Category Archives: Assessments

When Your Child Starts to Fall Behind {a guideline for parents}

happy boy doing homeworkby Ria Clarke 

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As much as we, as parents, like to believe that we are on top of things, there are times when we let things slide. After all, life is stressful and filled with distractions and constant interruptions. Falling behind happens to the best of us.

But what happens when you begin to notice your student making low grades, or you get a note from the teacher that there’s an issue? What’s a parent to do? Here are some practical steps to get your child back on track.

1. Identify the problem if possible. Make a mental checklist and ask yourself important questions: Have you created a dedicated learning space at home that is free from noise and distraction? Is your child getting enough sleep? Is your child over-scheduled? Have they had a recent eye or hearing test? Are they too engrossed in gadgets or television? Rule out overlooked easy-to-resolve issues, first. 

2. Communicate with the teacher. Don’t wait for the problem to mushroom. My son’s second grade teacher has after-school tutoring for children that are falling behind. During these sessions, she gives them the personalized attention that may be impossible during the regular class period. Regular communication with your child’s teacher will help nip problems in the bud before they get out of control.

Asian Mom Daughter3. Make the necessary adjustments. If you have identified that your child is over-scheduled or is not getting enough sleep, take the necessary steps to ensure that your child cuts back on extra-curricular activities or nighttime television so that he or she is well rested. Make sure your child has all the supplies and essentials handy in their homework center and make sure that distractions are kept to a minimum. And, keep yourself in the loop on their progress by checking over your child’s homework so you catch any errors or missed problems before assignments are handed in and graded.

4. Review the material. Not all teachers offer after-school tutoring, but you can help your child by spending the time to go over concepts at home. Visit your local teacher store and purchase homework helpers and various learning aids to reinforce what your child has been doing at school. Make the review sessions short but meaningful so your child doesn’t get resentful or frustrated.

5. Consider professional help. Ask your child’s teacher for references, or check your local library or go online to search for homework help or private tutors. Investigate established places like LearningRx, Omega Learning Centers, Appleton Learning, Huntington Learning Center, or Kumon for extra help.

SonKissingMom High ResIt is also important to recognize that each child is different and learns differently. Work with your child’s teacher to help your child unlock the potential that may be locked inside. It may be frustrating at first but stick with it. Remember that practice makes perfect.

Ria Clarke is the proud parent of a second grader and a toddler. She’s also a SAHM and freelance writer of various lifestyle and educational issues. When she’s not actively involved in projects and homework or chasing down a toddler, she can be found in the kitchen baking or curled up with a good book.

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Filed under Assessments, Behavior Management, brain training, Extracurricular, Organization, Parenting, Uncategorized

Part 3: Identifying cognitive skills

by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

This is part three in a four-part series on cognitive weaknesses. Comment to win a $20 School Box gift card!

In this four-part series, we’ve been discussing cognitive weaknesses. So far, we witnessed a student success story and examined some hidden warning signs of a cognitive weakness–or a breakdown in the brain’s ability to carry out a critical cognitive skill. So, just what are these all-important cognitive skills? Essentially, they are the brain behaviors responsible for learning.

Here’s a rundown of the critical cognitive skills, and how each impacts a child’s ability to process information: 

Attention Skills:

A student’s ability to attend to incoming information can be observed, broken down into a variety of sub-skills, and improved through properly coordinated training. There are three primary types of attention:

Sustained Attention: The ability to remain focused and on task, and the amount of time we can focus.

Selective Attention: The ability to remain focused and on task while being subjected to related and unrelated sensory input (distractions).

Divided Attention: The ability to remember information while performing a mental operation and attending to two things at once (multi-tasking).

Memory:

The ability to store and recall information.

Long-Term Memory: The ability to recall information that was stored in the past. Long-term memory is critical for spelling, recalling facts on tests, and comprehension. Weak long-term memory skills create symptoms like forgetting names and phone numbers, and doing poorly on unit tests.

Short-Term / Working Memory: The ability to apprehend and hold information in immediate awareness while simultaneously performing a mental operation. Students with short-term memory problems may need to look several times at something before copying, have problems following multi-step instructions, or need to have information repeated often.

Logic and Reasoning:

The ability to reason, form concepts, and solve problems using unfamiliar information or novel procedures. Deductive reasoning extends this problem-solving ability to draw conclusions and come up with solutions by analyzing the relationships between given conditions.

