MAT Blog

Halloween Party Ideas to Promote Everyday Math Learning Experiences.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Oct 20, 2011 1:42:00 PM

Halloween parties should be a fun break for students. But having a little structure in place can help teachers prevent their classroom parties from running amok. Elementary school parties can easily combine fun with learning. So today we’re introducing a new Math Halloween game that primes first and second grade students for learning multiplication with skip-counting. It is a game teachers can use year-round, as part of your Everyday Math lessons. And we know you’ll find it an excellent math activity for concrete, hands-on learners.

Our Master Teacher, Christina Bainbridge created this wonderful Math Halloween Party Game that you can download on her blog. It pairs candy with counting. You’ll love that they are practicing math. Children will love that they’re allowed to keep their winnings! 

Marygrove MAT Master Teacher Christina Bainbridge's new Math Halloween gameThe trick to managing a sane Halloween party with a couple of dozen children is assembling work stations. The best treat teachers can give themselves on Halloween is a helpful room parent or two to assist! Have a different craft or activity for every sixth child, so if you have 25 students, plan on roughly four work stations. Make one of them the refreshments table, to avoid a mad dash to the food!

If weather permits, Relay Races are a traditional favorite, and again, are managed easily in small groups. For a fun twist, you can have a Zombie Relay, where children wobble, sway and stumble to the finish. How about a black cat relay, where children compete on all fours? Or a witches relay complete with a broomstick to fly on? Use your imagination, so you can capture theirs.

If you are concerned about too much sugar—and only you can discern what best fits your class, TeachHUB.com has a great blog from Patty Murray about celebrating a healthy Halloween. She suggests turning the focus from sweets to Halloween-themed school supplies such as pencils, erasers or other dollar store finds.

Who says party snacks have to be all candy? Try trail mix with dried fruit and pretzels—forget the nuts—too risky for little allergic ones. Raisins, berries, sliced fruit and dips all offer good alternatives to candy. Give older children a wooden skewer and have them assemble their own fruit kabobs—that’s a good ten minutes of activity right there!

Middle School Students Like Halloween, too

Halloween parties for middle school children are harder to plan, as some students find Halloween childish, and others aren’t ready to let go. Middle school parties are a great way to establish classroom community by simply having some down time to talk with one another, and share ideas.

Why not engage students with an ice-breaker that gets them talking about something content related. How about making a cliché graveyard to work with your writing instruction? It is a fun oral and writing exercise that asks students to identify a list of clichés that they can “bury” all year, and promise to never use in their writing. Phrases such as “not so much” and “at the end of the day” can be written on “tombstones” made of construction paper and posted to a bulletin board.

Simply passing out carmeled apples to older students—children who are accustomed to years of a big production on Halloween— is a thoughtful gesture. We need to wean them slowly! For many age appropriate Halloween learning ideas, check out TeachHUB’s blog on Classroom Activities for any grade. There are some great ones here for older students.

With a little forethought and a lot of creativity, Halloween can be a productive and memorable holiday for children of all ages. Happy Halloween!

Tags: Everyday Mathematics, math literacy, mathematics literacy, Classroom Strategies, Math, math teachers, Christina Bainbridge

The Split Class has its Rewards for Both Teachers and Students.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Oct 4, 2011 11:13:00 AM

split classroom management 150x225When I was offered the opportunity in the fall of 2010 to teach a first/second grade split class, I was so excited and ready for the challenge. After five years as a second grade teacher, something just a little new and different was exactly what I needed! I knew that my classroom management skills would be tested.

Teaching two grade levels certainly is challenging, but it is also so exciting and rewarding. One of the things I love the most is seeing friendships develop between children who would otherwise not have been together. It is also exciting to be able to really and truly differentiate for all students across such a wide range of levels. This is my second year with a split class and I am still loving it! I am often asked by other teachers who are facing a similar class assignment what tips or advice I may have for them.



