Numbers are all around us, and they play a big part in our lives. You might think that math is just something you learn in school, but understanding numbers, also known as "number sense," is super important in real life too! Teaching our children to understand numbers helps them develop a strong and intuitive grasp of math concepts. So, let's explore what number sense is and how we can make math exciting in the classroom.
What is number sense?
Number sense is like having a superpower for numbers. It's not just about memorizing math facts but truly understanding how numbers work together. It covers counting, number relationships, estimation, identifying patterns, and understanding place value. It provides the tools to be able to handle every day situations that involve math confidently and comfortably.
Let's take a closer look at some of the concepts it covers and how we can help kids understand the concepts.
Children need to learn to count fluently, not by rote, but with an understanding of each number being a quantity. When they count objects, each number relates to an object being counted. Touching objects as they count them will help with this correlation. It is important to practice counting objects until they are able to correctly count them every time.
Do hands on activities so the math is tangible. Start with real-life objects. Let students count and group toys, buttons, or snacks. Count books, pencils, or even footsteps. Ask questions like, "Can you find five red objects?" or "How many shoes do we have?" This makes numbers real and relatable.
It is important for kids to see how numbers relate to one another. For example: 6 is one more than 5 or two less than 8. These relationships will help them understand the basic operations of addition and subtraction and later on multiplication and division. Math vocabulary for these relationships in also important. Terms like: more than, less than, equal to, and greater than are only a few examples that can be taught to help them understand these relationships.
Play games that involve looking for clues that use some addition and subtraction to solve them. Practice making groups that show the relationships between numbers. Play "Guess the missing number" by answering yes or no questions.
It is not always possible to count everything, so it is important to make educated guesses for quantities. For example: How many candies are in the jar? Children often have little idea about how to estimate and the responses are way off. It will take practice estimating and then counting for them to understand how to get closer in their approximations.
Turn estimation activities into challenges. Who can get the closest number? Can they get it without going over?
Practice using small amounts at first and gradually increase the number of objects being estimated as the results get closer.
Get kids to recognize patterns in numbers, like even numbers (2, 4, 6) or the way odd numbers always end in 1, 3, 5, 7, or 9.
Try skip counting games and look for patterns when counting. For example: when counting by 5 all numbers end in 5 or 0.
Reading books about math patterns is also fun to do and helps kids understand the patterns better. For example: Even Steven and Odd Todd shows the relationship between even and odd numbers. Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream shows how multiplication is just a faster way of adding.
There are many books that show math patterns and relationships. Find some that fit with the concepts that you are teaching to help enrich your students' understanding.
Understanding place value
It is important that students understand what the relationship is between multiple numbers grouped together and their placement or order. For example: 4 in 42 means forty, and 2 means two). We refer to these as digits that represent different values.
Play games that encourage kids to identify the mystery digit or build a number with the place values given.
Check out this blog post for more about place value and some activities and resources that might interest you.
Connecting number sense to the real world
Number sense is not just for math classes. It is a necessary skill for navigating in the real world. The more we focus on how it is used in practical settings, the more our students will see its purpose and begin to use it more confidently.
Being able to understand number sense and use it effectively will help with handling money, time, and measurements. It will also be used in many different settings, whether budgeting an allowance, planning a trip, or even cooking a favorite meal.
Remember, math is not just about numbers; it's about exploring, discovering, and making sense of the world around us.
Next time I will share ideas and activities that can bring number sense into everyday activities, and how we can encourage activities at home to help our students develop a solid understanding of how to use their number sense skills in their world.
Are classroom disruptions, kids not listening, friends bickering, and an unsettled environment driving you nuts? This was how I felt at the beginning of some school years until I made some changes to create harmony and a respectful, caring environment the norm.
I remember one year, prior to school happening, we had a professional development day that caused me to rethink how I approached my class. During the keynote address, we were challenged with "Focus on what is going right in the world". We were encouraged to find what was positive and good and change our focus to that instead of letting the negative drive our day.
That makes lots of sense, and it's probably something everyone wants to do, but the reality is, when negative things are happening around us, we can easily get derailed and begin focusing on that instead.
