Engage and Organize from Day 1
From the Cool Cat Teacher Blog by Vicki Davis
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Great teaching starts on the first day. Right now, a little information on trends and classroom organization will help you improve your school year. So here, you’ll learn about some hot back to school trends and get some tips on using them in your classroom. Let’s get ready!
1 – Emoji is Hot!
Emojis are everywhere. Walking through my local Staples, these cute faces are on pencil bags, boxes, backpacks and even charging cables.
Pro Classroom Tips
Writing. Some teachers are using emojis in their writing prompts. Students draw or are given an emoji. They write about a situation where that emoji would be appropriate.
Math. Some algebra teachers are using the emoji insert feature in Google Docs to replace the x or y in Algebra with an emoji. It helps kids understand the purpose of a variable.
Mood. Some teachers have kids draw or select their emoji as they come into class. This gives a quick attitude check with the students.
2 – Shop Early
3 – Personalized Ways to Write and Create
When many of us were kids, Crayons came in one style. Now, there are twist crayons and a wide variety. As a Mom of two children who struggle to write, I’m thankful for the new choices.
Pro Back to School Tips
Parents. To better understand your child’s needs, take him or her shopping with you. Let them pick out their supplies. They’ll usually take better care of them.
Teachers. As a teacher, pick out a variety of writing tools. Make them available so you can see what your students like. Some hands are better for larger sized writing tools. Others prefer smaller ones.
Teaching Venn Diagrams. Have students create Venn diagrams or graphic organizers to compare various writing tools. This helps them become familiar with the tools you have and comparing and contrasting things.
4 – Customize Your Planning System
Customize your planning system. The Staples Arc Customizable planning system is a great start to making your own planner. (I’ve been using it for the last several years and it is featured in my Do What Matters productivity book.)
This year, Staples has these cool stickers and colored project forms!
Pro Organizing Tips
Invest in a paper punch. Whatever type of planner you use, make sure you have a “punch” and some of the same sized paper so that you can easily add to the planner. The Staples Arc Punch works for me with standard sized paper.
Use sticky notes. Put your top three things to do at school each day on one colored note. Put your top three home items on another colored note. Then, when you transition between home and school, just change the order of the notes. You can even move important things from day to day.
5 – Motivate with Quotes
Send positive messages. Choose notepads, planners, and supplies with a positive message.
Pro Teacher or Parent Tip
Make your own quotes. Purchase sticker paper. Make your own quotes. Stick them on commonly used items for quick encouragement at a glance.
Choose wisely. We become what we think about most of the time. Choose positive messages that fit with your values.
6 – Get the Perfect Stylus for your Tablet
Whether you need an Apple pen or want to use one of the student styluses, Staples can get you ready to draw and sketch on your iPad, Surface, or another tablet device.
Stylus ends are everywhere. Some pens and pencils are now coming with a stylus on the end. If you want to always have a stylus handy, you might want to invest in one of these types of pens or pencils.
Check the box. Check to see the recommended tablet device for a stylus before you buy it.
7 – Stock Your Maker Space
Colored tape, paints, coloring books and more. Stock your Maker Space with a variety of craft and artistic items.
MakerSpace Pro Tip
Tape. Duct or craft tape with patterns are so useful in a maker space. Not only can they be used to decorate things, but if you’re making robots, they can decorate and reinforce them. Buy five or six rolls of several types of patterns. Select complimentary colors so that students can mix and match.
Coloring books and mindfulness. Adults are enjoying the coloring pages as a relaxation technique. Students can do this as well. Staples has a wide variety of the Mancala color pages. Stock them for an activity students can do or even help them calm.
8 – Make Sure Your Home Computer Backup Is Working
Can you afford to replace your computer? How about all of the data on your computer? Fall is a great time to make sure your backup is working. If you need a backup, the options are easier to use than ever. Purchase a backup device for your home computer and take time to set it up.
Home Backup Pro Tip
You need two hard disks for your home computer backup system.
Full backup. You should have a backup drive. This type of backup will make it so you can restore your computer with the click of a button. If you don’t want to have to take the time to re-set up your computer if it has issues, you’ll want to have a backup.
External file storage. Purchase a second hard drive to archive old files. If you make movies or take a lot of photos, organize them on an external hard drive if you’re not using them. At the beginning of the school year, try to have 20-35% of your hard drive space free so you won’t have to stop working to free up space.
9 – Fidget Spinners
Like emojis, fidget spinners are another hot item.
Pro Teacher Tip.
Math. For timed math tests, have students time themselves by spinning their fidget spinner. Let them try to finish before it stops spinning.
Science. Ask students to figure out why the fidget spinner spins.
10 – Label and Color Code Your Classroom
Print neat labels to be able to see items from a distance.
Think about the colors you use and make life easier by grouping tasks, subjects, or activities by color.
Organizing Pro Tips
Color Your Classes. Each class or subject should have a color. The time savings when I did this was amazing. I use the same color dry erase marker, folders, sticky notes – everything for one class is one color. Student notebooks even match the color code for the class.
Labeling. Think about the size of the surface before you print labels. Create and print one or two before typing all of the names of your students before you find they don’t fit. Get a child or student volunteer to help you label once you’ve decided how you’ll do it.
Visit www.staples.com/back-to-school for more information and great deals!