Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Teaching Tuesday

I thought it would be fun {since most of my life revolves around school} to share a few teaching tips and tricks that I use in my classroom. I've been trying to think of ways to get into a regular blogging routine, and I think this will help. So each Tuesday I'll share a different idea or helpful thing I use in my classroom.

Many of these ideas are ones that have been stolen borrowed from teaching friends, found on Pinterest, or are pre-made materials. Some are ideas I came up with on my own. All of them have been tested and proven to work. :) Here are a few things I'm loving in my room this year:

1. The drop box

My kids have a standard place to turn in papers to be graded and homework, but I found that bus notes, picture money, and all the other random correspondence would often get lost in the fray. Then, I saw this clever gem on Pinterest. All it takes is a plastic {or really any material} container for the kids to put their notes in. The drop box sits right in front of my desk {as you can see from the pile of junk behind it} so that I can easily check it while my kids work on their journals. I like my drop box being clear because I can easily see if it is empty or not. If I see a piece of paper sitting in there, I know it's something I need to take care of. This has been a fantastic new organizational tool in our room.

2. The anchor chart wall

I love me some anchor charts! Not only are they cute and an excuse to use my chart markers, they really help the kids remember what we're learning. This is the first year I've purposefully made a wall to display our charts. I was a little apprehensive about it because I started the year off with a very big, blank wall. I usually don't like that. I like color and design. Now I love it though! It has been really helpful for my kids to have those reminders on tough skills. {This is not all of the charts we've created together, but these are the skills we have struggled with most and seem to need help remembering.}  The blank space in the lower right corner is reserved for measurement. We'll start that next week, and it's always a tough one.

3. The bingo board

This comes from Really Good Stuff, which could also be named Really Good, Cheap Stuff. I've had it several years, but this is the first year I've actually used it regularly. I've found out over my years that I am horrible at keeping up with tickets, prizes, and points. Let's not even mention the cost of poorly made little trinkets that act as rewards for good behavior. This new system has freed me from all of that. How it works: Any time a kid does something great, returns a form, answers a tough question, does something praise-worthy, etc., they get to write their name on the board. (A wet-erase marker stays on the board to save time.) Each Friday afternoon, we have a drawing. If I draw the space that bears their name, they get a choice of reward coupon. All of the rewards cost me zero dollars and zero cents.They are: switch seats with a friend, do your work in pen, write your name on the Bingo board 3 extra times, take your shoes off in class, and free center time (they get to draw/read/whatever they want during centers). Getting to switch seats with a friend is by far the most popular. This has been a huge money and time saver for me. I actually keep up with rewards now, and it doesn't break the bank.

4. The reminder board

My sister got me this great chalkboard and flower magnet at a local boutique. (It could easily be replicated though.) I added some fabric scraps to make the handle more interesting, and this serves as the place for reminders. I can use the magnet to hang up bus notes or other papers I need to remember, and the chalkboard is a great place to write reminders for my kids. It hangs on our door, so they see it every time they leave the room. It also allows for a little creative-outlet during seasons I break out the chalk markers and decorate it.

So, how's that for a first Teaching Tuesday? Maybe you have ideas you use in your classroom you'd like to share? Check back next Tuesday and remind me to keep up with this for more ideas!

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