Sunday, September 13, 2015

Teaching Students How to Retell Using the Five Finger Retell

Comprehension is a very important skill for students to master in order to become proficient readers. As a teacher in a school with a high population of ESL learners I have found that comprehension can be a difficult skill to master. Students learn comprehension through strategies, and the most basic comprehension strategy that students need to learn during the first few weeks of school is the five finger retell.

Using the five finger retell students learn the order of a retelling as well as what elements from the story should be included. A basic retelling should include:
  • Characters
  • Setting
  • Problem
  • Important Events
  • Solution
As the year progresses students in the upper grades as well as higher level readers in the lower elementary grades should be going deeper with their retell by including details such as character attributes and motivations. They should also be able to pull out big ideas such as morals or themes from the story.

For more information and a full lesson plan that can be used with any text click on the pictures. 

What strategies have you used to increase student comprehension in your classroom?


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Sunday, August 30, 2015

Teaching Students How to Pick a Just Right Book

Research shows that to increase achievement in reading students need to read books at their independent level. We often refer to these books as just right books. This is an important skill that students need to be taught during the first few weeks of school. 

Before I am able to test each student's reading level at the beginning of the year I teach my students how to pick out just right books using the five finger rule.

How do you use the five finger rule?

1.) Students will select a book that interests them.

2.) Students will turn to a random page with text.

3.) Students will hold up a fist and begin reading.

4.) For each word that students come to that they are unsure of they hold up a finger.

4.) When students get to the end of the page they look at how many fingers they are holding up.

5.) The bookmarks above show what the amount of fingers mean. The majority of books students read independently should be in the 2-3 finger range. 

For the full lesson plan, anchor chart, worksheet, and student bookmarks click on the pictures.

What is your favorite way to teach students about just right books?


I hope you have found this blog post helpful. To stay connected with Carly and Adam's teaching tips and classroom freebies be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterestTeachers Pay Teachers, and subscribe to our blog!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

5 Behavior Motivating Hacks Every Teacher Should Know

Welcome to the first few weeks of school! As exciting as it can be as a teacher and student to be starting with a clean slate, when it comes to reteaching procedures and expectations even the veteran teachers among us want to pull their hair out.

As you find yourself teaching and reteaching expectations and practicing procedures here is a list of 5 behavior motivators for students to keep in mind:

1. Start by Creating Clear Expectations and Setting a Positive Classroom Culture

Most behavior issues can be eliminated by setting clear expectations for students and creating a positive classroom environment. Two things that I do to keep a positive classroom culture are shout outs and bucket fillers.

Shout outs is a time of the day when teachers and students recognize another person in the classroom for an academic or behavior reason. For example, "I would like to give a shout out to Suzy for organizing the classroom library during recess."

Bucket fillers are similar to shout outs. Read the story Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud. Talk with students about how everyone has an invisible bucket that they carry around with them. We can either be bucket fillers by saying and doing positive things for others or a bucket dipper by saying or doing negative things to others. You can choose to have a physical representation of this in the classroom such as a bucket for students to fill up with slips of paper to recognize and encourage other students.

2. Positive Reinforcement is More Effective than Negative Reinforcement

For example substitute, "you guys should be able to line up in 10 seconds" with "do you think we can do better? I think we can line up in 10 seconds. Let's try it again."

Set goals with students. I write these goals on the board just like an objective to remind students what we are working towards.

3. Have a Class Compliment Chart

In my classroom I have a laminated hundreds chart that we use as our compliment chart. When the students get a compliment from another teacher or administrator we draw out numbers and those numbers are then crossed off the chart.

If another teacher gives the students a compliment we draw out three numbers, if the compliment is from an administrator we draw out five numbers, and if it is from a substitute teacher we draw out ten numbers. Students can earn compliments for being quiet in the hallways, following directions during specials, as well as other good behaviors that are recognized.

When students get ten numbers in a row they earn whatever reward was agreed upon. My students voted to earn a sports party.

