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Quick Tip: End of the Day Routine




Nothing mindblowing today but I just wanted to share with you my end-of-the-day clean-up routine.  I know that sometimes this time of day can be completely chaotic, but I have tried my best to cut down on that and have us end with calm.  Here is what I do.

I start about 25 minutes before the dismissal bell rings.  I begin by announcing that I am "looking for people who are ready to go home."  This is students' cue to sit down, clear off their desk space, and look at me.  Then, we have our 60-second clean up (I wrote in detail about that here), our 15-second box clean and our 15-second furniture straighten.

This is an old picture.  Homework has changed a bit.
Then, I ask the kids to take out their planner and we go over the homework.  I have the assignment written on the board, and used to just have them copy it down, but I have found that if I *also* say it aloud, the kids have a higher rate of writing it in their planner and not missing any homework assignments.   So I orally go over the assignments.

End of the day routine

Next, while some students are still writing in their planners, I have the kids who have classroom jobs begin.  Now here is where it gets a *teeny* bit chaotic.  Librarians are straightening up the library, while custodians are sweeping the floors or wiping off the whiteboard.  Distributors and Table Captains are passing out homework, and President and VP are stamping the planners with the signature stamp.  Most are organizing their stuff to go home (putting names on new homework sheets, getting things in backpack, etc...)

When the kids finish getting ready and have a clear desk, they join me on the rug and wait for the majority of the class.  We then begin our read aloud.  We read the story until the bell rings.

What I LOVE about this is that there is a built-in incentive to get ready for the day quickly:  the read aloud.  My students can not wait to hear the story and they want as much time as possible to be able to listen.  So they clean up FAST!  And since we are reading, it is calm, cool, and collected in my room at the end of the day.

What is your end-of-the-day routine?  How do you combat the chaos? Looking for even more ideas for back to school time??  Some of my upper grade friends have some great ideas that I know you will just love!  Click on any of the links below to visit some amazing blogs :)

An InLinkz Link-up

And, just to make back to school a little easier for you, I am giving away a $25 gift card to TpT that you can use to buy all those great things that I know are on your wishlist right now :)  Just enter the rafflecopter below.  I will choose a winner Sunday night at 8pm EST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Beginning with Growth Mindset

Using growth mindset in your upper elementary classroom.As more and more research comes out about the power of Growth Mindset and more and more people are leaning towards this line of thinking (heck, even my District is getting on board...they talked about it at a training I went to over the summer!), I figured that this would be as good a time as any to teach my students about their own brains and mindset.  So I began my first week of school with a few lessons that really set a great tone for my students.

This is a great hands-on lesson to set the stage for learning about growth mindset.
To begin, I wanted something tangible and hands-on for my students to experience.  So I searched online and found this lesson here.  In a nutshell, I folded some paper in a crazy figure (that didn't actually look all crazy...until I tried to make it...go to the blog for exact instructions) and told the students they needed to recreate it.  I had them get into groups of 7-8 students, put the figure in the middle and gave them each the exact same piece of paper I used.  There were only two rules:  They could not touch the folded paper and they could not have a second piece of paper. 

Most of the students got right to it.  As they were working, I walked around with a clipboard and wrote down everything that I was hearing in the groups.  At the beginning, I heard things like:

This is easy.
Look, we just fold it this way and then that.
Let me get my scissors and we can all just cut it.
Hmmm....I wonder how she did that.
Can you just show me what you are doing?

Then, as time went on and recreating the folded paper wasn't as easy as they thought, the narrative started to change.  I started to hear:

Wait, what?
This isn't going to work.
I can't get this.  What did you do?
Seriously, she had to use tape. 
How did she get that part?
Let's only do one paper at a time in case we make a mistake.

This was also the time when I started to see some kids just sit back and watch.  They stopped trying altogether and just let everyone else experiment.  I also noticed some kids taking charge completely and not letting others have opinions.

Then, towards the end, I heard:

This is impossible.
I give up.
I just can't do this.
What on earth did she do?
She used magic.

After about 10 minutes of working, I called them all together again (no one was able to fold it correctly), I showed the students what they said.  It was a bit eye-opening for them to see that some just quit so early on or that they declared the task impossible.  Clearly it wasn't, as I had just folded the paper.  They just wanted me to tell them the answer.  This then lead into a nice discussion about the basic principles of growth mindset.  That you have to keep going and trying.  That your brain was meant to learn.

