Classroom Management Series: Part 6 {Organizing Your Classroom}

Sooooo, this is late...again. I apologize. This has been a crazy first week back to school! I was so exhausted Thursday night after meet the teacher and then last night I fell asleep at 8:00!

Today, I wanted to take the opportunity to share with you some of my favorite classroom organization tips to help you in your classroom. These are all things that have saved my sanity or hopefully will this school year.

I saw this idea last year from Teaching with TLA and I immediately knew that this was going to solve my pencil problem. YOU KNOW what I'm talking about. Somehow, all of the pencils seem to magically disappear. I was going through pencils like crazy!! I have never found a better solution to this problem until I found this!

Each student is assigned a number at the beginning of the year. Every student uses their number for their Chromebooks, their cubbies, their headphones, etc. Anyway, I gave each student two pencils, a whiteboard marker, and eraser and labeled each with their personal numbers. They were tasked with keeping their pencil for the whole month without losing it. They must have their two pencils sharpened first thing in the morning as part of their morning routine. If one breaks, they have another one. I do also sharpen some extras and keep them at the back of the room, JUST IN CASE. But this worked amazing! No pencils were lost and students treated them like treasures! No erasers were bitten off. The points were handled with care. Seriously. I cannot tell you how happy this little chart made my heart...Definitely doing it again this year. If you have a pencil problem...You NEED to do this. These charts are available for purchase on Amazon HERE

I read a blog post many years ago by First Grader, At Last and it changed my life. I hated the whole move your clip around the chart and every kid has a different job. Honestly, I always forgot to change all the kids jobs and I just couldn't keep up with all that mess. This is literally the EASIEST thing ever! At the beginning of the year, I put all the girls and all the boys names on two separate flippable rings. The same boy and girl stay the helpers for one week. I let them do ALL the jobs! They take the attendance, they wipe the tables, they take turns leading the line and holding the door, anything you can think of! Here is an example because I never take a picture of mine. Save yourself the trouble...DO THIS. You will not regret it.

A couple of years ago, I found these AWESOME metal caddies at Really Good Stuff. They are a little pricey, but I used my back to school supply money to purchase them. They are durable and there is so much space for STUFF! I love the fact that it has the space for whiteboards or workbooks underneath. If only they came in NEON colors! 

I am implementing the book return bin this year after many years of frustration that students simply CANNOT put books back in the correct place even though EVERY bin and book has a matching label. SIGH. I am hoping this will solve all of my problems. My plan is to assign one afternoon car rider the task of returning the books for the next day.

{Photo Credit: The Creative Apple} I of course forgot to take a picture of my book return

For the last five years or so, I have graded papers and filed them into a bin like this. 

I use hanging file folders with students names for the inside. I purchased pretty neon ones this year. Once I grade an assignment, I put them in the kids folders. On Friday, I staple all of the students' work and pass it back for them to take home. Sometimes it ends up being every other Friday. Wooops.

I don't even think I really even need to explain this because it's like such a thing now. But, if you don't have one, you need one. I store every thing in this bad boy.

Mine looks almost just like this, except that it's black. My drawers are also all the same size. But, you get the picture. 

I have been doing this now for a really long time and it is one of the best things I have done as an educator. This year, we have a camping theme, so we have a CAMP binder. It is basically a parent communication binder. All important information goes home in the binder. We send our schedule, newsletter, class list, important papers, homework, and much more home in this binder. Students keep it all year long. It's amazing. I have parents say every year how much they love it! 

You can actually purchase my Themed Binder sets on TPT. There are many different ones included in each set. Just click on each image below! 

This will change your life. I swear. 

Drop me and comment with your favorite organization trick.

Classroom Management Series: Part 5 {Teaching Transitions with Ease}

We're almost done with our 6 part Classroom Management series! I hope you are all learning some useful tips and tricks to use this year.

This week, I am back to share a few things to teach your students how to be transition quickly and easily. Transitions are very important in any classroom. If they are not taught consistently at the start of the school year and reinforced daily throughout the year, valuable learning time will be lost each day.