Some definite DOs are:

  • DO teach at high levels for all students. It is really exciting for me to see the things my first graders can do because they observe the work my second graders are engaged in.
  • DO spend lots of time together as a whole class. It is really important that my students see our classroom as a unit, not as two groups of children who operate separately. Daily Five and CAFÉ are ideal for teaching reading in a multi-grade class!
  • DO spend lots of time on community building at the beginning of the year. Chances are your students in each grade level know each other, but not those in the other grade.
  • DO network and connect with the teachers of both grade levels. It is easy to feel detached from one grade level (or both at times!), but remember to network with your colleagues and allow your classes to spend time together, too, so one grade level doesn’t feel disconnected from their other grade level peers.
  • DO take time for YOU! Figuring out how to “mesh” to two different curricula is tough but totally “do-able.” It is easy to get overwhelmed and caught up in making sure you are covering all things for both grade levels. Remember to breathe and take care of you, too!
  • DO keep samples of work from your lower grade level if you will be looping (placing the same group of students with one teacher for more than one year) with those children the following year. I kept writing samples from my first graders last year that we did the first day of school. This year we did the same assignment and I gave them back their papers from last year… they were so tickled and so was I!

    Teaching a split class isn’t always ideal, but with more and more schools moving to that model as a way to save resources, you can create YOUR ideal environment for you and your students!

 

Marygrove MAT Master Teacher Christina Bainbridge describes classroom management tips for the split classChristina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in White Pigeon, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike. Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.


For more classroom management tips that work for any classroom model, download this free guide today!

Get Your Free Classroom Management Guide

Tags: second grade, split class, differentiate, Daily Five and CAFE, classroom management, Marygrove MAT, Christina Bainbridge, community

Reinforce Classroom Expectations with Procedure Handbooks.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Sep 20, 2011 5:30:00 AM

Procedure handbooks for classroom management are key to effective learning.

Being consistent with classroom rules, classroom procedures, and expectations is rule #1 for maintaining an efficient, safe, and predictable place for students to learn. That is “one of those things” we hear over and over as pre-service teachers… but it is so true! It’s good classroom management.

One of the best ways I have found to keep myself consistent and ensure my students are aware of all possible classroom procedures is to develop a “Procedure Handbook.” In my classroom, my handbook is three-hole punched and kept in a binder on a shelf by the door.

We spend time at the beginning of the year learning the procedures for everything in the classroom- pencil sharpening, using the bathroom, entering and exiting… but sometimes even the most practiced procedures get a little rusty.

My students know that if they forget the procedure for something in our classroom, I will direct them to the procedure handbook to read and remind themselves about how to correctly carry out the task.  I have even had students remind me to check the handbook when I am unclear or I forget myself how to properly do something in the classroom!

The procedure handbook has been a great way to remain consistent with the expectations in my classroom.  I believe that consistency is the fastest way to develop a rapport with students- when they know that I will react the same way and expect the same thing out of them time after time, they learn how to trust and behave in the classroom.

You can view my procedure handbook by clicking here.  I would love to hear how you remain consistent with your expectations in the classroom… or if there are any procedures you think I may have forgotten to address in my handbook!

 

christina bainbridge MAT master teacher shares her Mrs. Bainbridge's Class procedure handbookChristina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in White Pigeon, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike. Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.

 

In addition to Christina’s procedure handbook, you can find more creative classroom management ideas by downloading our Classroom Management Guide today!Get Your Free Classroom Management Guide

Tags: classroom management, classroom procedures, Marygrove MAT, classroom rules, Christina Bainbridge, Procedure Handbook

Start the year on a positive note with “bucket-fillers.”

Posted by Dreu Adams on Sep 6, 2011 11:09:00 AM

At my school, teachers stand outside of their classroom doors each morning to greet each student as they enter. It is something I enjoy doing and my kids look forward to greeting me, too… but during my first year of teaching, I stood at that door every day and greeted every student with a smile. To some, I would just say, "Good morning!" in my best cheery voice and to others I would ask, "How's your morning going?" But most of my students would walk right by me, never acknowledging me or greeting me in return.

This went on for a few weeks; each morning starting out with me feeling down because my students wouldn't greet me! And then I realized it... they didn't know that the polite thing to do is to return a greeting! I spent time teaching them how to be polite to me in the mornings. I even lined them all up in the hallway and had them practice entering the classroom and responding to my morning greeting. Ever since then, practicing greeting the teacher is a regular "first day" routine in my classroom.

