Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Tough Year...

Hello All (or the two of you who have hung in here with me)! LOL
I have been out of the loop for some time now...I didn't realize how long it had been until I finally logged back in to check on things! WOW! Time sure flies! I absolutely love blogging and vow to make it a priority (again). I hope everyone is having a good school year! Mine is...to say the least...challenging! I have a very unique group of students this year. They are a very sweet group, but I have never had an entire group of students that were so comfortable with apathy and dishonesty. I know that sounds awful...but it is the truth. I am struggling with this fact. I would appreciate advice and/or tips on dealing with this. I am trying to stay positive and really do believe we (teachers) have the best job in the world. I would love to hear your stories and how you have dealt with similar situations.

Thanks for hanging in here with me!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Classroom Management Strategies 5-10

Hello All!
Another installment in my Classroom Management: 24 Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Know by David R. Adamson. Enjoy!

Strategy 5: Time Limits: Adamson says that time is our most important resource and I have to agree! My principle calls our school year "the mythical 180 days".  Between testing dates, interruptions, meetings, assemblies, field trips, and more testing it is difficult to fit teaching in there! Adamson suggests posting the day's schedule, announcing a clear time limit for each activity, using a timer so that you stay on task, and incorporating "wait time" are a few methods of setting good time limits. As many requirements as we are under pressure to complete...we do not have a moment to spare!

Strategy 6: Seating Arrangements: Adamson says always assign seating! Your seating arrangement should facilitate your movement around the classroom. It should allow for good proximity control as well. We need to be a presence to those students who feel like they are able to "fly under the radar"and remain unseen. He says there is not one perfect arrangement. You must use your judgement and room restrictions (size, capacity, etc.) to determine your set-up. No student should have his or her back to the front of the room and the teacher's area/desk should be tucked away in an accessible yet out of the way area.

Strategy 7: Manage Your Transitions: Always be prepared! Have your lessons ready to go before you begin. Use your attention signal to signal an upcoming change. Give thorough instructions/explanations of the expected task with time limits and an opportunity to ask questions before you begin the activity. That way you do not cut into the activity time by repeating information or having slow-starters. Give a 5 second warning before beginning the next activity. Adamson also says to take some time to settle after recess or a special activity before attempting to begin another activity. He suggests you do this in a location other than your classroom such as outside before you come back inside or lined up in the hall. This sets the classroom up as a place for quiet learning and not chaos. (I like that idea).

Strategy 8: Teach classroom rules and procedures: We all know this to be true! We must have clear expectations for how we expect our students to behave and how we expect certain tasks to get accomplished. He says we should stick to 5 or fewer classroom rules stated in positive terms (such as "keep our classroom clean" as opposed to "Don't throw trash on the floor".  Also, we should explicitly teach them (explain, model, prompt, and review).  Rumor has it that it takes at least a dozen (and maybe more) times of doing something before it becomes a habit. I tend to believe more. These directions need to be revisited after breaks in instruction (Christmas holidays, etc.) as well.

Strategy 9: Show That You Care: This section begins Adamson's portion on building positive relationships in your classroom. He feels that if you build a community of trust and respect...it is much less likely that a student will be disruptive or disrespectful. It makes sense to me! I have seen it at work in my classroom as well. I had a student last year that is THE STUDENT everyone warns you about wayyyy before you get him. I decided to perform an experiment. I found something immediately that the student did really well (he was extremely neat) and began commenting on that during the first week. I did not have one problem out of that student! Now...recess, bus duty, special areas...was a different story. He was his "normal" self in those areas...with the same reputation and expectations he came with. Go figure!

Strategy 10: Build Trust: I think this is extremely important! Sometimes we are the only "rock" that these students can count on. Sometimes there is no consistency to be found in their lives....from where they live, what they eat, what they are or are not allowed to do! We have to "say what we mean...and mean what we say". We have to follow through on the good and the bad. They need to know we are doing what we are doing for their sake. Like my dad always says...actions have consequences! Making exceptions just teaches that rules are made to be broken. (Dad's words) Part of this trust is being professional as well. We must not repeat confidential information or break the trust of a colleague because the info is incredibly juicy! We teach by example.

Let me know what you think....and what you do in your classrooms!

Friday, June 14, 2013

Another WONDERFUL Linky!

Another wonderful linky has come my way! It is sponsored by Castles and Cupcakes. Go check her out and join in this informative linky with us! It is all about our morning work and morning routines!

