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Back to School: Reviewing Procedures and Routines for Your Middle School Classroom

Back to School, Behavior Management, Expectations, Featured, Procedures
Reviewing Procedures and Routines in Your Middle School Classroom
 Hey, y’all! I’m back today for post #2 of the Back to School series, this time about Reviewing (or setting up, if you’re a new teacher!) Procedures for Your Middle School Classroom!

Teaching my students my procedures and expectations is one of the cornerstones of making my classroom work. The importance of this cannot be overstated. I think sometimes, those of us who teach older kids (I have 8th graders) assume kids should know how to operate in a classroom by now through experience, or at least common sense. Well, about 2 minutes into class, those of us who have ever thought that have immediately regretted it 🙂 All students (whether the best or worst  behaved!) need (and want!) to know how they are supposed to operate in your classroom, and what is expected of them. In this post, I’m going to outline a list of procedures to think through for your own classroom. This is by no means an exhaustive list, especially if you teach a lab class or special class like chorus or art, but is a base list. I’d love to hear others you come up with in the comments!

Whether you’re a brand new teacher, or a seasoned pro, it is definitely worth your time to review your classroom procedures and expectations in the summer (and reflect more on them in the school year, but that’s another post!). Your style changes, your students change, your room or set-up may change. What has always worked in the past may continue to work, or maybe you had a particularly challenging student that made you realize you needed procedures for certain classroom things. Either way outlining exactly what you want clears your head before the school year begins.

One of the most helpful things I saw when I first became a teacher was a teacher’s procedures laid out in an A to Z format in one document. Committing your procedures and expectations to paper makes certain that you have in your mind what you want exactly. In my opinion, it is always best to have more procedures than needed thought through and ready to implement versus trying to get your students to buy in after the fact. Another absolute God send when I first became a new teacher was Harry and Rosemary Wong’s book The First Days Of School: How To Be An Effective Teacher*, so if you are a new teacher or a veteran who feels like you need to brush up on classroom procedures/routines, I HIGHLY recommend this book.

Now, let’s get to the A-Z Procedures list with questions…

Thinking Through Procedures

Attendance

  • What do you want kids to do if they miss a day? (with Attendance Notes, to get Make Up Work, etc.)
  • What do you want kids to do it they’re tardy to your class?
Attention
  • How do you get the attention of students in your classroom?
  • What does “being attentive” look like in your classroom if just being quiet isn’t enough?
Bathroom
  • What do you want kids to do when they need to go to the bathroom? (How to get your attention, getting a pass, signing out, etc.)
Binders (or Folders)
  • If your class has binders, are they left in your classroom or do kids take them with them every day?
  • Do you want them out at all times or under their desks?
  • If they stay in your room how do you want kids to retrieve them and put them away each day?
Computers
  • How do kids check out computers in class if they take them to their seat?
  • How do they need to operate them?
  • How do they need to return them?
  • What procedures do they allow in the beginning of class on the computer so class starts successfully?
  • What if their computer isn’t working, needs to be charged, or they need help troubleshooting something?
Electronics (other than computers)
  • Can students ever have electronics in your room (like a phone or tablet)?
  • If so, how do they know when an appropriate time to use it is?
  • When they can’t be used, what do you want students to do with the device?
  • What is the procedure if they have out a device at an inappropriate time and get caught with it? If your school collects them, where are students supposed to put it?
Entering the Room
  • How should kids enter your classroom each day? (Begin from the hallway and work your way to them being seated)
  • Do they need to get something before sitting down?
  • Can they get up to get something after being seated?
  • Do students need to begin any work immediately? How will they know what that work is?

