What Works/Doesn't Work for You?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by MissMaurie, Sep 6, 2008.

  1. MissMaurie

    MissMaurie Companion

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    Sep 6, 2008

    Well, if you are anything like me, you spent your summer "vacation" planning new things for the school year. I wanted to find out from people how things are going for them...

    What new change/idea has worked wonderfully?
    What new change/idea is about to fly out the window?

    I'll start:

    The Good:
    I got rid of my desk :love: and couldn't be happier. It immediately made the room feel larger. I also made a goal to try and be more organized. I chose two areas (student files and curriculum) that I wanted to be my focus and I am definitely doing a much better job than last year. Now if I could only get my file cabinets organized!!!

    The Not So Good (Yet):
    I devoted a lot of time this summer to reading Fred Jones' Tools for Teaching. I have a very quick temper and have to work constantly to not raise my voice and get irritated with students. Jones has a lot of great words of wisdom and I keep quotes, etc. posted in strategic places to remind me of my focus. Unfortunately I have a few very challenging students that are making this very difficult. But I am determined to succeed. I even made an incentive chart for myself and when I get ten stickers, I get a new outfit. Whatever works.
    Also, I decided to do Mrs. Powell's Token System. I was very excited about this, but am having a hard time remembering to take the time to actually do it. I started out good, but have definitely slacked off. I am determined to do a better job this next week.
     
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  3. Jem

    Jem Aficionado

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    Ooooh-good thread!

    What is working: Homeworkopoly! Reading Spot Rotation poster! No desk. Reading and writing workshop. Tons of team building activities. Games and dance breaks. Lesson plans are done each Sunday night and I actually follow them during the week. I have updated the website each and every night so far! Hand sanitizer on desks of students in the bathroom-it's so great being able to see who exactly is gone.

    What is not working: Morning meetings are tough to be consistent with. Even if we DO meet, which we almost always do, I am bored with the format already, so we change it up all the time, and I'm not sure if that's a good thing. My multiple intelligence/meta-cognitive activities (where they figure out their intelligences and choose assessments based on them) went out the window as well-these kids are just not there developmentally. But I'm doing much, much better at bringing in all sorts of activities this year-tons of movement, art, songs, visual aids, etc. I'm pretty excited about that.
     
  4. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Sep 6, 2008

    What new change/idea has worked wonderfully?

    Delegating work to my assistant and parent volunteers. I admit.. I hate to let go, and want to make sure things are done correctly, and I have been accustomed to doing a lot by myself. But I am pleasantly pleased this year. So far, everything I have given to my assistant and parents comes back picture perfect, if not better than I expected! :lol:

    What new change/idea is about to fly out the window?

    Staying late! I have been sticking around so long, I am on a first name basis with the custodian! Rumor has it that we are secretly dating! :p I need to spend more time for me. Let go of that pile and sort things tomorrow. I don't want to be the last car in the parking lot anymore. I am starting to realize that staying past 3 doesn't amount to much because there is always so much I want to do. I can never get it all done in one night. And, that is because there are so many things I want to do for my kids...and I need to take it day by day!

    Whew! I said it...now I have to believe it...and do it. Admitting your problem is the first step!!! I am trying too hard. I need to relax! :|
     
  5. Mrs. R.

    Mrs. R. Connoisseur

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    What's working:
    We're getting into our routines for reading/writing workshop. I'm busy finding mentor texts for our first writing unit on memoir.

    What's not working:
    I still have too many meetings. Unfortunately, that's not in my power to change.
     
  6. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

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    Sep 6, 2008

    What new change/idea has worked wonderfully?
    Our school got new curriculum this year. We actually adopted 4 blocks school wide. I am having a lot of success with the writing mini-lessons so far (we have just done 3 days of the same mini-lesson w/ me modeling different topics.) And the first few Month-by-Month lessons. I have not started guided reading. I am using the Daily 5 book for starting my SSR and that is also really working quite well. In general I think I am doing ok with my new little class of young kids!

    What new change/idea is about to fly out the window?
    I did Class-Yes the first day of school only. I was going to do more power teaching but still get the Children of the Corn feeling when I see all those kids repeating the same things all the time. I have them turn and talk, and do a bit of repeating, but I just can't bear to make them little recorders... I have been using Eyes and Ears and it works... most of the time! I have a noisy, chatty class!
     
