Thursday, May 12, 2011

Classroom Management (The Power of the Marbles)

Having a good classroom management plan in place is essential for teaching. How can a teacher go on with teaching the curriculum when students are off task, mis-behaving, or acting out? We simply cant...... Just as we plan units and lessons for our students, we must plan to implement and carry out an affective classroom management strategy as well.

The list could go on and on when it comes to different techniques or stategies to use for good classroom management so I will only talk about the ones that I have seen work affectively, with many positive outcomes. Firstly it is important to welcome and greet each student before he or she enters the classroom. This gives you the opportunity to see what kind of mood they are in and also allows you to notice anything that may be bothering them before you start your day. During my last teaching placement I would stand by the door and welcome each individual student and get a feel of how they were feeling before they entered my classroom.
Every Monday for the first 20 minutes I would go around the room and allow each student to share what they did on their weekend. I did this because it enhances the classroom community. This shows students that we must listen to and appreciate others, while at the same time understanding and respecting others differences. This technique really made us get to know eachother better and made everyone feel a lot more comfortable being around one another.

The next classroom management stategy that I had the chance to implement was the seating plan. My assosciate teacher and I made post-it notes with all the students names on them and arranged a U shaped  seating plan. We took into consideration the bigger behaviors in the class, the always on task students, the students on IEP's, and the level 4 type students. Based on these characteristics we strategically spread out the bigger behaviors, seperating or buffering them with the on task students or empty desks, while placing students on IEP's near the level 4 students. The level 4 type students were there to give them assistance or extra help when needed. The students desks were also turned around so they couldn't access the inside  of their desks while the teacher was teaching. This took away playing with various items or objects from their desks when the focus should be elsewhere or on the teacher. Here was what my classroom looked like......

The next classroom management stategy that I created and implemeneted was putting certain students into squads with certain behavior success criteria. Behavior needed to be managed a lot when transitioning to another classroom/gym, or during the phys-ed period. During phys-ed was a time in which the behavior management had to be adjusted or modified because of the fact they were moving around, wanting to talk to eachother more, and because they had to work with others in the class (Co-operative Games). Therefore they were put into squads, (again with the bigger behaviors spread out in the sqauds). Each squad had the opportunity to create their own team name, which they loved! During phys-ed and transitioning to different classess each student was responsible for their squad. Their behavior would affect the whole squad.. After each phys-ed class I would evaluate their behavior and award them points based off of certain success criteria, each criteria being worth a different amount of points. Their goal was to eventually reach 50 points and they would get to choose one of the 5 rewards, they were to make that choice as a group. This system gave them something to work towards as a group, this strategy really turned our phys-ed class around, they were motivated to have positive attitudes, while listening, encouraging others, wearing their gym attire, while even helping out with the clean up of equipment. Here are some pics of the plan I had in place!


Lastly, "The Power of the Marbles". This was a strategy that was used throughout the whole day, during all subjects. This was the main, go to, classroom management plan. Much like the squad points they were working towards a reward. It is essential that the teacher and the students determine what this reaward will be before a new term of  marbles begins. These rewards would be things such as pajama days, watching an afternoon movie on a friday (linking movie to TLCP, we watched a movie on greek gods/goddesses). Once the reward is agreed upon, the class can then start working towards it. The object of this strategy was for the students to earn all the marbles that were in my bowl, filling their bowl up leaving me with nothing. Students earned marbles for such things as wearing their uniform, being on task, recieving an outside compliment from another teacher, etc. They would lose marbles for the opposite behavior such as acting out, being off task, mis-bahaving, being too loud, etc. 

This strategy worked great because if one student continued to not meet the points criteria, they would lose marbles for the class, this affected the rest of the students. Other students would then begin to ask others to listen, be quiet, etc. The student mis-behaving would eventually realize he or she was losing marbles for the whole class in which they would stop the behavior, and then try everything they could to earn those marbles back. This strategy also worked great because it allows you to choose when to give them marbles, when you give them marbles you can go beyond and say things like "great job everyone, your having a great day, keep it up". This motivates them even more to continue with their good behavior because they want to earn more marbles. The teacher does not always have to take some away either. The teacher has the option of simply putting their hand in the bowl and moving the marbles around. Once the students hear the sound of the marbles, they will make sure to not lose any. This strategy worked wonders, and I am definetely going to use it again in the future. 

What works well for you?? Leave your comments !
Hope you enjoyed.  

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Integration in Education

During my recent block 2 placement I had the chance to experiment with various integrated lessons such as phys-ed integrated with science (human organ systems), language (making connections) integrated with social studies (early civilizations-Greece), early civilizations-Greece integrated with drama, math (2D objects) integrated with the arts (expressing a feeling), and much more.

Through this expereince I found that integrated lessons give students much more engagement and motivation. It allows students to use one subject to learn more about the other. It gives them more opportunity for learning because a student may be strong in one subject and weak in the other, however they can use that stronger subject because they are already comfortable with it, to help them dig deeper into the other subject. When different subject areas are put together it broadens the opportunity for differentiated instruction as well. I found that with certain parameters and/or success criteria it gives students a base to build off of. After they have met the learning criteria, make sure to leave room for student choice an/or creativity. This really addresses different instruction types and learning styles.

Here is an example of what I am talking about. This was a lesson that I did with my grade 5's in which they had to use 2 dimensional polygons and symmetry to express a feeling. Their success criteria contained minimal mathematical parameters such as a line of symmetry down the center of the page, they had to use each polygon more than once, and their art had to express how they were feeling. This lesson helped them learn more about symmetry and 2D objects through creativity and self discovery. While at the same time played an important role in their ability to express themselves, through art. A lesson prior to this was taught in which they learned what symmetry was.. but this really brought it home.

Here are the students work...enjoy !