4. Have students Earn Points 

It seems so simple, but students love to earn points in their table groups. As a teacher it also helps students hold each other accountable. The table that earns the most points at the end of the week can earn lunch with the teacher or whatever agreed upon reward.

My students are not in table groups often enough to earn points. However, I use points when lining up. I have two lines. Students can earn points for their line by being quiet and straight. The line with the most points gets to go into the lunchroom first.

5. Leadership List

Have a secret list of students that are following directions throughout the day. When we go out to recess I recognize those students on my list and let them go play first. Students love the mystery behind this motivator, and it is a great way to recognize and reward students for their leadership.

Remember to stay consistent, keep it positive, and try out some of these positive behavior hacks. Share your favorite behavior motivators in the comments. I hope your year is getting off to a great start teacher friends!


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Friday, August 14, 2015

Our First Week of Third Grade

It has been a long but fun first week back to school. Here are some snapshots from my favorite activities.

I have heard a lot about the book First Day Jitters from my teacher friends, but this is the first year that I have used it. I read the book to students on our first day of school. After reading we launched our morning meetings using the sentence stem "I feel ________ because _______." I was very surprised at how honest students were about feeling nervous on the first day.

After morning meeting we played a game called step to the line to help students recognize that they are not alone in their feelings.

In the afternoon we wrapped up our First Day Jitters activities by reading The First Day of School Poem by Judith Viorst. Students then wrote their own similar poem about the "What ifs" they were experiencing on the first day of school. You can learn more about my First Day Jitters lessons by clicking on the pictures.

We also read the book How I Spent My Summer Vacation by Mark Teague and talked about exaggeration. In the story the main character Wallace starts out talking about his summer vacation and then adds in exaggerated details. The students practiced writing their own exaggerated summer vacation stories. Click on the picture to learn more about this activity.

Another one of our first week of school read-alouds was The Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook.  After reading the story we discussed the tattle rules. Above you can see the anchor chart that we created as we talked through different scenarios and which rule they would fall under. You can find the lesson plan and example scenarios by clicking on the picture.

To learn about conflict resolution we read A Bug and a Wish by Karen Scheuer and worked on some strategies for dealing with conflict in our classroom. Students then practiced the strategy using the the talking stem "It bugs me when you _________. I wish you would __________." 

Now when a student comes to me with a concern about another student all I have to do is say, "What do you think you should do about that?" Most of the time they respond immediately by saying "bug and a wish". Other times I have to prompt them by pointing to our anchor chart. You can get the lesson plan, practice scenarios, and anchor chart by clicking on the above image.

As our week drew to a close we put our teamwork together by participating in a mini STEM challenge. Students built a tower out of marshmallows and toothpicks. The tower that held the most weight was the winner.

I hope you enjoyed the snapshot of my week. It is now time to get some rest. I am exhausted! Happy first week of school friends.

Leave your favorite first week of school activities in the comments section.


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Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Our Morning Pep Talk

Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be. -Rita Pierson

A year ago I found myself sitting in a summer professional development session listening to a TED talk by Rita Pierson. As I listened to her words I felt empowered and inspired as well as honored to have the privilege to be called a teacher. 

In the talk Ms. Pierson explains that over her many years of teaching she had classes that were so academically low that it brought her to tears. She wondered how she was going to lift the self-esteem of these students as well as their academic ability. In order to encourage and uplift her students she developed a saying that she had the students say daily. 

After listening to Ms. Pierson's talk I made an anchor chart with the words of her saying. Every morning my third graders repeat these words. It is a part of our daily routine that we refer to as our morning pep talk. It is a great way to refocus each morning before beginning the day. You can see a copy of my anchor chart above. For a free downloadable version click here. You can also scroll to the bottom of the blog to watch Rita Pierson's TED talk. 

What do you do to connect with and encourage students?


