Hey everyone! I am Cassie from Funky in Fourth. I am so excited to be a part of this collaborative blog! There are so many wonderful bloggers that are a part of this blog. WAHOO!!!
In my classroom, I have my students grouped by ability for math and reading. My groups are extremely flexible and students might be in one group one unit and another the next. Each unit, I put together a box of early finisher activities for that specific group of students. Task cards, work pages, group challenges, etc. go in the box. My students know that when they finish their work they go to their group box for either reading or math to grab an activity to start working on. All materials (unfinished work) are stored in their group's bin, so they always know where their stuff is.
I use many task cards from Teaching With a Mountain View. She has tons of task cards for lots of different standards. I also have a variety of activities from FlapJack Educational Resources. She has created tons of task cards and activities that are self-checking with QR codes. I love that students can self-check their work with our iPods.
I also made some special arrangements with one of the other fourth grade teachers. If I have an unplanned absence, I simply e-mail her my lesson plans (if they aren't already on my desk like normal) and any pages that my students might need for the day. I make my copies a few weeks in advance- so usually there aren't any attachments for the other teacher to print. It is nice to have that as an option in case I ever need to.
Raise your hand if you have ever been called out of your classroom for a meeting in the middle of the day. This might be a meeting with a parent, special ed teacher or even the administration. For me, these meetings happen usually unannounced. In my bottom drawer I have a variety of activity pages that can be pulled out in a snap. I have math pages, spelling practice, writing prompts... the list goes on. I copy these all at the beginning of the year. They are ready to go anytime I need them. This helps to control any "chaos" that might happen in my absence because there is a planned activity.
There are a variety of verbal signals that you can use. Some rhyme ones are: macaroni cheese-everybody freeze, hocus pocus- everybody focus, ready to rock- ready to roll, all set- you bet, and hands on top- that means stop (students put their hands up on their head). All of these signals would easily catch your students attention and draw them into your instruction without you having to say much at all or try to talk over all of your students while they are working.
If you do not already have a signal in place in your classroom, it is important to "train" your students on your expectations when you use it. If you do not want them to have anything in their hands when they respond, this will need to be practiced. If you want them to turn and look at you, this will need to be practiced. At first, some of your students will struggle! I have found that it is best to repeat the signal as many times as needed until you have 100% perfection before moving on. If that means I say "classity class" five times in a row with my students responding over and over... so be it! By about November my students have mastered the signal and it can easily be used to control any chaos that might be happening in my classroom. You can also use physical signals like a bell or wind chimes to have the same result!
I hope that some of these tips help you to control the chaos in your classroom. I know how the end of the year can get pretty chaotic! Hang in there.... summer is just around the corner!!
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