Effective Bulletin Boards for Your Classroom

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I saw this idea in an upper grade classroom and thought it was pretty cool. It’s a bulletin board about the things a good reader does: C  R  A  F  T

Comprehension: I understand what I read
Response to Text: I respond with thought and detail
Accuracy: I can read a variety of words
Fluency: I can read with accuracy and expression
Text Features: I understand and utilize text features

The teacher focuses on a reading skill and makes anchor charts that go with it. The anchor chart goes on the bulletin board to be referred to later.

 

P1030581This poster is an example of how students should do their math work. The poster shows how students should do their math work: specific heading, numbered problems, write problems left to right in rows rather than columns and the answers are circled. It’s a great way to help students remember what they need before turning in a paper. In addition, it’s a great reminder of how to do some basic math algorithms (in case your students forget).

 

Genius Teaching Tips!

no name tags

Desk name tags drive me nuts. So when I saw this idea (source) and just HAD to share it with you! Use an oil based Sharpie Paint Pen (available at craft and office supply stores) to write on the desk. It stays on just like a permanent marker, but you can see it better. Then at the end of the year when you’re ready to take it off, color over it with a whiteboard marker and it wipes off with a tissue! This same idea of erasing permanent marker with whiteboard markers also works on whiteboards, laminated posters, anchor charts, etc.

I’ve been focusing on multiplication facts with my kids lately, so, when I saw this idea I about fell over. (Yes, I’m always impressed by the creativity and pure genius I see in other educators!)!  Kids shake the egg carton (above), and then multiply whatever numbers the chips land on. This can easily be switched to addition for younger kids. I love this idea and I’m excited to try it! (source)

This next genius idea (source) helps kids practice writing their letters the right size. It really helps younger students see what space should be used for lower case vs. upper case letters. This would be an awesome activity for kindergarten or first grade, even if you only did it once. You can buy pre-highlighted paper or just make your own using a highlighter. Making a bunch of these pages yourself is totally doable, but I recommend putting on a movie while you do it! 😉

The Secret Way to De-clutter your Classroom!

(I wrote about this idea a while ago, but I’ve made some signs to help you execute it, so here’s the idea again…) This idea is PURE GENIUS! I learned this trick from my mentor teacher during student teaching (way back in the day). Designate a tote or box for a super secret purpose: a secret recycle bin! Students don’t work as hard when they know their teacher isn’t going to look at their paper. So use this bin to collect papers you don’t need to look at, but still want kids to work hard on. At the end of the day when all the students are gone, you can recycle the paperwork and keep your students’ desks clutter free!

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The picture above is from a lower grade classroom that doesn’t have any real turn in bins. I suggested this idea to the teacher and she said it works so well, she’s gotten other teachers at her school to do this trick! She just calls the secret bin the “turn in bin.” But if you have a real turn in bin (for work you actually want to look at, grade, etc.), consider naming this bin the “big turn in bin” or something else to distinguish it from your other trays/bins. I’ve made some signs (1/3 sheet size) for you to print off and label your tote with if you’d like. Your choice of chevron or polka dots.

Turn In Bin signs STICKER

 

Click here: Turn In Bin signs PDF

Simple Organizational Improvements For Your Classroom

1. Use multiple bins to collect work your students submit to you. This way, they’re already sorted and easier for you to grade! I use stackable paper trays to save space.P1030356

 

2. Place fabric pockets in the area where you teach from most. Then you can store commonly used papers, forms or reference materials for you to grab at a moments noticeP1030590.

 

 

 

3. I don’t know about you, but sharpening pencils is the bane of my existence! Designate two containers for pencil storage (one of broken pencils that need sharpened  and one for freshly sharpened pencils for kids to grab). I used to have one student be the pencil sharpener for the week.P1030599

 

4.Collect important writing samples or projects in a bin. Give each student a file folder and collect important paperwork throughout the year. Then “all” you have to do at parent teacher conferences is grab the bin and hand over the work samples to proud parents.P1030699

 

5. This next idea is PURE GENIUS! I learned this trick from my mentor teacher during student teaching (way back in the day). Designate a tote or box for a super secret purpose: a secret recycle bin! Students don’t work as hard when they know their teacher isn’t going to look at their paper. So use this bin to collect papers you don’t need to look at, but still want kids to work hard on. At the end of the day when all the students are gone, you can recycle the paperwork and keep your students’ desks clutter free! The picture above is from a lower grade classroom that doesn’t have any turn in bins. So this teacher just calls the secret bin the “turn in bin.”P1050972

 

6. Track your students’ reading progress with a laminated file folder. Divide it into sections using whatever lingo your district or state uses. The photo above uses benchmark, strategic, intensive to indicate at, slightly below and way below grade level. Use sharpie to designate areas of the folder according to words per minute, etc. Then give each student a sticky tab according to where they are at the beginning of the year. This allows you to see who’s made significant progress throughout the year. For example, this teacher used green to indicate at grade level, yellow for slightly below, and pink for way below grade level. She writes the words per minute (or whatever you’re tracking) on the sticky tab as you assess the students throughout the year. When you’re not using the folder, fold it up and keep it away from curious student eyes. P1050973

Teacher Memory Book

Students love giving things to their teachers… everything from pictures of themselves to drawings of their family vacation. But after a while, teachers often end up with huge collections of things and they’re not sure what to do with them. Here’s one teacher’s idea: a memory book! She uses page protectors and a regular 3 ring notebook.

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Some years, she has had space for a bulletin board to display kids’ gifts before adding them to the book, but other years, she hasn’t had one so she just adds them to the book right away. She puts the memory books in her classroom library, where her kids love to look at things she’s saved from years past. What a great idea!

Return to Sender: No Name Papers

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Dealing with “no name papers” has always been a test of patience for me. I mean, how hard is it to write your NAME on a paper!? (Ok, I’m off my soap box now.) Here’s one idea I saw that takes care of this problem. The teacher simply puts no name papers in this tray and empties it (into the recycle) after school on Friday.  This way, kids have a few days to retrieve papers, but they don’t sit around forever in her room.

I think I would add this feature to the system: Make a stamp that says “return to sender” or something else distinct that would indicate that it was received without a name. Then when kids write their name on it and resubmit it, they get a small point deduction, but can still get some credit for it. I know stamping no-name papers is an extra step for the teacher, so just make the judgement call for your own classroom.

Desks With No Storage? No Problem!

Sometimes teachers don’t get the desks they’d like. Some teachers prefer tables, others like storage space down the side of the desk, etc. But what happens when you don’t get what you’d like? You just have to make it work. Here’s what one teacher did when she changed schools and ended up with only tables… no storage at all!

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Each table has a crate that holds everyone’s folders (color coded by subject). All the supplies (scissors, crayons, etc.) are in different tubs at the back of the room. Backpacks go on chairs, so the kids don’t need cubbies or anything. Things go straight into the backpacks, or they are filed away into these crates. There’s also a crate coordinator, the person at the table who makes sure all the folders are organized and brings the crate to the front and to the table as directed by the teacher.

P1030265This teacher told me it’s not ideal obviously, but after practicing routines associated with the crates, it’s a very do-able system now.

Make Your Own Calendars… helpful website!

I just found this website that provides downloadable calendar blank templates for Microsoft Word and Excel. You can choose from weekly, monthly calendars and yearly calendars for specific years. To quote the website, “Why spend millions developing what Microsoft has already spent Billions developing?”