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Saturday, August 1, 2015

My Superhero Classroom Reveal

Last night was meet the teacher night. As I was greeted with so many smiling faces of my new third grade friends my excitement for the new school year multiplied. 

This is the first year that I had the entire summer to plan out my classroom. I decided to go with the superhero theme using a color scheme of blue, red, yellow, and green. I am so proud of how it turned out, and I look forward to a super year with my third graders! 

*Clicking on the pictures will take you to my TPT store where you can purchase the decor. You can also save by purchasing the Superhero Classroom Decor Pack.

Classroom Job Clip Chart

Leveled and Interest Sorted Library

Our school building used to be a high school so we are using lockers rather than cubbies or hooks.

Word Wall

Our Compliment Board and Classroom Procedures

Student Book Boxes 

I love my table numbers! They really tie the theme all together. 

Have a great school year to all of my fellow teachers! Share your classroom themes and photos in the comments section. 


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Monday, July 27, 2015

6 Meaningful Student Investment Strategies

What's your why? 

Why is it that you teach? 

What wakes you up every morning and brings you into the classroom?

If you have lost sight of your why it can be very easy to lose your focus and passion for teaching. It is the same with our students. If they do not have a why or a reason for being in school they lose their motivation and investment in school.

In this blog post I am excited to share some insights about student investment strategies that I learned during my first week of summer PD.

In the previous video Eric Thomas shares with football players the importance of the big picture. He shares with these young athletes the power and desire that comes from working towards a goal that is driven by a why. He states that if you do not have a why you are not going to work as hard as someone who's passion and goals are deeply rooted in a why. 

As teachers this rings true for our students as well. If the students are not driven by a why it will be very difficult to get them to buy into what we are doing in our classrooms. This is especially true these first few weeks of school. We want our students to get on board as quickly as possible, because we know that investment is crucial for the success of our students. 

Teach for America identified six keys to meaningful student investment:

1. "I Can" Succeed
It is very important to emphasis the collective responsibility of the class. Our class mantra should be that everything we do has an impact on our collective group. Take some time to explain individual student roles as well as the collective role of the class. Continually share with students your role as their coach this year. Emphasis to students that they can succeed, and that you are there to help.
2. "I Want"
Once you have established that the students can succeed you want them to want it for themselves. Create big goals and share them with your students. Chunk large goals into smaller goals and scaffolded along the way when needed. Give students authentic tasks that are connected to the community. Show students how these goals connect with goals they have for themselves. 

3. Role Models
Utilize students' role models. These can be community role models, pop culture role models, people from history, or other students in the classroom or school community. Invite people from the community into your classroom to make learning real to students. Invest students with the work ethic of their favorite celebrity. Share about a famous person from history. I like to use Ruby Bridges with my third graders. Explain to students how they can be role models in the classroom or school, and make an example of students who rise to the occasion. 

4. Reinforce Efforts
Provide students with positive reinforcement when they reach their goals. This should be in the form of intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivation. Get creative! Have students earn a guest speaker or other classroom celebration. Last year my students loved to earn glow stick dance parties for filling up our compliment jar. Get student input to invest students even more. Whatever you select be sure that it is something that you can keep up with and BE CONSISTENT! 

5. Welcoming Environment
Open up your classroom for families to visit. I know that this may seem scary to some of us. However, the more families are informed of what is going on the more that they are able to help. Invite parents in for student projects and performances. Parents love these kind of events, and students love their parents to be involved. This leads into the final investment strategy. 

6. Invest Families
Make sure that everything you do has a reason, and be sure to communicate that reason to your students and families. Make an effort to be aware of the community in which you teach and be in the community as much as possible. Communicate with parents what is happening in the classroom through newsletters as well as phone calls on a regular basis. There are also several apps available to help you keep in contact with parents.

Finally, invest students to the point that they are so excited they just can't help sharing what they are learning with their family!

What do you do to invest students in their learning?


