment of screws, small can of oil
or WD-40, work gloves, handful of clothespins, a few rags; you get the
idea. This isn't Tool Time, just a back-up supply of essentials.
For office supplies, here's a tip; think medical. Drug companies spend
tons of money on junk to give to doctors and their staffs, so if you know
someone who works for one, they probably can load you up with sticky notes
of all sizes, pens, pencils, clips, note pads, thermometers, clocks and
rulers. Also, round up large paper clips or (our favorite) wooden clothespins
for clipping stacks of papers together. Stationery should include thank
you notes and envelopes for field trip or visiting speaker follow-ups.
Back up the required ball of string with fishing line for hanging objects
other items our readers have suggested keeping around include hot glue
gun for attaching objects to the wall (but talk to your maintenance dept.
first), standard size flashlight (got batteries?), your own personal cup
or mug, cheap camera and film, backup car keys, spare bulb for your overhead
projector, length of sticky-back velcro, old towels from home, and a sheet
of plastic or old shower curtain for use as a drop cloth or umbrella or,
hmmm, a bulletin board covering? Which brings us to:
Bulletin Board Ideas:
We received email
from several teachers who thought they'd get their room decorated, organized
and ready-to-go in a couple of days, only to spend more than that just
doing the bulletin boards. There may be nothing more intimidating than
that blank "canvas" (how many times do we hear "I can't
draw a straight line?"). Well, here are some ideas:
Use fabric for a fairly permanent
covering which won't show thumbtack holes. One reader even saw on TV this
"on-the-wall" idea: soak the fabric in liquid starch, wring
it out, and smooth it out on the wall and hold it in place with thumbtacks
until it dries. To remove it, just lift a corner and pull off. We haven't
tried it, but the show claimed it works on bulletin boards. Other bulletin
board covers could be wrapping paper, plastic table cloths, paint, wallpaper,
flat bedsheets, aluminum foil and yes, the shower curtain. Decorating
ideas abound; some suggestions were creating a windowpane, or a doodle
board your students can add to as they like (just white paper and a bucket
of markers). Still stumped? When in DesignerLand, do as the designers...just
steal your ideas. Our staff designer assures us that all those "best
of" graphic design books of winning contest entries aren't being
snatched up by other designers for nothing. For a breath of fresh air,
skip the bulletin board "idea books" and look to MTV or print
advertising (try a Rolling Stone or Wired magazine for a real jolt). Our
favorite is still the Communication Arts
Advertising Annual (it should be available at least at your public library),
which shows examples of the best in print, TV, radio and the best metaphor...billboards.
Finally, our decor page has tips for
getting that great killer headline from your head to cut-out letters for
your bulletin board.
Related to bulletin boards is the issue of how to display student work.
You can always use work to fill up the bulletin board you don't know what
to do with, or tape it to the wall. But try going off-the-wall using fishing
line to hang things "invisibly" (in some cities, fire code does
not allow use of more flammable material such as yarn). Foldable clothes
drying racks, skirt hangers and old umbrellas can also be used for displays.
Anything that folds out which papers or 3-D art can be clipped or taped
to will work. Attaching small steel cable to two well-anchored screws
in adjacent walls also makes a no-sag way of hanging those items.