Classroom Management!

I have debated on what to do my final assigned blog post on, and finally decided to do it on the classroom management system that I use in my classroom. I know each teacher has different ways of doing things and my way may not be good for you and your way may not be good for me. However, this system has been the most successful for me.

It is very important that you put in place a classroom management system from day one of school. A teacher cannot cut the students any slack nor show favorites to students. When I started this school year I started the very first day bu letting my students know what I would be expecting of them and what they should expect from me as their teacher. I went over the rules for the classroom, and also sent home copies of them home. I described good behavior and inappropriate behavior.

I cam up with this system last year and it worked really well so I din’t have to tweek it much. I use “class bucks” as incentives to help support positive behavior,and the students may also loose those buck  by bad behavior. Each week of school the students are given 3 class bucks to start the week off. The students can earn more bucks by getting 100’s on tests, bringing back graded papers signed, bringing in box tops, and/or old ink cartridges. On the other hand, students can loose bucks by breaking classroom rules that consist of talking in the hall, playing in the bathroom, and/ or disrupting class. I added this to the class bucks this year; If a student gets 2 bucks pulled during the day then they will loose IPAD or computer time, and if the student looses 3 bucks in a day then he or she will be writing “The Motivator” during PE. Finally, if the student looses more that 3 bucks then that student is referred to the office.

Okay, now how are the students rewarded? On Fridays ONLY, students can cash in their bucks. Some examples that I have used is : 10 bucks will get them a homework pass, 15 bucks they can go to the treasure box, 20 bucks they can sit by a friend at lunch, and 30 bucks they can move their chair by a friend in the class. This has been wonderful on my class, and the students know that they have to save their bucks for the first few weeks of school before he or she can cash in .

I have very limited space in my classroom, so this year For my classroom jobs I used a piece of burlap and laminated the jobs on card stock. I put each students number on a clothes pin and clip the clothes pin to what ever job that student will be doing that week. However, this still takes up wall space in mu classroom. I follow the blog, 3rd Grade Thoughts,” and a teacher on there had the cutest idea on how she displayed her jobs. I may try this next year. 3rd Grade Thoughts

Twitter in the Elementary Classroom

I was recently challenged by my instructor to come up with some ways to use twitter in your classroom. I had to think long and hard on ways to use it in my classroom because I am a third grade teacher, and just automatically assumed it would be too high tech for my students. After, thinking things through, I came to the conclusion that my students would probably be better at navigating and learning the process than myself. Now days kids are so tech savvy. It is nor uncommon for toddlers to be toting around smartphones or tablets, and using them rather smoothly. So, my quest began.

My instructor stated that we must use two websites, and one article that could be found in our school’s library. I was really surprised at how many things I found when I began looking.

The first web-site that caught my attention was: EdTechReview. This web site caught my attention it talked about “tips” for using twitter in the classroom. One tip that stuck out was setting up one account for all the students to log in too. I was floored! That was such a genius idea! The students would all have the username and password and could communicate through creating unique hashtags.For example you can create a hashtag like #butts3rdgrademath, and every time a student responds with that hashtag, it will all fall together.

The next web site that caught my attention was: Education Aspirations. This web site was very intriguing because this teacher had a class account where students were required to respond to the teacher’s tweets once a week. Often times, the teacher’s tweet would just be to tweet about what you learned this week in class. the teacher would also set up a unique hashtag for the tweet. The school that this teacher worked at did not have a specific hashtag so she set up one just for the class, this made it easier to track the tweets. Finally, the teacher would pull up the tweets in the class and talk about the ones that stuck out to her the most. For example, if a student tweeted that he or she didn’t learn anything then she would ask them to explain why they though they didn’t learn anything, and then have them reflect back on what they did that week.

The article I chose to read was: Article by Jeff Kurtz, “Twittering About Learning: Using Twitter In The Elementary Classroom.”This teacher used twitter to promote the writing process in an elementary classroom. I know it sounds crazy,but once I read the article it all made sense. At the beginning of the year the teacher would walk the students through the process of setting up a twitter account and show them for weeks how to post and respond. Once the students felt comfortable, the teacher started with “journal like” assignments. The teacher would give a journal prompt and then the students (along with the teacher directing) would tweet the response. After the teacher typed up the tweet, while the students are watching, they would go back and look for revisions. Revisions like, run on sentences, misspellings,and  pronunciation errors. However, the most intriguing edit to me was, twitter only allows 140 characters, so if the tweet was over that amount, the students would see the negative number and realize they had to change some wording to get to the 140 character limit.This was so awesome to me. I could see my students so engaged in this whole process.

I firmly believe that I will come up with a way to incorporate Twitter into my classroom really soon!

