Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Show & Tell Tuesday - Fall is Here!

School is underway, and the first day of fall is tomorrow.  Though I wasn't ready for summer to be over, I'm definitely enjoying college football and starting out fresh with a new bunch of fifth graders!

Here are a few pics from the last month for Show & Tell!



Two of my favorite things are the lake up north and hot air balloons.  I was so excited to discover a hot air balloon event combining both of those things!  I got up at the crack of dawn a few weeks ago to hunt down the launch site over Torch Lake, and I wasn't disappointed!





With everyone back to work and school, the doodles of the Rye household have been up to a little more mischief than usual...





I love the couple of new designs I added to my set of homework folder covers for this year! 



This past week in Social Studies, I introduced the whole class to my Academic Vocabulary Game.  We will play this occasionally throughout the year to practice our vocab words, but I also offer my students the chance to play during lunch with their friends.  We call it Historian's Club.  The kids get to escape the noise of the lunchroom, come in and have lunch with some friends while they play, and then they head out to recess.  


Now here's what you need to know to link up and share your Show & Tells!

Linky Information:

1. This is a monthly linky.  The idea is to “Show” up to four pictures of things from school, home, etc. and “Tell” us all about them.  Created the most amazing bulletin board ever?  Show & Tell us about it!  Have the best seats at a Red Wings game, right next to the bench?  Show & Tell us about it!  Play the best game at a party with your class?  Have a pet that just got the worst haircut ever?  Show & Tell us about it!  Only have one thing to Show & Tell about?  Not a problem! 

2. Product promotion will be limited to one and only if you are introducing a brand new product or sharing pictures of how you just used a product in your classroom.  The focus should be on sharing, not pushing things to sell. 

3. Please choose one of your Show & Tell pictures as your image for the thumbnail and type your blog name to go below the picture. 

4.  Use the main Show & Tell Tuesday button and link back to my post.  Use the numbered Show & Tell buttons in your post to share your pictures.

5. Please leave comments on at least three other posts, including the ones before and after yours.  It's always nice to get feedback from your blogging buddies! 





Saturday, September 9, 2017

Classroom Reveal 2017

After many, many hours of work, I'm ready to reveal my classroom for the 2017-2018 school year!  Come on in, and take a look around!





















Monday, September 4, 2017

Classroom Management & Discipline Series - First Day of School Part 2

Bulletin boards are ready, name tags are in place, and pencils are sharpened.  It's just in the nick of time, as school starts tomorrow!  The first day of school, such an important day for setting the tone and expectations for the rest of the year and the topic for my next post in my Classroom Management & Discipline Series.



After a name game and a couple ice breaker activities, I introduce my students to the rules and discipline policy that help to ensure our classroom is an effective learning environment.  First, I go over what the rules of our classroom will be.  I know many people believe the students should come up with the rules themselves in order to have more ownership over them, and I have done that before.  I have found no difference in how the students respond to the rules.  I think that's probably because by fifth grade, students know what the rules of most any classroom will be.


After discussing the rules of our classroom, I explain to the students what the consequences are for breaking the rules.  It's important for students to know up front what will happen when they choose to break a rule.  In my classroom, the first time you break a rule you get a warning.  The second time (within the same day) means you will lose 5 minutes of your recess.  You will lose your entire recess if you get a third warning in a day, and the fourth would mean you have to call your parents.  A fifth warning in a day results in a trip to see the principal.  I make sure to also explain to my students that some behaviors can result in skipping steps.  For example, if a student were to purposely hurt another student physically, I would not just give them a warning.  It would likely result in a loss of their entire recess and/or a trip to see the principal.

Something that I have found very useful is having a system for recording the warnings students get throughout the year.  I use excel spreadsheets that are already set up with my consequences across the top.  Each student has their own page.  If a student gets a warning, I jot a quick note on a sticky note, and then later I record it on their excel spreadsheet.  This is extremely useful in many ways.  I use this to communicate with parents about a pattern of behavior over time.  Sometimes I print out the warnings a student has had and send them home.  I look at each student's warnings at report card time when deciding on citizenship and behavior indicators.



My Behavior Management Spreadsheets Freebie is a set of 33 spreadsheets you can use to record your students' warnings.  Simply right click on the tabs at the bottom to rename each page with a student's name.  Use the warnings I have at the top or write in your own.  Then just copy and paste them onto each page.



I show this spreadsheet to my students on the first day when I'm going over the consequences.  I do think it makes an impression on them that all of their behavior warnings for the year will be recorded. After I talk to my students about the rules and consequences, I tell them about Fun Friday.  Fun Friday is an extra recess I offer my students each week.  In order to earn Fun Friday, they must have all their work turned in, they must have their planner signed at least four out of the five days that week, and they must have two or fewer warnings that week.  I have found Fun Friday to be a powerful tool with my fifth graders.  Often times, students check in with me on Thursday or Friday to see how many warnings they have had so far that week.

I make sure parents are always kept in the loop about my discipline policy and Fun Friday by sending home letters at the beginning of the year which I ask them to sign.  I also send home a note each Friday to the parents of students who miss Fun Friday.