I made a conscious effort that year to change my approach and it helped me to get through some very challenging years with surprising success.
One thing I did was find ways for kids to save face after negative situations and give them opportunities to start fresh. I decided to work on ways to help kids remain in the classroom and not be sent out for misbehaviors. This was definitely challenging at times, and I admit, I wasn't always able to do so. I did have to maintain the safety of all my students, so there were times when I had no other choice.
I started to focus on behaviors in the classroom that I wanted others to emulate. This was the start of my positive freckles.
I had some small happy face stickers that I would put on the faces or hands of kids that I noticed doing things that I wanted others to do. It was fun to see how the kids reacted as they headed out to recess with freckles and how others in the class wanted to have the same.
I also started handing out student tickets for work habits and other behaviors that I noticed during seat work time. These were collected in a container and at the end of each week I would draw names for prizes. (I collected small toys and trinkets for them to choose from.)
I made sure that those who were struggling to behave positively were recognized as sometimes it is easy to overlook them for the ones who are always doing what is expected. It is important to make sure that they feel they have a chance or they will give up.
The school started up a Gotcha program where tickets were handed out around the school for behaviors noticed by different staff members. Recognition was given to the students and some were rewarded with special treats at assemblies. This tied in nicely with the student tickets I was using in my classroom.
There are several different variations of recognizing positive behaviors that have been used in classrooms. Another one that is quite popular is the warm fuzzy jar. This jar collects notes or objects and is used to acknowledge class behaviors and ultimately earn a class reward. The cool thing about this idea is the class can decide together what to work towards as a reward and the students can support each other so that they can earn the reward as a team.
Sometimes there may be a student who requires more support to move in a positive direction. This will look different for each child, but ultimately, it will require a cheering section (classmates and teacher) and consistency. Giving attention for positive behaviors usually will help to overcome the need for getting attention by negative behaviors. It may take a long time and you may not see immediate results, but I believe that if we help kids develop positive self esteem they will behave more positively.
Parents can also use some of these ideas to help with behaviors at home. Tensions rise as kids unwind after a long day at school and parents come home tired after a day at work. It is easy to have patience with other people, but it takes way more effort and patience to handle your own kids without frustration.
Try using the warm fuzzy jar or some other type of recognition for positive behaviors and see how it goes.
I set up these warm fuzzy jars for my grandchildren when they were feeling overwhelmed from moving to another city, getting ready to start a new school, and missing their friends and cousins. With all the stress and emotions, listening and being respectful and kind to each other was slipping and everyone was getting frustrated.
Things calmed down quickly when they had something visual to focus on and tensions lessened. This didn't end some of the behaviors, but it did create more positive interactions and the negative behaviors were less frequent.
In this case, each child decorated a jar and had colored pompoms to collect. A family jar was also created. When everyone was working together and the parents decided it merited a pompom they added one to this jar. The goal of reaching a certain number of pompoms for a special family treat was the incentive.
Note: The other day I called them and they were excited to tell me they had more pompoms in their jars. They also helped with these pictures so you could see it in action.
I encourage you to "focus on what is going right" and use whatever tools or ideas work for you to create harmony and a respectful, caring environment in your classroom or at home. Everyone will benefit from working together in a positive environment and this will enhance learning as well.
Changing weather, cooler temperatures, and color changes are all signs of the arrival of fall. There's something magical about the colors, sounds, and smells of fall. Students often find themselves more engaged in learning when they are surrounded by the beauty of nature. Whether it's studying the changing colors of leaves, identifying different animals, or learning about the life cycle of a pumpkin, outdoor lessons are inherently captivating.
Fresh air and natural surroundings can help improve students' focus and stimulate their creativity. Studies have shown that spending time outdoors can boost cognitive function and problem-solving skills, making outdoor classrooms an ideal setting for critical thinking activities.
Spending time outdoors has been linked to improved mental health and reduced stress levels. Fall's cool, crisp air and the calming influence of nature can help students feel more relaxed and connected to the world around them.
The hands on experiences and fresh air also invigorate students and engage them in their learning.
