Ways you work "smart" instead of hard?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by Toast, Sep 13, 2010.

  1. Toast

    Toast Companion

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    Sep 13, 2010

    Hello. Still pretty new to this forum, but I have read posts from LOTS of teachers here.

    I would like to know your "tricks" on how you work "smart" instead of hard and still get good results in your classroom.

    For example:

    Ways that I work "smart" instead of hard are

    1. Anything that is mutliple choice I have the students peer grade. As in I pass out all of the completed tests or papers (to someone other than the owner or a friend of the owner) and have the kids grade with highlighters.

    2. I make friends with two parents of children in my class each year so I can have a couple of volunteers to make my weekly copies for me while I am teaching.


    So.......... what are your "tricks" for working "smart" instead of hard?


    ***edit**** I teach 3rd grade by the way.
     
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  3. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    1. Parent volunteers! I have 2-3 per week to do my easy grading (just seatwork type things that I expect the kids to get 100 on), make copies, label AR books, prep special projects, sometimes work with small groups

    2. centers that stay pretty much the same week to week. I may add in a new word work or math center every week or so, but most of the activities stay out for a while

    3. Use the kids for clean up! Once a week or so, we take ten minutes to organize the centers, straighten the bookshelves, clean desks and tables, have the kids sharpen pencils using their small hand sharpeners, etc. With all 16 kids working, we get it clean fast!

    4. We have buddy readers with the big kids for the last half hour of the day on Fridays. I can crank out a ton of work while my kids are working with their big buddies! I get everything set up for the next week, so I can come in ready to go on Monday morning
     
  4. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    My single biggest time (and life) saver, has been scheduling. I NEVER leave a planning period unscheduled. For example:

    Monday: 30 minutes during library-dedicated to 8th grade copies for the week. 30 minutes during music-7th grade copies

    Tuesday: 50 minutes during PE-6th grade science materials prep

    Wednesday: 30 minutes during band-entering all grades for Monday-Wednesday. For 8 weeks, I have an hour of DARE that I just sit and monitor-I use this as "bonus" internet browsing time for additional resources and lesson planning, and to start preparing for speech team for second semester.

    Thursday: 50 minutes during PE-lesson planning. 50 minutes during art-finish lesson planning.

    Friday: 30 minutes during music-entering grades for Wednesday-Friday

    Every day, I know exactly what I am going to do, and I don't waste time trying to remember what it is that needs to get done. It's routine, just as math comes every morning. I never have to squeeze in grading or take a lot of stuff home. And, everything gets done in a timely manner.

    I also grade what I can as we are doing it-I only have 9 kids so it is just as easy to walk around and record as pick things up.

    Oh, and VERY IMPORTANT-I never walk out of the school without having everything prepped and ready for the next morning. I am NOT a punctual person (although I'm working on it), so I make sure I can walk in and teach if I have to.
     
  5. Gopher4

    Gopher4 Comrade

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    Delegate

    I teach 4th grade. I try not to do anything for myself that the students can do for me. As long as it doesn't take away from their learning, I delegate jobs to them. This is still a lesson I am learning as a former 1st grade teacher who had to pretty much do it all. I also have used 5th grade students as helpers. They come in once a week as a reward to help with cutting, folding, organizing, etc.

    I also don't leave for the day until I am ready to go for the morning.

    I use checklists for everything to help me stay organized with 3 classes.
     
  6. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Oh, and post-its. I have them everywhere. My biggest use of them is I keep one on the cover of the teacher's manual I am using for whatever class, and I make immediate notes about what I need to start with, finish, and go over the next day. That way, I don't have to spend time after school or during prep periods on tweaking plans.
     
  7. Toast

    Toast Companion

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    I love post-its. I use them for every thing from marking pages needing copying, labeling packs of copies with the subject they go with to using them as "parking lot" notes when kids have questions about random things.

    I use tons of paper clips too....
     
  8. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    This!!
     
  9. YoungTeacherGuy

    YoungTeacherGuy Phenom

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    The kids LOVE to help their teacher! I tell them, "A clean classroom is a happy classroom!" :thumb:

    It's so funny (and a little scary) when I hear the kids telling one another that their desk looks messy or that their pencil box needs to be organized.

    P.S. The only thing I don't have the kiddos do is sharpen pencils. They take far too long and it can be messy. Just my opinion! :2cents:
     
  10. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I'm very, very visual. I take pictures and video of EVERYTHING. Right now I'm uploading pictures from last week-I have almost 500 of them. I sort them into folders by date and topic for reference. I can replay video of discussions to find quotes. I also photograph our whiteboard easel after each discussion on our community rug for reference, as it always gets erased. I can reference the pictures or even post them on our blog for parents to see.

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    I don't ask anyone else to do my grading.

