Teaching Best Practices: We want to know YOURS!

Hi there, fellow teachers! So, it’s summertime. Time to breathe a little, swim a little, play a little…and think about next year’s lessons, goals and plans a little. (Come on, you know you’re a sicko who’s already planning for next year, too. I’m not the only one, right? Right??)

To help us think about the best practices and ideas we use in our classrooms (or want to use next year), The School Box is sponsoring a little giveaway on A Learning Experience. One person will win a $50 School Box gift card. AND- 10 more will win $10 gift cards! Here’s how to enter:

  • Simply comment on this post, sharing your favorite teaching idea or best practice.
  • It can be ANYthing you do that you like: a morning work idea, cooperative learning idea, classroom organization idea, fun project, creative assessment method, awesome field trip, favorite read-aloud book, questioning technique, writing projects or tips, creative ways to teach math, science lab ideas, ways to incorporate the arts…the sky is the LIMIT. Anything that you do that you like, share it! You never know who you may inspire.
  • And, goodness knows, two heads are better than one. So, if we put all our collective heads together, think of the genius ideas we could glean for our classrooms in the fall!

So, come on, teachers! Take a minute, type a comment, and share your wisdom. One idea will be selected by our editor to win the $50 gift card, and 10 other ideas will be selected to win $10 gift cards. Winners will be announced on July 5 on A Learning Experience.


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11 responses to “Teaching Best Practices: We want to know YOURS!

  1. Jordan

    For a morning work idea, previously write your students a short letter letting them know some “classroom news” about the day/week. For example: “Today is picture day.”, “Tomorrow we will go to the farm.”, “Today’s special is Music.”, “Happy Birthday, Tom!”, etc. The length of the letter would depend on your class’s makeup of students. Some other things you could include, could be: lunch choices, a current event, a holiday (everyday is some type of “holiday” even though we don’t celebrate them all), a famous person’s birthday, etc. For some ideas of what happened on “this day”, refer to this website: http://www.nytimes.com/learning/general/onthisday/index.html

    Be sure to make mistakes and errors as you write the letter. Misspell a few words, forget the punctuation, leave out a word, forget to capitalize, etc. This will depend on the level of your students. Start out the year making them easier and progressivly make them more difficult, as your students are learning about these rules throughout the year. Have your students, during their morning work, correct the letter the way it should be. If you have a SmartBoard, ActivBoard, or etc., display the letter for everyone to see as they walk in. If not, make copies for everyone or write it on the board. As a class, after everyone has come in and had time to work on it individually, discuss the errors together as a class. Have students come up and make corrections as they are brought up.

    Not only does this help the students practice and review grammar and spelling rules that you may have been covering, and bring up new ones that you are about to begin, but it also is a great activity to use in order to teach and review the process of writing a letter. You can make the letters formal or informal, and could even act as if you have a particular audience you’re writing for each day. All of this can be determined among grade level. Get creative with it and have fun!!

    If you have any type of rewards system, you could even give a reward to the student who finishes without missing any errors first. Or you could give a reward to every student who is able to find every error. You could possibly even just put each of those students’ names into a drawing (that is only used from this activity) and choose one at the end of each week for a reward. This may be a better way to reward more of a variety of students.

  2. Jackie Helm

    I always make an effort to include an activity that involves the children moving around. As we know, people learn different ways & I want to make sure the children who learn through physical movement are included.
    Also, a good reading corner with a variety of multi-grade level reading materials (including magazines) is priceless! Sometimes I forget magazines count as reading material.
    I love the Learning Experience and appreciate the opportunity to read such great tips from other educators! Thank you for this newsletter!

  3. Amanda Smith

    I am a homeschoolimg mom, but I think these ideas would work in a classroom setting as well. We take nature walks and my children get to discover new things in the outdoors. They might see butterflies, inchworms, trees, leaves, changing seasons, or anything that catches their interest. We go in and they draw a picture of what they discovered and write a sentence describing their finding. They can also research more and write about it. Great science activity. When children are allowed to explore things that interest them, they enjoy it so much more.

  4. Tonya

    I am a special ed teacher who really likes to keep things interesting during instruction so that my students stay engaged.

    During my grammar block, I like to take the first 5-10 minutes of class to review the parts of speech. I use the daily warmups, parts of speech bingo, or mad libs. The kids really love the mad libs and I can create them myself to focus on nouns one day, verbs another and a combo for review.

    The Smencils that the schoolbox sells work well with this activity as well. The smencils are scented pencils that seem to really assist my students in getting a multiscensory experience without getting distracted. They love to smell them, feel them and are more willing to write more with them. A win/win situation!

  5. The Smencils are pretty cool – not only are they made from 100% recycled newspapers, but they come in peppermint scent! Studies have shown that peppermint stimulates the brain and improves concentration levels – The PERFECT choice for test taking!

