When it comes to classroom management, I believe that the most important thing a teacher can do is establish strong relationships with his/her students, and while I love when students are intrinsically motivated this is not always the reality of my classroom. I work with older struggling readers, and so often before we've even begun there is a resistance to learning-- this is one of the reasons I do like to use a ticket system and provide tangible rewards. At the beginning of the year I use it to establish routines and certain behaviors, but towards the end of the year they are used more for encouragement, and as a "thank you for persevering even thought that was tough" reward. Recently, I was asked how to set up a ticket system when setting up a new classroom. I reflected on my process, and this chart is what I came up with. I have posted other blogs about menu items and specific ways to earn tickets linked here and here.
I have word walls set up with common rimes of vowels patterns that we've learned in class. I ordered some sticky men on Amazon (very cheaply) and created a new "vertical board game." Students read until they get stuck, and that's where they put their man. Then it's the next person's turn. They loved it!
I've been reading some research lately, and several people have mentioned the importance of having students connect to the parts of irregular words that they ARE able to sound out. Then you tell them the part they just have to LEARN BY HEART you can help them remember this by actually drawing a heart around the irregular portion of the word. I heard this wonderful idea in a dyslexia workshop with Dr. Nancy Mather. Hopefully, you're able to use it with your students!
I hope your school year is off to a wonderful start! I love the beginning of the school year: teaching classroom routines, conducting icebreaker activities, and the energy I have from a restful summer break!
Previously, I've blogged about the importance of experiencing joy in the classroom: more-classroom-community-building-activities.html. Just to reiterate, this is so important because during the year your students are going to have to trust you. As teachers we are going to have to ask them to do some difficult things and to put themselves out there (I know that is true for me in my reading intervention program). If you've also had fun together it makes it easier to do some challenging work together.
Volleyball- This is one of my favorite activities yet. We took 20 minutes on a Friday (minimum day to boot). I hung a piece of yarn to divide the classroom, got the chairs out, and a ballon out (see picture for set up). Then we played volleyball. While some teachers might use those Friday minimum days to show a movie, I'm a huge advocate of using time like that to build connections.
This activity and MANY MORE available at: https://www.schoolreforminitiative.org/protocols/. For this specific activity go to "Indoor Volleyball."
Reading Isn't Ruff is a program within the Los Angeles Area that brings trained therapy dogs to libraries and public schools so that students can read to them. This serves the purpose of lowering the affective filter for students (especially those who struggle with reading). We experienced first hand how having animals around truly does lower stress levels. Everyone had a blast! Even if you don't live in the Los Angeles area there might be a program like this at your local shelter. Here are a couple of tips to ensure the event runs smoothly:
This great game for kinesthetic learners can be played as a whole class or in a small group.
The set up:
1. Vocabulary words are written on the board. (Again, you can use pretty much any content.)
2. Obstacles are cleared. (Furniture, cords, etc.)
3. Tape is put on the floor for the three teams to line up behind.
Other Considerations: Conduct a practice round; tell students they must wait for you to finish reading the clue before they leave the line. Also, once they leave the line they cannot receive help from their group. The first person to hit the correct answer with their fly swatter wins the point for their team. Again, if they hit the wrong answer first, I do not give them the point. They then return to the line and give the flyswatter to the next person. Stand back and watch the fun!
I like to have my clues written out for this fast-paced game. Download the sample to see the types of questions I ask.
This is a FREE download from TeachersPayTeachers! I'm always looking for "Getting to Know" you activities that I can use during the first days of school, or after a break. The students loved this: they could do it independently, and it created a beautiful puzzle! We did it after our Winter Break, so I had students put their name, three things that make them happy (they were allowed to use images/symbols, and their New Year's resolution for 2018. After they completed their piece of the puzzle I had them present it to the class- I gave students tickets (my classroom reward system) if they asked a question to the person presenting*. After each student finished they hung up their piece of the puzzle to create a whole.
*I was amazed to see how challenging it was for students to ask and answer eachother's questions. I know it's challenging for my students with academic content because we use reciprocal teaching in our class, but I didn't know that it would be challenging for them when it was about their own lives.
At the end of this semester, instead of just letting students take a pile of graded papers home, we created portfolios of their work. They had to select, categorize, and reflect on their work from the entire semester. At the end of this project, the pride in room 101 was palpable. Following are some suggestions/points for implementation of the portfolio project:
I found “What’s My Word?” on one of my favorite teaching sites: Pinterest :) I thought it looked like a lot of fun, so I looked for a version that was more suitable for secondary students, but I was unable to find one, so I did what teachers do and created my own. This is the first version that I came up with:
After trying this with my middle school students (who are struggling readers). I realized the first version was a little too challenging for them. Accordingly, this is the second version that I came up with which provides more scaffolding:
Prepping Students for Play
In order to prep the students for play we practiced several times in small groups (we do small group instruction in my class regularly). We would select a word for one person and then we would practice giving clues, which is the hardest part. Students seemed to have the most difficulty coming up with a sentence that uses the word without giving away the word. During this practice period we discussed what made a good clue, and how we could make our clues better. I also used this time to revise the activity and provide additional scaffolding. All of this was to get the students ready to play with the whole class. I would like to mention that the students enjoyed this so much and became so adept at doing it in small groups that they requested to do it during their independent work station.
Before we began, I reviewed the words, the rules, and we talked about what it would look like to be a “Top Player.” We decided it wasn’t someone who “finished first,” it was someone who “went in order, did the work themselves, filled out the entire sheet, and guessed their word.”
We put the stickers on our backs and began playing! It was a blast:
When I first learned about the app AutoRap I thought it would be a great classroom tool for getting students to read repeatedly. Whether I wanted them to practice sight words, academic language, or fluency passages- I knew this would be a way to get them to read again and again. AutoRap changes anything you say into a rap and sets it to music! They have songs for free, which I use regularly, but the rap above, One Messy Food Fight, was not a free song. If you listen to it, I think you'll agree it was totally worth paying for that beat! This lesson was a success in my middle school class, and it encompassed so many aspects of reading. I'll take you through the steps below:
Ms. Young is a teacher who wants to keep a record of what works!