Every year I leave for Summer Break with a note on my desk, labeled, “CHANGE FOR NEXT YEAR”. I thought if I made it a little nicer than a bunch of scribbled post-it notes, it might benefit you folks too! And if you haven’t started your own “CHANGE FOR NEXT YEAR” list, do it! What didn’t work so hot this year that you want to adjust? What drove you crazy this year that you can head off from the start next year? What will help you be more organized/comprehensible/ joyous next year? What will help you feel less frantic/ anxious/out of control next year? Think about it and make a plan!
We love free reading and each of my kiddos had an adorable ribbon bookmark that is color coded for his class, to keep his place. While adorable, they were driving me batty by the end of the year: when kids lost them they were kind of a pain to remake, which I would do, and without fail, we’d find the missing bookmark a few classes later. And sometimes the writing was hard to read, and the ribbon were all frayed by the end of the year. And I’d frequently find them on the floor after class. Don’t you worry! I’ve got a plan for next year!
Out with the ribbon bookmarks, in with colored post its!
I bought these from Amazon (it’s an affiliate link, if you buy ’em, I’ll get like .002 cents and it will cost you nada!) . I bought both packs because I will assign a different color to each class. So, 2nd period will be magenta, etc…
My little darlings will write their names on it, and stick them on the page they’re reading to save their page and reserve that book for their class period. So if someone from the magenta class is shopping for her new book, she knows that any book with a magenta paper is already reserved. Yeah, they’ll probably loose stickiness and fall out like the paper clips, but they’ll be way easier to deal with when it happens. I’ll train my kiddos to create a new one when it’s loosing it’s stickiness or they can’t find it, and I’ll just toss any stray post-its I find on the floor.
- Reading logs
In the past my kiddos have filled out this YELP review sheet for each book they’ve read with a star rating, which, ideally my TA would update on the posters to help students choose their next book. In theory, I love the idea, in practice, it turned out to be more work that it’s worth, especially since my TA left me midway though the year! So…next year, we’ll try something new!
Rather than them tracking their individual books, I’ll have a sheet designated for each class on a clipboard. When they finish a book, they’ll write it on their class’s page and then start a new one. I think I’ll make it a bit of a competition…WOAH, you guys! 2nd period has already read 45 books this semester!
And rather than giving a star rating for their book, they’ll select an Emoji Sticker to stick on the inside cover of their book to report their reaction to the book. We started this part way though the year and kids love it because, 1. who doesn’t love stickers?! 2. It’s nice to pick up a book that looks interesting and see that a bunch of other kids have already enjoyed it and 3. it’s a low accountability way to wrap up your book.
- Do LESS
I watched the incredible Janice Holter Kittok during this year’s Comprehensible Online conference and I loved how she set up her class expectations. They’re so fun and concise! I made the pretty poster but just know, it’s Janice’s great idea! I’ll have my school’s leadership class print it out with their fancy poster machine and display it proudly in my classroom next year.
- Check ins
Next year I’ll be teaching 2 new (to me!) courses: Spanish for Heritage Speakers and Freshman Seminar. We all know that relationships are the key to good classroom management and I think they’ll be especially important as I’m setting up these new courses. This spring I tried something new that turned out to be super powerful: changing up the password for a check in every once in a while. This changed the dynamic of my classroom and helped me get to know my little darlings waaaaay better. I’ll be implementing this at the beginning of nextyear!
- More music!
I want more music in my life and Annabelle Williamson, aka La Maestra Loca taught me a super simple Mute Button hack to get more music in my little darlings’ heads. Find a song you want to get stuck in their heads, play in on youtube (right click any youtube video and select loop) and then hit your mute button. (My wireless keyboard has a mute button at the top…does yours?) Have the song playing on loop (it will restart automatically when the song ends) and then when class starts, rather than pausing the video, hit the mute button. The song will keep playing and restarting, but you can’t hear it! And whenever you need a little music- students are transitioning, moving, writing, or whatever just hit mute again, and your music is blaring! So much faster than opening up a tab, looking for a song, pressing play, pressing pause, etc. And if your keyboard is wireless…you can mute that song from anywhere in the classroom, without messing with anything. How brilliant is that hack?!
And to take it a step further… if you love doing Locura de marzo, join Sr. Ashby’s Locura de marzo group on Facebook. About January he releases the preliminary list of songs of that year’s songs. I’ll use those as my transition music before the competition begins so they’re familiar with all the songs.
And, one more sweet techy tip my little darlings taught me: YOU CAN MUTE ANY WEBPAGE ON CHROME! So, let’s say you’re playing Kahoot or Quizlet Live and their music drives you absolutely bonkers… just right click on the tab and select Mute Site. You can still play Pandora or YouTube or whatever…just without the game’s obnoxious music!! Hallelujah!
- Student Numbers
So…I know lots of teachers who assign students a #, just to make it fast to alphabetize papers. And I’ve always been hesitant to do that, because, you know, I don’t want them to feel like they’ve been reduced to a number. But this year my TA left me mid semester and I was drowning in paperwork and we started using students numbers and it changed my life!! Students write their number next to their name, I tell them to pass their papers to So and So, and So and So quickly puts them in order before putting them on my desk. GAME CHANGER!
And to streamline it even more… I’m going to make the same number their Textivate password.
So…those are the changes that I’ll be implementing next year, so far! I What’s on your list?
Happy almost summer…we finish on Thursday! What about you?!