Frustrated with lost pencils, messy desks, and missing assignments?

 

You’re not alone!  Some children respond quickly to established classroom routines, while others struggle.  For students who find it difficult to see tasks through to completion, it may have more to do with poor executive function skills than lack of effort.  Task completion requires many skills including planning, organization, time management, and problem solving.  These issues are often most challenging for students with ADHD and learning disabilities.

Children who struggle with executive function issues often have incomplete and late assignments, messy desks and book bags, and difficulty transitioning from one activity to the next. While it’s easy to spot these problems, helping students overcome them isn’t always so easy.

According to Seth Perler, an education coach, consultant and advocate, “Executive Function is the most important concept we must understand in order to help struggling students succeed.”  He attributes EF problems to a wide range of issues including unclear expectations, shame, fear, and sensory overload, to name just a few.

The words Time to Organize on a white clock to communicate now is the moment to get things in order, coordinate a mess, create a process or system to keep things tidy, clean and neat

Better executive function skills help students succeed!

But more importantly, Perler offers hope and solutions. His free Systems Checklist explains the importance of executive functions, what hinders these skills, and a step-by-step guide to help students. His suggestions include establishing child-specific routines, chunking assignments, and using timers. With compassionate support students can learn new skills and become more successful in both school and life. To learn more, check out Seth Perler’s Free Cheat Sheet here.

Back-to-School Pencil Topper

Want something quick and easy to welcome students back at the beginning of a new school year?  Check out the free download of these colorful pencil toppers.  One side has a cute poem, and the other side says, “WELCOME BACK!”

These toppers can be printed on 1″ X 4″ labels and wrapped around the pencil.  Or, do what I did.  Use plain paper, cut out the rectangles, and then use clear tape to keep the pencil topper in place.

pencil topper with logoI found this versatile idea on Pinterest.  This same design could be used to welcome students back to school after New Year’s Day.  Or, using PowerPoint you could create your own design and personalize the message to include your name– Welcome Back to Mrs. Smith’s Class!

Has anyone else made pencil toppers?  I’d love to see your designs!

Tackling Tattling

Tattling is a constant issue at the elementary level.  With our school’s focus on anti-bullying, it’s sometimes difficult to know how much attention to give to students’ complaints about their peers.  It helps to make sure that the children understand the difference between tattling and telling, and to set clear expectations about how each will be handled.jpg_whisper201

Children tattle for many different reasons.  Some want to test limits and figure out whether or not the teacher will enforce rules.  Sometimes students point out misbehavior so that the teacher will recognize the their own efforts to follow the rules.  Other students may not know how to handle a situation, so they turn to an adult for guidance.  Of course, there are also times when the concern is legitimate and there’s good reason for reporting an inappropriate behavior.

The best way to eliminate tattling is through classroom discussion.  Students can work together to create a list of specific situations they encounter at school such as name calling, non-participation in group activities, incorrect completion of an assigned activity, taking another child’s belonging, using inappropriate language, cutting in front of someone in line, and so forth.  Once the list is made, students can decide which should be reported, which should be handled on their own, and which they should simple ignore.

Reporting Vs TattlingA good way to reinforce the whole-class lesson, is by displaying this FREE poster by edgalaxy.com.  Students who continue to tattle can be directed to this poster to review the difference between reporting and tattling.

This FREE 2:10 minute You Tube video, Tattling vs.Telling is a clear, straight-forward way to initiate another lesson followed by whole-class discussion.  It explains the difference between reporting a serious concern and trying to get a classmate in trouble.

For teachers who want to implement a more formal plan, this FREE 8:47 minute You Tube video, Tattle Ender by Charity Preston outlines a paper-and-pencil classroom management program.   Using this approach, students who bring any issue to the teacher that is not of immediate concern are directed to record the issue using a special procedure.  At week’s end these notes are reviewed by the teacher who determines which, if any, require additional attention.

With these resources and little patience, there should be less tattling and more time for teaching!


Should students grade their own work?

happy_good_grade from wpclipart dot comYes.  Students get immediate feedback when they grade their own work.  They take ownership of their progress, or lack thereof.  Students are able to ask questions and get clarification, right away.  Worried about students cheating?  Spot check a few papers each week.  Confront students immediately and follow up for a few days.  Don’t let a few poorly-graded papers keep you from using this time saving approach.

Set expectations for grading and follow through.  Students in my class must use red pen and only mark incorrect answers.  Students record their score as a certain amount of points over the total.  This method puts the focus on the number correct.  When students ask, “What’s my grade?” I show them how to divide the number correct by the total number possible to get a percentage score.

Another approach is to have students work in pairs to correct their completed homework before handing it in.  They learn from each other, make changes, and hand in their best effort.  This approach to grading is even simpler.  Once the work has been handed in, award a small number of points for timely completion.

Not sure if this is a good approach for your classroom?  Start by grading one less set of papers a day.  You’ll be amazed how liberating it is!

Read more here: Benefits of a Student Self-Grading Model -or- How I Grade (by skills or standards) -or- The 3P Grading System.

Need a quick grading rubric?  Check out Teacher Planet‘s rubrics like the one below for all grades and subjects, or you can generate your own.

Teacher Planet has rubrics for all grades and subjects, or you can generate your own.