Parent Volunteers

I’ve been helping a friend plan for her first year teaching 6th grade. Here’s a letter we came up with to give to parents at the beginning of the year. We wanted to find a way to let parents/guardians help the class even if they can’t commit to a once a week in-class time. Here’s a draft of our letter. Any thoughts or suggestions?

Parent Volunteer Are Awesome!

Welcome to Miss ________’s 6th grade class! I’m so thankful to have the opportunity to work with you and your family to provide the best educational experience for your child. If you would be willing to help out our class this year, please indicate below. Thank you in advance for your help!

 Miss ____

  – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – -

Student Name ____________________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian Name(s) __________________________________________________
Parent/Guardian phone number _______________________________________________
Parent/Guardian email ______________________________________________________

___ I’m willing to help in the classroom on a regular basis

         Day(s)/Time(s) that work best: _________________________________________

___I’m willing to help from home. Miss ___ can send things home for e to help with (cutting out laminated items, assembling packets, etc)

___ I’m willing to come on class field trips if needed

___ I’m willing to help with/come to class parties and special activities

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Classroom Coupons – English and Spanish

classroom coupons STICKERMy friend is teaching a bilingual class this year. I made her these homework coupons or homework passes (or whatever you want to call them). They’re blank so that you as the teacher can write in the value of the coupon before you copy them. Read my post about classroom reward ideas if you need some inspiration.

Click here to view the coupons: Classroom Coupons – English
Classroom Coupons – Spanish

Click here to view my other set of free classroom coupons.

Squarehead Sighting: Seattle, WA

Another Squarehead sighting! A reader sent this to me from their vacation in Seattle, Washington. Check it out!

SQH on Seattle beach

 

If you see a Squarehead somewhere, snap a photo and send it to me at squareheadteachers at gmail dot com.

Journal Tabs

There are many ways to organize subject journal. Here’s one way to separate a spiral notebook into sections, or a single notebook into two different subjects.

Journal Tab 3

Journal Tab 2  Journal Tab 1

Here’s a sample of how you can format your page: anchor chart tab for math journal. You can type whatever you want on the tab. Print and cut into strips.  Glue anchor chart/show my work tab in middle of spiral notebook math journal.  When you are making an anchor chart with the class, have each student copy what you are doing into their journal.  Or when you pass out math definitions, examples,  charts, or whatever that you want students to glue in their journal for future reference, have them start writing and gluing at the beginning of the book.  When the student is just showing work or writing different ways to write a number or story problems, etc., have them go to tab and then start that sort of work there.  That way, your student has the more pertinent information in the front of the journal and it will be easier for students to use their journals as a reference.

 

Write Your Name (poster)

write name poster STICKERI don’t know about you, but most times when I’m in a workshop or meeting and I’m given a handout, I instinctively write my name in the top right corner. You may laugh, but that’s the kind of automatic thing we want our students to do! I saw this idea on Pinterest and decided to make my own. Some students just need that simple little reminder and hopefully this will help! This poster is the size of regular printer paper (8.5″ x 11″).

Click here to download the free PDF: write name poster

Squarehead Teachers on Google+

Hello friends and readers! I just joined Google+. I’ve created a page, but I still don’t know very much about Google+, circles, etc. I would be very grateful to hear any tips or suggestions you’ve got about how best to use it and what the best aspects/features are. Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.  Thank you!

Here is my page: google.com/+Squareheadteachersblog

As Seen on Pinterest

If you haven’t gotten addicted to Pinterest, you should. In fact, you should join me on Pinterest and see the tons of great teaching ideas out there! Here are some cool ideas I found recently:

Hang anchor charts with fun ribbon!

Poster showing what belongs in a student desk and how it should be organized. Genius!

“If MLK Jr. Had Instagram…” What a great way to have place history in a context kids know! Click here to read more.

Letters in Environmental Print! Ask kids to find and bring in 5 labels, then sort them into the alphabet.

47 Questions New Teachers Should Ask

47 questions new teachers should askTeaching is a big job. It can get overwhelming to plan for, remember and execute everything you’re supposed to. In an effort to help a good friend who’s starting teaching this year, I recently read a great article by Karen Zauber and it got me thinking about questions teachers should ask. I’ve put together a list of some questions all teachers should ask at the start of the school year and periodically throughout the school year. Some questions are for you to ask yourself, and others are for you to ask someone else. Please comment below if there are any important questions I missed!

