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GRADES: 4-10

Your students are going to make, test and show devices that they make using only junk. They will be given a limited amount of time and lots of resources to built this contraption. This lesson requires problem solving and team work (cooperative learning) and will provide for an enjoyable learning experience. Plan on a limit of time that will force the students to work hard and fast to accomplish their goal.


  • lots of junk - bicycle wheels, wire, different types of wood, screws, motors, tools (hammers, pliers saws etc.), pipes, glue and adhesives, batteries, plus anything else that you can find (Getting the materials might not be as hard as you think. Look to repair shops, bike shops and shop teachers for whatever you need.)


  1. The first and most important thing that you will need to do is decide exactly what you want you students to build. For example if you want them to build a way to throw and safely land an egg over a eight foot wall you will need to have an assortment of junk that will allow students many methods to accomplish this goal. The more junk you have the better.
  2. Divide students into small teams.
  3. Pile you junk throughout your work area.
  4. Give the goal that the students need to accomplish with the time they will have from start to finish (two hours or more if you have that much time)
  5. Start the timer
  6. Step back and watch.
  7. Have a class reporter tape or write what the students are doing. Interview the contestant about their progress. If this is done on video the whole class can watch an edited version later.
  8. Give a time warning to the students frequently.
  9. Call time and bring the students together with their finished projects.
  10. Test your projects and see how well they work.

You might want to use this as an end project. When the student learn about levers, pulleys, electricity etc. they will be able to apply this to their projects. I will not provide a list of goals because you can thing them up as easily as I can. Good luck and have fun!




If you have children who ask questions all the time without doing strategies to help them self this strategy may help. It helped in my room.


  • poker chips


  1. Take about 5 minutes to discuss strategies with the child on how to get a question answered without coming to you. For instance: reread the directions, ask a friend, go on and come back to it.
  2. Then explain to the student or students that they get X number of chips for the day (it will change depending on the child and the age).
  3. When a student asks a question they pay a chip. (Not like can I go to the bathroom. Personal needs don't count.)
  4. As they learn to be responsible for answering their questions they will need less and less chips.
  5. Finally you will be able to quit working with the chips and the child will be able to get their questions answered without your help. Independence it a wonderful thing!



It is typical for classrooms to be set up in rows, or lately, in groups of 3-4 tables (which allow for easier cooperative learning). However, there are fundamental problems for each:

In rows, studies have shown that the further back you go, the more discipline problems there are. The visual, aural and physical stimulation from the teacher is increasingly diminished as you move further back. This allows boredom to set in, and as a result, potential disruption.

In groups, the opposite is true. Students are over stimulated--by the peers that are now not only next to him/her, but across the table! There is now MORE to distract the student, leaving it harder for the teacher to keep the student focused on any frontal instruction.

An alternative is to arrange the chairs/tables into a three-sided "box"shape (|_|), (with an occasional second row if room demands). In this fashion, EVERY STUDENT IS IN THE FIRST ROW! The teacher can freely move around the room while talking, and therefore giving "personal"contact with each student. The result: greater attention and fewer discipline problems. Desks/tables can be moved into cooperative learning groups as needed usually within two-three minutes!




Editor's note: There are many different practices that are used for good classroom management. Here is one teacher's opinion. As with all classroom management practices, adapt what you like to your classroom, taking account the age, ethnicity, and personality of the class as a group, and of you as a teacher.S.M.

Maintaining good order in classrooms is one of the most difficult tasks facing young inexperienced teachers. The task has become more difficult over the past few decades as young people's attitudes to people in authority have changed dramatically. Some of the changes have led to greater self-confidence in students. Others--such as the acceptance of violence to achieve ends, attitudes to substance abuse and an increasing lack of respect for authority--have made classroom management and life in school generally more difficult, and more demanding, on those who are charged with maintaining a positive learning environment.

Many disruptive behaviors in the classroom can be alleviated before they become serious discipline problems. Such behaviors can be reduced by the teacher's ability to employ effective organizational practices. Such practices are at the heart of the teaching process and are essential to establishing and maintaining classroom control.

The following set of organizational practices should help to establish effective control of the classroom by the teacher:

1. Get off to a good start.

The first "honeymoon" encounter between the teacher and the students is when they formulate their impressions of the teacher. Students sit quietly, raise their hands to respond and are generally well behaved. The teacher is easily misled into thinking that this is an ideal class and may relax their vigilance. Students within a week will begin to test the waters to see what they can "get away with". It is during this period that the effective teacher will establish the expected ground-rules for classroom behavior.