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Monday, July 20, 2015

5 Things You Need to Know When Taking Over a Class

With only five years of teaching experience I know that I still have a lot to learn about teaching. However, when it comes to taking over a class after the year has begun, that is a topic I feel I have earned the right to speak from experience.

Out of my five years teaching I have spent one of those as a building sub including teaching the first week of a kindergarten maternity leave. The year after that I took over a second grade class three weeks into the school year. The following year I took over a third grade class two weeks into the school year.

I found that the more I took over classes the easier it became, and by the end of that year in third grade I really felt that I had completely transformed that class. I guess the third time is the charm.

If you are preparing to take over a class, here are the five things you need to know:

1. Build Relationships
It is very important to build relationships with your students whether you start out with them on the first day or take over a class later in the year. The students will be more likely to get on board with any changes you are making if they know that you care and want what's best for them.

How to Do It: One way that I built relationships with students was by taking small groups into the classroom during lunch to eat with me. During these mini lunch bunches I would ask the students questions to get to know them better. Other great times to connect with students are at recess, breakfast, and dismissal. Simply taking time to get to know and follow up with students goes a long way.

2. Allow for Student Input
When taking over a class it is important to recognize that the students have been used to a certain way of doing things. That doesn't mean that you need to continue all of the same routines and procedures. However, not all of the routines and procedures may need to be changed. A great way to invest students in the classroom is to let them contribute suggestions as to what things need changed and what seems to be working fine.

How to Do It: I would hold a class meeting with the students to discuss what things are going well and what the students would like to see changed. During this meeting I also had students set expectations for me as well as expectations for each other. We called these expectations our non-negotiables.

3. Be Consistent
Once you and your students have decided on the expectations together it is important to be sure that you are following through. If you are not consistent it will be very easy for your classroom management system to fall apart.

How to Do It: While you collaborate with students on the classroom routines and procedures spend some time having students come up with the consequences for breaking procedures. You will find it easier to give out a consequence to a student that they agreed to, and the students will be more accepting of the consequence since they had some ownership in it.

4. Build Community
I know that it can be tempting to want to jump right in to the curriculum when taking over a class to either keep the momentum going or to get students back on track. However, investing time building a strong classroom community will save you many headaches down the road.

How to Do It: Classroom community can be built by designating a portion of your morning meeting time for students to greet one another, share about themselves, and role play how to effectively communicate. You can also incorporate team building games and challenges.

5. Set High Expectations

When taking over a class it is important to make it clear that things will be different from the previous teacher. Also give students clear expectations, like the non-negotiables I discussed earlier.
The students will rise to your level of expectations. If you expect them to do something they will. If you don't expect them to be able to do something they won't.

How to Do It: As you set those expectations and non-negotiables be sure to explain the why along with the what. Let students know why you have such high expectations for them. Last year I talked a lot with my students about their responsibility as leaders in the school as the second oldest grade. I was so pleased to watch them rise to the challenge throughout the year.

What do you feel is important to do at the beginning of the school or when taking over a class?


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Monday, July 13, 2015

Wonder-ing About Which Read Aloud to Select This School Year?

It was August, two weeks into the school year. I had just found out that I was taking over the third grade class. It was a very exciting opportunity! While I was thrilled, from my interactions with this class, I knew that I had my work cut out for me.

This would not be the first time that I had taken over a class a couple weeks into the school year. In my experience I knew that in order to get this class back on track I needed to not only set firm expectations, but also build a strong sense of community.

The weekend before taking the position I set out to look for a good read-aloud to help build that classroom community. I knew that this class was very diverse and part of the diversity included a student with autism. I wanted to find a book that helped my students embrace diversity. I wanted them to begin to not only understand but appreciate the differences of their peers.

I began my search by browsing through several Pinterest suggestions. This was followed by a trip to the store for further research. As I read the back of multiple novels in the store one novel caught my attention immediately. The cover had a cartoon face of a boy with one eye. As I read the back I knew that this was the book I had been searching for.

