The No-Name Form

No-Name papers are a real pain.  Different teachers have different ways of dealing with them.

Some teachers automatically hand No-Name papers back, often in the form of a “No-Name Box” that students are supposed to check if their work wasn’t graded.  I recommend against this because savvy but lazy students like to fish through the No-Name papers and turn them in as their own work.  Plus, often the teacher actually does know who created the paper, so the exercise just draws out the processing time for the paper and creates extra work for the teacher.

I created the No-Name Form as my answer to No-Names.  I can almost always identify No-Name papers because my student number* system is so good.  My kids turn in their work to numbered boxes, so I always have everything in order, nice and easy to input in the grade book.   If I have a No-Name between papers 18 and 20, I can bet it belongs to student 19.  I just write the student’s name on the paper, stick a No-Name Form on his desk, and make a note so I remember to collect the No-Name form.

You can print my No-Name form, which has students practice writing their name and number correctly.  Just assign these for every No-Name paper.  I find that this fixes mild cases of the No Names and might eventually reform No-Name kids.

The big surprise was that students found the No-Name paper to be fun!  It’s supposed to be a reminder, but the kids just love it.  They do No-Name forms just for fun.  Sometimes they create cool zigzag patterns on the form by indenting their name a little more on each successive line.

Another surprise was that some kids offer to help a student who is way behind on his No-Name Forms.  If the kids are smart enough and generous enough to think of this, I allow it to happen (with my knowledge and consent.)  I think it’s community building.  My parents taught me that in the Air Force, this type of helping-with-the-punishment was one of the highest levels of teamwork.  I always tell the No-Name offender to make sure and do something nice for the helper.

If you decide to use the No-Name form, print it on scratch paper if you can.  No need to use good paper on such a mundane task!

*I assign student numbers the first day of school and teach my class the “Name and Number Song.”

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Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,FREE Worksheets by Corey Green @ Sep 29, 2011


Nicknames in the Classroom

Nicknames can be a great way to build community. Students love to have a special name just for them, and they feel valued when classmates use their nickname.

Some teachers assign nicknames on the first day of school. It’s a good way to break the ice. I’ve never tried that because I’m not sure I can come up with so many nicknames on the fly.

You might like to coin nicknames as the year goes on. Always ask the student’s permission before using a nickname you thought of yourself.

After you’ve given a few nicknames, tell the kids to let you know if they create a cool nickname for themselves. If you deem the nickname appropriate, encourage the class to make an effort to use it. Using the nickname is like a gift from one student to another. Students are so proud when their nickname catches on. Often it follows them past the end of the school year.

Ideas for creating nicknames:

Talents: Winners of contests or class experts might develop nicknames based on that, such as Miss Multiplication.

Actual names: You might be able to use alliteration to create a catchy nickname based on a student’s first or last name. An example is DJ Jazzy Jeff (the Fresh Prince’s pal.) If you’re lucky, you might find a cool rhyme, such as Racin’ Jason.

Last names that sound cool: Some kids just have awesome last names. They might like to be called by that. It sounds really jock. Jocular, too! New word alert—jockular: of or pertaining to a friendly jock.

Awesome prefixes: Sometimes you can add an awesome word to the student’s name to create a cool nickname. Two famous examples Magic Johnson and Joltin’ Joe. Athletic kids might like a strong name with Action, Power, Super, or some other similar “prefix.”

Initials: Some people’s initials sound awesome. This is a classic source of nicknames.

Cut-up names:This is a variation on Fun with Initials. Think A-Rod and JLo.

Objects: You might create a nickname based on something the student likes, or just a cute word that fits the student. Cupcake is an adorable nickname. Boots is fun and classic.

Famous association: Your student might have a name, talent or hobby that can tie into a song, movie or band name. Talented dancers might like Dancing Queen or Tiny Dancer.

Heroes: if a student has a hero, maybe that hero’s name or a variation of it should be their nickname. A girl who loves to sing might like to be called Beyoncé. A student might like to be called after his favorite team or mascot.