2. Learning School Policies.

Prior to meeting the class for the first time, the teacher should become familiar with school policies concerning acceptable student behavior and disciplinary procedures. The teacher should definitely know what the school expects from both student and teacher in regard to discipline.

3. Establishing Rules.

Establish a set of classroom rules to guide the behavior of students at once. Discuss the rationale of these rules with the students to ensure they understand and see the need for each rule. Keep the list of rules short. The rules most often involve paying attention, respect for others, excessive noise, securing materials and completion of homework assignments.

4. Overplaning Lessons.

"Overplan" the lessons for the first week or two. It is important for the teacher to impress on the students from the outset that he or she is organized and confident of their ability to get through the syllabus.

5. Learning Names.

Devise a seating arrangement whereby students' names are quickly learned. Calling a student by his or her name early in the year gives the student an increased sense of well being. It also gives a teacher greater control of situations. "JOHN, stop talking and finish your work" is more effective than "Let us stop talking and finish our work".

6. Be Firm and Consistant.

A teacher can be firm yet still be supportive and friendly with students. A firm teacher can provide an environment where the students feel safe and secure. Many teachers report that it is easier to begin the year in a firm manner and relax later, than to begin in a lax manner and then try to become firm.





Many of the things teachers do to promote, or inhibit, positive self-esteem, comes from unintended actions. There are obvious things teachers do, such as who is called on in the class, who's papers are posted on the bulletin boards...but there are less obvious things that are done; actions which directly affect the students positive self-esteem. The most frequent area where this is the case is with marking student papers.
The following are some quick tips which any teacher can immediately use in improving the positive self-esteem in the classroom:
  1. NEVER GRADE IN RED INK. Red is a "negative" color. Think: stop signs and lights, warning labels, poisen, etc. Our society has conditioned us to immediately view red as something negative. Subconsciously, (and often conscientiously), a paper that is handed back full of red marks tells the student that he or she is a "dummy". A "self-fulfilling prophesy" often results with these students!
  2. USE GREEN OR BLUE INK. Green, on the other hand, is a "positive" color, as is blue to a lesser extent. When green is used, corrections, or markings, become more of a "constructive criticism" type of comment.
  3. USE A SLASH "/" RATHER THAN AN "X" WHEN MARKING A WRONG ANSWER. Again, for the same reasons one does not use red ink. The "X" is a negative symbol.
  4. MARK NUMBER RIGHT OUT OF THE TOTAL, VERSUS MINUS THE NUMBER WRONG. Do you accentuate the positive, or the negative? 2/20 still looks better than -18.
Also be aware of cultural differences. For instance, NEVER write a Korean student's name using red ink (even if it's a friendly note to the child). In the Korean culture, writing someone's name in red is a sign of death! Korean parents are often horrified when papers come home with their child's name written in red!





  • Decide on a theme for your classroom
  • Prepare/purchase bulletin board materials
  • Decide where to post notices/materials
  • Make a classroom welcome sign
  • Set up learning centers, display tables, and student work areas


  • Writing, drawing, and construction paper
  • Pencils/Pens
  • Crayons
  • Paste/glue
  • Stapler/staples
  • Paper clips
  • Rubber bands
  • Straight and safety pins
  • Transparent tape
  • Manila folders
  • Marking pens
  • Rulers
  • Art supplies
  • Grade book
  • Lesson plan book
  • Attendance materials
  • Textbooks/workbooks
  • Boxes for keeping units


  • Fire drills
  • Tornado drills
  • Lunch procedure
  • Staff handbook
  • Dismissal procedure
  • Your colleagues


  • Make student name tags
  • Prepare first-day materials to send home (emergency cards, school/classroom rules, bus regulations/info, letter to parents, classroom schedule)
  • Prepare class list
  • Decide on your seating procedure
  • Check records for students with special needs


  • Brainstorm class expectations
  • Arrange desks
  • Pin up bulletin boards, notices, etc.
  • Write lesson plans for the first week
  • Duplicate materials for first week
  • Write daily schedule, date, and your name on the board
  • Prepare files for parent correspondence, school bulletins, and sub teachers


  • Book distribution
  • Turning in work, format of work
  • Handing back assignments
  • Homework
  • Grading--recording grades, extra credit, portfolios
  • Housekeeping procedures--clean up, supply storage
  • Rewards and incentives
  • Communicating with parents
  • Signals for students' attention
  • Daily routines--beginning of day, transition times, independent and group work
  • Agenda use and motivators




Ease everyone's 1st Day jitters by inviting students and parents to visit your room together for an Open House the evening BEFORE school starts. This gives you a chance to greet each family individually, and to collect requested items (like tissues) and information (how is your child getting home tomorrow?).

