Serial Success: 6 More Strategies

This is the second installment of my series, Serial Success: 6 Strategies for School, tips to use and think about in teaching.

1. Binders
We've all seen this done a dozen different ways (alliteration makes my heart smile) but it's so effective! It's a great way to teach students to be organized and makes your life easier. I'm just going to give you my take on it, but use your imagination to take it wherever you like! 3-ring binder, preferably 2 inch width. Page dividers. Label as Notes, Handouts, Homework, Graded Work. Loose-leaf paper. College or wide-ruled, go wild! Now there is a place for everything and everything in it's place. Students love to customize, accessorize, and put their name on everything in sight.
+ Bonus +

2. Binder Grading
Obviously, you won't want to carry around 30 binders per class to take home and grade. A good time to grade theses is during a test (or whatever you call your assessment) when students are occupied and not using their binders. One college professor I had always had a deck of cards and would have a student cut the deck. If the card was a 10 or higher, the binders were graded that day. You could also roll dice, flip a coin, etc. (Also a great tie in to probability.) Grading can be as simple as checking for all appropriate work/assignment in each section. Mark the end of each section with the date so you know where to begin the next time you grade.

3. Extra Credit for Early Assignments
There are a ton of ways to offer extra credit. Some examples I've seen in the past are for brining in boxes of kleenex, box tops, cleaning overhead transparencies, buying book covers, technology points from buying calculators, and returning important papers. So. Extra credit is a huge motivation for students. But offering extra credit for assignments that are turned in early has even more benefits than the aforementioned. You're rewarding students for being organized and efficient, it's an incentive to be organized and efficient, and you're teaching them important job skills: organization and efficiency! Plus, you can grade theirs sooner.

4. Birthday Surprises
Students love attention. They need to know that they are valuable. The popular thing at my high school to do for birthdays is buy balloons from the FCCLA club. You could write a message on the card and balloons would be delivered to the student at the end of the day. Of course, the pretty people had more than everyone else but still, people noticed you on your birthday. That's important. I was always disappointed because my birthday is May 28th. We were never in school on that day and if we were it was the last day, early dismissal, report card day, etc. Every year I hoped someone, some amazing friend, would remember and buy me balloons before school ended. They never did. I'm not bitter. One teacher asked students at the beginning of the year what their favorite candy bar was and then bought it for them on their birthday. This one is so easy! It could be candy, pencil, pen, card, sticker, stamp, anything to show you remember and care that it is their special day. And please, don't leave the summer kids out. They can't help it their mother's picked an inconvenient day of birth.

5. Keep Records of Each Student
You never know where each student may go in life and when they may return. Whenever I hear of my students, I want to remember them and acknowledge our 180 days together. This is as simple as taking a class photo and having all students sign the back. [Insert scrapbooking plug] These are great memories for you as well as the students who may re-enter your life. Also, you'll have their siblings, friends, neighbors, cousins, and eventually their children. =) Keep track of your generations of teaching.

6. Magnetic Alphabet
This is not a joke my friend, I promise you. You can get these for $1 and students will have endless fun. Endless! They love to spell out their names, their nicknames, the year they graduate, their class, etc. [See #1] Students can't resist bright, colorful objects that stick to things regardless of age, sex, race, or religion. Beware: you may have to buy two sets.

$2 = Endless fun x 2

Stay tuned for another sixlet!

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