More questions!!

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by NewTeacher12345, Jul 13, 2019.

  1. NewTeacher12345

    NewTeacher12345 Rookie

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    Jul 13, 2019

    Hi everyone, I posted here not too long ago asking questions about my first year teaching out of college. You were all so helpful. I now have a few more questions that I hope you call all answer! Again, I am sure these are mostly obvious questions but I feel as though my undergrad program could have better prepared me to be a teacher and know the answer to these questions.

    (I am teaching first grade)

    1. What is a classroom management plan that works for first grade?

    2. Book Bins!! I have seen them used for different purposes in different classes. Is each student typically assigned their own book bin or are they bins divided by level? If they belong to each student, is it my job as the teacher to choose books from my class library to put into their bins? Or is it just a place to store the books that they are reading?

    3. Is it common to write IEP's in first grade? If so, how do I go about this? Is there an actual test that students need to take to confirm that they need an IEP? I have heard that after parent permission is received, students are then evaluated. I guess I am asking, what does "evaluated" mean?

    4. Has anyone ever used Math Expressions or ReadyGen for reading? I don't have access to the curriculum yet but I was wondering if anyone could tell me anything about it. When I was student teaching the math was so predictable everyday which made the block go very smoothly. Every day we would do one page of the book whole group and break into math rotations/centers for extra practice. Does that sound like something I could do with math expressions?

    4. What are some "must do's" for the first day or first week of school? I feel like I'm going to forget something crucial! This could be in relation to academics (testing), teaching routines, sending home certain notices, etc.

    Thank you all SOO much!1
     
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  3. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jul 13, 2019

    Only the special ed teacher writes IEPs. Since you say you are teaching first grade, I'm assuming you're not a special ed teacher. You will have students with IEPs, and you will need to refer students for testing if you notice a student is struggling, but you do not need to write the actual IEP or conduct the assessment to see whether they have a learning disability (done by a school psychologist). Hopefully that helps reduce some of that stress. Your job is to do what the IEP says, such as shorten assignments.

    As for the process you'll go through to help the student who may need special education services, I'll quote a website:
    "Teachers can also refer students for evaluation, but this should happen after attempts have been made to remedy problems without special education services. If such attempts have been made, and the child continues to struggle, while varied from school to school, the next step may be initiating an intervention under RTI, or convening the school’s student services team (SST) to discuss the student’s performance. At this meeting, the general education teacher should bring work samples and other data such as reading and math scores, behavioral charts and writing samples. The evaluation team can then decide whether to refer the child for an evaluation, or suggest that the child continue without special education services."
    https://www.specialeducationguide.c...ation-programs-iep/the-iep-process-explained/
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
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  4. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 14, 2019

    Some schools might have specified procedures for this, but otherwise, whatever works best for your students and for you is recommended. This might take a bit of experimentation; next year, you might have better ideas on organization--well, actually, I should say you will have better ideas. All throughout my career, I'd find minor changes to make in various aspects of my classroom.

    What I did, (I mostly taught 3rd or 4th grade), I had a general classroom library with books that were already there when I started and books that I added (from thrift shops and garage sales--when doing so, I found it important to smell the book and leaf through the pages looking for bugs. I avoided emphasizing reading level in my selection, but I did emphasize interest level. I've had beginning 3rd graders already reading Tolkien and beginning 3rd graders who could not read much of anything (the one of whom is now a doctor). I used plastic crates set side by side on the floor (our floor didn't have many critters that would get into the books). Originally, I set them in order according to the Dewey decimal system, or alphabetically by author. In my later years of teaching, I reorganized by subject matter, totally ignoring the Dewey decimal system; this made it easier for me to pull out specific books related to the various subjects I was teaching or seasonal books. These books I would place on a separate shelf that I had found in a yard sale and fit perfectly in a spot in my room. Again, I liked using the floor. Students often sat on the floor while exploring books. On top of the shelf, I kept magazines that I'd subscribed to using some money each teacher was allowed to use for their classrooms.

    I also had a separate shelf of reference books: dictionaries, wildlife identification books, encyclopedias, etc. An interesting example of how students might utilize such arrangements, one day I noticed 3 students sitting next to the reference shelf, each holding a dictionary. They spontaneously had developed a game; each student looked up a random word, then they took turns reading the definition. Back to my student who became a doctor, I noticed he was reading the same picture book for the longest time. I also noticed his reading ability steadily improving. Basically, he taught himself to read by reading that one particular book! While writing this, I recall another student who became fascinated with Ranger Rick magazine which I also credit with improving his reading ability.

    I place great importance on students reading. They learn how to read, such as the mechanics of reading, during classroom instruction, but that is a minor, minor, minor part of their skill development in reading. Most of the learning comes from actually reading (and exploring books) and listening to the teacher or parent read to them. When children learn to talk, they don't have a 45 minute lesson 5 days a week with a 5 minute practice time in speaking, yet they learn to speak and even learn the fundamentals of grammar (as noted by Pinker). How? By listening to and participating in conversation. I've mentioned in other posts, I am frightened for today's students who typically spend very little time reading--shooting Martians in video games is not going to develop strong reading abilities.

    1. Consistency. You'll hear that a teacher needs to change her/his routine as the year progresses to match new developments in behavior. Yes, this works--temporarily. It works because the inconsistency frightens the students, but once they get used to the new rules and procedures, the new system becomes ineffective. And it's actually the lack of consistency that promotes confusion or a defense that results in misbehavior. Better to stick with the plan, and if you do find adjustments are needed (and sometimes they are), discuss this need with the class.

