Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Classroom Management- The "Good', The "Bad", and the "Whole Class Reward"

Over the years it seems I am always searching for a better behavior management plan. I’m always looking for one that is more manageable and more motivating for the students.  Alas, I think I have finally landed on one that is both!
“The Good”
This is where the polite, rule following, helpful little second graders get their chance to shine.  Who doesn’t want a little recognition throughout their day of all the great things they do?  Whenever I see one of my ever so well behaved students doing a kind deed, following directions, being helpful, and acting in a polite manner, I give them a “treasure ticket.”  I downloaded a clipart of a treasure box and printed about 500 of them each about the size of a 1 inch square.  I laminated them for sturdiness and shine and they became the “currency” of my classroom.   I keep them in little red tin box on my desk as well as load up my pockets with them at the start of each day.  I can not tell you how many I have emptied onto my dresser at night or sent through the washing machine…
When the students collect 10 “Treasure Tickets” they are able to trade them in for a trip to the Treasure Chest…
Here is the outside …. 
 Second Grade Blogs
Here is the inside…   

Second Grade Blogs

A little side story of where this “Treasure Chest” came from.  During my second year of teaching, I came home one night from work and was telling my husband (then boyfriend) how I needed to find a “Treasure Chest” for my classroom prizes.  I was thinking of a large tupperware bin with a fancy sign glued to it, marked “Treasure Chest.”  ”Nah, he said I’ll make you one.”  A few cardboard boxes and several hours later, this is what was sitting in my living room. My jaw dropped because this faaaarrrr exceeded my tupperware bin idea.  I am blessed to have the craftiest husband. One of the many reasons I married him.
Filling this “Treasure Chest” seemed like a daunting task.  It is big enough to fit a small person inside so how will a bunch of bouncy balls, pencils, and stickers look exciting.  I had a lot of luck raiding the Target $1 bins and collecting Happy Meal Toys from my nephews.  The best way of keeping it full without dipping too far into my own “Treasure Chest” is asking for donations from the parents at the start of each year.  I can’t believe how wonderfully generous parents are at sending in treats to fill it up.
“The Bad”
I really don’t like saying “the bad” because well my students really aren’t “bad.” Sometimes they need a little reminder about the direction their behavior is going but nothing that a little behavior plan can’t help direct them to correct.  This year I started with something new. I was inspired by several of my colleagues as well as other blogs I read.  I definitely can’t take any credit for this one but I am happy to share my adaptation of it.
 Second Grade Blogs

It takes up very little bulletin board space and what I love about it are several things.
1.  It is very easy to manage. I don’t have to keep track of anything because the board does it itself.
2.  The kids take ownership of their actions by physically moving their clothespin from one kite to another kite.
3.  It’s anonymous to anyone who walks in the room. Each student in the class is assigned a number which is what is written on the clothespin. Of course by the second week of school all the kids have memorized each other’s number assignment but I reassure them that if a parent, another teacher, or an administrator walks in, no one will know it is them.
4. Some versions I have come across online of this system of managing behavior have an overwhelming number of options.  Personally, my motto is to keep things simple.
When a student reaches the “Think Sheet Kite.” He or she is required to fill out a think sheet which must be signed by a parent/guardian and returned the next day.
Click for a free download of the Think Sheet.

The “Whole Class Reward”
 Second Grade Blogs

Nothing motivates the kids to behave positively more than a little friendly competition.  This is why I feel the “Whole Class Reward” is so important.  This poster board does it all.  The students in the class are divided into 4 groups (which change at the beginning of every month).  The groups compete to earn points on the scoreboard. They earn them by doing kindnesses, following directions, and working cooperatively.  Then there are the little teacher driven competitions. Such as, “which group can line up for lunch the most quietly? Which group is ready to begin Math first?” At the end of each month we tally up the points and the winning group gets an immediate trip to the “Treasure Chest.” Another great feature of the scoreboard is that it reinforces math skills daily.  Each team is required to communicate a number sentence before adding points to the scoreboard. For example if the Blue Team has just earned 5 points, they must tell me a number sentence first 42 + 5 = 47.

I have to say that with this behavior management system in place I have little disruptions in the class and most importantly it is an easy system to keep up with all year. In the past I’ve used behavior management plans that both the students and I begin to lose motivation to follow.  I finally found one I can stick with. Until next year that is when I can’t resist trying something new. 

Thursday, February 20, 2014

One of My Favorite Lessons

Another great book by the author Kevin Henkes is “Chester’s Way.”  This is a story of a friendly duo who refer to themselves as "Peas in a Pod."  The duo is challenged when a third character moves to town.  Do they become a trio?  Well, you have to read to find out... :)
This is one of my favorites to read to the class because it sparks a great discussion about friendship and the kids loved sharing stories of who they consider the other “Pea in Their Pod.”  I did a great little craftivity with the class where we made our own Pea Pods. On each of the peas the students drew a picture and wrote a sentence of an activity that they like to do with their best friend.  
The finished products look like this…
 Everything Second Grade

So cute!

Chrysanthemum's Crumpled Heart

  This week we read Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes. I love this book because of the wonderful character ed lesson it teaches the students.  For those of you haven’t read Chrysanthemum, she is an adorable little mouse with a very large name.  The little mice in her class tease her for having such a “strange and long name.”  It is a clear depiction of bullying that the students can really relate to.
A coworker let me in on a great little activity that she has done with this book and I was more than excited to try it with my class.  You start with a medium sized heart (any color) cut out from construction paper.  Tell the students that this is Chrysanthemum’s Heart.  It is perfect and smooth and full of happiness.  Discuss how our heart can fell “crushed or crumpled” when someone says something mean to you.  Students love sharing stories about a time they felt hurt or crushed by someone’s mean words.  As you read the story have the students sit in a circle and pass the heart around the classroom. Each time that a character in the story teases Chrysanthemum by saying something mean, the student holding her heart crumples it up into a ball.  There are characters in the story who say nice things to help cheer Chrysanthemum up, such as her parents and teacher. During those moments, uncrumple the heart and smooth it out.  By the end of the book, the heart is ripped and torn and full of creases.  The children love seeing how kind words can repair her heart (we even put some band aids over the rips).  They can also see how the wrinkles (caused by mean words) will never go away fully.
When the story was finished we hung the heart in our classroom to always remind us of how important it is to be kind to others.  When someone is critical or mean to another student all I have to do is say, “remember Chrysanthemum’s heart” and the kids instantly stop in their tracks and rethink what they will say to make it kind.
Here is a photo of our heart after reading the story.

 Everything Second Grade

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Why not start a new hobby?

As if life isn't crazy enough these days, why not start blogging? Sometimes I think I have some sickness where the busier I am the better I feel.  I've been inspired to start a teaching blog for several years. It isn't until now (ironically while on maternity leave) that I  decided to get started. It's a great way for me to catalog all of my ideas and growth as a teacher, as well as share ideas of my own.

I am returning back into the classroom next month as my son approaches 5 months of age.  Starting this blog is a way for me to ease my mind back into school mode and prepare for the big change to working mom of three young children.

 I started the school year in September hoping to have a month before my son was born to set up the classroom atmosphere, routines, and to get to know my students.  My life had different plans for me, I only lasted 2 weeks ( I blame the extreme heat we had in September).

To be honest, school hasn't been even remotely on my mind, I've been too busy loving up my new little babe and his two older sisters. It wasn't until just about a week ago that I looked at a calendar and realized my return date is quickly approaching.  It's a good thing I love my job because even though I LOVE having this precious time with my three little ones, I'm also excited to get back to teaching.