Classroom Ideas By Sarah Folks

This is a digital portfolio of ideas I have found, learned, created, and shared during subbing, student teaching, and the credential program at California State University, Long Beach . Please feel free to use or share any of the ideas in this portfolio.

Star of the Week

Each week, a new student is selected as "Star of the Week." The star of the week: creates an about me poster that is displayed in the classroom, chooses their job for the week, gets a special chair at their desk, shares items from home each day or weekly (grade dependent), and receives a class book all about themself from their classmates (see next slide).

Star of the Week Class Book

Each student completes one page for a “Star of the Week” book that is given to the selected student for the week. As a whole group, we brainstorm characteristics to describe the Star of the Week using a circle map. Students write a sentence about the Star of the Week and draw a picture. Students turn in work to be added to the Star of the Week’s book.

Steps to the Smartboard

I will have sturdy steps for easy interaction and accesibility to the smartboard in a K-2 classroom. This will allow shorter students to reach the smartboard to complete interactive games and activities.

Shamu and Seal Pup Weekend Adventures

Each friday, a student (K-4) is assigned to take home Shamu and Seal Pup. The student brings along Shamu and Seal Pup to their weekend activities, and documents them with photos and short descriptions in the class's weekend adventures journal. Students share their adventures with the class on Fridays.

Class Books

Each week (or month), students complete a class book aligned with the season's theme or a class unit. Each student in the class writes sentences and draws a picture for a page in the book. The books are kept in the classroom library for students to read during the year.

NFL Club

Students who finish work early have the opportunity to join the Never Finish Learning Club or “NFL” Club. NFL Club members go above and beyond the normal classroom expectations and challenge themsleves to do more than they “have” to do. Students use their chrome books to research a topic and fill out a NFL form. Students who complete 25 NFL’s in the year join the Hall of Fame where their name remains all year and for years to come.

Wall of Fame

The Wall of Fame in the classroom celebrates student success and hard work. Students who turn in work that goes above and beyond the assignment’s expectations are rewarded by their work being put up on the Wall of Fame. They also receive a Woozy for the week, Folks Funds, and a positive note sent home to families.

Folks Funds

Folks funds are an essential part of the classroom economy. Students earn Folks funds for completing classroom jobs, turning in homework on time, and displaying good behavior. Students have to pay Folks Funds for missing homework, clipping down, using the restroom, or getting supplies from their backpacks. Folks funds can be used in the class store on the last school day of each month.


A woozy is a small stuffed animal that students earn from getting their work placed on the Stellar Scholar Wall. Woozies are placed on students desk for the Week. Students who misuse their woozies will lose the privilege.

Bloomz Parent Teacher Communication App

The mission for Bloomz is to provide an efficient method of communication between parents and teachers. It’s similar to Remind, but seems to be more user-friendly for parents, with a format similar to Facebook. Teachers can share reminders, photos, calendars, sign-up lists, and much more.


Flipgrid is a discussion platform for educators, students, and even families. Teachers post topics to spark conversations and students respond with short videos. It’s a fun engaging way to engage in discussions and share ideas.


Kahoots is a game-based learning platform that is free for teachers and fun for students. It’s a great way for teachers to check for understanding or utilize exit tickets in an engaging way. Kahoots allows students to be ambassadors of their own learning while competing for spots on the leaderboard and challenging themselves.

Google Classroom is a great organizational tool for the classroom. It allows all of student work to be neatly organized in one place for easy student and teacher access.

Online Science Lessons

Mystery Science is a useful tool for teaching science. It provides hands-on science lessons. The lessons are in video format, are aligned with NGSS standards, and do not require major prep from teachers. Every lesson begins with a mystery that hooks students. Then the narrator tells a compelling story with images and videos which is punctuated with opportunities for discussion. The lesson concludes with a simple, hands-on activity designed to use supplies already in the classroom.

Teacher/Student Pledges

This is a great way to help build classroom community. As a whole group, the class brainstorms ideas for what makes a great teacher and scholar. Next, the students and teacher make their pledges permanent by adding them to a poster to be displayed in the class all year.

Sight Word Stick Bang Game

This game is appropriate for students learning to read, ELLs, and students with special needs. It can be modified to address other needs of students. (Examples: vocabulary, state/country locations, state/country capitals, math facts, etc.)

Literacy Centers

Rotation Stations or literacy centers are a efficient way to increase literacy in the classroom through meaningful, ongoing practice and application. Centers help to sharpen reading skills, and increase writing ability, language skills, and fluency. They are great for differentiation because activities within each station can be easily manipulated to target various levels of literacy.