The novel that I picked up was Wonder by RJ Palacio. It follows the story of August "Auggie" Pullman, a 10-year old living with a facial deformity. Due to his disability Auggie has been homeschooled most of his life. However, as he enters middle school his parents decide to enroll him in a private school known as Beecher Prep. The story follows Auggie's journey through this difficult transition. Each section is told from a different character's perspective, which is great for discussions about point of view.

However, my favorite part about reading this novel to my class was that it opened the door to a lot of great conversations about bullying and how to treat others with kindness. My favorite memory of reading Wonder to my kids happened on the day we finished the story. One of my students suggested that we have a class group hug. I guess I got that classroom community that I was looking for.

I would highly suggest using this story as a read-aloud in your classroom.  I used it with my third graders, but I feel that it would make a great read-aloud for older grades as well.

What are your favorite classroom read-alouds?


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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

10 Ways to Use Shaving Cream in the Classroom

"Are we going to be using shaving cream today?"

This was a question my students asked almost daily. Shaving cream is one of the most fun teaching tools I have discovered. My students get so excited when they see me getting it out.

There are multiple uses for this relatively inexpensive magical foam. To get started all you need to do is go to your local grocery store or pharmacy and pick up a bottle of shaving cream. Make sure that you purchase a foam cream rather than gel. The foam tends to be less sticky. Below I have listed ten examples of how I have used shaving cream in my classroom.

1. Brain Breaks
Spray a small amount on students desks and let them draw or write in it.

2. Behavior Rewards
For my students on a Reflective Behavior Plan (free in my TPT store) one of the rewards that they could earn for meeting their goal was a break to play with shaving cream.

3. Calm Down
Last year I had a couple students who struggled to calm down coming back inside from recess. I would set a timer and give them a calm down break where they played with shaving cream.

4. Cleaning Desks
Shaving cream is fun method for cleaning desks. It gets students up and moving while serving a purpose.

5. Classroom Celebrations
It is fun to break out the shaving cream during celebrations or even after celebrations to clean the tables. You could even have a shaving cream fight during field day or as an end of the school year activity.

6. Spelling Practice
Have students use shaving cream rather than whiteboards to practice spelling words.

7. Quick Checks
Use shaving cream like a whiteboard for students to answer questions. Use the questions as quick checks to gauge student understanding.

8. Sight Word Practice
Have students practice writing sight words in shaving cream.

9. Vocabulary Practice
Give students a definition and have them write the vocabulary word in shaving cream.

10. During Math or Literacy Warm Up
Have students warm up before math or literacy by practicing previous concepts or key fundamentals using shaving cream. In my classroom at the start of guided reading I would have my low reading group write the letters and blends from their ABC chart in shaving cream while saying the sounds. This was a fun warm up that helped students practice their reading fundamentals.

What ways have you used shaving cream in your classroom? Let me know in the comments below.


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Sunday, June 28, 2015

How to Involve Students in Data Tracking

"Because you know I'm all about that data, 'bout that data..."

If you are a teacher or administrator odds are that you spend a considerable amount of time during the school year collecting, analyzing, and utilizing student data. Although it can be a time consuming process, data is an effective practice that is beneficial to use to drive classroom instruction.

Data has not only become a standard component of our education system, utilizing data is also recognized as a best practice.

So then, "If student data is so important why is everyone except students involved in the process?"

While students receive feedback through report cards, standardized tests, or other graded tests and assignments, theses measures are often presented to them in isolation. The students are aware of the importance of these scores, however they are usually unsure how they all connect or how they relate to their learning or their future.

So then how do we involve students in the collection and data analysis process? How do we invest students in their learning by helping them see the connections between their data and their future goals?

The solution to this oversight is The Student Data Binder.

Using The Student Data Binder students set their own measurable goals for the year as a whole along with weekly goals. Students are also able to track math fact fluency, Accelerated Reader goals and points, Fry Words, and reading level. Blank graph sheets are also included to track additional data.

