Classroom Solutions > 23 posts categorized "August 2011"

Comments: 6

Celebrating Community Heroes: September 11th in the Elementary Classroom

FDNY Let me be honest with you: Teaching my third graders about September 11th makes me a little uncomfortable. My students weren’t even born in 2001, and this historic tragedy just doesn’t seem all that relevant to their lives. On the other hand, September 11th has become a permanent part of our collective consciousness. As New York City gears up for the 10th anniversary of the tragedy, my students are inevitably curious about it. It wouldn’t be fair to my students if I didn’t help them understand 9/11 in a way that honors their intellectual curiosity, yet is appropriate for their age as well. Thank goodness for the picture book Fireboat by Maira Kalman! Here’s how I use this amazing book to discuss the facts about 9/11 and then shift into a lesson about heroes.

 

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How to Create a Highly Effective Inclusion Classroom

DSC00090[1] Last year my alma mater, the State University of New York (SUNY) College at Fredonia invited me to speak at a symposium honoring "Exemplary Educators in Inclusion Settings." This was an amazing opportunity to share with my peers some tried-and-true strategies that I had "perfected." Moreover, it allowed me to team up with other educators who faced the same universal issues. Whether you're a seasoned veteran or a first-year teacher, delivering high-quality instruction to a classroom full of diverse learners can be a daunting task. Below are the essential areas that will serve as the foundation for building a highly effective inclusion classroom.

 

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Using Five Web-based Tools to Motivate and Engage the 21st Century Writer

KeyboardIn his book, Content Area Writing, Jim Burke wrote that "writing is the most public performance of our intelligence." Writing is a skill that is needed and used regardless of the career our students pursue. People write for many different reasons and audiences.  Writing no longer involves just a pen and paper and through the Internet, the 21st century scribe has the ability to build an audience in seconds. As the media continue to evolve it is important that our students understand that a tweet, an Internet blog post, and a research paper should be written differently. In this post are five web-based tools I have used in my classroom to motivate and engage the 21st Century Writer.

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Comments: 6

Tips for Creating Strong Teacher-Parent Relationships

 

 FcEffective communication is essential to create strong teacher-parent relationships and parental involvement. Students need the support of both teachers and parents in order to succeed academically, physically, and emotionally. Read on as I provide you with a few tips to help establish a strong relationship with your most powerful ally: parents.

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Comments: 8

Getting-To-Know-You Activities: The First Week and Beyond

I Love SchoolThe desks are arranged, favorite books are displayed, math manipulatives are sorted, and lesson plans are being written. It’s time to start building the classroom community. As I write my lesson plans, I include getting-to-know-you activities. These activities provide opportunities for the students to interact positively with one another. The children are eager to make new friends, learn about the classroom environment, and become part of a school family. After all, the classroom will become a home away from home for the next ten months.

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Read-Alouds to Launch Reader’s Workshop

Reading_on_Rug During the first few weeks of reader’s workshop, the focus is necessarily on introducing routines, building stamina, and exploring the classroom library. At the same time, I need to immerse my students in the culture of reading by getting lost in good books together. There isn’t a moment to waste in initiating my students into our reading cult! How do I accomplish both goals at the same time? I use picture books that celebrate reading as a springboard into our discussions about reader’s workshop routines and expectations. Read on for my favorite picture books about reading and how I use them to launch our reader’s workshop.


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Teaching 9/11: Using Task Rotation for Analyzing Artifacts and Primary Sources

Flag editedFor people of each generation, there are historical events that will haunt them forever. For me, these are the 1986 explosion of the Challenger space shuttle during elementary school, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing when I was in high school, and the events of September 11, 2001 in adulthood. I remember, like it was yesterday, being called into my elementary school gym, seeing a TV sitting atop a rolling cart, the staff beside themselves as pieces of spacecraft fell down from the sky. I also recall racing home to my son after being evacuated from work one crisp September morning, sobbing and trying to make sense of the world as it literally crumbled around me.

