Friday, April 29, 2011

Classroom Management Linky Party!

Kelley Randall over at Mrs. Randall's Learning Library is having a linky party! Go link up!! ;)

Classroom management is something that has really been challenged in my classroom this year! It's really exciting to be able to go and read what others are doing in their classroom as I prepare for next year. :) **I'll be adding pictures later tonight when I get home - my iPhone plug isn't here!!** When my kids arrive at school, I have an area close to the door that has baskets for their lunches, and they clip their lunch. This is also a really fast way for me to tell who's here and who's not! (As long as they do their jobs...)

I've used a combination of things this year for behavior- the most commonly used one is the clip chart. Previously I always used some variation of the card system, but I LOVED the clip chart and so did my kids. If you've never heard of this, it's pretty simple. The kids all start in the middle on green - they can move up or down depending on the choices they make. The truly fabulous part about this thing is that they're not STUCK wherever they move! If they make a bad choice and move down to yellow, they can still end the day on blue, purple, or even pink!
For a little while, I used "Behavior BINGO"... but because it was more of a *whole class* classroom management tool rather than focusing on groups/individuals... it took waaaay too long for my kids to get a BINGO. I had a real toughie until December that really uprooted our class and a few others that liked to instigate. While I've found this incredibly useful in the past, it wasn't so much with this class!! *Sorry about the glare!*
We use table points for a fun competition (and to encourage teamwork!) as a classroom management tool. Usually, it only takes one team getting bragged on and getting points for the rest of the class to shape up! I'd add a picture, but I had to erase them for TAKS. I'll add one Monday when we start anew!

Due to some extreme behaviors in my room (I've got SUCH an interesting group this year...) I'm adding in a classroom economy to survive the last six weeks. This is also a trial run to see if this something I feel would be successful for the entire school year. :) I'm taking some from Beth Newingham, and adding in a few things I found through Pro-Teacher or my BFF Google (I wish I could remember all the places I pulled from so I could give everyone credit!!). My kids have little Debit/Credit books that they will keep at their desks and I'll tally what they earned/lost. {I have sheets I'll post that has my salaries, expense, earnings, and fines on it later in this post.}

Each week (like I said, I'm only doing this for the remainder of the year) my kids will earn their paychecks and will have an opportunity to shop the "Classroom Store". The majority of this stuff will be privileges, with a few odds and ends from Oriental Trading, Dollar Tree, and Target $ Spot all mixed in together. Kids are so easy to please sometimes. ;) I'm hoping this really pushes my kids to hold themselves to a higher standard for the rest of the school year when it's the hardest to stay focused - we are all ready for summer!! Right?! If this is as successful as it's started out being, I'm totally using this next year.

Click below on the pictures and it *should* {cross your fingers, it's the first time I've done all this mess!} take you to Google docs where you download the forms to use if you'd like to!! Thanks to Ladybug Teacher Files for the tutorials!! :)

School Year Successes

I joined the linky party over at Ladybug's Teacher Files! Head on over there to share your own successes!!

I've had a very difficult time trying to come up with what I consider a "success" in my classroom this year. I feel like my kids have had successes all over the place, but I have such a *diverse* class this year, it's hard to pin down one that I really want to brag about more so than any other. Then I considered that maybe it just doesn't have to only be about my kids!

I'm highly critical of myself. I'm also a people pleaser and just want to be patted on the back, accepted, and told I'm doing a good job. Much like the dogs I cherish so much at home! I'm also very passionate. When you mix all of these up together, I'm just one big bundle of sheer complicatedness. Combine these qualities and add some self doubt cast by a previous principal who was about the least supportive administrator I could have ever asked for, and I walked into this 3rd grade position three years ago with my tail between my legs and ready to do what anyone told me to.

This is now my third year in 3rd, and I told myself in August I wasn't going to try so hard to just "go with the flow" and I was going to do what I wanted to in my classroom. Now don't get me wrong, I've always kind of done what I wanted to, but I wasn't consistant with it nor was I ever fully confident in myself that I could truly pull off the visions I wanted to with my class without the support I desperately was seeking from my team and admin. Now, I'm not for one second criticizing my team or admin... they just come from completely different teaching schools/eras than I do. It can make it really difficult to get the approval you think you need when there is huge air of unfamiliarity about what you're trying to do.