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Posted in Classroom Management,First Year Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 26, 2011


Name Table Groups for Educational Concepts

Many teachers seat students in table groups.  These groups can be Teams, Tribes, Learning Communities, or whatever your school calls them.

Some educators advocate getting student buy-in by having students name their groups.  There are a few reasons I’m not nuts about this approach:

  1. It takes forever.
  2. It’s not educational.
  3. Kids come up with silly names that aren’t catchy or are just plain dumb.
  4. Kids argue.  A lot.  How exactly was this teambuilding, again?
  5. The kids who don’t get their way hate the new team name.

Instead, I name the teams myself using educational themes.   I might pick a bunch of math vocabulary words, Greek gods, key words for our Social Studies unit, parts of speech (Go, Adverbs!)…you get the idea.

Some of my coolest team names came about because I like to have seven tables in my classroom—it just fits well, and there are so many things that come in sevens.

  1. Seven continents
  2. Seven Wonders of the World (various lists)
  3. Seven notes (Do Re Mi Fa So La Ti Do—we did this when we performed the song in our school talent show)
  4. Seven colors—Roy G. Biv. (Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo, Violet)
  5. The Seven Dwarfs come to mind, but parents might complain about their child being in the Dopey group.  Even though the kids love it and everyone wishes they were Dopey.  Seriously—one year I organized math teams and asked the kids if they’d like to be the Seven Dwarfs.  The rule was that the Dopey kids had to be volunteers.  Everyone wanted to be Dopey and we had to draw straws.  No one complained, but it could have happened!
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Posted in Classroom Management,First Year Teachers by Corey Green @ Sep 23, 2011


Greeting Visitors Procedure

When I was a new teacher, I looked so young that I blended in with the kids.  People would stop by my room and suffer a moment of panic thinking there was no teacher present.

I solved this problem with the Visitor Procedure.  I teach it to my students on the first day of school.

When a visitor enters the room, the first person who notices says “Class, we have a visitor!”

The whole class says in unison, “Hi!  We’re glad you’re here!”

Then the students are supposed to be dead silent while the visitor says his piece.

When the visitor leaves, someone (usually me) says, “Class, our visitor is leaving!”

The whole class says in unison, “Bye!  We’re glad you came!”

We practice this by sending volunteers into the hall to enter and exit as visitors.  It takes about five tries of each phrase to really get it down, but the exercise is well worth the effort.

Our visitor procedure is one of the hallmarks of my class.  It’s a really fun way to build community and greet people at the same time.

Plus, it’s a nice little alert system so you know someone has come into your classroom.  You’ll see!

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Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management by Corey Green @ Sep 20, 2011


Kids Need to Read! A Charity by Nathan Fillion

I have a soft spot for stories about writers. When I discovered the TV series Castle, I was hooked at first sight. I really appreciate the high quality work of the writers of the show- and the constant challenge: can I solve the mystery before Richard Castle does?

Then there’s a fun twist: As a promotion for the show, “Richard Castle’s” book Heat Wave was released in hardcover by Hyperion and debuted at #26 on The New York Times Best Seller list, ultimately moving up to #6. The second novel Naked Heat debuted at #7 on The New York Times Best Seller list.

What’s not to love about a fictional fiction writer portrayed by Nathan Fillion?

There’s a lot more to love, actually.

Castle star Nathan Fillion co-founded Kids Need to Read, an organization dedicated to getting more books into underfunded libraries:

“Growing up, my parents managed to show me the importance of reading without cramming it down my throat. A difficult task, I’m sure. It breaks my heart to think that there are kids out there, ready to have their imaginations lit on fire, excited and wanting to read, and facing naked shelves in their school or local libraries.”

Now I have a soft spot for Kids Need to Read, and I hope you will, too. Kids Need to Read focuses on stressed populations, such as juvenile offenders, impoverished urban teenagers, and youth faced with learning challenges. KNTR assists educators who are devoted to helping such children overcome the odds and succeed through worthwhile literacy programs. You can request donations online.