Fall is the perfect time to encourage physical activity among students. Hiking, nature walks, and outdoor games not only promote exercise but also foster teamwork and social interaction. Getting students moving in a natural setting can help overcome the hours of sitting in classrooms and keep them engaged.
There are many different subjects that can be taught outdoors. Each of these add a real world element to the students' learning and experience. Integrating social studies and science activities into your fall outdoor learning adventures can provide a well-rounded educational experience. To further enrich your fall outdoor learning adventures, try incorporating some math and language activities into the mix.
Here are some suggestions for social studies, science, math, and language arts that might be of interest.
• visiting local historical landmarks
* learning about fall harvest and traditions
• using maps and doing a geography scavenger hunt
• leaf identification activities
• studying the pumpkin life cycle
• weather monitoring
• learning about weathering and erosion
* keeping a nature journal
• stream study
• learning about seed dispersements
• nature math scavenger hunt
• using measurement skills outdoors
• fall data collection
• outdoor poetry writing
• nature journaling with descriptive writing
• vocabulary scavenger hunt (looking for examples in nature)
• reading fall themed books
Here are some preparation tips that will help make your outdoor sessions successful.
Select an outdoor location that suits your curriculum and learning objectives. Local parks, forested areas, the seashore, or even your school's own outdoor spaces can be transformed into effective learning environments. Make sure students are dressed appropriately for the fall weather. Layers, hats, and gloves are essential to keep everyone comfortable during outdoor lessons.
Tailor your lessons to incorporate the unique features of fall. Explore topics like the changing colors of leaves, the science behind falling leaves, the life cycle of pumpkins, or even Halloween-themed literature.
Bring technology outdoors by using tablets or smartphones for nature observation apps or taking pictures to document findings. This can enhance the learning experience and provide opportunities for digital storytelling.
Make sure that your plans are flexible and adaptable as the weather can be unpredictable and you may need to make changes quickly.
With preparation ahead of time and some back up ideas in case of change, getting outside to learn is worth the effort and will benefit your students.
Embracing the great outdoors during the fall season is a fantastic way to enhance your students' learning experience. The benefits of outdoor education are numerous, from improved engagement and focus to enhanced physical and mental well-being. By incorporating nature into your curriculum, you can create unforgettable learning moments and inspire a lifelong love for the natural world in your students. So, this fall, take your class outside and let the wonders of the season become your classroom.
Happy outdoor learning!
Have you ever had kids that just couldn't seem to get started writing or who would only write very basic sentences? The struggle to write descriptively is real for many younger children. They have limited experience with writing and often need support to get started. Here are 7 tips that may help to open the flood gates and get the ideas pouring onto the page.
1. Start with telling stories orally
Kids love to share their stories and adventures with others. They often get very excited when they have ideas to share and they are eager to go into great detail if others ask questions and want to know more. Using this idea and explaining that writing descriptive stories is just putting down on paper what they would share when telling someone a story may help them to get started. Perhaps they could imagine questions that others might ask and make some notes of these and the answers to use as they start their writing.
2. Use the five senses
One of the things that I found worked well with my students was finding words that fit the five senses. Using colors, shapes, textures, sizes, sounds, smells, and tastes are just some of the ways they can describe what is happening. I created some graphics and examples to help them see this in action. Check them out here.
3. Paint a picture for the reader
Using paintbrushes to create a picture is another tool that I used for my students that helped them to think of descriptive words. I would ask them to imagine that someone wasn't able to see an object. Then I would say, "How could you describe it so that they could get a really clear picture in their mind?" This helped them to think about different types of adjectives, and actions that could make the picture come to life.
4. Ideas first, conventional spelling later
Many kids are afraid to write because they don't know how to spell certain words. If they don't take a chance and get their ideas down on paper because they are afraid of spelling words wrong, nobody benefits. I believe it is important to get ideas down first and worry about correcting spelling later. Often the invented spelling is close and the stories are still readable. If the invented spelling is way off, it may be necessary to help with some of the words to help the story make sense, but nothing turns a person off more than a page full of corrections. It is important to validate the effort and then choose when to do a published copy with corrected spelling. Treat the initial writing as a draft that may or may not go to published format.
