MAT Blog

A look at science standards nationwide. How do you measure up?

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jul 17, 2012 4:10:00 PM

science standards nationwideIn early 2012 the Thomas Fordham Institute released a study outlining the current state of science standards for grades K-12 in all fifty states and the District of Columbia. The analysis of the standards and the compilation of data are helping to develop the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS), currently being developed by a core group of 26 states.  

As the development of the NGSS moves forward, it is a perfect time for states and districts to continue refining their current standards.  Being able to concisely outline the student learning that should occur is crucial for ongoing academic success.

The findings from the Fordham Institute varied greatly from state to state.  Each state had strengths, weaknesses, and areas for continued improvement in regards to their state science standards.  It is important to note that although the Next Generation Science Standards are currently in development Fordham continues to examine current standards with the intent of making continuous improvements. There must be constant refinement of current science curriculum expectations and not the expectation of "waiting" for a better set of standards to come along.

After Fordham's analysis was complete each state earned a traditional letter grade based on the overall quality of the science standards.  In twenty six states the current science standards earned a D or an F, representing nearly 50 percent of the science standards being taught and assessed in the United States. Only 13 states, slightly more than 25 percent, received a B or better.  Only two jurisdictions, California and The District of Columbia earned an A after the analysis was complete. Both received high marks for consistency, quality, and careful design of the science standards.

One factor, in particular, places the California science standards at the head of the pack.  The California standards are extremely clear and concise. There is no ambiguity relative to what students are expected to know, understand, and be able to do. Examples include:

Second Grade:

  • The motion of objects can be observed and measured. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know the position of an object can be described by locating it in relation to another object or to the background. 
b. Students know an object's motion can be described by recording the change in position of the object over time.

Sixth Grade:

  • Sources of energy and materials differ in amounts, distribution, usefulness, and the time required for their formation. As a basis for understanding this concept:

a. Students know the utility of energy sources is determined by factors that are involved in converting these sources to useful forms and the consequences of the conversion process. 

The core standards (in bold) clearly describe the basic science core concepts students should understand. The outcomes are clearly defined. The accompanying indicators concisely describe more specific ways in which student learning should occur.  

If you currently serve, or hope to serve on a committee that is drafting curriculum, take note of California’s clear and concise descriptions. It makes all the difference in the world, especially to a teacher who may be new to teaching science, and less familiar with its content.

For more best practice tips and a sneak peek into the soon-to-come Next Generation Science Standards, register for the Cutting Edge Science Webinar at 4 p.m. Wednesday! It’s not too late… there are still virtual seats available! Register here.

 

Tags: Next Generation Science Standards, curriculum, instruction and assessment, webinar

Make science experiments hands-on and safe for primary students!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jul 11, 2012 4:01:00 PM

Marygrove MAT details safe science experiments for teachersActive learning in science labs makes the content come to life! A highly effective science teacher understands that planning hands-on learning experiences for students is a critical part of applying science ideas and building understanding. However, teachers must thoroughly and carefully prepare safe science experiments, to ensure the safety of their students. Establishing classroom safety standards is important at all grade levels but in the primary grades it requires additional consideration. Reviewing guidelines with students and posting them in a visible place in the classroom should be your first order of business.

Sample guidelines for any grade level may include:

  1. Listen to instructions carefully.
  2. Read any written directions twice before beginning.
  3. Use only the materials needed for this experiment.
  4. Follow the directions one step at a time.
  5. Ask for help if you are confused or don't understand.
  6. Tell your teacher immediately if there is a problem or accident.
  7. Clean your work space carefully when you're finished.

Obviously these are general guidelines that may work in a variety of classrooms. Effective science teachers will modify any safety standards to fit classroom needs for primary grades. Modifications may include pictures or symbols for non-readers, role playing to understand guidelines, or safety contracts sent home to be signed by both students and parents.

In addition to guidelines expressly designed for students’ use at all grade levels, it is important for a teacher to follow additional guiding principles for planning safe science experiments in the primary classroom:

  • Choose your materials wisely. Avoiding glass, flames, and possible chemical reactions is crucial.  Primary students are still learning how the world works and may have low impulse control.  Eliminate potentially hazardous materials for optimum safety in the K-5 classroom.
  • Have an emergency plan. No science teacher wants an experiment to end up as a dangerous situation, so planning ahead for all possible scenarios is incredibly important. Practicing and thinking through every possible outcome to ensure an appropriate response will provide peace of mind and increase safety. Role-play some of these possible scenarios with students.
  • Understand student needs. Students come to school with a variety of needs including mobility issues, allergies, and behavioral challenges. Investigating how these needs may affect safe science experiments will impact not only an individual's participation but the safety of the class as a whole.  
  • Increase supervision. Many science experiments could benefit from an extra set of hands to help students. Teachers may also want to find ways to beef up supervision during experiments in the primary classroom. Enlist the help of parent volunteers, older students, or other staff members!

