Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Classroom Jobs

Every student in my class has a classroom job each week.  I really like that because I really try to emphasize the idea of community in my classroom and when we are all part of a community, we all have responsibilities.  I used these cute chalkboard pocket images from Michelle of the3amteacher.  I imported the images into a document and then overlaid them with the text for each job.  After printing and laminating, I used a bead of hot glue around three edges to secure them to this nice large cupboard front that I have in my classroom.  Now they function as pockets.

Each student in my class is assigned a number.  I print several label pages with just student numbers on them to use throughout the year.  (See my recent post on using labels in the classroom here.) I attached a numbered labels to the top of index cards and wrote in the student names.  The cards fit perfectly in the pockets to designate what job each student is assigned to.

I try to switch the jobs weekly, but let's be honest, it often is 2-3 weeks before they get switched.  I give more time so students get to know their jobs.  It would also be a super extra hassle to try to change jobs daily.  I just rotate them in order.  I do have to do some fudging for the jobs like "girls bathroom pass" and "boys bathroom pass".

You can grab a list of the jobs I use here. 

How do you manage student jobs in your classroom? We'd love to hear about it in the comments below. 

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Sunday, April 13, 2014

Google Drive and Docs: Sharing Folders

I have LOVED learning more about Google Education and all that is offered through the Google family of tools.  This has been especially applicable as my district decided to use the Google email and apps for education about two or three years ago; I'm just now realizing the power of that.

For the last two weeks, I've been learning about Google Drive and Docs.  I thought I already knew a lot, but I'm amazed at the new information I have learned.  Even though much of it seemed like little bits here and there, those little bits will make a big difference in how I am able to use Drive and Docs.  In addition, I attended the UCET conference last weekend and many of the sessions I attended were about Google Drive and Docs.

So as not to overwhelm, I'll share just a couple of the great tips that were new to me and will be so helpful.  They are all focused on using folders in Google Drive.  I hope that they will be helpful to you as well.  I'll continue to post about the new things I learned at the tech conference and Google bit by bit as I try them out myself.  If you'd like to take yourself through the course Google has set up for educators, you can begin the Drive and Docs course by clicking here. On the sidebar, you can choose to go on to the level 2 course or any of the other Google courses for Educators.

Tip 1: Have students create a folder at the beginning of the year in their Google Drive and share the folder with you.  Be sure they name the folder with their name.  If you teach multiple subjects or groups of students, be sure they add that identifying information as well.  Then, anything the students places in that folder will be automatically shared with you!  You get one email from each student notifying you of the share and from then on, they just put everything that you need to see in that folder.  When the presenter at the UCET conference told us this tip, my reaction was "of course! ...why didn't I think of that before??"  The presenter then keeps a list on his desk for students to sign up for a conference.  They list their name and the title of the piece they need a teacher edit or conference with.  He then can go to that student's folder, find the piece and edit it at any time.  Do I hear the angel chorus?? That means no more line at your desk or loss of papers to review and edit.  You can edit the papers right on the document using comments and students can move on to another piece or work on a piece that has been peer or teacher edited.  Students can share specific pieces with one another for peer editing.  The possibilities are endless.  You can also check up on students in their folder to see what they have done or are working on.

Here's some quick directions on creating and sharing a folder.  Feel free to pin!

Tip 2: Since they are web based, students can access their work anywhere.  I know some districts have student drives, only accessible to students at school when they are logged into a school controlled computer.  Teachers have access to these, but neither students nor teachers can access them unless at school.  Google Drive and Docs can be accessed from anywhere with internet.  Additionally, if students don't have access to internet at home.  They might take a school laptop or ipad home with them (if that is allowed for your students) and can enable working on the document "offline". Then, when the student returns to school, they simply turn back on online access and sync their work.

Tip 3: House your documents on drive and give access to your students.  No more additional copies needed, and in many cases, no copies at all.  Share a folder with your students titled with their class name such as "Mrs. Green's 5th Grade 2013-2014"  Just like the folders students shared with you, anything you put in that folder will be shared with students.  House your beginning of year disclosure document there and any other notes and items students might need access to.  Rubrics and project instructions could be there as well.  If it's a note from the school or elsewhere that you don't have a digital copy of, take a picture or a quick scan and upload it to that shared file.  Student's no longer have the excuse of losing it.  You may also want to make that file available for anyone with the link and share the link with your parents via a group email or parent website.  Just know that anyone else who stumbles upon your website and that link would have access to the folder to view it's contents.  Also, make sure your files are only viewable by others, not editable.  I'm sure you don't want students and parents messing with your documents.  They'll still be able to view and print what they need to without having the capability to edit those documents.

Thanks to Jen from Tech with Jen for leading this series!

See the link up below for other great posts about Goole Drive.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Use Clear Labels and Forget the Residue!

Have you ever used address labels around your classroom?  Perhaps you label the front of your cupboards or student cubbies or hooks with labels.  I love labels.  I use the standard address labels to print word problems on to save paper and avoid the time consumption of gluing small papers into notebooks.  I also love to use them around my room, especially for labeling cupboards and coat cubbies.  I've also used them on the front of laminated cards.  The trick I have learned though is the wonder of the clear labels! I still use the standard paper labels for going in student notebooks, but I use clear labels around my room now.  The clear labels are plastic with adhesive on the back, so when you peel them away, they come away clean.  No more scraping paper sticky residue off of your cupboards!  They are also great for overlay on laminated cards.  I like to use them on my numbered hooks for hallway work display.  Any design you wanted to show through would and they just leave a more clean, nice look.  So, get a set of clear labels to have on hand, especially for the summer as you prepare for a new school year next fall.

