Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Why I Broke Up with my Clip Chart

breaking up with clip chart, clip chart alternatives

You know that expression, "If mama aint' happy, then nobody happy"? 

I feel this way about my school life. If things aren't gellin' in my school domain, it's hard to make all the other parts of my life fall into place. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only teacher who feels that way, right? #reassuringnods

Well folks... this teacher ain't happy. Some how we've gotten some B.A.D jue-jue in our classroom. I can't quite put my finger on when it started, but it is in full swing and it's causing this teacher strife and heartache! 

If you read my last post, you saw that we really struggled with math centers.  

math center tubs

In the end, we were able to turn it around. But folks, it is an everyday reminder and an everyday battle. 

Behavior, attitude, diligence, you name it, we have an opportunity for growth! 

I tried to use my clip-chart to reward my sweethearts and encourage better choices from my other friends....

Didn't work...

Then, I tried to 'punish' my not so good choice making friends with moving clips and loss of privileges. 

That was a HUGE didn't work...

Students yelling, clips flying... Oy-Vay! 

It didn't seem what I did, say, didn't do, didn't say... we just couldn't settle down, turn the attitude off, or be respectful of the learning enviroment. This teacher had enough. If the clip-chart wasn't working, then we won't continue with the clip chart! 

no more clip chart
TEARS! I love that clip chart! :(

Out with the clip chart and in with...

If you're not familiar with this online program, here's a quick run down! 

Each student is assigned a little avatar monster. Students can earn points and loose points based on their choices through out the day. What you do with the points is up to the teacher. 

Now, using this program eliminated the slamming, throwing, and destroying of clips. It also provided a fun goal and way to reward students even if they were having a rough day, but were making an effort. 

We're in the early stages of it, but so far it's helping. Not perfect by any shot, but helping. 

I know that any long term behavior management system also needs a proactive piece. That's why I am also starting, "The Leader in Me" program in my classroom.

 My hope is Class Dojo will provide the extrinsic awards some of my little thirds so desperately need and using "The Leader in Me" program will help create more proactive and successful students. Fingers crossed! 

Now, I'm off to say some more prayers and ask God for more patience and understanding. I am sure there's a reason I have these sweeties in my classroom. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Math Center Tubs- Finally a Success!

If I had one favorite part of my classroom routine, it would be math center tubs. I <3 them!

math centers
(You can check out my tub labels and center contracts here)
 I started them when I taught second grade as a way to enrich and reteach my cuties while still practicing all the other concepts we had been learning through out the year. 

So when I moved up to third, I  (of course!) brought this routine with me. I just KNEW my big third graders would love the independence and freedom of math center tubs and thrive under the challenging and engaging activities I set out each week, just like my second graders did. #teacherdream


Fast forward to week 2 of math tubs and I was ready to throw in the towel! Instead of thriving with each new tub activity I presented, they were floundering! Fights, tears, and incomplete work plagued my beloved math center time! So much so I wanted to give up and cry! #frustratedteacher.

But I knew my kiddos need small group time with me. My kiddos need to learn how to work together, and my kiddos REALLY need extra practice in math! Especially a refresher of those second grade concepts!

So... I sat and wrote down my issues and tried to figure out why (OH WHY!?) my student selected tubs were a flub! 

After MUCH reflection, I regrouped. I set out to revamp my math tubs.
I filled them with new math games and activities. We went through and reviewed math tub expectations (including how to select a tub, who to play with, and how to know when you're done!)

For a week, each day we reviewed the expectations (pausing to discuss any issues I may have noticed during the previous day) I also took a week off from meeting with small groups to facilitate the tubs again. Spot checking the students, helping to problem solve if needed.

By the third week we were pros! YAY!

The kiddos absolutely loved my newest math center pack too! 

missing addend activities

Here we are working on missing addends. I had two sets of cards out for students. One with two digit numbers and a set of one digit. This made differentiation a breeze! 

One of the most popular tubs was my "Number Chart Maddness" activity. 

using a hundreds chart
Throw some dry-erase markers in a tub and watch the kiddos have a blast! We actually had a few students "hovering" for this tub! 

I also put in the "Let's Number the Ways" activity so students could practice again with representing numbers in different ways! 

number talk activities
You can check out the rest of this pack here!

Moral of the story? When you know you've got a good thing, don't throw it to the side. Don't be afraid to truly reflect (and not that kind of reflection they make you write right after you've attended a workshop) but true reflection. Sometimes it just takes a reset to get things rolling in the right direciton. 

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Open House with a few FREEBIES!

Do you have an Open House or Back to School Night? Well last week, we had ours!

Open House presentation
You can grab this school themed presentation template for FREE here!

I'll be honest here, people... I was a *little* nervous about my 7th Open House night... new grade, new school... all these parents relying on me to make sure their cuties pass this BRAND NEW state test at the end of the year and move on in their educational career... What if they have questions?! I was just begging that no one would ask about THAT test! ;)

But it went swimmingly! I had originally planned to do a small presentation at the beginning then have the kiddos take their parents around the classroom to learn more. But as the evening started, I realized that this was more of a free flowing school, so I ditched my presentation (spare the last slide!) and made a point to meet with families one on one instead!

Out on the desks I had a few hand outs that parents could take as well as a sweet letter the kiddos wrote to their parents. (You can check out more on that activity from Jessica Torbin, here!)

open house hand outs

Underneath the stack of important hand outs (that originally went with that short presentation) , I had a classroom scavenger hunt the kiddos completed with their parents.

open house scavenger hunt
I loved this! The kiddos had a blast zooming through the room and explaining our activities and routines to their parents. You can grab this for FREE here. I've even included a editable version for you to fill out your own! 

Some of the items on our hunt...

Have their parents find their "Me Writings" and then the kiddos read the writing to them...

Me Writings

You can read more about this fun writing craft here...

and also discuss our "Learning Feed" (or classroom objectives)

objective board

The last task of the night was to thank their parents for coming (with a hug of course!) and have the parents write a letter back. 

Towards the end of the evening, I scrolled through my little presentation and had parents sign up for Remind (formally Remind 101) 

remind 101

as another way to keep connected. You should seriously check that app out! So easy to use! 

As parents left, I made sure they took their little sweet treat bag with them, and reminded them to read the poem attached...

open house cookie poem printable

(which you can grab for FREE here!) 

and thanked them for coming! It was a fun and much less stressful night!