Showing posts with label Color-Coding. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Color-Coding. Show all posts

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Play-Doh, Child Development, and Take-Out Boxes

So over a year ago I posted about using brightly colored take-out boxes (available at your local craft store) for project supplies, and promised to write about how we used the Play-Doh I stored in them in a later post. Well, here's the later post!
To review, the take-out boxes are not only a fun storage container, but being sealed and opaque they are also great for "secret" supplies and surprise projects. One thing that many students struggle with is understanding the differences between physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development (in particular they have a hard time teasing out social and emotional). In fairness, they are all of course interrelated, but I need them to understand each as a stand-alone as well. Because they have such trouble, my challenge is to take these abstract concepts and make them as concrete as possible, so I thought "Why not have them make physical representations of each?"

I divided the class into groups, then sent them back to the kitchens so they would have lots of counter space to work with (and also to get them physically moving around, get those brain juices flowing!). Each kitchen was given a take-out box (in the color that matched their kitchen, of course), which they were delighted to find contained Play-Doh! I explained that even though they were in groups they would each be making their own creations (haha to those who thought they could just watch! Boy, lots of exclamation points in this paragraph!). We quickly reviewed the different areas of development, and then I said "Okay, everyone create something with your Play-Doh related to physical development." And off they went! We did a few rounds each of physical, intellectual, social, and emotional. Check out some of their ideas:

I walked around as they worked, and asked them to explain what it was they produced and how it was related to that area of development. This was an important component because:
  1. not all of them were great Play-Doh artists and I'm not always the best mystery solver
  2. some of the creations could be applied to multiple categories so I wanted to hear their reasoning for their choice
  3. it forced them to not only think about what they were making but how they could explain what they were making to someone else
  4. viewing others' creations and listening to others' explanations deepened their understanding of the concepts and helped them apply the concepts to a wider range of objects/ activities/ relationships/ etc
They learned, they started performing much better on other assignments/ assessments related to areas of development, and we all had fun. And, I got to use the awesome color-coded take-out boxes! Slam dunk!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Back to School Shopping Finds & FOLDERS!

So by now you must have all seen something like this:

It is that time, my friends - put on your game faces! I've received many requests to purchase the documents that I use with my folders (see related post); I've been working on it, and now nearly all are available from my TPT store. All items are either $1 or free - not looking to use my profits to retire early, just a little pocket change to help hedge the costs of the folders!

And speaking of folders, be sure to buy your supply FOR THE YEAR NOW! This is the only time of year that the price is reasonable; it will skyrocket in mid- to late-September. 

The ones I used last year were three-pronged, two-pocket paper folders. They are currently available in a variety of colors at WalMart for 15 cents (soon to be 50 cents!). Again, buy for the year, not just the semester (and if you'll recall, I did need to replace all of them at the semester - totally worth the expense, though!).

If you'd like something a little sturdier, Target is selling the same folders with a coating (not the polypropylene ones, just coated) for 15 cents as well:

Think through how you're going to use, store, and distribute them, because a coating will make them a bit slicker.

I personally would not go with the actual polypropylene folders, for a couple of reasons. One, they are MUCH slicker, and since I fan them out for students to retrieve they would constantly get knocked on the floor (if you don't know what I'm talking about, read my folders post). Two, even though they are WAY more durable than the paper ones, my bet is several of them would still need to be replaced at the semester mark, due to losses, dog bites, teenager bites, etc. Buying two folders per student at 15 cents each is still cheaper than one poly folder at 50, let alone two polys at $1. But enough with the math!

While at Target, if you teach anything child- or reading-related, you may want to swing by the dollar section and pick up some of these kid-sized totes with images from the hungry, hungry caterpillar! 

Back at WalMart, I'm happy to share that they have the crates that I so adore in more colors:

I have used these for color-coding class binders (back when I used binders rather than folders): 

After moving to folders I began using them to organize class materials (again, through color-coding).

My final find was this canvas tote with a "Periodic Table of Text Messaging," in the accessories department at WalMart. In my communication unit in Adult Living I do a lot with the advantages and pitfalls of texting as a communication method, and this would make a fantastic prop!

Those are some of my finds - what great things have you been stumbling upon the past few weeks?

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Write and Wipe Pockets

Another colorful addition to the kitchens: transparent pockets for lab plans!

