• Response Cards. On student desks I tape 3 x 5” cards on which I print:
    Come back to me.
    I’m thinking.
    I need more time.

    These are three responses a student can give when he doesn't know what to say.
    I teach students to respond verbally rather than just sit there.
  • School Slippers. In my summer letter to students I ask them to bring in a pair of indoor shoes or slippers to wear in class. This makes them more comfortable and relaxed and keeps the floor cleaner too.
  • Photo Gallery. On the first day of school I take a photo of each child. Students make frames for their photos using oak tag and markers. I display the photos as a group inside my classroom and leave them up all year. In June, I glue the framed photos to the front of the students’ portfolios.
  • Class Pledge. In addition to the Pledge of Allegiance we have a class pledge that we write together. “Our Promise to Each Other” includes values of caring for others and our classroom, as well as including and supporting one another. It is posted next to the Pledge of Allegiance and we repeat it daily. (The pledge I use is adapted from Debbie Miller’s Reading for Meaning.)
  • “Circle up.” I teach my students to respond to the words “circle up” by forming a circle near or around me. We practice this at the beginning of the year and I use it daily. “Circle up” is handy for playground and field trips too.
  • Preview the Day. Each morning a different student uses a pointer and reads through the day’s schedule on the board. We review our special subjects for the day and clarify any schedule changes. Previewing makes students more secure and saves time answering questions.
  • Shaking Hands. At morning meeting students greet one another by shaking hands and greeting the child on either side with, “Good morning. How are you?” I stress eye contact, volume, and tone of voice. At the beginning of the year students greet one another in English but as the year progresses I change the greeting into Spanish. Our Spanish greeting becomes the basis of a Spanish dialogue students learn. I expect that students greet adult visitors in a similar manner.