Are your routines in need of a little freshening up? As you look forward to 2016 do you find yourself asking, “How can I add just a bit more sanity to my life and re-engage my students in a meaningful way?”
We put a call-out to the TpT Teacher-Author community and asked them what routines have worked well for them lately. Some of these ideas may seem old-hat, but with a new twist (yes please!). Some of these may be entirely new. And some of them you may already be doing.
Regardless, we know you’ll enjoy these blog posts and a peek inside your colleagues’ thought processes. Who knows: You may find a new teaching blog to follow that “routinely” delivers.
Changes That Affect Everyone
“Let’s Podcast!” says Teaching Without A Quill and blogs about the most productive ways to use podcasting in the classroom. One thing she suggests is, “Let your students create their own Podcasts.” (which is very similar to what our next contributor does).
Secondary Sara has her class creating their own TED talk mock conference and says, “There’s SO much opportunity here to authentically make a unit that is cross-curricular, that hits a TON of standards for ELA, that weaves in normally-dry topics (like non-fiction reading), and that builds confidence in an area that most people fear.”
And if you only have the time or head space for small changes, consider trying a “Good Things” board like GardenPeaDesigns does and greeting all of your students with a friendly handshake and hello. She says, “Sometimes I even have a whole line of students shaking each others’ hands as they walk in. It is amazing and a great way to welcome students.”
Factor In Effective Strategies for Math
Read what Aunt Sally did to get kicked out of Leaf and STEM Learning’s classroom and the mnemonic device GEMA that made the cut. She says, “It works! My students started making much fewer mistakes, and no one was accidentally multiplying before they were supposed to divide.”
Math in the Middle suggests trying group work in her post A Creative Approach to Grouping in the Middle School Math Classroom, and a fun and educational way to easily get your students into groups: “…so I have come up with the following solution: As the students come into the classroom, I will hand them a card with a math problem they need to solve (relating to what they’re learning). Once they solve the problem, they’ll need to find the table labeled with the answer to their card, and sit there. (Three other students’ cards will have that same answer), so those four students will be a group for the day.”
Mrs E Teaches Math says, “Bellwork keeps me sane,” and “Since students start before the bell rings, they are totally done with this within the first 5-7 minutes of class. Sometimes, I plan for the bellwork to take a little longer so that I can give them review time. Other times, I make it very short so that we can get started as soon as possible.”
Courage To Core lets his students take the lead and shares his 7 Ways to Drop the Mic in Math Class post where he says, “Students work in small groups on real world scenarios, experimenting, drawing conclusions, and solving complex problems while I facilitate, motivate, and occasionally lecture. Here a few tips on how to drop the mic and let students pick it up in math class.
Re-Energize Your ELA
Bell Ringers work in ELA classrooms, too — Secondary Strategies writes a post: 7 Techniques for Building a Classroom Community with Bell Ringers and suggests, “At the beginning of the school year or semester, teachers have a unique challenge — building a classroom community. Well-written and executed Bell Ringers can help meet that challenge. You can get to know your students, they can get to know and bond with each other, and they can get to know you — all with Bell Ringers!”
Presto Plans also subscribes to Bell Ringers and writes a post: 7 Bell Ringer Ideas for Middle & High School English that includes things such as video journals and finding figurative language. About figurative language she says, “To help my students practice this skill, I spent many hours writing paragraphs that contained lots of figurative language. Although it felt like a never-ending task, it was so worth it. You can start a class a week by getting students to read a paragraph and find the figurative language used. It only takes a few minutes, but after a couple of weeks, they will become professional figurative language finders.”
Bell Ringers are great for the beginning of class, but what about those last few moments? Laura Randazzo says, “In my quest to wisely use those last few minutes of class time and bring joy to my little Room H-9 learning community, I’m adding a new element to my classroom routine this year — Quarter Trios.” Read more about how she’s doing this in her post: New Year “Game” Plan.
Say Farewell to Stigmas
Speech Pathologist SLPrunner says, “Middle schoolers — I love em’ but I know that sometimes they hate coming to me. I learned about “The Big Lie” in my Middle School Philosophy Course. Adolescents often believe that everyone is watching them all of the time. They are very egocentric and want desperately to fit in. Speech and Language Services don’t fit in really well with that idea.” To be respectful and careful not to draw attention to the middle school students in need of her help, she does things like getting involved with the general education population from the beginning of the year. Read more in her post: Middle School Service Stigma.
If you’re in an inclusion class, make sure you’re reading all of your students’ signals and making adjustments to keep everyone included and feeling safe. UtahRoots writes a post about reducing anxiety for one of her high functioning autistic students and says, “Another thing I did was to give him a heads-up when his time for any task was coming to an end, so that he was never taken by surprise by a request to stop working. But he did NOT like it when I came to his desk to give him that warning. He felt singled out. So I started announcing to the whole class, ‘In two minutes, I’m going to ask you to start cleaning up.’ That gave Eric the warning he needed, but without singling him out.” Read more in her post: Formal Teaching Observations Part 2.
Time for Teacher
Heard it from a friend who… heard it from a friend who… decided it was time to assign each of her daily prep periods a specific set of tasks. Simply Secondary writes, “I borrowed this idea from a TpT Teacher-Blogger. I modeled my planning page after hers, but I think she does hers a little differently. Regardless, the main idea is the same. You assign each day a specific set of tasks. Instead of feeling overwhelmed by my list of things to do or wasting time trying to do a million different things (none of which get done efficiently or completely), I focus on one set of tasks. If I finish that day’s tasks early, I move on to other things on my list that I want to work on.” Read more great “get organized” ideas in her post: My Sanity Saver.
Consider instituting a “Test Correction Procedure” into your offerings and get an accurate read on student accountability. Math Giraffe’s post: Best Procedure for Test Corrections explains the procedure and why it works for her. There’s also a lively discussion in the comments of this post with further clarification if you’re thinking of trying this in your class.
“Put passion in your routines and your routines can become your passions.”