Sunday, August 24, 2014

Classroom Management for the New School Year

Every year, no matter how good it goes or how many headaches occur, I am always ready to try new things when a new year approaches. I finished my room this year in record time...5pm Friday before school :) I am going to implement a few new things in my classroom that I saw on blogs over the summer and I am keeping some that I thought worked great from last year.

*FYI - I have about 120 students in 4 science classes (one regular, 1 co-teach, and 2 pre-AP) and one hour long Intervention class where students get enrichment or intervention at the end of the day. I have one lab classroom and work on a team with 4 other teachers (Math, ELA, Soc.Studies and SPED).

1. New Volume Board -It won't flip, even if it is saved that way, so instead of fighting it, please tilt your head :) If anyone can help me with this, I would greatly appreciate it.

I have used a C.H.A.M.P.S. board, but I found it too hard to switch all sections each time we did something different in class. I saw something similar to this this summer and I decided it would work better. My whole team is using this in each of their classrooms so students get to used to it and know exactly what the expectations are for each section.

2. Old Supplies Marking

I used pickle duct tape on my class sets of supplies last year (glue, scissors, red pens, etc.,...) and I lost so many less supplies to sticky fingers than in years past. I chose a duct tape design that I didn't see many places, so another teacher probably would not have it. Dill Pickles seemed appropriate. I wrapped it around my glue, and made little flags for my scissors and pens and things. When the tape stuck to the sticky side of itself, it was much harder for a student to pry off or for it to just fall off from wear and tear. I decided this was a great thing to do again this year.

3. New Exit Tickets - Stoplight Method

I have wanted to routinely implement exit tickets in my classroom for many years. It has been hard to find a system that was not wasting paper, was easy for me to assess, and was easy for the students to remember how to do. I saw this video on Teacher Channel. It seemed really easy to make, and the students could easily slap them up on the wall as they left the room. The green one says, "Today I LEARNED...(be specific!)." The yellow one says, "A QUESTION I have is..." The red one says, "What STOPPED my learning was..." Hopefully I can easily grab stickies by color and really make sure I focus on those points. This will also help me prioritize which exit slips get the most attention when I have to leave right after class and cannot assess 120 slips in one evening.

4. Old Enter and Exit Checklists
 I used these last year, and they were a good reminder of my expectations when entering my classroom and before being able to leave the classroom. It also gave me a place to direct the students to reference when they forgot or needed redirection.

5. New/Old Finger Signs
I know a lot of teachers think 5th graders are too old for finger signs, but they make my class run a lot smoother. Students hold up certain fingers for certain needs, so you can just nod your head while you are teaching or talking to others without interruption. It is especially helpful during testing and other silent times. I just updated my posters from last year so they were easier to see from across the room (my science lab is pretty long).

6. New Absent Files
I think it age appropriate for 5th graders to be responsible for their own absent work. Last year, I had a folder on the wall per class. If a student was absent, I would write their name on the papers and put them in the right folder. This year, I made a simple stacked file pocket out of file folders and duct tape. It was another idea I saw this summer. It was really easy to make. Instructions are here. When a student is absent, I can just put all the copies from the day in the folder and they can get one out for the day they were absent. We will see if this way is easier that last year's way.

7. Old Color-Coded Classes

To make my life and the students' lives easier, each class is color-coded. The labels for their turn in boxes, journal bins, and warm up / pass back shelves all have the same color. We will also tape a piece of matching colored paper on the spine of their journals so we can easily get each journal back into the correct bin.

Hopefully all of these classroom management strategies will help make life a little easier in the classroom so we can maximize learning time. I hope you have a great year, and I will post again, soon!

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