Monthly Archives: August 2013

Who are you playing with at lunchtime?

Recess and lunchtime can be scary,  lonely, and dreaded times for children who have no one to play with. As someone entering the teaching profession, I have found that lunchtime and recess are often the last things on my mind during the busy day. Upon reflection though, I have come to realise that my duty will not end once the children walk of out the classroom and onto the playground. How soul crushing it would feel as a child to never have anyone to play with – especially since you don’t know why or what to do about it.

I would argue that children who have happy play are happier and more connected in the classroom.

I spoke with a young teacher recently who told me something she does EVERY DAY before recess and lunch, which has almost eliminated this issue in her lower primary classroom. She asks each child: “Who are you playing with today?” And the class does not leave the room until everyone has at least one person to play with. The children might be given a minute to meet in that group to discuss what it is they will play that day.

According to her she has seen lower incidences of bullying within her classroom, and has noticed improvements in classroom cohesion since she began doing this 6  months ago.


I will begin adding this little step into our pre-recess and lunch routine this week and look forward to reflecting on the results!

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Mrs. Ripp’s Classroom Vision (Animoto Video)


Animoto turns the camera roll into beautiful, pro-quality videos. Choose  music and photos/videos to create and share videos.

Watch video here: Classroom Vision video

Created by the class at the beginning of the year to express the vision and hopes they had for the year.

Beginning The Year

Another three great posts from Pernnille Ripp! Her blog is a wealth of great info for new teachers.

  1. On Those Two First Days
  2. How To Make The New Year Easier – Year After Year
  3. Get Your Students Blogging (12 Steps)

Here are some key points which have really sparked my interest. On the first two days (article 1):

      • Morning Routine – we discuss expectations; what type of morning do the kids want?  How do we get started for the day?  We come to an agreement on how it will run best.
      • Rules discussion – I don’t set the rules, the kids do.  So how do we want our room to function, how do we want it to sound, to look like?  What will we do to maintain it.  That conversation starts on the first day.
      • Name your table.  The students will come up with a table name and then create a banner for it.  This will happen monthly as the students change tables.
      • Wordle about me – I have parents hand in 5 secret adjectives to describe their child and then we add 5 of our own and it make a really great Wordle about the kids which we hang up – the students get so surprised over the adjectives their parents use.
      • Connect the students – this is a great activity that only requires paper and sharpies.  The kids all write their name on the border of the paper and then one person makes a statement like “I play soccer.”  Anyone else who plays soccer gets to connect their name to theirs and then the next person states something and so on.  In the end you have a huge spiderweb of how connected we are in the classroom which I display even though it is super messy but it kind of looks like art.
      • Random Pictures of Mrs. Ripp – I will be sharing a slideshow of random pictures from my life to see if the kids can guess what they mean to me.  The following the kids will bring in their random pictures.
      • Flag pennent – a way for my kids to show their personality and decorate their cubbies
      • Make Animoto classroom vision – the kids figure out our vision for the room and put in into Animoto.  It really gets them thinking and helps them take ownership of the room, here is last year’s.
      • Time Capsule – we measure height and write down our favorites and dislikes.  The kids always crack up at the end of the year about what they wrote.
      • Read Dear Future Mrs. Ripp Student letters aloud.  Every year my students write a letter to the new kids sharing information about this classroom and how to get the best out of it.  This year some of those students are still with me so I am going to share their letters with the whole class when they work on projects.
      • Pencil cups – I have tables this year so no more name tags on desks.  Students will instead have a decorated pencil cup with their name on it.  They work on this while I read aloud.
      • Name sticks – I randomly pull sticks when we discuss and use them for group work.
      • Lunch/bathroom/leaving room magnets, – sign in, sign out
      • Intro to Blogging – we start to talk about blogging on the second day of school because it is a huge part of our classroom.  And then we start to discuss safety.
      • Paper blog lesson – this is a great lesson shared by @McTeach and one that I love to do with my kids.
      • Discuss classroom jobs – I have helpers every week and this year I added new jobs like Googler and Mapper.  The Goggler will google questions we have submitted on a list and the mapper will keep track of where we connect with.

Some admin items I had not considered when beginning the new year in the classroom (article 2). I particularly like the idea to use numbers/characters instead of names on the boring stuff:

      • Create skeleton sub plans.  These sub plans have all of our times and subjects on them as well as any pertinent information.  That way when I need a sub in the room all I do is plug in the specific information and presto – sub plans are done.  Here is an example.  These also come in handy in case you wake up super sick, which I have tried, at least you can email this to the school secretary.
      • Write a Dear Substitute Letter.  I have students with special needs in my room as well as kids that need extra care.  At the beginning of the year I write a brief letter to my subs explaining a little bit about my kids and their needs, without breaking confidentiality of  ourse, then I have it to give to each new sub.  Here is an example letter.
      • Use Numbers instead of Names (on the boring stuff).  My students are all assigned numbers for things like their take home envelopes, their book boxes, and files that keep on them.  That way I don’t have to print out new name stickers year after year, they simply get a number assigned to this more boring stuff.
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No more rewards

How to reward your students when you don’t believe in rewards

What an inspiring article this is. Going through primary and secondary school as a student, rewards were commonplace in most classes I was a part of.  Pernille says here that children really do not need  extrinsic rewards for learning to happen. It makes sense. Setting up an elaborate classroom rewards scheme can take time and energy, and most likely just gives children the impression that there is no need to learn unless a reward will be offered.

The paragraph that really stuck with me was:

“So in throwing out all of my rewards, I found out about the biggest reward of all; time.  This simple concept that I know we have precious little of in a classroom is a hot commodity to everyone.  Now when my kids deserve recognition (which they do every day) I give them time.  Whether it is to take the time to speak to them about their work, or to write feedback.  Whether it is to give them time to work or just time to speak to one another.  How about time for a sledding party?  Or time for 5 minutes of meditation after that awesome assembly?  How about the time to just be a classroom, to just hang out and celebrate all the amazing things happening in our room, in our school, in our world?”

How awesome is that. Time. Simple. Taking the time to explain to a child why their work is outstanding, or areas they can focus on. Taking the time to explain to the class how attentive they were at assembly and offering them a 5 minute meditation afterwards.

I will definitely be working towards implementing a program in the classroom that uses time as the biggest reward. Getting over that ingrained belief that items like stickers are needed to motivate children to learn won’t be easy – but I am excited to begin to adapt this new learning into practise.

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