By Gina Kennedy

By Gina Kennedy

A Few Weeks Down, Only About 35 More To Go!

     As you begin the new school year, I know you will be trying to find your classroom organizational niche and also be on that constant search for the perfect activities to engage your students and encourage creativity.

     For the last eight years I have had all of my teacher resource materials in tubs near my desk.  Resources are easy to  find at a minute's notice. Other teachers love browsing through my materials as well.  I even had to develop a checkout system.

     Every year I have a monthly "Estimation Station" for my 4th and 5th grade math students, they have the entire month to place their guesses in the jar.  At the end of the month, we count the items in the jar, work the "estimation problem" together and the winner receives a prize. I found the jars at the Dollar Store, I'm sure you have similar containers in your classroom. 
     As I posted in an earlier post, I use a more in depth way of estimating that also involves problem solving which I've included an example of below. Each month I create a multi-step mathematical problem for their estimate. Just guessing would be way to easy!!! They are required to show their work on their sticky note that they place in the "Guess Jar."

     Some of the items I would use in the estimation jars included:  skittles, toothpicks, beans, math cubic square manipulatives, cotton balls, spaghetti sticks and macaroni noodles.

    Please develop a "Organize by Day" system.  If you aren't doing this; start, because it will save you a great deal of time and if you have a sub; it is all there and waiting!  This is my favorite system below:

    Whereas; most of us do this quite well, there is no value that can be placed on hanging student work in the classroom.  They love it!   I have always had a "Proud Wall" in which the students would be responsible for placing two items of work each month.

I always wanted my students to have math journals they could take ownership of.  I photographed black and white photos of each student and glued the photographs on the covers of their math journals.  Every student was responsible for finding their favorite math quote as a homework assignment.  I placed the quotes under their photographs and covered the journal covers with clear packing tape.  The final product was a math journal that they couldn't wait to use.

During the first few weeks of school my students create passion posters.  We discuss the importance of finding out what inspires us.  The students are then directed to create 8" x 11" posters using Word or Powerpoint that represents the things that inspire them.