Monday, August 20, 2012

Back to School Procedures

I spent today with a friend on her first day of school teaching first grade.  She has been out of the classroom for a few years and use to teach 5th grade. So I spent last week helping her get her room ready for today - the first day of school.

And what did we do all day long?  Procedures, procedures, procedures.  It was fun for me to be able to tag team with her, and it made me realize that I am very much a procedure chanting teacher.  You see, I strongly believe, that young children need lots of repetition involving movement activities, along with visual, and auditory connections.  So today I thought I would share the "Griffin's Top 4 Tips" for making your classroom run more smoothly.

#1  Provide movement activities for your students as soon they enter.  Music and movement can engage children and set a positive climate for learning.   What songs do I use?  Jack Hartmann's, CJ,  and MINE :)  It's been really fun to use my songs and movement activities over the last few years with my students.  But it was even more fun to work alongside another teacher and show how much music can help them settle into the new year's routines.

#2 My favorite teaching quote from The Cat in the Hat by Dr. Seuss:  "It's fun to have fun, but you have to know how."  This is my "mantra" for teaching all parts of our day.  We talk about in order to do fun things during the school day, we have to first learn the procedures for doing those fun activities.  I make it a chant

Teacher:  It's fun to have fun . . .
Students:  But you have to know how!

We practiced this all day today, when transitioning or learning a new part of our day.  I can't wait to show you the activity/bulletin board we are creating to reinforce this concept.  Check back or follow my blog so you don't miss it.

Of course you have to throw in some fun activities to reinforce it.  Check out this post for one of the listening activities we did today using our grabbers.  Right now we are just doing 2-3 step directions to learn the procedures.  When we can do this successfully, we will start adding academics to the games.  Sometimes we speed along too fast and don't take time to teach children how to follow directions.

#3 Another quote that just slips right out while I am teaching procedures:

Teacher:  Whose job is it to keep you safe?
Students:  You and me (They point to the teacher and then to themselves).

How does this help?  It makes you a collaborative team in following the rules.  Rules are not just some arbitrary random judgement calls that infringe on their FUN!  They have to know the "why" behind the rule. For example:  We keep our legs criss-crossed in group time because if you stretch your legs out and someone walks by, they might trip over your legs and fall on you.  Is that keeping you safe?  And of course they say, NO!  Have them share the responsibility of keeping them safe.

#4 Listening Strategies

I recently wrote a post about these strategies and how they help my students get rid of their "wiggles."  I just released my new "Listening Strategies" packet on Teacher Pay Teachers and it is getting great feedback from others.  If I had to ask my friend Stacee what helped her the most today, she would say "The Listening Strategies."  We used the big cards from the pack and put them up on a magnetic dry erase bulletin board.  This peaked the students curiosity in what movement activity we did for each strategy.  It became a visual, kinesthetic, and auditory way of learning strategies to become better listeners.   Stacee would call on different students throughout the day during each group time to choose another large card off the bulletin board.  They were able to bring it to group time as we learned the strategy.  Then throughout the day, we did "listening strategies" quick checks to see if they could remember the different ones.  It's amazing how some children were already figuring out which one works for them.  Here is an important key concept that is written in the directions in the packet and one that I say when presenting at conferences.

"A strategy is only a strategy if it helps you.  If it disturbs your friends, it is not a strategy."

Yes, I am a chanting teacher.  Chants, rhythms, and repeat - echo games help keep your students engaged.  Click HERE to take you to my Listening Strategies for the Early Childhood Classroom which includes 4 new songs.  We did the Wiggle Line Up March today.
And if you need some fun activities that engage your students while providing motivation and learning, check out my multimedia files.  You can use them with your digital projector, interactive whiteboard, or Smart Board.  What did we do today?  "Won't Forget No More" which focuses on letter sounds and "Five Word Families."  I love to do "Five Word Families" with all ages because it teaches and reinforces those short vowel sounds in a fun way.

This is "Won't Forget No More" with an example of how I use it in the classroom.
This is a short clip from "Five Word Families."
Click HERE for the link to purchase "Won't Forget No More." Click HERE for the link to purchase "Five Word Families." Each multimedia file is $4.00.  It's an effective way to bring kinesthetic movement, visual, and auditory learning to meet the needs of all your students.  And while they are having fun, you can work on the Common Core Standards for Language Arts - Reading Foundational Skills K-1st in the areas of Phonological Awareness, Phonics and Word Recognition. If you are a visual learner, check out my YouTube Channel: Kathy Griffin's Teacher Channel  To see how I use these multimedia files in my classroom.
Thanks for stopping by!  I hope everyone is taking their vitamins, drinking lots of water, and getting some sleep.  Well, 2 out of 3 will help.  I know extra sleep or even 7 hours is hard to fit in when we have all of the "First of the School Year" activities to complete.


  1. I just checked out your Won't Forget No More video and added it my TPT wishlist. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Great!!! Make sure to say the sounds 3 times when it gets to the "ABC review" at the end of the song. My students love that part:) Thanks for stopping by.