  7. MissMaurie

    MissMaurie Companion

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    Sep 6, 2008

    Now that I am not writing this at midnight, I can add to my own thread:

    What is working:

    I got rid of my rolling cart and switched to a large tote bag. I found last year that I was taking WAY too much stuff home because I could fit it all in the cart. This year, if it doesn't fit in the tote bag, it stays at school. I love it.
    The "greeting" part of Morning Meeting. My kids are enjoying getting to know each other's names and it has really helped some of my shy ones come out of their shell. We have only done basic greetings until now, but will be trying some fun ones this week.
    We are also doing a "Closing Circle" at the end of the day and I have found that even if the kids aren't sharing earth-shattering info, our day ends much more calmly.

    What isn't working:

    The "activity" and "sharing" parts of Morning Meeting. I really wanted to make this work, but I can't fit the entire Morning Meeting into my schedule. We got all new curriculum this year (everything, every subject) and I don't have time in the day to fit everything in if I do a true Morning Meeting. So I dropped those two parts and only do "greeting" and Morning Message. Once we get in the flow of curriculum I will see if I can work it back in.
     
  8. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    Sep 6, 2008

    What is working:
    My version of the Daily 5. My class is exceptional with partner reading and they love the word working components. We're going to add independent reading next week and then I'll be ready to start working with small groups. Spelling Contracts are going very well.

    What isn't working:
    My classroom arrangement just isn't right. I have a smallish room and getting 15 desks arranged so that we have room to move around has been a challenge. I also haven't found the perfect pairings yet for students. People I think are going to be able to sit together one day don't do well the next. I may have to go to rows, which I really don't like. Packing up homework is also a challenge. I had e-mail from 3 kids this morning telling me they had forgotten their math worksheets. We're going to have to go to me checking stacks on their desks before they are allowed to put materials in their backpacks.
     
  9. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Sep 6, 2008

    Do you wanna donate your cart to me? ;) No...then if I drag everything around in a cart, I will try to take it all at home too! Nevermind!!! I am carrying in 3 bags only, no more!
     
  10. Master Pre-K

    Master Pre-K Virtuoso

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    Sep 6, 2008

    May I make a suggestion? The last 15 minutes of the day, shut everything down, and start filling back packs. For those stragglers and children who always mix up and lose things, assign them a buddy who is very organized. (He/she will do their bags first, have coats on desk and ready to go) Don't do anything else until bag is filed, zipped and you are ready to get coats and get in line. Make a list. Homework-check, take home book for reading-check, bring back library book-check. Parent notes? ugh!!

    OMG..don't you want to take them all to the recyling plant and make enough money to pay off a credit card?! :dizzy:

    also can you add an alternate activity to your email/website in case they leave an assignment at school?
     
  11. MissMaurie

    MissMaurie Companion

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    Sep 6, 2008

    I would...except I filled it too full last year and it broke. I had to wrap duct tape around it to hold it together! Very sophisticated!
     
  12. giraffe326

    giraffe326 Virtuoso

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    Sep 6, 2008

    Working: I am INSANELY organized this year and it is only going to get better! Last year, I had planning 2 days a week and most of it was spent in workshops. This year, I have it EVERY DAY(like normal schools) and workshops are before school! So, I am planned 3 weeks ahead and I grade all my papers at my second job (I SAVE them for this because my job is SO boring!). So, there are days when I have nothing to do! Now, my P switched my assistant's schedule and she is with me during my planning period! So, we both have 45 minutes every day! This starts Monday. So, I am going to go from very orangized to crazy organized!! :thumb: I am also staying on top of parent communication and missing assignments.

    Not working: being more firm with punishments. I am better with the kids who regularly have issues, but the kids who are good and rarely do something wrong, I still let too many things go. Also, keeping up with their manners. Being a midwesterner, "Yes ma'am", "no ma'am", etc... are not really in my vocabulary (I say it, but it is either for when I am in trouble or something, LOL). Here, in the south, it is expected ALL the time. I am awful at enforcing it, because it sounds strange to me. Unfortunately, I have not improved at all with this. Also not working- my reward system. I am trying the "Token System" and never remember to stick tokens in the cup. *sigh*
     
  13. bluebutterfly

    bluebutterfly Rookie

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    Sep 6, 2008

    What is working:
    Homeworkopoly, only one student did not bring homework back last week. Guided reading groups, I think, the students are quiet while I am with a group, BUT I am not convinced that they are doing their independent work like I want. I think that it will get better as we keep working on it.

