They say that teaching is the only profession where you can get away with stealing. Woah, woah, woah – please pause. When teachers say “stealing”, we simply mean taking the ideas of other teachers and modifying them to fit our own needs. It is somewhat of an unwritten law of education that everyone grows off of one another to enhance our teaching and the learning of our students. Therefore, the only crime here would to NOT utilize someone else’s phenomenal ideas to improve your classroom.
As a substitute teacher, I am in a great place to soak up different teachers’ ideas, different classroom procedures, different classroom layouts, and many other ‘gears’ that make up the glorious, ‘well-oiled machine’ that is a successful school-day. The only issue I had was, how can I remember these things? Well here is the beginning of (what I hope I can stick to) a weekly summary of my findings in the classrooms I encounter throughout the week. Not only will this be a refresher of what I thought was worthy to take note of, but I would also like to share these findings with all of you! Hopefully this will become a great edition to your “well-organized” Pinterest boards 😉
The Can of Brain Breaks
I was in a 5th grade classroom when I saw this, but this can be modified to fit any grade. We all know when our students start to get restless and just need a quick minute to get them back on track. This usually includes a nice stretch – or what we like to call a “brain break”. The thing with brain breaks is that they can be repetitive. We tend to use the one that comes to mind first or takes the least amount of time. With this Can of Brain Breaks, you choose a pre-planned brain break that you know works, but at RANDOM! This keeps the kids engaged – what if their favorite gets chosen?! And it makes the learning process fun with the idea of random activity thrown in the middle.
This can has ideas such as; 10 jumping jacks, stretch high, shake hands with someone across the room, touch your toes 10 times, stand up and turn around, and many more that this teacher found to work best within her own classroom.
I found this behavior management technique in a 5th grade classroom. I would say that 6th graders also might get a kick out of this as well, but 7th graders might be too old for this to be meaningful. Every table group has a white board with an attached cup with
Expo markers included. In this example, the whiteboard is separated into two groups “Lyra” and “Orion” because those are the two groups this teacher has his students split up in throughout the day.
When a table group is doing exactly what they are told, are silent, on task, etc. the table group is instructed to give themselves a star. You may award multiple table groups a star at one time as well. Depending on your preference, at the end of the week the table group with the most stars earns the “Table Star Trophy” that is placed at their table for the following week. This grants them early release, snack breaks, etc. One thing I noticed with this was after awarding one table a star, all other students look at that table and then copy their behavior to match the behavior that was being rewarded. It worked extremely well with this class and definitely something I would like to incorporate in the future.
This was also in a fifth grade classroom where I found this technique. Every student gets two laminated tickets with their names on them at the beginning of the year. When a student has to use the restroom, they simply raise their hand holding the ticket so the teacher automatically understands they need to use the restroom. The teacher can either nod his/her head if they are permitted to go or shake his/her head when the time is not quite right. This eliminates multiple hands being raised and being mistaken for students who have a question. Teaching is not stopped and instruction flows easy.
Before they take the hall pass, students put their laminated ticket in the “Bathroom Ticket” bin. Because there are two tickets, this gives students two times they can use the restroom during the day. This gives students responsibility and they can easily track of how many times they have taken a break that day. The next morning, the tickets that are in the bin from the previous school-day are passed back to the students to be used that day.
I love this idea because I hate having to interrupt teaching to tell students if they can/cannot use the restroom. It also eliminates out of class time and encourages students to remain on task.
These were having in a .. you guessed it .. a 5th grade classroom I subbed in earlier this week. The ones that were displayed were super creative yet REALLY informative. Although I am not an english major, I still thought this was an amazing spin on the regular book report. Students had to make it visually appealing, but informative as well! Not only can you do this with books, but you could totally do this for explaining uses of different scientific elements or even different environmental cycles. I can see myself using this in social studies when studying different time periods or different historical figures. In math, this can show you step-by-step how to find a solution to an equation or what different graphs represent.
You’re also showing off student work which brings in classroom community. Even better, it makes your room look awesome too!
Standards Assessment Sheet
I was in a sixth grade classroom when I saw this stapled to a student’s unit assessment. It was explained to me that the state standards the assessment covered were listed on this sheet along with the corresponding questions covering said standard(s). After grading a student’s assessment, students not only receive an overall score on the top, but they also get a score of mastery regarding the standards as well.
I found this helpful because when students see they can improve on an assessment, they don’t usually understand what standard they need assistance with. This clearly shows on a 1-4 scale (explained on the slip of paper below) where the student’s mastery level is ranked on each standard. I don’t necessarily agree with the 1-4 scale, but I could totally modify this to fit my classroom’s needs and flow. It is a great way to give students feedback on what skills/standards they have mastered or specifically where they need improvement.