May 29, 2015

Five for FriYAY!


1


If you are an Instagram friend of mine, you will know that IT IS OFFICIAL! I have accepted a fourth grade position in Atlanta and the contract has been signed! (They are stuck with me now!) I am so excited but also sooo nervous.

2


Yesterday, I published what is probably my longest and juiciest blog post EVER all about my classroom economy system based on Class Dojo. I'll admit that I'm pretty proud of it. Click the picture to check it out if you haven't already!

3


We have been doing a lot of reader's theater in my room lately. The kids love it and keep begging for more! Earlier this week, my kids performed skits based on Aesop's fables. This week they are working on skits from PBS Kids ZOOM Playhouse. It's been great!! They are too cute!

4


This is not teaching-related but I am completely obsessed with Pure Barre. It's the hardest workout class I've ever taken and I sincerely enjoy it. I am sad that I'll have to leave my studio but excited to get plugged in again in Atlanta. Any other PB teachers out there?!

5

I'm too tired to think of a fifth thing, y'all. I have nine days left of school (with kids). NINE. 

That's my fifth thing. I HAVE NINE DAYS LEFT TO SURVIVE!

May 28, 2015

My Class Dojo Mojo: Managing a Behavior Economy System



I used Class Dojo to manage student behavior this year.

It was AMAZING.

If you've never heard of Class Dojo, you're in for a treat.
 If you are a Class Dojo veteran, can I get an AMEN?!

ABOUT CLASS DOJO


Class Dojo is an online program that I can access from a computer, my iPad, or even my iPhone. Students can earn or lose points all day long, no matter where we are in the building. Students can earn points by setting a good example, staying on task, and following directions. Students may lose points if they demonstrate behavior that is disruptive to the learning environment.

Class Dojo also has the ability to create reports, which are great to use for report cards and parent conferences. You can check reports for today, yesterday, this week, last week, this month, last month, all time, OR a custom date range. It's incredible!

The best part about Class Dojo is that parents can create their own Class Dojo parent account and log in at any time to check on their child’s behavior. At the end of the week, Class Dojo will automatically send parents an email summarizing the child’s behavior for the week. Cool right?





CLASS DOJO TIPS AND TRICKS 


Did you know...?

Behaviors are customizable. You can create your own behaviors that you want to award or take away points for. I don't like to have a TON of behaviors because it can get confusing. I do like to have "recess," "lunch," and "specials" as behavior options, especially for negative behaviors. If I feel like I need to give a parent more of an explanation, like that Susie lost a "lunch" point for throwing food, I can send the parent a private message.


You can give class points. Just click "Select All," then choose the behavior. Each student will receive a point. I give class points for "Specials" if the class receives a good report from their specials teacher for the day. I also give points for "Teamwork" if they can pack up before the 3-minute timer goes off. It's great for encouraging them to help others. 

It's great for bribing. I bribe my kids with points ALL THE TIME. "If you bring your progress report back TOMORROW, signed, you get a responsibility point!" "If you bring your field trip form and money before Friday, you'll get a responsibility point!" I never have to call parents to remind them to sign something or send something in; The kids do all the bugging for me because they want that point! It's amazing what some kids will do for one measly point. I say "jump," they say, "how high?" (Not really, but you know what I mean.) 


You can change the avatars. Students can create their own monsters by creating student accounts. Or, as the teacher, you can create new sets of avatars completely! See this post on My Little Firsties for step-by-step directions to create avatar sets.

BEFORE
AFTER (Next time I do this, I'm going to choose only pictures with white backgrounds. They look better.)

ADD THE ECONOMY

On Fridays, usually every other week, students trade their Dojo points for stickers. Students earn 1 sticker for every 10 Dojo points they have earned throughout the week. Stickers can be spent on classroom rewards such as eating lunch with a friend, going to recess with another class, or using a special pen for a day. Bigger prizes will be worth more stickers, teaching students the concept of earning, saving, and spending. 


I have a behavior binder that I pull out on Fridays. Each child has a page with a hundred chart on it. 



Here's where the math comes in.

I call a student up while the rest of the class is playing math games or watching a read-aloud on BookFlix. I ask a series of questions to hone basic math skills:

How many points did you earn [this week]?
How many tens are in that number?
So, how many stickers did you earn?