“FactsWise is a program that blends international research about facts fluency approaches, part-whole thinking strategies, and the psychology of memorization. FactsWise provides mini-lessons and games that are engaging to students and manageable for teachers” (Valerie Henry, FactsWise Website).

Number Talks

This photo is an example of a first grade number talk. Number talks are a great tool for increasing fluency and number sense. The teacher briefly shows two ten frames (3-5 seconds), and students mentally add the number of dots. Students use hand signals to notify when they have an answer in their heads. The students share answers and strategies, and the class engages in a whole-group discussion of problem.

Cognitively Guided Instruction

Cognitively Guided Instruction (CGI) has been found effective for enhancing first-grade students achievement on basic skills and problem solving (Carpenter, Fennema, Peterson, Chiang, & Loef, 1990). Cognitively guided instruction is based on four interlocking principles (Carpenter, Fennema, Peterson, Chiang, & Loef, 1990).

  1. Teacher knowledge of how mathematical content is learned by their students.
  2. Problem solving as the focus of instruction.
  3. Teacher access to how students are thinking about specific problems.
  4. Teacher decision- making based on teachers knowing how their students are thinking.
Performance Task with Rubric

Performance tasks are grade-level formative performance assessment tasks with accompanying scoring rubrics and discussion of student work samples. They are aligned to the Common Core State Standards for Mathematics. Teachers use performance tasks to assess student learning and guide instruction. (Great prep for SBAC’s)

Anecdotal Notes
Classroom sign language

Classroom sign language enhances learning by incorporating visual, auditory, and kinesthetic feedback to help reach all students. It’s also a helpful classroom management tool to manage behavior, keep students actively engaged, conduct transitions, and help the Claremont run smoothly. According to Dr. Claire Vallotton, “when children can communicate more clearly, teachers can respond to them more easily, and teachers feel more competent in their own work” (Michigan State University, 2013).

Classroom Jobs

In my classroom I will have jobs assigned to students to hold weekly or monthly. Students will be payed for jobs with Folks funds. Rewards, supplies, and prizes may be purchased with Folks funds.

Random Student Selection

Popsicle sticks are a great way to randomly and effectively select and group students. This discussion technique allows equal opportunities for participation for students. It helps with classroom management and is also a great tool to gauge student understanding after a lesson.

Music Cues for Transitions

Another great classroom management tool is music cues. Using music for specific, daily transitions helps the classroom run smoothly and allows more time for learning (Rick Morris). I personally love the No Yell Bell for transitions, which can be purchased on Amazon.

Unfinished Work Folders

I subbed in a classroom where the teacher kept unfinished work folders for each student in a separate place from students’ desks. It helped prevent clutter and students hiding unfinished work in their desks. It also helps the teacher manage unfinished work more easily. One way you could minimize transitions after each activity is by designating a few class jobs as the unfinished work collectors for each table group. This student could collect unfinished work after each activity and quietly place the work in students’ folders.

Whole Group Incentive: Marble Jar

Marble jars are a great whole group incentive. The class earns marbles for displaying good behavior as a whole group. Once the jar is full, the class earns a party!

Another classroom management tool is Table Points. Table groups earn points for getting supplies out quickly, working quietly, and having a clean area. At the end of each week, the group with the most table points earns Folks funds, and the privilege to be dismissed first to line up for recess and lunch for the entire following week. The group with the second most table points earns half the amount of Folks funds, and gets dismissed second the following week. The pattern continues for the rest of the groups.

Behavior Clip Charts

Students are clipped up and down based on their behavior. Students who clip up will receive a hole punch on their behavior punch card, which when filled, is exchanged for prizes/rewards (see below). Students who clip down will receive an appropriate consequence that matches the behavior. Students always have opportunities to clip back up if they fix or change the behavior that clipped them down in the first place.

Students receive punch cards for placement on the behavior clip chart. Each morning or afternoon (depending on schedule and timing) before the clips are moved back to “ready to learn,” the two students who have been elected as hole punchers will walk around hole punch student cards based on where their clip was on the chart. For example, if they move their clip up three times, they receive three punches. Students who have a clip on the bottom by the end of the day receive zero punches. Students receive prizes/rewards for filling up their punch cards.

Posted Daily Schedule
Student Work on Walls/Bulletins
Classroom Mailbox
Student Specific Behavior Plans
Fist to Five Check
Growth Mindset
Talk Moves
Group Roles and Talk Moves
Attendance and Lunch Count
Writing Process: Brainstorm, Sloppy Copy, Edit, and Neat Sheet
Wish List and Exit Tickets
Posted Objectives and “I Can” statements
Project Based Learning
Created By
Sarah Folks

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