Wednesday, July 8, 2015

what worked: classroom managment


Classroom management is something that seems to be a roller coaster ride for so many people that I have worked with. And honestly it was not always something that I would call easy. I spent years reading and studying different classroom management techniques. They all seemed so easy, yet I would finish a book with so many questions and no one to ask them too. It was very frustrating but I kept plugging away.

Then I moved to a school that was unlike anything I had ever taught in. I have always worked in Title 1 schools but this title 1 school was very different. The reputation of the building was not stellar, as a matter of fact it was known as a behavior problem school. It boasted the highest suspension of all the elementary schools, lowest test scores, and highest teacher turn over the the DISTRICT! (read that as no one EVER chose to go there and the teachers there were looked down on) I remember inservice as if it was yesterday. Our dean of discipline said "we need to do thing differently. we have to change who we are and how we love the kids or nothing is ever going to get done."

First our dean of discipline is one of the most amazing men I have ever worked with! Talk about a LOVE for the children of the school. Second those words rang in my ears for days. I just couldn't figure out what on earth I needed to do differently. I had done clip charts, flipping cards, collecting tickets. I really felt lost. I sat down on the Friday before school started in his office and cried. I told him that I was fearful of the reputation of the school and that I didn't know what he meant about doing things differently.  He sat quietly beside me and asked "why did you become a teacher?"

My answer that day is the same today... because I love working with children. I love seeing them become who they are supposed to be. I love being part of the light bulb moments. I love seeing the whole child grow. I know that many of you reading this feel the same way! That afternoon conversation started me on a path to where I am now.

My students that year tested me in ways that I never could imagine. I loved everyone of those littles and ALL of the lessons they taught me about classroom management. That year I got rid of the clip charts and the flip charts and the well everything. I tossed it all out. I started working on building positive behavior patterns through praise. YEP! If I had my way we would not have ANY visible behavior system.

Behavior in my room is taught through positive praise and reinforcement. So lets say that we are learning how to sit at the carpet. In my pocket or small bowl within hands reach would be goldfish or skittles or stickers. Once we start talking about how to sit (parked pockets, hands in lap, eyes on the speaker, legs criss cross, feet still) I would reward EVEY child that I "caught" sitting correctly. Do I hand out a bunch of goldfish or skittles or stickers? You bet your biffy I hand out a TON! And it works, too. This picture shows the kinds of stickers I use. The littlest ones are the easiest to hand out. The kids can keep them on their name tag or a sticker chart or on their bodies. The owl ones I would use at the end of a day or when a child makes their goal if they are on an alternative behavior plan.


This picture is of two students writing a sentence and then reading it to their partner. At the beginning of the year these boys would have gotten gold fish as I walked around check on the students. I might have even pointed out how nicely they are working together.


Now, imagine that you are sitting playing with your shoe strings  rather than writing and talking to your partner and the teacher hands the child sitting on your left a skittle, and then the child on the right. You are going to take 2 seconds to see how they are sitting and fix what ever you were doing wrong. And when you do... skittle time! And the whole while I am still teaching away. The beauty of this method is that I can teach and drop a skittle or goldfish in your hand AND keep teaching. Now part of my parent packet is a "food permission slip". It's just like it sounds. I ask parents to put a circle around the items that I can use as rewards OR as manipulative for lessons. This gives me the ability to reward good behavior instantly.

I can see you sitting there shaking your head saying yep but what about little Timmy? Well It does work for all the little Timmys, it might take longer. It might take more work than with ANY other child but it does work! I had 3 little Timmy's this year. yep you read that right 3! Timmy 1 would climb on tables and jump off. She would kick things off the table and run around the room. She was the HARDEST nut to crack. And it took extra work but she got there. Oh yea, she received behavior services for OCD, ODD, and possibly ADHD. Yep and Timmy 2 was not much better, only he was a runner! Oh joy of joys... Timmy 2 got mad and would leave. I would press the intercom button and notify the office. This happened once with his mother in the office. After that we used the code phrase "elvis has left the building".  Still we made progress but we did have to use some personal visual charts. And Timmy 3, bless him, he was just a typical 5 year old who had never been in school.

