Friday, December 21, 2012

My Behavior Management Plan

I have used a "ticket/class auction" system for managing behavior in my classroom for several years now and it's been quite effective.  In addition, my students love it!  Let me explain how it works:

Every Monday, I give my students ten of these tickets (I usually order them from Oriental Trading, but have also seen them at Wal-mart and Target):
(image from Google)
As you can see, each ticket represents $1.00.  If a child breaks a rule, I say, "I'm so sorry, but that will be $1.00" (or more, depending on the severity of the offense).  The child then gives me the number of tickets I ask of him and I quickly mark the misbehavior on a chart.  I use the chart to determine conduct grades at the end of the grading period. 

At the end of the 9 weeks, the students turn in their tickets for play money and we hold a classroom auction. 

The students bring in garage-sale-type items from home (they are NOT to go out and buy anything) and bid on them using "money" they have earned.  Whatever money they don't spend, I add onto the next 9 weeks' auction.  For example, one child was absent on the day we did our first 9 weeks' auction, so she had over $100.00 to spend in addition to the money she earned this 9 weeks.

With this system, the students also have the opportunity to earn more money.  If they get a compliment from another teacher, are caught doing something kind for others, etc., I may offer a couple of extra dollars.  The students are not allowed to ask for money; extra tickets are given at the teacher's discretion.

The second 9 weeks' auction is the most anticipated because students want to buy presents for their family members.  I encourage them to bring in items for all ages.  Here are a few items from last week's auction:        
And in case you're wondering, I've perfected my auctioneer chant!  "Next item up for bid--a cute little stuffed monkey!  Would be a great toy for you or a gift for a younger sibling.  Raise your hand to bid...and here we go...1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10?  Can  I hear 12?  15?  SOLD!  For $15 to Johnny!"  Even though I'm not as fast as actual auctioneers, I can spit out my numbers pretty quickly!
While I am the auctioneer, I assign one child to be the "banker."  This child gets to sit at my desk in my fancy swivel chair, collect money, and give change.  Boy, is this a special job!  Those 5th graders covet this position.  After all, only 4 kids out of the whole class get to do this since there are only 4 nine weeks.  I choose students randomly by pulling their number out of a hat, basically, and no student is allowed to have this position twice.
This system works great for me.  Instead of getting mad or frustrated about a child's behavior, I simply say, "That's inappropriate and it will cost you $2.00."  If they give me attitude (which rarely happens), I up the ante and require more money from them.  They are the ones losing and they realize this.  They like to keep as much money/tickets as they can!

I know this system may not work for every teacher, as some may teach in low socioeconomic areas and the students may be unable to bring items in from home.  I just wanted to share an idea that has worked for me.  My students and I love the ticket/auction system!

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Christmas Crafts

Each year, I guide my students in some sort of Christmas craft.  In years past, I've done elaborate and time-consuming crafts that required more effort from me than my students.  Forget that!  This year, I wanted to do something that was less work for me but still enjoyable for the kids.  I found this ornament decorating activity from Pinterest and it was a hit in my classroom.

First, I started with clear glass ornaments:
I removed the tops:
We squeezed drops of acrylic paint inside the bulb.  Be sure to cover the inside completely:
After some gentle swirling, we ended up with a marble effect:
I turned the ornaments upside down and placed them in Dixie cups so they could drain overnight:
I replaced the tops and we tied a piece of ribbon (not shown) on them:
My 5th graders loved the fact that this craft was customizable.  They selected their own colors and could choose as many colors as they wanted.  And I'm one happy teacher--this year I didn't have to pull out the glue gun or tie a million bows or twist a million paper clips.  Ahh!  I love student friendly crafts that are actually cute. 

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Teacher Tip #5: When your schedule allows, GO!

When a student invites me to his/her recital, game, performance, whatever, I feel so honored and try to make every effort to go.  The teacher's attendance builds good rapport with the family and shows the child that you care.  They feel so special when you actually show up to an event they invited you to.  Whenever your schedule allows, I encourage you to go to public, outside-of-school functions that the student or parent invites you to.     

Friday, November 9, 2012

Election Project

I don't teach civics or even history, but I wanted to do something special for the 2012 election.  In early October, I decided that my students would learn as much as they could about the upcoming presidential election, including the voting process and where the candidates stood on certain issues.