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Ten Years Later: Remembering September 11th With an Oral History Project

Scholasticsept11postOn the morning of September 11, 2001, I was on my way to work in Springfield, Illinois.  Many people remember where they were and what they were doing when terrorists attacked our country 10 years ago this year. My current students, however, may have a difficult time remembering as freshman students were 4 to 5 years old when this significant event changed the course of history. Since I often refer to 9/11 when discussing various pieces of literature, I wanted my students to have a firm understanding of the event, and so created the Remembering September 11th lesson. This lesson is broken into three phases: class discussion, group research, and individual project.

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Planning for the First Day of Kindergarten

Welcome to school
 
The first day of kindergarten can be both exciting and frightening for students, parents, and the teacher too. There are mixed emotions everywhere as this day marks a huge milestone in the child's life. As teachers, we need to incorporate ideas to help ease first day jitters and start the school year off on the right track. Here are a few tips to help you plan for the first day of kindergarten.

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Comments: 4

Back-to-School Read Alouds: Favorite Books and First Week Activities

DSC00282Reading aloud to children is one of my favorite activities of the day and it is a critical part of literacy instruction. In my classroom, I integrate children’s literature across the curriculum and read to the children throughout the day. The read-aloud books I choose for the first week of school help set the tone for the year and help begin to build our classroom community. These books feature characters about the same age as my students and allow us to discuss prior knowledge, build thinking skills, and make connections. Here are some of my favorite books and activities that engage my enthusiastic young readers.

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Comments: 9

My Classroom Management Must-Haves, Part 2: Float Jars and More

Float Jar1Last week, I wrote about the color chart that I use to help my students manage their individual behavior choices. The color chart is my saving grace, but it is not the panacea for all behavior woes. This week, I am going to share some more of my favorite management strategies: The Float Jar, Table Stars, and my Homework Black Book.

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Comments: 10

Middle School Setup Inspired by Dr. Seuss

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Everything I needed to know about middle school I learned from Dr. Seuss. For decades, this beloved educator has both comforted and inspired me in ways that have extended beyond my personal life and into my classroom. Dr. Theodor Seuss Geisel had a way of turning the most simple phrases into life lessons, and somewhere along the way, showed us that magic can be found around any corner -- and often times within ourselves. I've chosen my favorite Dr. Seuss quotes to illustrate how these basic words of wisdom can inspire any classroom.

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Comments: 8

Three Tech Tools to Collect and Analyze Student Interest Data

ToolsOur classroom and teaching strategies must be student focused. Maintaining a positive teacher and student relationship is very important.  According to Jim Burke in his book The Teacher's Essential Guide Series: Classroom Management, "the student-teacher relationship is the cornerstone of an engaging, successful classroom."  To build relationships with my students, I first need to know them. Talking with them in the hallways and at lunch is a start, but I need to know what they enjoy and what their strengths and weaknesses are in the classroom. Using "icebreaker" activities gives me some perspective on their personality, but doesn't tell me if a student enjoys reading or knows how to use various technologies. I have used paper and pencil surveys, but it is very time consuming to collect and analyze the data. However, I have found three time saving tech tools to collect and analyze student interest data.

 

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Comments: 10

Surviving the First Six Weeks of School, Part 2: Classroom Organization

Organization pics 001 I can't reach the puzzles! Where's the glue? That's my pencil! Does any of this sound familiar? Well, if you're a teacher you have probably heard these lines before. Because of the incredible amount of material that accumulates, our classrooms can quickly become unmanageable. Having an organized classroom helps students to meet many goals throughout the day independently. It will also help you as the teacher feel confident and in control from the moment the first child enters your door. Here are a few tips to help you with classroom organization.

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Comments: 4

Meet the Teacher: Ideas for a Successful Open House

Screen shot 2011-08-02 at 3.47.01 PMMany schools offer an open house prior to the start of the school year. On this day parents and students come to the school, tour the classroom, visit with friends, and meet the teacher. The furniture is in place, the classroom is organized, and new friends hop, skip, and jump through the classroom door. Ready or not, here they come!