The newly earned stickers go on the hundreds chart.

How many stickers have you earned all together? (hundreds chart - easy counting)
How many stickers do you have to spend?

 Spent stickers are crossed off with a marker.

After I have spoken briefly with each child, I reset all of the points back to zero. (This does not delete history for data, just current points!)

{ Side note: Last year, I kept page protectors in the back of my sticker binder that showcased the prizes that could be purchased with stickers. It took kids FOR-EV-ER to make a decision. I have found an anchor chart to be much more efficient this year! }


My binder right now is pretty pitiful; I'm planning on making it more attractive for next year!


I keep sticky notes in my binder. When students buy a prize with their stickers, I use a pen to check off their stickers. Then I write the prize that the student bought on a sticky note and stick it behind my desk on my filing cabinet. I know it's sloppy and not very pretty looking, but it works for me. I don't have to keep up with prize cards or hand anything out to kids. On a day that works for me, I place the sticky note on the kid's desk before they arrive at school. They know what that means! 



REASONS WHY I LOVE ME SOME CLASS DOJO AND WILL NEVER OWN A CLIP CHART AGAIN


As IF you actually need any more convincing.

1. It does the parent communication legwork for me. Parents receive behavior information EVERY night, if they want to check the app. They can also check it throughout the day, and behavior points are timestamped! 

2. The messaging feature is great. I can easily text parents without giving out my cell phone number, and parents can easily send me a quick message. They know I am likely to see a Dojo message before an email since I use Dojo all day long. I can text individual parents, or send a "broadcast" to all parents. (Can you guess how I got all of my parents to sign up? I offered the kids points for each parent that registered - duh!)

3. It's a great verbal prompt for students who need to correct their behavior. I don't say a word. I just choose a child that is on task or setting a good example, I make sure my volume is turned up, and I give them a point. That "ding" makes the rest of the kids straighten up without me having to reprimand.


4. It's FUN. The kids love it - really. They love changing their avatars and seeing their peers' avatars. They love seeing how many points they can earn in a day, and they work hard to do so. 

5. It focuses on the positive. Yes, I take away points. Often. I'm harsher now than I was at the beginning of the year. The sad sound that Dojo makes during a point loss sometimes hurts my heart just as much as it hurts the kid's! (And some days it just feels realllly good.)

All that being said...


Class Dojo works so well for me, and maybe some of it will work for you. 

Let me know if you have any questions about Class Dojo or if you need any help!

Please follow along on Bloglovin'Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, and TPT for more ideas to make your life easier!
Note: This post is in no way affiliated with Class Dojo. I am not receiving any perks for endorsing it. I JUST LOVE IT THAT MUCH! 

May 22, 2015

Five for Friday: Moving on Up...!


As always, thanks to Kacey for hosting my favorite weekly linky party!

- ONE -

I have accepted a new job!!!!! EEEEK! I am currently teaching second grade, which I love, but I will be teaching fourth grade at a fabulous school when I move to Atlanta. I don't have a ton of experience with the bigger kids, so I am open to any advice that you have for me! Word on the street is that fourth grades are still sweet and still love school. I sure hope that is true!


Please leave a comment below if you are a fourth grade teacher blogger so I can stalk follow your blog and Instagram!

- TWO - 

I started teaching fractions this week which is fun because I LOVE teaching fractions! There are so many fun things to do to practice fractions! Most importantly, I love talking about food for our entire math block. 

My kids are especially loving playing the "Buggy for Fractions" game by Chrissie Rissmiller.


Yesterday, the kids made gumball machines to prove they know their stuff. 
These will make for a bright and cheery last bulletin board!

- THREE - 

I do realize that Earth Day was a month ago, but I haven't yet shared my latest bulletin board! I somehow stumbled upon Art With Jenny K's Earth Day agamograph art activity and knew that I had to buy it. First of all, I have never heard of agamographs and though that was the coolest thing ever. Second, I knew my kids would love it. Last, I knew it'd make a great bulletin board, which is oh so important, right? All of her stuff is incredible. I want it all!!! #gimme




- FOUR - 

My very sweet grandmother mailed me presidential dollar coins to give to my students. She wrote me a funny letter about how it would make a good history lesson. Be still, my heart! The kids loved their golden dollars, which they promised not to spend, and we spent a long time researching John Adams and the United States mint. 




