Posts tagged organization
Morning Routine in Third Grade

In Third Grade the morning routine is one of the most important parts of the day.  It sets the tone for the day and is one of the most valuable 'chunks' of time.   I've found that students are never more 'alert' than in those first 45 minutes.  While every school, grade, and district may have their own required morning activities, these are the routines and procedures that I have found to be the most effective.

Third Grade Morning Routine:  Don't Over Plan

I can remember my first year of teaching Third Grade.  I tried to do it all.  I had a morning routine that was 5-6 items long: grammar, cursive writing, close reading, math facts, spelling, vocabulary... we did it all!  But we did not do it well.  I could not figure out why almost every student was doing average (at best) on each section of the morning routine.  No one was "mastering" anything, and I felt like I was constantly trying to re-teach concepts.  Not to mention the piles and piles of marking!

I found that to make the most of our mornings I had to seriously cut down on the number of things that we were trying to accomplish.  Instead of trying to do it all, I picked which pieces were the most important.

So I cut it down.  By more than half.  And it totally worked.  Instead of floundering in piles of work, my students began totally ROCKING the few assignments they were given.

I suggest choosing no more than 2 or 3 individual assignments each morning.  (Some of my 'fast finisher' students work on a bonus project when they are done, but for the majority of the class this is the perfect amount of work.)   Each morning my students walk in and independently begin:  spelling practice, a quick morning grammar, and cursive writing.  And I love the look on their faces when they begin to feel successful at each!

Third Grade Morning Routine:  Teach It

It's so important to make sure to explicitly teach each part of your morning routine.  Don't assume that students will "just know" how you want them to complete their grammar and vocabulary practice:  teach them to do it, and do it painfully slowly.  

In my class, we spend the first month doing our "morning routine" as a whole class, and I model each part of our morning routine multiple times.

Using my document camera I will walk students through how to practice their spelling (including where it goes when they are done!),  how I would like their grammar to be completed, and the proper formation of each day's cursive letter.

As students are ready I will gradually move from instruction to guided practice.  Here, I will write the instructions on the board and gently remind off-task students what I am expecting.

Third Grade Morning Routine:  Keep it Consistent

In my third grade classroom, consistency is key.  I make sure that every morning has almost the same routine so that students always know what to expect when they walk in the room.  I try not to change up our morning routine without a ton of notice, and I find that students respond very positively to the consistency.

When students come in each morning I write their "Morning Work" on the whiteboard along with a short cheerful message.  As each student files in they quickly glance at the board to read the message and see which supplies they will need.

One of the things I developed for my class last year was a Grammar Practice Book that specifically covered the grammar and writing skills that I felt were the most vital to third grade.  Take a peek here and see if it might be helpful for your class.

Do you have any specific things you love in your morning routine?  Anything that always works?  What about any utter disasters?  I'd love to hear about them in the comments below!

Third Grade Morning Routine tips
My Favorite Teacher Planner, Happy Planner!

Teacher planners are all the rage these days.  If you have been anywhere in the blogosphere, or on Instagram, or FaceBook... you have seen teachers raving about their favourite planners.  One of the most popular brands is the Erin Condren teacher planner. It's beautiful... but at over 100$ (including tax and shipping) to Canada, I just haven't been able to justify the purchase.

Enter... Happy Planner.  I got mine at Michaels for 39$, and then used a coupon to get another 40% off the price.  Yay, #MichaelsTeacher!  You can also find them on Amazon for $29. 

I love the idea of keeping my life organized on paper.  Sure, there are some things I like to track electronically, but there is something so cathartic about writing everything down and seeing each day/week/month organized.  It's part journalling, part organizing, all fun.

And who doesn't like stickers?! I thought I would review how the Happy Planner (Life Edition) stacks up as a teaching planner.

Happy Planner - The Pros

1. It's adorable!

Stylistically the planner is an absolute win.  There are quite a few cute covers and styles to choose from, so you won't necessarily have the same planner as every teacher in the building.  

2. Accessories Galore.

Just like other mega-planners, this one has so many things you can add on to make it your own.  Stickers, washi-tape, extra pockets (for those staff-meeting hand outs you don't want to loose), more dividers.  Each pop in easily to the plastic rings.  

3. Customizable

The happy planner is a non-standard 9-hole planner, so every day paper can't be added into it. However, at Michael's they carry the Happy Planner Hole Punch.  How easy would it be to add in extra pages to make the planner exactly what you want it to be.  (Hint, hint.. I will be adding in student class checklists, phone numbers, and a to-do list... but it'll be a breeze to print, punch, and go!)  So many sellers on TpT offer Happy Planner compatable products for teachers so making this your own is a breeze! 

4. Bright, Clean, Design

The Happy Planner isn't cluttered, so it's easy to write lesson plans in each of the three daily boxes.  I know that some teachers prefer the day to be broken up further, or have room for standards checklists... but this is perfect for my style.  Currently, I've used the boxes for Before Recess, Between Recess and Lunch, and After Lunch.  Sure, I still do detailed lesson plans, but this helps me to get a quick grasp of what my week will look like.  (See below!)  Plus, the planner itself isn't too cluttered with doodles and designs, so there's plenty of space to write. 

5. 18 months

The planner comes with 18 months of pages so there's plenty of room to plan in advance.  I love that I'm not left scribbling leftover ideas on the back page.  

Happy Planner - The Cons

1. It's not specifically a teacher-planner

If you are looking for the absolute perfect solution that can allow you to toss out your lesson planning book... this may not be it.  For me, it will suffice.  I am okay with the vague nature of the 3-block days... but this may not be your cup of tea.   Because it is not a teacher planner, it also doesn't have the teacher documents you may be looking for:  quick student checklists, conference forms, or any curriculum planning documents. 

That being said... you could add them in.  With the Paper Punch, your own add-ins are virtually endless.  I'm hoping to add my own personal class list in, so I'm never without a marking sheet or contact information.  

I have now used it for an entire year and I am totally happy. I love that it fits in my purse and can travel from home to school.  I write in my daily lessons and my after-school schedule and I am so much more organized! 

2. Accessories Galore

I know what you're thinking... wasn't this a "pro"?  Well... yes.  Quite a bit of what makes the Happy Planner incredibly useful is available as an "add on".  

Want a pack of pocket dividers? They're available separately. 

Like those cute stickers that show a birthday? They're a separate pack!  

Need some to-do lists or a page for phone numbers? Only an extra $7

How about a shiny gold band to hold the planner together?  Ditto!

The Happy Planner itself is just the base model.  Sure, you can customize it to become the teacher planner of your dreams ... but not without shelling out a lot more money!

My Suggestions:

I love my happy planner.  I bought the base model, plus the Michaels brand stickers.  (Sorry Create 365 brand people!).  They aren't the official stickers... and they work great!  Just as sticky!  I'd love to get the 'official' Happy Planner inserts, but I think I will just make my own.  Maybe the craft of making some extra pages will even be fun!

How about you?  Do you use a teacher planner?  Do you have a favourite?  I'd love to hear all about it in the comments below.  

- Rachel

Happy Planner for Teachers