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Comments: 16

My Classroom Management Must-Haves, Part 1: Color Charts

Jon Color ChartAt the beginning of each school year, I revisit the question that is central to my beliefs about classroom management. How do I structure a classroom environment where my students actively nurture the community because they believe in the importance of co-creating the world in which they want to work and play? Over the years I have experimented with several systems, and I continue to grow and refine my management style. However, I’ve stumbled upon some keepers that I use from year to year. This week I am going to share one of my go-to management strategies, The Color Chart.

 

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Comments: 2

Creating a Professional Learning Community This Fall

DSC00001 The motto of my school district, Randolph Central, is "Learning with passion, innovation, and leadership." This serves as an excellent foundation for my teaching, as well as a reminder of how crucial it is to inspire students with our instruction. A professional learning community (PLC) is a wonderful way to focus on student learning and assess teaching practices. And in these tough economic times, in-house professional development opportunities, like PLCs, are even more attractive. Read on to learn more about creating your own professional learning community.

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Comments: 3

Creating a Well-Managed Classroom

Expectations1The impression you make on the first day of school can make or break you when it comes to classroom management and organization. In my district, we have a very short first day, only spending about 15 minutes with each class. In some classes, students just sit around and talk, but I get down to business right away. Students in my class leave the first day with an assignment and a brief understanding of the format of the class.

You might be thinking, “You are overwhelming the freshman students on the first day.” I don’t see it as overwhelming the students. I see it as showing them the importance of beginning the learning process and not wasting any time. With that said, it is very important to build a strong rapport with students and not intimidate them. I believe that there are four things a teacher must do to create a well-managed classroom.

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Comments: 12

Surviving the First Six Weeks of School, Part 1: Classroom Setup

Scholastic picThose restful days of summer have come and gone. It's almost time to enter a new school year. As you walk back inside your school, you can immediately feel your temperature rising. You are about to come face to face with the unknown. No, it is not some bloodcurdling creature out of a horror film. It's your classroom! Finding your once-organized classroom replaced by bare walls and empty shelves can be a bit frightening. Before you begin moving things from place to place, scratching up those freshly buffed floors, read on for strategies to help you with classroom setup.

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Comments: 15

Classroom Setup: Arranging the Physical Space

classroom setuupIt won’t be long until summer is behind us and we are back at school. I’ve spent hours imagining the perfect classroom setup, and in about three weeks, it will be time to transform my thoughts into reality. Experience has taught me that details matter. How quickly I am reminded of the sheer exhaustion of classroom setup when I see furniture piled high, boxes stacked one on top of another, and closets packed full of materials. The classroom space is clean, fresh, and anything but organized! I begin my classroom setup wisely by reflecting on student learning and my teaching practices.

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Comments: 38

What’s in a Name? A Back-to-School Literacy Unit

NametagDuring the first few weeks of school, I always find it challenging to come up with a meaningful unit of study so that my students can feel as though they are accomplishing something beyond learning a bunch of routines. There’s the obvious imperative to build our classroom community. On top of that, the empty bulletin boards in the classroom are glaring at us, demanding student work so our classroom can begin to look “lived in.”

Last year, I had wonderful results using a name unit as our first shared literacy experience. Read on to find out what my students did. (This post includes a list of read-alouds and graphic organizers to support the unit.)

 

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Comments: 24

My Top Five Tips on How to Celebrate Summer in Style

VacationLike most teachers, I am relishing every moment of summer, but before we know it the days of grading papers and creating dynamic lesson plans will be upon us. Therefore, let's live each day of the next few weeks to the fullest so we can return to our classrooms refreshed and ready to go. Here are my top five ways to celebrate summer. You can use these tips to make the most of your time off and rejuvenate yourself and your teaching as well!

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Comments: 3

Surviving the Back-to-School Transition

Blog1resize2Wow! This summer is flying by. The new school year is weeks away. The transition back to school is difficult whether we’ve been off for a couple months or just a few weeks. This year will be my fifth year going through the back to school transition as a teacher. Late nights and sleeping in will soon turn into late nights and getting up early to teach. The evenings spent by the pool or in front of the TV watching movies will turn into evenings preparing for lessons or grading. I know my students will struggle with the transition, too, so it is important that I am ready for the first day.

This transition doesn’t get any easier, but here are four things you can do to survive the transition back to school.

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.