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April 19, 2021

Highlighting Kids - Easy Check Off Sheet

For the past 7 years I've found how easy it is to use a highlighter to keep track of basic information.  Not grading, but for participation, or as a check off.  On powerpoint I have this template.  It's really simple to create. (I just covered my student names for privacy.) 

After creating, I save it as a pdf so then I have the option of printing more than one page per sheet.  

Yeah, I bump it up to 9 copies per sheet. It makes it so that the names are still able to be read, and seems to be the perfect size for a highlighter. 

Then I save that as a pdf so it's easier to print when needed. I usually go through 1 of these sheets per week between using one per day for participation, and then other check off types of things.  

These always come in so handy.  I use the top line to write the reason.  This year I'm using it every day for participation.  When a kid volunteers I make a dot with a highlighter over their name.  Our morning question is one color of highlighter, then I switch to a different color for other subjects. I use my highlighted dots to then transfer to Class Dojo for points.  It also helps me know who to call on if I haven't heard from them. It helps me know who to check in with on their private channels, and if I don't hear from them there, then it reminds me which parents to contact with concerns.  

I've used it a lot over the years for different things, but this year it's really come in handy.  

Hope this helps, hope you have a great day!

April 16, 2021

Brain Flakes - STEM and Participation Tool

Do you know about Brain Flakes? I learned about them a couple of years ago. Kind of like Legos met a pinwheel. But the best part is that they don’t hurt if you accidentally step on them. My own kids absolutely have loved them to create, and it’s been a Fun Friday/ rainy day option in my classroom too. I got mine from a Donors Choose project, then bought another one for at home. 

Disclaimer - this isn't an ad, I'm not getting any money from them. 

When we started hybrid I had put some linking cubes in each of their desk pouches to use for volume, and that led to looking around the classroom for other items that could be used for random purposes. My in class kids have become the leaders in our daily break out groups. It has made it a little more fun for in class kids that have to stay at their desks for longer times throughout the day. 

Every day, my in class logs into our team meeting to chat directly with our at home kids. Yes, we can hear the kids at home and in class while altogether, but when kids are in smaller groups they open up so much more. They participate so much more. So headphones on...

During our DL weeks I would give my class 10 minutes during math or another subject to have break out groups. They would do some independent work together or answer questions for me. I would hop through the different groups to listen in. 

Now that kids are in class, I wanted a visual that I can see that shows the communication in the groups. So I pulled out the Brain Flakes. 

Each in class person has 2 of each color that they keep in their pouch. When the groups first meet up in their break out group, they make a quick plan as to who is going to be each color. They type it into the chat. Then as the groups are talking, the person in class uses those colors to build their own design. Person 1 may be blue, and when she talks, the in class kid puts a blue on the design. Then person 2 might be yellow, and that color gets added when they share. Person 3 is red, and person 4 is orange. The goal is for each design to have all the colors. 

Since they are building in front of their camera, we have the buy in from the kids at home. Most kids want to get their color on the design. It’s also a lesson as to who is hogging the conversation. 

Anyhow, if I didn’t have Brain Flakes I would probably pull back out the linking blocks to show participation. 

Hope you had a great day! 

April 15, 2021

Jenga to Review Math

In a normal year I use Jenga blocks to review for tests all year long. I have 8 sets of blocks, enough for each group to have one as we review. 

It’s a pretty basic set up. I print off task cards, or some activity. The kids work independently to solve the problem, then have a discussion about their answers. 

Did they get the same answer? Then they discuss the different strategies they used. 

Did they get different answers? Then they work together to figure out where the error was and discuss strategies. 

By their discussions they are showing their understanding.

After they have a discussion they all take a turn to play a block in Jenga. 

Then they move onto the next problem. 


It’s the same kind of thing with a lot of games. 

With distance learning the kids have missed out on that kind of fun, so now that kids are back in the classroom I figured that we could do the same kind of thing in breakout sessions. We tackled this today for our math review and tomorrow we will do it again with the other set of kids.... a different review with the other half of the blocks.  I split each set of blocks so that the stacks were shorter and stacking didn't take as long.

The kids in the classroom are once again the leaders. They have the jenga sets. I stuck the problems in their team channel. The teammates at home cheer on their in class group member, but they also have to help solve the problems.  

I wanted to make sure that only one in class kid is in a group, so I hand picked groups and started the meetings myself, instead of the random assortment we usually do. Each group has one person from group A, one from B, and one from our DL kids. Thankfully my class is split pretty equally.

Hope you had a great day!