06 January 2014

Management Monday - Back in the Groove

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Today was my first day back at school after the break. Fortunately, today was a teacher workday, so I was able to get a lot accomplished. I've worked in three different school districts, and this is the first one where we actually got to use the day to get things ready for students instead of meetings, in services, and/or professional development. Seriously, so thankful for a true workday!

Before I share my management tip for today,  I wanted to share a couple new resources I created on the last few days of my break. When my kiddos return, we'll be talking about money, and as always, word problems are always on the list. So, in trying to accomplish two things at one, I created some one- and two-step word problems involving money.

Each set includes 30 word problems on full-size pages which are great for projecting to the entire class as a math warm-up, or problem of the day. I also included the same problems as task cards (not different problems, just a different format), so that you could play around the room, scoot, or put them in your math center. Easy peasy.

You can find the one-step money word problems here.

And, you can find the two-step money word problems here.

I know many of you are either getting ready to go back, or you've been back for a couple of days. Although, because of the chilly weather, I've heard that many of you have had snow days. Either way, I've got a management tip that I think you and your students will love!

The background: Transitions are one of the keys to success in classroom management. Typically, the shorter the transition, the less opportunities for side conversations, wandering around the classroom, and in general off-task behaviors. That being said, I use interactive notebooks almost exclusively in my classroom. Like, to the point we barely touch our textbooks. And, now that I think about it, we might not have used them at all.

Before you totally freak-out, my district didn't adopt a common core math series so that's not even an option to use. Our reading series is actual books vs. a textbook, plus my students choose their own books to read anyway, so they don't  have a reading textbook anyway. Science and social studies are more hands-on, and project-based which is why we don't use those.  Has your shock worn off, yet?

So, with all of those notebooks floating around in my students' desks, trying to quickly transition from one notebook to another, was an almost impossible task. To the point, that students would get really excited when they correctly guessed at which notebook was the one they were looking for. Somewhere on Pinterest, I found a picture of color-coded notebooks, and knew that my class would be spending time the next day color-coding our notebooks!

Interested? Here's how:

  • First, take a peek inside one of your student's desks. Or maybe you know off the top of your head how many notebooks your students each have. Either way, create a simple chart like the one pictured below. Basically,  different color for each notebook. Way simple! This could quickly be created on chart paper, and made into an anchor chart (which is what I will be doing with my class next year). I typed mine up at home because that's where I was when I saw the idea on Pinterest.
Mine looks like this:
  • Next, have your students take out all of their notebooks, and one at a time, have them color the bottom of each notebook the correct color. (For my second graders, we went through each notebook, one at a time, and I modeled exactly how to flip over the notebook, squeeze together the bottom, and color a small section.)
  • Post the chart showing each notebook's color in a location that is easily visible to all students. Ours is right next to the flag, above the whiteboard.
It's seriously that easy. I'd say this took us about 20 minutes, and has saved us who knows how much time overall. I often hear my students saying things like, "That's the blue one!." And, voila, we're ready to go! Major, major timesaver.

I don't have a before picture, but now their desks look like this (I have two of their notebooks, and there are a couple of folders, and textbooks on the other side, but you get the idea):

I'd love to hear how this works for you and your class if you decide to do this with your kiddos when you return from the break, or maybe tomorrow, because like me, you needed something yesterday!

Happy Monday, and have a great week!

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