The great thing about data binders is that they allow students to see the link between their scores and what they are learning in the classroom. Students are also able to use their data to set weekly goals and goals for the future.

Data binders are not only a great motivational tool for students, they are also incredibly useful around parent-teacher conference time. Using their data binders students are able to paint an accurate picture for their parents as to where they are academically. Students are also able to communicate the goals that they have set throughout the year as well as their progress toward those goals.

As teachers there are so many classroom responsibilities that are solely on you. However, collecting and analyzing data should not be one of them. Save yourself some time at the beginning of the year by teaching your students how to collect and analyze their own data. You'll be glad you did.

What investment strategies do you use to help students track their learning and set goals throughout the year?


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Monday, June 15, 2015

The Curiosity Jar

How do nocturnal animals hunt?

What animal is the smartest?

What would happen if worms didn't decompose dead things?

These are just a few of the questions that my third graders came up with this past year. As a teacher I love it when my students are using their curiosity and asking good questions. 

However, I found myself running into two problems:

1.) I didn't seem to have enough time to throughly answer all of the excellent questions my students were asking.

2.) I found that I needed to do some more research myself before I could give my students the complete and accurate responses that they deserved.

My time-saving solution to this problem was THE CURIOSITY JAR!

Here's how it Works:

When you are in the middle of a lesson and a student has a question that you are not able to answer right away tell the student to put their question in the curiosity jar. The student will silently walk over to the curiosity jar, record their question on a slip of paper, and drop it in the jar. Meanwhile, you are free to continue on with the lesson. 

At a designated time during the week you can go through the questions in the jar with the students once you have had time to sort through them and research answers if needed. 

I have found that the curiosity jar helped me validate the questions that my students were asking while providing me with extra time to research the students' questions and save valuable lesson time. 

All you need is a jar or bowl and small slips of paper. I used an old fish bowl and halved index cards or Post-its. My students loved writing their questions in the jar, and I loved all of the time that was saved. Try the curiosity jar out in your classroom and let me know how it goes.


I hope you have found this blog post helpful. To stay connected with Carly and Adam's teaching tips and classroom freebies be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterestTeachers Pay Teachers, and subscribe to our blog!

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

How to Get Students Invested in Learning Math Facts

"Do we have to do a timed test again today?" 

You hear the grumbles and the sighs as you hand out the papers to each student. While the old school drill and kill method that we grew up with can be effective, it is not usually the most motivating or engaging practice for students.

So what can we do as teachers to encourage our students' math fact fluency?

I have the solution that will turn the grumbles and sighs into smiles and cheers. And the solution to the math fact memorization blues is...


As teachers I'm sure we are all well aware that clip charts are used as an effective classroom management tool for students to visualize their daily behavior based on where their clip is on the chart.

I have taken that same concept and turned it into a way for students to visually track their math fact progress. When students pass a multiplication or division set they clip the clothespin with their name on it to that particular table.

After implementing the clip chart system students would ask me daily, "Are we doing clip ups today?" Clip ups are our daily ritual where I announce which students are clipping up. As I call them up to the front to move their clip, there is much rejoicing as students cheer one another on!

BONUS! You get to stand on the desk as you near the top!
The clip chart method is effective, because students can work at their own pace, and they feel a sense of accomplishment as they visually track their progress. The clip chart system also builds community as students cheer and encourage each other on to the top of the chart.

All of my math fact clip charts are available here.

Try it in your own classroom, and let me know what you think.


I hope you have found this blog post helpful. To stay connected with Carly and Adam's teaching tips and classroom freebies be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterestTeachers Pay Teachers, and subscribe to our blog!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Five Websites to Make Your Summer Planning More Efficient

It's that time of year again...summer time. Time to rest, relax, and of course plan for next school year. As you begin preparations for next year here are some useful websites that will be beneficial to check out.