Last year, I purchased a wireless doorbell on Amazon. I used it as an attention getter, but the doorbell that I purchased had songs on it. It could be used as a way to transition your students from one thing to the next. There were 50 different ringtones and songs. There are holiday songs and regular children's songs. I think this would be a really fun way to have students move from one thing to the next.

In my school, we use Class Dojo. It has a built in timer that is perfect for everything! I use it all the time for helping students transition from one thing to the next. 

If you don't have Class Dojo, there are tons of other timers floating around the internet.

I saw this idea last year on Amy Groesbeck's Instagram and I personally thought it was genius. If your students are struggling with transitions, I think this is a great way to help students visualize where they need progress. You highlight the goal on the bottom of the chart and the objective is to stay below that goal. You may even throw in a little reward for them if they meet their goal a set number of times. 

Students LOVE a good challenge! This one kind of goes hand in hand with tracking their transitions. This is simple. Challenge your students to transition under a certain amount of time. If they continue to meet the challenges, let them earn a little treat. I would even continue to lower the transition time to increase the challenge.

Fourth and Ten has this amazing powerpoint of transition songs for different things! How cute is this!? Any time they need to cut something out, she clicks and plays the little song for that. There is a song for lining up, cleaning up, moving to your seats, and more. I LOVE this! You can click HERE to head to her blog and read more about it. Tell me you love this as much as I do! Totally making one for myself this year...

Okay, this is just an oldie, but a goodie. Just count back slowly from a number that you determine. Kids need to be where you need them to be and that's that. 

For all of these ideas to work, you need to have set clear expectations with your students for how it will work and also what will happen if they do not follow the expectations. That is up to you. These are just ideas for you to think about as you plan your year. 

I hope you were able to learn a little something new today! I'll be back next week with the last part of the series on ideas for Class Organization. 

Classroom Management Series: Part 4 {Listening and Following Directions}

Welcome back to Part 4! We're over halfway through the management series and I really hope you all are learning some new tips to take back with you to your classrooms! I apologize for missing my deadline for this post. I was not feeling well after lunch yesterday and so I went to bed early. 

The focus of this post is on getting kids to listen to you while you are talking so that they can follow directions when they begin working. This is one of the most frustrating things to experience as a teacher. I hate it when students ask me what to do when I literally JUST explained it. I know you all feel me on this...I have several things that I am going to share that I have done in my classroom that have been helpful. 

One of the best things to do at the beginning of the school year is to give students one of the trick quizzes. This is an excellent way to assess which of your students struggle with following directions! I like these from Halle Across the Hall. She offers two versions {one for lower and one for upper elementary.} 

You can grab these for FREE from her TPT store HERE.

One fun way that I love to teach students to listen to directions is through directed drawing. What kid doesn't love art!? Even if they aren't great at drawing, that's the beauty of this! All of them come out looking great...IF they follow directions that is. I usually give some speech about how everyone can be great artists and have masterpieces that look like {holds up completed drawing} and they all GASP. Buuuuut I tell them, you HAVE to listen and pay attention closely the whole time so you can make sure you don't miss a step while I am showing you exactly what to do. They all nod furiously and most of them are tuned in closely the WHOLE time. I love these from Amy Lemons on TPT!

Aren't these adorable!?! You can grab each one separately by clicking the images above.

One of my all time favorite ways to build active listening is through auditory listening activities. I have used these for years and students LOVE them! They don't even know they are honing their listening skills. You give students these coloring pages and tell them that they will have to listen VERY carefully to the directions you will give. They will only hear them one time. You will say things like put a circle around the apple. Color all of the stars blue. Put an x on all of the clouds. I love this resource from Fluttering Through First Grade because she offers two levels of the directions {a beginner and intermediate}. I always start the year with the beginner directions and we build up to the harder which is more two step. We also track the number of mistakes they make on a graph so students can see their listening skills improving.

You can grab SET 1 of her resource HERE! She does have 3 different sets and then a bundle of all 3. I promise you won't be disappointed!

Another thing I have found to be really helpful AND SIMPLE for students is to repeat the directions 2 times and then have the students repeat the directions to a partner. You can also have the students shout the directions out loud if it's something small. For example, If I said, after you are done working on your reading journal assignment, please read silently. What are you going to do when you are done with your assignment students? They would shout out read silently. 

