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Thursday, July 30, 2015

Organizing Your Task Cards

       Keeping organized is essential to running a smooth classroom. When I first started using task cards in my classroom two years ago, I had a brilliant way to organize my task cards. I cleverly put them in labeled manilla envelopes and stacked them neatly in a bin.
        That did not work quite as well as I had anticipated. The envelopes were always a mess, and I often could not locate the cards for which I was looking.
       One day this summer, I spotted this super cute photo storage box at The Container Store and immediately thought about my task cards.
       So, I put a set in each of the 12 photo boxes.

       I created labels for each box and the answer key envelope. 

       They fit perfectly and are now organized for my whole class use and as a center for independent review.
       I even listed each center on the box to eliminate the need to search when I am busy during the school year. Now, my only problem is that I have way too many task cards. I'm going to need at least two more boxes!

Friday, July 24, 2015

Classroom Rules

I always thought that as I became a more experienced teacher certain aspects of the job would get easier. I am a realist, so I knew that I wouldn't eventually gain a love of grading papers or start looking forward to parent-teacher conferences. However, I secretly hoped I would be a classroom management aficionado by the time I had three years under my belt. WRONG! Last year, my tenth year in the classroom, my homeroom class knock me on my butt right back to reality. 

So, no matter where you are in your teaching career, it is that time of year when you have to start carefully considering your classroom rules and expectations. It may be hard to believe, but I have had a different set of classroom rules posted in my room every year for the past ten years. Some of those years, I have selected the rules, and sometimes the principal has provided them. (I have had seven principals in ten years at two different schools.) Nonetheless, there are very important things to consider when selecting your classroom rules.

1. Determine how you need your students to behave in order to make your classroom run smoothly.
2. Categorize these behaviors based on general rules (i.e., be respectful, be safe, etc.)
3. Rank your categories, or rules, in order of importance.
4. Choose the top three to five to be your classroom rules. 
5. Determine clear behavioral expectations for each rule.

Once you have determined your classroom rules and expectations, you must select a way to present them to the class…the fun part! I highly recommend something catchy that will be easy for the students to remember and for you to refer to throughout the year. Most teachers have to reteach or review their rules and expectations at some point during the school year, so you want something that sticks!

Once you have decided on your rules and expectations, please share them! The best ideas teachers have are the ones they stole from other teachers! 

Good luck choosing your rules and expectations this year!