Tuesday, September 18, 2012

September 11th Lessons

How do you all manage to post multiple times a week about your adorable lessons AND function as normal members of society? Clearly I need some of your super strength and drive because I can barely get a work out in, go to school and come home and cook dinner. 

I would really love some tips on how you manage your time!! 

September 11th

How wild that my kiddos were either not born or NEW babies at the time this happened? I had very few kids that had any knowledge about the events of September 11th. These are our KWL charts. 

This is one of my high kids. 

This is one of my girls whose parents had talked to her about it previously. 

After writing down what we wanted to learn, we watched the BrainPop on September 11th. It's one of their free videos. And as one of my kids told me last year "For some reason, Tim and Moby do a better job explaining things than you do sometimes". And I can't be mad, they really do. 

Not to go overboard, but I did then read "The Man Who Walked Between Towers". The kids LOVED it. It's a nice way to talk about the towers without going into too great of details. 

For homework, I thought the kids might want to hear their family member's experiences. It was funny, because they were CONVINCED that their parents wouldn't remember. They were shocked when they came in the next day, and anxious to share.  I have siblings, one in each class, and one interviewed mom and one dad. It was adorable to hear, because the dad was in a humvee training for the military and the mom was in college, worrying her boyfriend would be sent to war. 

This is my personal favorite. Either someone is confused, or someone is a serious democrat :) 

The next day, we shared our memories and then we read "September 12th We Knew Everything Would be All Right". It is such a sweet book, written by a first grade class (sadly, they're now seniors?!). One of my students said "That's beautiful". 

Although it's a sad day, it's very interesting to discuss. I love seeing the kids get excited about Social Studies. 

Monday, September 10, 2012

Any advice on Literature Circles?

I am so happy (and maybe a little surprised) to say that my school year is going shockingly well. I love my job, even when I feel like I'm losing my mind, but this year it's been calm. [I know, I'm probably completely jinxing myself right now]. 

So, because it's something I've always wanted to do, but been unable to because of behavior, I want to try Literature Circles. I have my books. I have some concept of the "jobs" I want the kids to do. But I'm a little stressed out about where to begin. Hopefully they can work independently successfully. I have several "non-readers"(we're talking 1st grade level) and I am unsure of what to do with them during that time. 

Let me know if you have any advice. I'm rushing off as usual. Coming home from Girls on the Run, and cooking dinner before my husband gets home :) Hope everyone is having a good school year!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Behavior management tips

First of all, clearly I'm horrible at managing blogging and teaching. But one thing I can manage, is a classroom full of children with lots of issues. In one classroom, we have a child on the spectrum, one oppositional defiant disorder, several IEPs, about three children working with a therapist for anger management issues, a couple kids reading on a first grade level, 5 behavior plans and many ADHD kiddos. But walk into my classroom, and I don't think you'd notice.

My principal complemented my partner and I on our ability to stay calm and keep things on lock. We received a child who brought multiple weapons to his last school. Where we teach, behavior management can make or break you. More than one good teacher has been asked to leave our district because they lack skill.

We've got about 5 things in place, probably more than keep a lot of different issues in check. Here are just a few.

Whole Brain Teaching
I don't fully implement every piece of WBT, but I use a few pieces and depend heavily on them. My favorite being class/yes. However you say class, is how your class responds with yes. After a couple days of practice they are ALWAYS listening for it. I can whisper and they all immediately whisper back "yes?" and get silent. I have to admit, sometimes I'm shocked.

I also use "hands and eyes" and "teach/okay". Look on youtube for some excellent videos. I also have the rules for free on my teacher's notebook page.

Hand signals
This is my first year using it, I don't know what made me try it and I never plan to stop. There are many times a day when I'm either answering a phone call, listening to a student read, helping another student, talking to an adult who's come to ask me a question and it never fails another student needs something. I'm pretty strict about them asking to leave their seats, so I might look up 20 seconds in to a one minute fluency passage and have three hands are up. How to solve the problem? Hand signals.
1 = drink
2 = bathroom (although usually I don't send them on their own, I have some special exceptions this year)
3 = tissue (it's clearly cold/flu season)
4 = sharpen pencil
No. The kids aren't abusing it. Yes. I really think it's worth it.

To help the kids remember, I photographed their cute little hands holding their hands in the position and labeled them. I'll post a picture.

I know. It's not a secret anymore, but it is debatably the best website of all time. No more documenting. You can take attendance on it. The kids have a visual reminder up (I have it on my Promethean if I'm not using it for something else). And the best part is, I explained the concept to the parents and I'm using it as the number system in their planners. My partner teacher and I share a login, and while she has my class, she pulls that class up. When I have hers, I pull her class up. It's so simple, it's genius. It's totally worth checking out, trust me.

Communication Log
This is something we implemented building wide this year. In a school where behavior problems are common, it became an issue that students wouldn't listen to anyone who wasn't their homeroom teacher. Special areas, lunch room aides, other teachers in the hallway. Typically if you haven't developed a relationship with the student, they disrespect you, and don't care if you attempt to give them a consequence or not. This has made a big difference, I simply tie it into the number system in the classroom. If the special area teacher has an issue, I change their number. They appreciate us trying to support what they have going on. Click the image to download the editable form from my TN store. 

Hope you can use some of this. If you have any questions, or tips, leave a comment or send me an email! 


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