Strategies for Teaching Problem Solving Skills

Teaching kids who struggle in math is not easy.  But there are some procedures and strategies that have been shown to be helpful when learning mathematical concepts.  The following 5 strategies should be included in each math lesson.

1. Teach each step in the sequence.
2. Ensure that steps are taught through demonstration.
3. Allow sufficient time for guided practice.
4. Provide independent practice with guidance.
5. Create a visual display and post in the classroom or student notebooks to assist students.

4 Problem Solving Strategies

Check our 4 problem solving strategies that use mnemonics to help remember them: RIDE, FAST DRAW, TINS, and STAR. I like to consider the mnemonic math strategies to be the “training wheels” of problem solving. They get your students up and solving problems, helping to build confidence until they are ready to solve the problems without mnemonics.

RIDE (Mercer, Mercer, & Pullen, 2011) RIDE is a strategy used to assist students with solving word problems. Students who have trouble with abstract reasoning, attention, memory, and/or visual spatial skills may benefit from the strategy.

R – Remember the problem correctly.

I – Identify the relevant information.

D – Determine the operations and unit for expressing the answer.

E – Enter the correct numbers, calculate, and check the answer.

FAST DRAW (Mercer & Miller, 1992) Like RIDE, FAST DRAW is another strategy used to solve word problems.

F— Find what you are solving for.

A— Ask yourself, “What are the parts of the problem?”

S— Set up the numbers.

T— Tie down the sign.

D — Discover the sign.

A — Answer or draw and check.

TINS Strategy (Owen, 2003) The TINS strategy allows students to use different steps to analyze and solve word problems: (1) Think, (2) Information Circle, (3) Number Sentence, (4) Solution Sentence.

T—Thought Think about what you need to do to solve this problem and circle the key words.

I— Information Circle and write the information needed to solve this problem; draw a picture; cross out unneeded information.

N— Number Sentence Write a number sentence to represent the problem.

S – Solution Sentence Write a solution sentence that explains your answer.

STAR – The STAR strategy prompts students to apply a 4 -step problem-solving method: (1) Search, (2) Translate, (3) Answer, and (4) Review.

Search for important information

• Highlight key words.
• Cross out information that is not important

Translate the word problem into a number sentence.

• Arrange counters/objects to understand the problem.
• Draw the problem.
• Explain the problem in your own words.

• Consider the math operations to use.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Recognizing Strengths in Kids

When the 8 grandkids (all under 10 years old), arrive for a visit, our house is filled with varied personalities. Empathetic, aloof, funny, competitive you name it, and we probably have it.  Each visit I am recognizing strengths that I had not seen before and I marvel at the changes right before my eyes.

Kid’s strengths are different; some are obvious and others harder to notice.  It is easy to see athleticism, but it is harder to see a child that is good at compromising, unless they had to negotiate a deal! Some of those inner qualities go unnoticed unless we learn to recognize and talk about them.   This encourages skill development and open discussions about hard work and effort.  It helps to develop a child’s growth mindset to develop other strengths.

Check out the categories below that you see in kids and adults. Every time I teach or write about personal strengths, I recognize that my strengths have changed once again. The challenges of the pandemic I am sure have caused us all to find some undiscovered strengths. Can you identify some of your own strengths?

Social Strengths

• Has a good sense of humor.
• Accepts the differences in others.
• Is a good listener.
• Puts effort into making friends and keeping them.
• Shares, takes turns, and can compromise.
• Asks for help when needed.
• Accepts personal responsibility for actions.
• Tells the truth and can apologize when needed.

Literacy Strengths

• Can retell and remember story details.
• Can sound out unfamiliar words.
• Understands the structure of sounds.
• Makes connections between reading material and personal experiences.
• Can rhyme.
• Can make predictions in stories.
• Recognizes sight words easily.

Math and Logic Strengths

• Solves puzzles or word problems.
• Uses math concepts in the real world.
• Remembers math facts.
• Can do mental math in head.
• Has strong number sense.
• Sees and understand patterns in nature and in numbers.
• Understands math terms used in word problems.

Study Skills Strengths

• Understands and can set goals.
• Follows rules and routines well.
• Learns from mistakes and solves problems.
• Is a self-starter.
• Flexible thinker.
• Organizes thoughts and physical items like a backpack.

