INEXPENSIVE PAPER SORTING AND STORAGE Plastic paint tray liners are the perfect size to hold papers for distribution or collection. Use them to store supplies of writing paper, math worksheets, and other such documents that students need to be able to serve themselves in order to foster independence during class time. They can be easily stacked to free up counter space when needed.


STAY ORGANIZED DURING WRITING TIME To keep yourself and students on track during writing time, track progress through the stages of writing (Prewriting, Drafting, Revising, etc.) by making a column for each stage on a piece of 18” x 24” foam core. Write each student’s name on a post-it. As students move from one stage into another, you (or they) can move their post-it into the next column. This provides a quick and easy visual reference for everyone. You know who you need to check in with, to move them along toward publishing their pieces of writing.


CALMING THE NERVES OF STUDENTS Middle school students are very nervous about their first day of school. They have a heightened sense and need to feel accepted. Set the tone on the first day of school that your classroom is a place where everyone with all their unique features are accepted. Preview what the students can expect during their first week of school. This will provide the students with the framework of expectations.


BE OPEN TO NEW OPPORTUNITIES One year I had a particularly shy student in my class. He was having a hard time integrating with other students. Privately, I asked him what he liked to do for fun. Aside from reading, he disclosed that he enjoyed playing chess. I too had fond memories of playing chess. So I asked if he’d like to play with me during break time. We did and students watched us play the game. Next, I asked if anyone wanted to learn how to play? I asked the new student to teach them, which he gladly did. Then a light bulb clicked in my head. I began to use the game of chess as a metaphor for life and mentioned chess particularly in math class. Soon the entire class was playing chess. During lunch, we watched a video about a group of inner-city students who learned chess and went on to win a state chess championship. This mild interest grew into a frenzied interest in chess. I invited a chess master to come and play with the students. The class competed in the state chess championships and although they did not win, many seeds were planted. Also, the shy young man gained many friends and was the superstar chess champion of the class.