Saturday, October 7, 2017

$1,000 Giveaway

GET READY, FOLKS! This is the giveaway of all giveaways!

TEACHERS, I know that you give your heart and soul in your classrooms every, single day. That’s why I’m bringing you a $1,000 Fall Giveaway for Teachers! Yes, you read that right!  One very lucky teacher will win a $1,000 Visa Gift Card! I have teamed up with three amazing teacher-authors, Appletastic LearningKayse Morris- Teaching On Less, and One Stop Teacher Shop to bring you this amazing opportunity! (Directions for entering are below.)

*You MUST be an active teacher employed with a school district to enter. No exceptions. Employment with your school must be verified in order for the winner to receive the prize. We would love to see some of the prize money benefitting the winner’s classroom in some way!



Friday, August 4, 2017

Creating a House System in my Fifth Grade Classroom #RCAinspired


*In September of 2016, I was lucky enough to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. If you haven’t heard of RCA, make sure you check out their website and videos; you’ll be INSPIRED to say the least. RCA holds professional development days where teachers from all over the country can come and watch their unique techniques and strategies for creating respectful, knowledgeable, and strong, young leaders. I attended a one-day workshop, and I left feeling excited, inspired, and motivated to make my classroom and teaching methods the best they could be.

*One component of RCA that really resonated with me was their house system. They sort their students into four different houses, and the students can earn points for various things. The pride and love these students (and teachers) have for their houses is unreal. I knew I needed to incorporate it into my own classroom as soon as possible. But how? When? I decided to wait until the following year, which is this year, to implement it. I struggled trying to decide how to manage this new system; What would they receive points for? Do I take points? Do I keep the houses the same all year? Should I be rewarding them monthly, quarterly? I didn’t know!... and I started to second guess my decision. Then I read The Engaging Station’s blog post, which you can find here. She confirmed just how awesome this system could work when you put enough time and thought into it!


*Students will be assigned to houses at random through the help of this handy-dandy wheel. 

Disclaimer: I painted it from turquoise to black, and I laminated a piece of blue over the orange to go with my colors. When I placed the magnetic wheel on my whiteboard, it slid straight down! However, when placed on my chalkboard, it stayed extremely secure!
*I printed my house shields, laminated them, and then taped them to my wheel insert. The names of my houses just came from Google translate. I typed in the four words I wanted my houses to represent, and I just had them translated to Latin. The wheel insert actually had three colors similar to my shields, but it also had an orange section. I simply took a piece of green paper and laminated it right on top to cover the orange! BOOM!...IT MATCHES. 

*I'm going to be sorting students on the very first day...or the second day if I don't think there will be enough time. I'll first start off by explaining the system so they're all jacked up about it! They will then come up to the wheel and spin!
*Once a student spins a house, their Class Dojo icon will immediately be changed to their house icon. (Instructions for this will be included in my TpT file.) Class Dojo will be pulled up on the SmartBoard for all to see. A quick note about Class Dojo: I’ve used this behavior management system for the past two years and I LOVE it. Although it’s great for managing behavior, my favorite component of the site is that it allows you to easily connect with parents. You can send messages back and forth, and you can also share what’s going on in your classroom in a quick way. (The story option is very similar to Facebook’s format, and I use it all of the time to share reminders, pictures, and videos of our classroom happenings.
*I have twenty-four students this year, so I am limiting my houses to six students each. Once a house has six students in it, no other student will be allowed to enter that house. The student will just re-spin until they obtain an available house.


*When a student needs a point either given or taken from them, it will be done on Class Dojo. For example, let’s say Avery earned a point for demonstrating leadership. I would either award Avery the point myself, or have her quickly award herself using my iPad. It’s extremely quick and simple!
*The great thing about Dojo is that it allows you to place students in groups as well. This means that you can award your houses points directly to every student in that group without having to actually click each individual student. 

HOW IT WORKS- timeline, incentives, etc.

This is the part that I struggled with most, and I’ll be honest, I’m still thinking about it! Here’s a quick rundown of what I’m thinking:
*After students are placed into their houses, I will ask them to “run” for house leader. They will write a letter explaining why they think they would be a great house leader. I will select one student from each house and reveal them at the end of the first week. Team leaders will meet with me every few weeks for lunch to discuss motivation, teamwork, ideas for house spirit days, and incentives they’d like to see.
*Points will be awarded throughout the week to individual students for Dojo points (so they can cash them in at our class store) and groups.
*On Fridays (at the end of our class meeting), the team’s points will be revealed, and we’ll determine current totals and all-time totals. This will be laminated and we will updated the numbers with a dry-erase marker.
I think I’ll do a few different incentives for my students (monthly and then an overall winner). I’m only thinking I need to do more than just a yearly winner because I want to keep it fresh and exciting. I also want all of the teams to have a chance to experience some success. These incentives will be decided on with the help of my team leaders, so the incentives below are just EXAMPLES:
MONTH WINNER: This will change out monthly! The first month, the team with the most points might get to have lunch with me. The next month, they might get a homework pass or be allowed to bring in a drink/snack. 
YEAR WINNER: Ice cream party!
*Choose incentives that work well for you and your students!


*Go above and beyond explaining your points to your kiddos. Give them examples! That first few weeks of school, you’ll probably be giving out the most points. You want your students feeling excited and motivated to be their absolute best. 
*These are things in my classroom that are non-negotiable. They’re expected to be respectful, on-task, tracking the speaker, etc. Think of what’s non-negotiable in your room.