5. Choose topics for writing
If kids have a choice of what to write about, they still need to have some ideas to choose from. I use a heart that is divided in many sections and I get them to write down things they enjoy or that they are passionate about. I actually give them 2 identical hearts so that they can draw on one and write words to go along with the images on the other one. These hearts are kept in their writing book so they always have a list of go to ideas.
6. Do some examples together
Having an example to follow will help some kids get started. Here is one that I often used.
The cat sat.
The cat sat on the mat.
The brown and white cat sat on the mat.
The soft brown and white cat sat on the mat.
The soft brown and white cat sprawled on the mat.
The soft brown and white cat sprawled on the welcome mat.
i could keep going, but I think you get the idea.
Provide a checklist and criteria
If you are planning on grading the students' work, it is important to provide a checklist or criteria so that they know what is expected of them. There are many different checklists and rubrics available. Here is a checklist that could be used for primary students.
Descriptive writing takes time for many students, but if they are given lots of opportunities to write, it will improve. I hope these tips help to open those flood gates for your students.
If you haven't figured it out yet, I am a fan of student led conferences. Since I was introduced to this format in the early nineties, I have been constantly blown away with the positive effects it has had on both my students and their parents.
If you haven't tried them before, I encourage you to do so. You will be amazed at how well they can work.
What are student led conferences?
Student led conferences are meetings where your students get to talk to their parents about their schoolwork, show what they're proud of, and talk about what they want to learn. It's like a special meeting where your students are the teachers, and their parents get to listen and learn about their progress. This helps them feel proud, confident, and more involved in their learning. It's a chance for them to talk together, celebrate successes, and make plans for the future. A small portion of the meeting time includes you, as the teacher. This is a time for sharing concerns, observations, and successes noticed in both personal and academic growth.
Benefits of student led conferences
There are many benefits with conducting student led conferences. Here are a few key ones.
Ownership of learning: The students become active participants in assessing and presenting their own progress, developing a sense of responsibility and accountability.
Communication skills: Leading a conference helps students to practice their communication skills. They learn to articulate their thoughts, explain their accomplishments, and express their learning experiences to a real audience.
Confidence builder: Successfully presenting their work and progress boosts students' self-confidence and self-esteem. This experience helps them recognize their abilities and builds a positive self-image.
Parent involvement: Student-led conferences provide parents with a deeper understanding of their child's learning journey. They gain insight into their child's strengths, challenges, interests, and overall educational experience.
Positive parent-child interaction: Student-led conferences encourage open and positive communication between parents and children. Parents have the opportunity to listen to their child's perspective and celebrate their accomplishments.
Self reflection and goal setting: Students participate in self-assessment and reflection activities, identifying their strengths and areas for improvement. They set academic and personal goals, promoting a growth mindset and a commitment to continued improvement.
What kinds of activities happen during a student led conference?
There are so many different kinds of activities that can be done during a student led conference. What you choose should be based on the following goal:
The goal of student led conferences is to provide an opportunity for kids to take ownership of their learning and showcase their progress to their parents or guardians. These conferences should empower students to be actively involved in the conversation about their education.
Here are some activities and components that kids can engage in during student-led conferences:
Tour of classroom centers and areas of learning
Work folder presentation and discussion
Goal setting and reflections
Interactive activities with parents
Meeting with the teacher
How to prepare ahead of time
Preparing for a student-led conference involves careful planning, organization, and collaboration between students and teachers.
It begins with introducing the idea to your students and letting them know what it is, how it works, and its purpose. It is important to make sure that your students understand what their role is and that they are prepared ahead of time. Explain the different components of the conference, such as work folder presentations, goal setting, and discussions.
Begin gathering work samples early on and allow your students to choose some of their best work to showcase during the conference. This could be assignments, projects, artwork, and written reflections.
Help students to assess their own progress, strengths, areas for improvement, and personal goals. Provide some worksheets or templates to help them to articulate these ideas.
Practice communication skills and role playing to help prepare your students for their role in the conference. Do activities to practice speaking clearly, making contact, and engaging with their audience.
