Effective learning strategies and practices take time to learn and to refine. Teaching younger children involves constant repetition and consequences that they are able to comprehend. Utilizing a variety of techniques to reteach the same concepts helps tremendously and provides several opportunities for students to familiarize themselves with the teacher's expectations, classroom rules and procedures, and learning strategies.
Classroom Management Strategies
Finger to Lip and Raised Hand--One of the most challenging realities in a third-grade classroom is noise. When the noise reaches an unacceptable level, the teacher should simply place one finger to his lips and raise his other arm, as if he's raising his hand. As the students see this take place, they are to mimic the behavior. When all students' hands are raised, the teacher can continue.
Stoplight--This strategy works wonders for younger students. A teacher can use an actual classroom stoplight or simply create one. When the noise level of the students is getting too loud, the stoplight turns yellow. If it rises to an unacceptable level, the stoplight turns red and the entire class is expected to become silent. They will remain silent until the stoplight is green again.
Routine and Reinforcement--Consistency is key for all students, but particularly for elementary school students. Teaching students expectations, procedures and rules at the beginning of the year is key. And even more important, continual reinforcement of the rules and procedures establishes routine and fosters an air of expectancy among the students. With routine, the students never question what is expected of them regarding their behavior, the rules or classroom procedures.
Making Text Connections--This is an extremely important strategy for third-grade students to learn. Emergent readers often have challenges connecting with the text they read or seeing themselves within the text. Teaching them to make connections allows them to better comprehend what they're reading and increases their interest.
Questioning--Another important strategy for text comprehension is questioning. Teaching students to ask questions fosters a deeper understanding of the text and employs critical thinking skills. Questions are the key to understanding. Good readers ask questions to monitor comprehension and construct meaning of the text.
Visualizing and Inferring--Picture books are great for these two strategies. Teaching students to imagine what words and images would look like in their minds strengthens their inferential thinking. Visualization is inferring, but with mental images rather than words and thoughts. When students learn one strategy, they automatically learn the other.
Collaboration--When students are given opportunities to collaborate with each other on projects and class assignments, the learning experience that takes place is two-fold. Not only do students gain effective communication skills, but they also learn more about working as a team.
Peer Tutoring--When students are tutored by their peers they are able to comprehend material they may not quite understand. This strategy is effective for comprehending material that was previously taught. Not only does the tutored student gain comprehension, but the tutor's comprehension expands and becomes clearer as a result.
Technology--Technology tools are used by students for effective content-based learning. Students rely on technology to solidify understanding, gain more practice on a skill or concept or to produce work.
- Apple and the alphabet. image by mashe from Fotolia.com