Parent teacher conference nights can be a challenge to set up but they are very rewarding if everything goes smoothly! They don’t have to occur just once a semester either. If something is going great, or well… not so great you can call or set up a meeting during the year too. Here are some articles and forms to help you have the best parent-teacher meetings you can!
Share and Grow,
–This teacher gives some great tips and easy to use forms for parent teacher reminders. There is also a nice one to use the night of the meeting.
-What should my room look like? How soon do I notify parents? What if I think I will need extra time for one conference? This teacher made an easy to read post with some forms for lower/upper elementary.
Social stories are a great teaching tool for students on the autism spectrum. They use pictures and words to help students learn about a behavior, event, skill, or concept they may be struggling with. Since they first were popularized, many have found them to be useful teaching tools for behavioral issues in general. Pictures from the students home or classroom can be used to make the story come to life if it is ‘homemade’ though. So that’s kind of fun!
There are many resources online for creating your own social stories or many are pre- written too. If you are looking to create your own social story for a student this is a good guide. We created social stories in partners one night in a class. It was the first time we tried it all the way through. We chose to make them in powerpoint , a very doable option. The time from start to end took most of us 20-30 minutes. It may take your more or less depending on the story though. This is not a novel don’t worry it can easily be accomplished by parents or teachers on a lunch.
Here are some resources to help !
-This site has comic strip type images free to use.
-Feeling tech savvy? This App costs a few dollars but if you work with students who use social stories on a regular basis this may be a good tool for you!
-Looking for something a little more interactive? This teacher got creative! She created a social story spin with a social story sort. See it here!
-Sometimes I like a reference book to pull from my shelf. If this is a high use item in your classroom this might be a good investment for you. Borrow ideas and edit them to make your own until you know exactly what to do!
–PBISworld offers a whole host of commonly used social stories. Check it out.
What other resources do you know of for helping students in this area?
Share and grow,
Every room needs a reward system. They don’t need to be expensive though! I’m a fan of intrinsic motivation or fun whole class rewards. I’ve never been a big fan of prize boxes or candy. Too often I see these result in arrangements, tears, and the give-me gimmies. However, if that’s what your students need to succeed then I understand too. In this post I wanted to provide some ideas for classroom reward systems that I like. These systems and ideas don’t involve a lot of money or candy.
Enjoy and Grow!
-This teacher had a fun idea. She put magnets on the back of a large puzzle and the students earned pieces. When it was completed they earned a class prize that was set together.
-This idea was cute! I like catching students helping others and being nice. Plus what kiddo doesn’t love googly eyes?
-I saw a teacher use check registers through out the year with 5th grade students as the reward system. Students had to carefully keep track of the “money” given to them for a perfect attendance day, homework, 100% on a test, being a good buddy, etc. Then at the end of the year there was an auction with class cash. Some items were special like from school events such as a poetry night poster or mask from a play. Others were small dollar store toys.
-Need some ideas for classroom rewards? PJ day, crazy socks, wear hats in class, bring a stuffed animal to school, homework pass, extra 5 minutes of recess, game day for math, movie in the afternoon (perhaps Magic School Bus or Bill Nye) . There are a lot of in class prizes students can work towards!
What’s up-cycling you may ask? It’s taking things that could be old or recycled and turning them into everyday useful things! Decorating and keeping a classroom stocked can be expensive, especially in the primary grades. So I wanted to take the time and post about how to up-cycle and DIY some things for your room.
Before I get into useful tips on how to reuse the things in your room, I wanted to tell you about a great hidden gem of a website. I’ll post the link as always. If you type it in BE CAREFUL not to reverse the wording. This is a page I learned about from an art professor and the products are amazing! You can buy all your glue, paper, markers, and craft sticks in bulk cheap. If you have a limited budget and need to buy these items out of pocket go here!
This blog, the Clutter-Free Classroom, has great ideas on how to reuse and decorate containers for classroom storage.
Students or you have a messy desk? Those desk and paper organizers can add up your first year. Who doesn’t have cereal boxes though?
What other ways can you re- purpose items in your classroom?
Share and Grow!
Have you ever heard of Story Cubes? If you haven’t I highly recommend finding a set ( or two) for your classroom. Later on I’ll post a picture and but here is a link to where you can find them online.