Exiting the Room

  • How should kids exit your room each day? (Again, think through a few minutes before they leave to walking out).
  • What must be done before they leave?
  • Will you give a “Go” signal and let them do it all or will you lead them through the steps each day?
Grades
  • How can a kid request to see his grade? By note? Raising his hand? Asking before class starts?
  • How can a student submit late work to be graded?
  • How can a student re-do an assignment? Is that allowed and if so, does the newly completed assignment go somewhere different than tuning in regular work?
  • How will you communicate grades to your students, and how often?
Homework
  • How will students know their homework each day?
  • Do you require them to write it down somewhere? Do you need to check it?
  • Where do they turn HW in?
  • Do you spot check it before you go over it?
  • What happens if a student loses a copy or the HW?
  • What happens if a student forgets to do the HW?
  • What does a student do with late work?

Independent Work

  • What does Independent Work look like in your classroom? What do you need to teach so this is implemented successfully in your room?
Intercom (had to include this one b/c it is my pet peeve!)
  • If someone comes over the intercom to your classroom, what do you want kids to do? (It never fails that when the front office says, “Ms. Hayes?” that 5 kids answer “YES!” as if their names suddenly changed 🙂 )

Lockers

  • What needs to stay in student lockers and can’t be in your class?
  • What if a student forgot something in their locker they need for class?
  • How do they ask to go to their locker?
  • Do they need to sign out?

Make Up Work

  • How does a student know what he/she missed?
  • How long do they have to turn it in?
  • Where does it go in your classroom once it is completed (a special place for make up work?)
  • How long do they have to complete the make up work?
  • Do students have the re-do option on exams? What is that process?

Paper Headings

  • How do you want students to head their papers each day? With just a name? Name/Date? Assignment name at the top?

Parent/Guardian Contact

  • Do you have a system for parent/guardian contact?
  • Do you only want parents to call school or email you to connect or can they call your cell phone?
  • If they send notes from home with students, where do the kids put those?

Partner Work

  • What does partner look like and sound like in your room?
  • What do you need to teach so partner work is productive in your classroom?
  • Is there a place students can look to see if it is partner work time and what those expectations are?

Pencils

  • What does a student do if he/she needs a pencil?
  • What if it needs to be sharpened?
  • How do you collect borrowed pencils?

Phone

  • What happens when the phone rings in your classroom? (Do 3 kids run to the phone? 🙂 )
  • Do you have a specific student answer the phone, or can only you answer it?
  • Do students continue working or does everyone get silent?

Receiving Help

  • How do kids ask for help in your room? Are their things you want them to do before they ask you?

Seating

  • How are kids seated in your room?
  • What do you want ids o do if they have a huge problem with their seat for whatever reason?
  • Do you offer flexible seating? If so, when can they move around during class? How are their seats chosen daily?

Small Group

  • How do you want kids to work in small groups? What does success and participation look like?
  • Is there anything you need to teach them so they can work in small groups successfully to meet your expectations?

Supplies

  • What do students do if they need to get supplies other than a pencil?
  • What do students so when they need to clean-up/give supplies back during class?
Tissue
  • What does a student do if they need a tissue?
  • Do you want them to step outside to use the tissue?

Trash

  • What do kids do if they need to throw trash away?
  • Is it okay for them to get up and do it, or are they supposed to wait? Or is their a bin by each table?

Uniforms

  • What do you/ a student do if he/she is not in uniform in your class? Is there a procedure for getting the student in uniform?

Water

  • What if a student wants to go to the water fountain during class? 

Whole Class 

  • What should you teach for whole class instruction to be successful in your classroom? What do the kids look like and sound like?

Visitors

  • What do you do if a visitor comes to your room? Does a particular student answer the door? If someone is coming in for the lesson, do you have a student ambassador to greet them, or see if they’d like a copy of the assignment? Or do you handle all knocks at the door and students are to continue with what they’re doing?

Creating Procedures

Once you have thought through all of the procedures above (and I’m sure you even thought of others!) it is a good idea to commit your procedures to paper. When doing so, make sure your instructions are clear and concise (and maybe even in a numbered list format!) so they are easily understood by you and made so you can simply communicate them to students.

Again, each year I go through this process so I can fully reflect on each part of my classroom and make sure that my actions and my classroom environment are all geared to maximize student learning time and to build a culture of achievement in all students. 

