Wednesday, July 7

Three Fantastic Classroom Routines to Save Your Year

Over the course of my teaching, I have developed 3 routines that truly improve the quality of life in my classroom. I always find myself so thankful that I don't have to stress about passing out papers/materials, checking/grading practice work, or cleaning up. The beginning of the year is full of teaching, practicing and perfecting routines, so throw these routines in the mix to make this the best year ever.




 Passing Out Materials/Papers

 I simplify a lot of passing out materials by having students keep many materials at their seat. This way I'm not passing out scissors, glue sticks, etc every time we need them.

 I use this strategy mostly with papers, but their are other times it comes in handy. It's called the "Take One and Pass It On" strategy. 

In my class, we spend a lot of learning time on the carpet. Students are either seated in rows or in a circle. When I pass out materials, I hand a stack to one person at either side of the row. They take the paper, place one on their lap and hand the rest of the stack to the next person. This works in a circle too. I pick 2 students who are beside each other and they each pass in the opposite direction.

 At the beginning of the year, I teach this strategy explicitly. I hand the stack of papers to the students on one end of the row but ask them to hold them until I give directions. I then guide each movement- "Take the paper off the top and place it in your lap. Hand the rest of the papers to the person beside you. Now that you have your paper, go to your seat and get started." I repeat for each student and we move down the rows. It doesn't take long for them to master it.

By October, I'm already circulating the room or calling students to my table for help by the time the last paper gets to the end of the row.

Trade and Grade

 In order to make grading meaningful and manageable, I decided long ago that I didn't need to grade everyone's practice work.  I adopted Trade and Grade and never looked back.

Before using Trade and Grade as a strategy, we have several classroom discussions about being honest, being kind and how some things are easy for some people but difficult for others. Since students will be seeing others practice work, we talk about not yelling out how someone did.

I usually wait until October before I introduce it. When using Traded and Grade, I have students change papers 3 times. This way, students do not know who has their paper and will stay focused on their own paper. Several years ago, a mom donated 2 entire boxes of purple crayons. I'm not sure where she got 2 64 packs of purple crayons, but that is what we use to Trade and Grade. I usually post the answers on my active board for students to check. After students check the paper they have, I collect them all and look at them. I pull out papers of students who need additional help and send the rest home.

In the beginning, this routine is very guided. I post the answers on my active board and cover up all of them except the first one. Then we go step by step. I'll say things like "Look at the answer on number one. The answer is Cat (or dog or 4 or blue). Look at number one on your paper. Does that paper say cat beside number one? If it does, leave it alone. If it says anything else or you can't read it, circle the number 1."

I train students not to use checkmarks because I do look at every paper, even if I'm not checking it.  When students use checkmarks on everything, it's hard to see where the actual mistakes are.  By circling the number of the missed problem, I can quickly check to see if they made a simple mistake or need reteaching on the concept.  I keep the papers of students who need reteaching and send the rest home.

A Clean Up Routine
I am a firm believer in students keeping the room clean.  Many kids, however, are never taught HOW to clean.  At the beginning off the year, I teach students to go through a series of steps.
1.  Create a clean desk.  This is done with a clean desk anchor chart.  Students should have nothing on top of their desk and items are stacked neatly inside.
2.  Pick up the trash around their desk and throw it away.
3.  Move to the common areas of the room and pick up the trash and put away other items.

In the beginning, these steps are very guided.  I give verbal directions like "look under your desk.  Do you see any trash? Pick it up and throw it away?  Any pencils or crayons? Pick them up and put them away?"

After a few days of guided practice cleaning, we put the whole thing to music.  I have found that Rockin' Robin is a perfect amount of time.  There is also an easy to recognize set of words at the end that signals students to return to their seats.



These are 3 of my favorite classroom routines!  What is your favorite routine?  Drop me a message and let me know!


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