Archive for the ‘Organization’ Category

Make Your Class Roster the Best It Can Be!

Effectively using a class roster was something I had to learn along the way. A spreadsheet of names can be  a huge help in the jumbled up life of a teacher if you organize it well. I use class rosters to keep track of attendance, grades, in class activities, and of course the fire drill! Here is a picture of an old roster of mine. Let’s walk through how to use it.

Attendance- If students are not present they receive a slash through the box. If they arrive tardy at a later point, a straight line is added underneath the slash. When I began teaching, I fell into the trap of marking an “A” for absent students and then trying to scribble over with a “T” when they walked in the room a few moments later. Rookie mistake!

Grades- After a stack of papers has been graded for a class, write down the grades in one column of the roster. This allows for grades to easy and quickly be entered into your online gradebook in alphabetical order. You avoid the hunt and pecking of looking at the score on the paper, finding the name, typing it in, and moving your mouse to the next person elsewhere on the list. Also, I found that I loved having knowledge of who hadn’t turned what in so close to me. While I took roll I could say, “Hey, you owe me an assignment!” without looking at my computer.

In Class Activities- Use your roster to mark who is participating in a class activity to mark later for participation points in the gradebook. Notice in the picture that one column is labeled “Outline.” My students worked on essay outlines and I checked them upon completion. All I had to do was walk around the room as they worked, briefly scan their outline for approval, and star my roster to indicate they earned credit. Notice that some students earned a 90 instead of a star (which indicated full credit of 100 points). This is where I docked off 10 points for lateness where necessary. This is an easy, easy way to grade. The students get instant feedback and you aren’t stuck grading your life away. Win win! Roster

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Are Your Class Incentives Kinda Like Airline Rewards? Bleh!

Airline rewards….suck. This is a fact. The reward is usually something like, “buy 32 flights and receive a free 1 way ticket on this weekday in November!” Yet we all know as reasonable adults that we don’t truly need or deserve a reward, it is just an incentive to keep doing something. Students don’t need or deserve rewards either. Does that make me sound mean? Maybe, but it is the truth. As a teacher, keep that crabby ole’ thought in your mind, because the ultimate “reward” for a student is the knowledge gained. I had a college professor who said that “Success is your reward.” A reward has its motivational limits anyway.

However, there are many valuable reasons to give students rewards. I primarily focus on students who need to be encouraged and students who go above and beyond. Students who do what they have to…well, do you get a bonus for doing something (maybe even the bare minimum) you already are required to do? No. This attitude is what keeps rewards fun and special in my mind though.

I also have some principles when it comes to the reward itself….limit the candy. Yes, I do give out candy. Every time a kid gets a tootsie pop though, I think of the 20% of children in the US who are obese and I feel like a bad teacher! I recommend focusing on rewards which are useful or positive for the student. Since candy is such a go-to item and kids love it, here is a list of some other options that can compete.

  • Pencils!
  • Hand held pencil sharpener
  • Stickers
  • Erasers
  • Leadership role in class activity
  • Bonus Points
  • Dismissal from class 2 minutes early
  • Hall Pass
  • Errands (yes, kids love to run errands for you!)
  • Positive notes to parents
  • Late work excuse
  • Praise (so simple, but we forget)

You can also let your student choose the reward received! This also allows you some insight into what they most desire and perhaps why. Here is the ticket I give out:

Thank You for Being Great!


This ticket can be redeemed for one of the below options:

Þ   Email or Letter Home to Your Parents Informing Them of a Job Well Done!

Þ   Late Homework Assignment Taken without Penalty!

Þ   10 Bonus Points Added to a Low Grade!

Þ   Extra Hall Pass when You are in Need!

Your hard work and kindness is always appreciated in this class!

 

Can You Fix Messy Students?

Lots of students are disorganized. That is probably a massive understatement, especially if you have ever walked down the halls of a junior high during a locker clean out. My classroom is located on a wall of boys only lockers, so I think boys have a special train wreck tendency with their belongings. Locker clean outs are usually a flutter of crumpled paper and spare socks, while the smell of Axe Body Spray overwhelms the air. Whew!

Here are a few tips to help your students. I plan on adding more to this, but just to get us started:

  • Require a binder for your class, not to be shared with other subjects.
  • Keep a crate of folders for student portfolios in the classroom. These folders can be used to store important papers which should not be lost in lockers! My students like to decorate them at the beginning of the year. This is fun and it generally helps create awareness that it is a folder for them to use.
  • If you have an important handout that needs to be kept the entire year, i.e. classroom procedures or a CliffNotes list of grammar, then print the copy off on colored paper which will stand out signifying, “Don’t throw me away!” To further this statement, go big and print on cardstock.
  • Always have a three hole punch available for student use. Occasionally pass it around when you absolutely want something to be hole-punched and placed in a binder. How else will it happen?

Remember. if you want your students to be organized, try to model that behavior yourself! : )

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