Monday, November 29, 2010

Teaching Tip: Passing back papers

Teachers are always pressed for time. The teaching hour can go by so quickly. The more your classroom management is down, especially for time consuming tasks like collecting papers and passing them back. If that is you, here is a few tips on paper collecting, passing back, and even distributing materials.

Collecting student work
You could put a box near the front classroom door with an "IN" box where students drop off papers as they walk in. If you have more than one class, us a box for each class. A standup folder works well, too. If you wish, you can have just one box and empty it while the students are working or in between classes.

If you need to collect an in-class assignment, you should be teaching or bridging to the next task while students pass their papers in. It is better to have students pass papers up, then to the left or right. That way, they all end up at the same place. You won't have to walk around to collect them. If your room is set up in such a fashion, the student that sits nearest your desk could just put all papers on it. You may be able to come up with variations of your own that work well. You never want to waste classtime waiting, doing nothing, while papers are passed in.

You could reverse the collection process. Students hold their papers and put them in the "IN" box on their way out.

Passing out classroom materials
Again, never waste class time while passing out material to your students like worksheets. There should be a bridge activity, even an oral one. A good way to pass out paper or handouts is to give them to no more than 2 students and let them pass them out. An alternate way is to give half to the row on the right, and half to the row on the left, and each student takes one and passes the rest on. It is time consuming for you to count.

Passing back completed student work
This can be time consuming. Passing back 30 papers to the right students can be tricky. You should have a sponge activity to start class, about 5 minutes. You should readily be able to pass back all papers within that time. Of course knowing the student's names helps! Learn them fast.

An alternative way is to do something similar as passing out material. Give half the pile to each side of the room, students grab their own papers. Do this during the sponge activity as well.

You can choose to pass back papers at the end. No reason to not end about 4 minutes early or so and pass them back. The last couple of minutes can be a little chaotic as the students are getting ready to leave.

You certainly want to think of these things before the situation arises. Simple tasks like these can be a chore and time consuming if not done right. Read more classroom management tricks by going here.

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Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Easier grading with rubrics

Anything that can make grading papers more efficient can lessen the stress level for teachers. Grading can be tedious process. Think rubrics! Rubrics are a list of items with points assigned for each one. Each part contributes points to the overall grade. On things like essays, projects, and portfolios, a rubric makes the grading much smoother.

How to make a rubric
You need to come up with a list of things that a student will need to have done to make their paper or project complete. Keep it to a few items, no more than 6 to 7. Write them all down.

You will now try and assign points for each part, with the total being a good number like 100. 100 makes percentages easy to calculate. It helps to write the list in some order. Either from the most important to the least, or the reverse. I like to go from the least important (or lowest points) to the most important.

Then a teacher simply has to decide how many points for each section. Keep an eye on the total up to 100. It may take a few tweaks to get the points distributed just right.

There you have it. An easy way to decide on points and a final grade. It is always a good idea to pass a copy of this rubric out to students so that they know exactly what is expected.

What makes a rubric a good way to grade is this. Let's say you assign an essay or project with no rubric. What determines and A? It becomes more of a judgment call on your part, leaving much to your feelings. That does not always give students a chance to pass. With a rubric, you lessen the student's stress by showing that all students can at least get a passing grade.

Here is a sample rubric for a report.

Title page, your name-5 points
Table of contents-5 points
Minimum 7 pages-5 points
Introduction paragraph-10 points
At least 2 illustrations-10points
Concluding summary paragraph-10 points
Reference page, at least 5 references-10points
Referenced all important points-10 points
Grammar, spelling, coherence-35
____________________________ 100 points total

Please note it is just a sample. The last points, the grammar, spelling, and coherence can be further broken down if you wish. Notice how the points add up to 65 before even reading the whole essay. This gives all students a chance to get a passing grade on the assignment. That is always beneficial to your students. It also cuts down on the students who always do an over-the-top job. You don't want those students to always be the ones to get A's. A rubric will make you a fairer grading teacher.

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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Teachers and students bathroom breaks

Restroom passes, breaks, and policies for teachers is always a touchy subject. It should not be. Almost every class period is geared for a length of time that a child can wait between bathroom/restroom breaks. However, there are teachers that like to be more lenient, others stern. Some teachers don't care. The best position that teachers should take is somewhere in the middle.

First and foremost, let's state that all emergencies should be handled directly. Let a student go. All teachers should be able to recognize a real emergency, and even if the student is faking, best to err on the side of caution. Of course at higher grades, the abuse factor is there. If the students know you are fair and firm, you will have no abuses to worry about. In fact, that's the key to a good bathroom pass policy.

If a teacher does not make it an issue, the bathroom issue will never be a problem. If your students see you as fair and admirable teacher, you will have no problems. The problems are mainly caused by students wanting to press your buttons. If you have built a relationship with your students, this melts away. In fact, it melts away a lot of discipline problems. Bathroom pass abuse is a discipline problem.

For teachers that would rather have tips on bathroom use, here we go.

Never let more than one student out of the room at a time. If it's a young grade, like first grade, you may make an exception.

Let's stop here. Most of the bathroom pass tips here are for older students, say 3rd grade on up. You will have to recognize the need for younger student not being able to hold it. Stress going during lunch and recess. Remind them to go as they walk out the door.

Put a time limit on it. Just pick a time 3-4 minutes is fine. No exceptions.

Nobody can ask for a bathroom pass during the first 20 minutes of class. Guess what? This tells the students you will let them go, so no confrontations. It also means that virtually all students can make it way past 20 minutes, so...? The number of students asking will be rare.

If you make it an issue and take a "no bathroom" attitude, your students will fight it.

If you are in the middle of a lesson,say,"No, but ask me in 5 minutes." Most of the time they will forget. If it's real, they'll remember.

You may allow each student one bathroom pass a quarter. That way, they know they can go if they really need to.

Always keep track of students who are gone. If something happens, you need to know where students are and who is missing.

You can also choose days. No bathroom passes on Mondays or Fridays.

The more you don't make it an issue, the better. The more your students know they can go if they really need to, the better. Those two things alone will almost make your bathroom problems disappear.

It is all part of your classroom discipline and classroom management.