Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Cereal Box Book Reports 2014

Each month, my students are assigned book reports.  The genre changes monthly, and the students are given freedom to select a book; I then approve it to make sure it's on their reading level.  For September, students were to choose and read a fiction book and complete a Cereal Box Book Report.  I usually change my book reports each year, but the Cereal Box Report has been so successful that I've used it for a couple of years now.

For more information, click the links below:
Cereal Box Book Report Directions
Templates for Left/Top Side of Box  (This includes the template for the summary and title, author, and rating)
Template for Right Side of Box  (This includes template for the characters and setting)

This year's boxes:
These three were based on the following books:  Swiss Family Robinson, Treasure Island, and Huckleberry Finn
The students were required to create a game (that related to the story) on the back of the box:
Based on:  Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters, From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. and The Secret Garden.
Other examples:
The students could either write or type their information, but most chose to write on the template I gave:
Finally, the students presented their reports in a 2-3 minute presentation.  Some even chose to share their report in a "commercial."  The students did a wonderful job!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Grammar ER Activity 2014

A couple of years ago, I transformed my classroom into an Emergency Room for a grammar lesson, and the students operated on "sick" sentences.  I decided to bring this activity back, and it was a huge success!  The students took it seriously and were so engaged!  This was a culminating activity for what we've been learning about in grammar, and I used it as a formative assessment.  The students had to identify vocabulary; use correct punctuation for various types of sentences; recognize synonyms/antonyms, types of analogies, nouns, etc.  They did this using their own unique "patient."  Click the link above for more info on this activity. 

This assessment was fun for the children, and I now have a better idea of what the students are understanding and what I need to reteach.

Without further ado, here are the pictures from today's "surgery:"
I set up the classroom while the students were at P.E.
Prepping for surgery: 
I had "hospital sounds" playing in the background while the students prepped.  I had the sound of a beating heart playing while they worked.
This year, I had the students use tape instead of glue.  This seemed to work a little better, though some of the students had a tough time with the tape.  The glue, however, was very sticky and made the papers soggy last time.  If/when I do the activity again, I'll stick with tape.
The children even stayed focused when we had a friendly visit from the administrators.
These kids were completely engaged!
"Is he going to make it?!" 
Whew!  We were all so happy that the surgeries were successful! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Landform Projects 2014

In geography, we recently finished our unit on landforms.  Last week, the students completed their in-class landform project.  I paired the children up, assigned each pair a landform to research, and then they had to construct the landform in class and give a 2-minute presentation on it.  The students researched information for homework, using THIS HANDOUT.  The project was graded using THIS GRADE SHEET. 
This year, I decided to have the students build their landforms inside pizza boxes.  Last year, we used cookie sheets.  While the cookie sheets worked okay, the pizza boxes allowed more depth and could easily be moved around.  A local pizzeria near our school generously donated the boxes for us to use. 
Construction time:

Okay, so I know that the grade sheet says, "A paragraph should be written in cursive with the following included..." but we typed the information instead using the iPads.  Then, we just printed the documents from the iPads.
Presentation time:
Peninsula (Baja Peninsula, to be exact)
My friends from New Mexico corrected me--"Mesa."
No matter the name, they did a fantastic job!
This creative duo decided that their glacier should move!  Of course, right?  They cut a line in the pizza box and built their glacier around a popsicle stick.  They somehow used wax paper and Mod Podge as well.  When they pulled on the popsicle stick beneath the box, the glacier moved slightly.  So cool!
I was so impressed with this year's landform projects!
P.S.  On the lid of the box, the students were required to have a picture of their assigned landform and a map--showing where their "famous" landform example is located.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Class Dojo

This is my second year to use Class Dojo, a free online behavior management tool.  I love that it is easy to set up, engaging for the students, and customizable.  There have also been some neat little features added recently, which makes it even more awesome!  Since Class Dojo can be used in a variety of ways, I thought I'd share how I use it in my classroom.  

If you've never heard of Class Dojo, check out the Student Introduction Video that I showed my class during the first days of school. 

After registering my class, I was able to customize behaviors that I wanted to award points for.  Here are the ones I chose:

Positive Behaviors:
-Following Rules/Procedures
-Good Behavior in Special Areas (I always ask about how the students behave in other classes, but Class Dojo recently added the feature to allow special area teachers access to your class.  These teachers can join and award/take points as necessary.)
-Helping Others
-Listening Well/Attentive
-On Task/Does Not Waste Time
-Sets a Positive Example
-Working Hard
-Model Safety Patrol Student

Needs Work Behaviors:
-Not following instructions/procedures
-Negative Behavior in Special Areas
-Negative attitude
-Disrespectful to other students
-Disrespectful to teacher
-Does not keep hands to self
-Inattentive/Lack of focus
-Excessive talking
-Inappropriate playground behavior
-Negative behavior at car pick-up
-Calling Out/Does not raise hand to speak

I award more positive points than negative, and this class is so well-behaved that I didn't have to check a single "Needs Work" behavior until the end of the 3rd week of school!  I think that's a record!  As of now, my students have around 40-50 points each.  At the end of the nine weeks, we will turn our dojo point values into Dojo Dollars and hold a Class Auction (similar to past years).  When students reach 50 points, I give them their "Secret Code" and they are allowed to change their avatar. 
Every nine weeks, our point values start over (Although, you don't have to; it's just my preference).   I think I'll eventually change the auction system and use a reward system similar to the following:
Click here to check out other Class Dojo ideas from my Pinterest board.

Parents are able to check their child's progress at any time, but each Friday, Class Dojo emails the parents reminders to view their child's behavior progress report.  Also, if you need to share information with a parent via Class Dojo, there is a messenger feature that's been added recently. 

I feel that Class Dojo holds my students more accountable for their behavior.  Parents are able to see, in real-time, their child's progress, and it's been so much easier to discuss behavior with the parents.  Last year, when I started using Class Dojo, I had a parent ask me at dismissal, "Why, exactly, did my child lose a behavior point today?"  I honestly couldn't remember, and I admitted that!  I turned to the child and said, "Tell your mom why you lost a point."  He was able to say, "Well, I did..."  This took the burden off of me and put it onto the student (where it belongs).  My students are old enough to be able to explain their actions.  And they can remember situations better than I can at times!

Class Dojo has made it easier for me to manage behaviors in my classroom and report to parents.  It is fun for the kids and simple for me to use.  Because this system is web-based, I can use it on my laptop, phone, or tablet; it's so versatile.  I would definitely recommend Class Dojo to any K-6th grade teacher.