Blog #7: Spelling Bee

I have been at the current school that I teach at for 3 years now. The superintendent that was there, had been there for 37 years. He finally retired, and we got a younger, more enthusiastic superintendent that is not stuck in a rut. Don’t get me wrong, the previous superintendent was a nice guy, but he did not like change. When we got this current superintendent, he wanted lots of changes for our school that involved the students and pushing them to be successful and competitive. With all that being said, a group of teachers and myself came up with “The Scholar Bowl.”

The scholar bowl basically consists of a spelling bee and a math bee. The spelling bee will be conducted in the fall, and the math bee in the spring. There are 7 schools in the district that I teach, and we just finished our spelling bee.

We conducted the spelling bee for grades second through eighth grade. We had each teacher conduct a spelling bee in their classroom, Each classroom had a winner and a runner up that would compete in the county spelling bee.

The classroom spelling bee was conducted two weeks before the county spelling bee so we could give the participants enough time to ready themselves for the county competition.

Each student was given a word list from their grade level and the next grade level up. For example, second grade would get the second grade list, as well as the third grade list to study. We did this so it could be more challenging for the students. I got the words lists from this site:http://www.spelling-words-well.com/spelling-bee-word-list.html

The students were transported to a central school by bus for the county spelling bee. The competition went great for the first time to be held, but there are lots of changes that will be done for next year.

At the county spelling bee, there was three winners from each grade level. There was a first, second, and third place winner. Each winner received a trophy. The first place winners received a $25.00 cash reward, Second place received a $10.00 cash reward, and third place received a $5.00 cash reward. The cash was donated by a local church and a local business. Also, each participant, received a certificate.

I have recently found this blog:http://spellingbee.com/bee-blog/bee/help-theres-a-bee-in-my-classroom, and I will be using it for my next spelling bee preparations. This blog is put out by the National Spelling Bee and it has lots of great ideas and suggestions. I sure wished I could have found it beforehand, but hindsight is always a learning process.

I forgot to mention that this was not a one person thing, and I had lots of help in preparing for this. We had to do brochures, word lists, back drops, order trophies, get donations, print certificates, and so much more that I can’t even imagine. SO , if you are planning on conducting a spelling bee for your school, make sure you have lots of time to put into it, and not to mention some of your own money!

I really did enjoy doing the spelling bee, and the students was so excited. I am looking forward to the math bee in the spring so stay tuned!

Virtual Field Trips

As a teacher, I want my students to have every opportunity they can in learning and discovering things outside of the classroom. I try to do two field trips a year with my students, one in the fall and one in the spring. However, it is a struggle physically and financially on a teacher.

It is a struggle financially on a teacher because most of the times I have to pay the fees foe at least half of my students. Now, please don’t think I am trying to pin flowers on myself because I am not. I am just trying to give you, as a reader, a more perspective of what I am talking about.

I work at a Title 1 school in a very small town. My school consists of about 180 students. The grades range from K4-8th grade. The demographics are about 75 percent African American and 25 percent Caucasians. All of these students get free lunches because of a county wide grant our school received this school year.  There are probably 15 percent of the students that live with both parents, and most of them live with grandparents. If you are asking yourself if my students backgrounds makes a difference on the way I love then, it DOES NOT! I lvoe each and everyone of my students, and they are some of the most giving of love little people I know.

The town that the school is in has a population of about 800. Downtown has a row of worn down, closed down, and dilapidated buildings. The only store in town is a gas station and a Dollar General. People who live in the town have to go to the next town to shop.  There is a police station, a post office, and recently a medical clinic has opened up.

My heart is so burdened for my students. Burdened because I feel they have been “shortchanged. They have been dealt a hand of life, and the only way they can change is by getting an education, and discovering other parts of the world. Learning what is out there for them so they can set goals to achieve in their life.  That is where the Virtual Field Trips come in to play.

A virtual field trip is a guided exploration through the world wide web that organizes a collection of pre-screened, thematically based web pages into a structured online learning experience. (Foley, 2003). The way virtual field trips happen in my school is< I sign up for the ones I want my class to attend, the media specialist confirms it (as well as the technology part), and we go to the library to participate in the field trip. The students can actually interact with the people on the field trip. They can talk to them and ask them questions.

Education World is a great blog to follow, and learn more about virtual field trips. There are also links to free virtual field trips.

http://www.educationworld.com/a_tech/tech/tech071.shtml

Virtual Field Trips can take the stress out of planning field trips. Teachers don’t have to spend their own money, worry about putting in lunch and/or snack orders,  or worry about safety of traveling. I have had great success with the virtual field trips. A couple that we went on was, “The Life of Helen Keller,” and “Puppet Characters.” I really hope this post will help some stressed, wore out teacher that may need an easy alternative to the norm for field trips.

