Sunday, July 28, 2013

ISN Setup for US History!

Every year I buy about ten extra ISN's for my students who can't get their own, or who come in after school has started. We use composition notebooks in our class. They are CHEAP, before school starts they are between fifty cents and a dollar. 

To relay the importance of the ISN I usually present it in this way:

"Everybody lift up your ISN" and I watch the students lift it up. I balance it on one hand like a restaurant tray. "Now try with four fingers" we balance it, "Now three fingers," I watch the kids balance it again "Now two fingers,". We then look at how wide it is and we generally decide we could probably fit the ISN under the door of our classroom. 

Now when we get to the end I relay to them "This is NOT the ISN that broke the students back. It should NEVER leave your back pack. The only reason it leaves your back pack is so that you can study!" 

One of the reason I love the composition notebooks is because they are small and I don't feel bad making my students lug them around all the time. One of my classroom procedures is that when the students walk in the room they pick up any papers they will need for the day. When we set up the ISNs it works the same way! The students pick up all the papers they need and right before we begin set up I lift up each paper and make sure that each student has every paper. It gives the students time to run to the back table and pick up whatever they need so they aren't doing it throughout the class period. 

The following is the way I have my students set up their ISN:
I have them put our classroom rules at the beginning of their ISN
and any time we are about to do something that references a rule we
turn to the front of our ISN and reference it.
I put a list of the most important links for my students at the front of their ISN.
They put their Name Teacher and Class period in case their ISN goes missing.
However I make them put important sites and information about our class as well.
I can always tell parents anything they need to know about our class is in the
front of their student's ISN

The next page is for our ISN Table of Contents. It usually changes every six weeks and I leave about six pages up from the previous six weeks just in case students didn't get a chance to copy it down. Students use pages two through four as their Table of Contents Pages.

Even though I teach US History I still feel like it is VERY important for students to have a basic knowledge of where different parts of the world are.  I found at the end of last year my students had NO IDEA where Asia was on a world map. Talk about an eye opener... So this year students will be required to label seven continents and five oceans on a world map sporadically throughout the school year. 

We use it to reference slave trade, mercantilism, and Manifest Destiny. 

Again, one of the things my students struggle most with is geography. After every test students take a Map/Essay portion the next day. This way by the end of the year they can label a US Map and prime landmarks

We try to coincide what we are teaching with the states we make the kids label. The most we have them label at once is thirteen-- for the thirteen colonies.  


Along with labeling the states the students will eventually be labeling capitals as well. 
The chart is used so students can fill it in as they are assigned states to label.

All of this goes in the front of the students ISN. 
Now we flip to the back twelve pages. 

I give each student a post it note and make them count out fourteen pages (twenty eight front and back).  I then have them fold over the post it note so it acts as a tab and tape the other side. 

In our class homework acts as a review of information from past topics we have covered. I wanted my students to be able to go back and use these as a review before tests and our STAAR Test. 

The front eight pages are for traditional homework and the back six are for our KUD. Which is a type of review I'll talk about in another post. Our KUD is at it's core a list of topics for students to use as they review.  

When they are all in one place it makes it easier for students to find and reference them for our cumulative Super Quizzes (given every six weeks) and our end of year standardized test.

These are the back cover of my student's ISN and the page next to it. My students always complained about having to tape their quizzes into their ISN even though their quizzes are class sets and therefore their notebook paper only has answers and is therefore fairly useless to hold onto. 

This chart is a way for students to keep track of their quiz scores, the topics that they struggled with etcetera. They also have a graph to chart their Test grades on for the first semester. I hope that by doing this students will be able to track their progression better. 

This post was about ISN organization and initial setup. I'll do more posts about different ways we have our students take notes!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Take Ten! Classroom Rules!

So I've been doing a lot of reading this summer! Namely--- the FANTASTICALLY STUPENDOUS-- Ron Clark. I read his books and feel like a LOUSY teacher-- but he ignites in me a desire to do SO MUCH BETTER than I ever thought I could before!

These two are my favorites of his! He does SUCH a great job of offering encouragement and purpose!

When you read his essential rules, he adds purpose, and he talks about the importance of the rules coming from a desire to see students be the best version of themselves.

For my classroom I decided to go a slightly different route in terms of number-- but kept the spirit of several of his rules!

Take Ten! 
Our Classroom Rules!

1.         If someone does something well or wins, we will congratulate that person! If you win or do well at something do NOT brag. If you lose do not show anger. Instead say something like “I really enjoyed the competition and I look forward to playing you again”. To show anger or sarcasm such as “I wasn’t really trying anyway” shows weakness. 
(Ron Clark Rule!)

2.       Do not smack your lips, tsk, roll you eyes or show disrespect with gestures.

(Ron Clark Rule!)

3.        Occasionally we may grade each other’s paper as a group. When we grade papers as a group you are not to comment on another person’s grade. The only marks you should make on their paper is an “X” and the number they got incorrect.

(INSPIRED by a Ron Clark Rule!)

4.       Homework will be turned in EVERY Thursday for this subject with NO EXCEPTIONS. You have two nights to complete your homework and online access to homework. If you do not have a copy of your homework on Thursday you will fill out a “Taking a Zero” form.  If you have your homework and it is incomplete you will be required to take 1/5  of the grade. (I take ONE combined homework grade a six weeks-- each HW is worth between twenty and twenty-five points)

(INSPIRED by a Ron Clark Rule!) 

This is the "Taking a Zero" form for my students to fill out!

5.       NO matter WHAT the situation: Be Honest. Even if you have done something wrong it is best to admit it to me because I will respect that and oftentimes I will forgo any disciplinary measures because of your honesty

(Ron Clark Rule!)

6.       Do NOT cheat. Cheating shows weakness and will make any other true victories in the class hollow to others. NO ONE likes a cheater.  It disappoints me GREATLY and will cause me to lose trust in you.

(My Rule-- Cheating "irks" me a lot)

7.       Not studying is NOT a virtue; therefore do not act like it is such. To say you “didn’t study” if you get a good grade is hurtful to those who did study and struggled or is cheapening to those who studied and did well. To say you “didn’t study” and you failed makes you look ignorant and lazy. People can understand if when you study you do poorly, we have ALL been there.

(My Rule-- Favorite of this year)

8.       Accept that you will make mistakes. Learn from them. And MOVE ON.

(Ron Clark Rule!)

9.        Your grade is NO ONE’S business but your own. You do not need to shout out your grades when you get it. If you do poorly do NOT just wad up your paper and throw it away. You will not be able to learn from your mistakes OR know what you did wrong if you just throw it away.

(My Rule-- I hate the kids shouting out their bad scores 
"Haha-- I got a 35" and it is a chorus of bad grades and 
it makes the kids feel like getting bad grades is cool! 
It KILLED me to watch that happen this year!)

10.     Be aware of our daily classroom expectations and live them out daily.

(My Rule-- Expectations and Rules are different. 
Expectations are a part of routine-- rules to me 
outline a limit on actions)

This is the sign that will go up in my room as a short reminder of the rules! This typed up version of the rules will go on the front cover of my student's Interactive Student Notebook!

A lot of these rules come from things I've seen over the past two years that have irked me about kids. I love being able to love my students. Sometimes they do things though that make it harder to love them-- these rules I'm hoping will outline expectations with purpose and help them be the great kids I know they are!