Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Classroom Rewards

I love to reward good behavior.  Like most of you though, I don't want rewards to be complicated or costly.  I've come up with a list of 20 great free or low cost rewards that I use that are easy and the kids love!  Here goes:
1.  Drink with a straw at lunch.
2.  Write a sweet, encouraging note on a student's desk with an expo marker.
3.  I have a rolling desk chair (rollie chair) in my classroom.  I choose someone to sit in the rollie chair.
4.  Choose another student from our grade level to eat lunch with.
5.  Help the student write an email to someone.  (Parent, former teacher, principal, etc.)
6. Homework Pass!
7. Read to a younger kid in another classroom. (Preschool and kindergarten kids love to be read to!)
8. Write with a lead pencil for the day.
9. Eat lunch with the teacher and another friend.
10. Write with a marker for a subject. (Reading or math or writing, etc.)
11. Brag Bracelets - (Make with construction paper)
12. Take off your shoes in the classroom.
13. Sit at the teacher's desk.
14. Skip Morning Work
15. Switch desks with another student for the day.
16. Chew gum in class
17. Call mom or dad and tell them what a great day you are having.
18. Positive note home
19. Get to drink a juice bag during class
20. Wear a brag badge....Make with construction paper that says:  Ask me why I'm wearing this badge!

You could use these rewards several ways.  You could use these for an end of the week treat for students.  One year, I wrote each reward on a slip of paper, put them into a box and drew one out or let the student draw one out.  Sometimes I just look around at who is being especially good at the time and choose them to pick out a prize.  I've also said, "I'm looking for my next prize winner......"  and it works to help everyone focus and show their best behavior.  It also rewards those students who are ALWAYS doing the right thing!  I hope you found something that you like and can use.  I would love to hear what you all use for rewards for little or no cost!  I hope you all are having a great year so far!
Monday, September 21, 2015

Classroom Management: How To Calm A High Energy Class

Some years are like that.  Some years, the kids seem to have an endless supply of energy.  If you had a calm kind of class last year and this year you are dealing with a group of energetic little ones, you may need to change some of the management techniques that you are using.  I've come up with six things that have helped calm my high energy group. 
1.  Line Order:  My students all have a number.  They are in ABC order and they have their number assigned to them accordingly.  They put this number on all of their papers because I can quickly put them in order when I am grading papers and putting grades into my grade book.  Easy and quick.  This number is also on their homework folders.  I can put them into numerical order and see who is missing.  BUT I also use this number for line order.  This will put an end to "he's passing", "she's in my place", etc. etc.  So, students use their number for a lot of things.  It helps tremendously when lining up. 

2.  One At A Time:  When I call my class to line up, turn in papers, get books, etc. I call one table (group of desks) at a time.  This may seem like an obvious thing to do but I have had classes where I could just say:  "Get into line order for Library", etc. and they would quietly get into their places, ....easy.  And then there are years where it's a mad rush to get into line.  So to fix this, I call one group of desks at a time.  It's much calmer with 4-5 kids walking to line instead of 22-23 rushing to line. 

3. A Few At A Time:  This is just as it sounds.  When the morning bell rings, I let 3-4 students in the room at a time.  This prevents congestion at the lockers and cuts way down on the noise.  As those students finish putting things away I allow a few more into the room.  It helps the morning begin more calmly than with 22 kids rushing in at once.  I also use this technique after lunch.  A few at a time come in, put lunch boxes away, sit quietly, then more come in. 

4.  Calming Music:  One thing that I have found that works like a charm to calm a high energy class is Spa Music.  If you can get Pandora Radio in your classroom, find the Spa channel and turn it on very softly. It calms everyone!!

5.  Brain Breaks:  Use Brain Brakes often, but have rules in place.  With a high energy class, you will may have students running everywhere if you don't have rules.  When we have a brain brake the normal rule is that you stay behind your own chair.  This works with most activities.  My students also love "Red Light".  To play this, I use some upbeat music and kids start driving their car around the classroom.  When the music stops, that is their stop light and they must freeze.  The music starts again and the "cars" can go.  My students love this.  With high energy kids, you must watch them closely because these students will want to "crash" into others!!  If I have this problem, that "car" must immediately go to their garage (desk).  It usually only takes one time to be sent to the garage and the "crashing" will stop.

