As the school year gets underway, procedural details and plenty of how-to’s abound in classrooms, and by the end of the first month, things are generally sailing along quite smoothly. To ensure you have an equally effortless start with your class set of WalkKits, here a few helpful hints we have gathered. Whether you are a new adopter or a seasoned user, you are sure to find some useful information here!
Never underestimate the importance of labeling! Numbering the WalkKits and assigning a specific number to each student is an especially beneficial practice. It encourages students to take responsibility for the materials and also makes it much easier to distribute supplies when you’re ready to walk and to collect them when you’re done!
Remember, it’s not just the WalkKits that need labeling. With an individual set of earbuds for each student, taking some time to label earbuds by name or number can be equally helpful too.
Some folks fold a small piece of electrical tape in half around the wire and write the identifying information (student’s first name and last initial or a number) on it. Others store students’ earbuds in small snack-size Ziploc bags labelled with students’ names or numbers for easy identification.
And there are new ideas everywhere you look! A site visit last year introduced me to the wonders of the “tech taco” (picture above) — the perfect way to individually store those earbuds (and keep them untangled too!).
Now that you’ve got everything all labelled, you’re probably looking for some good storage ideas! A bevy of simple storage solutions are available to help solve your quandary.
- Like to keep your WalkKits in their cases? Clear storage containers are a handy option.
- If you don’t opt to store your WalkKits that way, you can use a standard pocket chart or and over-the-door shoe rack with clear pockets, labeling the pockets by number using a permanent marker.
- Moving from room to room or site to site and need a more portable option? A popular solution for stowing a class set of WalkKits is the Stanley Sort Master (STST14027). This sturdy plastic adjustable compartment box is our storage method of choice for shared sets, as it allows for easy transport from classroom to classroom. Another useful storage device? Second year adopter (and new Walking Classroom Ambassador) Wendy Easler shared a similar find with us, the Hyper Tough Small Parts Organizer (HYST60944), which safely stows 32 WalkKits and headphones!
A weak battery can waylay an otherwise well-planned lesson. Some helpful battery-related tips include the following:
- Have students check battery status before starting to ensure there is plenty of power for that podcast!
- Walk with a few extra batteries in your pocket . . . just in case there are issues during your walk. If there are, simply exchange your WalkKit with the student’s (remember to swap out the headphones for hygiene purposes!) so that he or she can proceed with the podcast while you remedy the situation.
- Take advantage of rechargeable batteries! Many teachers are currently making use of these with positive (pun intended!) results.
Have a signal that lets students know it is time to get started. Some teachers cue students with a certain song or sound. During this time, students get their WalkKits and themselves prepared. Don’t forget basic things like ensuring students’ shoes are tied. Remind them that the domino effect would not be a welcome addition to your walk!
Keeping it Clear
Always remember to identify the lesson first so that students can be sure to have the right podcast cued up and ready to play. Remind the students not to start the podcasts until everyone has arrived at the designated starting point.
Once students are in line and ready to proceed, they should check the podcast number of the closest peer. Lining up in pairs is especially helpful for this.
Ready, Set, Walk!
As you are heading out the door, a last-minute oral checklist is a handy tool too. This can be spoken by the teacher or by one of the students. Since students are always eager to have a role in class activities, it might be a good idea to include a “conductor” (along with the “pace car” and “caboose”) among your Walking Classroom-related jobs.
Once everyone is lined up and ready to go, the conductor could call out the following, allowing time for the class to respond to each question with a simple silent thumbs-up.
- Podcast number ___.
- Podcast cued?
- Safe Shoes?
- Ready, Set, Walk!