Wednesday, December 12, 2012

End of the Day Reflection

I don't know about you, but I feel like dismissal is always the most hectic time of the day!  Despite all my procedures, there is only so much I can manage the chaos of students packing up and getting lined up.

However, I do have some routines that I love and want to share.

What I Learned Today!

Closure, closure, closure!  That seems to be a buzzword when it comes to observation lessons.  It's always, "Be sure to close your lesson,"  "Make sure to have a summarizer," etc. etc.  That's probably because it is so hard to make time to really close a lesson effectively, especially when there are materials to clean up, bells ringing for recess etc.

I used to ask myself, "why is closure so important?"  

I pondered for a bit and considered the wise words of professors and supervisors and realized that yes, indeed, closure is an important and necessary reinforcement of concepts.  During independent work, kids go to the bathroom, chat with their neighbor, and get otherwise distracted from the main concepts that they are supposed to be learning and practicing.  They need to be reminded at the end of a lesson what they actually learned, so that they can retain it for at least a millisecond after the lesson.  

Then, out of the blue, my principal at the time told me I should start having a whole day closure/reflection.

My initial reaction was "What?  Another thing to do!  There is already so much going on!"

However, then I tried it.  I started taking a minute or two at the end of the day to have the students share with each other and the class what they learned that day.  I discovered that many of the students did not remember things at first, but were quickly reminded when they heard the ideas and recollections of others.  They actually got very excited to remember all that they had done and learned that day.  I also enjoyed the mood boost I got when I realized all that I had taught.

Now, I have use a recording sheet for students to use to write down what they learned each day.  They keep this sheet in their Homework Folders, so that they can share it with their parents at night when the inevitable "What did you learn in school today?" question is asked.

Finally, at the end of the month, students can reflect even more as they realize how much they learned using the prompts at the bottom of the page.

So, not only do I close my lessons, but I close my days out.

Behavior Charts

I originally got this idea from Linda on Proteacher and from one of my practicum teachers in college.  I cannot remember where I found the chart, so I apologize if this is stealing someone's idea.  I did adapt it and make it my own though, so it is not an exact copy cat.

The idea behind my behavior chart is that I wanted to have some kind of individual accountability/incentive for my students.  Students keep this chart in their Homework Folders.  At the end of each day, I call them up for dismissal by group (bussers, walkers etc.) and give each student either a sticker or a note explaining their misbehavior.  If you don't want to go into debt buying stickers, you could do a smiley face or a star.

Even though the stickers are small, the students are highly motivated to earn them.  They love getting all kinds of themed stickers and are so proud of themselves when they complete a week or a month of stickers.  The students who misbehave and get notes are always disappointed in themselves and vow to do better.  

Besides motivating the students, the chart is an AMAZING tool for parental communication.  I have parents gush to me at conferences about how much they appreciate getting daily feedback about their child's behavior.  The feedback enables them to support and enforce classroom rules at home through additional incentives or consequences based on whether or not their children earn stickers.

While the chart itself is an external motivator, I have found that it helps build internal motivation because students realize that their behavior can have positive or negative results and they begin to strive to do their best.  This is the case even for my super well-behaved students who earn stickers nearly 100% of the time. 

Also, at the end of the month, I can copy the charts and keep them in my student records.  This allows me to note trends in behavior and to easily communicate about issues with support staff and parents.

Download a copy of my chart for January: Behavior Chart.  Feel free to adapt it to meet your needs!

Hope these two ideas are helpful.  Time to go to bed.  I found out I officially have a sinus infection, so I am starting antibiotics, but I still need my sleep! 

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