Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Teacher Week: Creative Classroom Ideas

Are my regular readers sick of me yet? I promise to scatter some "regular" posts in this week!

If you're here for Teacher Week, then hello! Today we're talking about creative ideas. I don't know if I'd call mine creative (I've stolen most of mine from other veteran teachers), but these are ideas that make my job much easier.

#1 - Parent Contact Journal


I really wish I could remember who shared this idea with me, but I am drawing a blank. I keep a composition journal every year and call it my parent contact journal. In here, I staple just about every note that parents write me. The only time I don't save them is when they are regarding a change in transportation. Every other note gets stapled in the book, and I date the page. I also record any conversations I have with parents (face to face OR over the phone) along with the date. This journal is basically my documentation of parent contact. I've never had to pull it up in a meeting, but I love having it all recorded in case it ever becomes an issue. I am not the queen of organization, so this one book is easy for me to keep up with.

#2 - Wheel of Fortune

Source, you can order one here

While student teaching in 3rd grade (one of my three placements), my cooperating teacher used something called a wheel of fortune. On Fridays, the kids who had perfect behavior for the whole week got to spin the wheel. On the wheel, she had a variety of prizes, and whatever they landed on is what they got. I use something similar in my rooms. My kids get to spin if they have no checks on their weekly behavior folder that goes home (checks are bad!). My spinner is very similar to the one above and on each block I have written my choices. The choices are: Homework Pass, Candy, Treasure Box, and Pencil with eraser and grip. This seems to be a big incentive to the kids. "Spinning The Wheel" is their favorite part about Fridays.

#3 - 24 Game


I was introduced to the 24 Game in a college math class by one of my all time favorite professors (more about him on Friday) and in my student teaching. Surprisingly, no one at my school uses it, but I find that it's a GREAT way to exercise my kids' math skills. The children absolutely love it, and it's become a big competition in my classroom. Here's how the game works...

The 24 Game is a mathematical card game in which the object is to find a way to manipulate four integers so that the end result is 24. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division, and sometimes other operations, may be used to make four digits from one to nine equal 24. For an example card with the numbers 4,7,8,8, a possible solution is the following: (7-8/8)*4=24.

courtesy of Wikipedia

So, here's a sample card...

One way you could solve this:

3 x 4 = 12 AND 4 - 2 = 2

12 x 2 = 24

I've used every number on the card, and each number was only used once.

Everyday I put a card on my board. The kids have all morning to solve the puzzle. After morning announcements I let them turn in their solutions. We check them, and anyone who is right gets their name put in a cup. I draw one name from the cup and that student wins a small prize (usually smarties, tickets, a bead). I am not kidding when I tell you that more than 3/4 of my class plays this game everyday. They obsesses over it. If I forget to put the numbers on the board, they freak out. "WHERE'S THE 24 GAME?!" is what I hear. This game is a fabulous way to practice mental math skills. If you are interested, you can buy it here from Amazon. $16.96 is all it will cost you!

Visit Abby's blog to read more creative teacher ideas!


  1. I played 24 at a PD once and, man, was it challenging! What a great way to incorporate a game into your math curriculum. Love it!

  2. What fun ideas! We used to play 24...I'd completely forgot about that game! So challenging & fun!

  3. I love the note book, that is a great idea! I am going to have to look for the 24 game...that sounds wonderful!

  4. Did you know the 24 game in available on an online version?? We play it on the SmartBoard. I am pretty sure it is on
    Love the notebook idea! Wonder if I could keep it up!?

  5. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing!

  6. I really like your documentation book. I keep everything in a folder, but I feel like it's such a mess. May have to steal this idea from you!

  7. I love all of your ideas!!!! The documentation book is something I'm definitely going to start.

  8. I started a documentation binder this year. I really hope I stick with it because it's hard to remember everything without going back to look at something!

  9. I am in awe of the 24 game idea. You better believe I'll be using it in the mornings! Thanks for all of your great ideas.

  10. A teacher I used to work with always played 24 with her class. I may have to try that out!

  11. I made my own version of a 24-type game for reviewing integer rules with my 8th graders and they LOVE it! So glad to finally find another teacher blogger! :)

  12. I'm not here for teacher week, but I am loving your posts! I used to imagine I'd grow up to be a high school teacher, you know. P.S. Enjoy your vacation!