Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Our Gloggers Report : Building a Positive Classroom Community

This month's Glogger (Guest Blogger) post is all about building a positive classroom community!  For this topic, I asked the question:  "What are some activities you can do either at the very beginning of the year or at the very end of the year to help instill positive memories and build a positive classroom community?"  Keep reading for some awesome ideas from our contributors!

For a brief amount of time, I have made my "back to school fun" game free for your use!  This game encourages students to talk to each other, and it also helps them build writing skills.  After you've "liked" The Learning Highway on Facebook and followed me on Teachers Pay Teachers please help yourself to this get-to-know you product!

Carmen talks about using a compliment can!

At the start of each school year, I want my students to notice good things going on around them, especially about their classmates. The purpose of the compliment can is to give students an opportunity to express positive characteristics/actions of the people around them. They love writing the compliments and really love receiving them!

1. Find a container that you want to use as the Compliment Can (a paint can worked great for me--the empty kind that they sell at craft stores).

2. Decorate your container (I used scrapbooking paper to cover the outside of the can. I wish I had used mod podge glue over the outside because after awhile the paper starts to get worn out! Oh, well, it looks loved.

3. Cut regular sized paper into sixths to make small notecards. The students will write their compliments on these small pieces of paper.

4. TRAIN THE CHILDREN. Let them know the purpose of the Compliment Can. Hold a class meeting to discuss possible compliments and give examples of how to start out (I saw . . . I like . . . My favorite thing about Timmy is . . . ). I make it mandatory to sign their name, otherwise I get silly notes.

5. Chose a time in your schedule to read the compliments. This could be at the end of the week, or each morning during a class meeting. I read them before-hand just to be sure they are appropriate. Once I read them to the class, I give the note to the person who is being complimented, and they glue it in their journal.

6. Be sure to write some compliments yourself from time to time! It is a great way to incorporate positive feedback to students.

Click here to visit Carmen's store!

Rosie talks about using maps, classroom routines, and information sheets.

A Fun Way to Support Students with the Morning Routine!
~~A great way of making all families feel welcome at the beginning of the year (and teaching a bit of geography!)  is to use a world map and string to label where  everyone’s families are from.  I normally include 2 wall maps (a world map plus your own country) The children can decorate a piece of thick paper with their name and then help you to locate their country and attach some string.

~~ Also during the first week of school, I have the children decorate a peg with their name.  When they get to school in the morning, they place their peg ‘on the sunshine’ as soon as they’ve completed the listed prompts.  This is a great way to support younger children with the morning routine (and great for the teacher as you can tell at a glance who is organised!) 

~~ I have a very informative ‘first week parent/student’ questionnaire sheet that I get families to complete for homework during the first week.  It contains a sheet for students to complete (using pictures, words and smiley face ratings about favourite subjects/what they find tricky/who their friends are/who is in their family and if they have pets/play sports etc.)  The parent sheet has sections to complete about what they feel is most important for their children academically and socially during the year, whether or not there are any religious or cultural beliefs I should be aware of, what they feel are their child’s strengths and weaknesses are plus much more)  I have never failed to be amazed by the amount of new information that surfaces from these sheets that I would have had no idea about!  **Keep an eye out for these sheets which will be available as a freebie from my store in the coming weeks!**

~~ Each term throughout the school year I take a photo of all my children's smiling little faces.  At the end of the year I compile a take-home CD containing a slide show of all the years’ events.  My favourite part of the CD is the smiling face photos, ordered into sequence for each child so you get a beautiful visual of how much they’ve  each grown term by term….. haircuts, missing teeth and all. (*Set the slide show for only a few seconds for each picture so it moves quickly and each picture merges into the next).  It really is amazing when you look back how much the children grow in the space of a year.

Click here to go to Rosie's store!

Amy talks about the "Best Foot Forward" Activity and the "Packing up a Great Year" activity!

