Summertime = Tweaking Time

by Kelli Lewis, M. Ed.

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So, it’s summer. Time to chill, relax, unwind…and tweak! The school year is so crazy and fast-paced that, as teachers, our routines can sometimes get stuck in a rut. There’s no time to evaluate and change– only time to hold on and dash for the finish.

But summer is the perfect time to reevaluate your teaching and tweak your classroom procedures. Here are some practical, easy-to-apply ideas for the early elementary teacher.

Classroom Idea 1: Improve Student Writing

Have your students write using “4 Star Writing.” Here are the four “stars” to focus on: (1) “Use a finger space in between words.” (2) “Start each sentence with a capital letter.” (3) “Use punctuation at the end of each sentence.” (4) “Use the word wall to help spell.” Indicate these four concepts on big cutout stars to post on the wall to remind your students what makes good writing. Include illustrations/pictures on each of the cutouts to indicate the concept.

Classroom Idea 2: Word Wall!

Put up an “A to Z Word Wall” for students to use! A great way to get students involved with your Word Wall is to make posters for each letter and allow your students to draw a picture of something starting with that letter on the posters. Then, use note cards to print words that are “no excuse” words for your students to always spell correctly. Write one word on each card, and attach them to the wall under their respective letter posters. As the year goes on, you can make new cards and add to your Word Wall as your students learn more and more “no excuse” words. (For some super-useful pre-made Word Wall items, click here.)

Classroom 3: 1oo Club

A “100 Club” poster can be a real asset to give your young students the goal of learning to count to 100. The poster should state: “I can count to 100!” at the very top. Below, there should be lines where students can sign their name, any way that they would like (silly, a different color, with small pictures), once they can show you that they can count to 100. The School Box carries a 100-pocket chart that’s great for helping them achieve this milestone, as well.

Classroom Idea 4: Make the Most of Calendar Time

During calendar time, introduce your students to the “shortcut date”– writing the numeral for the month, day and year, separated by dashes (6-8-11). Once your students have the “Today’s date is…” concept down, teach them how to use the “shortcut date” on their papers. They’ll feel grown up, and they will learn to associate the date with its numeral equivalent.

For a calendar time challenge, introduce your students to how other countries write the date a little switched up! For example, in Italy, because of the way they speak, they write May 18, 2011, as 18-05-11, with the day first, then the month, then the year. This is because when verbally stating the date in Italy, they also say it differently than we do. They would say: 18th of May, 2011, instead of May 18, 2011.

There you have it: four simple ideas to implement in the fall that will maximize the lessons you’re probably already teaching. More bang for your buck! Now wasn’t that worth thinking about during your summer break? :-)

Kelli Lewis, M. Ed. recently received her masters degree from The University of Georgia and is currently staying busy setting up her third-grade classroom.



Filed under Centers, Classroom Community, grammar, Math, Morning Work, Writing

7 responses to “Summertime = Tweaking Time

  1. Connie

    I’m tweaking several things for the 2011-2012 school year! I love the 4-star writing idea and will be making a poster to hang in my classroom. I will also give each student a die cut star to glue in their writer’s notebooks the first week of school. Students will label each part coordinating with my poster. This is one of the great things about get a fresh start each year. You always have the opportunity to make things better.

  2. Megan

    I love the idea of 4 star writing. I would almost want to make it into something that has 4 corners, like a square, so that the visual matched the items needed. This could easily be adapted for older grades (who may not need to be reminded of a finger space). Lots of great ideas here!

  3. I am going to use the four star writing idea this year with my kindergarten class. I am always looking for great ideas to improve student writing.

  4. Amanda Smith

    Wow thanks for the great ideas. I am a homeschooling mom and my daughter frequently has trouble with these concepts. This would help her a great deal. The word wall is a really good idea. She is always asking how to spell words she should know how to spell. Thank you for all the neat ideas.

  5. I keep sticky notes in the supply tubs on each table. They fit well in the tubs and are just the right size to fit a word or two. My kindergartners love using them to go up to the word wall and write down words they need. Also, when students remember to use “four star writing,” they get to put a little star sticker on their papers!

  6. Jennifer Nuss

    I love fresh new ideas. I am going to school today to write down the four star idea. I am also getting each month’s themed activities copied and ready. It saves so much time to have a file named “October” and all my special activities already copied off. It never fails during the school year that things come up and I can’t get it copied or prepped so now it will be done! :)

  7. peggy

    I love the “four star writing” idea. My students in 2nd grade always begin the year needing spacing reminders along with capitalization and punctuation. A star or square would make a great visual like Connie and Megan suggested. I love summer because it gives me a chance to read your newsletters and get some great ideas for the upcoming year. Keep the great ideas coming!