Tales from Outside the Classroom

Front Row

I'm over at the Owl-Ways Be Inspired blog today sharing my love for all things Front Row!  Click the image below to head on over and see how you can use this FREE tool to help with differentiation in your room.

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A Look at the First Week {and a half!}

In my area kids normally start school on a Wednesday.  While I like it, and appreciate that the first week isn't too drawn out and extra exhausting, it does make it a bit difficult.  3 days is not enough time to do all of the getting to know you stuff you want to do, and 8 days of no instruction begins to feel like you are losing valuable time.  But alas, we combined the two and spent some time getting to know others.

As I was looking for ideas to implement the first 8 days, I came across this great post from Mary from Teaching with a Mountain View.  I borrowed a few ideas from it and there were lots of others I wanted to use from it

We did the 7Up and M&M's activity from Mrs. O Knows' blog.   I loved that it set clear expectations for the year and talked about consequences.  You can click her picture below to check out her post.

We started out by talking about the word consequences.  Of course, the students only associated it with negative things, so we talked about how a consequence could be positive.  I then introduced our activity by saying that they would have a consequence for their choice.  I then brought out the bag of M&M's and showed them how they were going to use a little cup to scoop up M&M's.  I advised them to not take a lot of M&M's because there would be consequences.  Guess what?  My kids took a TON of M&M's.  So much so that I ran out before I made it around the class.  They didn't take my advice.  Shocking.

I then had my kiddos sort their M&M's by color and record the amounts.  I told them they couldn't eat them.

Then....the big reveal...
Some of the kids were shocked and astonished.  Some wanted to cry.  During this time I also came around and "stole" some M&M's from the kids who took 100+ and shared them with the kids who only had a few because we ran out.  They then tried to adjust their number of sentences.  Nope.  Nuh uh.

I let them sit, and stew, and freak out, and write, for about 10 minutes.  Then I pulled everyone together on the floor and told them they were off the hook.  They did not need to write 48, 63, or 108 sentences.  We were going to stop there.  Phew!  They were so relieved.  We also discussed listening to Miss Maguire's sage advice. :)

During our morning meeting one day, I used the scaffolded cards from my Kicking Off a Great Year set as our share for the day.  
Then, later, during reading, I introduced PQA to the kids and referenced our morning meeting share.

I then split the students into heterogenous, random groups and they rotated through each set of cards.  I bounced back and forth between groups to keep them on task and to ensure they were using PQA.
{I have no idea why my post is now suddenly more to the right.  I've checked the html and can't find it.  Just ignore it}

 When we got back together as a group I asked everyone to share something they learned about someone else.  It was a no-pressure way to get everyone participating and joining in.Subscribe by EmailBlog LovinMy TpT StoreFacebookMy TN StorePinterestInstagramEmail MeImage Map

I also borrowed another idea from Teaching with a Mountain View and used it in my room.  It's one I've always wanted to use, but have been bound by specific classroom rules.

The only rule we have in our classroom is Respect.  Respect for others.  Respect for our belongings.  Respect for our environment.  Respect for our learning.  Respect.

We did a few other beginning of the year activities, but we've been crunched on time and they aren't wrapped up yet!  There never seems to be enough time, does there?

Classroom Tour 14-15

Kids started school last Wednesday so I'm a little behind in posting my classroom tour.  I wanted everything to be ready and perfect before I posted it.

Did you hear that?  That's me laughing at myself.

After spending many hours there on Sunday this past weekend, like I always do at the beginning of the year, I realized I just needed to take pictures, because really, my room will never be completely organized.  As much as it pains me to admit this, as much as I want it to be completely organized, I just run out of time and energy.  I moved into a new school this year because my previous school closed.  I'm loving the touches of a new building as opposed to the fifty year old buildings I'm used to, but it just takes so much time to start over from scratch.

I continued my black and white color scheme that controls most of my life.  Because there is so much blue in my room (our rooms are color coordinated with our colored pods) I decided to add a blue accent.  I ended up using more of a turquoise/sea foam color because that's where my heart led me.  I love the way this turned out.

I bought this rug on a whim this year from IKEA and I love the warm welcome it adds to my door.  The chalkboard is a simple mirror (you know $5 from whatever big box store you shop at).  Last year I used it for computer information, but I didn't need the space this year.  I'm going to use it for welcome messages throughout the year, if I can get the kids to stop smearing it. :)  The curtains were used on my windows last year but clearly wouldn't work on the large window.  This is perfect (unless you're a tall guy and have to duck on your way in.)
This is the view of most of my room right from the doorway.

