Friday, July 29, 2011

Closing Activity or Ending Ideas For the Middle/High Classroom

1. I’ve always heard that you should have closure at the end of each class, but I haven’t found the best method until recently. The previous year I had students write their “closing activity” answer down on paper. However, I already did “opening activity” papers and this created a larger work load of grading for me. And it did not tell me right away (except for the few students I called on), whether they understood the concept for the day until two weeks later when I was grading the assignment. I also found that the kids wanted to answer the closing when they did the opening, defeating the purpose of a closing question. Or some students would be so fixed on packing up that they wouldn’t do the closing, even though I would ask them to complete it. I ended up having to end class earlier and checking every students paper to see they were completing the closing, thus, taking more time and energy for me. I am always looking for something that places responsibility on the student, not create more work for me. I had a brainstorm last year and I’ve been using it for a year and plan to use it this year too. It may become defined or changed over time, but I think it’s a large improvement from the previous year.

I have headings on the board like “homework,” “today’s activities,” “test date,” “learning targets,” “opening activity,” and now “closing activity.” Then I made 5 slips of paper for the closing activity with the following headings, (that I can change each day, and I use a magnetic clip to hold up). The headings are:
Door (They answer a question (or i.e. label a part of a flower) at the door as they exit)
Journal (They answer a question in their journal, summarize their notes, complete a demo)
Partner (They have to tell their partner the answer to the question I ask, quiz their partner on vocab, or read their notes to each other)
Random (I call on a student/s to randomly to answer a question)
Whiteboard (Students draw or write their answer on a whiteboard)

2. Reading “The Kid Who Invented the Popsicle” is a great way to end class when you want to keep the attention of your students. Each entry is a paragraph long, so you can use it to cover a couple minutes to five minutes in class. I wouldn’t do more than five minutes as it can get redundant. The table of contents is extensive. Some time in the beginning of the school year to get things started with this procedure, I will read the Popsicle story, since the title is about the Popsicle. After that, I walk up to a student and give them a couple seconds to pick an entry. Then I read the entry (this way I can change words or explain concepts as I read). The kids are always eager to be the ones picked to pick an entry. Some of my favorites I’ve read to the students are about the hot air balloon, teddy bear, vending machines, bikini, Dr. pepper, and quiz.
There are other books like this out on the market, but this book has been the best at filling in a couple minutes of class time. I usually end up using the book at the end of class when we get done earlier than planned or they seem really squirrely and I need to keep their focus. I also bring it out for the sub to use in case my lesson plan is too short.

3. If I end up with more 10 minutes of closing time (because some classes move faster than others), I read a 2-minute mystery book ( and the students try to solve the problem. Students always have that "ohhhh" moment when I'm able to lead them to the answer. Critical thinking is so important as we move from state standards to common core standards. 

Oganizing Socks (for 3 children and more)

Anyone else like doing laundry? I didn't think so. I'm not a fan and am trying to find ways to organize clothing items so I can tell which child's pile they go into before I start folding. 

I have three boys under the age of 6. I changed my routine to organizing socks (you'll notice below I had a different routine for 2 kids). I started with buying socks that specifically said their size on the bottom. Target sells socks like these.  This was great for awhile, but I still wanted something faster. So the next idea was to buy different types of socks (I used this idea for underwear as well). So I buy several packs of the same exact style for each age group. For my eldest, I went with Hanes white and black socks (he needs it for his school uniform anyway). My middle child uses the Target socks with the size printed on the bottom. And my youngest has all the fun toddler socks. When I have to buy another size up, I will choose a different brand so I can quickly identify which sock goes with which child when I am organizing laundry.

With the underwear, my eldest uses minion style underwear from "Despicable Me." My middle child has the "superhero" style underwear. Any my youngest is still in diapers, but we are working on that. He will get the "Cars" style underwear. When my boys gets older, I will continue with this technique because it has saved me a lot of time. Too bad I can't do this with their clothes. I tend to buy what's on clearance and I don't think my boys want to wear all blue or all green everyday just so mom can have an easier time folding laundry. When they get older, they will start folding their own clothes. For sure.

This is when I had two children...
 I have a 2 year old and 8 month old at this time, which means two completely separate sock sizes.

But the socks are so small for each that I still have a hard time figuring out which sock belongs to which kids. So I have come up with a system that works for me and doesn’t involve too much extra work and saves me time when I’m putting clothes away.

Mesh bags (different colors would be even better). You can easily find them on Amazon. I throw the whole mesh bag into the washer and dryer to the socks stay together and do not get separated. It saves me a lot of time and hassle and makes it easier to put the socks into the proper drawers.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Stops for Toddlers From the Inland Empire to Tahoe using the 395 freeway

So when I researched places to stop for my one and three year old, there were some great places to stopat, but all appropriate for older kids. So I decided to make my own list of places to stop with parks and play areas at fast food restaurants that were better suited for toddlers. I found bringing some cars and trucks for play at parks was a big benefit. We were also able to use these toys at the lodge we stayed at in Tahoe, so it was a win-win situation. I also want to let you know that there are a couple of hours of nothing, meaning, desert and no play stops on the 395 near the Inland Empire area. Here is the list we came up with on our drive from the Inland Empire to Tahoe. Hope it helps you!

Diaz Lake Campground - play area by lake

Lone Pine - large park with playground, bathroom, and a stream runs through this shaded location with several picnic benches. We stopped here on the way up and down b/c it was a great time for lunch and to let the kids run around

Independence - small park, no playground, shade and grass

Big Pine - park symbol as we drove by

Bishop - inside play area at Mc Donalds. Another great stop we took so the kids could play indoors and run around while we snacked up. They also have Laws Railroad Museum open all year from 10-4pm.
June Lake Loop - camping, horses, and hiking & area to stretch and eat
Lee Vining - bronze bear outpost has a chance for you to park and stretch, but nothing for play
Champagne Avenue off 395 is residential but has a park and play area

Gardnerville - McDonalds has a playcenter. Also, yo can follow the signs to Heritage Park on Gulliman Road. The park is very large and the boys enjoyed stretching their legs and playing with their trucks and cars

Carson City - Clear Creek Road across from Costco. Playarea, bathrooms, shade, park

267 meets NV 28 - east of junction there is a playground and small picnic area by lake that is shaded