Saturday, September 7, 2013

Johnny Appleseed & Apple FUN!

September 26 is Johnny Appleseed Day!  Every year I do some thematic teaching about apples and Johnny Appleseed.  I do some in September because September=apples right? I also do apples when we get to the Johnny Appleseed story in our anthology books later in the year. There are so many things you can do with apples!  Here are some pics from an 'Our Favorite Apple' graphing activity we did last year.

For this activity we used red, green and yellow apples.  

That handy dandy contraption is the best! Why did I ever try to slice apples without it?

Students getting their apples for the big taste test!  Then they got to vote for their favorite apple.   We recorded, graphed and discussed our apple data. 

I took a picture of each student wearing a Johnny Appleseed hat while holding their favorite apple.  The idea for this picture was something I found on Pinterest last year.  (I don't remember where it came from but if you know please comment so I can add the link.)  The poster this little Johnny is standing in front of is one I made for vocabulary in our anthology story about Johnny Appleseed. 

I ended up having a few extra apples left over so I turned them into "Golden Apple Awards".  Boy oh boy did the students want those apples!  It was a great motivator for everything that day :)  If you're interested in the "Our Favorite Apple" activity I included it in my latest unit Johnny Appleseed & Apple FUN!  It includes fun writing, math and science activities.  Take a closer look below.

Click on the pictures to check it out in my Tpt store.  Have a great weekend!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Classroom Management - with Honey

I remember in college taking my classroom management class.  My professor said "This is the most important class you will take to become a teacher."  I don't know if I believed him then, but I sure do now!  It would be impossible for me and my students to be successful in the classroom without good classroom management.  As with everything in my classroom, my management has changed over the years as I try new things and try to perfect the art.  When I think of classroom management, this comes to mind:

Over the years I've  gotten compliments on how my classroom "feels" when people come  in to observe students learning. I'm a calm person by nature, and very organized.  I believe that teachers really control that "energy" in the classroom.  Students look to you -the teacher- for how to behave.  It is our job to teach them how we want them to behave in our classroom.  I've learned that means being absolutely EXPLICIT with EXACTLY what you want them to do.  You start teaching students these things the MOMENT you first meet them.  Teaching routines and procedures has a direct correlation to classroom behavior.  When students know what to do and what to expect, things will run much more smoothly.  Here are a few routines and procedures that I didn't realize I'd need to teach until I got my own classroom.

How to hang up your backpack/sweaters/lunchboxes (your mom doesn't work here kids!)
How to clean your table/desk (shoving everything to the back of the desk is NOT cleaning it!)
How to wash your hands (without getting water ALL over the floor)

You have to teach those kids EVERYTHING.  Students may have done these things before, but they don't know how YOU want them to do it.  So teach them!  There are so many little things they need to learn.   Some of those things may take a while, or need to be retaught throughout the year.  

Example: How to line up to leave the room.  There is that moment every year when I realize I need to tighten the reigns again.  I dismiss students to line up for recess, and instead of the normal stand up, push in chairs, walking with normal chatter line up... there is a WILD stampede of six year olds knocking over a chair in their rush to get in line. The line looks like a heard of cats and the noise level reaches epic proportions.  (Tell me this doesn't happen to just me???) I stand there and think "What in the world just happened?!?!?!"  Solution - Operation Reteach and it goes like this: "Everyone go sit down...boys and girls that is not the way we line up for recess.  Raise your hand if you can tell me how we line up.  ( I call on a few students who give me the normal responses - no running, quiet, etc) Thank you, now I'm going to pick a table who can show the rest of the class how we line up.  Red table is showing me they are ready. Red table when I say go I want you to stand up, push in your chairs, walk to the line with your hands behind your back and your voices off... Go. (Red table successfully lines up) Thank you red table, I like the way you pushed in your chairs, walked to the line, had your hands behind your back and your voices were off. (Then I proceed to call the other tables to the line) Thank you boys and girls, I expect that the next time we line up it will look exactly like this. This time you did a great job."  Explicit teaching, modeling, and positive reinforcement.  No routine or procedure is ever too small to teach.  Some of the best teaching advice I ever got was "Assume they know nothing." :)

Praise - When I was student teaching, my mentor teacher had me constantly practice praising the students so that it would become a habit - now it is!  I remember writing "Praise" on a sticky note to help me remember to do so throughout my lessons.  When I use it in my classroom it sounds like this: 

"I like the way you..."
"Thank you for......"
"I see that you are....."
To help keep behavior in check with a behavior management system,  here are a few things I've tried that have been successful.
1. Clip Chart - You've probably seen these around, so I won't go into detail. If you'd like more info on how it works you can read up on it at Rick Morris's website.
2. Class Dojo - You can read more about how I use this in this previous post.
3. Table Points
4. Prize Box

I hope sharing these ideas and experiences help someone out there "Tame the Wild".  If you are struggling with classroom management remember that no one is perfect, and tomorrow is a new day!