These are "Write and Wipe Pockets" from Learning Resources; they came in a set of five and just happened to be the same colors as my kitchens! They can be written on with dry erase marker (included with the set) and then wiped clean - perfect for keeping track of recipe progress! Additionally, with the use of command hooks (yup, I love 'em!) they keep the papers off of the counters where they typically do not escape unscathed. Also available on Amazon, the set is a very reasonable $12-$14. The pockets themselves only come with the upper left-hand corner hole-punched; I simply added another punch to the upper right and slapped on a couple of reinforcement labels:
Less clutter on the counters, easier for group members to see and keep track of what they've accomplished, and of course adds a little extra class with the color coordination. 

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Take-Out Boxes of Fun

Whilst at Hobby Lobby a bit ago, I noticed a display of brightly colored take-out boxes; at that moment, I knew that I had to have them for group projects. I picked up five in colors that correspond to my classroom kitchens.

Notice that I have them set up in a copy paper box lid, one of my new favorite tools this year. Anyway, when I divide the class up into small groups for short activities, I usually do so by assigning them to a kitchen - gets them up and moving, and also gives them a nice big counter to work together on. So once I saw these I realized it would be really fun to stock them with "secret" supplies for their activity. I used them for the first time this week; here's what was in them:

Stay tuned, and I will tell you what they did with the Play-Doh in a future post!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Nasco... Live and in Color!

I'm frequently asked where I find all of my color-coded kitchen equipment, and the simple answer is this: EVERYWHERE! WalMart, Target, Dollar Stores, random kitchen stores, Amazon (of course) and everywhere in between. Once you start looking for/noticing these things, you find them all over!

I've just discovered that companies are also beginning to wisen up and sell colored bundles of kitchen supplies - check out this page from Nasco's 2014 FACS catalog:

Sorry for the terrible lighting, but you get the idea. Whether you're looking for bundles or just individual pieces, this is a great place. And no, sadly Nasco has offered me nothing to tote their wares, I just thought that this might be helpful. At the very least, if you don't already receive this catalog follow the link above and getcha one, they have a lot to offer!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Folders Again

Over the summer I was trying to decide between student folders or binders; I went with folders this past semester and really liked it. I also made some modifications on how I managed the folders, so here is a summary of what I've set up for this semester starting Tuesday (school has already been canceled for Tuesday!) Wednesday:

WARNING: This is a long one...

I provide a folder for each student. The folders are color-coded by class. The front of each folder has the student's name, the class name, and a pawprint (for our mascot).

Inside the folder on the first day of class is:
1) Bell work sheet for the week
2) The copy of the syllabus they take home to have signed
3) Grade labels - every week when I return their graded folders, I write their current percentage in the class in the space for that week. Not only do they know exactly what their grade is, but they can tell if they're going up/down and at what pace. Takes care of the kids/parents who tell me "But it was an A- last week - how can it be an F now?" This was the first semester I tried this - the kids LOVED it.
4) A copy of the syllabus to be kept permanently in the prongs of the folder for future reference

Attached to the take-home syllabus is the form for the parent/guardian to sign, and instructions for how to sign up for remind101

Back page of syllabus, plus Folder procedures and expectations. Instead of passing out papers, I tuck them into the folders. Sometimes I put in everything for the week, sometimes just the day - depends on what makes the most sense for that particular lesson.

Students keep work to be graded in the front of their folders, notes/handouts go in the prongs. The day they are due I take about 5 minutes out of class to make sure they know what order their papers in the front pocket should be in, what papers should be placed in the prongs, and allow them to prepare their folders for grading. If they just sit there, ignore me, and turn in a great big mess, I do not treasure hunt; I will not grade it. Now obviously not everything we do is paper-based; a lot of what I return are project rubrics, feedback forms, etc. I grade the folders every week, staple all of the work along with a copy of the itemized grade report together, and place it in the back of the folders. I also write their current percentage on the grade labels.

On Mondays, I take the first few minutes of class to have them look over their grades and their work. If they have any questions or see any errors I may have made, they have that week only to question it (that way they still have the work in question; eliminates the accusations right before report cards that I "messed up" their grade).

The last "first day" page is a summary of the procedures/expectations for when a sub is in the class. These have helped tremendously over the years. This is the last piece of paper that I place in their prongs myself; the rest of the semester they are in charge of placing their notes/handouts in them. High schoolers are much better at operating these prongs that junior high students, but the first few times it's a REALLY good idea to explain how they work AND walk around and make sure they do it right. Seriously. And again, I designate time for them to do this the day the folders are due, so no excuses.

