Wanted: Lots of Classroom Leaders!

I know that most of us have a set of classroom jobs in place, but does every child in your classroom have a job?

It was honestly something I hadn't thought much about until we started our Leader in Me training three years ago. And I wasn't doing a very good job of rotating responsibilities either. Assignments were "hairy scary" and my kids were not invested in their jobs at all.

After our LIM training began, I recognized that every child in my classroom should be a leader and it should be a job they want to have. They should also have the opportunity to try out different leadership roles throughout the year, which meant we would need to change them on a regular basis.

So I started with this:

Click to check me out!

My teaching partner and I sat down and planned out some of the nitty-gritty details together: 
  • Every child would fill out a job application. We would MODEL the first one in class to make sure our expectations were clear, and then give them time to complete their first application in class. We made sure they gave us 3 choices so we could try to give them something they wanted to do.
  • If we had to give a child a job that wasn't on their list, we made a note of it. That child would be sure to get a job of their choice the next time. We kept all of our job stuff in a folder and made a running list of kids we needed to keep up with. 
  • The kids would get new jobs once a month. This gave them time to develop new skills and feel confident about their role in our classroom. 
  • After the first month, the kids took the job applications home for homework! It's great persuasive writing practice and they are invested in making sure it's turned in. :) 
  • Our students would also keep a running list of all of the jobs they held throughout the year in their Leadership Notebook. They would refer to this when they were applying for a new job so that they made sure to try new things throughout the school year. It also became a great talking point at parent-teacher conferences.
We kept a display board up in the room that was easy to change around from month to month.

Wall space is precious, so I used the back of a bookcase!
My student teacher hot glued the cards to black ribbon and taped them to the bookcase in rows. We used clothespins to label each card with the leader's name. If I were back in the classroom this year, I would use pictures of the kids' faces instead of clothespins. They didn't always hold up so well. Plus, those little bobbleheads look SO CUTE! :)


I've had lots of great feedback on my leadership jobs packets lately, and I've added several new color schemes to the mix. :) The backgrounds are easy for me to swap out, so if you have a particular color, print, or pattern in mind to match your room, let me know and I can add a listing for you!

The purple dots packet is brand new today!
I just added the year-long tracking sheets to all of the packets, so if you've already purchased this make sure you go back and get the new goodies! 


A *Berry* Cute Back-to-School Freebie!

If you're looking for an easy and inexpensive treat for Meet the Teacher or Open House, this is it!

I know this is the time of year where we spend the most money on our classrooms. I tend to spend the kind of money that makes Mr. Bookworm feel like he is going to have a stroke. ;-) So when we were walking through the grocery store and I got the idea for this treat, he and I were both very excited!


All you need is a set of tags to match your grade level or class, and enough fruit snack packs for each student to get one! I managed to put together welcome back gifts for all 40+ students for under $10. Can't beat that!

I've included several different pages to include grades K-6, departmentalized and self-contained classrooms. However, if there's a specific classroom description I'm missing and you'd like to see it added let me know! Shoot me an email: thirdgradebookworm@gmail.com


Click on the picture above to grab your free copy from TpT! Enjoy!


Morning Work Alternatives (An August Bright Idea!)

Morning work in any elementary classroom can be a struggle, but it doesn't have to be! Give kids alternatives to traditional morning work may be one of the best decisions you make as a teacher. If you're ready to make some BIG changes, make sure you check out this post on soft starts as well!

I've taught for 12 years in the same school, and for 11 of those years I fought the same battle - getting kids to finish their morning work. I tried different books, segmenting one worksheet into smaller chunks, alternating the skills we practiced and reviewed throughout the week, etc.

That's a long time to fight the same battle!! And looking back, I really wish I had given in to my amazingly brilliant teaching partner's thinking earlier. She saw the writing on the wall. She had the bright idea. I fought it... WHY?! :)

When we sat down to talk about it, we had to identify the problem: Kids weren't finishing the daily workpages.

Why? Well, unlike many other schools in our district, most of our kiddos ride the bus to school each day. We have up to 2 runs of 7 buses every morning and afternoon. Some kids arrive at school at 7:15, ready to go and others don't walk in the door until 7:50 just as the bell rings. Very few of my students are car riders or walkers. We always had a chunk of kids who finished their work, and another group that were struggling to make it to breakfast before they came in the room. It wasn't fair to either group.

We knew we wanted the kids to practice and review skills we currently teaching OR had previously taught. We didn't want it to be a chore. We didn't want the kids to hate it. We looked around our rooms and saw lots of games that the kids were playing for a week or two during the year before we put them back for next year's group.

A-ha! Enter the bright idea!

For 2 days a week, the kids played language arts games. On those mornings, I would set out or send down the games I wanted the kids to play. At the beginning of the year, I like to pull out sight word and spelling games. It's an easy way to reinforce skills they've already learned, and to help them begin to build the sense of community and family that is key in our classrooms.

There are also 2 days a week where our kiddos played math games. Most of the time, these were fact fluency games. My brilliant partner had staggered sets of facts, and our kids knew which "set" they needed to pass in order to move to the next level. They often took the initiative to make sure they played these games with friends who were working on the same fact set. :)

We also tried to set aside at least one day each week for something fun and creative. They were particularly fond of this Minion Maker. We all need the chance to chill out and color sometimes, right?

 A few more points I want to leave you with:
  • Our kids were so engaged in the mornings. They loved being able to come in, unpack, and connect with friends. Kids were excited to get to class and they didn't drag their feet coming in from the bus or the cafeteria. Everyone started the day with a smile on their face!
  • They were quiet --- and on task!! I stopped redirecting behavior and got lots of housekeeping stuff done in the mornings. Glory!!
  • M and I alternated Math and ELA days. This kept materials together and we didn't have to make extra sets of games for the other classroom. 
  • As we inched closer to state testing, we were able to set out games that reinforced skills we noticed were weaker in our students. This acted as a "safety net" and preserved LOTS of small group and whole group instructional time. 
I'm not saying paper and pencil morning work needs to go. It just didn't work in my room, and I wish I'd thought about alternatives for it sooner. Hopefully this leaves you with some fun alternatives to think about!

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