Language Strengths

• Participates in discussions at home, at school, and with friends.
• Uses words to express needs, wants, and ideas.
• Use lots of words and likes learning new words.
• Tells stories that have a clear beginning, middle and end.
• Can change tone of voice when telling a story or asking a question.
• Can answer who, what, when, where, why and how questions in a conversation about a story.
• Understands jokes, puns, and sarcasm.

Character Strengths

• Is honest and trustworthy.
• Is resilient.
• Shows independence.
• Cooperates
• Works hard
• Shows loyalty.
• Helps others.
• Is caring, kind and empathetic.

Other Strengths and Talents

• Is creative/artistic.
• Does community service projects.
• Plays sports or games (video games included)
• Takes care of animals and/or younger children.
• Entertains people by telling jokes or stories.
• Practice’s yoga, mindfulness, or meditation.
• Dances, acts, sings, or plays a musical instrument.

Upcoming Post: Developing a Growth Mindset

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Special Education Strategies Make a Difference

A new cadre of student teachers start their special education placements this week.  Teaching a classroom of students with a multitude of needs is difficult for the most experienced teacher.  So, for novice teachers, it can be overwhelming. But there are some effective teaching strategies in special education that student teachers can add to their toolbox to help meet the needs of their new students. However, since student needs vary widely; flexibility is key.

Check out the list of strategies to try with your students that need a different approach to learning, struggle with change or have short attention spans.  For some kids, the recipe for success may change daily.  Thank you for working so hard to help all kids shine!

Vary Approach to Learning

• Simplify and repeat directions as needed.
• Sequence learning tasks from simple to complex.
• Add visual supports and cues (charts, pictures, color coding)
• Give repeated opportunities to practice skills.
• Provide immediate, positive, descriptive feedback.
• Use manipulative and sensory materials that are developmentally appropriate.
• Offer choices so children can follow interests and strengths.
• Use concrete material or examples.
• Be sensitive to schedule changes: time for transitions, reminders of schedule changes, order of activities, length of activities.
• Provide time to process learning.

Managing Change

• Develop easy-to-use monitoring tools that are needs-based.
• Design teaching aids and lessons that are flexible.
• Add creativity to lessons and homework.
• Develop lesson plans that can be modified to fit each student.
• Develop a set of resources and interventions that work.

Short Attention Spans

• Establish consistent everyday routines.
• Share ideas with parents to help with homework.
• Open dialogue with parents to share “what works and doesn’t” at home and school.
• Set clear expectations for all students.
• Break assignments into smaller pieces.
• Add routine breaks into work time to create shorter periods.
• Use visual and auditory reminders to transition from one activity to another.
• Develop a reward system for desired behaviors: completing work, class participation, good behavior.

Coming Soon: Strategies: Communication and Language, Social/ Emotional and Physical/Motor Development.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Mini Detective Mysteries

Great detectives have an awesome eye for details.  They solve crimes by looking carefully at crime scenes, interviewing suspects, and listening to alibis. Read the Mini Detective Mysteries below CAREFULLY  and THINK like a detective.  Happy Investigating!

Detective Mysteries

• Two girls played five complete games of chess.  Each girl wins the same number of games. There are no ties.  How?
• If it takes 5 women to dig 5 holes, how long does it take one woman to dig half a hole?
• A farmer has seventeen sheep.  All but nine of them die.  How many sheep does he have left?
• The landscaper at the circular mansion was found unconscious in the foyer.  He had been poisoned.  The detective interviewed the cook, maid, and babysitter.  The cook’s alibi was that she was in the kitchen preparing breakfast.  The maid was dusting the corner of all the rooms.  The babysitter was in the yard playing with the kids. Who was not telling the truth?
• The red house is on one side of the street and the blue is on the other, where is the White House?
• A man was found dead early Thursday morning.  He was killed while his wife was sleeping.  The wife knew everyone’s whereabouts and shared it with the detective.  The wife tells the detective that the cook was cleaning the oven, the maid was making the beds and the butler was polishing the candlesticks.  The detective immediate arrested the person responsible.  Who is responsible and why?
• Kelly tells Chris, “This isn’t the \$20 bill you left on the table. I found it in between pages 38 and 39 in the book on the table. Chris tells Kelly, “You’re not telling the truth and I can prove it”. How did Chris know?
• Joan was killed one Sunday morning.  The investigator knew who to arrest after they discovered where everyone was at the time of the murder. Who killed Joan? Here are the clues.
• Nancy was getting the mail.
• Joe was cooking.
• Karen was planting in the garden.
• Pat was doing the laundry.