My class has a global connection with another Christian school in Lima, Peru, so I wanted to somehow bring that 5th grade class into this project as well.  I communicate with the 5th grade teacher in Peru via email, so we sent messages back and forth and agreed to collaborate on an election project in which each class would teach the other.  My students would learn about certain aspects of the U.S. government and then present to the students in Peru and they would, in turn, teach us about the Peruvian government.  By the way, did you know that it is mandatory for people, 18 and older, to vote in Peru?! My students were shocked by this.  Anyway, I knew this task would be challenging for my students because, unfortunately, American government isn't really taught in our elementary school.  The children learned a little about the three branches of government in 4th grade, but nothing in-depth.  This makes me sad because we live in the capital city of our state; my students should know more about the government (both locally and nationally).  Well, they definitely know more now than they did three weeks ago!

I presented the project idea to my students and they were so excited about becoming "experts" in order to teach their peers in Peru.  The students came up with a list of questions that the children in Peru might ask.  Then, they decided to research the questions using a variety of sources.  Soon, we received an email from the students in Peru with their own questions--and, boy, did they come up with some great questions!  My students realized they needed to learn a lot! 

I checked out every book that dealt with government that I could find from the local library and read aloud as much as I could.  What I couldn't read aloud, I kept in our reading center for the students to peruse.  One day, we even did Switcharoo Reading (I just made that term up) in which each child got a book, read as much as he/she could in 3 minutes (and could even take notes if he/she found any "funky facts"), and then, once the time was up, I yelled, "SWITCHAROO!" and they would pass their book to the person on the right and time would begin again.  I showed BrainPop videos and my students took notes.  We learned about democracy, political parties (and their origins), political beliefs, primaries and caucuses, presidential power, presidential elections, and voting.  We graphed voter turnout since 1972 (the first election in which the voting age was lowered to 18) and my students even conducted a poll at car pick-up time to see how many adults were registered to vote and how many of them were planning on voting in the 2012 election.  We then graphed those results.
Once I felt that the students were prepared to work on their own, I split the class into two groups. Each group had to focus on a topic that they wanted to present to the children in Peru. Their task was to create a 3 minute iMovie on their topic(s). The students came up with their own ideas, topics, scripts, and plans; I just monitored.  One group decided to focus on voting, the Electoral College, and the roles of the President and Congress by creating an informative newscast.  The other group focused on political party beliefs (Democrats and Republicans) and the differing views of the candidates, Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.  They also created an informative (yet entertaining) newscast called "Presidential Sports" in which one team was trying to beat the other...and they left the audience wondering, "Who will win?!"  As for the differing views, the students focused on education, healthcare, and military spending.  I wish I could show the videos here, but I don't have parent permission.  The students did a good job, however. 

On the day of the election, I set up my room as a mock polling place.  The students had to fill out a registration form in one area in order to be able to vote. 
I only had one privacy carrel, so some of my students had to wait a while.  I told them, "You may have to wait a little while before it's your turn to vote.  Be patient; this is exactly what it's like at some polling places!"  ;)  Geez Louise, in the 2008 election, my hubby and I waited in line for an hour and a half!
Once each child voted, they dropped their ballots into the black box and I made sure they were taken to a local place after work to be counted for the Kids Voting USA program.
The forms looked quite official, eh?
After their vote was cast, each child received an "I Voted" sticker to wear for the day. 
Throughout this process, my students and I kept Election Journals (from Scholastic), where we recorded information on the candidates, debates, etc.
There was also an electoral map included in the back.  The day after the election, we colored in the red and blue states and saw how Obama won the needed number of electoral college votes (even though there was a LOT of red on the map).  I didn't color mine in: 
The morning after the election, my students and I discussed the events from the night before.  I stayed non-partisan throughout this project and had told the children Tuesday afternoon, "No matter who wins the election, do not come into this classroom tomorrow with a negative attitude."  The next day, I could tell that some students were really disappointed, but no one said a negative word about the results. 
You may recall from THIS POST, that my students and I pray for a country around the world each morning.  Well, on November 7th, we prayed for our country.  We asked, in Jesus's name, for God to give President Obama wisdom as he makes decisions on our behalf and continued protection over our land and those who are serving in our military in other lands.
As I said before, I don't teach civics, but I'm going to continue to talk to my students and pray with them about our government and current events.  I hope this 2012 election project has sparked their interest and they continue to learn about civic duties. 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Florida Caverns Field Trip

We are studying geology right now in science and recently took a field trip to Florida Caverns State Park. We were led on a tour of the caverns...
 (Here, the students are touching a column--this was the only formation they were allowed to touch.)
After our guided tour, I gave the students the "Mrs. Bowman Tour" and led them on a trail to a special place I found out about several years ago--a cave that typically houses bats: 
 We found so many bats in the ceiling of this cave--including these baby bats huddled together:
A few bats were hanging pretty close to our heads:
But most were deep in the crevices of the cave:
 We had so much fun searching for bats!
 The other 5th grade teacher and me:
After the bat cave, we ate lunch at a picnic area in the park and let the students run and play: 
5th grade's first field trip of the year was a success!

