Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Teaching Tips

I love garage sale dots!

(Ok…I love organization and systems and color coding. That's why garage sale dots are awesome!)

There are so many uses for these little sticky helpers and they come in different colors and sizes and shapes!  Here are a few ways you can use them:

1- Level your classroom library. 

You can match the AR level if you do Accelerated Reader or simply color code books by general level of difficulty using different colored dots. Maybe even just color code by baskets. Maybe all your Science readers have a green dot and all your books about Character Education have a pink dot!  Students will then have a reminder to it it back into the blue dot basket or whatever. 

2-  Grouping students

One year my student desks were all joined but I still wanted a way to split them into smaller groups for purposes like classroom management. Each desk had a colored dot at the top corner so I could call the blue group to line up or give reward points to a particular group. 

3-  Returning Systems

Overwhelmed with having to check 25 journals all at once?  Assign groups to turn their journals in on different days. Students with yellow dots turn in journals for review on Mondays, green dots on Tuesdays, orange dots on Wednesdays, etc.  Now you have just a few journals to read each day and students will get into the routine of turning their journals/folders/workbooks in to you on a specific day. Hand some of that responsibility over to them!  If they need reminders all you have to do is say, "Green group-please remember to turn in your journals in the basket today!"

4-  Tracking students

Does that sound Big Brother-ish?  That's not how I meant it!  

This past year my class was split into 3 different groups to join 3 other 1st grade classrooms for Specials. That means 1 group was going to Art, another to Music, and still another to P.E. or some mix like that. And wouldn't you know that parents always ended up checking their kids out during Specials!  When the office would buzz my room asking for a student I would have to figure out who went where. Hard to do off the top of your head when it changes every week. 

My solution was to make a list of students who went with "Mrs. Smith's class", "Ms. Hernandez's class", and "Miss Kim's class". I posted this on my wall with a colored dot next to the teacher's name and the Specials schedule rotation. At our school we have little clinic cards that are supposed to go where our class goes in case the student needs to go to the clinic. I put the same colored dot on each student's clinic card to help sort the cards and stuck them in ziploc baggies. The bag went to specials with the group. If a clinic card was returned after a clinic visit, it was easily returned to its group. Anything else that needed to go with these groups were labeled with the colored dots as well. The visual coding s great for both students AND teachers (including substitute teachers). 

5- Number lines

Sentence strip…Garage sale dots…Numbered to make a number line. Done!  
(This was an activity for the students to make and use. You can take it a step further and make them measure out an inch or half an inch between dots.)

Obviously there are tons more uses for the garage sale dots, but those are just a few to start you off. They're cheap, easy to find (grocery store, office supply store, Walmart, Target, drug stores), and they come with quite a few in the package!  Keep some stashed away on your drawer. You never know when you might need them. 

Have your own innovate use for the dots?  Leave it in a comment below!

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