Thursday, July 31, 2014

Back to School and Classroom Management

Classroom management is at the top of the list when it comes to planning for a new school year. It's a time to reflect on what has worked in the past and the things I want to change.

Each class of students is different. Each year, I change my management procedures to meet the needs of individual students and the class as a whole. Even so, I do have some classroom management ideas that I use year after year, because they're effective.

I thought I'd share some of these with you.

The ideas come from a Rick Morris workshop I attended a few years ago. One of my first grade teammates had attended one and wanted to go again. She invited me to go along. I'm so glad I did!

It's one of those workshops where you'll find yourself totally engaged and excited about all the ideas. He models his workshops to reflect effective management techniques in the classroom. I hope to get at least a few new ideas when I attend a workshop, but this was a day filled with classroom management ideas/techniques that I could readily apply in the classroom.

You can click on the picture to visit his site.

The first idea is the use of a random picker. I like to have a variety of ways to choose students randomly in the classroom (answering questions, helpers, messenger, etc.), and this is one of the kids' favorites.

This is how it works. I number all the students in the class and place those numbered tokens in the container.

I shake the container and turn it upside down. More than one number is face up, so it gives me choices. I just pick one of those numbers. The kids love it, because they think of it as a game or winning a drawing. It's fun, simple, and effective. It's called Pick-A-Number and you can find it here.

Here's another tool I use.

It looks like one of my dog's toys, and that's what it is - a Dog Squeak Toy

I love this one. It's so simple, yet so effective. When I squeeze the toy, the students know to stop what they're doing and look at me, ready to listen. I have the students practice a lot at the beginning of the school year. All it takes is one squeak. It's loud and works. I keep it on the ledge of the white board that's at the front of my room, so it's readily accessible.

A tip: When I introduce it, I pass it around the room and have each student squeeze it a few times. After that, they know they're not to squeeze or play with it. I explain that it's a way for me to get everyone's attention. The children understand and are respectful of it.

The third one is one of my favorite management tools. It's versatile and another simple idea. They're called Magnetic Tiles.

One way I use them is when I want the students to work in groups or with a partner.

The number tiles are magnetic and can be placed on butcher paper against a magnetic board or on a magnetic white board. I can form the groups ahead of time, and it's a reference for me and the children, too.

The number magnets can be placed by the word work chart or centers chart area. When students finish their word work activities, they move their magnets to the activity they choose to do next. I can tell at a glance how many students have completed their word work and what students are doing when they're finished. It prevents students from interrupting small group instruction and saying, "What do I do? I'm finished."

Rick Morris's New Management site has many more ideas for using the Magnetic Tiles. He has lots of other classroom management tips and resources on the site, as well. If you have an opportunity to attend one of his workshops, I would highly recommend it.

You can download some of the center cards I use with the Magnetic Tiles by clicking below.

I would love to hear about your classroom management ideas. Any new ones you will be using this year?