Monday, December 25, 2017

Merry Everything. Happy Always.

Santa came.

Small room + four kids + pets + parent gifts = an overwhelming room!!

Wishing everyone a spectacular end to 2017 and a blazing start to 2018. The blog will be quiet for the next few weeks as I take some time to unwind and snuggle close with my loved ones. But, I've got some great content coming up in the new year, so stay tuned! I've got a discussion on executive functioning, some awesome new products to share, and an update to my new, 50-minute ELA schedule, so be sure to stop by soon!

Happy Holidays!

Monday, December 11, 2017

Anchor Activities - An Essential for Effective Classroom Management

Over the years, I've mentored plenty of new teachers. And without a doubt, the biggest area of concern is classroom management.

Heck, who am I kidding!? Classroom management is still an issue for many of us veteran teachers!

When talking to teachers who struggle with classroom management, something I find is that many of these folks view classroom management as a reactive endeavor. So, a student demonstrates behavior X and then teacher responds (reacts) with action Y. Often times, this results in a culture where "classroom management" becomes a system of rewards and/or punishments used to keep students' behavior in check.

What I encourage these teachers to do is to rethink their definition of management. Specifically, rather than being reactive, try instead to be proactive. This means figuring about a way to structure their classrooms to restrict problem behaviors from happening in the first place.

For me, a HUGE part of fostering a classroom that limits problem behaviors is to make sure that there is always, and I mean ALWAYS, something engaging for students to do. That means that there is absolutely NO WAY a student can be "done." In my experience, students who finish early and are "bored" are 99% of the time responsible for unwanted behaviors.

Therefore, having a stash of high-interest, open-ended anchor activities available at all times to students is essential!

In my classroom, I always have a handful of anchor activities available. Typically, the anchors that I use involve reading a book from the classroom library, or writing in our writer's notebook. I like activities that are fun and engaging, but also not totally astray from our curriculum. I also want tasks that any kid can do, regardless of ability, and are not too much prep/management on my part.

My Top Three Favorite Anchor Activities:

Library Scavenger Hunt

Have students "hunt" through the books in your library for a variety of things. Prompt examples might include:
  • Find (and record) 10 sentences that use one of our Greek and Latin root words.
  • Find (and record) 10 examples of complex sentences.
  • Find (and record) 10 amazing openings that draw the reader in.
  • Find (and record) 10 titles from books about the Holocaust.
I usually just have students keep their lists in their writer's notebooks, but there have been times where I've collected lists as classwork grades and even given some extra credit for them.

Picture Book Bin

I use picture books often during teaching, so I've got a pretty decent collection of high-quality ones. Every once in a while, I'll put them out in a bin in the library for students to read during their free time You will be AMAZED to see how quickly 7th graders get lost in a Chris Van Allsburg or Eve Bunting!

Writer's Notebook

 There's no doubt that kids always need more writing practice! But, I find that I have to have some SUPER ENGAGING prompts, or this becomes a real drag real fast. Recently, I've put some of my favorite, no-fail prompts up in my TpT store:

These activities are all about creative writing (which we just don't ever get enough time for!!) and stretching the imagination. I am always shocked at just how much kids love working on them!

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So, do you use anchor activities to keep your classroom running smoothly? I'd love to hear about the anchors that you use! Comment below or share with me on Facebook or Instagram