Back To School Tips and Projects

By Sehar Masood

I love back to school because it gives me the opportunity as an elementary school teacher to take some time out to learn more about my students and to engage them in new learning experiences. Here are some of the projects and tips I have as a fifth-grade teacher.

1. Masjid Silhouette

Masjid SilhouetteStudents are asked to observe the sunset one night at home.  In class, they paint the sunset using only horizontal strokes.  After it dries, they cut out and paste the masjid onto their painting.  This creates a beautiful sunset set against a masjid. To tie it into Language Arts, students write a one paragraph description on an index card which is laminated underneath the masjid.  It makes a great decoration to hang around the classroom or as a bulletin board.

Student Masjid

2. Back To School Night Presentation

Remember to include information about your professional/educational background including the years you have taught and your degrees/certifications. I’ve attended a number of presentations now and I’ve noticed nobody mentions their education/background.  Harry Wong is a huge proponent of displaying certifications/degrees for students to see in the classroom, so it should be an important part of back to school night.

3. Homework Corner

homework chartSorting HW every morning can be time consuming.  By utilizing a hanging wall file folder the teacher can see at a glance who has turned in a worksheet, and who has not.  This can be used for turning in classwork as well. I don’t use it for giving students worksheets because it’s not a mailbox.  It’s strictly for turning in assignments only. Also, as a bonus it eliminates the “no name” situation because I know who it belongs to because of the pocket it is placed in.

 

4. Picture Books in the Upper Grades

Over the years I’ve struggled with making sure every student is reading during Drop Everything And Read [DEAR] time.  Many students do not bring a novel to read from home, or are not interested in reading “for fun”, so DEAR time can be painful for them.  

picture booksTo combat this, I’ve started making trips to my local library every 2 weeks or so and checking out 10-12 picture books at each visit.  I display these picture books on the counter in the classroom for students to read whenever we have DEAR time. I’ve found that 100% of my students read now during DEAR time.  It’s because a picture book is easy to start and finish in the short amount of time that they have. In addition, picture books are great because they can spark student interest in a topic, can teach valuable lessons, and provide additional information about topics covered in class.  For example, we are studying ecosystems in Science, so I found non fiction picture books that are about predators and prey and photosynthesis. Students look forward to my biweekly library visits.

We have an upcoming trip to the Statue of Liberty, so yesterday I checked out 10-12 picture books just about the Statue of Liberty.  As they read them during DEAR time they are welcome to share anything they read with the class. In this way they are actually conducting research without realizing it.

I have many more years of teaching and learning to do, but these are just a few tips I’ve generated over my past five years of teaching!

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