Classroom Tips and Tricks

First of all I just want to thank every single person that has taken the time to stop by and look at and/or read my blog. Those of you that have sent sweet messages my way, thank you! You really make it all worth it. I love hearing from people that tell me they can use even just one of these ideas. Thank you!

As I've stated in a previous post, I set my classroom up with student independence in mind. Some of the tips and tricks you'll see here were thought of with exactly that in mind. Others might just be cute things I feel are share-worthy.

I apologize in advance that I don't have ideal pictures for everything in this post, I clearly was not thinking with this blog in mind.

1. Turn-In Bins
If you look at the smart board in my classroom, you'll see two purple baskets below it. I attach those with command hooks so that they hang in place. Last year I used these as baskets for students to turn in their recording sheets after workstations.

This year I plan to use two different colors. One will still be the turn-in bin, the other will hold write the room activities and materials. I've moved some furniture around this year so this seems like the best way to keep traffic evenly moving throughout the room in all directions.

2. Invisible Light
I use this light when I'm testing students or teaching guided reading. Students know that when my light is on, they cannot interrupt unless it's a true emergency.

3. Extra Recording Sheet Organization
One of the most frequent interruptions I would get while teaching guided reading was students asking for more recording sheets to use at their workstation. Then I would have to stop teaching and either explain where they were, or get them for them.

Last year I decided to use an organizer to store all extra workstation sheets and label each section with the workstation picture. You can see them on the right side of the picture below. The one thing I will change this year is to relocate them so that they do not disrupt students in the library area.

4. Guided Reading Anchor Chart Stand

I made this cute little stand last summer while I was on my PVC project and spray paint binge. I use it at my guided reading table  to display small group objectives and anchor charts.

5. Missing Pieces Buckets
These buckets helped keep our tiny workstation pieces and headless glue sticks from getting lost or thrown in the trash.

6. Speech Bubbles
I was looking for a way to display student work in the hallway, but to also incorporate the student's description of their work in their own words. I added these speech bubbles and their photos above their work. I would write a quote from each student in dry erase marker.

7. Listening Station
I love having a listening station in my classroom, but I never really love the way any books on CD or cassette are read. So I decided to make my own!

I used a cassette tape to record myself reading a group of books. I would begin by having them locate things we were focusing on at that point. For example, before reading I would have them locate the parts of the book, give them time to take a picture walk, find punctuation, make predictions, look for sight words, etc. You can do so many things before the reading even begins. This also allowed me to give directions about rewinding the tape and locating the next book

The best part was that doing it this way made it very easy to DIFFERENTIATE. I could have two or three levels of books on different cassettes. I just labeled each cassette with a color and placed a list of students under each color. They knew that when they went to the listening station they found their name and located that color cassette.

8. Objective Display
These give me a dry erase area to write my daily objectives on, while also providing a visual cue for students.

9. Handsignals
These hand signals were a great way to allow students to communicate with me nonverbally. I knew exactly what they needed without the lesson even stopping.

You can find an assortment of these on TPT, but these are the signals I use.

10. Quiet Chicks
These are our pet chicks. They come out when it's very quiet and only stay if it's very quiet. I bring these out during writing occasionally and they just adore these little guys.

11. Dismissal Chart
I use clothes pins to attach each student's name to how they get home.

12. Word-a-pillar
As we learn dolch words I add them to our word-a-pillar around the door. This gives us something to practice while we are in line and also serves as another source for students to look at during writing.

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