When a colleague told me we should try interactive notebooks in math, we agreed and then went on our merry ways and did math the same old way for another year, so at the end of that school year, she approached us again and DEMANDED we buy this Interactive Math Journal by Jen Runde. We took a look, bought it and then went on summer vacation. Near the end of the summer I opened it up and it CHANGED MY WORLD. I will never teach math the same way again. That being said, there are a few things I learned and will change for the upcoming year to get the most of math journals.
Interactive math notebooks are an investment, but like all good investments they take time to show a good return. Patience is the key! They take time, but they result in deeper understanding, so here are some things you need to consider before starting your interactive math notebook journey.
Of course you want your students to have a great selection of books for reading throughout the year, but most schools do not pay for classroom libraries. How on earth are new teachers (and even the more experienced ones) expected to have a quality selection of classroom library books?
Here’s some ways to get your hands on some books: Continue Reading
Flexible seating is all the rage, but we’ve been using the philosophy in our classroom for years. While it would be nice to have a variety of seating options, we know it’s not always possible, but you can still have seating options without spending a dime.
Have you ever tried asking your students to find a place to sit and work? Try it! You’ll be surprised by all the places they’ll find to do their work. Continue Reading
You’ve decided to have a Makerspace. What should you put in it? Any thing you want. Start small. We put out origami paper and a book during the first week just to see what would happen. (Turns out the answer to that question is lots of paper frogs.) But seriously, we made a list of potential items for your Makerspace. Continue Reading
Do your students write goals? It can be an effective way to have students learn to take responsibility for their behavior or learning. We tried something new this year. Students chose a power word instead of goal. Continue Reading
Our students love to have some choice over what they read as part of the Language Arts program. Book Clubs are one way to encourage reading and discussions-just like adults do. Students read for enjoyment and then talk about what they have read and recommend books to others. Continue Reading
Having trouble getting students to want to try new books? Try having students do the recommending.
We’ve started using recommendations-super simple recommendations-to get students to convince other students to read.
It was so simple, we weren’t really expecting the effect to take off.
Step 1: A student reads a book.
Step 2: The student fills out a recommendation sticky note.
Step 3: The sticky note is placed on the cover of the book.
Step 4: Place the recommended book out for viewing. This could be on a shelf of recommended books or a basket of recommendations.
Step 5: Keep repeating the process as students start recommending more books.
We stepped this up a notch with our junior high students by encouraging them to post about their recommendation on social media by tagging our library Instagram account. The librarian then printed some of these pictures and added them to our recommendation display. They were quite excited to get the attention causing many more students to take part.
Here are our sticky note recommendations that you can use for free, too. We also have READO in our store in English and French. It is designed to get students reading a variety of genres and we use it as our home reading program.
What are some of the ways your encourage readers in your room or at the library? Leave us a comment below.
Imagine a classroom where the students monitored themselves-and not in that “hall pass police officer” type of way. Imagine a classroom where students encouraged each other to keep the room tidy, put things way and treat each other with respect.
It’s possible, because each year we turn out a classroom full of polite and respectful students, but it takes work. Creating a sense of agency is just as important as all the math and reading skills.
What is a sense of agency? It is a student-centered approach to classroom management.
Here are some ways we create a sense of agency.
It’s the first day we’ve been allowed to reenter the school after a major renovation. It’s a disaster. Nothing we carefully packed up and labeled before summer break has been returned to the rooms they once belonged and school starts in ONE day! Yup! You heard that right.
What a nightmare! But fortunately we worked with the most amazing staff on the planet and came up with a solution to bring everyone’s anxiety level down to a manageable level. We hosted a walking set-up bus.
Here’s what we did. Continue Reading
At the beginning of the school year we work hard to teach students some basic courtesies to make everyone happier and keep students responsible for their learning space. these are five basic things we teach repeatedly during the first month of school to our upper elementary students. We also want to stress that just because this is how we do things, doesn’t mean these procedures will work ‘as is’ in your classroom. Feel free to solve the issues in your own way. Continue Reading