MAT Blog

Happy Birthday to Mrs. Bainbridge. Our Own Master Teacher's Blog Turns One Today!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 20, 2012 3:13:00 PM

Christina Bainbridge Marygrove MAT '09 is the featured master teacher for the MAT program.Maybe it was her take on bucket-filling. And the Daily Five & CAFE. Perhaps her webinar on goal setting is what did it. Or could it be that we are so proud of our Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching alumna Christina Bainbridge, MAT '09 for personifying everything our program is about: empowering teachers and the continued pursuit of excellence in the craft? Well, Mrs. Bainbridge, you captured our hearts for all of the above. Happy Birthday to your one-year-old blog for teachers!

We discovered her blog last year right around this time, just as we were starting our own.

Her obvious fondness for her work is admirable. We respect her willingness to share all of the best practices she uses in her own classroom with her loyal following of ethereal colleagues. We applaud her honesty in telling K-12 teachers what works and what really doesn't. But most of all, we celebrate the fact that by helping teachers, she is ultimately helping students. Thank you, Christina!

We can't tell you how many times she has helped us out in a pinch. Or how many times she has sparked ideas for our own blog. Her math focus wall inspired a series of blogs on elementary math, including a linky party (you must attend these!) and a resulting teacher-suggested guide on math literacy.

Her tips for effective morning meetings opened our eyes to how much teachers crave easy classroom management ideas. What's more, her online store full of interesting resources is reason enough to check in with her often. There’s always something you can use.

How she finds time to manage a split class and maintain a successful blog and website is truly beyond us. We know how much work it entails! But again, she is doing it for the love of teaching. So on behalf of the educational blogosphere, in honor of students everywhere, and in praise of this noble art; Mrs. Bainbridge, your humble alma mater salutes you!

If you want to know what's current and need a few refreshing pointers every now and then, add Mrs. Bainbridge's blog to your list of favorites.

Mrs. Bainbridge's Class

Tags: classroom management, Bucket Fillers, K-12 teachers

Five simple tips to make your classroom more effective.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Feb 14, 2012 12:47:00 PM

teacher blogger Charity Preston offers five tips to make life easier in the classroom!One of our favorite authors, Harry Wong, defines a well-managed classroom as a task-oriented and predictable environment. His books detail the research that teachers know well: learning occurs best when students know what is expected of them, and when the teacher exercises control over the classroom. Organization of even the smallest of things goes a long way in maintaining and fostering an effective classroom environment. One of our favorite bloggers, Charity Preston, has some great advice on organization for teachers that we’d like to share with you:

When was the last time you really thought about the effectiveness of your organization patterns?  It can really make a difference to you, your students, and the colleagues you work with every day. Here are five classroom organizational tips and tricks that I‘ve found to help teachers keep it all together!

1. Batch Your Planning & Supply Gathering Times.
If you plan your lessons for an entire week at one time, you maintain the same train of thought about your student objectives and the materials you want to use. But, if you are constantly planning only 1-2 days at a time, you have to review what you have already done and start the process over each time. Plan in larger chunks (not too large, as there will always be changes to even the best laid plans) to keep the planning momentum going.

2. Prepare With Little Distraction.
Decide when and where you can get the most accomplished: before or after school, during your planning period, or on Sunday afternoon in your empty school building. Whenever that time is, make an effort to be at school to plan and organize when there are few distractions. If you are constantly being interrupted by students or colleagues who want to chat, or are always having to wait for the copier, you will find it difficult to streamline the time it takes to complete those tasks.

3. Always Leave a Clean Desk.
Maybe it’s just me, but I find that if I leave my desk in disarray the day before, I already feel frazzled and behind heading into the next day. Make a conscious effort to leave a note of things that need to be addressed, file away extra papers, and put all supplies away that may be cluttering up your desk (even if all you do is hide them in the drawer). At least you will feel on top of things bright and early in the morning when you start your day!

4. Never Do What Students Can Do Themselves.
This is a wonderful “mantra” that should be utilized to its fullest. Have your students straighten desks, organize supply caddies, and pick up scraps of paper from the floor. Not only does it save you time and make your custodial staff happy, but it also teaches responsibility to your students. Sounds like a win-win-win!

5. Plan a Buddy System Organization Blitz.
Every year, you say you want to completely organize your manipulatives, classroom library, and more. But at the end of the year, you are ready to be done. You always have good intentions of coming back early before summer break is over, but you want to spend the last few days enjoying what is left of your summer.

So, maybe the best time to get organized is now, before the end-of-the year rush is upon us!  Ask a fellow colleague to help you on a weekend or in the evening for a few hours over the course of a week, if you agree to do the same for her or him. Order in some take-out, pump up the party music, and feel great when it’s finished without having to spend any of your summer to get it done!

By choosing even one or two of the options above, you will feel empowered to continue to make small changes in your classroom organization. 

Don’t forget to join us for more organizational tips and advice at our "Overcoming Organizing Obstacles" Webinar, with host Charity Preston tomorrow at 4 p.m. EST!

View On Demand Webinars Now!


