I’m so happy you stopped by! Today I’m sharing a few teacher tips for building classroom community, and a delicious crock pot recipe. I was a classroom teacher for 13 years before I became a WAHM of 3, ages 2 and under. Now I work with children in a 1:1 setting, teaching them to read using Orton-Gillingham methodology. I miss the hustle and bustle of setting up a classroom, and welcoming a new group of students in September into my classroom. Being able to be home with my own 3 little ones most of the week, while helping children become successful readers is so rewarding.
One of the things I enjoyed doing the first week of school with my third grade students, was creating a classroom constitution. I started with a rotating brainstorming activity. Here’s how I did it:
- I had my class sitting in about 4 groups of 5. (depending on that year’s class size)
- At each group, I placed a sign attached to a large piece of construction paper.
- Each sign had the type of classroom I wanted us to have: A helping classroom, a peaceful classroom, a kind classroom, a clean classroom, and a working classroom.
- I wrote the following questions on each sign: What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? (This is a good time to discuss inside and outside feelings.)
- Markers were left at each group, and a recorder was designated.
- Each group took about 5-7 minutes to write down as many ideas as they could about that type of classroom. When the timer went off, each group rotated clockwise to the next group and began the process again with a new sign.
- When they noticed something they would have said that was already written down from a previous group, they placed a star or check mark next to that idea.
- They kept rotating until they visiting every group and wrote ideas.
This was always a fascinating process to watch. You begin to see group dynamics, the natural leaders, and the observers. I tried my best to stand back and let them complete the activity without a lot of guidance. I also made the recorders let others have a go when the group rotated.
Next, we displayed all the signs and posters at the rug area. I read them all out loud, and we discussed things we noticed. The next step was for each child to write down 5 class rules they think would work well in the classroom. This was done independently.
I wrote down their rules on chart paper. At this point, we discussed how to write a rule that sounds positive not negative. For instance, instead of starting a sentence with, “We won’t,” “Never”, or “Don’t,” we changed it to “We can” or “We will” statements. I believe in maintaining positive and proactive language for kids to use. We were able to revise them down to 5-7 rules total. I typed them up and made it into a poster. Each student had a chance to sign it in ink. I explained once you sign something in ink, it’s law! We had this awesome poster maker in the building I taught in where you could make any 8.5 by 11″ piece of paper into a poster. Totally cool. 🙂 A copy was also sent home in backpacks and included in my class newsletter.
So what are the benefits of this lesson?
- Promotes cooperative learning.
- Good beginning of the year brainstorming practice.
- A good model of the writing process and the art of revision! This is a huge benefit. I showed my class how we started with the brainstorm, wrote rough drafts, edited and revised as a whole class, and wrote a final draft. It’s a perfect shared writing opportunity and one that serves an important purpose.
Would you like to try this activity?
Next, I’m sharing some books I like to read during the first few weeks of school. This a collage I made from my “Hooray! More Books!” Pinterest board.
One of the books I love is One Green Apple by Eve Bunting. I love this author and did an author study on her with my third graders every year for about 9 years.
One Green Apple is about a little girl named Farah. She is new to school in the United States and doesn’t speak English. One day the class goes on a field trip to an apple orchard to pick apples and learn how apple cider is made. Farah is very shy. It takes a great deal of courage to speak her first English word. This is a beautiful story of friendship and acceptance of other cultures. If you have children in your class that are non-English speakers or new to the U.S., you’ll want to pick this up.
Finally, since we’re talking about apples, I thought I’d share a crock pot recipe for making applesauce! I love using my crock pot during the school year. The idea of throwing everything into it, and knowing dinner will be done when you arrive home after a long day, is simply a thing of beauty. This is a recipe you could easily make with your students. If you set it on high, they could enjoy it by the afternoon. Be sure to read One Green Apple while they sit and enjoy this yummy treat. What a great way to build classroom community!
As an added treat, my brand new September Non-Fiction Task Cards will be 50% off throughout this hop.(August 15-17) This September edition features the life of Johnny Appleseed and nutrition facts about apples!
Have you found these ideas helpful? I’d love to hear what you do to build classroom community, so feel free to comment below. If you have a chance today, please follow my blog on Bloglovin.
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