Primary Chalkboard: Classroom Community
Showing posts with label Classroom Community. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Classroom Community. Show all posts

MVP - Most Valuable Partnership

Hi, friends! It's Blair from One Lesson at a Time, here with an easy little strategy I use to make the most of student partnerships!

I think building a strong classroom community is just about the most important thing you can invest your time in during the school year. Obviously, the ability to work well with others is not only a critical skill in the classroom, but in life. I use TONS of grouping and partnership strategies to help my students maximize their learning potential. 

I think partner work is particularly powerful because each student has an equal opportunity to contribute to the team. Everybody brings certain skills and strengths to the table, and I love seeing students working together in ways that complement one another. 

Here's my TOTALLY blog-worthy partner work display. I KNOW. Contain yourselves. It's PRETTY FANCY. 


I write each student's name on a piece of colored card stock and slap it on a business card magnet. (Side note: If you have not yet discovered the beauty of business card magnets, allow me to introduce you to your new best friend. They are the jam.)

I love using the business card magnets because it allows me to easily change up partnerships often. Knowing how often to change 'em up is probably a whole different blog post in and of itself, but I like to give students opportunities to work with different partners as much as possible. Again, life skills and all that. 

At the top of that BEAUTIFUL picture (again, I apologize for how stunningly amazing my half-erased, crooked lettering is - I know it must be pretty intimidating to try to recreate such a fab-o setup), you can see I have a little spot for "Today's MVP". 

In this case, MVP stands for "Most Valuable Partnership". Each day, I am on the lookout for two students who really demonstrate WHY collaborative work can be so powerful. I am looking for more than just the students who are quietly working, behaving, etc. I am looking for partners who contribute equally, listen intently, and push each other to achieve at a higher level than each individual could reach on his or her own. 

Being the MVP means....

• Speaking respectfully
• Listening critically
• Sharing work equally
• Staying on task
• Being responsible to one another
• Valuing each other's perspective

I LOVE this system for a bunch of different reasons. For one thing, it is so, so easy on my end. It's a great way to recognize and reward students in a meaningful way. It encourages teamwork and allows students to share their success with one another. And it's an easy way to recognize each student in due time. I've found that it is very motivating for ALL my students...even the ones who may not always *love* working with a partner. I've seen students who normally butt heads really making an effort to work well together because they are more tuned in to what the expectations are. 

Some years, all I did was move the MVP magnets into the "special" spot on the board. For some groups, that was all the recognition they needed. For other classes, I printed out some simple MVP awards to distribute each day. 

If you want to download the awards to use with your own students, you can grab them for free by clicking {HERE}. I've included several different versions in both color and black and white because making choices is not my strong suit. :D 

For more ideas, here's where you can find me:

Thanks so much for stopping by today! 

Blair Turner

Last Week of School Class Compliment FREEBIE

Hi, friends! It's Blair from One Lesson at a Time, here with a super fun and meaningful way to wrap up the school year with your kiddos. Best of all? Totally free! Whoop whoop!

It's the end of the year and the finish line is ahead of us - like a mirage in the distance. It's soooo close.....and yet, right up until the very last moments, also so very far away. The last few days most of us are fighting off daydreams of late mornings in bed & sunny afternoons at the pool - and making mental checklists of all the work we're going to get done over the summer, the PD hours to fill, etc. #letsbeserious

The last few days of school are the perfect time to reinforce the classroom community you’ve worked so hard to build.  Even though most of our students share our enthusiasm for the end of the year on the outside, it can be easy to forget that for many of them - even for most of them - this transition time is one that comes with a degree of uncertainty and trepidation. What will my next teacher be like? Will I be in the same class as my friends? What am I going to do all summer? It's so important to give our kiddos time to reflect on their year – their growth, progress, and the relationships they’ve developed with their classmates. 

I wanted to give my own students a way to share their favorite things about each other and create an easy but super meaningful parting gift for one another. I’ve used “class compliments” as a holiday gift before, and it was so successful that I decided I’d do it for the end of the year as well. 

First, my students and I review how to give a good compliment:

Then we generate a list of character traits that we can use to compliment each other. After we create our own on chart paper, I pass out these charts for students to take back to their seats. If they’ve thought of more, they can add them to the back. We talk about how a really great compliment is about the person on the INSIDE, rather than the outside. Sure, it’s nice to tell people you like their shoes or you think they’re pretty, but it’s even nicer to comment on character traits.

Then, students get to work writing compliments to each and every one of their classmates. It’s a really nice way to spend an afternoon or two – I put the music on in the background and let the kids enjoy the warm fuzzy feelings that come from making others feel good. :)

After the students have all finished their compliments, I enlist a few of them to help me collate them. Each student’s compliments get slipped into a manilla envelope with a cover on the front. This is the most labor intensive part, and since doing this, I've thought of an infinitely smarter way and am now kicking myself.

So....allow me to save you a lot of time by doing not as I did, but as I thought of later:
•Put a stack of blank sheets on each student's desk.
•Put an envelope with the student's name on it on each desk.
•Have the students rotate throughout the room, writing compliments for each classmate when they sit at his or her desk.
•When they are finished writing a compliment, they simply slip it into the labeled envelope, which is already right there.
•Then, they move on to another desk.
•Slap Blair upside the head for collating these herself like a complete crazy person. *think, Blair, THINK!*

Whyyyyyyyy oh whyyyyyyyy don't I think of these things BEFORE doing them the hard way?!

Hand them out on the last day of school (no peeking!) for a meaningful gift from the heart for each and every student. Students will cherish their classmates’ words for years to come.

This activity is available for free in my TpT store - and last year I got some feedback on it that was so very powerful. I can't imagine the pain this student's family has gone through. But it is incredibly moving to know that his classmates' words were a source of comfort to them during a difficult time.

The activity is just a cute way of presenting students' own words. It's the words themselves that hold power and meaning. You don't need to print these pages to do something similar. (In fact, when I first started doing this, I've simply used cut-up scrap paper.) This feedback is such a strong reminder of how very important it is to teach students the power of words - not only that words can hurt, but also that our words can have an incredibly positive impact on the lives of others. This activity is simply one way to help teach that.

Click {HERE} to download this freebie from my TpT store!

Hang in there, my friends - you are in the home stretch! YOU CAN DO IT! And for those of you already done with school....dang! Nicely done! ;)

Thanks so much for stopping by Primary Chalkboard! Have a fab day!

Blair Turner
Blogger, Curriculum Author, and Paper Designer

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Classroom Debate!

Friends~I love debating in class with my first graders!  Nothing makes me prouder than to see these little guys share their opinions and back them up with facts!  

Each Friday, we have a classroom debate after morning meeting.  Since we just finished our unit on the Iditarod and sled dogs we debated about what was the best pet~Cat or Dog.  

It is so simple to do!  I just grab a sentence strip and write a question or statement on it.  I laminate it and add magnets to the back.  I place it on the board and my students chant THINK!  After they have thought a bit, I place 2 cards on either side of the question.  The cards are the choices for the debate.  

I then say HUDDLE and the kiddos split into 2 groups to discuss facts to support their thinking.  I then say DEBATE and they break into 2 groups.  

The students then stand so that they can begin to discuss their points on the topic.  I ask the students to agree with or disagree with a speaker.  They must have a fact to support their statements.  

As a class, we have been working on eye contact and poise as part of our speaking and listening goals. 
Give it a shot in your classroom!  It is such a confidence builder:)  
Check out more fun over on The Schroeder Page !

You can also check out my Discussion Towers to get your kiddos talking with each other!  

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