Saturday, October 27, 2012

RCA--Non-Partisan Voting Video

I know I haven't yet blogged about my visit to the Ron Clark Academy.  I'm implementing some things that I learned from my visit and I'm trying to sort through all that I experienced so I can write about it succinctly; seriously, I could talk about RCA for hours...days even!  I just wanted to post this awesome video that was uploaded recently that shows Clark's students performing a song they wrote about the upcoming presidential election.  You may recall that his students created a voting song for the 2008 election called "Vote However You Like" to the tune of T.I.'s "Whatever You Like."  The children actually incorporated part of that song into this new song and I love it!  
Those students are confident, engaging, and have so much energy.  Another cool thing--during my visit to RCA, I had lunch with the little girl in the front row, 4th from the right.  I can't take my eyes off her when I view this; she looks like she's having a blast! 

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

R.E.D. Event with Taylor Swift

Today, my class enjoyed viewing a live, 30-minute Scholastic webcast with Taylor Swift.  Many of my girls are huge fans of hers, so they loved it!  This webcast was not about music or her success as a singer; she actually spoke about the power of literacy and encouraged the students to Read Every Day (RED).  Red, incidentally, is the name of her album that debuted two days ago. 

Anyway, she shared how literature inspired her writing and she encouraged the students to "read, write, and be creative."  At one point, she said, "Read all kinds of books so you know what interests you."  Loved that!  You know, I can tell my students to try reading different genres and explore various books to see what they like, but when Taylor Swift tells a 10-year-old these things, it means more.  She spent time answering questions from students all over the world.  We pinpointed on a map where the questions came from--New York, New Jersey, Texas, Michigan, Alabama, and even Singapore! 

It was really neat to hear her talk about middle school and offer tips on "surviving middle school" since this is my students' last year of elementary school.  To close, Swift performed a song from her new album and my students were thrilled!
The webcast was a lot of fun and very inspiring. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

iPad-Palooza: Even More Apps

Today I had the opportunity to take part in an iPad workshop for local educators.  It was so helpful and SO much fun.  I was able to go with my grade-level teaching partner and we learned about new apps as well as how to differentiate instruction using the iPad.  This training was very beneficial and I'm glad we were able to attend.  I wanted to share with you a few new apps I learned about:
  • Doc Scan (Free or you can upgrade for $3.99)--allows you to take a picture and then turn it into a PDF file...amazing!
  • WeWantApps! (Free)--Do you want to search for apps, but have no idea where to begin?  Use this app to type in your students' ages, favored category and price, and then click "search."  A results list will pop up that shows apps that relate to your request.  Neato!
  • AppsFire Deals (Free)--Another way to find apps.  The cool thing about this is that it shows you discounted or free apps from the app store.  You will have to search a little for quality educational apps, but it's definitely worth downloading.
  • Fluency Timer Pro ($0.99)--An app with an adjustable timer that automatically records students' fluency readings for playback and sharing. 
  • 7 Little Words (Free)--Great for word play!  This app contains 50 different puzzles, including a Spanish and French version.  Note:  More suited for upper elementary/middle school students.
  • BrainQuest (Free)--Just like the educational flashcards, this app poses a variety of questions for each grade level, 1st-5th (100 questions for each grade).
  • Rocket Math (Free)--Fun and challenging math app for all ages that ranges in difficulty to allow students to practice odd/even numbers, square roots, telling time, money, 3D shapes, and arithmetic.     
  • Common Core Standards (Free)--View all the standards in one place.  Very easy to find standards by subject, grade level, and subject category (domain/cluster).  This app includes math and language arts standards, K-12.
  • Songify (iPhone app, but will work on iPad) and AutoRap--More entertaining than educational; I've had a blast playing with these today.  Both of these apps transform ordinary speech into song (or rap!).  How can I use this for my auditory learners?  This app is definitely fun and engaging.  Here's a sample of me on AutoRap5th Grade is the Best.  I SPOKE the words, "5th grade is the best.  It's better than all the rest.  I love teaching 5th grade.  They're so awesome!"  Okay, so I did make my voice higher when I got to "awesome."  Isn't that just fun?!  I don't know why it just stops suddenly at the end.  Oh well.
Finally, my favorite app as of now (which I downloaded last week) is iMovie.  Oh my goodness!  I can make HD movies and trailers and edit them within minutes.  Those of you with Macs are probably already familiar with iMovie.  However, I'm a PC and just found out about this app recently.  The app costs $4.99 and it's the best one I've purchased so far.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My classroom and The Four C's

