Wednesday, July 18, 2018

10 Things I Would Do Again in my Classroom

It's important to reflect on what you've done as a teacher. What worked, what didn't work, what could be improved on, etc. What better time to do some reflecting than in the summer when you are [perhaps] planning for the upcoming school year. I had a classroom to call my own for a bit last school year but I so very rarely taught out of it that not a lot actually got done in there. Anyways, I'm still doing reflecting to prepare myself for when I once again have that classroom of my own and here is my list of 10 things I would definitely do again in my future classroom (which I'm hoping would be grades 4-6)


My grade 5 and 6 students loved this and when I was doing a bit of a longer subbing stint in a grade 4/5 classroom they also loved this. As a nice bonus the program and the students will pretty much run it.

2) Math Groups

Starting math groups when I was teaching grade 5/6 was a breath of fresh air to what could have been a disastrous year of math. My students were really able to show me what they knew (and what they were struggling with). I was able to challenge some of my stronger students and work at a more comfortable level for my struggling students. It takes a bit of planning to set up (especially if you plan on doing a couple of the centers of games) and you have to (sort of plan) for 4 different levels of students (well I had 4... 2 I considered on the lower end and 2 on the higher end) I really just planned 2 groups of work though and the slower of the higher groups just worked at a slightly slower pace and the same with the 2 lower groups.

3) Interactive Math Journals

Just because I really liked them and it made teaching math straight forward to me.

4) Moving Up literacy program

I don't think I've ever actually talked about this but I used it when I taught in my grade 5/6 class. There are 4 different levelled books in the box along with a read aloud for the teacher. I did the comic unit with my students (that just so happened to be about space as well - which was a science topic we were covering that year). I wouldn't know how else to pick out levelled books on the same topic otherwise (I mean, I'm sure I could Google it and there would be answers out there) but it was so simple to just have the lessons altogether in the box ready to go. The program is quite expensive but if your school has some money to allocate towards ELA I think it's well worth it. Plus you could share it with all the teachers who teach that grade... not everyone needs their own boxes (this is what we did at the school I was at that used it)

5) Debates

Kids like to argue. This is the perfect unit to along with that so that they can argue in a constructive way. Not only that but they learn how to look at an argument from a different point of view. I've done this in grades 5-7 and it's always gone over well.

6) Art Portfolios

This was something that I started when I was teaching in a grade 5/6 class (I'm sensing a theme here... clearly I really enjoyed my time teaching in that class!). I started them because the previous year, when I was teaching grade 4, so much of their artwork was thrown out before it even got home. This way it was all stored together (by me) and given to them together in the form of a book at the end of the year. To go along with the artwork we also did a poem for every single art piece we did. So not only was it a book of their artwork but also a book of their poems. I hope some of them a have kept them!

7) Virtual Museum
My grade 6 students really enjoyed making the museum for our grade 5 students about World War II. You could really do it on any topic though. I'm not sure I would do it more than once a year... maybe I would do it twice depending on how much the students enjoyed it the first time.

8) Plickers

Super easy to use and you get a quick answer to whether your students have understood a topic or not. You just need to be willing to review or reteach a topic if you find that they haven't understood it quite right. Or at least that's what I used Plickers for (I'm sure other people use Plickers for other things though).

9) Aurasma

This app was pretty awesome. It really encouraged my students to write (because once they wrote something I let them record a video about it). They also really liked it because occasionally during reading time or if they were completed their work early I would let them use the iPad to hold up to the writing to listen to and watch the video that their peers did.

10) Plan a week in advance

A year ago when I was teaching French I always stayed a little later after school (or went in a bit earlier) on Thursday's to plan for the upcoming week. I would try to get all my photocopying and everything done for the week as well. Then I would divide it into containers for each class for the week and put a sticky note on each packet for the day I wanted to discuss it. Alternatively, if I was teaching in a regular classroom I would probably plan it according to the day of the week and put everything that I was going to be using that day in that container. I'm a fairly organized person and I feel I just work better in an organized space. Plus having everything planned a week early meant the majority of my time at work would be devoted for teaching or marking

Psst.. In case you missed it last week I discussed 5 things that I wouldn't do in my classroom again.

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