*Either before or after class meeting (I haven’t decided yet), we’ll have a little spirit session where the houses will compete for extra points. I only plan on doing this at the end of each month right before the winning house is revealed, but you could absolutely do it weekly or quarterly.
*Each team will have something to show the class. Either a fun dance, rap, poem, handshake, etc. that represents their house. The entire house can present, or they can have different people every time. I’m going to leave it up to them. Some of my students are not into things like shaking it! I don’t want them to feel like they have to do that. All houses will have a chance to spin the wheel for extra long as they gave their best with their performance. The wheel will have points on it ranging from 5-50. Whatever they land on, will be what is added to their house. Those points will quickly be added to the totals, and the monthly house winner will be revealed.

It's going to be a learning process for sure, but I can't wait to get started! If you're interested in my shields and documents, click HERE!

***2018 UPDATE***
After a full year with the house system, I've decided to make some changes for the future.
1) I will be adding two more houses. There will be another class that I see for 80+ minutes every day, so I want them to be included in the house system. If you have my house shields from TpT, don't worry!...those new shield styles will be added to the file.
2) I won't be using Class Dojo. Our grade level team will all be using SeeSaw next year for parent communication and student portfolios, so I don't want to add Class Dojo to that mix as well.
3) A running score of points will be kept on the board instead of saving and sharing the points at the end of the week. I like having the students see their current totals, and I really like having the students be responsible for updating their points. My student assistant was the one who kept track of the points towards to end of the year. If I said, "Nice job, Quantum! 10 points!!"...she would jot it down quickly and update the points when she had time. You could also have your house leaders be the ones to update the current totals.
4) I'm no longer doing individual points for students. My students were way more concerned about receiving house points than individual points for their Dojos. If I awarded them individual points, they often asked me if I could make them house points instead. With that said, I won't be having a classroom store anymore. 

Thanks for sticking with me through this long post! :)


Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Bouncy Bands


This year I was excited to become familiar with a new type of fidget: Bouncy Bands. I'm not writing this from the perspective of someone trying to get sales for Bouncy Bands. I'm writing this from the perspective of a teacher who 100% believes in this product and wants other teachers to know about it. With that said, I'd love for you to keep in mind that (like with anything) this is not a "one-size-fits-all" product. Nothing is. But I can tell you that it was absolutely wonderful for my students this year.

What are Bouncy Bands?
Bouncy Bands are bands that attach to either the student's chair or desk. My class had the bands that attached to their desks. The student is able to place their feet on the bands and bounce up and down as a way to keep their feet and brain active during instruction. 

The Bands are:
*Easy to install
*Visually appealing
*Soundless when in use
*Not visible to other students
*Not distracting to other students
*Great for "busy" kiddos who need help concentrating. I'm not joking. It was crazy to see just how well the bands kept them actively engaged in our lessons. The best part was, I couldn't even tell they were bouncing their feet. 
*Great way to incorporate movement into the classroom. I had one student this year who never sat down, which was 100% fine... some kids need to stand and move around to help them concentrate. The thing is though, when he would work in groups, the standing became a problem. Everyone else would be sitting and he felt that he needed to still stand. When I placed the band on his desk though, he quietly just bounced his legs up and down. (The band was on his desk for multiple weeks and significantly improved his ability to focus.)

Try out Bouncy Bands for yourself by clicking here!

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Interactive Google Presentation for Multiplying Fractions

Use these two interactive slideshows to introduce multiplying fractions! These two slideshows take me approximately three math lessons to get through, but they've proven to be worth it after my students have demonstrated they conceptually understand what it means to multiply a fraction by a fraction and whole number. Each of your students will need access to Google accounts to use these slides! Links provided at the bottom of this post.


Happy multiplying! :)

Thursday, December 15, 2016

Respond, Answer, Cite, and Explain- A song to encourage quality responses

I'm not sure which I'm more surprised by:
1) That it's December 15th and I haven't done ANY Christmas shopping yet. #gettingnervous #thankgoodnessforAmazonPrime
2) That it's December 15th and my kids are still starting their responses with "Yes, because..."



We are stopping that NOW.

Whoever thought of the "RACE" strategy for responding to questions is a literal genius. I thank them for the amazing acronym. It's short, catchy, easy to remember, and it just so happens to be the inspiration behind this new song.

I taught my students this song (to the tune 24k Magic by Bruno Mars) in hopes that they would remember to include R, A, C, and E in their text-dependent questions. We went over the process of RACE and how to find text-based evidence while reading through our lyrics. Now keep in mind, I also completed several whole class mini-lessons and small-group lessons that drilled this answering-technique into their brains. Before we answer any text-dependent questions, we sing the first little snippet of our song. It's a fun, quick reminder of how they need to be answering their questions.

Click the picture below to download a free PDF of the lyrics.

Click here to see my class learning the song.

Happy singing! And happy RACE responses!



Sunday, November 20, 2016

I Don't Like School, I Love It! Song

New Morning Song

Start your day off right by having your class sing this upbeat, energetic song! This song has been modified from "I Don't Like It, I Love It" by Flo Rida.

I pull up this instrumental version of the song and have my students sing our version to it.

**Here's a video of our first day singing this song. #itsprettyroughbutohwell...#practicemakesperfectright ;)

**Here is a video of one of my students leading the song. She bought "Teacher for the Day" and wanted to lead our morning song. So cute!

To download the lyrics, click below! (Two styles)

(Thanks Jen Jones {Hello Literacy} for the cute desktop background image!)