Instead of putting together a formal program, simplify your life by creating a simple "Scavenger Hunt" in which the child and family can become familiar with his/her new room (parents can read the items to pre-readers). Use easily located items such as the clock, the bathroom, student's name in 3 places, a poem, etc. Include yourself as the last item to be found. This gives you an opportunity to talk once again with your new student. This is also a great time to take a photo of the student with their family (this really helps put a name to a face later at conferences!). Send students off with a cheerful goodbye - make sure you tell them at least 1 activity that you have planned for the next day to give them something to look forward to.

With primary children, it's also helpful to wear something bright at Open House. If you wear the same outfit the next day, younger children will be able to easily recognize you on the playground, or at the door, or wherever you collect your group!

Students and teachers will feel so much more confident when they know exactly where they are going and what to expect the first day, and everyone will be reassured enough to get a good night,s sleep!





This list was developed through the contributions of THT Guest Book readers. Thank you to all who helped develop this list!


See below


If you are a new teacher, use this list to help you compile the supplies you need. Ask first if any of these items are available from your school before you spend personal money on supplies.
If you are an experienced teacher, consider making a gift basket of some or all of these supplies to help out your new colleagues. Each person in your department might contribute a few items to make a new teacher much more prepared for his or her first day!
a box each of ink pens & pencils
pens for grading in a variety of colors - not red
post-it notes
file folders
hole punch
pencil sharpener
paper clips
a stapler & box of staples
lined & blank paper
a grade-book (MS Wizard also has some good PC grade-sheets)
headache medicine
apple or a candy bar
a bottle of waterless hand cleaner
12" and 3' rulers
gummed reinforcements for 3-holed paper
pencil erasers
a pencil holder
a small clip board
a key ring
a tote bag
a personal a coffee cup or beverage mug
5x8 index cards
hanging files
push tacks
small size legal pads
small screwdriver for glasses repair
safety pins
small sewing kit and tool kit
show boxes to contain things on shelves
a list of teacher websites
teacher-tack (sticky stuff for bulletin boards- can be found at Longs or Albertsons)
card stock scraps (found at PIP or Kinko's-bindles for $1)
a counter-bell (for getting class attention)
scalloped bulletin-board borders
two or three sets of punch-out letters for displays
different lesson-plan formats to photocopy or change to meet needs
planner labels that say "PERSONAL PROPERTY OF____",
in/out stackable trays
Koosh balls-great stress relievers and can motivate students by tossing
around class to encourage answers etc.
Tic-Tac Candy
Post-it flag tags
thank you notecards
little index tabs to put on the edge of a grade book
jljsw@iocc.com, hoover@pld.com, debras@mindspring.com, jmklein@as.net
Special idea from Jill Klein:
An idea for a teacher friend is to buy some of those clear plastic envelopes that hold an 8 1/2 by 11 piece of paper. These have 3 holes to put in a 3 ring binder that you can also buy for him. Have him put his seating charts in the individual envelopes. Then, with the vis-a-vis pens you buy him, he can mark down each period who is absent (with an A that's circled), put tally marks on it for those who have been asked to speak that day. When I taught jr. high, I had 3 rules: Cooperate, Anticipate, and Participate. If a child didn't have homework, pencil, paper, etc., they
got an "A" (no circle) for not anticipating. (If they asked someone else for a pencil, not me, I didn't mark it down, but if it was flagrant (yelling "Who's got _________?", I did.) If they didn't cooperate in a small group, they got a "C", and if they didn't answer a question I asked, or couldn't because they were goofing off, they got a "P" written on the seating chart where their name was. If they got all 3 that day, they got a note home. If they didn't, they didn't, and I could write the attendance in my grade book before wiping the envelope with a damp rag. It was an easy way of keeping cool and it didn't take up time or leave any student feeling embarrassed because their name wasn't up on the board.
I also wrote a thought-provoking open-ended question that had to do with our subject or our topic of the day on the board, and they got 10 minutes (out of the 90) to write down their thoughts about the question. I took attendance then. Then, I called 5 or 6, and made a check mark on the seating chart, so I knew who I had called on for the question. I did not erase the checks (which I placed next to the name), so I'd be sure to get everyone before I erased all of the checks. If someone did not write on the day I called them, and they hadn't written anything, I'd mark an "AP", because they hadn't anticipated being called upon, and a "P" because they couldn't participate! It rarely happened, but one student is all it takes for everyone to jump in and write those first few minutes! I also would not give a check, because they would have to still speak up on another day (maybe the next)...they can't get out of public speaking in my class!