My school has grade level behavior plans and like many of you, I have to do things that are not necessarily my first choice. Here is the chart that we use. Students start on name green, then green smiling face, yellow straight face, and red frowning face. Honestly it takes A LOT to change a card during the first nine weeks. There are consequences for yellow and red but they are decided on by the kids. When we are talking about what a good student looks, sounds, and acts like. We read No David and discuss what should happen to David when he makes the choices that he made. That discussion leads to answering the question "what should happen when you make as not so good choice in our room?" I try not to guide this conversation too much, it's more about seeing where their "internal" monitors are set. That is, do the children understand cause and effect, and how can we set up a system where the kids have ownership to what happens when when change our cards to red.



So that is a bit about my management plan and how it's grown into what it is now. It took many years and lots of tweaking to get it to fit me and be something that my kids are successful using. It's a rare thing to catch one of my kids in the office.








Monday, July 6, 2015

Classroom by IKEA (and other fun shopping finds while on the road)

I am blessed to live in a state that does not have an IKEA or Lakeshore Learning Store. Why do I say blessing? Well I would be in MAJOR trouble if they were close to me at all. I hear that an IKEA might be moving in about 2 hours east of me by 2017. The hubs does not like that but I could get super excited about it.

So what did I find... well the first is a MAJOR score. I got these solar lanterns to hang in my room. I was so excited to find them in white and lime green. And the best part is that they are normally $9.99 each and they were on sale for... wait for it... 99 cents!! I got 10! 7 green and 3 white.

I also got a larger white plug in lantern to go over my teacher table. I can not wait to get them up in my room.

From the kids department I got several things to use in my retelling center. This is a center that I am working on. I want to be able to give children the opportunity to develop their oral language. I really miss house keeping and am working to build this center into something that develops skills like sharing, taking turns, talking to each other, and telling a sequence. I got several of the play sets from IKEA including the cash register. I am going to use math manipulative to "stock" the cash register.
I am really excited about this cash register. I love it's simplicity. I plan to use it at back to school and thanksgiving in the oral language center. I am going to make picture cards and price boards for the kids to use and I am going to work on making some kind of receipt ticket that I can laminate and the kids can use over and over. At thanksgiving we already make shopping lists and menus, now we can use oral language as a grocery story and "buy" what we need. I am also going to sneak money in this way. (Sorry CCSS but I really think that we are doing s disservice to the kids not introducing them to money in K).
Do you read the book Bottoms and Tops? I LOVE it!! And how great with this set of soft vegetables be to use in retelling that story! I have a bear finger puppet and I'm on the hunt for a rabbit one of the same size. I think that we might also use these with our thanksgiving center and maybe with our plants unit. 
I love this little basket of food. The red "shopping" basket is SO cute... I might have to get a second of both this one and the veggies one. This is also going to be part of oral language. I'm telling you this center has me SO excited!! I can't wait to get it all together.

Then I saw these markers! I got 2 sets. I am thinking about using them to "grade papers" or to put into writing center. Maybe some will be for me and others in writing center. 
Look at how cute the shapes are!!! The images are simple and bold. LOVE them!

Ok, so picture this... you enter IKEA and see lockers with these LARGE frisbee like keychains. They have numbers on them and your teacher brain explodes! They are made with plates from the kids section! Shut the front door!! 

Yep that really happened. So after I collected my brain I ran to the kids section... ok maybe I didn't run but I did go straight to the kids section and found the plates. 
So what am I going to do with the plates? My plan is to use them in a whole group game. I have some of the animal "poppers" that spit balls. I plan to have the plates spread out on the floor and the kids stand at the edge of the carpet and "shoot" the animal at a plate. On the plates will be flashcards with what ever we are learning. The student will say what is on the plate and their team will get a point. I think the kids will love it!
I have been wanting a rug to define our library area. I've looked at lots of little rugs and not found one that I love. Then I saw this one at IKEA... I <3 it!! It's going to look so cute with my pink bean bag chairs. 
This last picture is my new creation station. I can't wait to get it set up in the room and let the kids go craze! Creation station was a favorite of my kids this year. They followed "written" directions and created something that matched our current them. It starts off as mostly just glue together or color, and by the end of the year the littles are cutting and assembling frogs, and dinosaurs.