    But I am organized. I do lots of prep over the summer. And I know my stuff, cold, so there's not a whole lot of that to do.

    When possible, I stagger my tests and quizzes so that I'm not grading a huge set at once, though that's not really possible this year.

    My study hall is silent, so I get lots of grading done then.
     
  12. Pisces_Fish

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    I make my kids do it whenever possible. They love to help, so it works out. One of my jobs is to sort my papers my # so I can grade easier. I keep the jobs about 3-4 weeks so the kids really own them and learn them and it goes smoother.

    I sort papers with post it's and paper clips. I jot a note of who's missing things and whatnot.

    I write in children's agendas a lot. If I can, I always avoid a phone call if a jot will suffice. My parents are good about checking, with just a few exceptions.
     
  13. Starista

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    This is an awesome idea for a thread!

    I also put the kids to work. 3rd graders absoultely love jobs.

    They put my seat work/tests in student # order for me...
    One child each week is in charge of pencils.. keeping the spare ones sharpened, etc...

    They organize the library (by 3rd grade they're pretty good at the ABC author order and/or sorting by genre).

    Maybe it's pregnancy related fatigue, but one child even fills my water bottle throughout the day.. haha!

    One afternoon last week I was SO exhausted that I had a child write the homework on the board for the children to copy down.

    Put those angels to work for you!!!!!!!! :) They love it and it makes them feel special and good about themselves.
     
  14. jteachette

    jteachette Comrade

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    I, with the principal's permission and blessing, tossed the reading workbook. We do daily 5 /work stations instead. One sheet of paper equals 2 weeks of work (sometimes). They also have writing journals and work folders, so I can pull out what they have finished, and put in new things. It's much easier to manage than hundreds of workbook pages to correct in a week(10 pages times 23 kids = a mountain of paperwork!).
    However, we use Saxon Math, so I have that homework to correct everyday.
     
  15. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    I work 'smart' by handling papers quickly- they either get filed, responded to and returned or read and thrown away. Keeps me from getting those enormous piles of unmanageable paper!!

    Jem- Could you consider using chart paper for your class discussions? That way you could just flip to the page in question when referring in subsequent lessons to what has already been discussed.... I do that all the time- it's a valuable asset to be able to go back and have the students see their thinking from past discussions and then add new ideas and learning to old charts...

    Just a caveat- you might want to go back and smudge out your students' names on the photo you attached to your post.
     
  16. Teacher_Lyn

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    -grade papers in the afternoon while I watch t.v. (that way i get to relax)

    -send home a weekly homework packet so that i don't have to worry about passing it out every night

    -send home a "curriculum" overview at the beginning of the year (basically it just outlines everything we're doing in each subject for the year). that way parents know what we've learning, are learning and are going to learn

    -make all my warm-ups and copies on Friday payday (NO ONE is ever in the building)
     
  17. TamiJ

    TamiJ Virtuoso

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    As a 1st grade teacher, I can say there is a lot that 1st graders can do to help. Every student has a job. Kids sit in groups, and each group has a material manager, so getting and returning materials is left to that person. Also, every group has a cleaner, whose job it is to remind their group to pick up things near their desk/area. The cleaner is ultimately responsible for the cleanliness of the group. I also have class library cleaners who keep the books organized and neat, and shelf organizers who do the same thing. When it is time to clean, everyone knows their job and gets it done quickly.

    Other things:

    *I file papers immediately instead of letting them build up.

    *Classroom work mainly goes toward participation, so I just check it right then and there while kids are working, so I almost never have mounds of work to grade.

    *On Monday, I pretty much get all my copies made that I'll need for the week, including any materials.
     
  18. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    I do have chart paper, but I use it sparingly. We write on our white board a LOT during the day, and I could not post all that information, nor do I want to. Nor do we have the supply budget for that. So I snap pictures to use as reference for myself and to stick into newsletters to show parents student thinking. It's an easier way to take notes than re-writing everything down.

    And there are no last names, so I think I'm fine with names.

    But thank you for caring so much about my post.
     
  19. Danny'sNanny

    Danny'sNanny Connoisseur

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    I never did until they begged to do it during their choice time a few weeks ago! They pulled out their small hand sharpeners and did the ones for their table. 5 minutes, and every table had a full cup of sharp pencils. :lol:
     
  20. mrachelle87

    mrachelle87 Fanatic

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    I grade everyday. I send a reading homework folder home on Monday and it is due Thursday. I don't take things home. I use to, but not anymore. I don't do busywork for the kids.
     
  21. czacza

    czacza Multitudinous

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    Just looking out for you...easy enough to figure out where you are..and you''ve posted about the academic needs of your kids so even without last names parents or other vested parties could identify students if they somehow stumbled upon your posts...I may just be a little 'wary'...we had an internet/email/social network speaker at our back to school meetings so I'm hyper-vigilant.
     