When I start the school year, I think it is important to foster a sense of community and to celebrate each child’s individuality. I also like to bring the year full circle, and use the different projects we created in the beginning of the year as part of an end of the year project. In fifth grade we did several activities at the beginning of the year to get to know our students and to show their unique characteristics. At the end of the year, we pack up our journey into a special suitcase and then we decorate it with some of the projects we made in the beginning.
Best Foot Forward

For a back to school activity, I have my fifth graders make a footprint with tagxedo.com. They look really cool, and kids will love making them.  In my fifth grade classroom, the kids brainstorm adjectives and nouns about themselves and then they use those words to create a word cloud in the form of a foot print. Students don't have access to a color printer at my school, so we print them out in black and white and then color in with Mr. Sketch:-) I then display in my classroom as FIFTH GRADE FOOTPRINTS! This is great for incorporating technology and your students' knowledge of nouns and adjectives. It can be adapted for any grade level. For FREE step by step instructions from brainstorming to printing out the final product for you and your students (fail proof), and a brainstorming template, CLICK HERE:-)

Packing up a Great Year
The year goes by quickly and before you know it you’re preparing to say goodbye to your class. This year, I had my students create something special to take all of their assignments home with them.  First, I passed back all of their competed work and then had them pick three assignments that are most special to them.  I then had them complete a refection sheet for each one of these assignments. We have a Parent Portfolio Day at our school. This is where parents come in and look at their 3 choices and reflect on them with their children.  Click the picture for a FREE reflection sheet to use for this idea.  After students get all of their work gathered, I have them make their ‘Suitcase” to pack up their adventure in fifth grade.  All your students need to bring in is a shoebox (wrapped or unwrapped).  I let my students wrap them for uniqueness, but you could wrap them all with brown butcher paper.  After students have their shoe box, they put all of their work in it and then they prepare to make it look like a suitcase using the “End of the Year Portfolio Suitcase Craftivity.”  Click the picture bow for this fun activity. This product contains all of the directions you need to make this project a success in your classroom. I also have them take their footprint they made and stick this to the outside of their suitcase. When they are finished, they pack up a year’s worth of memories and adventures. 

Susan talks about a "getting to know you" game, an "all about you" bag, and "one nice thing!"

The first day of school is usually hectic and stressful.  Kids are always nervous, excited and curious about their new teacher and classmates.  My favorite activity in the first few hours involves a beach ball, a sharpie, a little planning and some fun!  Before school starts I write “getting to know you” question all over the ball with the sharpie.  On the first day, usually in the morning, I have students sit in a circle on the carpet.  They take turns throwing the ball, and responding to the questions.  The rule is that you answer the question closest to where your right thumb lands on the ball.  Some of the questions I include are: What is your favorite song and why? How many brothers or sisters do you have? What are your hobbies? 

     My other favorite activity for the beginning of the year is the “all about me bag.”  On the second day of school I bring in a paper lunch bag that I have colored and decorated with crayons and markers.  Inside the bag I have 5 items that are meant to tell the class all about me.  I usually include a picture of my family, my Bible, an emblem of my favorite sports team (Go UGA Dawgs!), a book (because I like to read), and a piece of chocolate.  I take the time to explain why I included each item and explain how they represent me.  I then pass bags out to the students and allow them to decorate their own.  Their homework that night is to go home and put their 3-5 items in the bag.  The next day each student presents their items.  Students often make new friends through this activity because they discover common interests they didn’t know they had.

      One activity I love to do to help solidify our bond as a class at the end of the year is “one nice thing.”  I write each student’s name on a large sheet of construction paper, and glue on a picture of the student.  I then hang the papers on the wall in the hallway.  Each student goes around writing one nice thing about their classmates on the papers.  At the end I take them up and write a note to the students as well.  I pass them back to the students on the last day of school as a memento of the school year.

1 comment:

  1. So many practical, fun activities - great post!! :-)