Make sure that parents understand the purpose of the student led conference and how they can support their children during it. Set up meeting times and send out invitations.
Create a conference folder for each student that includes their work samples, self-assessment sheets, and any other relevant materials.
How I ran my student led conferences
Over the years, I ran my student led conferences in a similar fashion. I figured out what worked for my teaching style and I created a plan using that as my starting point.
Before the conferences were set to begin, I did lots of role playing with my students. The kids especially loved taking on the role of the parents for other students and it was fun to see how they rose to the challenge as they went through the motions of doing a conference.
Each child had a folder of work and an agenda to follow for the conference. Parents were informed ahead of time that the conferences could take up to 45 minutes, but that it was important not to rush the child. Some parents had more than one child's meeting, so they were told that If they had to leave for another appointment, they were welcome to return afterward.
During the conferences, I had my room set up with a separate area for meeting with me so that 3 groups could be in the room at the same time, but there was some privacy during the meet the teacher part of the agenda.
I always had a math or literacy activity for them to do together with their parents. It was fun to see how they used their skills or concepts for these activities. Parents were totally engaged in working with their children.
The end of the meeting was the best part because the parents wrote a letter to their child and then filled in a reflection sheet. The children beamed when they read the letters.
If you are interested in checking out the materials and forms that I used, you can find them here.
If you are wondering if student led conferences will work for you, I encourage you to give it a try. You may need to make some modifications along the way, but the benefits for the parents and children make it worth it.
Remember: The goal of student led conferences is to provide an opportunity for kids to take ownership of their learning and showcase their progress to their parents or guardians. These conferences should empower students to be actively involved in the conversation about their education.
Back to school is here for most teachers and kids now. Teachers in some places have already been in class for a month while others are about to return. It's a time to think about many things, but one of the ones we sometimes put on the back burner is student led conferences.
Planning now will make these meetings easier to prep for and they can also guide some of your teaching as you think about what kinds of assessments, projects, and curriculum content you might want to share.
From the first few days or weeks, you can be collecting information and learning about your students so you can best support them when it's time for conferences. Here are a few ideas to try right now.
Getting to know your students
Give your kids a chance to share things about themselves that will help you to better connect with them. Ask about their interests, hobbies, and preferences. Don't forget to give them a chance to also tell you about things that might be difficult or worrisome for them. Use the information gathered to create relationships and to inform your instruction based on interests and needs.
You could also try doing interest hearts. Fill in each space with an interest or passion. I usually do 2 copies - one for writing, and one for illustrations. Sometimes drawing is easier for younger children. These can be used as writing ideas for the first few weeks as well.
Communicating with parents
Set up ways to communicate with parents such as newsletters, email updates, or a classroom website. Share important information about the curriculum, classroom expectations, and upcoming events to keep them informed and involved. Some of this can be done at a Meet the Teacher Night.
During the first week of school, I often send home the following Getting Acquainted form so that I can get an idea about my student from the parents' perspective. It is interesting to see how kids can be very different in the home or school environment. This information form helps to see more of the whole child.
Sometimes parents want to help, but they aren't sure how best to do so. Home reading is an important part of the home/school connection, so I send home this letter so that parents have some support as they try to help their children with reading. This can be found in my Back To School Start Up Forms.
Having some goals will give kids some focus as they move forward. I like to start with celebrating what they can already do and then move to ways they can continue to improve or grow. Provide goal setting worksheets or templates for students to set personal or academic goals for the year. Encourage them to think about what they want to achieve and how they can work toward their goals.
Collect samples of work that show what your students are able to do at the beginning of the year as well as samples in the following weeks so that you can share how they have progressed. Formative assessment materials could also be used.
Don't forget to note the non-academic growth as well. Confidence, working with others, improved self esteem, and participation are a few areas to consider.
Get your students to help with this information collection. Let them know why you are collecting it and how they can help with the selections. This will help them to take ownership of their work and also prepare them to share their material with their parents when the time comes.
Next time I will share more about the actual student led conferences and why they are so beneficial.