Florida Center for Reading Research
Florida Center for Reading Research is based out of Florida State University. This website is beneficial for planning reading instruction. The goal of FCRR is to provide information about research-based practices related to literacy instruction and assessment for students in pre-K through 12th grade. One of my favorite things about the website is that it has free center activities that teachers can download.

Portland Public Schools Writing Resources
Portland Public Schools has created step-by-step lesson plans for writing based on the Lucy Caulkins units of study and aligned to the Common Core. These units for grades K-5 will save you hours of planning time.

Georgia Standards
Georgia Standards provides links to free math resources including curriculum maps, vocabulary lists, and performance task assessments for grades K-5. Also included are math activities, strategies for teaching and learning, and essential questions.

Mastery Connect
Mastery Connect gives you access to free common assessments aligned to the Common Core standards as well as other state standards. There is also a tracker option where you can upload your class list and track student progress.

Teachers Pay Teachers
Of course this list would not be complete without Teachers Pay Teachers. As you plan this summer, be sure to check out the unique products offered by other teachers on TPT.

What are your tips for planning over the summer?


I hope you have found this blog post helpful. To stay connected with Carly and Adam's teaching tips and classroom freebies be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterestTeachers Pay Teachers, and subscribe to our blog!

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Minute to Win It Games

If you are not using Minute to Win It games in your classroom I would encourage you to try them out. The games can be used as brain breaks or rewards that the class can earn. They are also great for end of the year celebrations. I most recently used them as part of my balloon countdown end of the year behavior incentive. The students that earned the reward participated in three games last Friday. You can download the instructions for the games from my TPT store here.

Suck It Up: Students moved Skittles into a bucket using only a straw.


I hope you have found this blog post helpful. To stay connected with Carly and Adam's teaching tips and classroom freebies be sure to follow us on FacebookPinterestTeachers Pay Teachers, and subscribe to our blog!

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Reflective Behavior Plan: Getting Students Thinking About Their Behavior

"Am I loosing my mind?"

That is the question I ask myself daily as the school year draws to a close.  If you're like me, your desk is littered with a plethora of caffeinated beverages from coffee to diet coke. It's really the only way of keeping your brain functioning from minute to minute.

Our students' behaviors are increasing and effort drops off as they begin to realize that the end is in sight. All of the tricks and tools are coming out of the bag as we strive to keep our students learning and engaged.

One tool that I have found particularly effective to keep students motivated is the balloon countdown. You can read about it in my previous blog here.

However, no matter how awesome the behavior plan, there are always one or two students that won't get on board. Right? You talk with them, call for additional parent-teacher conferences, take away privileges, and the behaviors continue to interrupt and distract.

It is for these special friends that I have created The Reflective Behavior Plan. It's FREE at my TPT store here.

The Reflective Behavior Plan is great because it targets specific student behaviors. For some students it's easy to pick out an infinite amount of behaviors to correct. However, I select only 2-3 of the most interruptive and distracting behaviors. Once students have those behaviors under control you can move onto the next goal. Start with some small victories. A big victory in behavior is the result of a collection of small victories.

Example behaviors that I have been working on with my students include using a level 1 or 0 voice in the classroom, keeping hands to themselves, staying in their space, and using respectful words. Throughout the day, students score a 4, 3, 2, or 1 depending on how well they have met the goal.

Each student reflects on his/her score. This means that in the middle and at the end of the day, our special friends, will write about how their day is going and what they need to do to continue having a great day or to turn their day around.

When students earn a certain amount of 4's in the morning and afternoon they get their reward. In order for the plan to be most effective, the goals that students are working towards need to be things that are highly motivating to them so that they want to reach their goals. Rewards can be as simple as 5-10 minutes on the computer or doing a job for the teacher. I've also found that students love to earn a break to play with shaving cream.

With The Reflective Behavior Plan, I love how my students are keeping themselves accountable, and they are so proud when they see on paper how they are meeting their goals.

Try the Reflective Behavior Plan out in your classroom and let me know how it goes.

What are you using effectively to correct behaviors?


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