Students with underdeveloped logic and reasoning skills will generally struggle with word math problems and other abstract learning challenges. Symptoms of skill weaknesses in this area show up as questions like, “I don’t get this,” “I need help…this is so hard,” or “What should I do first?”

Auditory Processing:

The ability to analyze, blend, and segment sounds. Auditory processing is a crucial underlying skill for reading and spelling success, and is the number one skill needed for learning to read.

Weakness in any of the auditory processing skills will greatly hinder learning to read, reading fluency, and comprehension. Students with auditory processing weakness also typically lose motivation to read.

Visual Processing:

The ability to perceive, analyze, and think in visual images. This includes visualization, which is the ability to create a picture in your mind of words or concepts. Students who have problems with visual processing may have difficulty following instructions, reading maps, doing word math problems, and comprehending.

Processing Speed:

The ability to perform simple or complex cognitive tasks quickly. This skill also measures the ability of the brain to work quickly and accurately while ignoring distracting stimuli. Slow processing speed makes every task more difficult.

Very often, slow processing is one root of ADHD-type behaviors. Symptoms of weaknesses here include homework taking a long time, always being the last one to get his or her shoes on, or being slow at completing even simple tasks.

To identify specific weaknesses within these cognitive skills, visit learningrx.com. For tips on strengthening cognitive skills, stay tuned for part four in this series. 

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What’s Your Problem? {science fair 101}

by Diane Burdick, M. Ed.
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Rows of project boards displayed on tables in the school gym. Students-turned-reluctant-scientists lined up beside them, ready to explain their findings. This scene–the annual school science fair–is part of every American child’s education, a prerequisite of elementary and middle school graduation. And it’s also an experience that can either turn a child onto science for life…or bore them to tears. Here’s how to help your child (or students) achieve the former and avoid the latter.

First Stop: A Strong Question

A successful science fair project all starts with an interesting question. Science Buddies (www.sciencebuddies.org) suggests starting with student interests:
o Are you interested in plants?
o Do you enjoy sports?
o Are you interested in weather phenomenon?
o Do you enjoy mathematical calculations, formulas and looking at data?
o Are you interested in nature?
o Do you prefer mental or physical work?
o Are you interested in memory perception and learning?
o Do you enjoy learning about animals and their habitat?
o Are you interested in improving things?
o Do you like to create or design things?
o Are you interested in chemical reactions?
o Do you like to work with machines?

Next Stop: Problem Statement

The problem in a science fair project, sometimes known as the problem statement, is what the student will research and experiment. The wording of the problem statement often indicates what and how the student will research and experiment.

Good problem statements are easy to understand and directly relate to the rest of the project as a whole. Often, a problem statement discusses a variable–a part of the project subject to change–and indicates that the variable is important to the entire science project process. For example, a project on the best way to make rock candy might look something like: “Do seeded rock candy strings produce crystals quicker?”

Now Consider: Variables

Setting up the experiment in a couple different ways to explore different variables is the next step. Variables are the things that could change in the experiment to alter the outcome. An independent variable is something that YOU can change about the experiment. A dependent variable is something you OBSERVE about the experiment. A controlled variable is something you keep the SAME throughout the experiment. According to Science Buddies, a good variable is measureable, can be changed in the experiment, and is easily identifiable.

In the example of a rock candy experiment, for example, the independent variable might be how long you allow the crystals to seed on the string. The dependent variable is what you observe about the growth of the crystals on the string, and the controlled variable is what you keep controlled, such as the recipe of the rock candy mixture, the location of the curing rock candy, and the type of string used.

There you have it: three steps to a successful science fair project. First, consider personal interests, then construct a strong question, and finally alter variables to produce an answer to your question. Now all that’s left is assembling that project board for the gym!

Diane Burdick, M. Ed. holds a masters in elementary education and a bachelors in history, and is currently pursuing her specialists degree with a concentration in teaching and learning. A homeschooling mother of three, she also enjoys freelancing for online publications.

Article edited by Elizabeth Cossick, M. Ed.

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Creating a Class Quilt

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By Rachel Stepp

One of my favorite projects is creating a class quilt (out of paper…no needles required :). This activity promotes class unity, reinforces summarizing skills, uses the strategies of visualizing, synthesizing and connecting, and creates a stunning bulletin board or wall display. How’s that for multi-tasking?