    2. You are not a magician. There is no magic formula for a well behaved class. Instead, the students are aware of the rules and their importance. The students are expected to follow the rules, not expected to misbehave. They will generally follow your expectations. When a misbehavior occurs, when the student is calm, discuss the matter with the student. I find the most important tools I have in counseling are my two ears. Perhaps that's why I have two of them and only one mouth. I also avoid the question word, "Why?" The answer is usually, "I dunno." Better to restate what the student said, or restate the action, and say, "You did this because...?" After discussing the situation, the student and I develop a better plan of action. Consequences of misbehavior are a common part of society and are important in the classroom, but the main purpose for better behavior is because it's best for the social group (the classroom, associating among classmates and teachers). Consequences are not for threatening the students!!! Except when (unfortunately) required by the school, I avoid rewards, and I especially avoid rewarding the misbehaved student with special rewards to work for. (See the following suggested readings). An exception, I do sometimes utilize prizes just for fun, but not as an incentive for good behavior. Kids do enjoy working for a prize, including prizes for behavior.

    Ouch! I'm out of time and my Word just malfunctioned. I'll look up my recommended books on classroom behavior at a later time.
     
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  5. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jul 14, 2019

    My first year of teaching, I spent significant time after getting hired and before starting work on leveling my classroom library by grade level, such as 4.3 or 2.1. Once I started, I learned the principal insisted everyone level using Lexile levels to organize their classroom libraries, such as 760L. I had to redo all my books. Lesson learned: it could be better to wait to see what the norm is at your new school.
     
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  6. otterpop

    otterpop Aficionado

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    Jul 14, 2019

    Are you on Pinterest? If not, you will definitely want an account. Search "procedures to teach the first week" and you will find a handy checklist for what you need to teach the first week, like how to ask to use the bathroom and how to line up. Before you start the year, make your own notes of how you plan to have students do each of those things. Then, use the list as a checklist to make sure you teach and reteach each procedure.
     
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2019
  7. Obadiah

    Obadiah Groupie

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    Jul 14, 2019

    Here's a couple of books I found quite informative.

    Kohn, Alfie. Punished by Rewards: The Trouble with Gold Stars, Incentive Plans, A’s Praise, and other Bribes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1993. I would recommend reading this with a grain of salt. I don't know if I'd take the cited research as far as Kohn does, but I do agree rewards can do more harm than profit. While reading, I also kept in mind that the cited research was laboratory research; real life situations contain more variables than can be accounted for in research.

    Siegel, Daniel J. and Tina Payne Bryson. No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child's Developing Mind. New York: Bantam, 2014. E-book ISBN is 978-0-345-54805-4 One of the best books I've read on this subject!

    A couple of other books that might be of interest:

    Louv, Richard. Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder. Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 2008 (revised edition) In my opinion, play, household chores and activities, and just plain being outside lead to incidental languaging learning (and math). During formal reading lessons and during practice reading hopefully connections are made within the brain, and these connections come from previous experiences. Not that I'm against any video game playing, but hours of shooting Martians or videotizing in front of a TV are not as enriching as playing hide-and-seek or designing race tracks for Hot Wheels cars.

    Miller, Donalyn. The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2009. Miller has interesting thoughts and ideas.
     
  8. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Jul 14, 2019

    I said this in your last thread, but I’m going to say it again here: Relax. You are asking good questions, but you’re asking the wrong people. Some of these things are very site-specific, meaning that your school might have an accepted way of doing these things. We can give you answers and advice based on our own experiences, but you might just find out that you’ve totally wasted your time if you listen to us and don’t ask your own admin or colleagues. Unless you are the only first grade teacher at your school, you will have a team. You will have a group of people who knows the context you are working in, and they will best be able to answer your questions at this point. Once you get some experience and you find that you want to take things to another level or perhaps even try persuading your colleagues to change things up, then it would be good to seek out ideas from others around the country. As a first year teacher, you really are better off following the lead of your team at your school than trying to set up everything on your own. Find out what behavior and classroom management plans they use. Find out how they implement the math curriculum and what they do with book bins and classroom libraries. Get to know your special education teachers and let them know you are eager to support your students with IEPs (but rest assured that you will not be writing any IEPs yourself). People on this message board are totally willing to help you, but I’m worried for you that you’ll be wasting your time planning things based on what we tell you and then come to find out that your school has guidelines that differ from what we’ve suggested. I know it’s hard when you are so excited about your first year, but try to be patient and wait until you’ve had an opportunity to meet with your team.
     
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  9. talknteach

    talknteach Rookie

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    Jul 15, 2019

    Book bins- what worked really well for me in second grade:

    The student desks were in groups of 4. Each table group had one large book tub with a wide assortment of books- all levels, all genres. During reading time, students had to choose books from their table group tub (unless they had library books or a book from home). Everyone shared the books and there was much excitement about recommending books to the other kiddos at the table.

    Every week we rotated the tubs. So every week the students got a fresh assortment of books and there was so much excitement and again, students recommending books to each other.

    If you have 20 students, this process takes 5 weeks. After that time, I switched to individual baggies and each kiddo visited the classroom library to pick 4-5 books for the baggie. They could find old friends from the table group tubs in the library! I helped monitor the choosing to guide students to appropriate books.
     

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