Safety guidelines have been developed by different organizations that promote science education. You can access a variety of these online:
Safety in the Science Classroom (National Science Teachers Association)
Science and Safety: It's Elementary (Council of State Science Supervisors)
Safe Science Series (National Science Education Leadership Association)

Join us for a preview discussion about the Next Generation Science Standards, a FREE webinar for K-12 teachers. Be prepared for what’s to come! Register now!

 

Tags: safe science experiments, webinar, science teachers, science standards

How to Achieve Picture Perfect Mathematics Instruction.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 23, 2012 5:32:00 AM

When teachers integrate mathematics with language arts, powerful learning takes place in the classroom! As common core standards in mathematics become increasingly integrated with language arts, building strong math literacy libraries will be essential for K-6 teachers. Our latest webinar airs Wednesday, June 27, designed to show elementary teachers how to use picture books to enhance math learning for their students.

Listen in on the discussion about teaching math in a different way with Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching’s Charles Pearson, Ph.D. as he presents “How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math” on Wednesday, June 27 at 4 p.m. EST.

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is a veteran educator with more than 30 years under his belt. As a former elementary school teacher for 14 years, and principal for nine, Dr. Pearson knows the challenges teachers in all environments face, day in and day out.  

Joining him in the conversation is Carole Kamerman, an Independent Educational Consultant from Battle Creek, Michigan. She’ll share her multi-faceted teacher leadership experience with our audience and present a fresh perspective on teaching across the curriculum.

Both of them agree that even if math isn’t your first love, there are many tools elementary school teachers can use to make teaching mathematics effective and lots of fun. They’ll offer ideas on how to tie children’s literature to math lessons for optimal student engagement. They’ll even suggest some titles to start your own classroom math library, if you haven’t already.

When teachers incorporate literature as part of a routine, they can see the difference it makes in even the hardest to reach students. Don’t miss this one!

Register Now for Our FREE Webinar “How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math,” June 27 at 4 p.m! Listen to our FREE webinar on demand:  How to Achieve Picture-Perfect Math

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is the Coordinator for the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Program. Retired from K-12 in 2011, Dr. Pearson brings his 30-plus years of classroom and leadership experience to the MAT program, and is looking forward to helping teachers raise student achievement through practical research-based outcomes.
Dr. Pearson earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Cognate in K-12 Superintendency from Western Michigan University. He has several publications in K-12 science to his credit, including multiple presentations for the National Science Teachers Association Annual Conferences around the country. He recently served as Field Instructor for six Detroit Public School science teacher interns through the University of Michigan/Teach For America organization.
Carole Kamerman is also retired from a full career as a classroom teacher and instructional technologist, among other teacher leadership roles in the Kalamazoo, Michigan Public Schools. She was a trainer and facilitator of the Battle Creek Area Mathematics and Science Center elementary science curriculum, which has been adopted by more than 200 school districts in the state of Michigan, and Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tags: webinar, math literacy, common core standards in mathematics, picture books

Cultivate a lifelong love of math through children’s books.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 21, 2012 10:25:00 AM

Instill a lifelong love of math through childrens literature!Big changes are in store as school districts prepare for full implementation of the Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSS-M). The new standards emphasize learning fewer concepts in greater depth and engaging students in a set of "mathematical practices." Full implementation of K-12 CCSS-M is slated for 2015.

While the Core Standards are helpful, and define what all students are expected to know and what all students must be able to do, they in no way tell teachers how to teach. Teachers will be required more than ever to use the most effective instructional practice—and look for the most efficient and creative means to an end.

“Teachers will need to rely on their creative instincts and abilities to bring out the best in their students,” says Charles Pearson, Coordinator of the Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Program for the Marygrove College online Master in the Art of Teaching Program. “Every teacher knows that there is not one strategy or one lesson that works for all learners. Establishing a stronger relationship between children’s literature and mathematics is an excellent way to ensure that you make math more accessible to all elementary school students.”

