Thursday, July 26, 2012

7 Smart Classroom Management Ideas

Need ideas on how to implement creative classroom management techniques in the new school year?  Try this list of 7 ideas for inspiration:

  • Sparklers, from Beg.Borrow.Steal, which are cute, little balls awarded to teams of students when they transition back to their desks quickly and quietly after an activity.  She keeps the little balls (found in a craft store) on their desks and the team gets a reward after obtaining 6 of them.  This is similar to table points but a) come with tangible objects, which may be better for younger children and b) specifically target transition periods, so consider this if you want to start the year training the kids how to move from one area to another without a lot of lost time.  Bonus:  the blog also posts about a game which helps cut down on students talking without raising their hands. 

  • Blurts, from KinderTastic, may be able to help with students blurting out and talking without permission.  A poster is displayed and students have to place a dot by their name if they blurt out, which helps them see exactly how much they disrupt the flow of activities.  Students are awarded a prize for going a day or a week without any "blurts" added next to their name.

  • Make a microphone, like the one used in MsKaren'sClass.  She made it from a paper towel roll and other materials, and students can only speak with they are holding it.  This would be great for classroom discussions.  Bonus:  she also shows us a bottle of her "quiet spray," which she douses on students before going on in hallways.  Cute!

  • Assign table managers amongst the students, as suggested in the ReallyGoodStuff blog.  She points out that a lot of teaching time is lost when teachers are passing out papers.  She likes to have  handouts already organized at students' desks, and lets table managers handle passing them out and collecting them.  They are kept in folders which the teacher can then grade.  I've personally seen several techniques with table managers and paper managers, and I think they're all great ideas.  They work efficiently and give students responsibility, while also saving the teacher lots of time.

  • Create an incident report, or use the one made by Mrs. Bunyi.  She cuts down on tattletales and wasting time on frivolous matters by having students fill out a form she created.  I love that it requires students to put some thought into their issues with others.  Is it really worth taking the time to fill out the form?  If not, just let it go.

  • Use credit cards, like the ones found on TeacherTreasures.  I really enjoy classroom economies.  This site has a printable version of credit cards, where you can give students stamps for good behavior on the back.  They can trade them in for prizes later.

  • Use nonverbal cues, like those taught in Teach Like a Champion.  The best way to intervene when students are off-task is to draw their attention back to the lesson, while keeping yourself on pace and not distracting everyone else.  These cues are very cool!  It takes a bit of training to help kids learn to recognize them and follow directions, but staying consistent from the beginning of the year can do wonders.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

GotBrainy for Expanding Vocabularies

Check out a terrific Web 2.0 site called GotBrainy, which can help students visualize words with pictures.  Visual pictures and connections are useful for expanding vocabularies, as they allow students to make associations with words to help recall their meaning.

That's where GotBrainy comes in as a clever and fun way to represent words with pictures.  The site challenges students to find appropriate pictures for SAT and ACT-type vocabulary words.  They can be witty, memorable and hilarious, like this one:

They also have to use the words in a correct, contextual sentence.  You can have students upload their pictures and sentences to the site.  Alternatively, you can use the words and pictures already on the site and show them to students as examples.  Then, allow your class to use magazines, web photos or pictures they take or illustrate to represent the vocabulary words you want them to practice.  Encourage them to be as creative as possible, as they will likely remember the meanings of new words that they associate with a funny or interesting picture.

Create a "Museum Exhibit" for History Projects

Click the video posted by ScienceNotebooking, who posted a super idea  for history and social studies projects.  This simple craft is created using little more than an old pizza box and plastic wrap.  Underneath the plastic wrap, the box can contain students' 3D creations, pictures or other visual items next to their written research.  This mimics the effect of looking at an exhibit or display in a museum.  You can use it for all kinds of research projects and have students bring their boxes to class, and allow everyone to walk around to view and read the "exhibits" they have all made.  For instance, she says her class behaved as archaeologists presenting artifacts (of their own creation) that were important to various Native American tribes.

Word Work Center: Boggle Board

If you're like me, you enjoy word games.  Because of this, I was delighted to see an abundance of Pinterest posts showing adorable word work centers styled after the Boggle game.

Arrange letters on a wall (or a wall, desk, cabinet... I've seen some pretty nifty use of space with these!), embedding spelling words, sight words, vocabulary or "bonus" words for students to find using the same rules used to play Boggle.  I love a comment on 4thGradeFrolics that suggested making one word using all the letters posted (related to something being taught in class or a seasonal concept) and challenging students to work on it when they have free time.  You can change the letters at intervals and present a new challenge to students.

It's like a more creative version of a word find.  Check out MrsRojasTeaches helpful printout that offers students a place to record the words they find.

3 examples found on pinterest

War: Math Card Game with Most Versatility?

Who knew one card game could be so versatile and useful in the math classroom?  LetsPlayMath shows us how one classic game, War, can be the template for a variety of math games.

