This summer I got smart. I took to Pinterest and found a way to make it work. Washi tape and colorful dry-erase markers! This was one of the first projects I tackled when I got back into my classroom this year. I used black Washi tape to separate my board into a calendar and left room on either side to list my guided reading and math groups.
At first, I just thought the calendar would just make a cute addition to my classroom, but it has actually turned out to be functional than aesthetic. My 3rd graders stick to that calendar more than I could have imagined and it has really helped me avoid a lot of the organization issues I had with all of my previous third grade classes. By posting the calendar at the beginning of the month, I am putting the responsibility on them to keep up with things, and they are definitely up to the challenge. They record the events in their agenda and stay on top of it.
Things Posted On Our Calendar (besides the date):
-Helpers of the Day: One boy and one girl name are written in green at the bottom of each day. These are my helpers for the day and do everything. They know when their day is coming up so I don't have to hear, "When is it my turn? Why don't I ever get picked?"
-Specials/Encore: I have our encore schedule written in light blue at the bottom of each day. No more, "I forgot my shoes for PE!" Well, there is some of that, but they are still eight. For some reason, my kids love to argue about if it is a music day or an art day, the calendar solves this problem. Small victories. (You can see that I only put the specials or the first 2 weeks, this is because I am anticipating snow which throws off our schedule and the kids get SO confused.)
-Testing Dates: I post unit tests, mid year testing, and our bi-weekly ice cream multiplication tests. Students know where to look and how long they have to study. They still may not study, but at least they don't tell their parents that they didn't know when the test was.
-Retesting Dates: Every time we take a unit test I print a label to stick in the student's agenda that has the test name, date taken, their score, a box to check if the parent/child would like to retest, and the retesting date. I let students retest unit tests because I know if they or their parent requests it, they are actually going to study, work hard, and learn. However, I'm not that nice when it comes to the retesting date. One year, I had parents who wanted to retest often (which is fine), but also wanted to pick specific dates for their child (think: at least 6-7 kids every time....NOT fine). This year my parents are awesome, but my policy still stands, students have to be prepared by the retest date indicated on the label and my calendar.
-My Absences: I don't take a lot of personal or sick days, in fact, this is my first one this year. But, I am out at least once a month for meetings or trainings. I like to write these dates on the calendar so students know what to expect. I have found they have better behavior when they are prepared. It also reminds me the day before to run through what their day with the sub will look like.
-Celebrations: Every Monday at our class meeting we vote for a Fun Friday activity that the students earn. I write these days on our calendar as well. For example, this Friday we have a Post-Super Bowl Party (we had to make a snow date from last Friday) and we have our Valentine's Day party on the 12th (since I am out for meetings the 13th).
-Birthdays: I also record student birthdays with a picture of a balloon or something by it. The students LOVE this and if they see me putting up the calendar for the new month, they will keep reminding me about their birthday until I put it up.
-Holidays and other No-School Days
-Assemblies and Field Trips
-After School Activities: Our school has a lot of after school activities like clubs, tutoring, parent nights, programs, PTCO movie nights, etc.
-Buddy Class Days: We have a kindergarten class as our buddy class and we try to get together with them once a month to read, do a science experiment, do math practice, etc. All the students love it and my third graders really take on the "mentor" role. It is the best behavior I ever see from them.
Well that's it. The calendar is wonderful and it has made my life so much easier! No more redundant house keeping questions or student squabbling. Let me know what you think and how you keep your students informed. Below are some more pictures of the calendar from this school year, enjoy!
(I use student numbers for math groups since they change so often and it is a lot quicker to write. As you can see, my reading groups are missing, oops! These groups don't change as often so students know their group.)
Don't forget to stop by First Grade in Foxwell Forest to read more organization ideas.