Sunday, June 1, 2014

Organize to Optimize Your Teaching!

Sunday, June 1, 2014


Over the summer, I am going to be participating in a Diggin' Link-Up series hosted by blogger Laura Graham at Where the Magic Happens.  Each week will feature a different topic where different bloggers will share information from their own classroom and link their blog posts on Laura's blog.
Now, to set the tone for what I will share, let me remind everyone that I am in my 21st year as an educator and in my current position, I teach mathematics at the college level where I work with future and inservice teachers.  I do have multiple years of experience in a classroom and am frequently in and out of a variety of classrooms at all levels.  I analyze standardized test scores and develop activities to assist with intervention for students who struggle to master established grade level objectives.  With that said, my weekly blog posts may offer a different twist with each topic.


Once a teacher gets past the traditional organization with classroom furniture of what hopefully becomes a student-centered classroom as opposed to a storage-centered classroom, the teaching content for the next year should drive much of the next steps for the organization of the classroom.  The teaching content extends beyond the basic subject areas and must focus specifically on the students who will be entering the classroom, especially for a grade level where standardized testing has been given at the previous level.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am not saying that standardized testing is the most important part of teaching,  However, because standardized testing is used as a huge measure in determining the success rating of many schools, we have to make sure the objectives on those tests are certainly being covered in the classrooms.  Thus, one of the main goals I always had for myself over the summer in order to organize my classroom for the new year was to collect data for each of the new students I would be gaining.  I had a spreadsheet for all objectives that I would be responsible to cover and was interested in any data that might have any positive or negative effects on those objectives.  For example, this is what my Grade 4 Common Core Math Objective spreadsheet would have looked like so that I could mark the different objectives for a particular student and then track that student throughout the year in my class. 
Once this data was collected, I spent time analyzing that data so that I could decide more about how I would like to organize my classroom by first grouping my students.  I always liked to group students with a variety of levels in each group so that my stronger students might hopefully be able to assist my weaker students.  I often used groups of 3-4 students to keep the groups manageable.  Without knowing the personalities of the students, I often had to do some rearranging once school actually started, but I at least had a starting place based on my collected data.  My data also helped me to organize what would become my independent learning centers in my classroom for students who finished assignments early and needed extra work to do.  I always started with the weakest objectives first in the beginning of school to give more time for those objectives to be developed first.  I like the idea of using task cards which focus specifically on these objectives.  As objectives are developed, multiple objectives can be combined from different decks of cards for a spiral review.  My data also helped me organize my classroom by allowing me to determine ideas for projects, themes for bulletin boards, and objectives for extra intervention.  Again, all of these decisions were based on what I determined to be weak objectives for the students entering my classroom.
I have Math Common Core Tracking Sheets available for Grades 1-7 and ELA Common Core Tracking Sheets available for Grades 4-6.  All of these tracking sheets come in 2 versions:  a PDF version that you can simply print to use and a fully editable version that you can type on and edit if you choose.  Just click on the above links to be taken to where you can see the different tracking sheets available for the different grade levels.


I have 24 different sets of Task Card Sets in my Teachers Pay Teachers store and this link will take you to where you can see those sets:  Task Card Sets .  Here are some samples of what you will find.



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