I found this gem a few years ago at a store when they were closing and have used them for everything but the game the game on the box. Basically, they are dice with images instead of dots. I have renames them “spark cubes” because they spark ideas.
Some ideas for these cubes can be sparking creative writing, bell ringers, or a station for ELA.
I made a lesson to help students understand verbs using movement. Students were placed in groups of three or four and each group was given 1-2 cube. They had to roll the cube then draw and write what they thought the image was on a paper. After that, they were asked to collaboratively write a 3-5 sentence story with VERBS (action words) and act or dance it out. They were asked to share this with one other group as I wandered around to observe and assess.
The stories were all unique and the students had fun. These spark cubes are a great creative tool and I would recommend them as a tool for your classroom.
Learn and Grow!
If you’re like me, the term array as applied to math may be fairly new. However, once I began to understand them I could see how they could be useful learning tools for students. If an array is something that is a new term to you or it is a little confusing I recommend this page. I like the visuals and explanations.
I am currently placed with 3rd grade students in a city setting. They have been working to learn multiplication with arrays. Some students are behind academically and others have behavioral needs in the room. When the teacher asked if I wanted to create a lesson, I jumped at the chance to integrate my love of art into the lesson! Many of the students in the room love superheros too so I thought about this when creating part of the lesson.
*Note- there are a lot of steps but we gave them a check list on the board.
In the lesson students review arrays as a group. Then they were asked to solve six multiplication problems from a worksheet and draw the arrays (this group needs that extra scaffolding). After they have solved and drawn, students had to check for correctness with an elbow partner. Once the arrays were checked, students got construction paper and turned the arrays into a city scene like the one shown here.
But, the fun didn’t end quiet yet! I really wanted to know what happened in the city. So students were given graphic organizers to write 3-5 sentence stories in. Many students in this class struggle with where to place capitals, punctuation, or just don’t like to write. I told them if they want to write four perfect ( Capital, !.?, best spelling) sentences about how Batman saves their city from evil that was ok with me. Many students told me about Trick-or-Treating but I did get a lot of superhero stories too!
Here is the Pokemon story from one student.
Do you like the idea for this lesson? Great let me know! It aligned with common core grade 3 ELA and Math standards. They kids enjoyed it and it would make for a great bulletin board. I can’t take all the credit though. I borrowed the idea from this page.
Learn and Grow!
Teachers often come up with super inventive and creative ways to engage students in the writing process. This is especially true for those students who are just learning to form paragraphs or learning new languages. But sometimes it’s best to use a concept that has been proven to work and not try to reinvent to wheel.
Graphic organizers are a wonderful tool for many subject areas, they can be created both on and off the page. These visual maps can be extremely useful for students who have strengths in an array multiple intelligences (look up Mr. Howard Gardner if you are unsure what this is). While the map or organizer can help students to structure thinking it also shows us (you!) as the teacher where the student might be missing some information depending on the type of organizer being used.
Here you will find a variety of graphic organizers that help knowledge pop both on and off the page!
Students as Organizers:
Human Spider Web: Have you ever made a getting you know you web? This is similar! Students use their knowledge of a story (picture book, chapter, or entire book) to create a web of events. As the teacher start off with the beginning then ask toss you web (the yarn) to a student to fill in more until the web is complete. It’s a good way to get in a reading check, a verbal web ( or have a recorder at the board), and get some movement in!
Class Timeline: No one said your organizer has to be on paper! Write or print 1st , 2nd, 3rd, etc. on paper, parts of a story, or events in history you just learned. Ask students to take the papers and line up in the correct order in the front of the room while others check. Talk about the parts of history or story. Who is out of place and why? Take a picture of the students in correct order and have a hard copy of the graphic organizer for them to keep in Google Classroom or on the Ipads if this technology is available.
What do I do with this Wacky Organizer?
Woah! This organizer looks cool! I kinda want to use it but, have no clue how to explain it. Hold on, help has arrived. There is a fantastic website that explains how to use different types of organizers and then gives basic outlines or each one on a different page. Don’t let your students get board with Venn-diagrams or you for that matter. Check out this page for tips and new ideas.
Check These out!