Monday, August 17, 2015

The BEST Classroom Management Tip! {A FREEBIE!}

Hey There!

Happy Back to School! So many of my friends are starting back this week. How did summer pass so quickly?! Summer is my favorite time of the year so I am just not ready to let it go....

Yes, I had a DOUBLE scoop! 

I thought I would share a quick post on the BEST classroom management tip to get your year started off right!

Recently I linked up with Teachers Pay Teachers on Instagram and shared #FirstYearAdvice. If there is anything I think I do really, really well, it is classroom management. Maybe because I think like a 6 year old???

Model, Model, Model.
Be clear.
Be consistent.
Never assume what they know. (I teach my 1st graders the proper way to use a glue stick) #truestory

In my classroom I use Gold Tags to reward students for their behavior. See this amazing post by Kristin at A Teeny Tiny Teacher to learn about this management system. I would encourage you to try Gold Tags to see your students sparkle like gold. I can promise you they will EAT.IT.UP!

In addition to gold tags, I make a note of "Star Students" during centers. I write down about 7 students each day who I see being a leader, making good choices, staying focused, solving problems....any of the desired behaviors I expect of my students while they are working independently for 1 hour.

Once I have clearly modeled, practiced, and taught my students A LOT of what we (my students and I) will see and hear during literacy centers I release them to work. It is a magical day. Rainbows and Lollipops all around!!

Star Students is such a powerful management tool for a few reasons.

Some students need the structure of knowing someone is keeping an eye on them to stay on task during independent time. They are motivated to adhere to the expectations because they may be a "Star Student" today.

In addition, students are reminded in a very positive manner of desired behaviors DAILY.

When center time is over, we meet at the carpet area to reveal the students on the Star Student list. All students on their SitSpots sitting up attentively just hoping they are called today!

I then call one child at a time specifically explaining the positive behavior I saw (out of the corner of my eye while teaching a small group).

It sounds something like this:

"Ella is on the star list. She couldn't remember what to do at the word work center so she asked a smart friend to remind her.

Michael and Sam were such good partners today during Read to Someone, they were sitting EEKK, kept the book between them, and were enjoying reading together the whole time.

Jordan was distracted in her personal space while reading to herself by another student (other student knows I am talking about them without me calling them out and is reminded of undesirable behavior) so she turned her body so she could focus on her reading."

I reward my "Star Students" with a mini cut out star and once they collect 10 they can choose a prize from my classroom treasure chest. Although I am sure they would be just as happy with a sticker. :)

The crazy thing is once spring rolls around it gets harder and harder to find those really stellar students because just about everyone's a "Star Student" every day! #winning

I copy this template and make a notepad. I like the notepad because I can flip back to previous days to try to recognize students who haven't been on the list in a few days. You can download the FREEBIE template {HERE} if you want to try this in your classroom.

I would love for you to leave a comment.  Do you have any management tricks you have that work wonders in your classroom?

Happy back to school, thanks for reading!

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School Must Haves!

Hey There!

The back to school season is upon us! I have actually been "back to school" now for 5 weeks. I teach at a year round school and we "track in" for 9 weeks and "track out" for 3 weeks! If you ever have the opportunity to teach in a year round school, go for it!! You will LOVE the schedule!

Anyway, my Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram feed has blown up with back to school ideas! As teachers, our summer funds are so limited, I wanted to share my classroom "Must Haves" that help me run an effective and organized classroom.

Dry Erase Boards 
I personally love these boards from Really Good Stuff because they have primary lines printed on one side and are blank on the other. 

We use our dry erase boards for everything ALL.DAY.LONG. I love the lines because my students can practice letter formation during word sorts etc. A class set of 24 cost me about $100. It is a pretty steep purchase but mine have lasted about 4 years. You can see them on the website {HERE}. Hint: If you go to the website RetailMeNot you can usually get a coupon code to use on the site Really Good Stuff.  :)

Student Book Boxes
Also from Really Good Stuff are these awesome book boxes. They come in a ton of colors and options. But what I love is that they are really durable, easy to clean, and hold a bunch of books!

I have tried magazine holders, expandable folders, ziploc bags...but these book boxes work the best! I also love that my kids can easily house their read to self books and their book boxes can be stored in these crates near their table for easy access throughout the day.

I bought them three years ago and they are just like new. I am sure they will last until I retire :) One thing I did learn the 1st year I had them was NOT to put the students' label ON the box with the adhesive (so hard to scrape off) but to just use packing tape to attach them. If you are interested to see more of how I made these crate shelves go {HERE}.

As teachers we love to organize everything into cute little tubs. That can get so costly...but have you seen the tubs at The Dollar Tree? I just found out you can even order them online {HERE and HERE} and they now come in fun colors and designs!  Obviously, I use them for everything, but these bins were perfect to organize my good fit book library.

VGA Adaptor
I use iPads in my classroom daily and was struggling to teach my kids how to use apps and show pictures and videos I took of them. 

I was sick of hearing,"Mrs. Winter, I can't see...he's blocking me...she's in my way....get down Kayla"...ugh! Then I found the solution. With the VGA adaptor I can connect my iPad to my document camera and project it to my smartboard! Easy Peasy! :) If you are struggling like me, you can get more info {HERE}.

I **might** be a bit of a control freak...but I like for all my folders to match and I want ones that will last! I always buy a few class sets at Target while they are on sale at back to school time. These homework folders will last the whole year (my kids NEVER lose them due to the weekly sticker they get for complete homework ) :) You can learn more about my editable homework folders {HERE}. 

What an awesome name, huh? I first heard about SitSpots from my friend Kristin from A Teeny Tiny Teacher and I have to say I was doubtful on how they would work. 

Part of my control freak classroom management is to assign my kids a spot on the carpet. For 19 years I have always had straight rows of masking tape (bleck!). The tape would get picked at, peeled, the lines were crooked, and it was ugly. I even tried fancy colored electrical tape.

Then Kristin introduced me to Joyce (a former teacher and principal) who created SitSpots. She is the nicest lady and listens to what teachers want/need to improve her product. I was so excited she had these adorable stars since "Shining Stars" is my classroom theme. Again these are a financial investment, but they can be vacuumed over, put in the washing machine and they stay in their place until you remove them. Plus, when you do remove them, there is no sticky residue left like tape left on the carpet (makes my custodian so happy). 

It is so fun to say, "Sit on your spot please!" :)  If you are interested in getting a free sample to check out for your classroom, you can request one {HERE}.

So these are essentials that help me, but mostly my kids follow the Winter way keep organized throughout the year.

How do you keep your kids organized? What are the classroom essentials that you cannot live without?  Are you organized a control freak like me?

I hope you have a great start to the new school year. Thanks for stopping by! :)