6.  Secret Student:  I've written about this one before, but when we line up to leave the classroom, I choose a student name from my jar.  The students do not know who the Secret Student is.  Here's how it works:  I will "secretly"  watch that student all the down the hall and then back to the classroom.  If that student is "perfect" in the hallway, he/she gets a sticker, piece of candy, etc. when we get back into the room.  Once a name is chosen, I put it aside and don't put it back into the jar until everyone has had a chance to be the Secret Student.  So the cool thing about this is that almost everyone will walk "perfectly" down the hallway because they might be the Secret Student!!  It works well to keep everyone on their best behavior in the hallways.  I tell them that they have to walk correctly, may not talk, may not be hopping or twirling and may not be touching the walls. Once we are back in the room, I'll reveal the Secret Students.  They love this!  You will be glad you started it. 

I hope you find these ideas helpful!  I would love to hear what you use to help with a high energy class!  Happy Teaching!
Sunday, September 13, 2015

Classroom Management-10 Ways To Keep Your Sanity

My district started school on August 24 so my students and I have had three weeks to get to know each other, learn the rules and procedures and settle into this school thing.  I seem to forget from year to year how much attention I have to pay to rules and procedures; classroom management.  So the excitement has worn off of the "new" school year and now we are down to business.  Let me tell you, it can be exhausting.  So, I've come up with 10 ways to keep my sanity!!!  I hope that you find these helpful too!  We all need reminding, so here goes:

1.  Believe in you.  You have trained for this. Unless you are a first year teacher, you have done this before.  We bring our students a long way during a school year and we  remember how we ended last year.  Routines were easy, everyone knew what to do, when to do it and how to do it.  We are starting over.  Just remember, this is you thing!  You were made for teaching!  You can do this!

2.  Repetition:  I tend to forget exactly how many times I have to repeat rules and procedures.  It seems like at this time of the year, I am constantly repeating.  Repetition is what the students need.  We have to repeat these things for several weeks until they come naturally to our students. 

3.  Don't Stop!: It seems that there are so many things to remember and reinforce that we sometimes forget things.  This happens, but stick to your plan!  If it is a rule, you have it for a reason.  If it is broken follow your plan of consequences...every...single...time! 

4.  Don't Stop!:  I know, this is number 3 but it is worth repeating!  Stick to your plan, don't play favorites and don't stop!  We must be firm, fair and CONSISTENT!!

5.  Not All Days Are Created Equally: We have all had them.  Days where nothing goes as planned.  Something as simple as "It's picture day!"  can throw your students into a spin.  Try to stay on schedule as much as possible and know that the more you can stay with your routine, the better the day will be. 

6.  Routine, Routine, Routine!:  I can't say enough about keeping a routine when possible.  I post a daily schedule on my calendar so that students know exactly what is coming.  Students do not know that they need routine, but believe me, it makes everything easier....everything!!!  I believe that once you have the routine down, the classroom pretty much runs itself....a well oiled machine! 

7.  Step Back, Take A Breath! : Even with our best efforts, we will become frustrated.  Step back.  Take a breath.  Drink a coke!  Eat some chocolate.  This day will pass.  That student will get it,...or not but just know that you are making a positive difference in the lives of these students! 

8.  Treat Yourself: We have a difficult job.  We deserve to treat ourselves....manicure, dessert, new pair of shoes, anything that will lift your spirit.  We have 180 days to be on top of our game.  We need to "refuel" often!!

9.  Give Yourself A Break:  Don't bring work home every night.  Don't bring work home every weekend.  You need a break.  Put some things on hold if you can.  You will be refreshed and ready after a break. 

10.  October Is Coming:  In my personal experience, things do not settle down like I want until October.  It normally takes that long of practice, routine, practice, practice and practice.  It seems like I can finally relax a little bit.  Rules have been learned, procedures come easily, students know that "I mean it!" and we can settle into a happy family...hopefully!  So friends, hang on.  October is coming!
Monday, August 17, 2015

Math Routines for the Entire Year and a FREEBIE for you!