That was a true light bulb moment for me: realizing that children just do not innately know how to be, not only polite, but respectful, kind, and thoughtful to others. I was so excited when I came across the book "Have You Filled a Bucket Today?" by Carol McCloud and knew that so-called "bucket fillers" were the perfect way to introduce expectations of respect and kindness at the beginning of the year. Not to mention a great way to sustain those positive feelings throughout the year.

If you are not familiar with "bucket filling," the idea is that we all carry an invisible bucket with us, and others can fill our bucket when they do or say kind things- or dip from our bucket when actions are less than kind. We also have the power to fill and dip from the buckets of others- and ourselves too!

bucketfiller bainbridge 179x300Kids sometimes struggle to recognize when someone has done something kind for them, so bucket filling not only entails teaching students how to be kind to others, but also how to know and respond when someone has done something kind for them!

In my classroom each student has a "bucket" into which others can put a little bucket filler card. They can do this during recess or at the end of the day. Every Friday, we check out buckets and students give a hug, high-five, or thank you to anyone who has taken the time to fill their bucket during the course of the week. This is a very positive time full of smiles and good feelings in my classroom.

Though I usually try and make sure everyone has something in their bucket, sometimes students do end up with an empty bucket. This is a good time for me to pull them off to the side and ask them to remember if they tried to fill anyone's bucket with kind words or actions during the week. Together, we think of ways they could make an effort to be kind the following week.

My students love doing "bucket fillers." It makes them feel good to know that they have done something nice for someone else and, doing nice things for others is a quick and easy way for my students to fill their own buckets in the process!

Christina BainbridgeChristina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in White Pigeon, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike. Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.

 

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Tags: classroom management, Christina Bainbridge, Alumni, Bucket Fillers

CAFE serves up the perfect mini-lesson for reading comprehension.

Posted by Dreu Adams on Aug 27, 2011 5:02:00 AM

I have a confession to make. I am a reading comprehension geek.  I love talking about it, teaching about it, and thinking about it. It is just amazing to me all of the things that good readers do without even thinking about it… everything from making inferences in a text to realizing that something doesn’t make sense and knowing to go back and re-read until it does!  I get so excited thinking about these things when I read and find myself doing them; not to mention how excited I get teaching about it to my students! It is one of my favorite parts of the school day.

In my classroom, I use the structure of The Daily Five to manage my language arts time.  My students participate in three, 20-minute rotations of authentic literacy activities in which they have a “controlled choice” of what to do. Prior to each rotation of independent time, I teach a brief 10 to 15-minute mini-lesson on phonics, reading comprehension, or grammar.

My favorite mini-lesson each day is the reading comprehension lesson. I use the framework of comprehension-accuracy-fluency-expand vocabulary (CAFE) to explicitly teach my students the skills they need to be strong readers. I have an area of my room set aside with our CAFE menu where strategies we have learned are posted under the appropriate column so that we can refer back to them. Students then have a visual reminder of the strategies they can choose from as readers. I write the strategy and together we come up with an appropriate visual representation for the strategy which a student then draws on the card. I love having the visual of the strategy menu and the reminder with the illustration. 

To teach the comprehension strategies, I get to read wonderful pieces of children’s literature to my students and model my own use of the strategies I am teaching. For someone, like me, who has a huge and always growing collection of children’s books, a list of books that are well-suited for each strategy is a must have! I love this list from the Reading Lady.

As the week goes on, students have many opportunities to practice the skills on their own… we use lots of body movements to show when we have used a strategy. For example, when we “make connections,” we use the thumb and first finger of each hand, linked together like a chain.  When I see students do that during my read alouds, I know they have made a connection to the text… but more importantly, I know that they recognize that they have a deeper understanding of what is being read.

One of my favorite resources for comprehension lessons is Into the Book. Into the Book has lessons and even videos to help you tighten up explicit comprehension instruction in your classroom!

The best part about using a very explicit approach to teaching reading comprehension is that having the “menu” in front of my students and using it frequently during my instruction means that I regularly hear them talking about comprehension using (and understanding!) the language skills I have taught them. There is something amazing to be said about hearing first and second graders talk to each other about the predictions they have made or how they need to remember to use the illustrations to help make inferences during a story!

CAFE Classroom Board Example*Each strategy is posted on the “wooden” portion below the appropriate heading.

