Thursday, August 23, 2012

Classroom Tour!

It's done! My classroom is officially finished and ready for the kids to come! I completely redid my classroom theme this year, and I am so proud of how cute the owl, nature, and bird theme turned out! Tonight was our "meet the teacher" night, and it went very well. Everyone seemed to like the room. :)
Check it out for yourself...

Monday, August 20, 2012

Stop Animation Tool: Sam Animation

This software is a free download compliments of icreate to Educate. There is a full version of the software available for $30, but so far the free version is very functional!

This can be a great tool for project based learning. I plan to use it as a project for my kiddos who need extension and challenges, and possibly in literacy circles.

Check out this video about the software, and visit the site to download it for FREE!

Kidspublishing - Wiki

kidspublishing - home

This Wiki is a great resource for digital student publishing ideas!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Awesome Remote Desktop Tool: Splashtop

Splashtop has so much potential for iPad usage in the classroom!

Splashtop allows you to use your iPad to access your laptop or desktop computer. It can be a computer connected to your SMARTboard, or not. You could be walking around the classroom checking your students' work, while showing them how to do something on the SMARTboard, all wirelessly!

You will need to download the app in iTunes, and you'll need to "get the streamer" from the Splashtop homepage. The app is only $2.99 right now, which I think is a steal considering all the functionality it allows for!

The streamer will walk you through how to sync your computer to your iPad. You'll name your computer, and create a password to protect your computer from others syncing without your permission.

I plan to use this app with my team of first grade teachers when we are working on lesson plans. Now, as I type our lesson plan ideas, my team can watch what I'm typing on their iPads!

Check out this quick overview video:

Here is more of a tutorial video:

Friday, August 10, 2012

Classroom Pledge & Freebie

Creekside Teacher Tales: Classroom Pledge & Freebie: All over Pinterest I have been seeing this... I have seen it with fancy letters from fun machines I can't afford, painted, stamped. Basi...

These are absolutely adorable!  I cannot wait to hang these in my classroom.
Such a positive way to start the year and to communicate to parents what you prioritize in your classroom.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Classroom Management = Community of Learners

I was recently asked by an education college student about what I do in my classroom for classroom management.

Below if my response to her. I thought I'd share, and maybe get some ideas from others who post their ideas. Thanks in advance for sharing.

I believe the very best thing you can start off doing is creating an environment or a community of mutual respect. I've even seen classrooms where respect is their one and only class rule. If you think about it, all behavior points back to respect. Respect for others hearts, their things, the school, etc. So from day one we define the word respect and then get into specifics for how to show respect for myself and for each other. Specifics such as what it looks like, sounds like, and feels like. We make anchor charts and model by acting out common scenarios.

I also articulate our job in this school and this classroom. I tell them my job is to help them learn what they need to know to be the smartest first grader they can be and to be ready for the next grade and the next grade and so on so they can one day get a good job. I tell them that their job is to always try their best. We also say that one of our main jobs is safety. Safety for our bodies and our hearts. So our words matter just as much as what we do with our hands.

Summary so far: over the first few weeks we will have discussions, read books, and act out the specifics of respect. At my school this often looks like the "wolf pack way": mutual respect, attentive listening, appreciations, no put downs, and never give up.

One lesson I always do to help create an environment of respect for diversity in our class is the crayon box that talks. Check out my blog post about this lesson for pictures and even an animation of the story.

In our social studies curriculum for the first few weeks we discuss the terms "balance" and "stability" and how we need to be balanced in our classroom. We play games to make these terms concrete and to build teamwork skills. It's important to define a purpose for and practice teamwork. One game we play is like the old game "hot lava." I put the kids in small groups and give them a piece of construction paper. I tell them to work as a team to all stand on the paper without touching the floor. They do this fairly easily and get giggle out of it. Then I give them a smaller piece of paper and tell them to do the same thing. It takes a little more thinking and planning as a team this time. All in all, the fun activities they participate in make a bigger impact and it helps to make complicated behavior terms concrete enough for them to latch onto.

I believe strongly in modeling and practicing procedures. I explain how to walk to line up. Then I model it. Then two kids model it the correct way. Then one kid models a bad example. Then two kids model a good example again. We do this for everything: how to open and close your locker, how to get a sharpened pencil, how to enter the classroom, how to choose a book, etc. You have to think ahead and anticipate the pitfalls and opportunities for the students to lose control and have a plan that you teach them in advance to keep them on track.

