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September 3, 2010

Three Back-to-School Routines

By Ruth Manna
Grades PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8, 9–12

    Some of you have already started school and the rest will be starting soon. In September, I receive questions about classroom routines. It may seem obvious, but we need to explicitly teach the routines we expect students to follow.

    As we teach and practice routines consistently, students grow into our high expectations. The time we spend now establishing routines is time well spent. Later on students will feel secure knowing what to do and we’ll have more time to teach. Following are three routines I teach my students.

    “Circle up!”

    When I say, “Circle up!” students stop what they’re doing and head for our area rug where they form a circle and sit down. My students practice walking to our meeting place while I time them with a stopwatch. Variations of “Circle up,” work well on a playground and on field trips, too.

    “Pretzel up!”

    Instead of “Criss-cross applesauce,” I say, “Pretzel up!” which tells students to sit up straight with their legs crossed. I make practice into a game until students can promptly “pretzel up.”

    “Stack your blocks!”

    “Stack your blocks!” directs a student to sit squarely on a chair with both feet on the floor under his desk. The student rests his folded hands and elbows on his desk and faces forward. Legs and feet form a block under a desk and shoulders are stacked over hips, which is why I say, “Stack your blocks!”

    I hope you’ll write and share your classroom routines.

    Some of you have already started school and the rest will be starting soon. In September, I receive questions about classroom routines. It may seem obvious, but we need to explicitly teach the routines we expect students to follow.

    As we teach and practice routines consistently, students grow into our high expectations. The time we spend now establishing routines is time well spent. Later on students will feel secure knowing what to do and we’ll have more time to teach. Following are three routines I teach my students.

    “Circle up!”

    When I say, “Circle up!” students stop what they’re doing and head for our area rug where they form a circle and sit down. My students practice walking to our meeting place while I time them with a stopwatch. Variations of “Circle up,” work well on a playground and on field trips, too.

    “Pretzel up!”

    Instead of “Criss-cross applesauce,” I say, “Pretzel up!” which tells students to sit up straight with their legs crossed. I make practice into a game until students can promptly “pretzel up.”

    “Stack your blocks!”

    “Stack your blocks!” directs a student to sit squarely on a chair with both feet on the floor under his desk. The student rests his folded hands and elbows on his desk and faces forward. Legs and feet form a block under a desk and shoulders are stacked over hips, which is why I say, “Stack your blocks!”

    I hope you’ll write and share your classroom routines.

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