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May 11, 2018

Bright Ideas for Classroom Management and Creating Book Buzz

By Brian Smith
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5

    Teachers are always under pressure to create learning environments that meet the different needs of all students, and every year we struggle to meet this goal. At the beginning of this year, I had plans to introduce ideas that were going to transform my classroom. Half didn’t even see the first day of school because I ran out of time. Others that I started the year with were dropped by the end of September because they either didn’t meet my projected outcome or my kids had no buy-in. However, two bright ideas not only survived the year, but made positive changes in my classroom and my class.

    Idea 1: Bright Ideas

    This idea came to me last summer when I found a plastic lightbulb for 25 cents at a yard sale. I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do with the lightbulb, but I knew it was something I could use with my students when working on their problem-solving skills. Around the same time, I received these ticket awards from the Teacher Store. They are super cute, colorful ways to acknowledge a job well done. They're also designed for a teacher to easily use. They are perforated into two parts; the one to fill out, tear off, and give to the student and the other to add to a receptacle (enter my plastic lightbulb!) for drawing a winner. The Good Work Tickets have proven my favorites to use.

    Here are the super simple steps that I used which helped me increase my students' independent problem-solving skills.

    1.  I placed the Good Work Tickets, a pen, and the plastic lightbulb in the classroom as a visual for the system that I had set up.

    2.  Anytime I see or hear someone problem-solving creatively, I fill out one of the tickets. I put the larger portion of the ticket in the student’s notebook so they can share it with their parents and the smaller portion gets folded and placed in the “bright idea lightbulb.”

    3.  I randomly grab the lightbulb and announce a prize. These range from two students eating lunch with the teacher to sitting in the teacher's chair for the next hour, to running a message to another teacher. But no matter the prize, I guarantee you it’s free! I announce the prize before I draw the name.

    4.  These tickets have proven their worth in incenting my students to problem solve all kinds of issues.

    The other ticket awards are also so great. Here are the ones that are available:

    Good Behavior Ticket Awards

    Super Homework Ticket Awards

    Free Choice Activity Ticket Awards

    Free Homework Night Ticket Awards

    The Good Behavior Tickets work wonderfully in place of the Good Work Ticket Award that I used above. For the Free Choice Activity Ticket Awards I make sure that I have a set menu of options ready. I have used these ticket awards two different ways:

    1. I let the student select what they want for their prize after they have earned their ticket. (There are designated days that I allow the students to use their tickets.)

    2. I put all of the free choice activity options in a box and call it a Mystery Motivator Day and whatever the student blindly selects from the box and that is their award.

    I alternate between the first and second choices and students don't have to turn in their Free Choice Activity Ticket Award if they choose not to. The Free Choice Activity options above were created using the free Scholastic Word Workshop program.

    These Ticket Awards are such a small investment but yield amazingly large returns. The positive reinforcement that these tickets provide turn into habits that I have seen carried out all year. These tickets have helped me create a classroom of creative problem-solvers who are intrinsically motivated because thinking with a problem solving mind-set has become habit.

     

    Idea 2: Book-Go-Round

    I heard about this idea from another teacher. She used it to share the new books that she ordered from Scholastic Book Clubs each month. That is exactly the way I introduced the Book-Go-Round to my class one day after we got a rather large order of books for our classroom. Here are the easy-peasy steps:

    1.  I placed the students in a circle and asked them to sit down close enough to pass a book to their neighbor, but far enough away to have their own space.

    2.  I gave each student a book. I alternated between fiction and nonfiction and books that were heavy with text and books that were heavy with pictures so that each new book the student looked at had distinguishable features from the previous book they had.

    3.  I instructed the students that they would have one minute to read their book and when the timer went off, they would pass their book to the student on their left. I had them repeat the instructions asking who they would pass their books to (the student on their left) and where they would get their book from (the student on their right). By having each student repeat the instructions using the students' names, it really helped them get the pattern correct the first time.

    4.  I set my phone timer for one minute and said "begin." Students looked through the book that they had in their hands.

    5.  After my alarm went off, I said, “Time for Book-Go-Round” and students passed their books in the appropriate direction and I started the timer again.

    6.  We repeated steps four and five until every student had seen every book for one minute. At the end of the Book-Go-Round, each student should end up with the book they started with.


    7. Everyone then pushes their books into the middle of the circle they are sitting in.

    8.  Each child is called to the center of the book circle to select a book they like, and they share that book with the group and explain why they selected it.


    That’s it. This simple idea connects students with books that they have access to all the time, but may not have picked up for any number of reasons. I have since executed Book-Go-Round with books from my bookshelf that I haven’t seen anyone pick up. It generates interest in books in a very independent way.

    I hope you find these ideas useful and will share your experiences with me when you put them into place in your classroom.

