Monday, August 31, 2015

How to Wrap Earbuds

Two words ... Student.  Earbuds.

Does this strike pain in your heart like it does mine?  Can I just say first of all how GROSS I think earbuds are for elementary students?  Not all little ones have someone to clean out their ears for them and ... that's all I'll say.  Secondly, they are a tangled mess all the time, leading to frayed wires.

I came up with a way that seems to be helping my kids avoid the tangles and I've posted some pictures below.  The key is "Spiderman" fingers (pointer finger and pinky finger).  Students hang the earbuds below their pinky and can hold the cord with their thumb.  Wrap the cord around the 2 fingers, leaving a "tail" that is several inches long at the top.  Remove the bundle of cords, gather them, and wrap the middle with the tail.

This is helping most students keep their earbuds neat and my life a little happier.  Hope this helps make yours a little happier too!

Use "Spiderman" fingers to wrap earbuds and prevent tangles

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Back to School Monster Glyph

Back to school time already?!?  Teachers return the last week of July in my system, so at this point we've had kids for almost 2 weeks.  My team has a new schedule this year with two 45-minute blocks in the afternoon for RTI.  Since we are just getting to know our kiddos, I created a fun Back to School Monster Glyph that they really enjoyed doing during that time.

This monster glyph has a back to school version and a generic version.  Both are available in color and black and white.

Here is the glyph, available for download on TpT for $3.  There is a Back to School version included as well as a generic version that could be used at any point in the year.

Just a quick note: I shrunk down the monster to half size (printed 2 pages per sheet on the copier) because all 65 third graders' monsters were going to be displayed in the hallway along with the pieces they wrote to go along with the glyphs.  Half size was the only way everything could fit on the bulletin boards.

You can either have students color the pieces of white paper to cut out themselves, cut out the pieces for them ahead of time so they can assemble them, or make a template for students to trace and cut out which is what I did.  I copied the monster pieces on colored card stock, laminated them, and labeled them with a Sharpie.  

The color of the head/body is part of the glyph key so kids asked if they could do the arms and legs different colors.  When I had some former students do a trial run of the glyph, one chose different colors and the other matched her arms and legs to color of the face.  I thought the same-color monsters turned out so much better that when my kids asked I told them to do the same colors.  It helped with saving construction paper also since most students were able to fit all of their parts on one sheet of construction paper.

After they made their glyphs, they wrote about what they hope for this school year.  The last step before hanging them was for the students to graph the data for each monster in an organized fashion

I equipped the kids with clipboards and had them lay their monsters at their seats.  I printed the graphs 4-pages-per-sheet and directed students to the first graph.  They graphed their own data for that first graph on their paper, then I directed them to graph the other monsters at their tables.  I counted down from 10 to "monster" at which point they rotated to the next table, graphed it while I counted down again, and so on.  When they got back to their own tables we compared the data to see if everyone recorded correctly and discussed the results.  We did the same thing for each of the 6 graphs.

While it sounds very time consuming as I type this, it really wasn't bad at all and was the best way I came up with to ensure that each child graphed each monster.  The kids loved it and were asking when the next glyph would be coming before they even finished the first.

The entire process lasted about a week with 2 days to create the monsters, 2 to write, and 1 to graph.

Sunday, August 2, 2015


Change. If you can count on anything in the field of education it is that things will constantly be changing. When I first began teaching 10 years ago one of the first lessons I learned from my mentor teacher was not to get too bent out of shape when our system implemented new programs. She explained that whatever the new program, manipulative, technology, doodad, or thingamabob that we were required to use in our classroom would be replaced in a few years. I was skeptical at the time, but she has been proven right time and again.

Now as wise as that advise is, believing it is one thing, and actually taking it is another. I have never liked change - in the classroom or anywhere else. One of Alyson's favorite stories to tell about me has to do with my inability to adapt to change. It happened back in college at Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU). We had been dating for several months and it was starting to get pretty serious. We both lived on campus so we had a standing lunch date each day. MTSU has two primary places to eat. We alternated our lunch location based on our class schedules, so we ate at McCallie Cafeteria  on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays and JUB dining on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The way Alyson tells it, she casually suggested that we switch it up and eat at the JUB on a Friday but I was having none of it. She claims that I did my best Dustin Hoffman impersonation (a la "Rain Man") complete with me repeatedly saying "We eat McCallie on Fridays. We eat McCallie on Fridays." If you haven't seen it or want a refresher click here for a short clip. Just replace "Four minutes 'til Wopner with "We eat McCallie on Fridays" and you'll know exactly what happened. It is funny to talk about it now but at the time I really couldn't comprehend why we would "change" when we already had a system that worked.

Since then I believe I have gotten better at adjusting to change, but I still don't like it. It is very tough for me to change how I do things in my classroom. Once I figure out what I like and what works I like to leave it that way. Why change if things are working okay? The problem with that is that just because it works well, doesn't mean it can't work better. So this year is going to be different. I owe it to my students to try new things and see if there is a better way to do things. My first step will be to implement a time for students to work in stations each day. I'm not ready to commit to stations all day every day, but I am willing to try 20 minutes per class. What is the worst that could happen? It might not work. If that happens I could just change it, right?

~ Clint