Sunday, June 12, 2016

5 Little Tips & Tricks I Learned This Year

 
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My third year of teaching wasn't filled with the quite the same number of revelations as my first two years, but I definitely figured out a few little things that have made my teaching life easier.




I think I technically knew these existed, but I just started using them a month or so ago. I was blowing through 100-packs of sentence strips for my weekly pocket chart poems and objectives, and then noticed the dry-erase sentence strips on Amazon when I was about to re-order! So much more environmental and cheaper after just a few uses.


Since I only teach one resource class (I'm inclusion the rest of the day), and it's only an hour, I send home a homework pack on Monday and it's due on Friday. I was writing out the due date by hand when I thought of using a date stamp! I have one for scrapbooking and it's worked great! A lot of my students have trouble keeping track of things or forget to turn in homework (sigh) so having the date at the top is helpful for the students, parents, and, me!



I don't call them this since it seems weird to encourage students to "brag," but I know this is what they're widely known as. I was looking for a way to celebrate and acknowledge students when they made academic or behavioral gains. We use them for mastering phonogram lists and reaching a new reading level (you can find my reading level brag tags here ). I also recently introduce one called "Wizardly Work Habits" and one called "Rug Rockstar" that I give out weekly based on good work habits and good rug behavior. I like that they can be as public or private as the student wants. They can leave the tag on the board or wear their chain on the day they earn a new tag. Even if they choose to wear it, they can leave their name tag as the front tag if they don't want to publicize their reading level-- which is very understandable! 



Guys, I was so against this when my administration mandated it. Good fit books and reading the pictures!!! But. I'm not able to closely supervise independent reading time (because I'm working with a small group), and having students choose from their leveled bin makes it much easier to ensure they are reading something they can actually decode and understand. It wasn't ideal for my "print concepts" students or students that have been at a Level A for most of the year, but it was perfect for my students who were blowing through reading levels every few weeks. How do you organize your library?



Sometimes it's hard to keep myself from making a dash for freedom on Friday afternoons at 3:00, but if I can complete a few simple tasks before I leave it makes Monday a little less daunting. I change out my weekly poem, the date, and jobs, and make sure I have my homework packets ready to go for the following week.

Do you use any of these tips already? What new tricks did you learn this year?

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