Right on the door frame is my bathroom nonitoring system.  Students have a half stick with their number on it.  They move it below the 1 magnet, start the two minute timer, and use the restroom.  When they come back they stop and reset the timer.  They have two bathroom breaks per day during instruction time but may use it during arrival and dismissal.  Because of an incident a few years ago in my district, we have to have some sort of monitoring system if students are using the bathroom outside of class breaks.  I do not like taking class breaks too often during the day because there are such few stalls and it takes quite some time.  There is no consequence for going outside of the two minutes (as long as you aren't caught playing or anything) or for using more than two during our time.  This truly is just a monitoring system.  If the timer goes off it tells me to send someone to check on a student.  If a student has used their two breaks and needs to go again, they go.  But if it's habitual maybe there's something else than needs exploring.  
 Next is the student station.  On top of the station is the Turn In Bins.  The white basket on top is the Borrow Bin.  When I find random, loose student supplies they go in the Borrow Bin.  If someone doesn't have something, they know they can go there to borrow it.  This has helped keep students responsible for their supplies so they don't lose them forever.
The black cubes store resources the students will use during centers or May Do time.  The bin on the left is my Fluency Bin.  You can't see the whisper phones and task cards in there. The bin in the center contains Hot Dots and the cards.  The bin on the right contains dice of various sizes and dominoes for math centers.  

The middle shelves contain other resources the students may use.  On the left is extra scissors and glue.  The middle contains highlighters and goggles for writing.  The bin on the left was empty, but it not contains are Tidy Bins that we place out during art activities.  I copied the idea from Rowdy in Room 300.

Continuing to the left....
Here are our 5 student computers, and a built in bulletin board that I'm using to display student work.  It's currently being used to show a bit about ourselves.  I took the picture before I was finished with the board.  Oops!

Above that, is my word wall.  This is a moment when I'm showcasing reality and the not-always-Pinterest-worthy reality that is a normal classroom.  Behind there are cinder blocks.  Cinder blocks, people.  Do you know what sticks to cinder blocks?  Just about nothing.  So here I am, standing on a wobbly table filled with computers (you know since I'm not allowed to unassemble or move them), trying to reach higher than my short self is able, with a giant roll of expensive Fadeless paper that I'm trying to get stuck.  I had preassembled the paper with letters and borders.  However, in my mess of an attempt, half of them fell off and the border bubbled.  I tried to use packing tape to help it stick, and rubber cement to help it stick, and hot glue to help it stick, and anything else that I could think of.  I am not sure what combination finally got it to work, but in the process my paper got way wrinkled, my letters got even more lopsided and wavy than I'm sure they already did, but once it was up, that thing was up.  

I strategically neglected to show you my desk area.  :)  It's not so much a desk, and I'm trying to adjust myself to not having a desk.  And it's been a learning process.

Next to my desk is the beginning of the white board.  My two Share Chair stools (with correct spelling) tuck partially underneath a ledge.  I use two laundry baskets that stack to store clipboards and white boards.  My agenda is up above here.

Next is my morning meeting space.  Mounted between two white boards is my flat screen tv (yay for technology!).  Please pardon the giant glue spots.  Apparently, there was a bulletin board between there, that they ripped off to install an interactive whiteboard, which then got uninstalled to go to a primary room.  I hate those glue spots.  Any ideas for covering it short of just throwing up more butcher paper?

The posters were a freebie I posted last year on Owl-Ways Be Inspired.  They are quotes from well-known texts that I try to use as reminders for my kids.

Here's a view from behind my chair from inside the library.  I got my chair and the rugs from IKEA last year.  I think they still carry both.  The rack was one I found from Old Time Pottery this year and I HAD to have it.  

There are two large built in bulletin boards behind the shelves.  I will display posters for non-fiction text features, fiction comprehension skills, and reading strategies as we learn about each one.  Their book boxes are stored on the top shelf.  The books along the right are mine that the students cannot choose from.

The books are organized into black and white bins.  The black bins are for fiction books, and the white bins are for non-fiction books.  I got the shelves from IKEA last year.  It seems they maybe changed the name and style a bit.  I have them in high gloss for easy cleaning and to prevent scuffing. 

I created round labels for the bins to identify the authors or series in each.  Unfortunately, I couldn't find an exact template match for the Avery set I used so the border is a bit wonky.  Drives me a little bit nuts!

Something new I'm trying this year is having students place a clothespin on the bin when they take a book out.  I'm hoping this helps them identify where they need to return their books to.  Crossing my fingers!

I'm lucky to have these huge picture windows (please forgive the coloring.  I'm still not the best photographer and I couldn't figure out the natural light, indoor light combo).  Because the inside was 85"+ I couldn't find a rod that I could to hang curtains on the inside- not even a shower curtain rod.  I was walking through Wal Mart one day, saw these, and knew I needed them.  I wish they were a bit longer, but with the table and bookcases in front of it, you really can't tell.

Behind the kidney table is a table for small group resources storage as well as my Writing Process Clip chart.