Teaching Procedures

Just like a brilliant written lesson plan, you have to now teach these procedures to your students over and over again! When teaching procedures you will have to go over them often, if not daily with many of them, until students get the hang of it. In the first few days of school, you should be teaching procedures (explaining, modeling, practicing, etc.) as they come up in the classroom. Obviously simply going through the list and explaining to students what you want will not be enough and you and the students will end up frustrated!

I’ve heard teachers say many times “You’re spending how long teaching procedures?”. I always explain that in the long run the time I spend at the beginning of the year helping students get them down will save much valuable instructional time down the road, and keep me from going grey earlier 🙂

What did I miss? Do you have any procedures in your classroom that I didn’t cover here? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter!

 

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If you missed the first post in the back to school series about setting big goals for meaningful achievement in you classroom, check it out here!

 

How to Create a Google Form to Help Streamline Behavior Documentation (a Step-By-Step Guide)

Behavior Management, Documentation, Google Forms, Middle School, QR Codes, Step By Step
Step by Step process for how to create a Google Form and connect it with a QR code for behavior documentation streamlining!
Hello! I’m so excited to share that my previous post “How to Streamline Behavior Documentation” has been bouncing around a lot on Pinterest! Through this post, I have been able to connect with a lot of teachers I otherwise would not have been able to and for that I am excited!

Since that post has been bouncing around, I’ve gotten a lot of emails and comments on the post asking more specific questions about Google Forms. In this post, I’m going to give step-by-step instructions on how I set up the Google Forms that connect with my QR codes. If you haven’t read my previous post on this topic, check it out here.


Part 1: Create the Google Form

1. Go to www.google.com and log-in.
2. In the top right corner, click the little square of 9 boxes and see a drop-down menu.
3. Click Google Drive.

4. In the left hand column, click “New”.
5. There will be a drop down menu. Click “More” for the option to see Google Forms.
6. Click Google Form and an Untitled Form will open.

7. Where it says “Untitled Form”, put the name of whatever you want the form to be. For example, if you want this form to only track one specific behavior like “Tardy to Class”, then name it that. If you think you’d like to create a form to track many types of behaviors for one student, name it the student’s name. I will show you how to set up both types of forms.
8. After you’ve named your form, write a brief description of what the form is for all who are shared to use it.
 
If you want to track one type of behavior for many students with your form (Example: a tardy log of all students):
9. Where it says “Untitled Question”, write Name.
10. On the right, you can either:
  •  make it a multiple choice question and list the names of the students in your class so you just have to select the student
    • If you choose this, select “multiple choice” on the right, then begin writing the names of the students where it says “add option”. You can do that as many times as you need to.

 

  • or make it a short answer question and you can type the name of the student in. This is the path I chose to keep the form simple.

 

 
11. Now, continue to add on to the form to include all information you’d like to track (class period, reason tardy, pass, any other notes, etc.) To add another section, click the + sign on the right. Then, follow the same steps you previously completed (select the question type, write what you want that section to be titled, etc.)
**Next year, I think I am going to make one Google Form per student and make a drop down menu of all of the behaviors I’d like to track. That way, “Molly’s” behavior can be tracked across classes all in one place. If you’re interested in doing this, just name the form the student’s name, and you can check “Dropdown” as the question type. At that point you can create all of the drop down choices of student behavior you’d like to be able to track.

12. Once you have added all of the sections to your Google Form, click “SEND” in the top right corner.

14. Now, click the link that is at the top of that window to get a link that corresponds with this code. COPY THAT LINK!

 

Your form is FINISHED! Now, on to Part 2. 


Part 2: Create the QR Code

2. Select URL and paste the URL you saved from the Google Form. Then, if you want, click “Shorten URL”.
3. Your QR Code should now be live!  Do NOT exit this screen yet!