Good way to get the students thinking about growth mindset, using a quiz!
So I passed out a quiz that I got from Angela Watson of the Cornerstone for Teachers.  (she has a whole Growth Mindset pack that is really useful)  They took the quiz, which asks questions about whether students think they can learn and grow or if they were just born that way.  Then, we watched a video that Angela links from the Khan Academy about the fact that our brains were born to learn.

We wrote down many ideas from the video, the biggest being that failure = growing.  That REALLY stuck with them.

I then asked the students to write down all of the words they could think of that pertained to their idea of what it means that "you were born to learn."  The more important words, in their opinion, were to be larger than the less important words.  Effectively, they were making a free form word cloud.

I then took their picture as if they were screwing in a lightbulb, glued it onto the word cloud they created, and using tissue paper, they formed a "lightbulb" above their hand.

All in all, this was a fabulous way to introduce the idea of growth mindset to my students.  This entire process took two days to complete, but it was well worth it.  The students continue to make connections to that first video from Khan Academy and refer to the idea of "failure = growing" still.  I am also finding that there is just a much more positive tone in class because of it.  I can't wait to continue on with future lessons.

Have you delved into growth mindset?  What are your experiences?

The Beginning of my Digital Year!

If you have been following along with Teaching in Room 6 lately, you know that I am mildly obsessed with using Google Apps in my classroom.  I love finding different ways to incorporate the GAFE (Google Apps for Education) into my lessons in a practical and authentic way.  (You can see some of what I have done so far here.)  I have access to at least 9 Chromebooks all year long (thanks to DonorsChoose.org!!) so I am planning on getting my students up and running with GAFE starting on day one of school this year.

Free google slides project
Our first project will be a take on the whole "hold a frame up and take a picture" craze that is going on now.  I created this slide for each student in which they will get to use their basic Google Slides knowledge and insert a selfie (that they will take that day using the Chromebook) and some text boxes with general information about themselves.   I am hoping to do the same on the last day of school, but I think I will tackle the first day right now :)

You can pick up a free copy of the slides by clicking below on the grade level you need.
3rd Grade
4th Grade
5th Grade
6th Grade

It will automatically copy into your google account, so make sure you have one of those too.   I only did 3rd - 6th grades, as I figure they would have the skills necessary on the first day of school to complete this project semi-independently.  However, I had so many requests for literally every grade level, that I made them for you!  Click on the grade level links below to access the document.

1st Grade
2nd Grade
7th Grade
8th Grade
9th Grade
10th Grade
11th Grade
12th Grade

GAFE in use in an upper elementary classroom
As the first week continues on, I am going to have the students start to long range plan and keep a record of the important work samples that they complete this year.  Using this My Digital Yearbook file, the kids will be prompted to start thinking about themselves as a learner, writing their goals and aspirations for the upcoming year.

Then, after each month, I will have them complete a monthly page to insert into the Digital Yearbook.  They will take snapshots of their work samples, describe things they learned, and include pictures of important people in their school lives.
Using GAFE (google apps for education) in the classroom

I bought these great blank books at the Target Dollar Spot (rush there now....you can get 8 books for $3!!), so I made the pages the correct size to fit inside. My students will be printing out the yearbook so they will have something to take home as a keepsake at the end of the year with me.   What is great though, is *I* don't have to keep any files of their work for this, as it is all housed in the students' Google accounts!  And if I didn't want to print it out, they have a digital copy of the file.  Win-win for everyone involved.

using google forms in a fifth grade classOne final GAFE project I have been working on and plan to implement on the first or second day of school is this Back to School Survey.  Now, usually I have the kids fill this in on paper.  I look at it a few times, place it somewhere, forget about it, and never go back.  So to avoid that paper trap, I have this Google Form that the kids will complete.  I, again, will have digital access to their information without having to use paper to gather it.  It will remain in my Google account for easy access if I do need the information in the future.

