Tomorrow will be day twelve of our school year. The testing if done for now, reading groups are meeting, and we are settling into our routines and schedule. I am pleased with my group and the way they are taking responsibility for their work. We have already completed our Top Ten Facts project, and students are taking turns presenting their poster. I wrote about the Top Ten Facts Posters here on my Day In the Classroom blog. Now that I have the computers back in my classroom, I am introducing my students to blogging, with paper blogs.
Sometimes it is difficult to remember all the tools I need to set up at the beginning of a new school year, and this year I added one or two new ones. Some are high tech, and some are definitely not. Here are some of my favorites.
1. Creative Ways to Line Up
With 30 students, I like to break up the group for many tasks. That was made easier by this idea I saw on Pinterest for Creative Ways to Line Up. You can download the cards and list by visiting I Love To Teach.
2. Class Dojo
For behavior management, I like to use Class Dojo. With Class Dojo, you create an avatar for each student. You award positive points for good choices, and deduct points for poor choices. If you are interested in learning more about it, you can read my post from last year here. I just read a blog post criticizing this tool, but like anything it can be used well to reinforce the behaviors you want, or it can be used poorly in a punitive way. I like it because I can give specific reminders or praise in a calm way. By the end of the day or week, I have a record of specific behavior choices. My school has an award system called Paw Prints, and I award them based on the points students earn on Class Dojo. You can share this information with parents if you choose too. Sometimes it can be enlightening. Patterns may emerge, or sometimes I realize how many times I am giving reminders to some students. My kids like it! I don't usually project the avatars onto the screen during work time, but the kids like it when I do.
3. The Name Box
We do lots of partner and group work, so I am always looking for different ways to group students. I have some high tech and low tech approaches to this task. I set up my name box this week. I use this all the time to form groups or call on people.
4. Instant Classroom
Using Instant Classroom is a high tech approach. You will find it at www.instantclassroom.com and you can use it to group students
or select students for a task.
I will warn you that sometimes this website is a little slow, but we like to use it on good days.
5. Partner Wheels
Another tool I like for picking partners is my Partner Wheel. This is another idea I found on Pinterest, and I blogged about it here. I haven't made my wheel for this year, but here is a picture of the one I had for a previous year.
Then there is my most favorite of all, and that is www.planbook.com. I love using an on-line planbook. I like the fact that I can access it at home or from school. The website has great tutorials to help you set up your planbook. I always print mine off, so that there is a copy available to a substitute, and I like to check things off as I go.
Some of my favorite features are the templates. You can set up templates so those things that you need to put in your plans all the time are automatically there. I also love the fact that if I don't get to something that I had planned to do, I can extend the lesson plan for the next day, or bump the whole plan over to the next day. Since I always over plan, I use this feature all the time. It means I don't have to keep rewriting the same lesson plans. It is also inexpensive, just $12 a year. If you've never tried it, check it out. You can try it for the first thirty days free. I wrote more about Using an On-line Planbook here.