Suggested and tested by teachers like you, each of these entries in our Winning Ideas Monthly Contest won $50 in Scholastic products.

1. Breeze Through Make-Up Work

Submitted by Deana Pittman (Batesville Junior High School, MS)

One of my classes is an 8th-grade class. Students would be absent and request make-up work, often only to lose it and have to request the work again. To put a stop to this, I invested in a large, desk-size calendar—each month I put that month's page up on my bulletin board. Each day I write everything that we do on that day's date and I put any worksheets that an absent student will need on the bulletin board right there with the assignments. It has really been a time-saver and the students know right where to go to look for their assignments!

2. Enlist Super Star Helpers

Submitted by Nikki Groth (Monday Primary School, TX)

In the past, I always had a "helper board" where I posted helpers of the day such as line leader, calendar helper, etc. This year I tried a new system, which I love. I have my students seated in five tables and each table has a chair with a star on the back. The star has many responsibilities, such as passing out papers to others at the table, picking up supplies when necessary, etc. Every day I also have a star table (the star at the star table is the superstar). Typically the star table corresponds with the day: table 1 on Monday, table 2 on Tuesday, etc. The superstar does all of the one-person jobs for the day, like leading the line, leading calendar, delivering messages, etc. On Mondays, the star chair at each table moves to the next table and the rotation continues. It's wonderful because I know that every student will get a chance to be the leader, and it's so easy to maintain. I no longer have a checklist of who has been lineleader.

3. Use Folders Better

Submitted by Charisse Vasquez (Pinecrest School-Northbridge, CA)

I assign my students numbers using alphabetical order by last name. Each student has an assignment folder with two pockets. One side is labeled "keep at home," and the other "return to school." I put in all of the homework assignments for the week on Mondays. Each day, the assignment that is due is the first paper in the return to school side of the folder. Student helpers put the folders in numerical order and
take out the homework that is due on that day. They also let me know if there is anything else sent to me in the "return to school side," such as notes from parents, book orders, etc. The student helpers inform me if there are missing folders or homework. This saves me a lot of time, and the students love to do the work for me.

4. Improve Your Daily Action Plan

Submitted by Sophia Pappas (Madison Elementary, NJ)

Productive use of prep time before, during, and after school is crucial to maximizing instructional time with our students. I have a daily action plan on my clipboard detailing tasks that my aide and I need to complete, whether they be setting up the Discovery Area for a special experiment or reminding parents about our upcoming "Giving Thanks Party." I also include a "Materials Needed" section. I have a template for the daily plan on my computer with tasks I do every day (e.g., set up the class schedule, prepare small group materials, take out homework from the night before, etc.). Every night I add any additional items to the template (e.g., displays that need to be put up, administrative paperwork that needs to be turned in, etc.), print it out, and put it on my clipboard for the next day.

5. Guided Reading: A Solution for Managing Groups

Submitted by Catherine Koysza (Simpsonville Elementary, SC)

During Reading Workshop, each student has a chart/checklist at their desk with a list of "responsibilities" which must be completed by the end of the week. These activities might include items like the following:
1) Read independently for most of the workshop time.
2) Read a book and respond in your Reading Response Journal.
3) Look for five nouns while you are reading and add them to our chart of nouns on the board.
4) Take a Reading Counts test.
5) Buddy-read.
6) Read a book at the Listening Center.

The chart/checklist shows how many times they MUST do each activity, and it lists "extra" activities to do once they complete all of the "MUST DO" responsibilties. This keeps students engaged in Reading Workshop while I meet with my small groups for guided reading. Students manage themselves while I get some real TEACHING accomplished without interruption!


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