The last thing I set up in their folders are their hall passes. Every student is given two hall passes per quarter to leave the room for any reason (bathroom, water fountain, locker) - that's it. Unused passes can be redeemed at the end of the term, the "rewards" vary. I'd say about 95% of my students this past semester didn't use any of their four passes, so this is very reasonable, at least at my school. 

Folders are kept in a labeled file crate in the classroom. Before class I spread them out on this table which is directly in front of the door as they come in. I write a number at the top left of each folder, so that students can easily find their own without knocking everyone else's on the floor.

When they leave, the kids drop their folders in the crate. I pick up the stack on my way out to hall duty, and put them in numerical order as I rule the halls with the iron fist of justice. I keep the crates below the table, so they're easy to switch out.

If I have a smaller class or two, I combine crates to save space.

This may seem like a lot of work, but here a few things to consider:

1) The first time you assemble the folders, it will take a long time. It will go significantly faster subsequent times, especially since you will obviously recruit students to help you : ).

2) The whole grading/printing grade report/stapling/writing grade percentage routine probably sounds time consuming. I've found it actually saves me a TON of time, and extra hassles.
-I never have to take time out of class to pass out/collect things.
-I never have to worry about keeping track of papers for absent students, because I've already put them in the folders.
-Since all student work is kept in the folders, it has completely eliminated the student claim of "I turned it in! You lost it!"
-Giving the weekly printout eliminates "I didn't know..."; also, it's easy to catch if I make a silly data entry mistake (like when you accidentally input a 20 point assignment as 200 points...).
-I never have kids pestering me to see their grades because they know they will see them the first day of every week. I do have the occasional kid who wants to argue during the last week of the quarter, but they don't have a leg to stand on.
-Filling in the percentage on a weekly basis forces me to stay on top of my grading so I don't get behind.
-More than that, I am ready at a moment's notice for a surprise parent meeting or a last minute invitation to an IEP meeting, because I can just grab the student's folder and show numerical progress over the quarter (since I teach home ec, that's all the parents want to know from me - the grade percentage, nothing about their actual learning). Sad, but true.

Some Random Details
-So far I've only used paper folders, which really only last a semester. Since they only cost 10 cents a piece in August, I don't mind this - I just make sure I buy enough in July/August for both terms, because the price goes up to almost 50 cents a piece the rest of the year.
-There will be kids who somehow manage to completely tear theirs up, even though they never leave the classroom. I make sure the kids know at the beginning of the semester that should such disaster strike, it will be their responsibility to fix the folder or replace it. In the correct color.
-Be prepared for artwork to appear. Perhaps stress that any added decor needs to be school appropriate.

So, that's my folder system. I love it - hopefully there was something in all of this that can help you out!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Job Wheel the Sequel

A year and a half ago or so I posted about a job wheel I created to assign miscellaneous tasks that need to be completed after each cooking lab. This year I've switched to displaying it on the projector during labs; it's easy to rotate the wheel in PowerPoint, and the different images accommodate classes with different numbers of cooking groups.

The morning Foods class only has four groups, so they are responsible for:

TABLE - clean off the ingredient table (close lids/boxes/containers, wipe off table)
FLOORS - sweep ALL of the kitchens and common area in between
TOWELS - make sure all towels are in the washing machine
POWER - check all kitchens to make sure all appliances are turned off

The afternoon Foods class has five groups, so one kitchen from that class is responsible for washing the ingredient containers. Meaning, if there was an ingredient I had poured out into a bowl or set out on a plate, I would take that item from the assigned kitchen and they would be in charge of washing and putting it away.

Below you can see a green bowl set out under the salt (the idea being that they lean over that bowl when measuring, rather than their mixing bowls or the table); on this day the "green" kitchen was assigned to Ingredient Containers, so it was their extra job to wash and put that bowl away.

I have to say, I'm impressed with how well this works. They always remember to check the board for their "extra" job, and I don't have to nag them to sweep or whatever. I'll also add that they're much more careful about brushing stuff onto the floor, knowing that someone else will have to sweep it - or that the other group may get revenge on them later on when it's their turn to do the sweeping :).

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

OCD Much?