Charity Preston, MA is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. Charity is currently taking time off to run her online businesses and spend time with her toddler. She is married with two children, ages two and 14 and has two cats and a dog. Life is never dull in the Preston house!






Tags: organization, classroom management, webinar, K-12 teachers

Register now: “Overcoming Organizing Obstacles” Webinar!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Feb 2, 2012 4:15:00 PM

Marygrove MAT hosts Teacher Blogger Charity Preston as she presents a webinar on classroom organization.Classroom management is an exploding area of education. It covers a wide variety of things, including but not limited to behavior, organization, and efficient instruction. Marygrove’s Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) program is teaming up with professional blogger and teacher Charity Preston for a helpful webinar on one specific area of classroom management: the basics of classroom organization.

Teachers are keenly aware that in addition to the demands of instruction, they accumulate heaps of paper that need to be dealt with every day. How well those papers are organized can cut up to two hours off of your work week, allowing you to spend that valuable time with your students.

Join MAT’s very special guest, Charity Preston, creator of The Organized Classroom Blog as she presents “Overcoming Organizing Obstacles” on Wednesday, February 15 at 4 p.m. She’ll show you how to organize three critical components of your classroom: papers, supplies, and fixtures. You’ll come away with organizational strategies and ideas you can use, right now, in this informative, jam-packed 30-minute session.  

You'll learn:

  • Effective ways to manage the piles of paper you accumulate every day.
  • Simple and affordable bulletin board strategies.
  • Tips for organizing students’ desks and supplies…plus much, much more!

It is commonly held that poor planning with room arrangement can create conditions that lead to problems. The same is true with poor organization of materials, which takes undue time away from monitoring students. Keep in mind, good discipline is much more likely to occur if the classroom setting and activities are structured or arranged to enhance cooperative behavior; so make sure your students are able to help themselves to the tools they need.

All teachers know that commonly used classroom materials, e.g., books, attendance pads, absence cards, and student reference materials should be readily available. Preston likes to tell teachers, “Creating a more organized and efficient classroom is within your reach!” But the “how-to’s” are not always intuitive. She makes it fun and easy. Don’t miss it.

For more fresh tips and advice from Charity Preston, also download our updated and improved Classroom Management Guide!

Register for the Webinar Today

-Charity Preston, MA is the editor and creator of several websites, including The Organized Classroom Blog, Classroom Freebies, and Teaching Blog Central, among others. She received her undergraduate degree in early childhood education from Bowling Green State University, OH and a Master in Curriculum and Instruction from Nova Southeastern University, FL, as well as a gifted endorsement from Ohio University. She taught third grade in Lee County, FL for several years before relocating back to her hometown as a gifted intervention specialist. Charity is currently taking time off to run her online businesses and spend time with her toddler. She is married with two children, ages two and 14 and has two cats and a dog. Life is never dull in the Preston house!



Tags: classroom management, webinar, K-12 teachers

Creating Partnerships with Parents Benefits Teachers and Students.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Dec 31, 2011 9:27:00 AM

When teachers partner with parents, students win.Parents can be the missing link for any teacher who is searching for ways to improve the curriculum and strengthen students' success. Likewise, a teacher who includes parents as active and valuable resources in the classroom can be the missing link for parents who would like to get involved in their child's education but need concrete support.

 As a first grade teacher of students who are products of a two-income household, the days of classroom volunteers who arrive to help on a regular basis are long gone. Here are some ways that I have discovered to open up my classroom to parents, and create positive partnerships:

•Send home DVDs of their child so parents can get the "feel" of their child as a student.  For example, you could set up a camera on a tripod and read a birthday-themed book to students on their birthdays, or chat with students and have the class sing "Happy Birthday.” Other great opportunities to record would be Readers' Theater and "Author's Chair" performances. Field Day, special assemblies and other activities that occur only during the school day present a wealth of opportunities for video or photographs. Imagine how touched your parents will feel when you share something special about their child…something most parents never have a chance to see.
•Move classroom parties to the evening hour, but keep the time brief to honor parents’ schedules. For the holidays next year, try offering an evening party with simple refreshments. You can make a quick project such as this cute family conversation jar.  Have the class read some poems, sing holiday songs— and you have a sweet and memorable party that engages parents within 45 minutes, tops!

•Send home regular invitations for parents to come in as “guest readers” to read a holiday story or to answer questions (created ahead of time) about their holiday traditions for a social studies unit; the tasks they perform on their jobs for a social studies unit; or to help with "busy" lessons such as mixing liquids for science experiments or cutting fruit into fractions for math. Here is a great how-to for fraction fruit  from a wonderful Canadian site.

•Send home questionnaires for parents to answer in writing, and then read those answers in class. Topics can be anything from an interview about their reading experiences as an early reader, to questions about their favorite invention in the kitchen, or their favorite outdoor activity. Be creative! Children love to hear what adults like to do…it can be inspirational.

•Use Skype™ to read poems or writing projects to parents and grandparents; for older children, use Facebook for interactive conversations.