- FIVE -

The countdown is on, y'all!! As of this morning, I have 14 days left. I think I can, I think I can, I think I can! I hung this countdown in my classroom, but I think it's more for me than my students.


Have a great long weekend, or - if you are one of the lucky ones - have a great start to summer!

May 20, 2015

Ron Clark Recap


A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending the Ron Clark Academy Educator Experience with my team. It certainly was an EXPERIENCE! It was an experience that I learned a ton from and will always treasure.

Amy from My Bright Bunch
I was the first one in the building, and it was CRAZY! I was guided through a room by a 5th grader with a line of dancing, singing kids on either side of me. It was a lot like sorority recruitment, actually! We had some kids stand around and make small talk with us (also like sorority recruitment) until everyone was inside the building. I say "small talk," but they actually had been trained to ask some pretty thought-provoking questions, such as "What is your lifelong dream?" Dang.

Some of my team with the man himself! Ignore the no-coffee bags under my eyes. 

Then Kim Bearden, the co-founder, asked the fifth grader I was speaking to if she wanted to jump on the trampoline. Except it turns out that Kim wasn't asking the fifth grader, SHE WAS ASKING ME! Say what! Who needs coffee when you get to jump on a trampoline at 8am?


Once the day officially began, it was a whirlwind of workshops and classroom observations.

We met Hope from Elementary Shenanigans! I admire her so much.

My biggest takeaways:

1. Kids can be trained, no matter where they come from. They WILL rise to meet your expectations, no matter how high they are.

2. Standing on tables is fun for students AND teachers.

3. Students will be excited about the content if you are excited about the content.

4. Motivation has to come from within. Hounding a child to do something will not make them want to do it. They'll do it when they realize they are falling behind their peers and can't keep up.

5. Dress to impress. Teachers are professionals and should dress like it.

6. Life is short; take the slide!!!


My RCA experience definitely motivated me to finish this school year strongly!


If you have the opportunity to visit RCA for an educator training, DO IT. You will not regret it.

Please follow along on InstagramFacebookPinterest, and TPT for more ideas to make your life easier!

May 13, 2015

Real Teachers of Blog County


I'm linking up with Hilary for her great linky party. 

Can I just say that I love this idea?

TEACHERS ARE REAL PEOPLE TOO! 

WE [TRY TO] HAVE LIVES!

This month's topic is BOOKS. Perfect!

Favorite Children's Book:

My favorite kids book / picture book is the Giving Tree. 
It has no competition.


Favorite Grown Up Book:



I actually love ANYTHING by the very talented Jodi Picoult.

Favorite Teacher Book


Love this book full of anchor charts! It has every concept you can imagine!


Favorite Guilty Pleasure Book

I don't really have a guilty pleasure BOOK, but I do have something I read as a guilty pleasure...


Make sure to link up with Hilary for this fun linky party. 

May 12, 2015

I Wish My Teacher Knew...

I finally did it...

"It" being the #IWishMyTeacherKnew writing project.

I was not expecting my kids to take it as seriously as they did. 

I cried. A lot. Big, fat, happy and sad and in-between tears.

Here are some of my favorites:


Cue tears. 


I'd been calling him "Grandpa," too, which was a nickname he gave himself. More tears. 


Totally unfair. #kidstruggles


AWWWWWW.


LOL - Sorry honey. I'm not planning on having any 9-year-old bridesmaids. 

This last one made me ugly cry, Kim Kardashian style. It's from my major behavior problem child. He ruins my mood daily and is usually the reason I pour myself a little extra wine at night. He's the one the other teachers ask about at lunch everyday; "How's ___ doing today?" He's the one that causes me to breathe a sigh of relief when he is absent. He is the one that I ride all day long, having to give him a verbal or nonverbal cue every minute or so. He is the one who makes me talk to myself: "Choose your battles, he can't help it, he can't help it..." He's the one who causes me to close my eyes in prayer in the middle of a lesson: "Lord, give me the patience and strength that I need to love this child." 



I need to laminate that at keep it forever. That's what will get me through the last 20 days. 

*     *     *     *

If you haven't done this yet, it's a must-do before the end of the year. I plan to do it early on with next year's class. What a brilliant idea!

I used a free template from Teacher Mommy Rache, but there are tons of options out there!