Click the link to see how War can help students practice math skills ranging in vastly different levels of difficulty.  Younger students can play Addition War or Subtraction War, while more advanced students can use War to practice multiplication, fractions, and even logarithms.

I've seen Multiplication War played first-hand by a third grade class that had a lot of fun playing.  The teacher assigned a deck of cards to groups of 3-4 students, and the whole class played this way for 20-30 minutes.  You could also consider using just one deck of cards and allowing War as one of several math stations to which students rotate.

War is low-maintenance, easy to teach, and a good asset in building a quick recall of facts.  Go to the link to see descriptions of several versions of the game.

Back-To-School Writing Activity: "About Me Fingerprints"

I found an interesting back-to-school activity that gives you a writing sample and becomes a cool classroom display.  ChocolateOnMyCranium calls it an "About My Fingerprint."

She made copies of her students thumbprints, printing them lightly so that students could write along the lines of their prints.  Click the link to see examples from the class, who made impressive-looking pages with their words whirling and curving across the page, following the unique pattern of each students' fingerprint.  Assign it at the beginning of the year, and have students write about anything that comes to mind to describe themselves or their life.

You can use it as a way to gauge writing ability and learn a bit about your students.

Using the "Skype Mystery Call" as a Geography Activity

What an exceptional geography activity I found at Mrs. Yollis' Classroom Blog!  It allows students to interact and compete with a classroom anywhere else in the world, trying to figure out one another's geographic location.

This activity is called a "Skype Mystery Call," and the video posted below shows a good example of how it is done.  Integrate technology by using Skype to contact a class anywhere on the globe.  Leave the other class' location a mystery to your classs.

Next, assign jobs to small groups of students.  For instance, some kids can work with an atlas, while another uses GoogleMaps; other kids can keep track of which clues are given, etc.

The two classes take turns asking each other geographic questions about their opponents' location.  If the other team responds with a "yes," the first team can continue with another question.  If the other team responds "no" to a question, then it is their turn to ask one.  Only yes and no questions are allowed, so students have to use their geographic knowledge, map skills, and logical reasoning to find where the other class is located.

The class wins if they are first able to come up  with the correct location of the opposing class.

As the video demonstrates, kids can find this activity exciting and engaging.  Give it a try to test your students' geographic skills, and get to know another class in a cool game.

The Mystery Skype Call from langwitches on Vimeo.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Practice Percents in This Online Game:

Another game, Penguin Waiter Percent Game, is Funbrain's method of sharpening students' skills with percentages.  The penguin arrives with the bill for the meal, for which students then calculate the tip.  They also have a range of difficulty with the problems, getting as complex as working backwards to calculate the total bill amount based on the tip left.


MATHO: Mental Math in a Fun Online Game

It's math game time!  I found a couple of impressive online games and thought that I'd share.

The first is Matho (math bingo), a perfect game to stimulate students' mental math skills.  Choose the operation (addition, subtraction, multiplication or division) and the difficulty level, or choose to set a custom range for the generated problems.  Then, students are challenged to race the timer and solve the problems, all while simultaneously trying to get bingo from the correct answers.  It's fun and addicting!


"Mint" Your Own Coin: A Classroom Activity

Ology has done it again!  They have another really cool hands-on activity.  This time, it's for social studies: have students "mint" their own coins!

The activity includes printable examples of coins from around the world (you can also have a few coins from your own country to pass around) so that students can examine the components of money:  dates, images, mottos, etc.  

Next, students use poster board to cut out and uniquely design their own coins, making their own important symbols and images.  If they could create their own money, what would it look like?  What motto would be used?  Why?  Have students show off and explain their creations to the rest of the class, and consider using the coins as a display.

This might be an interesting activity to use while working on creating their own culture.

Free 32-Page Fairy Tale Packet

I was on Mrs. McCumbee's Class blog and was delighted to find a useful resource for classrooms studying fairy tales:  a 32-page, printable activity packet!

The packet contains book recommendations for read alouds, and sheets to discuss common fairy tale elements, story elements for some tales, comprehension questions AND comparison charts for different stories.  

The resource is free and ready-to-go for all interested.  It may be a good idea to have a recommended book or two on hand, and print this to save for a substitute day.

Tree Journal Classroom Craft

The Crafty Classroom has a great craft activity that helps students understand many aspects of trees.

Using a brown paper bag, students create a small book that serve as a "tree journal."  On one page, they use construction paper and cut-out designs to illustrate the roots; other pages reveal leaves, tree rings, etc.  Alternating pages include info students have researched about trees.  Check out the link for examples and step-by-step instructions.

This is a first-rate project or fall, and a way to combine research with a cool craft.  Try it!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Video Cameras for a Plethora of Classroom Activities

Edudemic posted 43 Surprising Ways to Use Video Cameras in the Classroom, and many of the ideas may be a useful way for you to liven up lessons by integrating technology.

Notable uses?

  • Recording activities for parent involvement
  • Making a visual representation of a poem
  • Observe weather conditions
  • Record their trip to a specific destination as they translate and follow step-by-step directions in foreign language.
Watch here!