Reading to Your Students

Today’s modern day classroom has  many ways to get students’ attention. You have ipads, computers, online books, and much more. Not to mention how pressed the teacher is for time. So my question is, do you still read to your students? I am not talking about little passages or modeling how to read a sentence. I am talking about to do you actually take a chapter book and read for a certain amount of time to your students each day? I want to make sure that I am not alone. That I am not the only teacher out there that takes time, whether it be 5 or 10 minutes, to read a book to my students.

I know schedules are so tight, and it takes everything you’ve got to get the lessons in each day. I struggle with this too. However, I do not let it prevent me from having some downtime with my students. I choose a book a week to read to my students. i try to choose books that is above grade level, but it still comprehensible to the students. I also try to choose books that go along with the season. For example, it is now October so I am reading “Goose Bumps, How I Got My Shrunken Head,” by R.L. Stine. The kids are so into it, and can’t get enough. My students absolutely love for me to read to them, and actually look forward to it each day. I try to read to them right after lunch when we are transitioning from coming from lunch, and gong back into our studies. It kind of gives them a breather. It also gives us time to have conversations about the book. We make predictions about what is going to happen next, we talk about the characteristics of the characters, and relate it to things that go on in our personal lives. The conversations are really good, and engages the students tremendously.

I found a blog that is managed by two third grade teachers called, “A Year of Reading.” This blog caught my attention because it is 2 teachers who post several great books that are great for third grade. The latest posts that was put up by the teachers is where they had several third grade classes vote on their favorite graphic novels. They narrowed it down to ten novels. The teachers were in agreement that these novels were very hot, and was being read like crazy in their classrooms. the teachers names are Marcia Lee and Tracey Holm. The link to the blog is below.

http://readingyear.blogspot.com/2015/10/10-graphic-novels-recommended-by-3rd.html

Sometimes I feel like I am wasting time when I sit down to read to my students because I could think of a hundred more things that I could be doing, but when I talk to my past students and as them what they liked most about my class they always include that I read to them. That is all the reassurance that I need to know that I am doing the right thing. I want the students to know that reading can be fun and entertaining.

Blog #3: EDM 510

The school I work at is an AMSTI school. AMSTI stand for Alabama Math & Science Technology Initiative. Teachers have to be trained to teach AMSTI. There are 2 sessions that usually take place a week out of the summer. After the 2 sessions, the teacher will not need to be trained again unless the teacher changes grade levels. The reason I am telling you all this is to give you a little back ground for the training purposes. This past summer I did my second training for third grade AMSTI kits, and it was very engaging and interesting. I look back now, and wished I would have take pictures throughout the trainings.

The first year training (each year training is done in 1 week each) we covered the first 2 kits of the rotation. There are four kits, and they are delivered one per nine weeks throughout the school year. The first kits we went through was the Plant Growth & Development , and Chemical Tests. However, this summers training was on The Human Body and Earth Materials.

The students are to do Interactive notebooks throughout the AMSTI kits while performing each lesson physically. For example, the first kit I receive is Plant Growth and Development. WE are in the last week of the 9 weeks and we are beginning to wrap up the kit, but I will give you a run-down of the lesson.

The students first start the kit by observing a wet lima bean and a dry lima bean. They compare and contrast them in their notebooks. (There is a lot of pre-planning involved for the teacher, and most of the lessons have materials that need to be prepared beforehand. Like, soaking the bean at least 2 days in advance. The lesson then proceeds to planting the brassica seed (which grows really fast). The students take care of the plant while it is set up under fluorescent lights and a watering system by observing the changes in their notebooks each day.

The students really enjoy taking part in the lesson each day. The plant grows from the root, forms a stem, leaves, and then a flowering bud. Once the flowering bud gets there then the students observe dry beans, and make notes of how the bee is important to the flower in the reproduction process. The students make glue sticks to place the bee on the flower (pollinating it). I am telling you this whole process so you can get a visual picture of how a kit works out. The students are to go away from this lesson knowing the life cycle of the plant, and how nature has an important role in it.

The above is just one kit, but my favorite kit is the human body kit. I was trained on it this past summer, and could not get enough. I was so impressed by the lessons in this kit that the day went by so fast! My favorite part was the owl pellet. We were talking about how the human body works, and we went into talking about the owl, and how the owl does not actually have a rectum. the owl breaks down its food and then pukes it back up, eww! Anyway, this is where the blog from “Grooving into Third Grade” caught my interests. This teacher actually documented her training on her blog. I am so jealous! Looking back now, I wished so bad that I would of. You can look at her pictures and her documentation from the link below.

http://form http://cbuffkin.blogspot.com/2011/07/amsti-training.html

You can read more about AMSTI at the link below.

http://www.uab.edu/amsti/links/3rd-grade