Awhile back, I wrote a blog post about daily math routines that I like to use to help my students focus in on our math lesson.  You can read that post HERE!  For a long time, I wanted to write these routines into a math unit that would have plans for every day of the school year and that would get progressively harder during the school year.  I finally did!  It begins simple and gets harder throughout the year.  I've attached a week of activities for free for you so you can give it a try!  The entire unit looks like this:
This unit is a monthly themed unit.  There is a student answer recording sheet and instructions for you for every day.  Each answer sheet has spaces for an entire week so you will copy front and back on two pages for the entire month!  The kinds of activities included are:  counting base 10 blocks, counting forwards and backwards within 1000, skip counting by 2's, 5's and 10's forwards and backwards, counting money and writing numbers in expanded form and word form, telling time and building numbers.  It's a quick review that is great to get kids thinking about math! The pages look like this:
 To get your first week of August free, click HERE!  When you are ready to get the unit for the entire year, click HERE! to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  
Only one more day for me until Meet the Teacher night.  I'm going to be busy all day tomorrow getting ready for that.  I'll post pics tomorrow!  I hope you all are having a productive and fun "getting ready for school" time!
If you download the freebie, please leave me some feedback!

Back to School Sale!

Ok.  If you didn't get in on the sale earlier in August, you get one more chance!  On Wednesday, August 19 Teachers Pay Teachers will be having another sale!  Make sure you get all of those things that you will need for August and September! 

Happy Shopping!
Thursday, August 6, 2015

Back To School # 3 and a FREEBIE!!!!

If you are like me, or if you are like hundreds and hundreds of other teachers this time of year, you are getting yourself ready for the new school year that is approaching very quickly.  I have only been away from my room for summer break for a few weeks but when I go back for the first time in August, it feels like I have been gone forever!  Once everything is clean, desks are arranged, (see my Back To School # 2 Post) different areas in the room are arranged, (book center, supplies, etc.) it's time for me to think about what I would like to accomplish with my students the very first day of school. Of course I know that plans and materials need to be ready.  I also know from experience that I need to over plan.  What I thought would take 30 minutes may end up being 10.....then what do we do..... So I plan ALOT of things to do the first day.   I also jump right into my "normal" routine, the routine and schedule that  I plan to follow the entire year. It is fun to do some "getting to know you" activities and I will do a few of these.  Since I teach 2nd grade, I know that these students have already been in school for 2 years and should be aware of basic rules.  Classroom routines will be somewhat different but for the most part, they know that there is no talking in the hallway or bathroom, how to "do" lunch and other things.  I like to focus on my classroom routines.  Last year, I made a book called "Let's Do School"  to complete with students about classroom and school routines.  I included an area for students to "draw" what these procedures look like.  For example, there is a page where students draw a picture of what a correct line looks like.  I like to do a funny drawing to show students what a correct line DOES NOT look like.  They always laugh at these "rule breakers" and then I draw a picture to show them the correct way.  I think that second grade students are still very visual and need to see what I'm talking about when I say....when we line up, we face the front, our mouths are quiet and our hands are by our side.  I stress that we have these rules and procedures to keep us safe and happy at school so I talk about what could happen if we do these procedures incorrectly.  For example, line up and walk in the hallway quietly so we won't disturb other classes.  We use our best manners at lunch, don't talk with food in our mouths and don't play at the table because we don't want anyone getting choked on their food.  I like to relate the rules back to real life situations that students can relate to so that they become meaningful to students.  So, I love using my "Let's Do School" rules and procedures book.  Instead of me just rambling off don't do this, don't do that....this is a whole group activity that we do together and students have the book to refer back to.  Here is a look at the book.

We do a few pages each day.  I've included the first two pages here in my blog for you for FREE! 
Click HERE to get the FREEBIE!   If you want the entire book you can click HERE to go to my Teachers Pay Teachers store if you want to get the entire book.
Usually we do a few pages each day and then keep this book until September Open House.  I like to have these books out with some of their other work for parents to see.  If you download the free pages, I would love to hear what you think! 
Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Back To School Sale 2015!!

It's here folks!  Time to stock up on everything you need for BTS 15!!  I know my cart is full!
My entire store is on sale with an  extra 20 percent off!
 You know you are going to need it!! Let's get shopping! Don't forget the code BTS15 at checkout !!