1. Consistent daily classroom routines and flexibility to allow for student choice.
2. Meeting high, rigorous standards and differentiating instruction to meet the needs of all students in the classroom.
3. Developing strong relationships and rapport with students and operating the classroom with high behavior expectations.
4. Students working independently as readers/writers and students working collaboratively as readers/writers.
It has taken me this long to figure out that all of these things CAN exist together in one classroom. Realistically, this doesn't mean that every possible minute of instruction will be utilized in a picture-perfect way. However, if teachers play the balancing game to bring order to their classroom, I feel strongly that student achievement will go up. Bringing order requires strategic planning for the structured and unstructured parts of a class period. Below are some ideas that work for me to bring order to my very fun and energetic group of 6th graders this year.
My last tip to build order in a middle school classroom is to plan/structure class periods for students to move around/collaborate with one another, but also balance that out with times that students are expected to apply reading and writing skills silently and independently. In order for students to better themselves as readers/writers and for a middle school balanced literacy classroom to work, both need to happen every day. Here's how this plays out in my classroom with our daily, 90 minute literacy block.
10 minutes: Interactive Edit (Students write what they notice about the grammar, author's craft, etc. of a sentence from the day's interactive read aloud. After students have done this independently, they share with their tables what they noticed. Finally, a representative from each table goes up to the board and "teaches" the class one thing their group noticed and why.)
5 minutes: Vocabulary (Words from a read aloud for the day are up on the board with definitions and page numbers from the book. Each group has a copy of the book, reads the sentence where the word comes up, and talks about the word. They then talk about how they could use the word in a sentence using a similar context the author of the story did.)
15 minutes: Interactive Read Aloud (Students move to our IRA space and are seated around me as I read our IRA for that day. I stop a few times during the reading to model my thinking, have students turn and talk about an idea in the book, or talk as a whole class.)
10-15 minutes: Minilesson (Minilesson statement, modeling of how I would apply the minilesson to my reading/writing, have-a-go where students have a guided practice of the minilesson.)
30-40 minutes: Independent Reading/Writing and small group work (Students apply the minilesson to their reading/writing independently while I meet with small groups. Students also rotate weekly for comfy item privileges and are able to move to a comfortable spot for independent reading/writing. This is also where the "Work it out with a Partner" and "Ask Ms. Kiehl" comes into play.)
5 minutes: Share (Students come back as a whole group and share the work they have done as a reader or writer that day based on the minilesson application.)
I hope you enjoyed these tips for how to "bring order to the unruly." If you have comments to share about something you've tried, would like to try, etc., make sure you leave them below. I love hearing from you!