Work Is More Fun If You Do It in color!

I stumbled across this tip.   It began as a management technique and turned into a motivational technique.

The main idea: all work is more fun if you do it in color.  Write with marker, crayon, or colored pencil.

I started this because I teach a reading rotation of about 30 kids.  When I handed out pencils for seatwork, I’d end up with 30 dull pencils after just an hour, and it was a pain to keep them all sharpened for my group and my class.

Then I just started handing out random markers from my marker box.  The kids love it!  Their reading comprehension worksheets are more fun when they do them in color.  I like it because the markers are easy to distribute and collect, and they never need sharpening.

With my regular class, I have found that multiplication, spelling, and Social Studies are all more fun in color.

Why not color your world?

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 27, 2010

 

So You Think You’re Done?

teacheratdeskMy students are always playing games.  Some are more fun than others…

So You Think You’re Done? is probably the most educational game we play.  Here are the rules:

1.  Line up and have your seatwork graded while you wait.  You can turn it in when you earn an A.

That’s it!  If you are not scoring 100%, you’re not done, so go back to your seat and keep working until it’s perfect.

So You Think You’re Done? has many advantages over regular grading:

1.  It makes grading easy.  You only collect perfect papers.  Everything in the stack earns 100%.

2.  You grade on school time, not at home.  How many of us have been frustrated by grading papers at home?  For one thing, you already put in a 10 or 12 hour day.  Beyond your own needs, think about the students.  You find out that they did not do a very good job.  Some were just lazy.  Others never bothered to turn it in.  Still others just didn’t understand.  No one followed the directions.  With So You Think You’re Done? you can make changes in your teaching instantly and correct mistakes.

3.  It forces kids to learn.  Some students just can’t be bothered to work hard and learn.  With So You Think You’re Done? they just won’t have any grades until they earn an A.  They start to get sick of missing recess to do work that was allocated 40 minutes of class time.

4.  Elementary school kids don’t understand grades.  They truly don’t connect the work they do with the grade on their report card or progress report.  The weird thing is, they don’t blame you for their grade, either.  It’s just sort of something handed down from the heavens.  So, trying to motivate little kids with grades just doesn’t work.  They do like winning at So You Think You’re Done?, though.

5.  You help those in need.  If a student spends enough time in the So You Think You’re Done?  line and  keeps failing, you know to buddy him up for some tutoring.

Tips: You have to teach little kids that So You Think You’re Done? does not apply to tests.  Otherwise, they will help each other take the test.  After all, we want everyone to earn 100%, right?

So You Think You’re Done? works much better if the kids get team points for turning in their paper.  Kids don’t care about grades, but they do care about winning an ice cream party.  If you give double points for getting it right the first time, the game will be much shorter.


 

Sing Multiplication Songs During Transitions

bookTransitions are a difficult time for students.  It’s easy for kids to misbehave and waste time.  I don’t have all the answers for successful transitions, but I do have one: SING!  If kids are singing, they can’t talk.  (You might have to start the song over a few times to enforce this.)

If kids are singing Best Multiplication Songs EVER!, they are learning their times tables during each transition.  My multiplication songs are short—most are about 30 seconds long.  It’s a good length of time for many transitions.

My class works on times tables in a team approach.  Say we are working on 3s.   We sing the 3s while we line up for recess, lunch, special, end of day, you name it!  We sing our 3s if we have a little time between activities.

It’s simple, effective, and educational.

Posted in Classroom Management,Math,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 15, 2010

 

December 16 Boston Tea Party

December 16 is the anniversary of the Boston Tea Party.   I think it’s a good time to let your class brush up on their tea party knowledge.  For one thing, it’s a nice break from holiday themed activities (if your school still lets you do them).

As a child, I always pictured the Boston Tea Party as a summer activity.  I’m not sure why, but when you picture colonists dressed up like Native Americans, you just don’t picture winter coats.  You don’t picture them freezing in the Boston December weather, either.

Social Studies for Kids has a nice description of the Tea Party.

Learn about the War for Independence from a British point of view at the BBC.

Read a primary document about the event with this clip from the Boston Gazette.

Watch Liberty’s Kids – The Boston Tea Party episode (click for a description at Amazon.com).