The first weeks of school can be exhausting and overwhelming both for students and for teachers. It is important to make sure that these days are a mix of activities that help with the transition back into work mode, are fun and engaging, and also slowly reintroduce academic skills and concepts.
One of the most important goals is to create a positive and engaging learning environment where your students feel safe and the classroom community is one of respect and caring for each other. Here are 10 activities to consider:
1. Icebreaker Activities: Plan icebreaker activities to help your students get to know one another and build a sense of community. These can include "All About Me" presentations, "Find Someone Who", sharing circles, or partner interviews. Encourage students to share their interests, hobbies, and goals for the school year.
2. Establish Classroom Rules: Collaboratively develop classroom rules with your students. Discuss the importance of respect, responsibility, and cooperation. Create visual reminders of the rules and involve your students in creating a classroom rules display.
3. Name Games and All About Me Activities: Use name games and activities to help your students learn and remember each other's names. Play name games, create name tags, or use interactive name charts. Do activities that help them to share information about themselves. Create "All About Me" posters, collages, or shields. Try combining name acrostics with interests.
4. Daily Routines: Teach and practice daily routines and procedures, such as entering the classroom, morning routines, transitions, lining up, and using materials. Model and practice these routines to ensure a smooth flow of the school day.
5. Team Building Activities: Include team-building activities to encourage cooperation and collaboration. Assign the students group tasks or problem-solving activities that require them to work together and share ideas. This helps build relationships, create a supportive classroom community, and develop important social skills.
6. Classroom Jobs or Responsibilities: Introduce classroom jobs and allow your students to take on responsibilities within the classroom. Assign age-appropriate tasks such as line leader, librarian, or materials organizer. This encourages a sense of responsibility, promotes leadership skills, and helps them feel valued and involved in the classroom community.
7. Growth Mindset Activities: Teach and reinforce the concept of a growth mindset through activities and discussions. Help your students understand that their abilities can be developed through effort, perseverance, and a positive attitude. Engage in discussions about challenges, mistakes, and the power of "yet" (e.g., "I can't do it yet, but I will keep trying").
8. Math and Literacy Centers: Set up math and literacy centers with hands-on activities that review or reinforce skills previously taught. These centers can include puzzles, manipulatives, sorting activities, or small-group games that focus on essential concepts.
9. Arts and Craft Projects: Plan arts and craft projects that allow your students to express their creativity and personalize their learning environment. This can include creating classroom banners, designing name tags, or decorating bulletin boards with collaborative artwork.
10. Brain Breaks: It is important to include energizing brain breaks throughout the day to help your students stay focused and engaged. These can include quick physical activities, stretches, or movement-based games that allow them to recharge their energy.
Remember to create a balanced schedule that includes a mix of academic, social emotional, and community building activities during the first weeks of school.
These activities will help your students feel connected, engaged, and excited about the learning journey ahead. They may also help lessen your teacher overwhelm and stress as you make connections and develop relationships with your students.
Developing a nurturing environment and a positive learning community results from effective classroom management and student engagement. There are many different ways to encourage student participation and a caring classroom community. Here are a few different ideas to consider.
Try Ice breaker activities
Ice breaker activities are a good way to help students to get acquainted with each other. They can help to build community and depending on the types of activities, they can help kids to understand each other better as well. These activities can be combined with others to promote team building and working together. Here are some quick and easy games to try.
Roll the Di and Share
Give each person a di and get them to roll it and find others with the same number. When the groups are formed, have each person share 4 things about themselves. Repeat this activity as many times as wanted.
Students go around the room saying "mingle mingle" as they meet up with others. Call out a number and everyone with that number meets together. Call out a type of machinery and the members of the group need to figure out how to use their bodies to create the machinery.
Find Someone Who (5W version)
Interview one person or multiple people using the 5W questions. Share the results later with the class as you introduce students to each other. Here is a ready made resource for you to try.
Find Someone Who Ice Breaker - 5W Version
Set clear and consistent rules and expectations
Setting clear and consistent rules and expectations will help everyone to be on the same page when it comes to dealing with situations that arise in the classroom. Discussing and setting these rules and expectations together will help with creating a sense of ownership and responsibility. Students will know what is expected and will be more willing to accept consequences should these rules or expectations not be followed.