Detective Mysteries Solutions

• The two girls were not playing against each other.
• There is no such thing as half a hole.
• Nine
• The maid because a circular mansion does not have corners to dust.
• In Washington, D.C.
• The wife because if she were sleeping as she stated, how could she have known where everyone was?
• Books have odd-numbered pages on the right and even-numbered on the left.  So, it is impossible to find the \$20 bill between the pages.
• Joan was killed by Nancy because there is no mail delivery on Sundays.

Historical Landmarks Virtual Tours

I always loved field trips with my own family and with my students.  Field trips give kids an opportunity to explore different places and learn new things.  But with COVID-19 limits this past year online adventures have been the GO-TO for many kids and families. Historical Virtual Tours brings the world TO your students.  It is an opportunity for kids to explore different cities, customs, and cultures.  They are not as good as “the real thing” but hopefully, they will leave a lasting impression on kids and they will choose to revisit them in the future. Two great things about online adventures are that you can “visit” then any time of the day and they are FREE!  Enjoy!

Historical Landmarks in USA

• Ellis Island Tour – New York City, New York -The Ellis Island Virtual tour includes lots of information to give a clear explanation of the historical significance of Ellis island in American history. The tour includes great pictures and views of the island.  The information is appropriate for grade 4 and up.
• Mount Vernon – Fairfax County, Virginia
• Liberty Bell –  Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
• White House Virtual Tour Washington D.C.

Landmarks Outside USA

This post gave you Historical Places to “visit”. Check back for upcoming posts that will include aquariums, zoos, museums, and National Parks. If you still want to “visit” other places, check out https://www.360cities.net/This site is the world’s largest collection of stock 360 degree images and videos. Teacher can bring hundreds of thousands of incredible 360 panoramas to your students.  It is Google Classroom compatible and Teachers can sign up for a FREE account.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Other posts related to this topic:

In recent years, a child’s “Executive Functioning” skills have been discussed as a possible reason for a child not doing well in school. “Executive Function” refers to a group of cognitive process that enables a person to set goals, plan, control behavior, complete tasks and achieve goals.  In schools, students who struggle with a number of those skills are often thought to be “not ready” for school.  Yes, they are sometimes considered to be “young behaviors”, but they are not ALWAYS. All kids’ experiences are different and that makes them the unique individuals they are.

However, knowing some “Executive Function” skills below will help parents and teachers work on those skills at home and in school. It gives us all an understanding of our own thinking and a realization that we are all a work in progress.

8 Executive Functioning Skills

• Flexible thinking – the ability to quickly switch focus and adjust to a new task or situation.  Ex. Can your child (most of the time) transition easily to do something else?
• Emotional Control – the ability to moderate emotions through rational thinking.  Ex. Can your child (most of the time) control their emotions?
• Working memory – the ability to hold information in memory while completing a task.  Ex. Can your child remember something, or they forget because they are distracted?
• Impulse control – the ability to stop or change behavior that is not appropriate.  Ex. Do they think before they act?
• Planning and organizing – the ability to plan for and organize current and future task demands.  Ex: Does your child appear not be able to plan to do things?
• Organization – the ability to create and manage system for organizing materials and spaces.  Does your child appear to be “scattered” most of the time?
• Self-monitoring – the inability to monitor one’s behavior. Ex. Does your child have difficulty following the established routine in class?
• Task initiation – the ability to start and follow through on a plan.  Ex. Does your child have difficulty solving problems for themselves?

After reading the list, you may be thinking that you, or someone you know, struggle in some of those areas.  You are 100% correct. We all, at one time or another, have difficulty with one or more of these skills.  There are days that I know that I am just not having a good day.  Perhaps, what I am really having is a day that I am not Executive Functioning well!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Learning Styles Strategies

It is not news that people process information differently. Therefore, it makes sense that teachers should vary methods of teaching.  As a student teacher supervisor, I coach many novice teachers in lesson plans. One of the areas that we seem to discuss often is trying to design lessons to meet the needs of ALL learners.  Check out the strategies lists below for each of the 8 learning styles.

Strategies for Learning Styles

Visual learners – Visual learners retain information more effectively when visual aides are used (pictures, images, colors) and understand better when data is presented in charts and graphs.

• Write key points in lesson presentation.
• Substitute words for colors and pictures.
• Encourage note taking.
• Use visual aids.
• Color or emphasize key points in text.
• Avoid large blocks of text.
• Color code and organize materials to help student organization.
• Use storytelling to help with visualization.

