Student Management

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Reminder bracelet, Take 2

Before I share this new variation on the Reminder Bracelet, you should read the original post.

Here it is:

Reminder Bracelet

At a recent seminar, I was talking about strategies for helping students to remember to return something from home. One of the ideas I shared--and one I've used for years in the classroom--had to do with making a dot on the student's thumbnail with a washable marker. It's not only quick and easy to do but the visual nature of the reminder is just flat out more effective than the verbal ones teachers have used forever.

I then mentioned an idea a first grade teacher shared with me about using a small band-aid around a child's finger as a reminder device. I mean, come on now, what mom wouldn't ask, "Honey, what happened to your finger?" when picking up the child from school and seeing a bandaged digit?

That natural question would prompt the child to reflect for a moment on the band-aided finger which, in turn, would flip the light switch in his head.

Forgetful Child
Pondering the band-aid on his little finger:
Our field trip! It's tomorrow! I need to return the permission slip or I won't be able to go!

Concerned Mom
Oh, I'm glad you remembered that. I would hate to have you miss the trip to the dinosaur exhibit.

And wouldn't the teacher look like a hero by using an off-the-wall strategy to help the child bring back the signed form? You betcha.

Anyway, I was ready to move on another topic when someone in the group asked, "Couldn't you take a thin strip of paper, write the reminder on it, and then tape or staple the ends of the paper together and turn it into a bracelet that acts as a reminder?"

Reminder Bracelet

Wow. That's a great idea.

One of the things I really like about this variation is that the students would eventually be able to take care of the whole thing themselves.

Take 2
Now that everyone's up to speed to the original suggestion, here is a sweet little variation offered by a teacher at a recent workshop:

Teacher: I use event-type bracelets made from tyvek. They're pretty cheap and the students really like to use them.

This kind of thinking is right up my alley. I love the novelty aspect of using a professionally produced bracelet. It's a little thing but, for students, can be a big thing. I also like how this kind of bracelet is going to stay on the wrist until it's cut off. Although the paper one shown above is effective, it is somewhat fragile.

Another thought is comfort. Even though a student won't have to wear it for very long, the construction paper is a bit stiff and, as a result, will be a bit uncomfortable. The tyvek-style bracelets are light-weight and flexible. They're designed to be worn for a day or two.

I went online and did some research. Here's the best of what I saw.

Tyvek bracelet

As I mentioned above, these are relatively affordable. 16 bucks for 500 bracelets--3 cents apiece--is pretty good. And I can't imagine you'd need 500 of them. Share a box with another teacher and you're spending just 8 bucks for 250 very cool bracelets.

You can find these at

Final thought: In these rather trying economic times, saving money is a good thing. Using paper bracelets--which are free--might make more sense than buying bracelets. I just wanted to share this idea because I know there are teachers out there--like me, for instance--who will dig the idea of upgrading everyone's bracelet to tyvek.


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Helping teachers with blended classrooms

I was asked by a superintendent of a small elementary school district to conduct a workshop for teachers who are teaching in blended classrooms. (Back in the day, these were called combination classes.) I let her know that in my thirty-one years of teaching I had only worked in two blended classrooms and, due to such insufficient experience, was somewhat hesitant to offer ideas or suggestions. She assured me of her confidence in my ability to share effective strategies and that the teachers would certainly benefit from whatever I was able to present. And, besides, it was only going to be a two-hour talk. Setting aside my feelings of reluctance, I agreed to do the talk. Turned out to be a good decision.

About twenty teachers showed up that afternoon and I got things off to a quick start.

Never one to beat around the bush:
I can't fix your blended classroom.
Pausing for that thought to sink in before continuing:
In my entire career there were only two years in which I had a blended group. My first year--the new guy always gets the combo class--when I taught a 5-6 combination in an inner-city school and my ninth year when I transferred to a new school--once again the new guy--and taught a 3-4. That's it. Two years out of thirty-one years.
Another pause for them to realize that I was serious:
And that, in my opinion, is the biggest hindrance to teachers working in blended classrooms. No one teaches in a blended room long enough to develop expertise. The blended class is like the unwanted step-child of teaching. You'll put up with it for a year and then, when classes are being formed for the new year, you'll claim hardship duty and work to ensure that someone else is given the combo assignment.

To prove my point, I asked teachers in the group to raise a hand if they planned to volunteer to teach a blended class next year. To my surprise, about five teachers out the group of twenty raised a hand.

And thus do we arrive at the reason for this entry.

There is a significant need for someone to step up and become a resource for teachers with blended classrooms. (The one guy I talked to during the break told me he had searched the web for info about blended classrooms--books, teaching guides, research, etc.--and found absolutely nothing. I suggested that he think about devoting four to five years of his career to working in a blended classroom in order to gain the experience necessary to produce a book or develop a seminar. I went on to say that I could connect him to any number of seminar opportunities by simply passing along his name to the schools and districts with whom I work on a regular basis.

Sensing a possible candidate for Blended Classroom Expert:
How old are you?

I'm thirty-six. I've been teaching for about ten years.

With a smile:
That's the age I started doing seminars. What do you say we stay in touch and see what develops?

I haven't heard from him yet but I'm sure I will. And if he can write a book or develop a seminar, we're talking gold mine. A small gold mine, granted, but gold nonetheless. Equally important, he'll be helping to improve the state of education which is a noble calling.

Since I'm serious about wanting to help someone get started in mentoring other teachers working in these kinds of classrooms, I have a request. If you have any kind of experience or insight in how to teach successfully in a blended classroom, send me an email. I'd like to hear what you have to say. And maybe, just maybe, I can help you get started in a new career.



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