Sunday, January 6, 2013

Training Independent Learners

 As teachers, one of the most important jobs we have, aside for teaching the content is teaching our students how to learn. We're grooming our students into problem solvers and independent thinkers; we definitely have our work cut out for us!

How many times have you had a student hold his/her pencil up in the air, give you a blank stare and proclaim, "it's broken!"? Yep...far too often! I always respond with, "now that's a problem! How should we fix it!?" They usually figure it out ;)

My goal for this year was to provide my students with the tools that they needed to be able to solve problems independently and that's when I dreamed this up:
A Learner's Toolbox! Cute huh?!

I folded the construction paper to resemble a toolbox and then added a handle because that's always fun. Then I stuck a little magnet tape on the inside so it would be able to fasten and filled it with little "tools" for my students.

They keep the toolboxes inside of their desks and then pull them out when they need help writing a letter, spelling a color word, writing a CVC word.

I also made some mini offices to keep in our writing station. The "tools" are exactly the same, they're just not cut apart. I laminated the mini offices so that they would survive in the classroom;)


What else do you hear a lot as a primary teacher??

We do stress "sound it out" but sometimes that only gets you so far. So I was SO excited when my bloggy friend Tara created this awesome unit! She included several words that my kiddos use often, but it's also editable which is aaaawesome. During writing centers, my students scan the pictures for the word they need, take the card to their seat or center and then put the card back on the chart. Done and done!

Another tool we use during writing is our self-check bookmarks.

This bookmark has a checklist of important conventions we need to remember when we're writing!
 
I laminated each bookmark so that it would stay in tact and so my students can check each box with a dry erase marker. I think that is their favorite part ;)
 {this writing sample was from when I was teaching first grade!}

We also have super cute journals for each month! There are so many awesome journals out in blog land! My favorites are from Rachelle of What the Teacher Wants and Alisha of The Bubbly Blonde.

 Finally, my saving grace is the "I'm Done" jar!

Inside the jar are sticks with activities that they kids can do when they finish their work.
This is really eliminated a lot of the "I'm done, I'm done!" going on in the classroom ;)
You can read more about how I use the jar {here}.

I also really love Nicole's visuals for what to do when you're through. You can check them out by clicking on the image below!

How do you teach your students to be independent? Leave a comment below!


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23 comments:

  1. Super cute toolbox! I have mini folders as well that I use. I like the bookmark idea. I have a checklist hanging but I like that this one is so handy.

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  2. I love the toolbox idea! I am so sick of the broken pencil syndrome, I could just scream!!!! Glad to know it's not just me!!

    Angela
    The Daily Alphabet

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  3. I love the bookmark idea! We have a similar list posted for writing workshop, where they check to see if they have "5 Star" writing, but I love the idea of a bookmark laminated so they can check off each day!

    Danielle
    Carolina Teacher

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  4. I love the toolbox! I might have to use that idea next year! Thanks for sharing!

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  5. My teaching partner has a whole construction theme in her room. She does a tool box binder. It is SO smart! I have the folders, kind of like what you have. I love the folders and that they can travel in our learning bags. I love seeing how others handle fostering independence.

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  6. I love that little toolbox! Creating independent readers and writers is always a struggle..thank you so much for these great ideas! :)

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  7. I agree...it is so important we teach the students to problem solve on their own! We need to teach them how to learn and take charge of what they don't understand. Thank you for sharing your strategies for doing that!

    ~Stephanie
    Teaching in Room 6

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  8. SO many great ideas here! That toolbox is adorable. Thanks for all these great ideas!
    Sarah
    Sarah's First Grade Snippets

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  9. You have so many great ideas to help Kinders become independent! Thanks for the great post!
    Cheryl
    Crayons and Curls

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  10. I MUST have those toolboxes! Too cute!!! And I really need to make an "I'm Done!" jar for my kiddos, just to mix things up a bit.

    Natalie
    Teachery Tidbits

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  11. My kinders sit at tables so I have a "table dictionary" or two in each tables book box. They can resource it at any time to help them spell words. I have a class list, monthly theme words, alphabet charts, and an endings chart to help them remember -s, -ed, -er and -ing. Super useful!

    Amy
    Mello’s Memos

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  12. I could not agree more! And what a post full of new ideas!!! Love it! Pinned it! Going to share it!

    Jen from Simply Kinder

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  13. Oh no, if Pinterest experiences technical difficulties tonight, we'll know why. It will be due to all the teachers pinning the I'm Done Jar! :)

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  14. I would love to have Firsties at the beginning of the year that had practiced some of this independence! One of our School Family jobs is the problem solver. I'll have to show you a picture of the cute hat they get to wear! =)

    The toolbox is adorable! You have a cute craft for everything! =)

    Heather
    Heather's Heart

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  15. When my kindergarteners are done with their centers (I have 5 going at a time) they know what their "center choice" is by looking up at the picture on the board. Next to each center name on the board, I have a picture affixed w/magnetic tape of where they go. The selections right now are: library, writing center, math games, puzzles and computers. The kids have a chance to do each of them during the week but it allows me to limit the number of students at each activity at a time and I can switch the activities just by changing the picture. (I hope that all makes sense!)
    ~Kathy

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  16. I love all these products but your tool box is fabulous. I was just yesterday working on a name plate side kind of mini helper chart. :) Though now I am seriously thinking about your tool box. LOL

    Melissa

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  17. LOVE that toolbox kit! So wonderful for our little learners!!
    Nicole

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  18. I am in love with your mini offices, I could so use these in our take home folders for additional practice at home and in the classroom ... did I say I love it!

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  19. I love the toolbox! Thanks for giving me a shout out....I am a little behind lol!
    Tara

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