Begin with a Book

To introduce this idea, read The Quilt Story by Tony Johnston. Teach your class about the history of quilts, including how women used to use scraps from old clothing to piece together a warm quilt. Talk about how quilts can tell stories because of their different scraps. Your class will be making a quilt that will tell a story they want to share.

Quilting Steps

  1. Brainstorm different stories your students might want to tell. List their ideas on the board, which may include: something I like to do at school, all about me (personality and interests), my favorite memory, my favorite thing that we have studied this year, all about my pet, all about my family, etc.
  2. Give each student a square of white construction paper (an 8″ square is easy to cut from an 8×10 sheet, and white makes a nice background for student pictures).
  3. First, students should write a rough draft of their paragraph (or sentence, depending on age level) on notebook paper. Discuss using sensory details, correct paragraph format, etc. Modeling a sample paragraph on the board, first, is a wise idea before students begin.
  4. Their paragraphs/sentences need to be rewritten in a final draft on white paper (or a notecard) and glued onto their squares, near the bottom (to leave room for an illustration).
  5. Once their paragraphs/sentences are complete, they can begin drawing a scene on their white square to illustrate their writing.
  6. When each child has finished, mount each white square on a larger square of colored construction paper. You may choose to laminate each mounted square for a polished look, but it’s not necessary. Punch a hole in each of the four corners of the colored squares, and use yarn to tie the squares together to look like a quilt. Yarn bows look especially cute and “quilt-y.” If you have an odd number of students, use plain colored construction paper squares randomly throughout the quilt to make an even number so the quilt forms an even rectangle when pieced together.
  7. To save time, the white squares could also simply be glued to a large piece of colored bulletin board paper to make one large quilt.
  8. Be sure to give your quilt a title and hang it in a visible place so that other classes can see it. This will help to share the story of your classroom throughout the school.

This idea could also be modified as a creative book report idea: each student could create a square to summarize a book or a different chapter. The quilt could even be used to sequence an historical event or time period, like the Civil War.

By making a class quilt, your students will be able to see that they can all work together to create a masterpiece. To continue with the theme of quilts, you can invite parents into the classroom to bring in family quilts. Student connections will abound, making this activity a memorable one for all!

If your students get inspired, they may want to make a “real” quilt at home with this beginner’s “knot quilt” kit from The School Box. So darn cute!

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia who is full of creative ideas.

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Filed under Activities, Art, Assessments, Classroom Community, Classroom Decor, comprehension, Cooperative Learning, creative writing, grammar, Reading, Writing

What Letter Are We Learning This Week??

by Rachel Stepp

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Are your children still at a level where they benefit from studying letters? Well, you can help them by focusing on one letter a week. For example, if you wanted to study the letter “Hh” this week, here are some ideas for what you could do:

Focus on five different words.

This will help you to plan your activities and create projects. If I was going to study “Hh” this week, I might choose the words: house, hats, helpers, hippos and happy. These are all broad words that I think I will be able to find picture books about or lessons based around. Now, create your activities for each word that you chose:

House:

Read aloud  A House for a Hermit Crab by Eric Carle. Discuss with your children the different houses that the hermit crab lives in and what he adds to his house during the book. You could do an art activity and decorate “hermit crab houses” (just drawn on paper) and use art supplies to embellish them. You could also have your students draw their own houses and share them with the class. This would help the children realize the differences among houses and the fact that there is diversity within their own classroom.

Hats:

Of course on this day, I would encourage you to allow your students to wear hats to school! If your school won’t allow baseball caps or any other distractions, then make paper hats in your classroom that day. Your students can wear their hats while they are in your classroom, but be careful about letting them wear them to lunch, specials and recess.

You can also talk about different types of hats and their purposes. For example, you might talk about helmets, chef’s hats, and head-dresses.

Helpers:

If you talk about community helpers during the year, this would be a great time to review about them or to bring them up in discussion. Ask students to identify some community helpers such as the mailman, doctors and policemen. Students can also identify themselves as helpers if you have helper jobs in your classroom.

Hippos:

In my experiences, I have found that children generally love to learn about animals. Take time one day to teach your students about hippos. Find images and hippo sounds that you could share with your students. Find an informational book about hippos and allow your students to write about what they learn.

Happy:

Students can learn about their feelings and the feelings of others when studying about being “happy.” Have children draw and make happy faces. Let children tell and describe what makes them happy. This would be a good activity to end the day so that your students leave school thinking happy thoughts.