    Connect with me at my website, briansmithspeaks.com, and on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

    Teachers are always under pressure to create learning environments that meet the different needs of all students, and every year we struggle to meet this goal. At the beginning of this year, I had plans to introduce ideas that were going to transform my classroom. Half didn’t even see the first day of school because I ran out of time. Others that I started the year with were dropped by the end of September because they either didn’t meet my projected outcome or my kids had no buy-in. However, two bright ideas not only survived the year, but made positive changes in my classroom and my class.

    Idea 1: Bright Ideas

    This idea came to me last summer when I found a plastic lightbulb for 25 cents at a yard sale. I wasn’t 100 percent sure what I wanted to do with the lightbulb, but I knew it was something I could use with my students when working on their problem-solving skills. Around the same time, I received these ticket awards from the Teacher Store. They are super cute, colorful ways to acknowledge a job well done. They're also designed for a teacher to easily use. They are perforated into two parts; the one to fill out, tear off, and give to the student and the other to add to a receptacle (enter my plastic lightbulb!) for drawing a winner. The Good Work Tickets have proven my favorites to use.

    Here are the super simple steps that I used which helped me increase my students' independent problem-solving skills.

    1.  I placed the Good Work Tickets, a pen, and the plastic lightbulb in the classroom as a visual for the system that I had set up.

    2.  Anytime I see or hear someone problem-solving creatively, I fill out one of the tickets. I put the larger portion of the ticket in the student’s notebook so they can share it with their parents and the smaller portion gets folded and placed in the “bright idea lightbulb.”

    3.  I randomly grab the lightbulb and announce a prize. These range from two students eating lunch with the teacher to sitting in the teacher's chair for the next hour, to running a message to another teacher. But no matter the prize, I guarantee you it’s free! I announce the prize before I draw the name.

    4.  These tickets have proven their worth in incenting my students to problem solve all kinds of issues.

    The other ticket awards are also so great. Here are the ones that are available:

    Good Behavior Ticket Awards

    Super Homework Ticket Awards

    Free Choice Activity Ticket Awards

    Free Homework Night Ticket Awards

    The Good Behavior Tickets work wonderfully in place of the Good Work Ticket Award that I used above. For the Free Choice Activity Ticket Awards I make sure that I have a set menu of options ready. I have used these ticket awards two different ways:

    1. I let the student select what they want for their prize after they have earned their ticket. (There are designated days that I allow the students to use their tickets.)

    2. I put all of the free choice activity options in a box and call it a Mystery Motivator Day and whatever the student blindly selects from the box and that is their award.

    I alternate between the first and second choices and students don't have to turn in their Free Choice Activity Ticket Award if they choose not to. The Free Choice Activity options above were created using the free Scholastic Word Workshop program.

    These Ticket Awards are such a small investment but yield amazingly large returns. The positive reinforcement that these tickets provide turn into habits that I have seen carried out all year. These tickets have helped me create a classroom of creative problem-solvers who are intrinsically motivated because thinking with a problem solving mind-set has become habit.

     

    Idea 2: Book-Go-Round

    I heard about this idea from another teacher. She used it to share the new books that she ordered from Scholastic Book Clubs each month. That is exactly the way I introduced the Book-Go-Round to my class one day after we got a rather large order of books for our classroom. Here are the easy-peasy steps:

    1.  I placed the students in a circle and asked them to sit down close enough to pass a book to their neighbor, but far enough away to have their own space.

    2.  I gave each student a book. I alternated between fiction and nonfiction and books that were heavy with text and books that were heavy with pictures so that each new book the student looked at had distinguishable features from the previous book they had.

    3.  I instructed the students that they would have one minute to read their book and when the timer went off, they would pass their book to the student on their left. I had them repeat the instructions asking who they would pass their books to (the student on their left) and where they would get their book from (the student on their right). By having each student repeat the instructions using the students' names, it really helped them get the pattern correct the first time.

    4.  I set my phone timer for one minute and said "begin." Students looked through the book that they had in their hands.

    5.  After my alarm went off, I said, “Time for Book-Go-Round” and students passed their books in the appropriate direction and I started the timer again.

    6.  We repeated steps four and five until every student had seen every book for one minute. At the end of the Book-Go-Round, each student should end up with the book they started with.


    7. Everyone then pushes their books into the middle of the circle they are sitting in.

    8.  Each child is called to the center of the book circle to select a book they like, and they share that book with the group and explain why they selected it.


    That’s it. This simple idea connects students with books that they have access to all the time, but may not have picked up for any number of reasons. I have since executed Book-Go-Round with books from my bookshelf that I haven’t seen anyone pick up. It generates interest in books in a very independent way.

    I hope you find these ideas useful and will share your experiences with me when you put them into place in your classroom.

    Connect with me at my website, briansmithspeaks.com, and on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

    I can’t wait to see you next time.

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