In a previous post, I stated that I wanted to focus on The Four C's this year: critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication.  Someone in my Twitter PLN posted a link to this video and it gave me some things to think about.  I wanted to pass it along to you:  The Four C's: Making 21st Century Education Happen

Ideas for my classroom:
  • Have students create exhibitions (to understand content better)
  • Get out of my classroom--observe coworkers and collaborate with them
  • Create assessments worth teaching to

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

ER Grammar Activity

At the end of September I had the incredible opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, GA.  I was inspired by all the teachers at this school, especially Kim Bearden, who uses creative teaching methods to engage children.  During a workshop, she encouraged us to transform our classrooms into different kinds of learning environments in order to bring learning to life for our students.  I decided to follow in her footsteps and turn my classroom into an Operating Room for a grammar lesson; my students worked on "sick sentences" in an activity that reviewed parts of speech, synonyms/antonyms, appositives, analogies, types of sentences, and punctuation.  Everything the students did aligned with our Shurley Grammar curriculum. 
This type of activity took a great amount of preparation and planning, with each child getting his/her own, unique "patient" to work on, but it was so worth it!  The students were completely engaged and really seemed to enjoy this lesson. 
When I was in college, one of my professors explained that we, as teachers, should try to engage as many of the students' senses as we can during a lesson (this helps the brain learn, of course), so I tried to do that throughout this activity. I attempted to create a visually stimulating environment that actually looked like an operating room--I covered students' desks with white sheets, hung white curtains, had bags of fluid and "blood" hanging next to plastic tubing, and projected a picture of nurses and doctors working in an Operating Room. The students dressed the part of doctors/nurses by wearing gloves, surgical caps and masks, and disposable surgical coats. I even dressed in scrubs and donned a stethoscope around my neck. While the students prepared for "surgery," I played sounds from my Promethean board that one might hear in a hospital--phones ringing, doctors being called over an intercom, machines beeping, etc. During the "operation," I played the constant beating sound of a heart. Finally, to alert the students that they had 1 minute left to work, I played sounds from an EKG with a flat line alarming them in the last 10 seconds. I initially gave the students 20 minutes to operate, but ended up have to extend the time a little in order for everyone to finish.
 My young surgeons, getting ready to go into the OR:
 Since there were no written directions on the patients, I clearly explained beforehand what the students were to do once they arrived in their Operating Room.  They immediately got to work:
 I circulated while the students worked and asked if anyone needed assistance.  At times, I would hear a student yell, "Dr. Bowman, you are needed in Operating Room #2!" when help was needed.  I encouraged them not to yell since I was making my rounds.  Once I was able to assist, I, of course, responded with, "Yes, Dr. ____?"  They loved this and it was so much fun to see them in character; two of them began using a British accent...I'm not sure why but I just went with it. 
The students were allowed to name their patients if they wanted: 
 Mainly, cutting and pasting were involved in this activity.  However, I did have students highlight the nouns in several sentences.
 Here's one patient--Harry--and you can see how I created him.  I wish I could attach the documents and share with you, but each patient was different.  I used an 11x17 size copy paper and hand drew the patients.  In the head area, you can see that I created fill-in-the-blanks for vocabulary words and definitions.  On the left arm, I created basic sentences and had the students glue down the correct end marks.  On the right arm, I gave a couple of analogies and had the students identify the types.  The legs had sentences listed in which the students were required to highlight the nouns.  As you can see, this student messed up on Harry's leg, so he needed a Bandaid.  Finally, the feet had synonyms/antonyms listed and the students had to identify them. 
  You could use this any way you want (or for other subject areas!).  I just put information on the patients that lined up with what we are currently learning about in our Shurley Grammar program.  This activity was a huge hit and I think the students will remember it for a long time.
Note: I used clothing racks to hang the sheets and enlisted the help of parents in order to get all the supplies.  I did go around to local hospitals and doctor's offices and ask if they would be willing to donate materials.  While some places couldn't give me everything on my wish list, I always walked away with something, even if it was just a bag full of tongue depressors!  The community was very willing to help out my class.  As I said, though, the parents were the biggest contributors.  They let me borrow the racks, sthethoscope, etc.  One mom in my class is a nurse, another dad is a they were able to bring in lots of supplies to help make sure this activity was a success.