Sunday, July 13, 2014

Tips to Begin the Year: Music, Procedures, and LESSON IDEAS

Ready for another school year?  Here are a few tips and tricks to get started....

Do you play music in your classroom?  Music is an essential in so many aspects of my life, but especially in my work with students!  I have blogged about it before, but here are some ideas for your classroom playlist for the year...
Brain Break Songs for the Classroom-each song on this list has only lyrics that are appropriate for the classroom!  These are a few of my old and new favorites. 

A Sky Full of Stars by Coldplay
Find You by Zedd
Sweet Disposition by Temper Trap
Pompeii by Bastille
Rude by Magic
Wake Me Up by Avicii
Team by Lorde
Tennis Court by Lorde
It's So Hard to Say Goodbye to Yesterday (yes, the old Boys 2 Men song) by Jason Mraz
Girls Chase Boys by Ingrid Michaelson
Be OK by Ingrid Michaelson
Count On Me by Mat Kearney
Raging Fire by Phillip Phillips
Gone, Gone, Gone by Phillip Phillips
Stop This Train by John Mayer
Never Know by Jack Johnson
Umbrella by Marie Digby
Wishing Heart by Lisa Loeb

Silent Working Music-I found this gem on Rhapsody, but I have added the link on Amazon in case you want to make the purchase. I am obsessed with finding the perfect music while my students are working.  I find that if they know the words, some can still work, but others get distracted from the singing.  This is all instrumental, which is ideal for those that just like to have a little background noise to enhance concentration.  Also, I find that playing music in the background while I am working with small groups tends to keep the noise level down if students are also working in partners or small groups.

Procedures:  Here is a peek at how I give parents and students an idea of what to expect on our 6th grade team.  I find that the first day is LOADED with procedures that help the students learn all about how the classroom is run and what it is like to be a 6th grader.  It is a fun day, but also when where routines are established and students realize how they will function in this exciting grade.  This is an "Ins and Outs" tool that I was inspired by my son's kindergarten teacher to create to share a ton of information.  In addition, we do an interest inventory that gets students up and socializing.  CHAMPs is utilized in our building, but by 6th grade except for going over a few small differences, the students are already familiar, so there is no need to go over every component of that behavior management plan.

Lesson Ideas:  I like to get the year off to a consistent start, so by the second day we are doing legitimate work that would be completed any other day of the school year.  Here are a few tools I have created and utilized with my students in order to engage them from the first week of school.

We begin our writing notebooks right away in the first week of the year.  The second day is ideal so that the students can get an understanding that we will be writing on a consistent basis.  I begin with the first journal prompt of the week in order to gauge where my students currently are as thinkers and writers.  The prompt is posted, the students copy the prompt, I give some basic directions, and the students begin writing.  It is after this first writing that those willing-share what they have written.  I also collect the journals, which are composition notebooks or 1/2 inch binders with filler paper, and respond to their work.  I will seek out a few students that I will check with first, but I will take a picture of their response and post it so that others can see a sample of my expectations as a 6th grade writer. 

Ashley organizing her binder and getting ready to write.

Writing is an essential component in our students' work with common core.  Because I struggled to find an editing tool that I could use with my students in just minutes a day to improve their writing, I created this to use as a morning starter.  Simply post the sentence on your SMART board, have students copy the sentence into their writer's notebook, edit te sentence with editing marks, copy correctly fixing all errors, and finally go over as a whole group.  I even have students volunteer to come up to the board to facilitate the corrections.  The rest of the class participates as they are called upon by the student facilitator.

I utilize reader's theater scripts with my students on a consistent basis because they are the PERFECT tool to enhance fluency, work on comprehension, and my students LOVE to perform.  This is the perfect tried and true script to share with students in those first days of the year.  It is a high-interest read that will engage your students, as well as begin your work with common core. With comprehension questions, context clue word work, a summary organizer, and clear directions for implementation, your students won't even realize they are "doing work."

Students in action performing the script.
I would love any tips and tricks you find useful for getting ready for your school year!

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At Wednesday, 23 July, 2014 , Blogger Middle of Lit said...

I love these ideas - thank you! I am a first-year 7th grade ELA teacher, so I am on the lookout for tried-and-true classroom management strategies. I am your newest follower :)

At Thursday, 31 July, 2014 , Blogger Pam Olivieri said...

Your music list is going to save me for sure! I always play music, analyze lyrics, etc. I love it!
Rockin Resources

At Saturday, 02 August, 2014 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello Erin! I love your Blog and ideas! I would appreciate some help regarding Daily 3. Would you be willing to share your email so I can network with you? Thanks and blessing!

At Saturday, 02 August, 2014 , Blogger Erin Beers said...

My email is I just did a guest blog post about the Daily 3 that will go live next week on Fifth in the Middle, but will gladly send you any info to help you out. Talk to you soon!


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