Class Dojo

I love Class Dojo!  It's the best way I've found to communicate with parents about the behavior of their kids at school.

 All you need to do is sign up for an account at www.classdojo.com, and enter all your students' names (and their parents' email addresses).  Each day, you login to the website and assign your students positive and/or negative points in categories you choose yourself.  And at the end of the day (or week, depending on what settings you choose), voila!  Every parent will receive, via email, a detailed report of their child's behavior.  Done and done.  There's even an iPad app, so you can use your phone to assign points instead of needing to be close to your computer.  It's brilliant. 

Can I Get A Word: Using "Word Girl" Videos to Teach Vocabulary

Part 2 of my earlier post on how I use Netflix to coax good behavior (and vocabulary lessons) out of my students:
I make my kiddos take notes while they watch Word Girl.  The beginning of each episode introduces two words that will be featured in that show's plot line.  I write those words on the board before pressing play, so that the kids can both see and hear each word.  Students then have to write those in their writing journal or on a sheet of paper, and keep track of the number of times they're mentioned in that episode using tally marks.  I have a few students who still don't "get" tallying, so this is great practice for them!  

After we're done watching the 15 minute episode, the kids have to tell me what the definition of each word is.  Word Girl does an amazing job of giving the kids context clues that lead them to the correct definition on their own.  The kiddos then write a definition of each word on their papers, and draw a picture for each.  Depending on time, I'll occasionally have the kids write sentences using each word as well. 



I have a pocket chart where I put the words we've learned so far, and for review I'll randomly choose a name from my stick jar every once in awhile to ask students what they mean.  So far, here are a few of the words we've learned as a class:

  • devour
  • confused
  • persevere
  • soar
  • destroy
  • flabbergasted
My students love learning new words!  (Or maybe they just love watching cartoons, and have been cleverly playing me in order to watch more cartoons . . . well, either way, they're learning, so does it really matter?)

Bloglovin'

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Soooo, I've just discovered Bloglovin'!  How have I never discovered this before?  While I may be new to writing my own blog, I'm certainly no stranger to reading other teachers' awesome blogs, so I can't believe this has managed to fly under my radar for so long!  I imagine that Bloglovin' will quickly rise to the top of my list of favorite things, alongside Pinterest, J. Crew ballet flats, Starbucks black tea lemonades, and Paper Mate Flair felt tip pens!  Let the Bloglovin' journey commence!

Classroom Pictures: Guided Reading Center

Bribing my kids with Netflix

When I was earning my teaching credential, I would have told you that my classroom management was based on positive reinforcement and intrinsic rewards.  It was an idealistic, politically-correct point of view that I still believe, but sometimes you need more than praise to keep a class in check - because there will always be those students for whom misbehavior is its own reward!  So what do you do when you have students who would rather follow their own directions instead of yours?  You bribe them with a reward that's more appealing than crawling on the floor and untying classmates' shoes during your math lesson. And that reward's name is Netflix.

I initially signed up for Netflix so I could binge watch TV during my Christmas break.  But I happily discovered that there are some really great educational cartoons under the "Kids" section.  My students' favorite is "Word Girl," a PBS Kids cartoon.  Each episode features at least two great vocabulary words that are used over and over in a context that makes them easy to understand and remember. 



So now, instead of giving the kids table points like I was doing previously, the entire class works to earn points as a whole.  Each tally mark on the white board stands for one minute of a Word Girl video.  Anytime the kids start getting too rambunctious, I tell them that I'd reeeeallly like to give them more Word Girl minutes, but I can't until everyone starts listening and doing a better job of following directions. They snap right to attention!  At the end of the day (or the beginning of the following day), I set a timer on my phone for however many minutes the kids have earned, and play an episode until the timer goes off. The best is when the kids are left hanging, and can't finish the episode, because then they're that much more eager to earn more minutes so they can finish watching!

But how do I justify showing videos in class? you may ask, even if only for ten-fifteen minutes a day?  My next post will be on how I structure my vocabulary lessons around the Word Girl videos, so that even my kids' reward time is instructional.  

Flower Bouquet Bulletin Board

This is quickly turning into my favorite bulletin board!

                    

I put up this bulletin board for Open House (Catholic schools have their Open House in January instead of at the end of the year like public schools) and all of my parents LOVED it. This will definitely be a staple in my bulletin board repertoire going forward!  And compared to other bulletin board projects I've done, this one was pretty simple to execute!

I used a template for the flower petals (click here to download) and copied them onto sheets of colorful construction paper.  Since only four petals fit on a page, you'll need to cut some of the sheets in half.  And be mindful of whatever color your bulletin board backing is, because you won't want to copy any petals on that color.  I wasn't thinking about that when I let some kids choose dark blue petals, but luckily some flowers had to extend beyond the bulletin board onto the wall, so the dark blue flowers just went there instead.  

There is also a template for the center circles, which can be copied onto dark brown construction paper.  (Full disclosure: I used my Cricut to make the 3.25" diameter circles.  I knew if my kids were to cut them out on their own, those circles would look more like octogans.)  I had the kids draw horizontal lines dividing the circles in half, but I made the templates with those lines pre-drawn in.  If you have the kids draw a dot in the center of that line, all of the petal points can meet at that point when they glue them down. 



This is important though: don't let the kids write on the petals until after they've all been glued onto the center circle, because otherwise half the words will be upside down on the finished product.  

I had my students write down things that they were thankful to God for (hello, Catholic school!) but you could use this project for kids to write just about anything!

New Blog Design Coming Soon!

Stay tuned for a new blog design!  I tried to apply a free background on my own (knowing nothing about html codes, if that's even what they're really called), and didn't like it, but then I couldn't figure out how to change it back!  Eek!  So I decided to call in the big guns, and soon The Cutest Blog on the Block is going to create a custom blog design for me!  So ignore those silly chairs (major oops! on my part) and stay focused on all my upcoming posts, because soon it will all look beautiful!  Yay!

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Welcome to my colorful, crazy, busy, and learning-filled classroom!