Okay, I get that this is becoming borderline psychotic, but here's my latest classroom kitchen upgrade:

And now for the close-ups:

Lest there be any confusion whatsoever as to where I want these items to be stored after they are washed, rinsed, and thoroughly dried, there is now a visual guide in each of the upper cabinets. Drawers are next. Watch out, world.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Painting Plastic File Crates

We all know how much I love color-coding, so it really bugs me that I don't have crates in all of the colors I need. Take these binder crates that I used up until this past semester:

No orange! No yellow! Hmpf! So I set out to change that; I am turning a spare red crate into an orange one!

First, I had to remove all the dust from the red crate. I used a barely damp cloth, then swabbed the little parts with a q-tip.

Then I put on my paint pants (everybody has pants stained by paint, right?).

Next, my paint sunglasses (note the crack on the right).

At this point I should have also found gloves, but not realizing how difficult it is to wash spray paint off of your hands I did not break those bad boys out until the second coat. Don't let this happen to you!

Outside we go. Here I am waving to you!

First coat complete! Oh no, lookout!

Ha ha!

It's a bit mottled after the first coat, but that's okay - second coat's a'comin'!

And TADA!!! An orange crate!

Until next time...

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Folders vs Binders

Way, way back in January I mentioned that I was going to switch from binders to folders for the new semester. Then I never brought it up again, so I'll now recap for you (click here to compare to my binder procedures).

First of all, I want all of my students to have a binder/folder that is usually kept in the classroom. That way the running back and forth to the lockers, the oh I left it at home, the I don't know where it is gets eliminated. I provide the binders/folders for the students because 1) some students take forever to bring one in, 2) I want to start the binder/folder procedures the first day of class, 3) I want the binder/folder prepped with names and beginning papers the first day of class, and 4) I want them all a uniform shape and size so that they can fit where I want them to fit in the classroom. My first couple of years of using binders I had the kids supply their own, and without fail in every class someone would bring in some enormous zippered monstrosity that wouldn't fit anywhere. But I digress.

Second, I switched to folders for two primary reasons. One, putting three-hole-punched-papers into the three rings of the binders seemed to be a task that eluded a majority of my students (primarily the 8th graders; the 7th graders seemed to be able to handle this rather well). Two, due to their size I couldn't effectively have the binders passed out before class, which resulted in much pushing, shoving, etc (a la junior high kids) around the binders as kids went to retrieve them. So, here's how I organized the folders.

I purchased 3-prong folders for every student, color-coded (of course) by class hour. Then I put a label on the front of each with the student's name, class hour, and school mascot - just like I did for the binders.

On the inside front pocket, I placed a label that read "Papers to Turn In." This was to remind them that all papers to be graded needed to be in that front pocket so that I could find them, and anything else they wanted to keep in their folders needed to kept in the back pocket so that I wouldn't have to paw through all of their stuff on a treasure hunt. On days that I collected the folders to be graded, I would spend some time in class helping them get organized - we would go over what needed to be in the front pocket, and in what order. Most of them were actually really good at complying with those directions, which made grading much quicker.

After grading their papers, I would print out a grade report for the week including those papers and all project/quiz/etc grades, then staple the whole bundle together. The rule then was anything that I had stapled needed to disappear by the next time I graded folders - again, helped keep stuff I no longer needed out of my way, making collecting grades much easier.

On the right hand side you can see that there are items in the prongs. I placed their table of contents, class syllabus, and class procedures pages (all color-coded) in the front of the prongs before initially giving them out. I also placed all of the papers from the first unit I wanted them to keep in their folders permanently in the prongs (handouts, note pages, study guides). That way all of those items were in there secured so that they wouldn't get lost, AND I wouldn't have to spend class time passing those pages out. Before starting the next unit, I would insert the next unit's packet in the prongs. A couple of my classes were able to handle this on their own (classes either entirely or predominantly composed of 7th graders), and I would pass out the packets and have them do it themselves. Other classes (entirely or predominantly composed of 8th graders) made a mess of things like this so I did it myself to save the headache of lost papers and destroyed folders.

Some other details. I tried out the "Missing Work Form" I've seen floating around the Internet this semester. Whenever a student didn't turn an assignment in, I slipped a form into their folders that required them to supply an explanation as to why they didn't turn it in. Then I held on to these for parent/teacher conferences, IEP meetings, etc. It worked great with some students, not so great with others. The best part is that for students who forgot to turn it in or planned on turning it in late, this served an extra reminder to get it in (for some reason a "zero" on the grade printout doesn't get their attention, but this sheet does. Sheesh.).