Establishing the Climate of My Classroom (To Ask Myself)

  1. How do I expect students to turn things in? (This is definitely something to tell students on the first day!)
  2. How much noise can I tolerate? “It’s easier to start out more controlled and gradually open up to activity and noise than the other way around.”  – Karen Zauber
  3. How neat and organized does my room have to be? Can I handle some clutter?
  4. What do I want my desk and classroom to say about me and what I value?
  5. How will I make myself inviting and approachable, while continuing to be the authority figure in the classroom?
  6. How will I make sure things are fair in my classroom? Read my post, Fair isn’t Equal: 7 Classroom Tips.

Conducting My Class Efficiently (To Ask Myself)

  1. How will I gain students’ attention before starting a new activity?
  2. How will I make sure I stay consistent in what I say and do?
  3. How will I make sure that the materials I give my students are correct and clear? Do I have a fellow teacher who I can ask to read over a letter I’m sending home to parents?
  4. What are my long-term goals? How will I keep them in mind as I do my daily planning?
  5. What routines and procedures do I need to teach my students? Check out my post on 30 must-have classroom procedures.
  6. What strategy will I use to learn my students names quickly?

Reaching & Encouraging My Students (To Ask Myself)

  1. Do I accentuate the positive?
  2. Do I show my students that it’s ok to make mistakes while learning? Do I acknowledge that I don’t know everything and that I sometimes make mistakes?
  3. Do I have the right balance of being serious about accomplishing work and making class fun?
  4. Do I move around the room enough as I’m teaching or do I stay in one place too long?
  5. Do I take time to really connect with my students and learn about who they are as a person (family, interests, dreams, etc.)? Click here for some fun “get to know you” games and activities.
  6. Do I talk to all my students, not just my favorite students?
  7. Do my student know that I expect them to succeed? Do I communicate this in my words and actions? Click here to see one idea for showing your students you’re proud of them.
  8. How can I use tone of voice and body language to keep students interested?
  9. How will I make sure I’m speaking in a clear, easy to follow way? What should students do if they don’t understand what I’m saying?

Applying Proven Teaching Techniques (To Ask Myself)

  1. Do I teach using a variety of strategies, or do I stick to only the strategies that are easy for me?
  2. Do I give students enough time to think after I ask a question? (You should wait at least 3 seconds after you ask a content question.)
  3. Do I have the right balance of working one-on-one with students, small groups and monitoring the whole class?
  4. Do I make sure students understand the content as I teach?
  5. Do I praise students appropriately? Am I specific in the praise I give? “If you praise them all the time — especially when they’re only doing what’s expected and no more, they won’t strive to do more. Remember, intermittent reinforcement is the most powerful way to reinforce positive behavior. Be selective in your praise. Be honest. Tell them when they’ve excelled and how they can improve. “ –Karen Zauber

Establishing Discipline (To Ask Myself)

  1. Am I consistent in what I say and what I do?
  2. Is my attention signal working? If it’s not, try something new!
  3. Do I control the class by using threats to control the class? “If you do use a threat, be prepared to carry it out.” –Karen Zauber
  4. Do I nip behavior problems in the bud? It’s easier to correct behavior problems when they first start than after it’s become a habit.
  5. Do I reprimand a student one-on-one or in front of the whole class? How does a public reprimand affect the student and the whole class?

Miscellaneous Questions (To Ask Myself)

  1. How will I get parents involved in my classroom?
  2. How will my class celebrate birthdays and special occasions? (Find out the school policy on this.)
  3. What school committees am I interested in being a part of?

Miscellaneous Questions (To Ask My Principal or Fellow Teachers)

  1. When can I get into my classroom to start preparing for the school year?
  2. What should I do if I have to be late to school unexpectedly?
  3. What programs are required by your school/district/state and which are optional or just a school tradition? (If you’re a new teacher focus on the required programs. Then once you’ve got a handle on those, add the optional programs into your classroom one at a time. I learned this the hard way during my first year.)
  4. What textbooks are available to me? Which ones am I required to use?
  5. If I need to step out of my classroom for a few minutes (emergency trip to the bathroom for example), what should I do?
  6. What is my budget? What things are covered in a grade/school budget? (Again, I learned the hard way. My first year, I paid for things from my budget that I could have gotten with my grade level budget. Also, Keep your receipts for taxes or if the PTA/PTO decides to reimburse some of them.)
  7. Does our school give out student supply lists? Am I allowed to distribute a supply list? (I once worked in a district that prohibited distributing supply lists.)
  8. Can I ask for donations from parents? Some schools allow a “wishlist” to go home, so parents can donate if they so desire.
  9. How can I obtain a copy of the parent/student handbook?
  10. What time commitments are there outside a traditional day (meetings, school events, conferences, etc.)?
  11. Exactly how will I be evaluated? Will I have advanced notice of classroom observations?
  12. How should I report attendance?
  13. What should I do if I feel like a situation is getting out of hand with a student or parent?