I strive to create a warm, inviting, and organized classroom environment that’s not overly-stimulating for students with LD, ADHD, or sensory disorders. I like to offer alternative seating options — pillows, disk chairs, and camping chairs — for those students who may need a break from their desks when class activities allow. I utilize turn-in bins for each class period and have make-up work folders prominently displayed at the front of the room to stream-line the process of turning in completed assignments and getting make-up work to students who were absent. When planning the layout of my classroom, I consider the age group and maturity level of the students, make a list of student and curricular needs, and backwards plan from there.
Technology plays a prominent role in my classroom. Digital learning is organic to today’s students, and infusing technology into the curriculum is an excellent way to keep them engaged and foster gains in creativity, content mastery, and collaboration skills.
For organization, I utilize Edmodo’s Learning Management System to upload lecture materials, handouts, and notes online. This serves a three-fold purpose: students who are out of class can easily access materials they missed, all students can review materials at home for deeper understanding, and it cuts down on the amount of paper I use in the classroom. I’ve also used Google Classroom in a similar manner.
In schools with 1:1 resources or BYOD policies, I create short quizzes using Kahoot for concept reinforcement and maximum student engagement. The platform allows me to create multiple choice quizzes that students answer on computers, Chromebooks, or devices. Students get points for both speed and accuracy, and the program keeps track of who answers the questions correctly, displaying the top scorers on a leaderboard at the end of the quiz. This fosters an environment of friendly competition, with students vying to be in the “top,” and also allows me to see which areas I need to re-teach.
One of my favorite technological tools is Google Slides. I use it to create my own lecture presentations for the classroom and with colleagues to collaborate on presentations for PD days. I have my students utilize its robust collaboration capabilities to create group projects, as it allows them to comment and make changes to the same file in real time while working on different computers — whether they are across the classroom or across town in their own homes.
As both a parent and a teacher, I’ve learned the importance of communication in fostering student success. Each day I post the day’s activities and homework assignments to the class Edmodo page so parents and students who were out can see exactly what was covered and what needs to be completed before the next class. I use the Remind app to send texts (such as due dates and reminders to bring specific books to class) directly to students’ and parents’ phones while keeping their phone numbers private. Parents and students can also text me using the app. In addition, I regularly use email to communicate with parents updating them on units we are covering in class.