The most important part of your classroom management and discipline comes after you have gone over it with your class.  It is the consistent enforcement of your rules.  Only with consistency will your students be able to learn to manage their own behavior.  Here's an example of what I mean.  Talking while the teacher is talking is often a problem with fifth graders who are very social beings.  It is my expectation that students never talk while I'm talking to the class.  If students talk while I'm instructing, I give them a warning EVERY time.  It does not matter which student it is or what they are talking about.  Sometimes I have a student say something like, "But I was asking for a pencil."  My response is, "I'm sorry, but I can't stop instruction each time someone talks to ask them what they are talking about."  Students quickly learn to use nonverbal communication to do things like borrow a pencil.

So, when should you start giving students warnings?  The first day of school after you have gone over your rules and consequences.  You need to let students know from day one that you will consistently enforce the classroom rules.  So, no matter who it is, the warning must be given.  And by warning I mean a quiet statement to the student.  I never yell at my students or snap at them.  I calmly tell them that they have a warning and why they have it.  "Jake, you have a warning for talking while I'm talking."  It is not my goal to humiliate my students in class.  It can be difficult to give that first warning on the first day of school, but I make myself do it.  The alternative is being a teacher who sometimes gives warnings for certain behaviors and sometimes doesn't.  So, kids learn that they can get away with behaviors for a while until you get really annoyed, and then you will start giving warnings.  I don't believe that is a fair way to treat students.  They shouldn't have to guess your mood to know if they will get a warning or not.

A long time ago, a colleague of mine asked me, "How do you stop your kids from talking while you are talking?"  This is how, give warnings for it every time from day one.  Another problem you may have is there are so many students who need a warning, you don't know where to begin.  This is a typical scenario in my back to school nightmares!  One of the times that this is most likely to happen in my classroom at the beginning of the year is in the morning.  The first bell in the morning means students may enter their classrooms.  Ten minutes later, another bell rings signifying the beginning of the school day.  It is my expectation that there is no more talking after that second bell.  That way students are able to focus on their warm up and listen for announcements.  This is a time when I give a blanket reminder to the class.  So, let's say the bell rings and many students are still talking.  I will say to the class, "That was the bell.  There should be no talking."  Sometimes at the beginning of the year, when the students haven't really learned yet that I mean what I say, there will still be lots of students talking.  What I do at that point is take out a sticky note and without saying a word, start jotting down all of the students names who are still talking.  It doesn't take long for the students to see me and start wondering what I'm doing.  The talking will eventually stop and then I say, "All of these students have a warning for talking after the bell and my reminder..."

This is a handy technique for other times of day when numerous students are not doing what they are supposed to be doing.  Just take out a sticky note and start writing down names.  Soon you will hear, "Shhh!  She's writing down names!"

I hope you are off to a wonderful year with your students!

Check out the other posts in the Classroom Management & Discipline Series:




Thursday, August 24, 2017

Classroom Management & Discipline Series - First Day of School Part 1

I'm back in my favorite chair up north after 40 plus hours working in my classroom over the last week or so.  Everything there is just about done, so now I'm starting to work on the other list of to-do's that have to happen before the first day of school.  One task on that list is creating a seating chart, which is an important part of today's Classroom Management & Discipline post about the first day of school.


I believe that it's important to set the tone of your classroom from the moment the students walk in the door on the first day of  school.  That is why I have a routine that I follow each and every year.  First of all, I greet everyone at the door and tell them to find their seat and look at the board for further directions.  I am a creature of habit, and my students need to learn the habits that will help them be successful in my classroom this year.  One of the first things they will need to do in the next 179 days of school is look for directions on the board as we start our day.   My morning message will welcome them to my classroom and then direct them to today's warm up which has two tasks.  One is to read a letter from a student who was in my room last year.  At the end of every school year, I have my students write a letter to next year's students.  You can grab this freebie in my TPT Store.  


After they read the letter from one of last year's students, I have them fill in a letter of their own to me about how they are feeling on this first day of school.  This is another freebie in my TPT Store.  


It's important for me to get my students working on something right away as this sets another precedent for the year.  As my students are finding their seats, putting away their school supplies, and starting on their warm up, I walk around the room and take lunch count.  This is a chance to once again put names with faces after I greeted them at the door and an additional opportunity to set the tone of our classroom.  For my classroom that means this is a quiet working environment.  So, each interaction I have with them this morning is done in a quiet voice.  Unless I am addressing the whole class, I always use a quiet voice in my classroom.  When I talk to students individually, I do not want all of the students in the classroom to hear, and I do not want interactions that I have with individuals or small groups to be a distraction to the rest of the class.  Likewise, I expect my students to learn how to talk quietly so as not to disturb the work of others.  

