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Classroom Set Up

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Creating a Culture of Community in Your Multi-Grade Classroom

Create Classroom CultureHow do we create a classroom community where all students feel they are equal and belong? It turns out we’ve had more combined grade classes that straight grade classes since we began teaching, so we can’t imagine teaching any other way. First of all, we call it a combined class rather than a split class. It’s the first thing we do with parents because our combined classes are not like the old ‘split’ classes.

When students come into our classroom on the first day of school they immediately collect into two different groups-the lower grade and the upper grade.  They don’t know each other well and like to sit with their friends.  We don’t give students a seating plan right away (or sometimes at all) so we can see which relationships form or are already in place, but then we slowly start changing their mindset about the combined class.

So, what are our secrets?

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Classroom and Library Book Recommendations

Book Recommendations 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 Book Recommendation Notes 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.Love the Ninjas

Book Recommendations

 

 

 

Back to School Classroom Community Classroom Management Classroom Set Up Holidays and Seasonal Professional Learning Seasonal/Holiday

Creating a Sense of Agency

Creating a Sense of Agency 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.

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Host a Walking Set-Up Bus

Classroom Set Up 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

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Save Your Sanity- Five Courtesies to Teach

Five Courtesies to Teach Your Students 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

Classroom Management Classroom Set Up Differentiation Professional Learning Universal Design for Learning

Flexible Seating: What Do I Do With the Stuff?

Flexible SeatingFlexible seating is all the rage these days. Finding information on different seating arrangements and types of furniture is easy.  But how do you keep students and their many belongings organized?

We’ve used flexible seating in upper elementary classes for the past six years. Our students are taught from the first day how to properly choose a seat, work where it suits them best and how to stay organized so their stuff isn’t all up in our stuff.

Read a previous post about the types of furniture we use in our classroom.  Here’s what we do with all the stuff. Continue Reading