Creative classroom management strategies from fellow teachers and our experts.
Make It Pop!
I teach first grade, and I hang up 10 balloons for the last 10 days of school, with different activities written on slips of paper inside each balloon. Activities include read outside, eat lunch in the classroom, and pick your seat for the day. Every morning, we pop a balloon and read our activity for the day. The kids love seeing what we have planned, and it puts the number of remaining days into perspective for them.
My fifth graders write letters to themselves as high school seniors. They write their favorite memories of fifth grade, goals for middle and high school, even where they think they will go to college or what job they want to have. Then, seven years later, I mail the letters to them before they graduate from high school. Fun for the fifth graders to think forward and great for the seniors to reflect back.
A book exchange. I ask each student to bring in a used hardcover that they’ve read and are willing to part with. Some students bring two or three, and I’ll bring some as well. We have a book preview and students pick a “new” book from the pile. I give them about a half hour of silent reading time with their new books and encourage them to finish over the summer.
A literary magazine. Each child chooses his or her favorite writing piece from the year. I then make copies and bind them into a book for each student. Also, those who want to design a cover can do so, and we vote as a class on the one we want to use.
My kindergartners do a project on anything they wish we had learned about this year but didn’t. I get a lot of projects on tornadoes and kitties and such.
Of Angels and Rats
I teach third grade, and every year the first chapter book we read is Third-Grade Angels, by Jerry Spinelli. Then, over the last few days, we read Spinelli’s Fourth-Grade Rats. After we’re finished reading, students write letters to the upcoming third graders, filling them in on third grade.
I teach a self-contained, grades 1–4 special education class, and we have an end-of-year celebration of our accomplishments. Each student makes a poster highlighting his or her academic accomplishments for the year. I invite family members to come in and let the kids show off their posters.
—Jennifer W. B.
Summer Pen Pals
I hand out my P.O. box number and tell kids if they write to me over the summer, I will write back. Every year, I get about five to seven letters. One year, I had a letter every week of break from two students!
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