    What is not working:
    Having the students keep track of their assignments in their planners. They are suppose to write down all of the assignments in the morning, which they do. Then during the day they are SUPPOSED to put a check mark next to the items as they turn them in. This is where it falls apart. Then at study hall at the end of the day they can look to see if they have anything to work on. That brings me to study hall...it is not quiet as I would like and I feel like I don't have time to help students like I want. It is not quiet enough because I have a para that comes in and helps some students and they seem to be loud, which means I have students talking and I don't realize that they are talking because I think it is the para and her students. :confused:(confused yet?) I don't have time to help students because I am too busy trying to get a select few students ready to go home. Theses students are not turning in their work or are turning in "slop". I have talked to their parents and I have to get all their unfinished work gathered so they can do it at home. It takes me forever to figure out what they have finished for the day and what they haven't turned in at all. There must be a better system!?!?

    Sorry that was long!
     
  14. Electron

    Electron Rookie

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    Sep 6, 2008

    What is working:
    A lot of active, call-and-response type stuff. I use elements of Power Teaching (though I am not a 'Power Teaching evangelist' who thinks it's the solution to all teaching issues ever! ) blended with my own pretty outgoing nature and -- don't tell the parents! -- the occasional dash of sarcasm to keep my students engaged. I have to admit, it's nice to be proving wrong the people who suggested my approach would never work with high school advanced science. My smart learners are engaged, while my less able scientists are coming along nicely.

    What isn't working:
    Some students are still slack on turning in homework - even thoughthey have to do 'pink slips' and even though it makes up about 50% of their course grade!! Usually, they only get graded on a three step scale of "good completion", "acceptable completion" or "zero", so it's not like they even have to get all the answers right. Grr.
     
  15. cruiserteacher

    cruiserteacher Comrade

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    The Good:
    I moved to a new grade level (4th from 5th) and I love it!! I have a new system for attendance/lunch count and it works wonderfully. I also have a crate that the students put their agenda books in every morning and I am checking them before I give them back...I've only cheated a few times. :)

    The Not So Good (Yet):
    As a grade level, we are still working out the kinks in our schedule. There is just not enough time in the day to do everything we need to do. 4th graders in Ohio are tested on reading, writing, and math, so these subjects are most important, but I am very conflicted since I am a Social Studies teacher too and the 5th grade SS test has a TON of 4th grade material.
     
  16. GD2BQN

    GD2BQN Comrade

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    What has worked~

    *Class-Yes!
    *Now teach!
    *Touch base at the end of the day

    Hasn't worked--
    *Sitting them in grps.--they are now in rows forming a large E-idea from another member.
    *Homeworkopoly~I goofed! Allowed all to play. Duh!
     
  17. buck8teacher

    buck8teacher Devotee

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    Sep 6, 2008

    What has worked:
    *STAR Binders, I LOVE them! My kids also love them, and have brought them to school everyday! Woohoot!
    *My new homework turn in system. They put a clothespin with their name on it on their homework and put it in a basket, so I can see who did/didn't do it.
    *Classroom Economy/Behavior Bingo
    *New organizational system for teaching files.

    Hasn't worked
    *Binder clips in their planners...they don't understand how to move it to the next clean page.
    *Daily journal prompts with a topic sentence provided...they just don't get it. Morning work in general is a concern, as my class is super low math wise...and don't understand the math problems they are asked to do.
    *Procedure Handbook, I made a book of all our procedures, but I haven't really even shown the kids where/what it is. I guess if nothing else, it's helped me remember them all!
     
  18. Hoot Owl

    Hoot Owl Aficionado

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    "The not worked" has been Mrs. Powell's token system. I've modified it substantially and it works better. Initally I couldn't find anything I wanted to use for tokens. Then, I figured it was too complicated to keep up with all those tokens and numbers, gave me a headache just thinking about it. My classroom theme is "You're a Star" so I went to the Ellison cutter, cut out thirty minutes of miniature stars and pass them out to kids who were doing what they were supposed to be doing or whatever. THEY put their number on the star and put it in my cute can. I draw stars for bubble baths or little prizes.
     