Much of the primary math curricula used in the U.S. today, like Everyday Mathematics® include suggested readings to coordinate with units. Everyday Mathematics has always stressed multiple representations, communication, tools, mathematical reasoning and making sense of concepts and procedures. While the early elementary programs are often criticized for being light on math fact mastery, teachers who supplement their Everyday Math lessons with rote drill exercises find the combination to be very successful. That’s the art of teaching in action!

Using picture books to supplement math lessons demonstrates the same concept, essentially. Teachers should find what works and not fall prey to exclusively scripted teaching. Just as no two students are alike, no two teachers are alike.

“Teaching math through children’s books is a way to play to many elementary school teachers’ strengths,” Pearson says. “If a teacher is new to teaching math, or not a big fan of the subject, using literature is an effective, authentic way to model an interest in math.” 

"When we think of mathematics books, we think of non-fiction, even though mathematics itself is predominantly fiction." (Pappas, 1999)

David L. Haury wrote a synopsis of the benefits of literature and math roughly 10 years ago which still holds true, and is even more widely embraced today. He says that although some of us may feel uncomfortable with the notion that mathematics is fiction, we must realize that the concepts and procedures of mathematics are all constructions of our minds, and products of our attempts to understand our world.

By simply paying greater attention to the mathematics we find in literature, we can help students realize that mathematics— including number-crunching arithmetic— is a spontaneous and natural expression of the human experience, both real and imagined. Making a literature connection can be empowering to some learners who find numbers and numeration difficult or stressful.

Here’s how to choose the best books* to link math with children’s literature:

•Check for Accuracy. Does the book depict math concepts correctly?

•Pay Attention to Visual/Verbal Appeal. Are illustrations and language appealing and engaging to young readers?

•Make Connections. Does the story give context to math lessons and tie to (or expand) young readers’ personal experiences?

•Consider the Audience. Will the story appeal to children from varied backgrounds?

•Look for a “Wow” factor. Is the book exciting to read, and does it present new ideas or different points of view?

You can gain more tips like these at our webinar How to Achieve Picture Perfect Math with Dr. Charles Pearson on Wednesday, June 27. Register now!

Listen to our FREE webinar on demand:  How to Achieve Picture-Perfect Math

*Making informed Choices: Selecting Children’s Trade Books for Mathematics Instruction. Teaching Children Mathematics, v7, n3. Hellwig, Monroe & Jacobs (2000).

 

 

 

Tags: webinar, math literacy, common core standards in mathematics, picture books

The best way to help K-12 students in science is to help science teachers!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 12, 2012 10:06:00 AM

Webinar for Science TeachersWe are all too familiar with the challenges of science teachers in primary and secondary education: Changing science standards on a national level, heavier emphasis on science curriculum from state and district levels, lack of proper materials, and inadequate or non-existent laboratory space.  For more than a decade, these issues have been well-known, and well-documented. (Ingersoll, 2000) But for new science teachers who have quit their jobs, the echo in the dark seems to point—again and again— to leadership. But who’s listening?

“For new science teachers, it’s getting tougher to hang on,” says Charles Pearson, Retired Principal, and Coordinator of the Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment program. “As the rigors of science instruction become greater, it places greater pressure on science teachers who typically need far more planning and prep time than other teachers to provide effective instruction.” 

Dr. Pearson says there are things principals can and should do to help support The New Science Teacher. He directs colleagues to the New Science Teacher Academy for best practice in the field. Good science teachers are incredibly organized professionals, who must be creative and resourceful to get the job done. However, administrative leaders must allow them the time to get oriented to the subject matter. Protocols specific to science teaching should be in place before The New Science Teacher is hired. 

What’s more, the research conducted in Supporting New Science Teachers: What School Leaders Can Do by Donna Sterling and Wendy Frazier from George Mason University outlines in detail what school leaders can do to offset a growing shortage of science teachers. Their recommendations are admittedly several years old, but bear repeating:

  • Pay attention to working conditions. Hiring and assigning classes early helps teachers prepare before the start of school. Don’t wait until August, if you can help it. Give science teachers their own classroom; do not have them float between classrooms with a cart.
  • Provide a supportive culture. Identify a person or team to provide new teachers with an orientation to the school, policies and procedures. Demonstrate the proper use and maintenance of science materials.
  • Give in-class support. Designate a coach/mentor who also teaches/has taught science to be present in and out of the classroom. Perform experiments with new science teachers prior to use with students.
  • Ensure quality training.  Make sure you train the coaches and mentors as well as the teachers, for consistency. Partner with a local college or university that has course offerings to help new science teachers.

