Archives for July 2013

Great Ideas for Elementary Teachers

Great Ideas for Elementary Teachers

As I was searching through blogs today, I found a link to this article about various things teachers do to organize their classrooms and make them child-friendly.  Some of them I already incorporate in my own classroom, and others I will definitely be implementing this year!  Take a look for yourself!

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Mission Organization: Recycled Writing

As I was browsing through the dollar store, I came across this really cute trash can.  I know, it’s a trash can for crying out loud!  But hey, I’m an elementary teacher with vision!!

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I decided that this would be a great place for students to put their ideas that they want to write about in the future, but just don’t have time for at the moment the idea hits them.  Instead of just telling students, “I’m sorry, but you just can’t write about that right now,” I will now have a better solution.  My students will be able to write down their ideas and place them in the “Recycled Writing Ideas” can to save for the future.

There are many different ways that this can be used, and I’m not sure exactly how I will implement it, but right now it is just another step to getting myself and my students organized.  I’m thinking that this will be a great way to find out what kids really want to write about, and hopefully I can incorporate their ideas into my classroom discussions and individual writing pieces.  As the year goes on, I’m sure I’ll find many more ways to use it.

I would LOVE to hear your ideas if you have some.  I’m always open to new ways of thinking!!

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Homeworkopoly Revisited

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Homeworkopoly has been drawing the attention of several people and conjuring questions of all kinds, so I decided to revisit this popular topic and do my best to answer the questions that have been asked.

What is it?  Homeworkopoly is a game that was created by some brilliant person (I’m guessing a teacher, but not sure of the original owner) to encourage homework participation.  The best part about it is that you can customize it to fit your needs.

How does it work?  It works differently in every classroom, I’m sure.  Some teachers are lucky enough to have only one set of students, while others are departmentalized and have numerous classes rotating through each day.  I teach 4th grade, and my team is departmentalized, so I see about 44 students every day.  Last year, the year of implementation, I actually had 3 classes of 22 students in a rotation, so it was a little difficult to manage, but still possible.  Because of the high volume of participants, my rules for the game were probably very different from a self-contained classroom.

The rules: During the fall semester, I was fortunate enough to have an AMAZING student teacher helping me out, so I had extra hands to aide in the execution of everything.  I kept a simple spreadsheet that had each student’s name and the dates of assigned homework.  Each time a student turned in homework, he/she got a check.  At the end of the week, students would get to roll the dice and move around the board as many times as they turned in homework for the week.  I also asked volunteers to help out while the students were actually being called back and playing the game.

During the spring semester, without help and with THE test looming over us, we just had less time for Homeworkopoly.  I told the students that instead of rolling once for each time they turned in homework, now they would have to be consistent all week in order to receive one roll.  Not only did this cut down on the time required to play, it helped reinforce the idea of responsibility and turning in homework consistently.

Computer and Chance Cards: When students land on a Computer Card or Chance Card space, the student would choose the card in the front/on top and receive the prize that was written on the card.  I’m not a big fan of sending students to the prize box all the time, so I chose to provide prizes that didn’t necessarily involve money.  I found a great website that offered 125 FREE rewards to students, so I picked the ones I liked most–and felt I could live with–printed them on labels, and then put them on the back of the cards.  I’ve posted the website under my classroom management page, but here it is again: http://www.managemyclassroom.com/?p=128

The other spaces: I hate to say it, but we just didn’t have time to mess with any spaces other than the Chance and Computer Card spaces.  If you have been fortunate enough to employ other ideas with these spaces, I would love to hear what you do!!

Pawns: Since I hung my Homeworkopoly game board on the wall, I had to use something that would not fall off the board (aka: no pawns).  I decided to designate a color to each class, and they had an Expo marker to write their assigned class number on the space where they landed.  Rather than writing it each time they landed, they only wrote their number where they landed LAST.  This is where those student helpers came in very handy!!  Since the game board was laminated, we just kept some Expo board spray and paper towels on the ledge next to it for when we needed to erase.

Time devoted to playing: As I mentioned earlier, this took up more time in the fall than it did during the spring, for various reasons.  Holding the students accountable for turning in homework every day in order to roll once cut down on the number of participants, especially towards the end of the year when all they want to do is go home and be DONE with school!  I would say it probably took around 20 minutes or so in the fall (with lots of help) and dwindled down to 5-10 in the spring.  This is per class.  Remember, I had classes of about 22 students.  We played only on Fridays.

Hopefully I’ve answered most of the questions you might have on the implementation of Homeworkopoly.  If you have played this game with your students, I would LOVE to hear your spin on it!!

 

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FREE Technology for Teachers

FREE.  I love that word.  FREE.

As I was reading through numerous blogs, I came across http://www.freetech4teachers.com/ and was amazed at the plethora of helpful information about technology that can be used in the classroom.  I thought that this was too good to keep to myself, so I wanted to share it with those of you following my blog.  I hope you enjoy perusing this site as much as I do!!

By the way, there is a link on that website to http://www.wideo.co–you HAVE to check that out!  It’s now one of my new hobbies.  I will be creating some videos to use in my classroom with this new tool.  Don’t worry, I’ll post my “wideos” to my blog for you to view and/or use in your classroom!!

 

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Mission Organization: Drop Box

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I created this organizational tool to give students a place to put party notes, letters from parents, doctors notes, absence excuses, tardy passes, and all of those other things that parents send to school with their students in an attempt to communicate with us.  Instead of having my students just drop them off on my desk, they will now have a specific place to put these items.  Not only does it help me stay organized, it also keeps them from blowing on the floor or getting mixed in with a stack of papers to grade.

I went to Dollar Tree, our local $1 store, and bought a plastic bin about the size of a shoebox and a set of perforated letters from the teacher aisle.  I glued the letters on the side of the box, waited for it to dry, and bam–done!  The best part: it cost under $2!  (I’ll say under $2 since I have lots of letters left over to use on future projects.)  I may end up putting some clear tape over it if the letters begin to peel off, but for now, I like it just the way it is!

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Classroom Organization: A Teacher’s Nightmare!

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Stacks of papers.  Broken pencils.  Notes from home.  This pair of scissors.  That book that doesn’t fit in the basket.  The list goes on.  Organizing a classroom in an efficient way that allows both the teacher and the students to function in a productive manner is not always easy.  At least, not for me.

I wasn’t born with the “organized” gene.  As much as I wish I was, the fact is…I’m messy!  Part of it is due to not wanting to give up even one second of my teaching time to put things away, but for the most part, it’s just not in me.

So–every day I am constantly picking up after myself and trying to reorganize things all the time.  I’ve decided that I WILL learn to be organized.  Last summer, I invited my sister-in-law to my classroom to help me get my supplies in order and give me tips on keeping it that way!  I must admit, I did a pretty good job of staying organized throughout the year, and it was a great feeling!

This year my goal is to slaughter this beast I call organization.  In my attempt to get myself together, I have created some tools that will allow me to do this much easier.  From baskets, to folders, to pencil holders–it all makes a difference!

My next few blog posts will showcase some of the things that I am doing to create an organized classroom.  Many of my ideas are from Pinterest or other blogs, but I like to put my own twist on everything.  Please feel free to “steal” any ideas that you feel would benefit you.  And, as always, enjoy!

(Photo at the top taken from http://greenberg-art.com)

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