Part 3: Test It 

1. If you haven’t already, download a QR code reader on your phone or tablet. There are many free apps. I have the QR Reader for iPhone which was just the first option that came up when I searched for one.
2. Open the Reader and allow it to access your camera. Now, point the QR reader at the QR code that is on the computer screen to test it (this saves you time from printing and then figuring out you made a mistake somewhere!).
3. If your code works, it should immediately scan the QR code and direct you to your Google Form. You may be prompted to log in to Google first before you see the form. Don’t worry, you won’t have to do that each time you scan.
4. Input test information on your form and click submit…just like you would do during class when you’re tracking information.

Part 4: Checking the Results

1. You can check the results on the original Google Form interface first, then you can create a spreadsheet. Go back to the Google Form (if it isn’t open anymore, go back to your Google Drive and select it.)
              
2. Once you’re back to the form, click responses. You will see your test responses, and data. Then, click the little green box to create a spreadsheet that will collect responses.
3. The screen that comes up should look like the picture below. Click create. It will take you to the spreadsheet that will track the responses for your QR code. The columns should be populated with the information you put in as a test.
**If your spreadsheet collected the test information, then everything is good to go! Now, as another note: anytime you log in to your Google Drive you should be able to see the original form and the form response spreadsheet. It will stay in there and continually populate as you and your team scan in information! 


Part 5: Save and Print

1. Now that you’ve checked to make sure everything is good to go, go back to your QR code on the QR Code generator screen. You need to save the code image (on a PC, right click the QR code and Save As; on a Mac take a screenshot by holding Shift+Command+4).
2. Go to a word document and insert the image of the code.
3. Label the QR code so you know what it is and save and print!  I laminated mine and put them on a key ring so I didn’t have to re-print throughout the year if I lost one or got it dirty.

You’re Finished!

 
I promise that after going through the process once, you will know what to do again and it will go much faster the next time you make one. 
 
Tell me what you think! Was this helpful? Do you think you’ll try this in your classroom, or have you done this already? Let me know in the comments or by emailing me! 

Check out: How to Differentiate Using Google Forms

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p.s. Want to start a teacher blog just like this one? My friend, Suzi, wrote an ebook that can help you get started and grow your blog!

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Classroom Olympics to Remediate and Prepare for “The Test”

Behavior Management, ela, english language arts, Featured, Middle School, olympics, test prep



Update: I originally wrote this post about how I utilize Olympics in the classroom in the spring, but you could totally adapt and do the same thing to celebrate the actual Olympics as they happen in Rio this summer! 
—————————–

So, it’s about that time…state testing time! Whatever your thoughts are on state testing, it happens, and teachers have to make sure their students are prepared. Obviously, teachers prepare their students all year and teach them the standards, but when it comes close to testing time, every teacher I know does some sort of targeted standards remediation work. This is where the most genius and fun of test prep ideas comes in…Olympics!

Disclaimer: I did not come up with test prep Olympics, but I have facilitated it successfully in my classroom and will be doing it again this year. In my opinion, it is a game changer, and a great way to get the most out of your students, in a short period of time, while having some fun!

What It Is

  • Classroom Olympics is an academic based competition that you can set up in order to track and motivate your students towards a common goal. In the instance of standards remediation, it can help you target instruction while investing the kids in their own “data” and outcomes. How they perform can earn them incentives, and their “country” incentives. If you’ve done an awesome job of investing your kids the entire year in their own data, then the competition of the Olympic events is just an added bonus! 
  • Monday-Thursday the students complete 3 stations each day. On Fridays, the kids participate in “Events” for medals for their country.


Groupings

  • I’ve seen teachers group their students in many ways. Each time I have done classroom Olympics I have divided my classes into 6 countries (so 4-5 students in each country). I usually homogeneously group those students (2 high groups, 2 medium groups and 2 “lower” groups). The students have never figured this out, but it helps me be able to differentiate instruction in the stations better.
  • Obviously, any countries can be chosen, but I always use Spain, Italy, Portugal, France, Brazil and Australia 🙂 
  • For each country, you will want to assign a leader, or “President”/”Prime Minister” or whatever you want to call it! –more on this later!