Aural learners – Aural learners respond to sound and music.

• Encourage classroom discussions.
• Allow audio books.
• Suggest listening to music as they review material.
• Encourage problem solving aloud.
• Allow classroom recordings.
• Encourage partner discussions.
• Use mnemonic devices when available.

Verbal learners – Verbal learners favor using words and linguistic skills in speech, reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  They like word games, jokes, rhymes and are often strong public speakers.

• Use verbal teaching and writing activities.
• Use acronyms for mnemonic devices.
• Ask them to teach material to class.
• Role playing
• Ask them to rewrite their note cards.
• Use lists of key words.
• Use quizzes in lessons.

Social learners – Social learners process information by interacting with and relating to others.  They enjoy working with others.

• Include group work.
• Engage in role-play.
• Allow discussion and sharing stories.
• Encourage sharing ideas and comparing with others.

Logical learners – Logical learners favor using logic and reasoning.   They like to classify and categorize information and solve problems with numbers.  Logical learners are especially good at analyzing cause and effect relationships.

• Provide the class with problem-solving tasks.
• Include critical thinking exercises.
• Provide statistics and facts.
• Present with evidence and ask them to make conclusions.

Physical and tactile learners – Physical learners process information effectively when they use their bodies and when are doing something.

• Use physical exercises and provide hands-on-experiences.
• Exercising when standing and walking are highly effective.
• Encourage drawing diagrams, graphs, and maps.
• Interaction with materials and/or solve puzzles.
• Role-playing

Solitary learners -Solitary learners like to work and learn by themselves. They may come across as shy but are more likely to speak up when they are more comfortable.

• Ask questions to discover student thinking.
• Provide individual problem-solving exercises.

Naturalistic learnersNaturalist learners process information by working with and experiencing nature. They often use scientific logic for understanding.

• Use examples linking to daily life, people, or nature.
• Include experiments in your lessons.

By varying the methods of teaching you will keep the attention of your students for longer and make the learning experience more enjoyable. A win-win for everyone.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

May Dates for Classroom FUN

May dates are sure to bring lots of fun to classrooms. Calendar dates can help to make days special and opportunities to learn. Special days and observances can be everything from silly to serious and everything in between.

These special days don’t have to be only celebrated at home.  Knowing the days can extend to homes and family activities too.  Aren’t we all looking for ways to make learning at fun everywhere?  After a year of being in the midst of a pandemic aren’t we all ready for some FUN?

I know I have NOT included every celebration in the list below.  But the list below should get you started with some “hours of fun!”  ENJOY! If you are ready for even more fun, check out the websites below that list additional holidays and celebrations.  Along with basic information you will find classroom resources and lesson ideas.  ALL FREE!

May Dates: Daily Celebrations

May 1         Kentucky Derby Day

May 1         Mother Goose Day

May 4         Brothers and Sisters Day

May 4         National Teachers Day

May 5         Cinco de Mayo

May 6         No Homework Day

May 9         Mother’s Day

May 12       National School Nurse Day

May 14       National Dance Like a Chicken Day

May 15       National Chocolate Chip Day

May 24       First Morse Code Message Sent

May 31       Memorial Day

May Weekly Observances

• National Bike Week – Third Week in May
• National Children’s Book Week – May 3-9, 2021
• Teacher Appreciation Week – May 3-7, 2021 (First Full Week in May)

May Monthly Observances

• Home Schooling Awareness Month
• American Bike Month

Other posts related to this topic:

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Closure: Important in Lesson Design

An important component of an effective lesson is a meaningful and structured closure activity. It is a quick review at the end of the lesson to remind students what it was that they learned.  It also allows the teacher to see where the students are to plan for future teaching. The activity chosen for lesson closure highlights students’ needs and helps the teacher plan for future lessons. Although there are many different types, the goal of closure is to articulate learning, discuss lesson importance, and/or self-assess learning.

Closure is often forgotten or not given enough time in lesson design. Often it is due to pacing issues in the lesson. However, closure is much more than the end of the lesson.    A good closure includes what, why and how of the learning so learning is solidified.

The closure activities below are popular and would be a great addition to student teacher toolkits.  A time saving tip is to list the activities numerically and just add the number to your plans. This helps save time and diversifies closure activities.