Using T-charts or other forms can help with visualizing these expectations and what they should look like and sound like. Here are some T-charts that might help.
Focusing on social emotional learning activities will also help with developing a caring classroom community. It will also help when conflicts happen. Conflict resolution strategies should be taught as well. Problem solving and learning to work together will go a long ways if the tools and strategies are taught.
Here are some Social booklets that might help.
Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) Social Stories And Activities
Transition activities and brain breaks
Incorporating transition activities will help to make movement between activities smoother and less disruptive and adding in brain breaks will help students stay energized and focused during longer periods of learning.
Morning meetings and class meetings
Morning meetings are a great way to get the day started and to encourage the students to work together. They can be used in a variety of ways, but appreciating and encouraging each other is a great way to develop positive relationships.
Classroom meetings are an effective way to deal with problems and situations that arise. Students have a chance to discuss their thoughts, concerns, and ideas, creating a sense of ownership within the classroom.
More activities and resources
If you are interested in more resources, check out my classroom management category and my ready to go kits.
Primary Teachers Ready To Go Kits
By implementing these activities, teachers can nurture a sense of community and caring in the classroom, creating an environment where students feel supported, respected, and valued as part of a cohesive learning community.
Have you ever noticed how some teachers seem to have great control of the classroom situation and that the kids seem to be engaged in learning and happy to be with their peers? Other teachers seem to be constantly dealing with disruptions, and struggling to keep kids on task and engaged? One of the main reasons for the difference could be classroom management.
What is classroom management?
Classroom management refers to strategies and techniques used by teachers to create positive and productive learning environments in which students can effectively engage in learning activities. It involves setting and enforcing rules, maintaining order, fostering a sense of respect and responsibility, and maximizing instructional time.
Good classroom management usually includes setting clear expectations, using positive reinforcement, effectively communicating, and being proactive. The lessons are interesting and relevant so that the students remain engaged in their learning.
The importance of good classroom management
Having good classroom management is essential for several reasons:
• A well-managed classroom allows teachers to focus on teaching rather than managing disruptions, leading to more instructional time and improved student learning outcomes.
• Positive classroom management encourages active student participation and engagement, enhancing the learning experience. It creates a safe, supportive, and comfortable atmosphere that helps students feel comfortable expressing themselves and taking risks. It enhances the teacher-student relationship and promotes trust and open communication. Students feel motivated and confident to learn.
• Effective management helps shape positive behaviors, social skills, and self-discipline among students, promoting personal growth. It also reduces stress for both teachers and students, enabling a more enjoyable teaching and learning experience.
Optimizing learning, student engagement, emotional safety, behavioral development, a positive learning environment, teacher-student relationships, and reducing stress for both the teacher and the students all make for more effective learning and a happier classroom experience.
Without effective classroom management, the learning environment can be disruptive and chaotic and the students are not going to be as engaged in their learning.
Poor classroom management can happen as a result of inconsistent enforcement and consequences for broken rules and poor behaviors. Lack of communication or negative reinforcement can also cause issues in the classroom.
If students don't have clear and consistent rules and expectations for behavior, academic performance, and participation, they will not develop trust and respect for the teacher or each other.
Benefits of planning routines and rules for classroom behavior
Establishing routines and rules for classroom behavior provides numerous benefits. Consistent expectations, time management, smooth transitions, predictability, reduced disruptions, social skills development, and behavioral guidance are some examples.
Consistency is key. When rules and expectations are consistently applied, students understand the standards of behavior, leading to a more harmonious classroom. Routines and rules help establish a positive classroom culture and reinforce appropriate behavior. Preplanned rules also provide a basis for addressing behavioral issues, making it easier to correct misbehavior.
Clearly defined rules help minimize disruptions and maintain a focused learning atmosphere. Having planned routines eases transitions between activities, saving time and reducing disruptions. Routines and rules provide opportunities for students to develop social skills, respect for others, and responsibility.
