Sunday, August 5, 2012

Top Teaching Takeaways

I just got back from meeting up with hundreds of first grade teachers in Chicago... Yes, it was a blast!! I attended the SDE "I Teach 1st" conference in Chi-Town. I learned so many new teaching strategies, management tips, technology  ideas, etc.  I went through my pages and pages of notes, and I thought I would share some of my favorites with all of you. I hope that some of these ideas you will be able to take back with you to your classroom.  Oh by the way... I am already thinking about a summer trip to Vegas for a conference next summer!!!

1) Turn your blog into a book!
        - I saw some super cute books that people had made from their personal and classroom blogs. You can turn any blog into a professional looking book for around 20 bucks. It will take all the blog post and pictures and turn them into a book to keep. I am thinking parents would LOVE to have this from a classroom blog, or this would also be super cute as an easy scrapbook from a family or teaching blog. It's called blog2print. If you have blogger you can go directly to 

2) SMARTBoard/ Interactive White board can be a QUIET center 
         - I want three of these soooo bad!! I have tried turning my interactive white board into a center rotation (which my kids LOVE), but it tends to be more of a distraction to the rest of the class. I don't know why I never thought of this before, but these BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES just plug into your computer and will allow students to listen to games at the board while other students are not distracted by the sounds. I found these at amazon for 29 dollars. So simple... anyone want to buy me some?

3) No more... "I quit because I am losing!"
        - Anyone ever played the game "bang/boom" and heard a kid say NO!!! I don't want to put all my cards back because I will lose. Well, here is a wonderful solution :)  In order to keep ALL students engaged throughout an entire game, you can incorporate a winning dice. So how does it work? Create a "winning  dice" by writing on a foam cube or dry erase dice a combinations of numbers and rules (such as: more than 5, less than 5, even number, odd number etc). After you play a game were students try to earn cards you roll the "winning dice" to find out who the winner is. Any student who has the number of cards that matches the winning dice or rule on the winning dice wins! You may have 1 winner, multiple winners, or no winner. No matter the results, kids all have a fair chance to win and will stay engaged until the VERY END! The foam cubes in the picture were only 1 dollar from the dollar tree- Wheeew.... I am making a winning dice for all my center games :)

4) Easy replacement to Scratch and Sniff Stickers :)
         - What kid doesn't love a scratch and sniff sticker? Well, I learned about a cheap new replacement to scratch and sniff stickers. All you need is a couple of cheap tubes of lipstick (fun flavors).  As you are teaching and walking around your classroom, you can give a child a "Sniffy" by just marking their hand with a small swipe of scented chapstick for positive behavior or critical thinking. It's a cheap idea and the students can't lose it. You could also try this with glitter lip balm and give kids a "sparkle." I am going to try this in my room for sure this year! (I have seen all different flavors in the dollar spot at Target) 

5) Sign Up Genius 
         - This site is a great way to easily organize classroom holiday celebrations and parent/teacher conferences. The free website will allow you to create sign up sheets for parents so you no longer need to send out emails with 20 replies from parents. Just send an email with the link to your sign up, and parents can sign up for food or conference times without you having to do any work! I am not sure how I lived without this before.
*Want a free Latte on parent conference day?? - One teacher said that she always writes by the first conference time (Must bring mocha frappucino). She said that the parents always want to sign up for this time, and they think it is hilarious. Plus, she always starts her day out with a free coffee. That's genius!!!

6) Early Finishers?? Try Bean Boggle
       - Create a 3x4 grid on construction paper. Write different letters on dried lima beans. Place 12 lima beans in a small ziplock bag. The students will shake the bag, place the lima beans (letter side up) on the bean in each square. The students will then try to make as many words as possible, just like boggle. What an easy way to have LOTS of boggle games going on at one time. Also, you can make different levels by using uncommon letters (z,w,y) or making a larger grid. Yes... My earlier finisher will be seeing this game next year :)

7) Concentration Dominoes (No prep math center!)
       - Sometimes I just wonder why I never thought of things like this before! I learned about an easy math center that takes absolutely no prep. All you need is a box of dominoes :)  In a ziplock back take out different domino combinations that equal ten. For example, the students may add the dots on one domino and have six and then add the dots on another domino and have four. If they flip over two dominoes whose total dots equal ten then "They Made a Ten!"  The students continue to practice making tens by flipping over dominoes just like a game of concentration. So easy, no prep, no copies... I LIKE IT!


Lisa R. said...

I went to a 1st grade conference quite a few years back & loved all of the wonderful things that I learned from it. I wish I could go again soon. Thanks for sharing all you learned at the conference!
Learning Is Something to Treasure

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