My daily routine begins when the students are dismissed from the library or cafeteria at 7:50 am. I try really hard to be at the door to greet them and welcome them to our room. I have a "bellringer"on their desks as they arrive. I try to make it something challenging but something they can do independently so that I may take attendance, attend to notes, get lunch count ready to deliver, and guide students who need extra attention. They are required to put their backpacks away, deliver homework to the appropriate turn-in location, sharpen pencils, and use the restroom. Once they complete those things...they know to begin working on the desk work. We take care of housekeeping and then (by about 8:30) we go over the bellringer together. We usually work on English afterward til about 9:15 am (which is time for our special classes). Lots of coffee...and I do mean lots...gets me through this first hour. My students are usually really well-behaved for this first hour because they quickly learn that I am not a morning person! LOL I can't wait to hear from everyone else!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Book Talk Linky :)


I'm linking up with Reading Toward the Stars for her Book Talk Thursday! I can't wait to hear about all the wonderful books people are reading! I've started reviewing a book already so this is perfect for me! Go check everyone's summer reads out!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Classroom Management: Strategies 1-4

Ok...so I started reading this awesome book and I've decided to post by strategies. The first section is preventative management practices. So many problems can be avoided if we think ahead. I totally believe in this! I am not the best at dealing harshly with situations when they arise...I would much prefer to prevent the situation from occurring and thus I do not have to deal with an uncomfortable situation! :)

Strategy 1: Social Cues:  Social cues consist of stating your desired behavior through praise of someone who is doing that behavior. The premise is that other students desire our praise and will fall into line in order to get that praise. For example: a couple of students are chatting so you comment on how prepared to learn another student is (which gets the off-task student's attention). I try to do this as much as I can :)

Strategy 2: Attention Signals:  Adamson says that teachers should begin by moving to a central location in the room where they can be seen by all students. Choose a signal (such as a bell, gong, phrase, clap, etc.) that you can live with and that is portable. I chose the phrase "Spongebob"and had the kids follow with "Squarepants" one year and regretted it terribly! Next time...I will choose something I can deal with several times a day...every day! LOL  Adamson says it is very important to take the time to make eye contact with EVERY student before moving on. Do not settle for less! They will not take you seriously or believe what you say is important enough to stop what they are doing. At this point, it is appropriate to use a social cue to let students know what is accepted behavior.  Then, begin the lesson immediately! Nothing will hold their attention forever! :)

Strategy 3: Self-Starters:  I call these "bell-ringers"and totally believe in them! I always have something on their desks when they come in in the morning. They must be well-aware of your expected routine for entering the classroom and then know they are to get immediately started on their seat work.  Adamson suggests that these activities only take about 5-10 minutes to complete and they need to be on or a bit below level (or review) so that they can work independently of you to complete them. I prefer for them to take a bit longer because I have a terrible time getting anything done in 5-10 minutes...especially in the mornings!  Adamson says make sure you take this assignment up...but he suggests rarely grading it. They do need to be accountable for it however.

Strategy 4: Proximity Control:  This is simply making yourself available/visible during all times. As we all know...students will usually stop doing whatever it is they do not need to be doing if they think the teacher is nearby. It is very important (as a preventative) to make it known that you could be anywhere...at anytime! There should not be "blind spots" or "safe areas" for students to misbehave.

Well...these are the first 4 strategies! Let me know what you think and if you want to know more!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Classroom Management :)

Well...just about a week out of school and I'm feeling a bit antsy! Sad...but true! My desire to catch up on belated housework is waning fast! So...I have decided to catch up on some much overdue professional reading. I pulled a few books off my shelf and decided to hone my teaching skills :) I am going to start with Classroom Management: 24 Strategies Every Teacher Needs to Know by David R. Adamson.  I figure we can all use some refreshing classroom management pointers. This year I will be going from a self-contained 5th grade classroom to departmentalization where I will have to organize for 60+ students (as opposed to my 20-25). I need to re-think things. I will post by chapter or by revolutionary idea....whatever comes first!

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Yay! Summertime!!!

Hello Long Lost Blogger Friends! You guys probably thought I had dropped off the planet! (Some days I felt as though I had -- or would have liked to)! It was a tough year. No one I have talked to can quite put their finger on why either... My guess is that it is a combination of things. Most of us have had to deal with new responsibilities/standards/curriculum changes and so forth. I had a GREAT class this year and the year seemed to fly...but it was also one of the most difficult for me. I would love to hear others' perspectives and thoughts on this. So far my summer is consisting of working on (gutting) a new (to us) camper! My family was lucky enough to run upon a really good deal on a 20 ft pull-behind camper. It needs some work but we are all really excited about the possibilities. My daughter and I have busied ourselves repainting. My husband is ripping out carpet and laying laminate (very nicely...I might add...even though he has never attempted this before.) This is turning out to be a much larger endeavor than we planned. I will keep you updated :)  I would love to hear from you all again!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Confusion in the Classroom!

