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Thank you all for your replies! Here is a requested HIT as well as the
original post:
Thank yuou again!!

Kim Monaco
School Library Media Specialist
Bellerose Ave. Elementary School
East Northport, NY 11731 (Sep-June)

I am semi-planning my second year as would like to ensure more active
participation in my lessons. Do any of you have some strategies you care to
share or ideas? I have a new set of lap whiteboards and want to use them

Also, in the same vein, I want to improve my classroom management skills.
One of my biggest roadblocks is that the children sit at round tables, so I
would have a few backs to me- not something I want! Any ideas on how to
handle this aside from getting new tables (eventually!) ? I have 4 people to
each table, 6 tables. I tried to move the chairs so they would all be facing
me, but if they need to write they run into problems with the table legs. If
I am using the computer the obviously have to turn to see it, but that is
short-lived. More active participation would ensure that they are looking at


2 ideas:
I have each student put their name on a playing card (but you can use
any type of card). Then I collect them and use the cards to call on
students instead of having them raise their hands. This way they have to
be paying attention because they never know when their card will be
pulled. I also use these cards for other things like choosing
teams,assigning jobs, rewards, etc. This way you can't be accused of
having favorites.
Second, sometime I play the chip game. I give every student a poker chip
(again, use any type of chip). As I ask questions throughout the period,
I collect the chip from each student as they respond. If I have every
student's chip at the end of the period, I reward the class (like I move
them up 10 yds on a football field poster I made to use to keep track of
class rewards. When the class gets a touchdown, I reward them in some
way.) Be advised, it is very tempting for the students to tap the chip
on the table, which can get very annoying. This is with 6th grade, at
When I did elem, I used the story area (we had stepped levels) to intro
lessons. Short, quick demo on almanac or the worksheet or even what we
would be doing at tables. Then usually we would head off to tables for
group or class work.

I had one principal that thought it was inefficient to move, but she
couldn't offer a better way to get the whole class focused. Once a week
in the library doesn't translate to knowing where your chair is....  I
used the transition time to 'touch base' with kids that needed something
extra (remind to get a good partner, make sure you get seat close to
screen, etc).

Kim, I am only beginning my third year and understand.  Not knowing your
media center's layout.  Those days I knew I was using the whiteboards I
would have them on the floor!  Not sure it is convenient.  My 5th and 6th
graders enjoy sitting on the floor.  I don't say "Indian style" I use
pretzel style --they know, or cross legged.  Anyway, when I was in the
classroom using the whiteboards more often, there was no talking and they
had to show me immediately when they had their answer.  Boards were facing
me! Old socks are great for wiping off. Have assigned or earned the
opportunity to be helpers when items are being given out or taken up.

I have some legal-length clipboards in my library for just that purpose.  Of
course, then everyone wants a clipboard, but that's ok too!

As far as classroom management goes, with the round
tables you might need to do the moving.  Get a laser

 My students sit at round tables too and that can be a problem.  One
thing I do is have the kids turn their charis towards me or my screen if
I am instructing.  Another thing I do is walk around while I talk. I
call on kids even if their hands aren't up.  As far as getting kids
involved, I will often have a lesson in which kids are "handling"
something. For example, when I am teaching the atlas, every kid has an
atlas in front of her/him.  Same with dictionary skills.  (you can
double or triple up if you don't have enough).  When I teach fiction vs.
nonfiction I put a bunch of books on each table and kids sort them
before and after I explain the lesson.  When teaching title page info, I
might give each kid a book from a set so all the copyright info is the
same and then we can all look at it together (maybe I'll use "state"
books).   When teaching call number, again I put books on the tables and
then I take kids to the shelves so they can observe the call numbers "in
action".  Before we do any kind of activity that involves going to the
shelves we lay down a few ground rules (no running, no goofing off,
etc.)  Hope some of this helps!

We had the same setup. I just had the kids turn their chairs quickly so all
were facing me. It worked especially well if the direction part of the
lesson isn't too long. 10-15  minutes is usually the younger kids' limit.

If you can show a little, and let them discover on their own, or do
something physically to reinforce what you want them to do/learn, it works
much better. Tracing words you want them to know in the air with their
finger, Repeating the new words with different volume levels, Tell them what
you want them to do, using visual aids.  Model it, have THEM do it, while
you check each table to see if they've got it. Then check back at later
intervals to make sure they understand and retain the knowledge.

We currently use kidney shaped tables, and don't allow kids to sit in the
keyhole area.

This is only a suggestion, hope it helps. If you have lap boards , do
not use the tables at first.  Arrange the chair seated  students in a
semicircle around the main instruction - you and the computer.  Do your
modeling lesson with the student lap boards for billeted short reminders
for them, sort of secretaries taking essential notes.  Orally present
what is on the screen and discuss it. Ask for questions to confirm
understanding and then have them return to tables to practice what you
taught as you circulate around all the tables assisting.  I finally have
rectangular tables instead of round but the sectioned format causes less
discipline problems and more name recognition for me.

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