The Stations

  • There are 3 stations in classroom Olympics, usually. Depending on how your class is set up, you can change this, but I’ve always just stuck with the 3. 
    • Coach’s Corner--teacher-led, small group instruction with 2 countries (8-10kids)
    • Personal Training–partner work with 2 countries (I choose the partners but occasionally let them choose)–8-10 kids
    • Workout–silent, independent work (8-19 kids)
  • When I set the classroom up, I turn the desks for each station to face different directions
    • Coach’s Corner faces the front of the room (desks together in a small cluster for small group)
    • Personal Training faces the right wall of the room (desks in pairs)
    • Workout faces the left wall of the room (desks in rows)
View from the front of the room (Coach’s Corner) looking towards the Workout rotation–desks facing left wall
Student view from Workout station (desks in rows, facing expectations posters)



Management
To teach my students the expectations for each station, I take an entire day to introduce the concept and to practice meeting the expectations (rotating, getting materials, coming into the classroom and sitting at the correct station, etc). When I first decided on this, I thought that it was a good idea, but was nervous it would be one of those lessons that are over really quickly–but it wasn’t! Practicing entering the classroom, students checking the board for their stations, sitting in their assigned seats and Presidents getting the correct materials proved invaluable. The next day when the students came in, we could get started immediately and I could remind them as the period went on of expectations if needed.

Personal Training Station Expectations Posters Example
Coach’s Corner Station Expectations Posters Example
Workout Station Expectations Poster
(Sorry for the blurry iPhone pic!–will update :))

Schedule/Step-By-Step

  1. Students walk into classroom and look at the board to see what station their country is starting at for the day. 
  2. All students immediately go to their stations and sit down in their assigned seat. 
  3. The country “President” gets the team supply bag (pencils and a sharpener) and goes to their station’s materials bin and gets the materials for their teammates. 
  4. Once the Presidents hand out all of the materials and are seated, the timer for rotation 1 begins. 
  5. After rotation 1 ends, the students have 1 minute to rotate to the next station, be seated, and get their materials from the President. 
  6. Rotation 2 begins and lasts as long as rotation 1. 
  7. After rotation 2 ends, the students have 1 minute to rotate to the next station, be seated, and get their materials from the President.
  8. Rotation 3 begins and lasts as long as rotation 1 and 2. 
  9. At the end of the class, I sometimes show answers for the students’ to check some of their assignments (depending on what they were doing). 
  10. When ready to clean up, all students hand their folders to their President. The Presidents drop their supply bag at the door and stack their folders by the door as they file out. 

Incentives
As I mentioned above, on Fridays the kids participate in their academic “event”. Based off their scores on the event, they will receive gold or silver medals (not real medals, just the idea of the medal 🙂 ). The medal count will be posted on a medal board for the kids to keep up with and see which country is ahead. Also, the following week after their event, they will receive an incentive (chips, lunch in the classroom with a movie, a jeans pass, etc.–whatever you come up with that motivates them will be great and obviously doesn’t have to cost money!). You can give incentives in a variety of ways: anyone with a gold medal, anyone who got any medal, the countries with the most medals, etc. The possibilities are endless!

At the end of our Olympic Games, we are going to have an awards ceremony for the entire grade to give certificates and overall awards for the Olympics. I’ve never done this part before on a large scale but the kids’ seem really excited about the idea!

Here is our unfinished medal count board. Since the whole 8th grade is competing this year, we have 17 countries across our teams.

Part of our Leaderboard. The top line is number of gold medals and bottom line is number of silver medals. 


Tips to Remember

  • Don’t fall into the “I didn’t get finished” trap. I always give more than students will most likely be able to do at a station (but have a “fast finished assignment ready just in case!), so don’t let kids not being finished let you begin to extend time at the stations. For this version of Olympics to work, each kid needs to get to each station each day!
  • TEACH EVERYTHING! And by everything I mean: how to push in the chair, how to walk to a new station, how to get supplies, how to ask for help if needed, etc. Even the BEST behaved classrooms can become chaotic when you switch it up.  This is definitely the case for (a) middle school classrooms and (b) classrooms that may not be used to working in stations/rotation style frequently. If you don’t teach everything, you will spend your entire time at Coach’s Corner behavior managing kids and fielding questions from confused kids.
Have you and your students ever done an Olympic style competition? What questions do you still have? I’d love to hear from you in the comments, or reach out to me via email! 