I believe a seating chart is also vital to setting the tone of my classroom.  Though there will be times that students will have the freedom to choose where they want to sit, the majority of the time I will make that choice.  It is my responsibility to be the instructional leader of the classroom and that means figuring out the best place for each child to learn.  Fortunately, I am given some basic information about each of my students that I can use to make a seating chart.  If I didn't have any information about my students other than their names, I would do a boy, girl, boy seating chart and then use my observations of the students from the first couple days of school to create a new one.  

In my school, the 4th grade teachers fill out a pink (girls) or blue (boys) card on each student.  The card gives me basic information such as their academic performance (marked high, average, low), citizenship (marked high, average, low), reading level, and whether they get any kind of special services.  This information helps me create my first seating chart.  I have my desks arranged in six groups, so I start with students who were marked low in citizenship and put one in each group.  It gets trickier the years that I have more than six kiddos marked low!  Then I go to my students marked high in citizenship and put at least one of those in each group.  Woe is me if I don't have six!  Then I fill in the rest of the spots with kids who were marked average in citizenship.  

Once I know which kids are grouped together, then it's time to figure out where exactly they will sit in the classroom.  Classroom management 101 is all about proximity, so my students who may struggle the most when it comes to making good choices with their behavior need to be seated the closest to my teaching station.  This is why I find it best to have a table rather than a typical desk right next to my cart that contains my teaching computer and document camera.  If I'm teaching the class, working with an individual or small group, or sitting at my desk, it's all in this same location with my behaviorally challenged students nearby.  It wouldn't make sense to seat a student who struggles with behavior near my desk and then go to the back of the room to work with a group of students at a table.  

So, I place my students with the potential for the most behavior issues in a desk that faces me close to my teacher area.  It is pointless to put them in a group near me, if their back is to me.  I must be able to see their face, and they must be able to see mine.  


In the picture above, you can see the group that is closest to my teaching station.  I would place a student who may make bad choices in the desk with the arrow.  This desk is closest to me if I'm standing at my cart or sitting on my stool.  If I'm sitting in my chair at my table, I can clearly see their face, and he/she can see mine.  I would try to put students with high citizenship or at least average next to and directly across from him/her.

This next group is tricky, and if my class size is a little smaller, I don't put any students where the two red arrows are.  


If I'm at my teaching station, their backs are to me, and if I'm sitting at my table, I really can't see them at all.  If I have no choice but to use those desks, I put two of my most responsible students in those seats.  Sometimes I resort to creating two front facing rows of three instead of the group of six.  The white arrow is pointing to the spot where I would put a student who needs proximity to me as once again I am able to see their face from my teaching station.  

In the groups that are further away from me, I put my behaviorally challenged students in the front facing row on the end closest to me.  Those are the seats where I will most easily be able to see their face.


I try to only put very responsible students in the desks that have their backs to the board, as they are most likely to turn around to pay attention.  

When it comes to assigning seats, you have to be flexible.  Where you have placed your students can make or break your learning environment.  I change where my students sit based on how things are going from day to day.  If kids are doing very well and acting responsibly, I may leave everyone in the same spot for weeks.  If a particular student is struggling, I may move them every couple days until I find the spot that works.  

I hope this helps you figure out the seating arrangement that works best for your kids!  Check out the other blog posts in the Classroom Management & Discipline series below:




Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Show & Tell Tuesday - Back to School Time!


Show & Tell Tuesday is here just in time for my first week getting in back to school mode!

This has been my happy place for most of the summer!  I will miss my long summer days spent on the lake but look forward to the fall weekends!




Jake's fraternity had their annual parent's day this past weekend which includes a fundraising auction for the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation.  After all the baskets were auctioned off, they auctioned off throwing pies at your favorite Delt.  Jake was certainly a good sport, and Barnaby was there to help get him cleaned off!



I have just barely begun to get ready for back to school.  My first little project was an idea I saw on Fifth in the Middle.  I love this name stick holder which you make with two Crystal Light containers!  Once you pull a stick, you can put it into the slot on the other side so you know which ones haven't been pulled yet.  You can read all about how to make one here.  

Use empty Crystal Light containers to create a name stick holder.

Here's my version...





I can't wait to use it!

 Now here's what you need to know to link up and share your Show & Tells!

Linky Information:

1. This is a monthly linky.  The idea is to “Show” up to four pictures of things from school, home, etc. and “Tell” us all about them.  Created the most amazing bulletin board ever?  Show & Tell us about it!  Have the best seats at a Red Wings game, right next to the bench?  Show & Tell us about it!  Play the best game at a party with your class?  Have a pet that just got the worst haircut ever?  Show & Tell us about it!  Only have one thing to Show & Tell about?  Not a problem! 

2. Product promotion will be limited to one and only if you are introducing a brand new product or sharing pictures of how you just used a product in your classroom.  The focus should be on sharing, not pushing things to sell. 

3. Please choose one of your Show & Tell pictures as your image for the thumbnail and type your blog name to go below the picture. 

4.  Use the main Show & Tell Tuesday button and link back to my post.  Use the numbered Show & Tell buttons in your post to share your pictures.

5. Please leave comments on at least three other posts, including the ones before and after yours.  It's always nice to get feedback from your blogging buddies!