  22. Ladybug Teacher

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    This year, I've been keeping myself on a set schedule. I come in early and use that time to organize, clean, and set up for the day. I use my planning period for copying, correcting, and planning for upcoming lessons. I find it's really helpful to keep myself on specific tasks during these time periods...I used to be all over the place when things got busy! I feel like I'm getting a lot more accomplished this year.

    Jem, I like your ideas of photographing/recording what you've discussed. We don't have a lot of chart paper either. I think this would be a great way for my kids to review things we had discussed previously. How do you video tape...do you have a tripod and camera already set up? Thanks!
     
  23. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Staggered lesson planning.

    "Train" certain students to do certain jobs like tally the lunch choices or pick up the mail in my cubby or check the specials schedule.

    Students love writing the EQ or goal on the board while I'm entering attendance. (I do that one myself.) They look at my lesson plans and write it down.

    I use the consumable math workbook pages as much as possible instead of running off copies just because it is cuter.

    Check homework together instead of me collecting it and checking it.

    Plan writing units that take time to complete instead of free write and conference every day. For example, we've completed an amusement park experience project, a babysitting adventure, and the Dogzilla project so far this year. In between the projects, or if they finish early, they choose prompts from a prompt board or from the picture box.

    No busy work in the morning. I allow my fifth graders to talk between 7:45 and 8, which is when the bell rings for math. As soon as the bell rings, it's like magic. Certain students get up and leave for other classes, others pull out their books and homework, and other students come into the classroom. It's almost like the Pavlov's dog experiment. Bell rings, class begins. But the upshot is that I have no morning work to look over and I don't have to get kids who come in after 7:45 caught up with anything.
     
  24. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    I love the sound of your writing projects! I always start with How to Annoy Your Teacher, then How to Please Your Teacher, but I've done these for a few years now and I'm looking for new and fresh ideas. Care to elaborate on your topics, especially Dogzilla?
     
  25. TeacherApr

    TeacherApr Groupie

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    This reminded me of high school. We had a history teacher who always asked one of us to refill her water bottle. It had stained lipstick all around the top of the water bottle. ewww lol

    I wished I was able to use all my prep time for things like this! Great suggestion though. I only have prep on W, Th, and double on F and every other M at 40 min. per time. One of those is reserved for our data meetings with our Reading Coach, another is expected to collaborate with our team and a 3rd is expected to have a "team meeting". Hence my "bad day" thread lol
     
  26. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    This is what I like about a small school...I am my own team...I meet with myself all the time, sometimes coming, sometimes going :lol:

    Of course, there are drawbacks, but the freedom and independence is great!
     
  27. buck8teacher

    buck8teacher Devotee

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    When planning my parent helpers, I always try to schedule one to do my copies. While it takes a little bit of time to tag what I want rather than just going down there with my masters, it really saves me time, because I'm not standing there waiting for a weeks worth of copies! I also have a three drawer Sterlite tub labeled.
    Papers to Keep on Hand--Important School Info I'll Need All Year
    Papers to Fill Out and Return
    Papers to File
    It personally keeps me very accountable for my paperwork, and it very efficient! Love it!
     
  28. buck8teacher

    buck8teacher Devotee

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    Oh, I also have a large pocket chart that has pockets the size of sheet paper, I use that for my students work turn it. They put it in their number pocket, and so then everything is in abc order.

    I also have a homework basket. Each kid has a clothespin with their name on it around the edge. They put their clothespin on their homework and put it in the basket. That why I can clearly see who didn't turn it in.
     
  29. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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    After close to 30 years in the classroom, I figured out something very small but important last year.

    I make up a different test for each of my classes. So yesterday, for example, I had a packet of 4 geometry test keys stapled together in my bag.

    I took a highlighter and colored the top& bottom of each page, front and back.

    It makes that key a whole lot easier to find among all the papers in my bag!!!

    And each of my classes is color coded. So this year,second period papers will always go into the pink folder, third into the purple, and so on.
     
  30. CanadianTeacher

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    I keep track of student work with a large class list on chart paper posted in the class. Everytime an assignment is handed in, I bingo dab it. This way I don't have to constantly make lists and chase kids down for work. All they have to do is check the list.

    I also give the kids numbers (usually according to their alphabetical order on the class list The kids put that number beside their name on their work. This way, when I collect work, I put the numbers in order and I can tell easily who has not handed something in.
     
  31. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Brilliant!
     