Have a student teacher or a secret pal? Give him/her this little survival kit. Place all items in a brown lunch bag along with this handout:
1. When it spills, wipe it (paper towel)
2. When it cries or sneezes, dry it (tissue)
3. When it bleeds bandage it (Band-Aid)
4. When it needs a hug and a kiss, give it (candy kiss)
5. When it rips, pin it (safety pin)
6. When it's sour, sweeten it (pack of sugar)
7. When it's wrong, erase it (eraser)
8. When it pounds, soothe it (aspirin)
9. When it hurts, grin and "bear" it (bear sticker)
10. When it's important, write it down (note pad sheet)
11. When it's a good day, chalk it up (piece of chalk)
12. When it's a bad day, ask God for strength and hope for a better day tomorrow (nothing is found in the survival kit for this need - it comes only from the heart and soul of the teacher).
13. When it's gossip, cut it out and dispose of it (word gossip on a sheet of paper with cutting dashes around it)


Place the items described below in a brown lunch bag and include this handout:
The items in this bag have special meaning:
The cotton ball is to remind you that this room is full of kind words and warm feelings.
The chocolate kiss is to comfort you when you are feeling sad.
The tissue is to remind you to help dry someone's tears.
The sticker is to remind you that we all stick together and help each other.
The star is to remind you to shine and always try your best.
The gold thread is to remind you that friendship ties our hearts together.
The rubber band is to remind you to hug someone.
The penny is to remind you that you are valuable and special.
The toothpick is to remind you to "pick out" the good qualities in your classmates.
The bandage is to heal hurt feelings in your friends and in yourself.
The eraser is to remind you that we all make mistakes, and that is O.K.
The life saver is to remind you that you can come to me if you need someone to talk to.





  1. In order to teach, you must have control over your classroom. This does not mean you should act like a dictator. If you try to teach without establishing control, then the quality of teaching will suffer.
  2. In order to have true respect, you must give it. This does not mean that you accept undesirable comments in the classroom nor does it mean that you can run a classroom without some consequences.
  3. In order to have discipline there will be consequences for bad decisions. This does not mean that consequences must be harsh to accomplish its job. Harsh consequences do not accomplish much except for breeding hatred. Consequences should fit the offense. Often the natural consequence is the best.
  4. In order to be the authority figure in a classroom, there is an imaginary line that you shouldn't cross. Does that mean you cannot be a friend to your students? No, it means that if the friendship gets in the way of education, then it has crossed the imaginary line. (For instance, others may see such conduct as playing favorites and it could undermind your relationships with them.)
  5. A teacher cannot always be fair, but should strive to fairly apply the rules.
  6. A positive classroom will accomplish much more than a classroom that is filled with negativism--don't threaten your students.
  7. If you discipline in anger, your judgment can be in error. Learn to be calm in the face of problems. It will be a healthier approach for you, and your students will learn from your problem solving abilities. Don't take your students' remarks personally--students at this age may hate a teacher one day and love him/her then next. It is a sign of their age, not their overall opinion of the teacher.
  8. It is important to act, not react. Give students choices--for example: 1. You may leave the room and go to . . . . .(a pre-selected place--maybe another teacher can provide a time out corner if you don't have a time out room). 2. You may stay here and make changes in your personal choices. 3. You may stay in the room, but change your seat to an area where you agree there will be fewer problems.---When you give students choices, they have power--power to make a good choice and continue receiving instruction.
  9. If the emotional and/or physical well being of a student is at risk, then the offender should be removed from the room--no choices.
  10. If teachers copy the discipline style of another, it may not fit them or their classroom. Classroom control, like teaching, requires personalization--what works best for your is what you should do.
Mecheria 45100
General Revision for pupils
Lexis and rules

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