When students know what to expect, they feel more secure and can focus on learning without unnecessary anxiety helping them feel more at ease in the learning environment
Involving your students in setting expectations can be valuable for promoting ownership and a positive learning environment. This collaborative process can take place at the beginning of the school year or at the start of a new term. Students can be encouraged to contribute their ideas about how they should behave and interact in the classroom. By participating in this process, students are more likely to take ownership of the rules and understand the rationale behind them.
However, while involving students in establishing expectations can be beneficial, teachers should still have a clear framework and authority to make final decisions and ensure that the expectations are conducive to learning and respectful behavior.
Rules and expectations around the school
Similar to the classroom, setting expectations around the school helps maintain a positive and harmonious environment. These expectations may include respecting school property, showing kindness to peers and staff, following school rules and safety guidelines, and being responsible for one's actions. Consistency between classroom and school-wide expectations reinforces positive behavior and fosters a cohesive school culture.
These rules and expectations may vary from class to class, but some expectations should be common for all students.
Some areas to consider are hallway behavior, bathroom use, assembly behavior, and playground behavior. Consistent expectations throughout the school helps reinforce positive behavior and contributes to a more respectful learning community. It also helps as teachers are often required to monitor other students during transitions or recess breaks.
Choose what works for you
There are many different ways of developing effective classroom management, so it is important to find what works best for you. Professional development workshops, webinars, educational websites, and various other online tools are available. Learning from respected colleagues is also very useful when looking for practical ideas.
Remember: What works for someone else may or may not work for you based on your teaching style, personality, and the class makeup. It is important to check out different strategies and systems and choose something that will fit with you and your students.
Next time I will focus on some classroom management activities and resources to help get the year started off positively.
Teachers, do your kids struggle with doing research on Canada because the material is too difficult to read and understand?
Would you like to find material that provides information in an easier to read format?
Does this sound like you?
• the materials are too difficult for many of your students to understand
• the students are constantly asking for help
• there aren't enough resources available that are suitable for younger students
• you spend hours searching for materials that will help your students
• you start wondering if doing research is worth all the frustration
Are you tired of:
• kids struggling to read and find information in nonfiction reference books?
• kids getting frustrated and always needing help to locate information for their research?
• searching for suitable material for younger students that has the information needed for research?
I've been there. I often tried to get my kids to do research for various different topics and I spent most of my time either helping them to find materials or helping them to navigate through the material to find the relevant information needed.
I enjoyed doing projects with my students, but it was a lot of prep and energy to do so, especially for social studies. I knew I needed to make some changes.
I created a series of booklets for Canada that were easier to read and full of pictures and maps that helped with the research. I then had a couple of classes try them out. They worked well and the kids felt successful with their research. Finally I had something that younger kids could use.
Research booklets for the 10 provinces and 3 territories
There are individual booklets for each of the provinces and territories with an added booklet of the symbols for each.
English and French versions available
An English version, Canada My Country, and a French version, Canada mon pays, are available as individual booklets and bundles
Easy to read format with photographs to help
Each page features a photograph or map and an easy to read description. If your students are doing research on Canada's provinces and territories and need easy to read material, these bundles are right for you.
Here are some of the features:
• Maps of the province or territory and its location in Canada
• Photographs to go along with the research information
• Information about industries, services, and interesting facts
• A booklet of the symbols for each of the provinces or territories
I created these booklets for my class when I saw how difficult the materials in our library were for them to read. It felt so good to see them doing the necessary research and enjoying it because they weren't struggling with the material.
Don't take my word for it. Here's what others have to say:
Get your Canada Research Bundle now and be ready for your kids to learn about the provinces and territories.
Your younger students can do research successfully.
Let's recap and you will see why these materials work
• All booklets are set up with a similar format
• They contain maps and explain where the provinces or territories are located
• Capital cities and some well-known landmarks are included
• Main industries or services are included
• Interesting facts are included
• Photographs are clear and visually appealing
Time to feel good about your kids doing research!
About Me Charlene Sequeira
I am a wife, mother of 4, grandmother of 9, and a retired primary and music teacher. I love working with kids and continue to volunteer at school and teach ukulele.