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p.s. Want to start a teacher blog just like this one? My friend, Suzi, wrote an ebook that can help you get started!

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How to Streamline Behavior Documentation in a Middle School Classroom

Behavior Management, Documentation, Featured, Middle School, Time Saver
This process has SAVED my team's sanity! How to Streamline Behavior Documentation in a Middle School Classroom
I can’t believe it has been about 2 months since my last post! I came running back to the blog tonight because I have to share something I found on Pinterest (of course) that is streamlining some behavior documentation in my classroom and on my team: Using QR Codes with Google Forms. 
If you’re not tech savvy and the terms “QR Codes” and “Google Forms” scare you…just hear me out! 

What It Is

On the original post I saw (shoutout to PeppyZestyTeacherista.com! Check her out!), the teacher who has a 1:1 iPad classroom uses QR codes to help her document missing homework assignments from students. The students come in, and those who don’t have their homework scan a QR code that is on a poster on her wall, fill out the Google Form and boom! She has everything documented in one spreadsheet! This got my mind rolling. Now, I definitely don’t have a 1:1 iPad classroom (I have 3 desktops and no tablets) but I knew I could somehow use this to make life easier for me and my team. It hit me: team behavior documentation!
Let me backtrack a minute. . . as an 8th grade teacher, my school works in teams. One ELA teacher, one math teacher, one social studies teacher and one science teacher all share the same students. Previously, we were spending a good chunk of time documenting and tracking behaviors that we needed to follow up on like who was tardy to class, who was out of dress code, who needed to take a break in another classroom, who has lunch detentions, etc. Now, this is NO MORE!

What I Did

I made a Google Form to correspond with anything I wanted to track, and then linked that to a QR code. I then printed it on a half sheet of colored paper, laminated, and put it on a key ring to keep it together. Now, if someone is tardy to class (or whatever else happens that I scan for) I can quickly fill in the information I want and done! The best thing about this is that when any of my teammates do this as well, it all goes to a shared spreadsheet I can access in my Google Drive! 
Screen Shot 2016-03-24 at 10.02.31 PM
  How to Set It Up
  1. Download a QR Code reader on your smartphone. I have an iPhone and have “QR Reader for iPhone”.
  2. Go to your Google account and make a new Google Form for whatever you’re wanting to track and be able to scan.
  3. When you’re finished building the Google Form, copy the link that Google gives you that is attached to the form (the link you’d use to share it with someone else).
  4. Google a QR Code generator. I used this one: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com.
  5. Select URL on the QR Code Generator and copy the link to the Google Form you made into the “Enter URL Here” box. From here, a custom QR Code should be made.
  6. Save the QR code that you just made.
  7. Insert the picture of the QR code you made onto a word document, label what the code is for and print.
  8. Use the QR Code reader on your phone and scan the QR code to test it. The Google Form you filled out should pull up on your phone or device.
  9. Fill out test information in the fields and then visit your Google Form response spreadsheet in your Google Drive to make sure everything shows up. If it does, you’re FINISHED!
So what do you think? Will this make anything easier for you in your classroom? I’d love to hear how you use Google Forms or QR codes in your classroom!

Again, shoutout to Amber at PeppyZestyTeacherista.com for the original post! 

Peppy Zesty Teacherista


*UPDATE: I’ve received many in-depth questions about how to do this, so I created a more in-depth Step-By-Step Guide! Check it out here.

 
Also, check out How to Differentiate Using Google Forms here


 

 

p.s. Want to start a teacher blog just like this one? My friend, Suzi, wrote an ebook that can help you get started!