Possible Closure Activities

• Three W’s -Students discuss or write: what did we learn, why was it important, what do we do next.
• Pair / Share – Tell the person next to you 2 (3,4, 5…) things you have learned today, then the groups report out. Variation is to have students Think/Write/Pair/ Share
• Gallery Walk -Students create graphic representations of their learning and post them. Students can either share out the posters or students can move from station to station – writing questions or comments, noting similarities and differences, reflect on what they might do differently if they were to repeat the process.
• Explain a Procedure -Write to an absent student and explain how to …….
• 3-2-1 – Students write on a post it, paper, index card: 3 things they learned, 2 things they have a question about, 1 thing they want the instructor to know.
• Whip Around -Students quickly and verbally share one thing they learned in the class today. You can have them toss a ball from one to another or just have volunteers.
• Exit Ticket/Pass – Student must answer in writing questions or reflect in some way about the learning before being allowed to leave the room.
• Thumbs Up / Thumbs down – Pose some questions that can be answered thumbs up/down/ sideways, ask for explanation of the decisions.
• Quick doodles – Doodle / draw two or three concepts presented in the lesson may include words or numbers.
• “What am I?” – Have students construct clues (riddles) about the key terms and quiz partners.
• Five W’s – Students explain the who, what, where, when, why and how of the lesson.
• Postcard – Students are given an index card to write a postcard to their parents explaining the day’s lesson.
• It Fits Where? – Students create a “timeline “of the concepts taught (sequence the concepts) or explain a connection to something else they know.
• Element of Surprise – Students receive an envelope containing a card with a word or phrase selected by the teacher. Students discuss the concept and list the content-specific vocabulary necessary to discuss it.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Motivated Kids LEARN

Let’s face it.  School is not always FABULOUS.  Sometimes it is great but other times it is not. So, how do you keep kids motivated to learn?  Check out the ideas below to “capture and keep” a child’s attention.

5 Ways to Keep Kids Motivated

• Create a Learning Atmosphere – Social, emotional, and academic growth should extend outside the walls of the classroom. Parents and teachers who look at the world as learning opportunities promote a world of on-going learning.
• Enthusiasm – As parents and teachers we must show and sometimes “fake” enthusiasm.  IF we show enthusiasm kids are much more inclined to be interested in learning.
• Hook into Student Interest – Do we like to learn things we are not interested in?  Of course not.  So, find out what your child is interested in and focus learning in that direction.  Example: If you want them to learn to count and they like cars; count cars.  If they are interested in outer space and you want them to write, write about space. Flexibility and creativity on your part is key.
• Encourage Different Learning Styles – Since everyone processes information uniquely, in a class of 20+ kids there are going to be a variety of learning styles. As adults we might even have a dominant leaning style (the way we learn best) depending on the situation.  Exposing kids to ALL learning styles will help them be ready for ALL learning opportunities. Try planning experiences that tap into the 8 learning styles: visual, aural, verbal, social, solitary, logical, physical/tactile, and naturalistic.
• Learning Games – Games can provide opportunities for deeper learning and may motivate kids to learn. Who doesn’t want to have fun?  It is up to teachers and parents to find creative ways to teach kids and have fun at the same time.  We might even have some fun too!

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Anchor Charts Anchor Learning

Anchor Charts are one of the best, most effective tools to support instruction (i.e., “anchor” the learning for students).  As you teach a lesson, you create a chart, together with your students, that captures the most important content and relevant strategies. After your chart is created, it can be displayed as needed—for a short unit, as a one-time reference tool, as something you add to over time, or as something that stays up all year. Anchor charts are best used as an interactive tool but are a great resource throughout the year.

Benefits of Anchor Charts

• Student engagement – Getting students involved in the process of creating learning tools to help them make connections to learning.
• Bring lessons to life – Posting the charts keeps relevant and current learning accessible to students, reminds them of prior learning, and enables them to make connections as new learning happens. Students can refer to them and use them as they think about the topic, question ideas, expand ideas, and/or contribute to discussions in class.
• Support independent work – Anchor charts provide students with a source to reference when working on their own.
• Charts for classroom management – Expectations and routines are listed that allow students to self-monitor their behavior.
• Create a library of reference materials – Perfect to use as a reference for commonly used information.  Like a word wall, students can use the anchor chart for reminders. (e.g., math terms, grammar, writing workshop)
• Reinforce classroom procedures – Provide students with a visual to remind them of routines that make your classroom run smoothly.