  32. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    The roller coaster story is one I do at the beginning of the year to explain a plot line. They describe a ride on a roller coaster or other amusement park ride from getting in line to getting into the cart or seat, riding it, and getting off and reflecting on it. Our school is just about 15 miles from Six Flags and about 30 minutes from White Water, so they are all familiar with the rides. I have a roller coaster graphic organizer plot line that I got on line, but I can't remember what site. I also teach about showing emotions ("My knees were shaking....") and about using sentence variety ("It zips! It zooms! It swooshes down to the bottom of the hill and then starts chugging it's way up to the top of another hill.") Mentor Text is Roller Coaster by M. Frazee. Not a lot of depth to the book, but good for getting things going.

    Babysitting project: Student is babysitting either a neighbor's kid, younger brother or sister, or petsitting a dog. I use it as a vehicle for teaching about details--they describe in detail the mess that is made by the child or the dog. Mentor Text is Pirates Don't Change Diapers.

    Dogzilla project http://www.writingfix.com/Picture_Book_Prompts/Dogzilla1.htm
    They are the scientist, chemicals get onto the animal which in turn get onto the scientist which turns him into half animal half human. (Boy plus Gorilla = Borilla) Good for teaching about problem-solution, reviewing adding detail (describe the lab) reflections (look back on the events)

    I'm starting non-fiction on Thursday next week. I think I'll start with making something or playing a game.
     
  33. TeacherC

    TeacherC Connoisseur

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    I train kids- yes, even kindergartners! I have one who knows when to close the door and turn off the lights (the switch is in the hallway), one who knows how to get to the office, one who knows how to get to the other k teachers, etc. This week I will work on someone learning how to get to the nurses office...we are in the basement and it is on the third floor!!
    Also, I sometimes get lucky and the intern or and aide comes in my room when things are slow- and I always have work out for them. I leave a pile of things in the same spot with a post-it telling them what to do so they don't interrupt me teaching, they just get started on what isn't done yet.
    I never leave the building without my next day set-up...even on Friday, which is hard! I put all my papers in a folder, get my books needed out, and organize myself. It makes my days so much easier!
     
  34. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Thank you! What great ideas!
     
  35. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    I check the HW in the morning. The students put their HW pages on the right side of their desk, on top of their HW folder. I go around as they write in their journals. I check to see if they did their HW and check it on my clipboard. If they don't have it, they have to face me then and there. It doesn't take too long and I know on the spot who will have to do it during free time in the day. If we have to check for math, I'll have them keep it until that block. If they have finished, I let them crumble up the paper, if they want, and toss it into a trash can I place in the middle of the room. HW was practice, we don't need it anymore...unless they want to keep it. It's fun for them to toss it into the basket.
     
  36. kcjo13

    kcjo13 Phenom

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    Really? OK, so I was just griping about homework on another thread...and honestly, this is a big reason why...your students really LIKE to throw away something they spent a considerable amount of time on? How do you use it to assess learning? I get what you mean by it is practice, but what if they practiced it wrong? :confused:
     
  37. TeacherShelly

    TeacherShelly Aficionado

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    I also take digital pictures of my whiteboards - otherwise I will think of something I want to reference and it's gone!

    I also deal with paper immediately - read and respond, file if absolutely necessary, take a digital picture if possible I'll need it again, and recycle.

    I have kids turn in homework in one of those mail sorting file boxes and I can see from across the room which box is empty and can ask for that person to file their paper. Also, when taking the papers out, they are in alphabetical order so filing graded work is simple.
     
  38. heavens54

    heavens54 Connoisseur

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    I check it as I am going. They can only toss what I know they have done correctly. They cannot toss math until we have checked it, or any other complex HW, which is usually not HW but classwork. HW is just reteach and practice, or spelling, so it isn't likely that they would make mistakes...
     
  39. eddygirl

    eddygirl Companion

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    Even though we have an on-line gradebook, I still use a paper gradebook, too. That way, I can record in the paper gradebook each time I grade an assignment, and then upload once a week. I also keep an attendance log which is attached to each class page. When I mark a student absent, I tuck his homework, test or a post-it with directions into the gradebook. When he gets back, I don't have to search for worksheets or test copies; they are right in front of me when I take attendance.
     
  40. Cerek

    Cerek Aficionado

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    Making use of your resources is always working smarter and students are the most abundant resource we have.

    During my ST, I taught two 7th grade classes and two 8th grade classes. Homework was graded for accuracy (CT policy), so I went over each problem in class. Students exchanged papers beforehand and graded the HW as we went over it. I also had students hand recorded HW back to the class. This saved a lot of time.

    I never let students return graded tests back to their peers, though. My philosophy is that only the individual student should see his/her grade on the test or quiz. If they decide to share that grade with their peers, that is their choice, but I'm not going to give a middle school kid the chance to see how their current "worst enemy" scored on a test. We have enough drama without giving kids any extra ammo to use.
     
  41. Toast

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    Sep 20, 2010

    *bump*

    I've gotten so many awesome ideas from this thread! Keep ideas coming if you've got them!
     

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