This is the first post in what will hopefully become a series. Don't you love visiting other classrooms? This is something we, as educators, may not have the opportunity to do as much as we like. But when we do, we enjoy it so much. Why? Because we are picking up tips and ideas that we can use in our own classroom. Now we can use the internet to do a bit a virtual snooping. What works in your classroom? What tips would you give the online teacher community? Please tweet your responses to @happyhappyapple and I will post a suggestion each Wednesday. It can be a strategy, classroom management tip, online site -- it doesn't matter. Just post what works for you! Just a small caveat, I am focusing on K-5 tips, but if your tip can be adapted for elementary grades, it can be posted too!
This is a low-tech idea that I came across about 4 years ago online. Once I saw it, I've been using it in my classroom every year since. They are called many things, M.O.O.S.E. Books, B.E.A.R. Books, B.E.E. Binders, etc. But one thing you can be sure of -- is that they work. They are simply organizational binders that students use through out the school year. Students take them home and bring them to school each day. They can be used as a communication tool between school and home. They house homework packets. They hold behavior reports. They are basically hubs of student information.
There are many different acronyms that you can use for your own organizational binders. I chose L.I.O.N. (Let's Instill Organization Now) because that is our school mascot. These binders have saved me so many times. Students stopped losing their lunch money because they now had a secure place for it. I got notes from parents (and vice versa) because their child would see the note in their L.I.O.N. Book and actually remember to give it to me.
Here are the sections I use in my L.I.O.N. Books (maybe one of these days I will remember to take pictures):
In a white 1" three-ring binder we have:
Homework pocket: The front pocket of the binder is labeled for homework. Students know where to put it and parents know where to look for it.
Money pouch: A clear ziploc pencil holder works best. I simply label it "Money Pocket" because it can hold picture money or field trip money, in addition to lunch money.
Behavior Calendar: I use the green, yellow, orange, red card system. (All students have a pocket with the four cards. They all start the day on green. If they are reprimanded or break the rules, they turn their card). The students have a grid calendar I created in excel for each month. Every day, I stamp the color they are on in their LION Books using the appropriate Dot-to-Dot marker color. At the end of the month, parents sign the behavior calendars to verify they have seen the record of their child's behavior. Students who have 20 green dots and a parent signature get to choose a prize from my toy chest. This motivates students to keep their calendars even though they may have had a few bad days.
In clear protective sheets, I put:
Monthly lunch menu
School calendar showing vacations/no school days
My rules and procedures packet that parents can reference
Other L.I.O.N. Book components are:
Absent notes: These are sheets that parents can fill out for students being absent.
Parent/Teacher communication notes: Lined paper so parents can write me a quick note. I tell parents to take the note out and fold it up and put it inside the protective cover on the front of the LION Book. The child can see it and remember to give it to me.
Returned work: The back pocket of the binder is where checked work to go home goes.
L.I.O.N. Book Acronyms:
If you are looking for a way to keep your students organized and responsible through the school year, I highly recommend using these binders. They really work for me!