Monday, September 22, 2014

Morning Routine Implementations and Time Savers

You have not heard this statement ENOUGH. "There is not enough time!" As a teacher, there really is not enough time to teach all of the things you would like to teach in a school year. For me, I have had to find ways to add bits and pieces here and there to teach and re-teach important skills that are vital for beginning readers. I have found that one of the places to add skills is into your morning routine.

If you are a teacher, especially a first grade teacher, I'm sure you are feeling like I am at this point in the year. You want more than anything for your students to learn how to read and to pick it up quickly! Segmenting words, stretching words out, and short vowel sounds are our life at the beginning of first grade!

I like to add in practice and word work anywhere that I can to help students start to visualize and memorize words, especially during this crucial time of the year before things start to pick up rather quickly. We have been focusing on short a word families and hitting them hard core, maybe slightly on overload…. better more than less, right?!

One simple implementation I add each year is to create a password for your classroom. Before students can step into the room, they must say the password! They LOVE this. I think they love this because they love the fact that they know the inside scoop and how to "get into the classroom." This gives them ownership for their learning and I make them look at the word or break it up for me as they are saying it. I usually keep the password for about a week so students can fully grasp the concept. This week, since we have been working on short a word families, our password will be "am" Last week, our password was "ag." You can make your password be whatever you want.

Perhaps you are working on a particular sight word, use it as your password for the week so students can master it! It's little things and "games" such as these that allow them to interact and learn in a fun way. A student is more likely to  understand or memorize a word or concept if they enjoy doing something. I usually have an index card written with the password and change it out using a sticky clip. This makes it convenient for me! Then, I place it by the door for students to see as they walk inside and to remind me to do it each morning!

There have been days where there is so much chaos going on and a student reminds me that we did not say the password. I then promise them that we can say the password when we are exiting the room. The students enjoy it so much, sometimes they remind ME to do it. That's when you know they consider it fun!

Later in the year, the passwords become more difficult as we focus on long vowel patterns, irregular vowel patterns, and things of that manner. It is such an easy thing to do and it takes no time at all as students are entering or exiting the room. Time is money, right?! This trick is kid-tested and kid-approved:)

Another tip for the beginning of the year is to incorporate your word wall and rules into your morning routine. Each morning, my students come in, say the password, put their name on their homework, turn their paper into their designated bins, make their lunch choice, and listen to the morning announcements where they say the pledge, Texas pledge, have a moment of silence, and say our school guidelines. Immediately after announcements are over, my students stay standing and we recite our classroom promises. These are "promises" that we came up with together at the beginning of the year to implement in our class. Each of the students agreed with the promise before I wrote it down so I can go back and say "Are you keeping your promise?" This really helps with behavior. Not only does this help with classroom managements, it also allows you to teach tracking print as well as voice inflection without the students even realizing it. I always make sure to include a sentence with an exclamation mark at the end so everyday when we read the sentences, the students know why we read that particular sentence in a different way.  I also use a pointer to track the print as we read it from left to right.

Each day, we also go through each letter on our word wall and say the words under each letter. This increases our sight word fluency, as well as helps the students to remember which words are posted on the word wall for them to use as a reference when writing. This has reduced interruptions because not as many students are worried about how to spell certain words!

One other thing that has saved me lots of time has been because of my "upgraded" writing journals. During the summer, I hit up the sale at Office Max when they were running the .10 composition notebooks. I am very particular about what writing journals each of my students have because the perforated writing journals fall apart when you glue interative things inside them. For this reason, I provide each of my students with a composition notebook for writing. Last year, I had a lot of students run out of pages because they would not turn to the next page and would flip to any ol' page their little heart desired. When I would ask them to show me their writing on a particular topic, they would not be able to find it. THEREFORE, this year I thought I would make life much easier on myself by adding "page markers" in their composition notebooks to keep track of their pages. What a time saver this will be!

Step 1 Turn to the back of the notebook.

Step 2  Grab your hot glue gun and place a dab close to the spine of the notebook.

Step 3 Place a piece of yarn or string in the hot glue.

Step 4 Let glue dry and place the yarn inside of the page your students are working on.
Your done! :)  WAH-LAH

It has been quite a challenge to keep my room nice, neat, and organized when you have 50 students in it each day! I know what you are thinking, no worries. No, I do not have 50 students at one time. I am blocked so I have two sets of reading/writing classes that I teach. I have a homeroom, and my partner's homeroom. Now, I have had to find a location to store all of the kids' things and keep it separate. A solution I found this year was to use post office boxes. My home room is able to use the cubbies I have in my classroom. This leaves no space for my other class to store their things and make them easily accessible. Now, I know these are not the prettiest, however, I did plan to have them use construction paper to cover the boxes, but we did not have time! I am very grateful for these boxes because it makes my life so much easier!

I hope you were able to find some sort of tip or trick in this post! Thank you so much for spending a small portion of your Monday with me! Have a great rest of your week and let me know if you found any part of this useful:) 


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