I can tell you from experience that helping kids in these circumstances select a book to read is both personally and professionally satisfying. Even greater is finding out that your encouragement came at a time that made a difference in that young person’s life.

I’ll be donating and volunteering. Hope you will, too!



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Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Sep 15, 2011


Throw Down a Challenge the First Week of School

The first week of school can be a letdown.  The kids so looked forward to it, but the reality is they’re mostly just learning procedure and playing getting-to-know-you games with same kids they’ve been stuck placed with for years.

I highly recommend that you actively teach on the first day of school.  I already wrote a blog entry about that, so here is a refinement on the concept.

Throw Down a Challenge!

Make it voluntary, and make it a stretch—but not too big of a stretch.  You want something in the class’s Zone of Proximal Development.  (The teacher word for the level that’s within reach but a little bit of a stretch.)

Memorizing a short poem, learning the names of the continents, mastering a times table, writing a story or essay, finishing a back-to-school review packet—these are just a few example of possible challenges.

You might consider discussing your challenge with teachers in the grade level below you to see if it is appropriate.

Give the students about 5 school days to do the challenge.  You can have some sort of small reward, or you can just have students who achieve the goal write their names on the board or put their names on a bulletin board.  Your call.

I like to give whole-class incentives for 100% attainment of a goal, but I wouldn’t do that with the first challenge.  You don’t know your students well enough, and the challenge might be way beyond some of them.

I hope you find that throwing down a challenge is a fun and educational experience for your class.

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Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management by Corey Green @ Sep 9, 2011


Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! Wins Awards

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!Great news!  My newest math learning product, Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! won two awards for 2011:  Dr. Toy’s Top 100 products and Dr. Toy’s Top 10 Educational Products.

“This innovative math workbook is useful for home or school, when multiplication is introduced or for remedial work in other grades. This workbook focuses on how kids think, how they learn, and how they have fun learning new material.”

Click here to learn more about the workbook and the FREE software you can download for addition and times tables practice.

Who is Dr. Toy?  Stevanne Auerbach, PhD, is one of the nation’s and world’s leading experts on play, toys, and children’s products.  Dr. Toy started her career as a teaching and reading specialist, helped establish the first childcare centers for federal employees, and founded the San Francisco International Toy Museum.  You have to love her for this: Dr. Auerbach was responsible for approving the first Department of Education grant to Sesame Street!

With 30 years of specialized experience, Dr. Auerbach evaluates educationally oriented, developmental and skill building products from the best large and small companies in four annual awards programs.  Parents, teachers and toy buyers rely on Dr. Toy’s guidance in selecting products for children.

Dr. Toy’s motto is “Let’s play!”  Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! perfectly fits Dr. Toy’s philosophy that play is educational, and education can be fun.  I totally agree with Dr. Toy that one of the best teaching techniques (EVER!) is helping kids discover that learning is fun!

Thank you, Dr. Toy!

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Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Sep 6, 2011


First Week of School: Learn the Names Challenge

This tip is a great way to break the ice with your new class.

Tell your students that you will do something special for them if you don’t know all of their first and last names by the end of the first week of school (or first half-week, if you start midweek).  I like to promise treats: simple snacks, for example, that I can give to my students at snack time.

Suddenly, the kids don’t care so much when you mix them up!

Practicing their names is a good activity to kill time and help with getting-to-know-you.  Perhaps you finish teaching your going-to-lunch procedure, but there are still five minutes until lunch.  You can go around the room and try to say the names, or you can have the kids introduce themselves again.

Be ready with whatever you promised on Challenge Day.  You’re giving it to the students regardless—they just don’t know that yet.

You can’t let them down after promising a treat!  Besides, if you give them the treat even after saying everyone’s name correctly, you come off as generous and cool.

At Challenge Time, close your eyes and have the kids move around so they are sitting in different desks.  Now their name tags won’t help you, and the challenge is much harder because you used location as a way to fix names in your memory.

Don’t worry if you mess up.  The kids win either way!

Wasn’t that fun?

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Posted in Back to School,Classroom Management,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Sep 1, 2011