Anchor Chart Construction

Anchor charts are simple to make with common classroom resources.  If you have chart paper and an assortment of markers; you are ready to go.

• Make your anchor charts colorful and print-rich – Use different colors and bullet points to help students discriminate between strategies and quickly access information.
• Keep them simple and neat – Use easy-to-read graphics and clear organization. Avoid distracting, irrelevant details or stray marks, such as arrows or overemphatic use of underlining.
• Draw simple pictures to complement the words. – The more ways students can access information about a subject, the better.

It is easy to incorporate anchor charts into your lesson plans. All it takes is a clear purpose and some pre-planning. Anchor charts build a culture of literacy in the classroom by making thinking—both the teacher’s and students’—visible.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Math Websites: Fun for Kids

I have found 4 great Math websites that contain varied resources that can be used to review, remediate, and enrich student learning. The resources are easy to incorporate into home packets, math centers, homework, and classroom assignments. Many of the kid-friendly websites listed below also include games that review and reinforce concepts in a fun environment. There is a variety of topics and games that will give kids hours of learning and of course, FUN!

4 Great Math Websites to Explore

• Fun Brain – Fun Brain math games can be searched by topic or grade level.  The games reinforce key math concepts and engage young learners. Many of the games are kid-friendly theme based.  Be sure to check out the videos which help visual learners.  For pre-K and kindergarten students the “Playground” section will provide hours of fun. I have been using Fun Brain for over 20 years. This site includes other subject areas also.
• Hooda Math – Extensive resources that with a range of math activities from math fact practice to logic and reasoning. Site includes games that focus on higher order thinking and problem solving.  These challenges help to sharpen students’ math skills.
• Math Game Time – Site is designed for students from pre-K through 7th grade.  The site offers educational games focused on critical math concepts.  Games are fast paced and quickly engage students.  A favorite of 3rd through 5th graders.
• Cool Math Games – One of my favorite because it has some unique learning activities that are not seen in other websites.  The photo puzzles are great for developing spatial relations in young learners.  It also contains an extensive preview and review of precalculus and calculus in addition to both elementary and middle school games and reviews. A comprehensive website worth investigating. There is a fee if you choose to go ad-free.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.

Classroom Management for Student Teachers

Student Teachers and novice teachers reach those classroom doors armed with coursework and minimal classroom experience.  Along with teaching they are charged with managing student behavior.  While coaching student teachers, I have learned that many of them are looking for “tried and true” classroom management ideas to get them through the first few months of teaching.

What I learned through my years as a new teacher, administrator and college supervisor is not to “invent the wheel”. We all need to heed the advice of those who have already walked in our novice shoes. If you are struggling with classroom management or are worried that you might; here are 10 tips that might be helpful.

10 Classroom Management Tips

• Speak only when students are quiet and ready – Waiting for ALL students to be quiet and ready will send the message that what you are all doing is important and we need to be ready to learn. It works because kids will start to cue each other that you are waiting.
• Set Acceptable Voice Levels -If we want kids to talk at a normal, acceptable volume, we must tell them our expectations. A common Voice Level strategy in schools is 3 – outside voice level, 2- inside voice level, 1 – whisper level and 0 – no talking.
• Hand signals and nonverbal cues – Clear and consistent hand signals will help students know and follow your nonverbal communication cues. Examples: raise your hand, fingers up, eye contact.
• Flick the lights – Flicking the lights off and on once to get students’ attention is an “oldie but goodie”. It is an easy to understand cue to get student attention to complete a direction. It works in the theater to get people back to their seats, so it will work in your classroom.
• Echoing – Echoing” either a verbal or movement command is an active way to get the attention of our youngest students.
• Address behavior issues quickly and wisely – Remember praise in public and criticize in private. A problem-solving approach with the child is often the best strategy to address problem issues.
• Have a well-designed, engaging lesson – Students that are not engaged will not stay on task.  Keeping them busy cuts down excess talking and disruptive behavior.
• Always plan extra – Better to run out of time than to run short on a lesson.  Use any over-planning for future lesson, follow up lesson, a time filler or an assessment.
• Prepare time fillers – Valuable lesson extensions, class incentives or breaks from difficult lessons for the students or their tired teacher.
• Use Your Teacher Voice – Use your “teacher voice” to show you are in charge of the classroom. Try differentiating your tone, not your volume.
• Classroom discussion – try a matter-of-fact tone.
• Giving direction -use a declarative routine voice.

Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.