I talk to them about the word expectations a lot. I have high expectations for their behavior and their work.

I also have a very fine tuned and thoroughly planned out schedule with established routines so they know what to expect daily. Kids thrive on structure!!! I guide us into that routine ASAP. Again, modeling and expecting specific behaviors. I can't assume they know how to do anything until I have taught it and they have practiced it with success.

I use the Daily 5 for my readers workshop structure, Tabor Rotations for math and a Lucy Calkins style for writers' workshop. (Learn more about Tabor at the Wiki I created.) Science and Social Studies often follows a 5-E lesson model: engage, explore, explain, extend, evaluate. These consistent structures help everyone "stay in line".

Now, after establishing the basis for our classroom and how I expect things to operate and why, I teach them about our token economy reward system. Each student will have a pocket in a hanging shoe pocket organizer.

When I see someone doing "the right thing" they earn a "compliment stick" = a Popsicle. When they earn ten, they can bundle it with a rubber band and make a group to spend on various rewards I offer via a menu. They get to practice the math concept of bundling groups of ten and the economics concept of spending or saving, which are both in our curriculum. Later in the year when we learn about money we trade the sticks in for coins. Now they can practice identifying and adding coins to buy rewards.

Rewards vary from different treasure boxes, to taking their shoes off in the classroom for the day, to bringing a stuffed animal, and so much more.

We also have the color system in order to efficiently report home about students' behavior daily. Kids move their clip down if they have behavior problems, but they can also move their clip back up if they earn that by fixing the problem. Every kid starts out on green but they have the potential to move up to purple if they have an outstanding day.

We also have a class incentive. If the whole class is working together doing "the right thing," then we earn a letter towards spelling out a key word or phrase, such as "wolf pack". When we spell out the word or phrase, we vote on how we will celebrate. Maybe popcorn and a 30 min movie, extra recess one day, a game party, etc. The kids come up with the ideas and we vote. :)

We also use Rachel's Challenge as a school-wide program for participating in acts of kindness and respect for others.

If some children need more than this to help them maintain self control and follow classroom behavior expectations, then I implement a specific behavior plan for that child. I identify specific goals, specific behaviors expected to reach those goals, and then the rewards given if the goal is met. Check out an example of a behavior plan I have used. It's for sale on Teacher's Pay Teachers.

You can find many rewards and behavior plans at...

In a nutshell, I establish a community of learners based on mutual respect by modeling and practicing specific behavior expectations. Then, I reinforce with a concrete reward system that supports our curriculum. All of this takes maintenance throughout the year including reminders and reestablishing objectives repeatedly.

I'd love to hear what you have to share about classroom management!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

SMARTboard Blog Hop

Check out my favorite uses for the SMARTboard, and then hop from blog to blog to find what other teachers posted as their favs!


Spelling City is great way for teachers to create spelling lists, even individualized lists. They're easy to update weekly. Then, students can go online OR use the new iPad/iPod app, and play games that practice their specific spelling words! My students love the games! I made it a homework choice for spelling practice each night. With your free teacher account, you create a teacher homepage where students and parents can easily find the spelling lists and then games.

Spelling City Review & Tips by Maureen.

2. Brainpopjr.

This one is probably a DUH! But the videos on Brainpopjr. are so engaging and yet spot on for our curriculum! There are GREAT follow-up activities to use on the SMARTboard as well. (AND there's a brainpopjr. app as well!) The "movie of the week" is free, but the rest of the movies require a paid subscription. Get your district on board! It's a fabulous resource!

3. Arcademic Skill Builders

This site has so many fun, competitive math games. Our favorite is the jet ski race. Improve fact fluency while having fun! There are games for other math concepts and even a few spelling games. AND... there's a iPad app!

I also love to create a student-friendly collection of resources on my class Wiki. Then I access the Wiki when I teach and show video clips or let the students play interactive games that are linked. Check out my class wiki for ideas. Students can access my Wiki at home for somewhat of a flipped classroom effect.

Now, don't forget to check out the blog hop post and see what other teachers love and share your own ideas!