I kept all of the folders in these file crates, which were just the perfect size! At the end of each class, I would have each row stack their folders together on their row's supply table, and then I would collect them and store them in the crates (after a couple of weeks I had student volunteers do this for me in most classes). Then before each class began I could just place each row's stack on their supply table where they could retrieve them.

Here are the advantages of folders as opposed to binders:

(The rest are in no particular order)
-Easier for one person to collect and handout
-Less cumbersome to pull papers out of and put back in
-Papers in the prongs stay put, much less likely to accidentally tear, all in the correct order
-Easier for students to take home if they need to
-Forces me to have all handout/note pages/study guides prepared and copied for a unit before it begins
-The papers that I actually grade are loose and easy to handle - I don't have to flip through the binders to find things
-I have the option of easily taking the papers out of the folders to take home to grade, or can easily take home an entire class's folders without much hassle or heft (taking home a class of binders is quite a pain)
-Cost! 15 cents for a folder versus 92 cents for a binder - this adds up big time!

Here are the disadvantages:
-Papers are not nearly as easy to add to prongs as to rings
-Because of the above, you can't pass things out piecemeal, you've got to have everything together in advance
-Papers cannot be rearranged without a big hassle
-Cannot clip concept card pack rings around prongs (another future post)
-Much easier for students to lose if they take them out of the classroom
-Having to open and close the prongs on over 100 folders before every unit (this one would not apply to my new hs students - they should be able to handle this)
-Very difficult for students to quickly find their own folders if I don't pass them out (no labels on the side); this is challenging when a student comes in during a different class to get their folder for some reason, or if I were to put the responsibility for getting all of your materials on the students again

I'm torn on what I want to do for the coming semester. For the most part, the advantages of the folders outweigh the disadvantages. The sticking point is that with going back to high school I'd really like to make the students responsible for getting out their own folders/binders, and that's hard to do efficiently with folders because you can't put name labels on the sides like you can binders. I don't want it to take 10 minutes for kids to find their folders; kids can find their binders in just a few seconds. I don't necessarily want to have someone "in charge" of passing out the folders either, because almost every day they need to start using them immediately.

Maybe I could put some kind of class procedure in place where the first person to arrive spreads the folders out on the table where the crates are kept - that way it will be easier to for kids to find theirs? Most of my class sizes are pretty small, so I don't think folders getting knocked around and onto the floor will be a problem - especially since we're not talking about junior high students anymore.

Any opinions out there? What do all of you do?

I have modified my folder system a bit for my new school. If you are interested in starting or tweaking a folder system, check out this post to see the changes I made to see if any of the new ideas would help you out.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Poster Storage

I have soooo many posters (thank you Learning Zone Express for your amazing sales), but before I had a good storage method they very often just stayed piled up in their poster bag.

Incidentally, this is a great bag for moving posters or long-term storage. It just isn't convenient to have to sort through a big pile to find what you want... or worse yet, forgetting what you have.

The border storage bag, however, I find to be all-around useful, and highly recommend.

Here's how I have tackled the poster monster.

Shopping list:
-a few packs of cheap hangers from WalMart
-big pack of small binder clips
-pack of colored (color not necessary, but I love color-coding!) round key tags

I sorted my posters into subject areas (foods, child development, etc), then into smaller subgroups.

From there, I clipped the smaller groups together onto hangers.

I assigned a color to each subject area (foods-blue, child development-yellow, etc).

Using the proper color, I numbered each key ring and then slipped them over the hangers.

I created a poster inventory sheet to hang on the door making it easy to find what I want. I just slipped the list into a sheet protector rather than laminating it so it will be easy to swap out whenever anything new is added.

So there you go, about 70 posters plus borders hanging flat in a closet space less than a foot and a half wide. Can't beat that! Also, there's enough room below to hang a second bar and another row of posters. Great way to take advantage of unused space!

You can't see them but I have also created "Property of" labels and slapped them on the back of all of my posters. Just in case. Here's a sheet that came out of the printer misaligned, but you get the idea:

Also gives me a way to add more Snoopys to my life.

One of the (many many many) items on my school to-do list for this summer is to put together a collection of bulletin boards so that I can have all of the materials ready to swap in and out quickly and easily throughout the year. I get so tired of looking at the same old thing for so long because I don't have time to create!