Sunday, February 26, 2012

Classroom Management Strategies

Today I'd like to list some classroom management strategies I've learned from observing teachers while working as an assistant.

1. Compliment! Compliment! Compliment!

 In our university classes, we've been constantly reminded on using positive reinforcement instead of punishment. However, I was starting to think that realistically, using punishment to some extent is unavoidable, since I saw it being used in so many classrooms by experienced teachers. This is why I was so excited when I saw a substitute teacher manage a grade two/three split class beautifully through the art of complimenting. 

These are the things she would say throughout the day, to keep the children on track:

  •       “Who can I compliment who’s showing that they’re ready to learn ?”
  •       “Who can I compliment who’s a hard worker ( or doing a good job)?”
  •       (Name of student), please compliment a person (or two people) who are showing that they are ready (to learn).”
 (In the last strategy, the teacher lets a student compliment on other students. I love this approach, since it shows children that being respectful listeners or workers directly affects each other's learning. This strategy worked well especially before a specific student presents something in front of the class, through activities such as show and tell, or simply showing their project to the class. Sometimes the teacher has to specify and say "Please choose one boy and one girl" in order to prevent girls just calling on girls and vice versa.)

2. Sing a song

 This strategy seemed to work well to get the children to quiet down and focused during carpet time. The teacher used this song, but I'm sure there are other songs out there which would work well for the same purpose. 

I like the way that (name of student) looks ready.

I like the way that (name of student) looks ready.

I like the way that (name of student) looks ready.

(Name of student) looks ready too.

3. Star Worker

This strategy is useful when students need to stay on task during individual desk work. The teacher puts a star on the white board and says, “In this star, I’m going to be putting the names of people who are at their best behaviour and working hard. People who have got their name in the star, please come see me after class.”The teacher told me that she usually gives out rewards to those students, such as scented stickers or candy. I thought this strategy would especially be good for substitute teachers. 

4. Magic piece of garbage

During clean up time, I've been in many classrooms where the teacher constantly needs to remind the children to keep cleaning up after art, or activities with high degrees of freedom, such as centres. The teacher told me that this strategy is an excellent way to motivate students on getting the room cleaned up. 

When students start cleaning up, the teacher tells them "I have chosen a magic piece of garbage. The person who picks up the magic piece of garbage gets a prize after cleaning up." The teacher keeps his/her eye's on the specific piece, and after the cleaning is finished, tells the students what the piece was (it can be anything, such as a specific piece of paper on the floor) and who picked it up. This way, the children are encouraged to pick up as many pieces of garbage as possible. Again, the scented stickers or candy can be used for rewards. 

This is it for now. I'll post more strategies as I learn more from the different classrooms I'll be substituting in as an educational assistant. Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The benefits of Khan Academy

Yay! My first post!

Today I worked at Shoreline Middle School as an educational assistant with an amazing group of grade sixes. Ever since I worked last year with the grade sixes at Gordon Head Middle School, I've really enjoyed working with this age group. I spent the morning in the resource room, and was pleasantly surprised to see the teacher use Khan Academy to teach equivalent fractions to the class. I became really excited, since I had just learned about Khan Academy in my information technology class last term. It's always great to see different things we learn in university classes implemented in actual classrooms with children. The students spent about 15 minutes to try the program out for the first time. I didn't know this before, but if you create an account, you can actually create avatars which you can change as you earn more badges in the program. I noticed that this function seemed to drastically increase the students' motivation, since it gives the program a game-like feeling. The students were discussing with each other which avatar they wanted to get later on as they advanced in the program. When the teacher asked them at the end of the block how they thought about using Khan Academy, the majority of the students said that they really liked it because it was "fun" and "cool", and that they would use the program at home as well.

Although I believe that a computer program can never and should never replace an actual teacher, I feel that Khan Academy is a great empowering tool to enable students to work independently. I would recommend this program especially to students who need reviewing but are embarrassed to admit that they are confused in class. Such students would be able to watch the same video as many times as they need to without feeling rushed. Others who need more of a challenge would also benefit from it, as they have the freedom to move ahead, and choose topics that spark their interests.