So that is a run down of my trip(s) to IKEA this summer. Again I am so thankful that there is not one in my home city. Maybe you will see something that you need for your classroom. Oh and IKEA does ship SOME items from their website, not everything though. Just incase you are lucky like me an live in a non IKEA city ;) 

Sunday, July 5, 2015

TPT freebie

So I'm a TPT slacker... yep my name is Karen and I am a slacker. All year I make things to use with my kids and then I don't make time to gussy them up and put them on TPT. Since we have been on an epic 3 week road trip I have had LOTS of time to gussy. I have a could of game editions that I have been working on.

The first is BAM. Different people call it different things (pop, bang, slap, etc). I call it BAM ('cause I'm an Emeril fan and I LOVE teaching my kids to say BAM when they see the BAM cards. I have seen this game with lost of extra card types, like loose a turn. My BAM game is super simple... BAM cards and content cards.

How do we play BAM?

The first player pulls a card from the container (I use icing containers -thank you Deedee Wills!). They show the card to the other players. This step is VITAL because there is always a student who doesn't know what the card says and tried to fake out the other players. Teaching my littles this step really stops all the "he cheated" kind of things from happening. If the child can name the content (letter, sound, word, number,...) then they keep the card. If they can not name the content on the card then the card goes back into the container and the next player takes their turn. If a child gets the BAM card, they have to put all their cards back into the container and the next player takes a turn. The game continues until all cards have been played.

So far I have 1 set up at TPT and it's free (for now). This is a back to school alphabet set. The first "edition" to the BAM series will be alphabet recognition.  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/BAM-Alphabet-Editions-Back-to-School-1939781

The second set of games that I am working on are "Just add dice" games. I LOVE using dice in my room!! The kids love using dice. These are all games that we play all year, and again they can be used for just about ANY content. These aren't quite yet gussy enough to hit TPT but I am working on them.

Both of these sets of games are things that I use all stinkin' year, the content changes but the rules stay the same. Talk about getting the bang for your buck! Teach it once, and they play all year.


Saturday, July 4, 2015

Target ... oh how I love and hate that you have teacher goodies out already

We got out way late this year, June 15, due to snow and winter weather. Yes I was dancing in my snow dance shoes for those snow days and I own my snow dance, it did make for a very late end of the year. So it was a surprise to my system to see teacher goodies in the Target $1 spot! According to the calendar it really is time for Target to be unboxing all those back to school goodies, but my internal clock is scream "no way!"

So what did Target have? You know you want to know! First disclaimer, I am not at my home Target. We are out on vacation and I decided to pop into a Target to see what had been put out. My home Target usually doesn't have their teacher things until after the 4th. So they should be unpacking as we get home. So here is what I found....


Pointers for $1!! I got 4. The plastic isn't as solid as the ones from the teacher store but these will be great to have the kids use. And they were only a buck. ;)



Stickers- man do I have an obsession with stickers! I use them for everything. Much of the student work that gets "graded" gets a sticker. I walk around the room as the kids are working, when they finish, I look at the work and sticker it. Then my kids put the papers into their cubbies to be taken home. Awesome right? I also use stickers to "show off" my kids. Like using the owl ones as a prize for a whole class game. The adults in the building know to ask kids about their stickers. When a team wins we talk about what their answer is to why they are wearing a sticker. Some times I even use a sharpie to write why.

The last sticker in this photo I am going to use on "birthday bags". Once I know my kids and their birthday, I will write their name and birthday on the sticker and put them on little goodie bags. Then when birthdays roll around all I do is pull out the bags.

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Happy 4th of July!


Happy 4th of July! I hope that today is a great day with family and friends.