When it comes to my own classroom management, I like to define it as "organized chaos." This means that when you walk into my class, it may look a little crazy to you. However, if you stay long enough, you will get a sense of the organization. Not to mention, I know what everyone is doing! This week, I took some time to research some other teachers that have development some remarkable classroom management skills.
The following link has some great examples of classroom management.
Classrooms at work
The link shows four different classrooms that are from different grade levels and subject areas. The first link is to Char Soucy's 1st Grade Animal Research Project. During this project the students are able to conduct some research on computers, make flip books, and creating powerpoints. This particular teacher does a remarkable job creating a project that is interesting to her students as well as teaching them the importance to research and presentation. The key is she made it fun! As a way to keep her student organized, she allowed them to work with partners. Each group had a checklist and each partner was responsible for his or her part. Soucy also had the luxury of Parent Helpers. Since this seemed to be the students first real experience with research and technology, her parent helpers made it so this project was a great success. Soucy students were able to use the classroom as well as a computer lab. As a way to save time, the Internet browsers were already set to the San Diego Zoo as the default browser. This definitely saved time for these six year olds!
As a middle school teacher, I do allow a little more independence with it comes to research sites. One of the biggest challenges that I deal with is the fact so many 7th graders think that Wikepedia is a the best site to get information. So, I like to require some more guidelines to research. For example, I provided a list of reliable resources, and the students choose. I also require the students to provide a bibliography. Recently, I've started using livebinders.com. It is a free online database where you can create tabs of websites. This has been a lifesaver on time. By creating a set place for the students to find all their information from multiple resources has really helped save time!
The next link is for 4th grade Geography Project called Travel USA. Just like Soucy's 1st grade class, Mrs. Krauss' strategies is similar in the way of organizing her students in group. However, she does not have the luxury of parent helpers to keep her students organized. So, each group has a "Paper Clip Person." This person is responsible to organizes the daily tasks of the group. Since this project is spanned out for 3 to 4 months, the kids do a little with it each day. As a way to monitor the students' daily work, each student keeps a Daily Effort Diary. As a way to utilize the limited computers, she rotates her students. Half of the student will work on the computers while the other half is in the classroom portion working on related activities. Then the students will switch.
I use this strategy in my own class. At the middle school that I teach, we have mobile labs of 16 laptops. Since class sizes range from 30 to 35 students, it is impossible for all students to be working on a computer at the same time. So, it helps creating groups. Each group will have a group leader. Group leaders are responsible to make sure all the tasks are completed; however, each group member will be responsible for the same number of tasks and each student is graded independently from each other. When I only have 16 laptops, I usually rotate; half the group members will use a computer while the rest of the group does a different activity, then they switch. Since my classes are only 50 minutes, I usually schedule the mobile labs for multiple days and have the kids switch on different days instead in the same period.
The third link was a middle school project called Wild Ride. This was a great project because of the idea of interdisciplinary content. The math teacher, science teacher, and language arts teacher all had parts that were completed in each other's class. Because of the multiple classes involved and the amount of time, the students also had a checklist called the "Roller Coaster Red Book." I just did something similar with my language arts teacher and social studies teacher. To celebrate Chinese New Year, we devoted one day to teach Chinese culture within our contents. As a way for the students to go from class to class, they were required to fill out their "passport." It was their ticket in and out of classes. We used the passport as a way for the students to reflect on their experiences in each of the classes.
For final link was a 9th grade class completing a five week project on Global Challenge. This project had three phases. The first two phases had requirements and guidelines, but the third phase was to evaluate other groups. The best thing that the teacher did before assigning this project was to survey the students about their technology skills. This allowed him to know how in depth to make the project as well as what the students already knew with technology.
I've do something similar with my students. I give the students a survey at the beginning of the year to learn about their background knowledge of science topics and technology skills. Of course it is important to pre-assess the students before each unit, but I think it is important to look at other knowledge such as technology. This makes it easy for me to decide group leaders at the beginning of the year.
Classroom management is extremely important. The key is to take ideas and strategies like these and apply them to your classes. One thing that our principal requires of teachers to conduct one peer evaluation each semester. This gives us the opportunity to learn from others. Each teacher will have certain things that they are really good at, but nobody will ever know. So by going into others' classrooms, we can open our eyes to new ideas and strategies.