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at The University of Georgia whose good ideas are frequently published on A Learning Experience.

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Quick and Easy Review Activity

by Kelli Lewis

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Want an easy way to review concepts you’re currently studying? Make a “Talk About It Box”! A “Talk About It Box” is simply a small box (like an empty tissue box) that’s been decorated and filled with question strips that relate to a current topic of study. During lulls in the day (or transition times), you can pull out a strip and call on a student to answer the question. You could even pull one for every student and tell them that as soon as they answer their question, they can line up for lunch/ get their coat for recess/ stand behind their chair, etc.

To make this, you’ll need:

  • an empty Kleenex box
  • construction paper
  • markers
  • strips of cardstock paper OR index cards (laminated if you want to reuse them)
  • stickers or other decorative materials (optional)

1.) First, cover the tissue box with construction paper, leaving the hole open at the top.

2.) Think of prompts or questions to write on the strips or cards. These questions can relate to a current unit (How many planets are in our solar system?) or be general discussion questions (What’s one new thought you had during science today?). They could even be “get to know you” questions (What’s your favorite game to play at home?)

3.) Use markers, stickers, and any other decorative materials to decorate your box.

4.) Place the prompt/question strips/cards into the top hole of the box, and voila! You’re ready to go!

When to “Talk About It”:

This is a great way to keep kids engaged during transition times, and also an impressive way to use ‘down time’ if an administrator pops in while you’re lining up for lunch or switching between subjects! Substitute teachers could even use it if they’re in your room and need a way to control chaos when returning after lunch or specials.

How to Fill the Question Strips:

You could have students come up with their own prompts/questions if you teach older grades. For younger grades, here are just a few to get you started:

-Name two things that you would find in the kitchen.

-What are two words that start with the /f/ sound?

-What is the last letter in the alphabet?

-Name three types of fruit.

-Name two pieces of clothing you would wear in the winter.

-What noise would you make if you were a cow?

-What number comes after 10?

-Name two words that end with a /t/ sound.

-Name a green vegetable.

-Name a primary color.

Now, go Talk About It!

Kelly Lewis is a graduate student a The University of Georgia and a regular contributor to A Learning Experience.

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Carvin’ Up Some Great Informational Writing

by Kelli Lewis

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Gotta teach informational writing this year and need a way to spice it up a bit?  How about teaching it during the month of October and having your students learn about pumpkins…while carving them in the process, of course!? Consider this fun twist on traditional expository writing assignments: Have your students create instructional books about pumpkins, along with a step-by-step “How-To Carve A Pumpkin” guide to go along with it.

Like the idea? Here’s a detailed lesson plan to follow. (This plan was created for first-graders and designed to take one day, but it could be easily modified for older grades, as well.)

Standards:

ELA1W2 b.) The student produces informational writing that stays on topic and begins to maintain a focus.

ELA1W2 d.) The student produces informational writing that begins to use organizational structures (steps, chronological order) and strategies (description).

ELA1W2 h.) The student produces informational writing that may include oral or written prewriting (graphic organizers).

Materials Needed:

The Pumpkin Book, by Gail Gibbons (available at The School Box)

-sticky notes

-chart paper

-markers

-web/bubble graphic organizer, for informational sentences

-pencils

-pumpkins: choose one of the following, according to your classroom’s needs: 1) small pumpkins for every child, 2) medium-sized pumpkins for each group, or 3) two large-sized pumpkins for you and a parent volunteer to demonstrate.

-carving tools

-large trash bag

-butcher paper/newspaper to lay down on the floor/table, underneath the pumpkins

– “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet for documenting (This graphic organizer should just have spaces for: materials, “First you…”, “Second you…”, “Next you…”, “Finally you…”)

Procedure:

  1. Ask your students: What is informational writing? What is a topic?
  2. Read aloud The Pumpkin Book by Gail Gibbons.
  3. Reread the book again, using sticky notes to demonstrate how to take notes and copy an informational statement as you’re reading. Post the sticky note to the page in which you found it. Make as many ‘notes’ as you have room for on your web/bubble graphic organizer.
  4. Go back through the book and transfer your sticky-note information onto the web/bubble graphic organizer. Demonstrate this process to your class. Write each statement from the sticky notes onto the graphic organizer, around the topic “pumpkins” in the middle of the page.
  5. Have students return to their desks and copy your graphic organizer’s information onto their own graphic organizer. (For older grades, students could repeat this process independently with a second pumpkin story or book).
  6. Discuss the “step-by-step” processes for creating a jack-o-lantern.  Discuss the importance of listing the materials and being sure the steps are in order and nothing is left out. Discuss ideas with your students about what you would write.
  7. Record ideas, as you discuss, onto your “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet.
  8. Decide, as a class, what the “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet should say. Then, start to create the list of materials and steps.
  9. When it is complete, have your students copy it onto their own “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet.
  10. Now it’s time to carve!  As you carve, refer back to the the “How to Make a Jack-O-Lantern” sheet, made by your class, to see if the steps are in the correct order and that nothing was left out!

Happy carving!

Kelli Lewis is an Early Childhood Education graduate student at the University of Georgia who often shares her wonderful ideas on A Learning Experience. (Lucky us!)

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An Excellent (Edible) Geography Lesson

by Kelli Lewis

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Trying to help your child understand the regions in which they live? Why not engage them in a lesson that is hands-on and…not to mention, edible?!

Here’s an idea that your child is sure to be “screaming” for!

Edible Ice Cream Regions

In order to help your child understand the different regions of the United States, create an ice cream sundae. This activity could be used for other countries, as well–but may need to be modified according to how the regions are broken down. Each part to the ice cream sundae will represent a region.

For instance, here is an idea to get you started:

  1. Decide what you want the ice cream sundae to go in. Obviously the biggest part will be the cone/bowl in which the whole ice cream sundae is placed. This could be used to represent the continent.
  2. Who makes an ice cream sundae without bananas?! Try putting banana(s) in next, and these could be used to represent the country.
  3. Now, here comes the ice cream!!! On top of the banana(s), place the ice cream scoop. Go ahead, you can add more than one scoop (maybe side-by-side), as long as there is an understanding of what it represents. :) The ice cream scoops could be used to represent the state.
  4. No need to stop there! Ice cream scoops always need some toppings! Next, add some chocolate syrup. You can use any type of syrup flavoring, of course, chocolate is just my favorite choice. This could be used to represent the county.
  5. Now, what could be better than adding some whipped cream on top of the syrup? Go ahead and add a little squirt of whipped cream, and it could be used to represent the city.
  6. We’re almost there.  I bet it’s looking pretty good. In fact, it looks so good that I’d really like to eat it right now… “Pretty please, with a CHERRY on top?” Yep, that’s right! Time to top it off with a luscious cherry, right on the top! This could be used to represent your school/home, according to where this activity is taking place.

Here is a picture of what I had in mind:

Enjoy the sweet success of mastering regions!

Kelli Lewis is an Early Childhood Education graduate student at the University of Georgia who often shares her wonderful ideas on A Learning Experience. (Lucky us!)

[UPDATE from mcornelia]:

YEAH! The wonderful folks at The Mailbox Book Company gave us permission to post the graphic Connie mentioned in her comments below!
Click here for the PDF: http://bit.ly/icecream-pattern

This came from the original Grade 3 Superbook. It has been revised now (same title) and has some wonderful new ideas and can be found at your local School Box store on on-line here: http://bit.ly/gr-3-superbook

Enjoy!
~Mike

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Filed under Academic Success, Assessments, Geography, Snack Time, Social Studies

A Skit! (bring the Revolutionary War to life in your class!)

by Kelli Lewis

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Skits, anyone? I always strive my hardest to make lessons and activities hands-on, engaging, interactive, and interesting because I feel that is how students learn better and learn more. I taught a week-long unit on Paul Revere and wanted to find a way to incorporate some acting for the students to perform. I searched online but found nothing. I ended up writing my own script. My class did the skit several times, to ensure that all students received a part. The students broke into groups and practiced their parts with other students who had that same part.

The skit is primarily a conversation between two modern-day peers who are discussing the Boston Tea Party. As they are discussing the events that occurred, the setting flashes back to pre-Revolutionary War Boston, and other students then act out the events.

Here’s the script:

Narrator 1: Hey, what are you doing?

Narrator 2: Oh, I’m just learning about The Boston Tea Party.

Narrator 1: A tea party? In Boston? When?

Narrator 2: No, silly. The Boston Tea Party happened a long time ago during the American Revolution.

Narrator 1: Oh, what happened?

Narrator 2: Well, the colonists were tired of King George III.

Narrator 1: What was so bad about King George III?