Here is a copy of the Back to School Survey as well.  You can edit it to suit your needs, but make sure that you click on the "responses" section to designate where your student response will be collected.  Don't forget that part...or you won't have any responses from your kids!!  :)


So that is about it for now.  Three things I plan to implement the first week of school using my chrome books and GAFE.  Do you have anything up your sleeve to share that you will be implementing?

Want more teaching ideas?  I share many on Snapchat daily...so come on over and follow me!



Reading "Bookshelf"

Today's post is going to be short and sweet (I know, I know...so unlike me!)  Anyway, I just wanted to share with you my little "Bookshelf" door that I have put up in my room.  I tried my hardest this year to instill a love of reading in my students and wanted them to have a place to record their reading.  In the past I have done "What Are You Reading Now?" book rings.  While I feel like they were a good place for the kids to write down their reading, they just weren't visual enough.  So this year, taking inspiration from this pin, I put up some butcher paper and was on my way.

This was VERY easy to put up in my classroom.  I just covered one door with brown butcher paper, painted some brown lines to look like a bookshelf, and was done.  I added a "plant" to the top and the READ letters, just to give it some dimension.  And that was it.

Using a book spine clip art I found for free on the web (I just typed in "Book Spine Clip Art" and it was the first one that popped up), I instructed my students to write any books that they finish this fifth grade year on the spine.  In their reading journals, I had them copy the requirements for the spine.  Basically, they put the book title and author.  Then, on the little bottom portion, they wrote their own name.  After that, the students just need to tape up the book spine to add to our collection.

The students complete these when they walk into class each morning during silent reading time.  If they have no book to add, they don't do one.  It is that simple.  The system worked out splendidly.  The kids love seeing the bookshelf fill up and they are so proud when they can contribute a book spine to the wall.

By mid year, it looked like this.

I also had a place to record the exact number of books that we had read.


At the end of the year, I did notice that most of the spines had come from the same few kids, so next year, I am going to have to think of a way to combat that it bit better.  Not sure what yet, but something will change slightly to make sure that everyone is getting up a lot to add book spines.

What is something you do to help foster a community of readers in your classroom?


Greek and Latin Root Word Idea Bin

With Common Core fully in place in my state, one of the big standards that we teach in fifth grade deals with Greek and Latin roots.   In the past, I wrote a few posts about how I taught them (you can find the posts here), but it has been so long, that I thought I would share these ideas with you again.  I figure if *I* have to teach roots, you probably do as well. :)

root words, language artsI really don't have a Root Word program.  Basically, I teach my students 4 root words per week.  To introduce the words, I have the students create index cards with the root, the definition, and a picture of the meaning on the front. 

The back of the cards has sample words containing the roots, as well as meanings. They keep these flash cards all year long to study, create games, use during writing, etc....

For homework, though, I have actually tried to combine all of what I was doing before.  Now I have them use these AWESOME (yes, I just called one of my resources awesome.....because it truly is) Trifolds.  They are so easy.  So to the point.  And SO EFFECTIVE!  My kids really are digesting the roots because of these trifolds.  I am in love with them.

thinking maps, teachinginroom6.blogspot.com, education
Throughout the week, I have my students create Circle Maps divided into four sections for the roots (meaning, sentence with a word that shows the meaning, picture, and different sample words).  These are done in groups and have been very helpful with the retention of the roots.  Since they are discussing them, the roots become even more cemented in their brains.

I also added to the Word Wall that I was already doing.  Before, it was sort of hit or miss if I actually got around to putting the roots on the wall.  I was just lazy or forgetful or busy or....whatever other excuse I can put there.   But now I created some cards.  They are cut out and laminated and ready to be put on my new word wall each week.  I also have them posted up for the week, sort of like spelling words would be.

Finally, I have introduced Root Word Memory to my students (just this past week actually).  This is a game that they LOVE LOVE LOVE.  In fact, they beg me to play most of the time.  It is played just like regular memory however this time they are matching the roots to their meanings.  What makes this a highly effective game for learning the roots is that when the students turn over the cards, they say the meaning or root they are looking for.  If they turn over a pair that does not match, they say what they would look for on the second root too.  The simple act of talking out the roots and meanings during the game makes the kids super successful in learning them!

So there you have it.  A few different things that I have done in my classroom to help teach my students about Greek and Latin roots.  What do you do?






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