Saturday, August 27, 2016

Back to School Tips

  Whew! I made it through the first week of school and am adjusting to having three different classes during the day.   I  wanted to follow through on my promise of another post on classroom management. The first couple of weeks of school is the time to establish routines and procedures of the class.  If the students know what is expected of them and there is consistency in daily procedures, the less behavior issues you'll have in the classroom. After this week, I'm reminded of the importance of this.

    Little things make a big impact. Take a look at simple ideas I've embedded throughout my day that make a difference in managing my classroom.

     1.  Establish Quiet Signals
           This is extremely important. Have some type of signal to indicate that you need everyone quiet and their full attention. DO NOT try to talk over your students. Wait to talk until you have the attention of all the children.
         Some ideas are...clapping a pattern that the children need to clap back, holding up the peace sign, give the high five hand signal, or a teacher call back. Teacher call backs are fun. I personally like that one. You can find many types of call backs on Pinterest. I'm excited to try some new ones this year.

     2.  Out of Seat Time
           You may not think this is a big deal, but it is. When are students allowed to get out of their seats to sharpen pencils, throw something away, turn work in, etc. in your classroom? Perhaps the easiest way for me to address this is to tell you when my students are NOT allowed to get out of their seats or walk around the room.

  • Students need to stay at their desks when I'm teaching or giving some type of instructions. I know this sounds like common sense, but I can't tell you the number of students at the beginning of the year that will get up and try to sharpen a pencil right in the middle of me teaching. And my electric sharpener is loud!  They need to know from the beginning that instruction time is important and need of their full attention. 
  • Also, any time announcements come on over the speaker, it is time to stay put. 
 Of course there will be exceptions to the "out of seat" rule during these times for students that need to stand or wiggle or even pace back and forth. (ADHD students, Autistic, kinesthetic learners. etc.) However, I expect all students to listen during these times. I won't budge on that.

    3. Group and Partner Work Expectations

          Not only is it important to establish rules for these situations, I found that I need to actually demonstrate how to interact with each other during this time. Model, model, model! I can't express enough the importance modeling expectations. How do I do this? Let me show you.
     Let's say I want students to work with a partner to finish two math problems. My student volunteer and I will talk it through like this.
Me: Do you want to read number one or number two?
Student: You can read first. 
Me: Okay. I read the first problem. I think the first thing we should do is.....what do you think?
Student: That's what I think.
Me: Let's both work it out and then see if we come up with the same answer.

Look at what I established as expectations for partner work with that role playing.

  • How to talk to each other
  • Both are expected to take a turn in leading
  • Both students need to work out the problem
What if they didn't agree on the answer? I will role play that scenario also in which we talk it through. More times than not, the person that didn't have it correct will realize by talking it through. If they still don't agree then they can raise their hands for my help.

I hope these simple tips help out. You can grab a free copy of my Team and Partner Posters here.

Have a great school year!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Common Sense Approach to Differentiation

  I'm super excited to tell you that I revamped my book A Common Sense Approach to Differentiation (A Teacher in the Trenches). I updated it with new information and feel honored that my idea in the book was implemented school wide this past year. PIE-Practice Intervention Enrichment. I also gave the book a fresh new cover.

    To celebrate the start of the new school year, my book is offered FREE on Kindle this week. It's a short read with simple ideas to differentiate your lessons. Check out the contents list below.

Differentiate Your Classroom-Materials Needed to Set up your Classroom for Differentiation
Catch Them at the Core-Differentiate your Core Lessons 
A Week of Math Differentiation-An inside look at a week of math in my classroom
Begin with the End in Mind- Concept is illustrated with a Writing Unit
Reading Differentiation in Action- Another look at a week in my classroom
Wrap it Up- Recap of my main points. 

One of my favorite quotes from the book....   "The means by which each student accomplishes the outcome may look different, but my goal is to get everybody there."  Tammi Booth

Friday, August 5, 2016

Classroom Management 101

     I used to believe that along with the core teaching classes, there should be a class dedicated just to classroom management for undergraduates. In reality, every teacher has their own way of managing their classroom that is learned through trial and error along with tips and tricks from other teachers.
    I cringe when I think back to my first couple of years as a rookie. Yikes.  I had a lot to learn about keeping a classroom running smoothly.

Experience and good teacher mentors armed me with the skills not only to keep my classroom running effectively, but to eventually have a classroom that manages itself.
   I'm going to share with you some of the tips and tricks of classroom management I've learned over the years.  My hope is that you find something helpful you can use in your classroom.

Classroom Management Tips and Tricks
 Routine, Routine, Routine, It's imperative to establish class routines and procedures from day one.  Kids need it. It gives them comfort to know what is happening and what is expected. 
          a) Have the daily agenda posted somewhere each day. 
          b) Establish a consistent routine and place for turning in work.
          c) Keep transitions during the day running smoothly by forming clear expectations for this time. Example, call one table at a time to line up. The table that has materials put away and quiet lines up first and so on. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure that your class procedures and expectations are in place. 

  • Do my students know when a good time is to sharpen their pencils and what to do if their pencil breaks if it's not a good time?
  • Do my students know the rules for working in groups or partners?
  • Do my students know what to do if they need help with something?
  • Where can the students look to find what their homework is for the evening?
  • What is my classroom procedure for packing up at the end of the day? 
  • How do the students know when it's time to be quiet?
These are just a few tips. There are many tricks I have to share. In my next post I'll address the tricks I've learned for the questions above. 

Click below for a Freebie to get you started. 


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