Sunday, February 8, 2015

New purposes for some old things

Teacher Hacks:  Upcycled, Repurposed, Cheap Tricks

Padfolio Grade Book
The BTSA padfolio turned grade book.  Take out all of the old BTSA pages, add grade book sheets, dividers, pocket dividers and you have a seriously awesome grade book.  I teach five classes and I color code the dividers, folders, and turn in trays for each class.  I have a blue divider with grade book pages and a blue pocket divider tor hold answer keys and late work/random papers.  When I collect an assignment I put it in color coded "To Grade" or "To Record" folders in a file holder on my desk.  The padfolio has three filing compartments on the left and when I need to take papers home to grade, the file folders slip right into my grade book.  The whole thing zips shut so papers don't fall out, and it has handles for carrying it to and from school easily.  I contacted my local BTSA office and asked if they had any extra padfolios and got three more.  I made one into a planning book and the other keeps all of my SST, RTI, and IEP documentation.

Another great BTSA find, was the handled file box.  This was later replaced by the padfolio, but luckily I held on to mine.  I used some "S" hooks from IKEA and hung it by the handles from my desk.  I put a red cross on it with electrical tape and I call it the "First Aid Kit".  It holds files for each day of the week and when papers are handed out in class, the extras go in the folder for that day.  When a student is absent or loses their paper, they can go to the file box and find it. 
First Aid Kit
Book Boxes
I'm not really sure what this thing is. It is some sort of a clicking counter that I occasionally use when I have a student that is having some major issues with blurting out.  I use this counter to measure actual data to see if behavior modifications are successful.  It is also much better to cite actual data rather than to say a student is constantly interrupting when discussing behavior with parents or administrators.  I added a sticker to it and dubbed it the "Yacker Tracker".
Yacker Tracker
I bought my kids a Melissa & Doug Band in a Box and it came in this handy wooden crate that I now use to hold the daily warm ups.  When the students enter the room, they take a warm-up (short text or notebook entry) and go to their seats.  Text warm ups have a prompt that involves "Turn and Talk" or "Quick Write" and "Notebook Entry" is a teacher input that needs to be added to their interactive student notebooks.  I made labels on card stock, hole punched them, and attached them to the wooden crate with metal rings.  I can easily flip the label to let the students know what type of warm-up activity they need to start when they come in.
Warm-up Crate
I only had one of these chair organizers and I do hate to throw things away.  It was a relic from my elementary teaching days and I used to use it on my teacher chair at my reading group table.  I have a single time out chair in my middle school classroom and it just made sense to put it on that chair.  I put a sand timer in the velcro pocket, time out slips, hall passes, office referrals, and positive notes in the other pockets and labeled them with a sharpie.  The last time I had a substitute they left feedback on how helpful having all the behavior slips in a central area were.
Time Out Chair
This is a low tech, quick way to assign students to groups using gum containers and centimeter cubes.  Since I no longer teach elementary math I didn't really have any use for these centimeter cubes, but again, I hate to throw things away.  I put two colors of cubes in one cups to make groups of two, three colors for groups of three, four colors for groups of four.  When I need to get students into groups quickly, I walk around the room and shake a cube out into each child's hand.  In about thirty seconds I have random groupings.
Student Grouping
I also use these cubes to assign work when doing a jigsaw type of activity.  The assignment is divided up into colors and I assign the work (vocab definitions, pieces of text, questions from the text, etc.) based on what color of cube falls into the student's hand.

If you have upcycled something for use in your classroom, please share it in the comments.

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