There are more and more indicators that teacher support is incredibly important. National education philanthropist The Wallace Foundation put out a lengthy report last year on effective principal leadership. Its findings point to supporting teachers well and “cultivating leadership in others” as central to being a great leader.  The more support we give to our teachers, the better prepared our students will become.

So, principals, colleagues: keep doing what you can to encourage those brave new science teachers to hang in there. We’ll do what we can, too. Let us know what you think.

New to science teaching or teaching in general?  Don’t miss our webinar The New Science Teacher: Tips and Tricks and Tips to Thrive in the Classroom. Register now, and be on top of your game for fall!

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Tags: webinar, new science teachers, science standards, science teacher retention

The New Science Teacher: How to Survive and Thrive!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 9, 2012 5:36:00 AM

The New Science Teacher webinar airs Thursday, June 14!Join us on Thursday, June 14 at 4 p.m. as we prepare you for the trenches in K-8 Science with Marygrove College Master in the Art of Teaching’s Charles Pearson, Ph.D.

If your new assignment for fall happens to be in science or you’re finding yourself lost in the ever-changing science education standards, this webinar is for you. We’ll give you some practical advice that can help you take a deep breath and dive into an area that is truly fascinating—and fun to teach. All it takes is a little organization and creativity.

It has been a known fact for quite some time that science teachers experience greater job dissatisfaction and are more likely to leave the teaching field compared to other subject area teachers. (Ingersoll, 2000) The reasons are also well known, but there has not been much change for the better in the last decade. New science teachers are still over-taxed and under-supported.  Studies show that when experienced or even retired teachers can mentor and guide new teachers, the results are positive.  

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is no stranger to the classroom. His 30-plus years in education include a nine-year stint as a principal, and almost two decades in the K-8 classroom. As a former middle school science teacher, Dr. Pearson knows all the angles to get students energized and interested in science studies.

He is joined by colleague Haley Hart, a second-year science teacher who established a successful extracurricular science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) club for students at Southeastern High School in Detroit.

Do you have the skill set to be an effective science teacher? Dr. Pearson says every teacher does, it’s just a matter of capitalizing on your strengths. He’ll walk you through some fundamental ways to ensure that you’re giving all you can to your students, and getting the support you need to deliver confident, competent science instruction.

We'll show you how:

  • Networking with colleagues is critical to your success
  • Setting up a management system for materials is imperative for organization and safety
  • Preparing a file for substitute teachers is important to keep quality science instruction in play

You'll learn how to be effective with the most limited resources:

  • Make your own "sink" if your classroom doesn't have one
  • Bring in authentic materials from your yard if budgets are tight

Register for our 30-minute Marygrove MAT webinar The New Science Teacher: Tips and Tricks to Thrive in the Classroom now! Seating is limited, so don’t miss out!

Click me

Dr. Charles (Chuck) Pearson is the Coordinator for the Marygrove Master in the Art of Teaching (MAT) Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment Program. Retired from K-12 in 2011, Dr. Pearson earned his Doctorate in Educational Leadership, Cognate in K-12 Superintendency from Western Michigan University. He has several publications in K-12 science to his credit, including multiple presentations for the National Science Teachers Association Annual Conferences around the country. He is a Field Mentor to eight school leadership teams in urban K-12 schools in Michigan. 

Haley E. Hart is a second year chemistry teacher at Detroit Public Schools Southeastern High School.  She is a member of the teaching corps of Teach For America and is pursuing her State of Michigan Teacher Certification from the University of Michigan. She earned her B.A. in biology from Transylvania University in Lexington, Kentucky.

 


 

Tags: webinar, science teachers, new science teachers, science standards

Encourage your K-12 students to pursue an interest in STEM jobs.

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Jun 6, 2012 2:22:00 PM

When teachers make the conenctions to STEM jobs through curriculum, students benefit.Recent educational initiatives, including the Obama administration's "Race to the Top" and "Educate to Innovate" intend to shape the future of education by promoting the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) studies. This emphasis on STEM education promises to be beneficial to students as the growth of jobs in these related fields has shown a significant increase. The Department of Commerce's Economics and Statistics Administration reports that careers in STEM fields have the potential to grow an additional 17 percent over the next decade. Preparing today's students for these future jobs requires innovative educators, current and cutting-edge curricula, and intentional support for all students to consider a future STEM career.

