First Things First: Establishing Classroom Procedures and Expectations
Most educators understand that the first week or two of school will set the stage for the rest of the year. That’s why it’s critical during this early period to give adequate attention to helping students establish classroom routines and expectations.
When children understand the routines and expectations early on, teachers can spend more time teaching and less time focused on managing their classroom.
There are plenty of things to remember when establishing expectations with your class. Whether you’re a new teacher or a veteran educator, a comprehensive checklist can be invaluable, such as this one at nea.org [ http://www.nea.org/tools/determine-classroom-procedures-before-school-starts.html].
Three Keys to Setting Expectations
Regardless of what procedures and expectations you have for your new classes, applying three key elements will help your students remember them.
- State expectations clearly and frequently
- Have expectations posted in the learning space
- Classroom expectations should align with school-wide expectations
Doing this will not only result in fewer student infractions, but also empower your students to monitor their own behavior, freeing you up for additional valuable instruction time.
This week’s video on Edivate demonstrates how some teachers in Detroit, Michigan, set expectations for their students at the beginning of the school year. Watch the video, then download the study guide for summaries, reflection questions, and links to additional classroom management resources.
Three Steps to Teaching Students Active Listening Skills
One of the most important things that students can learn isn’t typically taught in a textbook. Yet it’s a skill that will serve them not just throughout the school year, but for their entire lives.
That skill is listening.
The vital role of listening in learning isn’t just common sense. Even standards-based curricula stress its importance. So how do we go about teaching and promoting listening in the classroom?
Rebecca Alber at Edutopia.com lists five strategies for encouraging students to listen. It’s definitely worth a read.
Three Steps for Actively Listening
Edivate offers an entire classroom series on Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which includes a unit on listening skills. In this week’s featured video, we watch educators at Beaumont Unified School District in Beaumont, California, teach their students three basic steps to active listening:
- Look at the person talking.
- Wait until he or she is done before they speak.
- Respond with words or gestures that show they heard what the speaker said.
Watch the video (it’s under three minutes) to see how these teachers are implementing active listening in their classrooms. You can also download the study guide for additional insights and resources for using PBIS in your own classroom.
Classroom Tech: 3rd Grade Reading Via Skype
It seems like every day we hear about the innovative ways teachers are using technology to facilitate classroom learning and collaboration. These practices were beyond the reach of many schools just a few years ago.
In some cases, entire classrooms are sharing and collaborating with other classes around the country using video chat applications such as Skype. This is one aim of STEM education: connecting students with their local and global communities through the use of technology.
Take, for example, Ms. Robin Farnsworth’s 3rd grade class at Neil Armstrong Academy in West Valley City, Utah. Through Skype, Ms. Farnsworth’s students read A Bad Case of the Stripes to another class and then listen as the other class reads their storybook, The Book with No Pictures.
This simple 30-minute activity provides an engaging, meaningful context for the students to practice reading fluency and comprehension. It also addresses two state standards:
- Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding
- Use telecommunications to communicate with others
Watch this lesson in action above to see how Ms. Farnsworth facilitates these classroom readings and subsequent discussions. You can also download the lesson guidebook for additional insights, as well as step-by-step instructions for creating this activity in your own classroom.
The guidebook also provides links to additional resources for effective teaching of STEM concepts.
What does a truly comprehensive STEM lesson look like?
Cross-curricular activities can increase the relevance and engagement of STEM lessons.
This week’s strategy features students in Ms. Monica Marsing’s 6th grade class tracking food waste in their school cafeteria in order to create solutions for reducing the waste and reusing the rest as compost.
This lesson is exceptionally appropriate because it hits on so many concepts: statistics, problem solving, ecosystems, resource management, and more. In short, the lesson covers every aspect of STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.
This lesson is also standards based, addressing the following standards:
- Use ratios to explore and solve real-world problems.
- Find the mean of a data set, describe overall patterns, and identify deviations from the overall pattern.
- Analyze and interpret data.
Watch the video to see how Ms. Marsing executes this lesson, then download the lesson guidebook for everything you need to adapt this lesson in your own classroom. The guidebook also links to additional resources for effective teaching of STEM concepts.