Narrator 2: Well, for one thing, he lived in England over 3 thousand miles away from the colonies. He was making laws and trying to rule the colonists.

Narrator 1: Were the laws fair?

Narrator 2: No, so the colonists protested.

Sons of Liberty 1: Listen here, King George III! We have our own laws!

Sons of Liberty 2: And we don’t want yours.

Sons of Liberty 3: We already pay a lot of taxes!

Sons of Liberty 1: Yeah, leave us alone!

Sons of Liberty 2: We should not have to pay a tax on tea.

Sons of Liberty 3: Let’s go talk to Paul Revere.

Narrator 1: Then what happened?

Narrator 2: Well, a man by the name of Paul Revere led a group of colonists. They called themselves the Sons of Liberty.

Narrator 1: What did they do about the taxes?

Paul Revere: Listen, men, why should we pay taxes when the king does not listen to our opinion?

Sons of Liberty 1: Yeah, no taxation without representation!

Sons of Liberty 2: Let’s do something about it!

Paul Revere: How about we form a secret club, dress up like Indians, march on board the ships, and….

Sons of Liberty 3: DUMP THE TEA!!

[Sons of Liberty 1,2,3 and Paul Revere dress as Indians.]

Narrator 1: Wait, you mean they wanted to dump the tea from all of the ships?

Narrator 2: Yes, every last bit.

Narrator 1: How would that end the tax on tea?

Narrator 2: Well, if all the tea was destroyed, then no one could pay taxes on the tea.

Narrator 1: That would get the king’s attention!

Narrator 2: Right. So on December 16, 1773….

Paul Revere: Ready men? Tonight we take over the ships.

Sons of Liberty 1: Let’s go!

Sons of Liberty 2: I’m ready!

Sons of Liberty 3: Me too!

[Sons of Liberty 1,2,3 and Paul Revere enter the ship.]

Paul Revere: Grab every pound of tea and throw it in the ocean!

[Sons of Liberty 1,2,3 and Paul Revere grab all of the tea bags and throw it overboard.]

Narrator 1: It sounds like Boston was a real hot spot in the American Revolution.

Narrator 2: Yeah, the scene of a very famous party!

Narrator 1: Not just any party…the Boston Tea Party!

Kelli Lewis is an Early Childhood Education graduate student at the University of Georgia whose great ideas we are honored to share on A Learning Experience!

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Create an Interactive Bulletin Board!

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by Rachel Stepp

Classrooms need to be designed with students in mind, and one way to bring student involvement into your room design is by creating an interactive bulletin board. Here are some ideas to take your board from blah to brilliant!

1. Did You Know?

Create a spot where you can post a simple question related to something in your curriculum. Students can then move a clothespin that has their names written on it to a side of a poster where one side represents, “Yes, I knew that!” and the other side states, “No, I did not know that, but I do now!” By doing this, you can pre-assess your students and understand their background knowledge.

2. Challenge Question

Post a question each week that relates to what your students are learning but challenges them to think deeper. You can keep track of this by using a library pocket (available at stores such as The School Box) to hold blank answer sheets and another library pocket to hold students’ answer submissions. At the end of the week, students who answered correctly can win a homework pass or another incentive.

3. Question of the Day

Create a poster that has a spot to place a new question everyday. This question can be secured with a tack or tape. The questions posed can be multiple choice questions about topics that were previously taught. At the bottom of the poster, place three library pockets labeled “A,” “B,” and “C.” Students can answer the question of the day by putting a Popsicle stick with their name on it into the pocket that corresponds with their answer. Students can answer this question as they first come into the classroom or as morning work. This is a great way to review and assess students!

4. Related Work Folders

At the bottom of your bulletin board, you can create file folder pockets (using stapled file folders) for each subject area you teach in your classroom. In these pockets, you can put related worksheets or activity guides for students to complete during their spare time. For example, in the Language Arts file folder pocket, you might place a worksheet about verbs because your students studied verbs the week before. Having worksheets for the students to work on during their own time eliminates off-task behaviors and unproductive down time.

An interactive bulletin board is great for any classroom because once it has been created, it can easily be altered without redoing the entire bulletin board. The questions can be changed for any topic and grade level. If you do not have a spare bulletin board, any one of these ideas can be implemented on a sheet of poster board, as well.

Rachel Stepp is a graduate student at the University of Georgia, currently working on a Masters in Early Childhood Education.

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