From here, you can see most of the room from the other angle.  You can see my desk area a bit, and see the mess as well :)

The sink area gives me quite a bit of storage.  On top are content area leveled books, Rocket Math resources, and our mailbox filing system.

When I was taking pictures last weekend I neglected to take a picture of my math anchor chart board.  This is a picture I took earlier in the summer.  In that top left corner are now tissue paper poms.  The background is wrapping paper, and the border is tissue paper as well.
This bookshelf stores our daily binders as well as some other resources like dictionaries.  Our school wide posters are displayed here as well.
Right next to the door is a dry erase board I got super cheaply.  I use this to write notes for dismissal, or use the magnets to attach notes from parents.  I need reminders or I forget.

I love looking at classroom pictures for new ideas.  Hopefully this has given you a few ideas for structuring your room!

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Using Class Dojo with a Classroom Economy System

I heard about ClassDojo partway through the year last year and it was a HUGE tool in my class.  My class needed some sort of cue when their behavior was less than stellar and THRIVED on positive reinforcement.  I am not a fan of public displays for behavior management, but my kids needed recognition.  They needed that extrinsic reminder and reinforcement.  I was also excited that I was able to incorporate my individual behavior plans right within this system so I was no longer managing four different plans.  I know a lot of people are familiar with it already, but I thought I'd share specifically how I used it in my class.

First, I modified the behaviors in the system to more accurately reflect what I wanted to recognize my students for.  I used Dojo ALL.THE.TIME. to praise my students so there were a ton of positive behaviors in there.  These are the positive behaviors I used with my students.
I also did use it, at times, for consequences.  I know positive reinforcement is the best way to manage behavior, however, as I described my students needed to have something tangible attached to their behaviors, so at times, after multiple reminders, a point would be taken away.  Because parents could also log in to see how their student's day went, I didn't want them to only see positives if a child had a rough day.  The ins and outs of positive and negative reinforcement is worthy of its own post so I'll just leave it at that for now.  Here are the negative behaviors I used in my classroom.
My students earned many points each day.  At the end of the day, the students recorded their points on a chart.  I walked around and monitored their recordings and honestly never had any issues with students being dishonest.  
It was a simple four column chart (the left is cut off in this picture).  Students recorded the date, they wrote daily, their points, and then their new points total.  Students kept their chart in their binders that we used each day.  At the end of the day, I reset all the bubbles in the system.  A few days a week I would allow students to use their points for rewards.  I didn't do it all within ClassDojo because I didn't want it to inaccurately reflect as a problem behavior if I deducted points so we did it all on paper.  This also allowed me to then use the percentages within ClassDojo as a behavior grade since we have to give a letter grade for behavior.

The students and I brainstormed rewards together as a class.  I wanted the students to get involved to have buy in with the system, and this helped me give them rewards they actually wanted.  We combined some tangible rewards with more classroom-based no money rewards.  I determined the points value for each reward, however, and explained that part was negotiable.
The point systems seem high, but that's because I was constantly awarding points to my students.  I really wanted to focus on the positive and reinforce them for the great things they were doing so many students were earning 10-15 points a day.  The PAWS card was our whole school recognition program.  

I hope this gives you a couple ideas on using ClassDojo in your class (maybe a bit differently than you have been).  I hope you liked this Bright Idea and will check out the other Bright Ideas posts for this month!

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Meet the Teacher

I'm excited to join in on this fun linky from Falling into First.  This is a fun way to help you get to know me a little better.

Here I am on Friday (my birthday!) with my best girl, Piper.  The picture is a little fuzzy and there's terrible lighting with the windows behind me, but you get the idea.  

I'm excited to begin my second year teaching 3rd grade next week, though I wish it was just a few more weeks away.  This is my 9th year post college graduation and I've done just about everything that's not a traditional educator (assistant, reading resource, instructional coach, ESL, etc).  I'm starting at a new school because my last school closed due to funding cuts.  I'm excited to see what the new year holds.

 Coffee and Ice cream.  I could seriously live off of that tacos and pasta.  Seriously.  I'm also obsessed with my new Gear Fit.  So much so that I'm going to post about it soon.

 I've been known to give my opinion even when it's not wanted.  I'm working on that.  I also have diagnosed myself with ADD.  I am always going a million miles a minute and can't keep myself straight.

 Hello extra forty pounds since I started teaching!

 I often feel like my life should be a t.v. show.  Seriously.  It would get amazing ratings.

 See statement above about being opinionated.

 You know you just started singing it.  You know you did.

"I'm the one who wants to be with you.  Deep inside I know you feel it too."
"Feel it too!"

 I hope you enjoyed getting to know me a little bit better.  Click the button below to check out other bloggers and get to know them a little better too!

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