Thursday, October 16, 2014

Table Reward System: Links

I use links to reward tables for cooperative behavior. This helps when you are trying to get children to follow directions quickly (like, take out your math notebook) or to work independently for extended periods of time. 

The only thing about this system is - sometimes children get upset when one person in the table isn't doing the right thing. But, on the bright side, you can take this as an opportunity to teach social skills. "Instead of being upset or getting angry at someone, how can we help our friends make better choices?" Soon enough, you see children quietly tapping their friends and calmly reminding them what to do. 

Once a table accumulates 10 links, the children at the table get to pick a prize from the treasure chest. The best part? One person from the table takes the links home. It's such a big deal to them! 

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Whole Class Reward System: Marbles in a Jar

This is one of the simplest ways to compliment good behavior, especially in the first few weeks of school. Whenever the children do a spectacular job as a whole class - like transitioning quietly, lining up quickly, working independently, or getting a compliment from another teacher - I select one child to go put five marbles in the jar. Sometimes I have them put more when I am impressed with their behavior.

Once the children fill up the jar, they can choose any party they want. I usually make a list of party ideas suggested by the children and we vote on one! Some of the past parties have included:
  • Movie & Popcorn Party
  • Ice Cream Party
  • Pizza Party
  • Arts & Crafts Party
  • Reading Party (with pillows)
  • Extra Recess Party
  • PJ Party (with cookies and milk)
  • Board Game Party
I'm sure there are plenty more. Leave it up to the kids, and they will come up with something! This not only encourages positive behavior, but it also teaches them to work together to reach a common goal.

In the next few entries, I will discuss table rewards and individual rewards, so stay tuned.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Attention Signals

One of the first things we teach children on the first day of school is a signal to get their attention - commonly and simply referred to as an "attention signal." This lets the children know that we need their undivided attention for whatever we have planned next. Of course, this needs to be taught explicitly and practiced a million times before it is mastered. But once we teach this successfully, the rest of the year will be smooth!

Below is a collection of attention signals that I have used over the years, mainly in a first grade classroom, but can be used and adapted in other grades as well. You don't want to teach all of the attention signals at once. Start with one, and every week, teach a new one and build it up.  Novelty catches children's attention like no other.

It is assumed that after you say your phrase, children say their line and show ready to listen.

1) Teacher: Class
Students: Yes
*Variations: You can also say "class class" and they will respond in a similar fashion "yes yes." Or you can say "classity class" and they say "yessity yes!"

2) Teacher: Hands, hands, hands and eyes
Students: Hands, hands, hands and eyes

3) Teacher: S, T
Students: O, P

4) Teacher: One, two, three, eyes on me
Students: One, two, three, eyes on you
*Variations: You can change the numbers in the front - for example, you can say "Two, four, six, eyes on me" or "Two, oh, three, eyes on me" (203 is my room number).

5) Clap a rhythm and students clap the same rhythm.

6) Teacher: Stop, look, and listen
Students: Ok!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Morning Routine

This visual, step by step, easy to follow directions will teach your little ones what to do when they first come into the classroom each morning. What I like about using pocket charts for teaching routine is that you can teach the steps, one at a time. You can turn all the sentence strips around and as you introduce each step you turn it one by one. This helps the little ones focus on one step at a time. Notice how I kept the words simple so most of them can read, but also supported the visual readers with pictures on the sides.

You can do this whenever you teach a routine or procedure!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Math Routines

As the new school year is nearing close, I thought I would get into the habit of blogging again. It has been too long! So without further ado - Here is the Math Routines that I do with my first graders every day. It takes no more than 10 minutes and it helps develop number sense. By the end of the year, the children are experts at it!

What I like about Math Routines is that it fosters an opportunity for students to talk about math. A lot of times when we get students to "turn and talk," it's during read-alouds, because we realize the importance of challenging students to think more deeply around a story. But with Math Routines, you can do the same because it requires children to explain their thinking. For example, you can say something like, "25 children are in our class. We know that 2 children are absent. How many children are present? 23 - great! How do you know?" This gets the kids talking about HOW they got the answer. It forces children to think about the strategies, or "math tools," they used to solve the problem.

With the new Common Core State Standards for Math where the emphasis is on the DEPTH of its instruction, rather the breadth, meaning that we want students to think more deeply about a topic, this is pushing them in the right direction. And it only takes 10 minutes! For older students, you can choose more grade-appropriate routines for them to do every day.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Word Wall Pocket Charts

As elementary school teachers, we all know the importance of having a Word Wall in the classroom. It is most useful for children during writing time, when they use it as a resource to spell high-frequency words. Although the purpose of a Word Wall is all the same, how to set it up in a classroom varies from one teacher to another.

I have seen teachers use tape to put up words on a wall/window/board, and I have seen teachers use velcro or magnets.  This all works well, but this summer I discovered a new way of setting up a Word Wall - using pocket charts!

These small pocket charts cost $1 at Target (find it at the dollar section). Unlike taping/velcro-ing/magnet-ing, this way is simple and affordable. Taping words is too much hassle (and you ran out of tape rather quickly); velcros and magnets are expensive, not to mention visually unappealing.  With pockets charts, you can just slide in the pre-laminated and pre-made words  without a hassle! Plus, it looks colorful if you alternate colors.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Mailbox Clip System

Today marks the 43rd day of school and by now you know how much paperwork we need to deal with as teachers  - from handouts to newsletters to notices to everything in between. But rather than having to stuff paper into the children's folders every day, a lot of teachers use the mailbox system. You just place whatever that needs to go home in each child's "mailbox" (slot), and at the end of the day, you tell children to pick up their mail before going home. This system works well because you don't have to spend all of your prep time inserting paper into the kids' folders - this can be done even after the kids go home. Or you can have a helper do this for you.

Lakeshore sells these tabletop organizers for $25 each - not so cheap but, in my opinion, so worth the investment.  I've had one of these (bottom right) for over 4 years and it's still pretty sturdy.

The second idea I wanted to share today is using the binder clips to label the slots. Since there is really no space to write the kids' names, I use numbers on binder clips to identify to whom the slots belong to. You would be surprised how quickly children pick up on this, even the first graders.

Hope these ideas help you stay organized as a teacher!
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