Summer has started and so far It has been fabulous and stressful. We have thoroughly celebrated the seventh birthday of my amazing and fabulous son and then he broke his finger falling off his new bike:(. I'm just hoping he doesn't need a cast so we can continue our daily soaking in the pool. Right now, you are getting this blog post live from jury duty!!! I have been called up for various jury duties (district and federal... Oh yes, they are different and don't care about each other or if you have already served on one... Can't we all just get along?) three times in the past three years. What does this fabulous state that I love so much, have against me?
Anybody who follows me knows my love affair with Pinterest. The love affair, though, causes me great envy. I look at these elementary school teachers' classrooms and I just drool. I love the organization and individualization that they can achieve because they have the same thirty kids all day. Don't get me wrong, I know that teaching elementary is just as hard as teaching any other grade level. I'm just envious of the way they can organize for one group of kids as opposed to five. I used this envy to figure out what I could do to create more of a flow in my class as well as create an atmosphere of independence for my almost high schoolers. So, what did I do?
1. Do Now Video
I blogged about this topic here. I incorporated a very independent Do Now into the beginning of my class but it took some of my classes longer than others to get into the groove of coming into class and getting prepared. I always tell my kids that I I don't expect them to be social studies' students the minute they get into class. Two minutes ago they were language arts' students so obviously they need time to adjust. I made this video to give them a preset length of time and a reminder. I hadn't accounted for the fact that the music was going to be a huge motivator and for some of the kids the auditory reminder was key. All in all this was a MAJOR success this year.
2. Get your own papers!!!
As I've stated I really worked my Do Now into less of a bonus question and more of an organization activity I have student complete every day. My Do Now always starts with a prompt to write down their homework, which is listed in the back of the class. I then have them take out anything they need to begin the first activity. I actually hang a physical copy of the activity on the board to help my visual learners. After fifteen years in teaching I decided to do something really new. I hate taking time out of class to hand stuff out, but that is traditionally how you get things to students. I decided to take a chance and have the kids pick up their own handouts. I tell the students, in th Do Now, how many sheets they need to pick up.
On the table in the back, I put all the paperwork needed for the entire class and simply label them with sticky notes.
The kids did amazing at this!!!! It saved so much time in class and really streamlined our activities. Even when the kids forgot to pick stuff up at the beginning they took it upon themselves to grab it in class when they realized they didn't have the necessary activities. This is something I'm totally taking this into next year.
3. Cheap Whiteboards
This is another Pinterest find. I placed card stock into sheet protectors and got skinny expo markers and voila......whiteboards!!!! The kids love them and they have cut down on paper use in my classroom. They are amazing for brainstorming and group activities. I place these on the kids' desks before they enter along with a pencil box or cup with the markers and a tissue for cleaning. I can't wait to find more opportunities to use these in my class.
4. Prepare the Supplies!!!
This year I spent a good amount of time preparing the resources for the kids before class. I used pencil boxes and sometimes plastic cups to put on their desks or in their groups. In these boxes I place things like highlighters, glue sticks, colored pencils, etc. It takes a good amount of time and work to set all this up but I have found it totally worth it!
Did you introduce something new this year they helped your classes? Let me know!!!