Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Marbles Management Break Down

(Before reading this post, you may want to look back on a past post from January: Classroom Management with Marbles )

A while ago I posted about how I began to use marbles in my classroom for management reasons and how at the beginning I believed it to be an easy strategy to keep up with and to be motivating for my students. Today, I want to re-cap on how it went for the rest of the year.  While it is a great management strategy, I don't believe I used it in the right way.  However, I do believe there are ways to use it efficiently.  I truly believe I had a great start with it, yet as things got busy it went down hill.

The following is what I did wrong:

1. I was inconsistent.  Sometimes I chose to give the students marbles when they had a really good morning or afternoon, other times I would forget.  Sometimes I gave marbles when I saw a student doing a kind act to another, whereas most times, I forgot.

2.  My goals were set too high.  I often found reasons to take away marbles rather than add marbles and when I did add marbles it was too little.  While the students were close to filling the jar, it never actually got full.  This was partly due to me forgetting it as well.

What I learned?  Well, while the importance of consistency can be so obvious, it is harder to accomplish than one would think.  So this is some advice I give to anyone thinking of starting this management strategy:

1.  Only use the marble jar for one reason.  Whether it be for when the students cooperate in class and show hard work, or whether you use it for acts of kindness.  Do not set your goals so high to use it for numerous reasons, or it will become forgotten, and inconsistent.

2.  Set goals in the morning for the marble jar, letting the students know the goal.  For example, you could tell students that if they show hard, quiet work all the way until recess they will get a big marble, or 5 marbles in their marble jar.  Or, if you are doing it for acts of kindness, you could tell students that if you see 5 special acts of kindness during the day, you will add 5 marbles to the jar.  This way, you are reminding yourself to add marbles, and you are reminding your students about the marble jar.

3.  Make the goals achievable so that the students WILL get that promised class party or treat if they fill the jar.  If they fill the jar once and get their prize, they may be even more keen to do it again.

Trial and error... the best way to eventually run the perfect classroom :)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

10 Musts to Have in Your Classroom.

My lack of blogging has been due largely to moving and loosing my camera cord. Therefore, leaving me with no pictures to post.  To try to explain art projects or bulletin boards without pictures would simply be pointless.  So, while I have a blog post today, I have no pictures and therefore must blog about something different than my 'great' lessons ;).

I want to talk about the things you absolutely need to have in the classroom at all times.  Okay, maybe not NEED, but will definitely help take away some stress in a day of teaching :).  Whether it be for emergency lessons, quick management strategies, a simple fill in, or just to make a teacher's job a tiny bit easier.

 Over my past year of teaching I have realized the importance of keeping certain things in my classroom at all times - I failed to do this most of the time and learned greatly from it.  There were numerous times when I needed something and didn't have it.  I'm going to skip the obvious ones (ie. tape, stapler, hole puncher, pens, etc.) because I am pretty sure we all know those.  I want to tell you about the ones that are not always thought of right away, yet can really make your days go that much smoother.  While some may seem obvious to you, as a new teacher, they weren't to me at the beginning of the year.

1. Jelly Beans.  

Jelly beans are KEY.  Whether it be for a math lesson, a review game, a reward, or just a regular Fun Friday afternoon, jelly beans are a must.

2.  Dice. 

 Primarily for need to explain much here.  (If you need some ideas for math games with dice, comment and I will blog them!)  Cards could also be added to this!

3.  Labels.  

At the beginning of the year, fellow teachers told me the importance of making labels - labels for each student's name (big and small), labels for each subject/book, and labels for your name.  While I saw the importance of making these for the students books and duotangs, I did not see these as important for much else so I ended up stuffing them some where quick when I was finished labelling the books at the beginning of the year.  Well little did I know how often they would become useful throughout the year.  Whether it was for the students' snacks on field trips, new notebooks when students' finished theirs, costumes for the school play, labelling projects, etc. etc., I needed htem all year long.  The amount of annoyance it is to run out of labels is underestimated.  Next year, I plan on making double the amount I did this year so I am sure not to run out.  

4.  Bandages.

This might be an obvious one.  Honestly, for some reason I just never had them in my classroom this year.  When students have a tiny hang nail or cut that they 'desperately' need a bandage for, it would just be so much easier to be able to give them one rather than having to send them to the office and wasting all that precious work time.  

5.  A box of random toys, prizes, etc.  

This could help with many of the same ways that the jelly beans could.  My school has a prize bin in the office for any reason a teacher chooses to send them there.  However, I think it is so nice to be able to have such a box in your own classroom as well.  I definitely have used the prize bin in the office, but I also would .like to seriously start one in my own classroom for more management plans.  (Perhaps to be blogged about in the future...)

6.  Birthday gifts.

This year for every student's birthday I gave a birthday pin and a sheet of stickers.  I also printed off a sign that said 'Happy Birthday _____!' and hung it up in front of the classroom for the day.  I chose to buy all of the gifts ahead of time, which worked really well for those days that I remembered it was a student's birthday 5 minutes before class started... guilty.  However, I chose to leave the sign printing until the last minute... every time - well how much easier it would have been had I printed them all at the beginning of the year and simply pulled them out the day of?!  

7. Empty jars.

Empty jars are needed more than one would think.  While I used them mainly for science experiments, they were also useful for things like my marble jar (found here), picking names for an activity and storing items.  I am sure you could find many more uses for them as well.

8.  Students' names on magnets.

I started this at the beginning of the year and it was helpful for numerous reasons.  I simply wrote the student's names on colourful cardstock, cut it out and glued a magnet strip to it.  I used it for two main reasons. First of all, every day the students had to hand in their agendas. Once they handed in their agenda they had to put their name on the chalk board to show me that it was handed in.  If their name wasn't on the chalkboard, I knew I didn't have their agenda yet.  Secondly, I used it occasionally for students who were misbehaving or who needed to stay in for recess to finish work.  Rather than writing their names on the board  I could just put their magnet up to remind them.  While this isn't necessarily a must, it definitely makes your life that much easier.

9.  Stickers, stickers, stickers!

Do not underestimate the importance of stickers.

10.  EXTRAS... of everything!!

Whether it be duotangs, pencils, erasers, notebooks, paper... Always have more than enough.  This year I failed on this with pencils and duotangs.  Two very key things in order to make your student's work go smoothly.  

These are just my top 10 things - while there are definitely plenty more.  If you have any more to add, please do comment!!

Summer is two weeks away for me.  In this spirit, stay tuned for a blog post about Summer To Do's as you spend a bit of time preparing for the next year! :)