In my fifth year of teaching and my third in the same grade level, I walked off the plank with my eyes closed and never looked back. I dove into my vision of what a reading workshop needed to look like - a combo of Daily 5, CAFE, some Debbie Miller, and some Fountas and Pinnel and started swimming furiously. I truly think God blessed me with the class I have this year to enable me to push them which in turned caused me to push myself. I've had my share of behavior challenges (among other things) but I've never been so proud of where my kids are only 5 weeks from the last day of school.

On our last reading benchmark, I had 100% passing and 15 of my 21 were commended kiddos with just a couple more ready to burst through the barrier. I've never had such outstanding scores, but I've also never had the confidence I had this year to really pursue what I felt I needed to be doing in my classroom. So because of my success at pushing myself to be who I wanted to be as a teacher (which is, of course, still evolving!) I enabled my kids to have great success as readers. :)

They took their reading TAKS test on Wednesday, and I watched their little faces as they embarked on their very first standardized test. They were calm, they were focused, they were ready to take on the world. They read the stories, read the questions, flipped back to the story, and answered the questions with an ease that lifted tons of weight off my shoulders. I didn't teach my kids any acronyms to tackle this test: I taught them to become voracious readers that simply flip back and re-read to find what they're looking for. Yes, this was a gamble on my part, but I've never felt so satisfied that my kids can discuss any book, quote straight from their reading, argue opinions, etc... 100% of my babies could pass the reading benchmark in March with no maybe dots, paragraph numbers written next to their answers, without circling captions, pictures, and charts. My babies are true READER'S. And these little reader's are fierce when it comes to standardized tests because I've already pushed them and asked for more than any multiple choice question on that test could. I've never felt so calm watching them take their TAKS tests... I can't wait to see how much they shined!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Another Giveaway!

Stepping Into First Grade and What's The Buzz are both hosting a giveaway!


to see how to win! The giveaway ends on Sunday afternoon!

First Grade Fundamentals

First Grade Fundamentals is having a giveaway over at her blog! Check it out, it ends Sunday!

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Let Me Introduce Myself!

I started my school year with the full intention to document my entire 5th year teaching. I even started a blog and got 7 whole posts done. After September, I literally was too overwhelmed to deal with it. To make an *incredibly* long story as short as possible: I went from 18 to 14 kids by Labor Day, inherited 6 children in one day the 5th week of school, had a child terrorizing (literally) my room until December, was being trained in a new curriculum as well as training other teachers, found out I was pregnant with my first child in December, was on bedrest for a week in March, and I've already seen the inside of the ER and had an overnight hospital stay due to a freak issue with my dear son and my kidney inside of 6 weeks.

Yes, I realize this a slew of excuses for falling down on my blog, but the last thing I wanted to do was come home and document all the things I *wish* I was able to do in my room but was unable to do due to circumstances beyond my control. So I'm going to try to make the best of what's left of this school year, especially after we survive TAKS next week, and hopefully I'll be able to pick back up next year! I love the idea of posting and sharing ideas... I stalk enough blogs that I should be sharing my own. >>Insert blushing yet widely grinning smiley face here!<<

Like I mentioned before, I'm pregnant with my first child and my husband is completely over the moon. I wake up in the middle of the night with his hands on my belly feeling our little monkey, Liam, entertain himself in the wee hours of the morning. Haha! We already have 3 "kids", and it absolutely blows my mind how much they pick up on! Our girl lab, Daisy Duke, is so gentle with me... we just can't get over how much her behavior has changed. Our boy lab, Maximus (after the Gladiator character, guess who named him?!) is super protective and follows me everywhere I go until my husband gets home from work. Our beagle, now she's a completely different story. She's incredibly sensitive and is taking this whole baby thing very personally. Ever since we discovered that my right kidney is basically backed up due to my breech son sitting on my ureter (the tube that goes from the kidney to the bladder) I've had to sleep on my left side. I'm a right side sleeper and Adriane normally curls up next to me. However, sleeping on my left side also came with a full size pregnancy body pillow that inhibits her from sleeping next to her momma. So I get lots of glares these days, and find surprise puddles of pee on my side of the closet so she can let me know exactly how upset she is with our new situation. If you've ever had a dog, you understand!

Now that I've talked in circles (I'm already ADD and pregnancy has done nothing to help that situation!) I'm going to sign off and say I'm excited about this new adventure! Thanks to everyone who already had a blog going that I was able to stalk, cultivate new ideas for my fabulous 3rd graders, and hopefully I'll soon be posting about my classroom and contributions to the blogging community!

Happy 3-day weekend starting tomorrow afternoon!!! :)