Posts Tagged ‘classroom’

Looking for a way to keep track of your grades, without the drudgery of figuring all of the percentages yourself? Check out this terrific Excel gradebook from Microsoft. It’s easy to use, and it’s free!

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The end of the current year is a great time to get organized for next fall. While everything is fresh on your mind, take a couple of days after the students’ are gone and sift through your piles. If you have considered relocating the reading corner, your desk, or a bookshelf, this is the perfect time. Once you return to the room in August, you’ll feel the pressure of the countdown till opening day. Right now, your schedule is hopefully more relaxed, so take advantage of it. Once you do start your vacation, you’ll enjoy it more, knowing that your room is ready and waiting.

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Now that spring allows for more outdoor play, do you find that the transition back to the classroom is difficult for your students?  Do some burst into the room with reports of squabbles?  Do others continue chattering to classmates?  How do you get them to refocus for the afternoon? 

A fixed routine will help your students get back into rhythm.  Some teachers reserve 10 minutes after recess for a read aloud time.  Others play soft classical music while students finish any undone morning work.  A bathroom break works for some classes.  Reading around the room helps some students settle into “learning mode.”  Whatever method you choose, a routine will reinforce that it’s time to get back to work.

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Time for a change?

“When can we change our seats?”  has been a common refrain this week.  Something about changing the calendar to a new year prompts the students to request fresh scenery.   I can understand – vivid memories of a seatmate named Ronnie L. still cause me to grimace.  Suffice it to say that a close-up view of Ronnie consuming whatever he found in nasal passages daily decreased my appetite for lunch. 

Not every student wants to move away from someone – sometimes they want to be closer to a friend, or even closer to you.  Others just want to alter their daily routine.  Whatever the reasons, updating your seating chart can be a good thing.  The dynamics of the group change, giving some students a break and allowing others to stretch their wings.  It allows you to encourage new friendships and support struggling learners in different ways.  You can also use the moves to experiment with different desk configurations – paired, lineup, winged rows, etc. – to see what groupings you prefer. 

As we start a new year, do you have any plans to change your students’ seats?

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December Decor

Are you allowed to decorate your room for the holidays this month?  If so, are there any limitations?

When I lived in the Washington, D.C. area, political correctness ruled.  Snowflakes were in, Christmas trees were out.  Penguins were popular, mangers were considered appalling.  Now that I live in the Midwest, I see that the “rules” are much more traditional.  This morning, our first day back after Thanksgiving vacation, PTO moms transformed the building with Christmas trees and gingerbread men. 

A good first step is to survey your students to determine what holidays they celebrate this month.  No matter what your personal beliefs are, it’s important be sensitive to the families represented in your class.  If appropriate for your students, include Christmas, Hanukkah or Kwanza in your decorations.  Most teachers view this as a good time to discuss holiday traditions and help children expand their horizons.  If you don’t know much about a particular holiday, use the jigsaw method of cooperative learning and have students report their findings about all of the holiday’s origins, customs and beliefs.

In addition to having permission, time and budget are additional factors when decorating for a holiday.  Student projects that double as decorations will help keep excited children busy and adorn your room.  The art teacher and the Internet are both great sources for inexpensive ideas.  My recommendation is to keep it simple.  Make a statement by saying a lot with just a little.

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Whatever happened to…

Whatever happened to the traditional classroom pet?  There was a day that many, if not most, classrooms had a bubbling fish tank, a sleeping gerbil or a low–maintenance lizard.  Due to allergies, health concerns, and maxed out teachers, a live animal in the classroom is a rare occurrence.  But, if you are looking for a way to teach responsibility, a classroom pet is worth considering.  They are also great for building community within the classroom.  Here are a couple of websites with practical tips to consider before you take the pet plunge.




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Bathroom Passes?

I’d like to believe that all of my students thoroughly wash their hands after going to the restroom, but that would be naïve.  Given the state of some fingernails I’ve seen, I’m not sure that some students really cleanse their hands even when they do put them under running water.  So, do I really want those same hands carrying a pass to the bathroom, maybe laying the pass on the restroom floor (yuck!), then returning to my room?  How about some of these alternatives:

–          Hang your bathroom passes by the door.  Students put the passes on their desks while they are out of the room.

–          Put a clipboard near the door for students to sign in and out.  (Good way to document how often they are out of the room!)

–          Students write their name on the board in a designated area when they are out of the room.

How do you handle trips to the restroom?

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