Thanks to Shelly Gray of Teaching in the Early Years for hosting and organizing this event. 

If you enjoyed this idea, please consider following me on Twitter or Facebook or Bloglovin' to keep updated on the latest from Dilly Dabbles.

I'd love your comments about how you use labels in your classroom. 

Check out all of the other Bright Ideas, 149 others, by clicking on the links under my signature:
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Monday, April 7, 2014

Educents Celebration

Have you heard of Educents.com? It's the first group deal website for Educators where you can save up to 90% on curriculum, educational toys, and other learning products. They are turning 1 year old on April 2, 2014 and to celebrate, they are giving an additional 20% off, site wide until April 7, 2014! Just use code "Anniversary20." In addition, they are SO EXCITED to kick off an AMAZING month of fun activities to celebrate. They will have 30 giveaways (one per day) in the month of April! And, their grand prize winner will receive a family vacation in Florida (thanks to Wyndham Vacation Rentals) & with a runner-up prize of a $1,000 Educents Gift Card!
Just a few of the companies that will be giving products away in April: Math Mammoth, SayPlease, Systematic Mathematics, DNA Educational Games, Red Apple Reading, Critical Thinking Co., Times Tales, Seat Sack, The Latin Road, Intelli-Tunes, Simply Fun, Institute for Excellence in Writing, Luv Chicken, Center for Hands-On Learning, Classical Academic Press, Your Story Hour, Wordsmiths, American High School, Middlebury Interactive Languages, My Year Look, The Latin Road, Intelli-Tunes, The learning Journey International & MORE!
The mission of Educents is to provide affordable education to all. In just 1 year, Educents has saved educators over $5 million dollars and over 150,000 products have made it into homes and classrooms all around the world.
So, what are you waiting for? Go save an additional 20% and enter to win tons of giveaways
. For every giveaway you enter, you get an entry for the two grand prizes!
www.Educents.com -- The Best Place for Educational Products at a discount!

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Wednesday, April 2, 2014

My Point of View: Cut Teachers Some Forgiveness and Gratitude

I wrote and posted the following on a facebook thread conversation and have increasingly felt more strongly about it.  I thought I'd also post it here on my blog. These are my raw feelings at the moment regarding my position as an educator.  Being a teacher isn't only a job for me, it's a passion and hobby.  I love being a teacher.  I view myself as a capable, bright and educated women who could pursue any career I wanted.  In fact, I started my college career with the desire to be a veterinarian, but soon realized a teacher was more my style.  I haven't looked back since.  

The increasing amount of shared FB posts regarding negative examples of education got me a bit fired up this week and here's my response.

We need to remember to work with teachers and not against them. Teachers are people trying to do the best they can with what they have. I spent nearly $1,000 of my personal money to supplement the holes that we're missing in curriculum and to supplement our very tight supply budget, this school year. (That's a conservative estimate) I have 1/2 hour per day to plan for a six hour day in which I'm supposed to bring high energy and engaging lessons. I have 30 min to eat lunch and 15 min. 4 days a week during recess to pee. I spend hours at night and on the weekends planning, making copies and otherwise preparing. I'm held responsible for the learning of 33 students of which every one has unique needs; with or without parent help. Whether they make adequate progress on a single test is a determining factor as to whether I'm a good teacher or not and will soon determine my pay. I am constantly told by everyone without a teaching degree how and what I should teach. I'm so happy to work with parents who come to me with an attitude of "how can we do this together?" vs. an approach of "my kid needs .... and I expect you and this school to make it happen!" It's time as the U.S. we start to say thank you and how can we help rather than blame and find fault. Sorry, it's a bit of a soapbox. I LOVE being a teacher, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to stay positive and do what's right for kids with the barrage of complaints and blame. We must all keep in mind what is right for kids. I believe that to be a common standard of expected learning supported by the funds to expose students to the technology tools and information they will need to become innovators and creators. We have to challenge our students and give them opportunity to struggle and triumph. Lawmakers should respect and value the knowledge and opinions of the teachers for whom they make laws. Parents should become supportive partners rather than distant observers and blamers. As humans in general, I think we forget to take a moment to see the others point of view. We rarely question our doctor when he/she prescribes or diagnoses, yet a professional teacher with training and years of experience is questioned by everyone. As a society, we need to say "help me understand" rather than "you're wrong" I have no doubt that there are educators who make choices that I wouldn't agree with, however instead of plastering FB and media with all the wrong, maybe we could focus on all the good that is happening in classrooms around the U.S.

I love what my friend Bob added to my post.  He's a former band teacher and currently a representative for an educational technology company.  I decided to include his comment as well: 

  1. This is the exception not the rule (Good one Melissa, can I steal that?)
  2. Teachers are HUMAN, they make mistakes too. 
  3. Most teachers use what resources are available, and sometimes it turns out to be a bad resource. Teachers do not have enough time or get paid enough to create all their own resources, or even make sure every single thing is perfect before it goes out. We all make mistakes. 
  4. Would you appreciate this level of scrutiny on your job, especially if you got paid the same (btw, when I was teaching, I was consistently below poverty level, according to the Government)?
  5.  If you know best, then homeschool your kid and quit complaining.
  6. If you are already homeschooling your kid, quit complaining!

I am a wife, mother of 3, and an educator.  I have a B.A. in Elementary Education, an M.A. in Educational Leadership and several endorsements.  In any other occupation, I'd be considered an expert in my field.  I LOVE teaching and pray that we will keep in mind what is best for students; remembering Bob's point, we are all human and need to give each other a little credit and forgiveness.

I'd love to hear your response and opinions in the comments.  
(I'm happy to receive disagreeing points of view that are expressed in a respectful manner.)

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