Well...I do not know if I am alone in this or not....but...I feel totally confused in my classroom right now! With our unexpected days out for flooding and a bit of snowfall here and there...I do not know which end is up! We read a lot of novels together in class and I feel so disjointed with the absences! I feel like I am taking one step up and three steps back! Am I alone in this??? My math lessons feel like I have to review before I go on (as usual)...but...I do not feel like I am going very far forward for all the backing up I have to do! I guess I just need to know I have some brothers and sisters "in arms" out there! LOL  How are you guys dealing with these things? I could use some advice! We have our 5th grade State-Mandated Writing Assessment next week and I feel very lost with the new format. Basically...I am not feeling very effective this year but I am working with the same (if not greater) "vigor" that I have always put into it. Just looking for some friendly feedback :) Thanks so much!!

Monday, January 21, 2013

My Birthday Boards :)

Yes....today is my birthday! Yay, me! It has been a good, quiet, lazy day. They are rare and I am thankful for the opportunity to lay around, read, and just be with my kids. My mom made me a cheesecake, my husband got me a Wonder Woman coffee mug and a new mystery/crime novel, and my crafty daughters made me some cool stuff! I can't wait to share it with you :) I am waiting on permission to share a book with you. It is the best "teaching manual" I have ever run across. I have been teaching almost 10 years and it is stuff I wish someone had told me! It is a good source for renewing procedures, practicing new ones, and reorganizing (something most of us have on our New Year's list of to-do's.) Please stay tuned and i'll let you know something as soon as I do!
My girls made these cool cork/black boards for me! Also, a calendar behind glass :) I love the vintage frames they put them in! My children are a true blessing!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Weekly Homework Sheet Freebie

Thanks to some awesome bloggy buddies...I am going to attempt to share my first freebie! It is a simple homework sheet that I created to help me keep up with student work. Let me know if it is editable...I sure hope it is! The names in there are my wonderful kids this year! I got soooo lucky! I have some of Ms. Kerri's Krazy Class (from her first year of teaching!!) I am honored! Well, let me try to share! Here Goes!

(sorry there is such a bad pic of it!)
Weekly Homework Sheet
(a special thanks to Marcia for e-mailing me her wonderful directions for how to do this!)

In need of some "bloggy" help :)

Hello all,

I spend about 90 percent (or at least it feels like 90 %) of my "free" time creating stuff to use with my students. Since I have become a small part of this fantastic blogging community with all of its wonderful, sharing, inspiring teachers, I feel the need to share things too. One problem: I need someone to show/tell me how. Most of my stuff is PowerPoint, Promethean Board Flipcharts, or Word documents. I have no idea how to give others access to those things. I am fairly "techy" but I still have lots to learn (young grasshopper!).  I created a sheet to keep up with completed homework and it turned out pretty worthy. I would love to share it with anyone interested. If you have a kind heart and a few minutes to spare....I would welcome a tutorial on sharing. :)

Thanks so much!

Monday, January 7, 2013

Check out this AWESOME Giveaway!!

Hello all...

I want you to be sure to check out this AWESOME giveaway going on over at Rockin'Teacher Materials!!!  Put your name in the hat for some awesome teaching materials tailored to your exact grade level!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

January "Currently"

Ok...it's been a while since I've attempted a "Currently"....but here goes :)

O.K......because it is microscopic and the best I could do....I will elaborate slightly :)

Listening: to my awesome wood fire crackle.....need I say more????

Loving: spending time with my own children and reading! I love having my kids around! My daughter is building a house and staying with me through the holidays! Her husband is trying to get transferred to our area. This is such a special time for us!

Thinking: about ways to better organize my classroom and teaching.  I have too many piles and great ideas that are just stagnating! I need to organize and have a better system! Great ideas and plans are nothing if not implemented!! Wish me luck!

Wanting:  to find a better balance between home and school. Most of my waking hours are spent focused on something "school" related. I can't go to an interstate rest area without looking at travel brochures and wondering how I can incorporate them into my teaching! It has to be a diagnosable sickness!!! I have got to find a better balance!

Needing:  to take better care of myself - mentally and physically! I am feeling more like Jabba the Hut every day! I have got to start eating better and getting more exercise! I believe my general attitude would improve if I felt better physically!!

OWL: kindness...we need more of it in the world :)

Here is a link to Farley's Currently stuff...you can get a better idea of what this is supposed to look like there! LOL And also blank templates to carry on this good work :)

Enjoy your New Year!!