It is never too early to begin engaging students in STEM studies and encouraging them to pursue a career in a STEM field. As a teacher you can:

Provide STEM role models. Just talking about the people who currently work in STEM jobs isn't enough. Teachers need to find ways to bring these individuals into the classroom - either literally or virtually. Consider your students’ interests and strengths, and research ways to connect learners to STEM professionals who share similar traits and enthusiasm. Students benefit from seeing professionals at work and learning about their educational backgrounds and careers.  Local STEM professionals would likely be thrilled to come and meet with students in person to describe their work, while others may be available to participate in video conferencing with students. The National Role Model Directory and Great Minds in STEM are two online sites that provide profiles of possible STEM role models. 

Connect current learning to possible future STEM careers. Effective teachers show students the connection between what they are learning today and its relevance on their future career.  Professors, researchers, and students at North Carolina State University have created a series of videos which aim to explain the relationship among their specific STEM career, key STEM principles and classroom objectives. For example, one video demonstrates the importance of basic geometric principles on the proper design of traffic circles and roundabouts.  Another shows how a nurse must accurately calculate dosages for patients' medication using fractions, proportions, and mathematical equations. Additionally, these videos and the accompanying online information are an excellent way of providing students with examples of STEM professions.

Pursue STEM partnerships. Not only are STEM-related industries growing, but they know that their future success depends on the education and interest of today's students. Because of this, many STEM companies and organizations are actively partnering with schools to provide a deeper connection for students. Aviation High School in Seattle, Washington is a public high school with an aviation and aeronautics emphasis. Established in 2004, the school has pursued partnerships with aviation and engineering innovators in the Seattle area to enhance students' education over the past eight years.  The Boeing Company, Alaska Airlines, NASA, the FAA, and Civil Air Patrol are among the school's industry partners that bring STEM careers to life inside and outside of school walls.  Select students have participated in Alaska Airlines delivery flights from The Boeing Company and others have worked alongside industry engineers to solve real life problems and to create innovative solutions.

Teachers can find excellent resources here, at the Silicone Valley Education Foundation (SVEF). Their work with students showed a double digit percent gain (31%) in proficiency in pre- and post-assessments of students who completed the algebra program in 2011. SVEF will soon launch a STEM website filled with resources to further boost STEM education.

If you are new to teaching science or would like to boost your effectiveness, don’t miss our webinar for K-8 teachers, The New Science Teacher: Tips and Tricks to Thrive in the Classroom on Thursday, June 14. Click here for more information, and Register today!

 

 

 

 

Tags: STEM jobs, STEM curriculum, webinar, technology in the classroom

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

It's Testing Season Practice Time!

Posted by Colleen Cadieux on Feb 11, 2012 5:33:00 AM

TestingAre you panicking yet over testing season coming up?  I have always found that right after winter break, I would suddenly realize how close we were to testing time, and I became a drill sergeant!  While testing is not always fun or interactive, I do believe that practicing on a regular basis up until the week of testing can really take the edge off!  If we have practiced weekly, then on testing day I am fully confident telling students, "This is just like a practice day. You have done this lots of times – and you know what to do!"

One way I prepare students is with a weekly practice test that is timed. Because my desks are in groups of four, I want students to resist the urge to sneak a peek at their neighbor's paper.  I wanted an easy way to create some privacy without having to get out bulky cardboard to set up and take down each time.  Instead, I used two colored folders to create "offices." I buy the same colored folders in bulk at the beginning of the school year when they are a penny each. I probably have an extra 500 folders always on hand!clip image001rev

clip image002The folders are easy enough to place into my students’ desks and pull out when requested.  They put them up and have a private area to work. It also minimizes the urge for those that speed through their test and then look around to see if they are the first one done.  It is much harder to look through the folders without being caught!

If you start to have issues with students who are playing with their pencils through the crack in the folders, another option is to take some clear tape down the middle of two folders.  They will lay flat and still be able to fit in a desk nicely, as well.

Students are not allowed to color, write their names, or personalize the folders for a reason: I want them to look uniform and be as little of a distraction as possible.  Plus, that way they can be used from year to year!  I have seen some teachers laminate the folders to make them even more sturdy, but I always worry about the students who like to pick and peel away at the lamination!  File folders can also be used, but I do find that the colorful folders are cheaper and easier to replace (but of course, you may feel differently, so choose what you like the best).

How do you prepare for standardized testing season?  Do you pull desks apart?  Do you seat your students facing in different directions - or something else? I would love to see your tips as well in the comments below. 

Happy Test Preparations!

For more handy pointers and advice to make your classroom run smoothly, register for our FREE webinar next Wednesday, February 15 at 4 p.m. EST: "Overcoming Organizing Obstacles" with Charity Preston, now!

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: assessment strategies, testing, classroom management, webinar

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!

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-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

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