Monday, September 1, 2014

Jobs for Classroom Flow

One of my big goals this year is to nag my students less.  To achieve this, I'm working to build better systems for class to flow naturally.  Although I have often asked students to help with materials or cleaning up, but I have never had an organized plan to make this automatic on a daily basis.

Last week, before our second class, I created four jobs to try out:
-Time Keeper
-Materials Manager

I'm working on solidifying the responsibilities for each task, so I thought I'd put it out as a blog.  If you have tasks that you consistently assign to students, what are the jobs?  How does it work for you?  Any other ideas I'm not thinking of?

Time Keeper
-Label times on whiteboard clock--predicted and as needed
-Ring bell as needed--must have eye contact and thumbs up from Jasmine
-Politely offer reminders (to Jasmine & to peers) when we are close to time limits

I bought this great big clock and my boyfriend mounted it on a Whiteboard for me.  When we have a task that I want to be done within a certain time limit (e.g. 5 min to work with your group on this card sort), the time keeper will put an arrow on the clock to symbolize when we plan to be stop.  That way, students can self-monitor their time.  When we reach our time, the Time Keeper will pick up the singing bowl bell, look at me (or tap me on the shoulder if I'm busy) and wait for a thumbs up to ring the bell.  Although times when tasks start can fluctuate depending on how an activity is flowing, I will also put a few times on the board as a guide for when I want to start activities.  It's the timekeepers job to politely check in with me and let me know when we get close to our times.

Materials Manager
-Gather listed materials from Jasmine's office
-Remind peers to clean up thoroughly
-Dismiss, with Jasmine's permission, class when room is tidy

I don't have a classroom, so this student will gather our materials for the day from my office.  I keep most items in a crate.  They will also get the whiteboards and the Interactive Notebook materials boxes and anything else I list on the board.  Although groups are responsible for getting their materials cleaned up and back to my office, the Materials Manager is to remind their peers to clean up and ensure that the room is tidy with chairs pushed in before we are dismissed.

-Photograph boards and other in process tasks to save for next day
-Post photos on-line with captions
-Take at least 2 photos that capture the vibe of our lesson

If we do anything on individual whiteboards or up on the big board that we want to save, the photographer will record it and post it to on-line for our class.  I'm hoping this student will also take a handful of photos for my blog (as I hope to post more often, with pictures!).  Most of my students have Smartphones and I'm fine with this one student using it on that day.

-If period 1, write, using a half sheet of paper: date, Math 9, list students who are not here @ 8:30, put a T next to names if they arrive by 8:35, quietly take to Jill [Note: there are 16 students in this class]
-Collect extra copies of handouts for absent students
-Share notes and update absent students when they return to class

We have class first period two days a week.  This student will run the attendance up to the front desk. They will also be responsible for collecting materials for any absent students and setting them aside.  This student is who I will send students to when they come back from their absence to get caught up (on ISN notes and other activities).

Accountability and Fairness
I've recently been reading The Artist's Way, a book about increasing creativity.  Each chapter offers a bunch of different suggested activities.  The instructions suggest that you do the ones that sound the most fun and also the ones that sound terrible to you.  So, I'm going to ask the students to order the four tasks from most to least desirable for themselves, then I will ask them to do their most and least favorite task at least once this quarter.  I'm going to let students just sign up for the jobs on their own, and ask them to wait for others to have a chance once they have done a job three times in the quarter. I'm going to make a tracking sheet for their Notebooks.


  1. Hey, Jasmine - did you ever read Teach Like Your Hair is on Fire by Rafe Esquith - he had a whole classroom job system running, very cool. I tried it one year, but I couldn't quite carry it through (I was a second year teacher writing curriculum..). It can be a lot of fun; I have some resources if you'd like. (So sorry we missed this month; may be up again around New Year's.)

  2. I have not read it, but I'll have to check it out! Yes, let's shoot for New Year's.

  3. You blogged! I am proud of you!! (Am I allowed to be supportive even though I am too much of a chicken to blog myself?)

    1. Thanks Sarah! You should blog too! I'd love to read it!