I shared about the secret code strategy in Part 1, but it also works really well for helping students listen to your every word. You can read about Secret Code HERE.

The Five Finger game is another easy little trick that I learned about last year. For this game, you explain to students that they will have the opportunity to earn some chat time if they can listen quietly while you are teaching your mini lesson or giving directions. You hold up 5 fingers while you are talking. For every time a student talks, is not listening or paying attention, you put a finger down. If students lose no fingers, they earn 2 minutes of chat time. If they lose 1-2 fingers, they earn 1 minute. If they lose 3-4 fingers, they earn no chat time and have a class discussion. If they lose all 5 fingers, the students/class get a consequence. This is up to the teacher. This game is great because students start holding each other accountable for their behavior.

The last strategy I want to share is helpful for students who can never remember what you just said to do...You know which friend I'm talkin' about. You have 1 or 2 every year who ALWAYS ask you what to do RIGHT after you just explained it because they weren't listening...Insert eye roll. Well, this is something that I plan on doing this year! You just post some visual numbers with steps for students. You don't have to get that creative with it. You can even just type the directions up on the board if you have a smartboard. Here is a great example although I'm not sure exactly where the picture is from. Lucky to Be in First, maybe?? 

Anyway, I hope you were able to take away something from the post today! Let me know your favorite strategies for teaching kids to listen and follow directions!

Classroom Management Series: Part 3 {Tattling}

Tattling is one my biggest pet peeves in the classroom, but the good news is there are some great ideas to help you deal with this problem.

One of the most important things to remember is that students do not tattle because they want to get on your nerves or make you angry. They do it because they are trying to communicate something with you and they don't know how else to do it. Our job is to teach them the RIGHT way to communicate what it is they need say and sometimes that is learning that not everything
needs to be communicated.

As with the first two parts in this series, most of these ideas are things I have discovered in my years of teaching, on Teachers Pay Teachers, or Pinterest. I will share links to blogs, sites, and TPT shops where necessary.

Tootling is actually the opposite of tattling. The point is to hopefully encourage students to write positive things about their classmates instead of coming to you with negative things. The goal is to reduce kids coming to you to tell on students and encourage them to look for the positive things. All you need is a board like the one pictured below and students write positive notes on their own time to the sticky notes.

One of the best ways we can reduce tattling is to explicitly teach students the difference between tattling and reporting. Provide them with a visible chart and discuss. Have students come up with more examples. Have students sort examples until they really understand what tattling is and is NOT. Here is a great poster from my sweet friend Lindsay Flood! You can download this free poster by clicking the image below.

The tattle box is simple...have a box placed somewhere in your classroom where students can write their tattles. This way, you don't have to have kids interrupt your instruction time. Of course, you need to make sure you have discussed tattling v. reporting. If you see that a certain student's name keeps appearing in the box, you can pull them aside and have a little conversation. This also goes for the student who is abusing the tattle box. Use your teacher discretion. I have also seen this called the Tattle Monster. You can decorate your box and call it whatever your little teacher heart desires. 

Similar to the tattle box, sometimes students just need an outlet to communicate. Placing a Tattle journal or notebook somewhere in your room and letting students go to write down their issues during their own time can be a great way to help students channel their urge to tattle.

There are some great read alouds out there to help you get started when teaching your students about tattling. Tattle Tongue is one of my favorites! Stories by Storie has an awesome book companion that you can purchase to go with this book. 

She also has a great sorting freebie pictured below that you can download on her blog. Head over by clicking below.

Another book for teaching about tattling is called Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal. You can view it on YouTube by clicking below. 

I saw this idea from Teach Love and Iced Coffee on Instagram last week and I thought it was just the cutest! It is sort of a spin on the Tattle box. Display this cute little bulletin board. Students write their "drama" on little cards and give it to the llama! I mean, WHAT?! How cute is that? Who doesn't love llamas?! You can snag this adorable bulletin board set by clicking the image below!

I hope you were able to learn some new tips for Tackling those Tattlers! Join me later this week for learning some new tricks for teaching kids how to listen and follow directions. What are your favorite strategies for Tackling Tattlers?