When used wisely, establishing positive partnerships with parents can help free your time for teaching, and allow you to achieve the goals you have set for your class. It may take a little more planning on the front end, but the dividends are well worth your time.

For other ideas that are well worth your time, download this free classroom management guide to maximize your productivity in the classroom. Make it a New Year’s resolution!

Betty Carlisle is 22-year teacher, and serves as a Mentor in the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching Program. She is a First Grade Teacher in Medina, Ohio; National Board Certified, 2000; 2010.

Download our Free Classroom Management G

Tags: parent partnerships, classroom management, Classroom Community, K-12 teachers

Top Ten Assessment Strategies for K-12 Teachers

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Nov 29, 2011 4:22:00 PM

Marygrove MAT ranks the top ten assessment strategies for the K-12 classroom.Teachers are accountable for so much in the course of a day, it helps if you can juggle or even pull a rabbit or two out of a hat to achieve your goals. We put our heads together to come up with the Top Ten Assessment Strategies that teachers can efficiently use in their classrooms every day. There’s no hocus-pocus necessary, and the results are magical:

#10. Cooperative Learning Activities

Cooperative learning involves students working together in small groups (usually followed by a teacher-presented lesson), with group goals and individual accountability. Although this is a very challenging assessment, you can mitigate the problem of one teacher versus several small groups by assigning roles and having group members evaluate each other’s performance. Students discover 1) how to help another student without just giving the answer; and 2) the importance of working together toward a common goal. Here are some great hints from the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University.

#9. Learning Logs

A learning log is a lot like a journal that allows students to write across the curriculum. The major reason for using them is to encourage children to be in control of their own learning and to promote thinking through writing.

#8. Book Response Journals

Very similar to a learning log, the book response journal is a place for students to share personal reactions to events, themes, and ideas in a book. Children are encouraged to react to everything they read. Teachers may use these journals to respond to each child individually, sharing their questions, feelings, and ideas about literature and making suggestions for further reading or related activities.

#7. Comparison Charts

Comparison charts are just one example of a number of “graphic organizers” or “mind maps” teachers can use. They offer students the ability to visually examine the similarities and differences among ideas, events, characteristics, etc. It is an excellent, creative way to engage students individually or in groups. But you must first allow students to get comfortable using graphic organizers as a way to take notes and organize information which they know. Then, as an assessment, a blank graphic can be provided with places for students to fill in the required information. Some great examples of this are timelines in Social Studies and lifecycles in Science.

#6. Graffiti Walls

Graffiti Walls could be used as an informal, full class assessment of class knowledge on a particular topic. They are unrestricted, boundary-less spaces for brainstorming or communicating words, phrases, or ideas on a topic. A teacher may use them for brainstorming about a theme at the beginning of a unit, or for encouraging students to add new words or phrases relating to the theme as the unit progresses. The graffiti wall serves as a class dictionary/thesaurus as students search for new or unique words to enrich their writing.

#5. Conferences

Conferences, if coupled with some sort of checklist or rubric, can be great assessment tools. This is especially true if the conference is about students’ work, such as a portfolio conference. A one-on-one conference in which the student explains what pieces of work are to be included in the portfolio can be a particularly rich source of data.

#4. "I Learned" Statements

"I Learned" statements may be in either written or oral form. Their purpose is to simply give students a chance to self-select one or more of the things they learned during a class session, an investigation, or a series of lessons.

#3. Oral Attitude Surveys

Attitude surveys systematically reveal students' self reflections regarding group and individual performance and affective characteristics such as effort, values, and interest. Impromptu oral surveys allow students to share their ideas, learn from others, and deepen the way they think about the topics being discussed. Any of these full class assessments are most helpful if the teacher has some organized way to track who said what. Index cards on a ring can do that—one card for every child. A student could run the discussion, or an aide or parent could take notes on the cards. At the end of the day, week, or unit, the cards can be separated, reviewed for patterns of learning and placed in the students’ individual files.

#2. Self-Evaluations

An invaluable part of alternative assessment is having the student learn to recognize his/her own progress by taking the time to reflect. Those who are able to review their own performance, explain the reasons for choosing the processes they used, and identify the next step, develop insight and self-involvement.

And the number one Assessment Strategy for K-12 Teachers to employ in their classroom is…

#1. Goal-Setting

Setting goals with even the youngest children provides a base-line for monitoring student performance through collaboration and self reflection. Robert Wood and Edwin Locke (1987) found a significant relationship between goals and self-efficacy: Students with a stronger sense of efficacy also set higher, but reachable, goals. Wood and Locke found that more challenging goals usually prompt higher achievement.

See for yourself how goal-setting makes a difference in oral reading fluency at Marygrove MAT’s mini-master class: “D.I.B.E.L.S., Does It Benefit Early Learners to Set Goals?” with Christina Bainbridge, MAT ‘09 Saturday, Dec. 10 at 12:30 p.m., EST. Click here to register for our free, online webinar!





Tags: assessment strategies, Top ten assessments for K-12, K-12 teachers

Subscribe to the Marygrove MAT Blog!

Comments on this Blog Post