.... from a small rural school in Elbert, Colorado.

A good teacher is surrounded by MANY great teachers! Thank you to the great teachers at my school and out in blogland!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

My Blog's 1 Week Anniversary

I wanted to share a couple of my favorite ORGANIZATION ideas. 
#1  I learned something 6 years ago - my first year in 3rd grade.  If you don't have it in writing, the students will forget every single day what to do when they get there in the morning, and you will have to repeat yourself for 180 days or so.  And of course, you couldn't just say it once, because everyone isn't ready to hear it at the same time.  Over and over again I had to repeat it, "Did you turn your folder in?, Did you do attendance?, Did you count your money?"  After that year and much thinking I came up with the MORNING BOARD and AFTERNOON BOARD.  These boards say exactly what to do and are put up when needed and then taken down, so they don't take up prominent space in the classroom.  Better than that, each step is numbered, and now when a kid seems lost, I just ask, "What number are you on?"  That redirects them and I'm free to deal with all the notes, homework, attendance, helping to count money, etc.  After about a month of school when a student doesn't use the board and therefore skips something, he/she is charged 10 cents (classroom money - see below).  If a student leaves the room at the end of the day and I can see that something was missed like "afternoon job" or "putting up chair", I write on the board - "You owe me 10 cents."

 I just use poster boards and write what needs to be done each morning and afternoon.  I decorate them to match our theme.

I couldn't live without these!  They're perfect for a sub day, too.  The students know where they are and hook them on the wall and take them down when they're not needed.  I no longer have to write everything down for the sub or show up to school, sick, in order to write it all down on the board for the students to follow. 

#2 I use MONEY.  Third graders need lots of practice with money all year and this is a great way to do it.  I have a classroom store.  I use a lot of Beth's ideas so check out her website at but I'm going to tell you a few of my own.  The Spanish teacher at our school gave me a tin can full of foreign coins that are out of circulation.  (You could surely use anything from marbles to metal washers). They are all different sizes and weights, so they are fun for the students to earn in their tin pails.  I have a little pail on each group of tables or some years each student's desk.  They earn these coins, that make a great "tinging noise" when dropped in their pail, for answering questions, working hard, or whatever else I can think of to encourage others to follow.  At the end of the day, the students count the coins by ones (they are not American money so we have a good talk at the beginning of the year that their exchange value is 1 cent) and come to me for a sticky note receipt (one per table group).   I always have the group earn the money together to work on collaborative learning, even if they have separate pails they dump them together to count.  I have also determined I would never take a coin out of their pails since they are working as a group.  If a student does need to pay money for bad behavior or whatever, he/she takes it from his/her personal money - play money in his wallet.
 "Counting coins in your pails" is written on the AFTERNOON board so I don't have to remind them everyday.  They do it quickly and easily, usually even grabbing the sticky note pad and pen for me.  I use to have them exchange it for class money (plastic play money) at the bank immediately after, but have found that it works better to have them go to the bank in the morning because of time, when they are doing their exchanges and counting the class money in their wallets anyway. 
In the morning the students count their 3rd grade class money (play money) in their plastic bags and record it everyday on a checkbook register.  (Most banks will happily give out old checkbooks for schools - mine came from Air Academy Federal Credit Union).  The students love it because they feel really grown-up.  Since every kiddo has a checkbook, my students even do deposits, so they can write checks at our class store.  I make a rule about how much they have to have before depositing (usually $1.00) or some students would do it everyday.  I record it on the deposit record in their book and then on the last page in my record book so it is safe (like a real bank I say).  We have lots of economy lessons so this doesn't all happen the first day of school.  However, beginning day one, they do get their tin pails and coins dropped in.  Day two they get their checkbooks and plastic bag (wallet).  They learn how to go to the bank with their receipt and then count their plastic money and record it.  We go very slow and take lots of time for the first two weeks, but after that it is easy for most of them.  I do go around and sign next to the date on the checkbook register after checking that the money in their wallets matches what they've written down and that it is written correctly.  Later in the year I only do it a couple of times a week, just to make sure everyone is on target (an no stealing).  Of course there are kids that will have to be checked or helped everyday, but that's okay because learning is happening.

Hopefully you can use an idea or two.  Let me know.  I'll have more to come.


  1. I love your bank!! Great idea. Love your blog too! Look forward to visiting again.

  2. Thanks for visiting. I love your site. It's great.