  19. PowerTeacher

    PowerTeacher Comrade

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    Sep 6, 2008

    No single technique is the solution to all problems, Power Teaching included. However, make sure you do not underestimate the flexibility of the technique.

    The repetition portions you see in the videos are intended as starting points for beginning Power Teachers, and are not reflective of the depths you can reach, or the more engaged higher thinking skills you can use.

    I recently started my science classes with Teach-OK with a Switch! having one partner teach the other what science was, and what you could do with science, and the other partner had to teach what science is not, and what you could not do with science. Next, the partners switched rolls.

    After that the partners had to write a definition of science in their own words based on their Teach-OK session. Then the class shared their definitions, and we derived a definition as a class that everyone felt would cover the bases. We included discussion of what science was not, and could not do.

    The flexibility of the technique is limited only by how far you are willing to take it.

    Just my thoughts....
     
  20. Doug_HSTeach_07

    Doug_HSTeach_07 Comrade

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    Sep 7, 2008

    The Good: My new "chip" system this year. I bought 100 poker chips, and in class I hand them out to kids when they answer one of my questions or ask a relevant question. It guarantees that they will raise their hands and strongly encourages participation. They have to get 60 in a quarter, of which I keep a daily tally. If they're disrespectful, rude, etc. they lose 5 chips. Any extra chips can be cashed in for questions off of the next test we have in class.

    The Bad: My seniors' research papers on Hurricane Katrina. Some of them really struggled citing sources and finding primary sources to back up their arguments, which is what I wanted them to do.
     
  21. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    Working: my morning routine is starting to sink in...I'm first year, so I gotta celebrate the small stuff :)

    Not: My token system. I have 2 classes, and keeping up with 44 kids' PIN #'s is harder than I expected. I hardly ever give out tokens because I don't know their #'s!!
     
  22. MissMaurie

    MissMaurie Companion

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    I am having trouble keeping up with just 22 numbers, so I have them posted in several places around the room. I have one list above where I store the tokens, one at the front of the room, and one above the students' mailboxes. It has helped me. Plus, I can ask the kids. Most have learned their numbers well.
     
  23. Pisces_Fish

    Pisces_Fish Fanatic

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    LOL, I just printed out 7 copies of PIN numbers for my room and my lesson book. Let's hope seeing it 12 hours a day helps :lol:
     
  24. daiwa24

    daiwa24 Rookie

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    What IS working:

    *I am allowing myself to be much more flexible with my lesson planning -- I've struggled with this is in the past when my one day lesson would roll into day 2.
    *My revised geography unit went well -- they're taking their 50 states test tomorrow!
    *Our school went through a lot of restructuring and technology changes and I am handling all of the new issues and problems much better than expected

    What is NOT working:
    *Those darn current events -- they're taking up way too much time as kids are excited to talk about the election and the hurricanes -- I wanted to do them every day but I just can't spare it.
    *Overscheduling myself -- it's already started as I decided to serve on an addtitional committee and agreed to take part in a pilot professional development program at our school.

    All that said, I think my school year is off to a great start. Despite all the craziness, it's good to be back!!
     
  25. GoldenPoppy

    GoldenPoppy Habitué

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    :)The last 15 minutes of the day is for going over the homework list, putting all the materials out on the desks, writing down assignments and getting the homework book initialed, and packing up. What is funny is that between putting the papers out on their desks and me seeing that they have what they need, it doesn't make it to the backpacks. Oh, well, we'll just keep working on it.

    As for alternative assignments for those who have forgotten their materials, no. They are welcome to come early and complete the work before class or do it in detention that afternoon.
     
  26. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

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    Sep 7, 2008

    What's working:
    Power Teaching certain lessons. The kids are into the idea of using it as an experiment...comparing lessons learned with it and lessons learned without it. They're convinced it works.

    Reading lessons--I got everything organized, made some binders, and mapped out the year.

    What's not working:

    Using this dumb Calendar Math every day. P is insisting that the entire school do it first thing in the morning for 15-20 minutes. My 3 mildly intellectually challenged kids are to stay with me during this time. The rest are gifted or very bright in math. I'm wasting time either giving questions on the MI level or giving them on the gifted kids level. When I mix it up, I can't build on the momentum of the lesson. And I really hate Calendar Math. So I'm not buying into it. I'm grinding my teeth right now thinking about being required to teach with it.:crosseyed
     

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