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Although the general concept about using magnetic numbered tiles is rather simple, I have learned a few things over the years that I thought I'd pass along.

IndependenceAllow the students to move their own tiles. I know it may seem as if it's going to cause a bit of craziness in the classroom with students walking up to the white board to move their tiles. That only happens at first when the magnets are introduced as a new classroom tool. After the novelty wears off--a week or two--the whole thing will become second nature and done with little drama or fanfare.

Vis-A-Vis penMaking divisions on the white board with a dry-erase marker looks good at first. However, it won't take but a few students moving their tiles from one spot to another--or sliding their tiles as they like to do--before the whole thing starts to look a bit ragged.

Better, by far, is the use of a vis-a-vis wet-erase pen.

Vis-a-Vis marker

The lines this pen makes, although not as bold as the dry-erase marker lines, won't disappear on you.

Chart using wet erase pen

Butcher Paper BackgroundsSpeaking of not disappearing, a butcher paper background works really well for organizing your magnets. This is especially true if you use the magnets for repetitive activities.

The writing progress idea would be a good example of the use of a background. Whenever it was writing project time, you could grab the background and place it on the white board. Better yet, have a student set up the whole thing.

Not only does the background save you from having to reproduce the categories each time, it makes sliding a tile from one area to the next very easy.

Another advantage of the paper st that it stands out from what is a sometimes-cluttered white board.

Collection BasketsNot that we want to be slaves to efficiency; however, locating the collection basket near the magnetic tiles just makes the whole routine easier to handle.

And if you can color-code the baskets--or shape-code them as shown below--you add a degree of certainty to the process.

Coded Collection Baskets

Certainty Bonus: Scan the area of the white board where your students have been returning their permission slips for both the symphony and the use of a laptop and what do you see? Two things, actually.

  1. Most of them have completed both tasks. Sweet.
  2. There are still four students who have yet to bring back a form. (It looks like five students. It's just hard to see in the photo that student #6 hasn't returned either form. Hmmmmm.)

Not done yet
Calvin (#6) has yet to return either form.

Both of those realizations are helpful. Knowing that most of your students have already complied with your request to return the signed forms will help to keep you in a positive, relationship-enhancing mood. And knowing that only five students need to be called aside privately makes the ultimate completion of the collection process a more manageable one.

Win-win, baby.