Or buy the entire Liberty’s Kids: Complete Series at Amazon.com.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Dec 12, 2010

 

School Parade

Our school has an annual parade.  I’m so glad one of the teachers suggested it.  The parade is a fun way to pull a class together with a common goal, then unite the school as students cheer each other on.

We hold the parade in the hallways.  Here’s how it works:

Pick a theme.  We use Social Studies, which has a lot of potential for creativity.

Each class creates a “float” on a wagon—or just makes cool posters, costumes, or artifacts.

All classes assemble outside their room to cheer.

Depending on your school layout, design a route and a rotation.  Example:

Kindergarten marches first.  They begin the route that takes them through the whole school.

When the last kindergarten class has passed the first graders, the first grade classes join the parade.

When the last first grade class has passed second grade, they join the parade

…When each grade level has made a trip around their whole school, they quickly stash their parade things in their room, then race to the hall to cheer for the others.

The whole thing takes about 30-45 minutes.

Posted in Holidays,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 10, 2010

 

So You Think You Rock? An Accelerated Reader (AR) Game

My students are always playing games.  Some are more fun than others…

So You Think You Rock?  is a game I invented to complement the Accelerated Reader program.  Actually, my sister invented it one day when she was volunteering in my class.  Here I was, trying to have AR conferences with the kids, which took forever—mostly because they were so slow in coming to talk to me.  Also, the constant coming and going was disruptive.

Then my sister printed up the class progress report and just started calling their scores out.  We jazzed it up by stating whether or not the student rocks.

Example: say it is the second week of the grading period.  You estimate that the student should be at 20% of their goal.  You have a class goal of scoring an average of 85% correct.  Announce it just like this:

John: rocks.  He scored 30% of his goal (students cheer) and has an 89% correct average.  Keep up the good work, John!  (John beams)

Paul: sort of rocks.  Paul, we are very proud of you for earning 45% of your goal.  You must be reading a lot at home!  (students cheer)  However, your average percent correct is 80%.  Could you work on that, please?  We know you can do it!  (students cheer)

George:  Rocks hard!  He has made his Goooooooal!  (Students raise their arms in a triumphant soccer cheer.)  Seriously, George rocked so hard!  Not only did he meet his goal in the first two weeks of the quarter, he has a 98% correct average!  (students cheer)  Have an ARHead, George!  (Airheads candy that I renamed.  Buy about 80 for less than $10 at Sam’s Club.)

Ringo: doesn’t rock.  He has 0% of his goal.  (Students groan)  What have you been doing, Ringo?  You are a Recess Reader until you fix this!  I recommend a Magic Tree House book.  (Grudgingly, Ringo looks for a Magic Tree House book in the class library.)  Ringo, put it in your backpack right now!  You are reading it this weekend!

In about three minutes, you have motivated students, nudged slowpokes to read, and reminded everyone of the existence of the AR program.

My students BEG to play So You Think You Rock!


 

Pearl Harbor Day: teaching tools including a FREE worksheet

“…December 7th, 1941—a date which will live in infamy—the United States of America was suddenly and deliberately attacked by naval and air forces of the Empire of Japan.”

If your class is like mine, you will find that students know next to nothing about this tragic and important event.

I have taught the following lessons to both third and fifth graders.  Students are eager to learn about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and I never have any trouble keeping their attention.

First, I describe the event to students, and place it in the context of World War II.

Here is a good reading comprehension worksheet with a short passage about Pearl Harbor.  This passage gives American embargoes on Japan as the reason for the attack.  I think that children should know that destroying the Pacific Fleet was another Japanese goal for the attack.

I read President Roosevelt’s famous speech and explain it to the students.  I give students a copy of the speech.  You can print the speech and listen to it at AmericanRhetoric.com  Students are fascinated to hear this address from so long ago.  They listen much better if they can read along.

I use information from the US Navy Museum: fact sheet and pictures.  Also, I show an aerial shot of Pearl Harbor before the attack, so students can see how vulnerable it was.

After students understand what happened, I tie the lesson into writing by showing a first draft of FDR’s speech, from the National Archives.  It’s interesting to see how he developed the most famous phrases.

InstructorWeb has a nice packet about the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It’s appropriate for students in 5th grade and up.   The packet features a passage to read, a chart, and questions: multiple choice, short answer, matching, and essay.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Dec 3, 2010