*The white paper below each letter heading is where sticky notes with student names are placed. Through frequent conferring with students and talk about their strengths and weaknesses as readers, students declare their own strategy to focus on and post a sticky note under the heading where their strategy appears. When I meet with students for reading conferences, we are working on meeting their reading goals so they can choose a new strategy to work on!

 

Christina BainbridgeChristina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in Centreville, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike. Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.

 

For more interesting ways to engage readers in the classroom, download our Free k-6 Reading Comprehension Best Practices Guide, and boost reading comprehension for every student at every level!

Download our K-6 Reading Comprehension B

Tags: Building Vocabulary, reading comprehension, reading strategies, Classroom Reading Strategies, Christina Bainbridge

How Morning Meetings Build Community in the Classroom

Posted by Dreu Adams on Jul 16, 2011 5:30:00 AM

 

Marygrove MAT Morning Meetings 167x250Our second grade class conducts a daily "Morning Meeting” to develop social skills and establish an overall classroom community. This is a time when we come together to learn, celebrate our classroom family, and cheer one another on during learning activities. For consistency, it is important that our Morning Meetings follow the same format each day. Providing a predictable routine is one of the best ways to develop a feeling of safety for students in the beginning of the year.

We begin by gathering on our rug and sitting in a circle. We choose a greeting from a collection of cards and each student greets the person next to them (or whatever the greeting requires). These greetings can be anything from saying “Good Day!” in five different languages, to saying “Good Morning” in the form of a “knock-knock” joke. To make remembering the steps to greetings easier, I compiled them into a set of greeting cards that I laminated, hole-punched, and put on a ring. I keep this handy with our easel and other meeting materials.

In the beginning of the year, we spend time doing a "regular" handshake greeting. Students learn how to look the person they are speaking to in the eye, speak clearly, and give a firm handshake. They also learn how to politely ask a person's name if they have forgotten. After students are comfortable with the "regular" greeting, we move on to other fun greetings as mentioned above. Some of our greetings can be pretty silly, and my students can hardly wait to see what they will be doing each day!

After the greeting, we participate in a quick activity. I also keep a ring of activity cards that stay with our materials for easy access. Our morning activity usually reviews a grammar or math skill we are learning. Trivia, Mad Libs, comprehension activities and task cards are other things we might do on a given day. The key is to keep the activity brief; it should take no longer than five minutes. This is a great opportunity for students to laugh with one another in a non-threatening way.

Once the activity is completed, I move from being a part of the circle to a chair so that I can facilitate our shared writing during our "Morning Meeting Message." This is an interactive writing where we write together about our day or school events. Students share writing responsibilities and they also come up and lead us in reading the message, using a pointer. (My students really have fun with this!)

During shared writing, I always incorporate the grammar skill that our reading series is focusing on for the week. We end with a read-aloud of a picture book that focuses on whichever writing trait we are studying. This leads naturally into writing, as students leave the circle to practice the skill we have just talked about during our grammar review and author's craft.

This is one of my favorite times of the day and my students love it, too. It is a great way to build community and work together as a group. Overall, use your judgment about how long your meetings should run. Generally, I have found that for lower elementary, 15 to 20 minutes works very well.

Below are some of the books that can help you establish a great Morning Meeting; I hope you enjoy them as much as I do.

Professional Books:

Christina Bainbridge100x150Christina Bainbridge is a seven-year teacher who currently teaches a first and second grade split class at Central Elementary in White Pigeon, Michigan. She earned her Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) from Marygrove College in 2009 and has incorporated her master-level teaching practices into an award-winning website: Mrs. Bainbridge’s Class. Her site is a treasure-trove of tips and advice for educators and parents alike.

“I loved my MAT experience at Marygrove because I was able to work at my own pace and apply practical knowledge into my classroom on a daily basis.” Bainbridge said. “It really helped me focus in on my reading instruction, particularly in the area of explicit teaching of comprehension skills. I would recommend the MAT program at Marygrove to anyone who is ready to critically examine their teaching practices and increase their effectiveness as an educator.” Also check out Bainbridge’s blog at www.bainbridgeclass.blogspot.com.

Tags: Building Vocabulary, writing strategies, Classroom Community, Christina Bainbridge, Alumni

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