Four Things…

We are FIVE WEEKS into this school year and things have been going SO GREAT in my classroom. I make sure to continually reflect on what I’m doing in my room and think about what works well and what doesn’t. As I was reflecting, I thought it would be fun to share a few things that enhance my classroom experience! SoOoOoOo here we go!


Class Pet

I have had so many questions about my classroom pet, Sir Winston Charles. I purchased him at Petsmart my first year teaching middle school and he has been such a blessing to me and my kiddos. I cannot tell you enough how special having a class pet is to your students. That is something that they will remember forever and tell their children about. I got so lucky with Winston! Every guinea I’ve been around is super skittish and runs when trying to be pet, but Winston LOVES attention. When someone walks towards his cage he sticks his head out to greet them. He loves to be held and to be talked to AND FED! When he was a baby, I carried him all over the school in my scarf and talked to him nonstop. He was used to being held everyday, so maybe that helped his temperament. My kids absolutely adore him and you can usually find him on a desk during my class just hanging out! He is a quite a bit of work, but so worth it in my opinion. My students usually jump at the chance to help out with him.

His cage is from Amazon. (Link below.) Guineas need bedding, a house, water bottle, Timothy hay, pellet food, and fresh veggies/fruit. Sidenote- I tried using felt as the main sources of bedding (in the cage picture) it just didn’t work well for me. I definitely prefer bedding over the felt.

Here are some sweet memories with W…

Guinea Habitat

Bell Ringers 

Teaching a 50 minute period, I didn’t think I had time for bell work. I have tried it in the past, but could never stay consistent with one thing. This year I decided to stick with it because I feel like more structure is conductive to a classroom that runs smoother.  I have my students use two pages in their interactive notebook for a week of bell work questions. When they walk in they know to grab their notebook from their box and look at the board where they can find the bell work question, what we’re doing for the day, and any upcoming due dates. I usually relate the bell work question to something we’re studying just to make sure that they are getting the concept, but I also add in general science topics. Here are the bell ringers from the second week of school… Perfect opportunity to add in graphing! (Every grade needs graphing practice!)



This is my daily agenda that I put on the SmartBoard each day!

Roll Call + Student Strips 

I hate taking attendance. I’m usually ready to jump right into what we’re doing that day, but taking attendance is something that is necessary. So in true Mrs. Ellis fashion, I turned it into something fun we do each day. Each student has a number in my class and this is their number for everything- class job assignment, book box, and attendance. Instead of calling out their names, I just yell “ROLL CALL” and each student says their number in order. My students know that there is absolutely no talking during this time. As they are saying their numbers, I have a strip with their names and numbers and I am circling anyone absent and saying their number for them. Somedays I’ll spice it up and have my students say their number in a british accent or like a monster!

I owe the strip idea all to my sweet Insta Friend, T is for Teaching– GO right now and check out her post on creating class lists by clicking that link! This idea has saved me so much time! She is so smart and explains it incredibly well. I’m happy that I learned this trick from her. For every assignment, I have a strip of their names to paperclip to the assignments turned in and I write the grade right on the strip to enter into my Gradebook. GENIUS!!

tisforteaching 2

Interactive Notebook

I probably should do an entire post about my GUS (Guide to Understanding Science) because my science interactive notebook is BAE. It has truly been the best thing I have ever incorporated into my teaching. Like I’ve said in previous posts, I don’t use a textbook. It’s outdated and I have sour feelings about science textbooks. Throughout my entire public school experience I hated science because all we ever did was read and answer the questions at the end of the chapter. THAT IS NOT SCIENCE!!! So I make sure to be as creative as possible when creating lessons for my students. I don’t do anything in my class that I wouldn’t enjoy as a student. I think this mindset is the best to have because it pushes me to think outside of my teacher box! I make it kind of hard on myself because I create 95% of the content that I use in my classroom. I try to tailor everything to meet my current students needs, plus I just feel like I’m cheating my students if I don’t create the activities and notes myself. This is where my science notebook comes in…. It makes my life soooo much easier. I don’t even mess with a table of contents (I tried that and it was a mess/waste of time.) I jump right in with the content. Everything we do goes into our notebooks and it becomes kind of like our “textbook.” I make handouts, print articles, mind map notes, activities, foldables, and vocabulary flaps to name a few that fill our notebooks. Here are a few of our first pages from the year to get an idea….



That’s all for now! Thank you so much for reading! What is something that you would like me to post about next? Send me a message or leave a comment below! ❤



13 thoughts on “Four Things…

  1. Jeni says:

    I love all of your fonts! 4 questions for you…where did you find your fonts? How do you make your documents? What program do you use? What program do you design your slides in (the one you had in a pic of your bell work)?


      • Jeni says:

        Thank you for the info!! I never thought to use Power Point for my documents! I will have to try it out this weekend😉 I love your blog and insta page! You are so inspiring!! I tried the mind mapping earlier this week…it was a hit with a handful of students. I just need to figure out how to tweak to keep more kids engaged!


      • themagnoliateacher says:

        Of course!! Definitely try it out! Let me know if you need help! Thank you so much for the kind words❤️
        Mind mapping takes about 3 or 4 times for them to get the hang of it in my experience! ❤️ Don’t give up on it!


    • Erin says:

      I am a first year teacher for 7th grade science! I was always in elementary school before so teaching to the middles has been an awesome but challenging job. I absolutely love your outlook on teaching science . I’m also not a fan of those icky science textbooks. Thank you so much for your insights ! I have screenshotted probably all of your ideas. I only wish I would’ve seen your page before school started 😅 Thanks for sharing!


  2. Meaghan Dugan says:

    First year teacher here that also has sour feelings about science textbooks. You are a ROCK STAR!!! Trying out mind mapping the notes with my kiddos tomorrow – thank you for the inspiration!!!


    • themagnoliateacher says:

      OMG!!😍❤️Thank you! You’re the rockstar! Let me know how it goes! First time is a little rough trying out mind mapping- by the 3rd time they’ll get the hang of it! Good luck!! If you need help with ANYTHING email me!!❤️


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