  6. Rachel

    The beginning of the school year is a crucial time in creating a classroom that has a welcoming environment and that start the year off successfully. I think that it is best to start the year off by contacting all of your students (and their parents/gaurdians) personally and let them know that you are excited up the upcoming opportunities that will be shared during the year. I think this is best done by a simple phone call, but it can also be as simple as a postcard. By making students feel comfortable from the beginning of the year, you are giving them the chance to grow and learn in your classroom.

    Once school starts, I think another way to make students feel comfortable is to allow them to help you create the rules and guidelines of the classroom. This gives students authority and helps them to feel appreciated. If you trust your students to help you do this, they are most likely going to incorporate most of the guidelines that you would want to have in your classroom anyways. It also allows them to brainstorm, work together, listen to their classmates, and to communicate. It’s a great way to start off the school year!

  7. Leigh Ann

    As an elementary music teacher I like to find ways to correlate what I am doing in the classroom to what the students are studying in their regular classroom whenever I can – it enhances and supports their learning in all subject areas. So 3 times a year I email all the teachers reminding them to let me know if there are any lessons or units they will be studying that they would like for me to tie in somehow. I send out the reminder at the beginning of the school year, right after the Christmas holiday, and about 6 weeks prior to standardized testing time. We can’t correlate everything and music (like all arts) stands alone as its own subject area; however, I find that the students enjoy making the relationship of a lesson from one classroom to another. So we learn songs from the Underground Railroad (which covers multiple Music or Social Studies standards in my state) or do Musical Mad Libs I make up to review the parts of speech prior to standardized test time, or learn songs about farm animals in Kindergarten which can easily be tied in to Music standards. As for how it benefits the music or special area teacher, I sneak in both Music goals and Language, Math, Social Studies, Science or whatever the subject area whenever I can as it is a bit of the “you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours” practice. Regular classroom teachers seem much more willing to help give up a little extra time to practice for a holiday program or whatever special programs you are responsible for if you help support them when you can.

  8. Priscilla

    One thing that I learned during my student teaching and I use it often in my own classroom is a Mystery Motivator. Every so often, I will announce to my students in the morning that I am watching a mystery person or entire group. I won’t tell them which person or group I will be watching for the day. If that person or group follows the classroom rituals and routines and doesn’t lose “dollars” from their classroom economy accounts, at the end of the day I will award the prize to that person or group. Since none of the students know who I am watching, they all tend to step up and give me their best! At the end of the day, if the person or group demonstrated exemplary behavior, I will announce the person or group I was watching all day. I usually give out things ranging from extra “dollars” for their classroom economy account, free homework passes, mechanical pencils, pencils with cool erasers and grips, pencil pouches, books, inexpensive stuff in general that I know they like. If the person or group that I am watching does not demonstrate exemplary behavior, I will not announce who I was watching, just that I was disappointed that day. I will tell the class what that person/group could have earned. The very next time I announce that we have a Mystery Motivator, my students usually rally back and earn the prize!

  9. Connie

    I’m a third grade teacher who has been teaching for 26 years. I love my job! I love getting to know my students in different ways. For morning roll call I have a question posted on the board. ex at the beginning of the year: What is your favorite fruit? When I call their name they give me a one word answer. Sometimes we use their answers for math calendar graphing. As we get into the year I incorporate questions from our curriculum. ex: What is your favorite Igneous rock? Posting the question gives them time to review for their answer. They love the morning question.

  10. Sandra

    I am a pre-k teacher and last year was my first year teaching. I was hired after the first 3 weeks of school started because of the large class sizes. Due to this I missed these first week with my students and they were all used to ways it had been with their other teachers. I am looking forward to getting to start fresh this year from the beginning and so far you guys have had some great ideas! I really love the postcard idea!!!!

    Something that I did last year that my kids really loved was the Super Super Quite Game. The students would sit on the floor in their spots on the large carpet with the lights off. When the lights went off they knew that it was time to really get quite and listen. I would whisper that we were going to play the game and they would all sit up with their hands in their lap and a bubble in their mouth.

    I would then pick the student who was doing the best job to come to the front of the classroom and select the next person doing the best by walking over to touch their shoulder and then sit back down in their seat while the next child repeated the steps.

    Not only was this a great way to get the class to settle down and prepare them for walking in the hallway, it also gave me just a few seconds to grab whatever I needed to grab before we headed to lunch or science or library.

    My kids loved this game and wanted to play all the time. however, to keep it something they enjoyed, I didn’t play it everyday. We would play 7up thumbs up, Simon Says, and other games. I think you could use these games in any elementary classroom by just adjusting the rules a little! Hope this helps someone!!!!

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