Thursday, 22 November 2012

Behaviour Management

It's been months since I last posted. I've written on my class blog, our kidblog and have done a lot of tweeting... but I've neglected my own personal blog. Now is the time to get this up and running again.

I've realized that the posts I put on our class blog could go into so much more detail and I should be doing that here. 

I have a challenging class this year. They have challenged me in the way that I teach. Sometimes it feels like September everyday, reviewing routines and structure. Then I remember what September was really like and realize how much my students have grown!

Today I started a classroom/behaviour management strategy. I don't like to always put these in place, because I like students to WANT to do well in class, not because they get something. HOWEVER... I also realize that I need to teach to my students' needs and we need to do something, so I will try this!

I've done a lot of searching and reading and talking lately and have come up with this solution right now. I'm creating a class goal that we will work on for a few weeks (or however long it takes to get it). When they show me the appropriate behaviour, they'll get a fuzzy to put into a jar. Once the jar is full, we'll have a celebration. Today we brainstormed celebrations. They got so excited thinking of the possibilities. Their ideas were very creative! Some suggestions were: a popcorn party, movie, extra art time, free time, outside time, pizza party, a trampoline party (at someone's house!), and even extra writing time.

Our first goal is to work on coming to the carpet quickly and quietly, ready to learn. In order to get my students to understand this goal - we discussed what it looks like and sounds like and took a picture of them doing it the right way. I posted the list and picture on our easel (at their eye level when sitting) so it should help them with the goal. 

I've done some research into the Clip Behaviour Chart - where each student is responsible for their own behaviour. Each day they start at "ready to learn" and have go up or down, depending on their choices. 
The tricky part with something like this, is managing it without it becoming onerous and eventually neglecting it. I want something that can work that can keep everyone is our class accountable. I have a few students that struggle with this and feel this might help.

I would love your suggestions. What has worked in your class? Do you have a behaviour management strategy that works?

Thursday, 2 August 2012

I'm Changing It Up... I'm Not Teaching Forms

As we head into August, it's time to really start thinking about school. Although I still have a month until school actually starts, that means I only have a month until school actually starts. :)

I love this time of year. To be honest, it's just because I'm an organizational freak. I love new school supplies, organizing my bins, putting together my classroom library and overall just getting everything ready for my students. This isn't a job for me, it's my hobby. :)

Not only do I enjoy organizing my classroom, I love having the summer to think and read about WHAT I'm going to teach my students. 

Currently I'm reading through No more, "I'm Done!" by Jennifer Jacobson. I'm not even halfway through yet (organizing my classroom and the olympics have been my distraction!) but I love the idea of teaching various traits in my mini lessons and having students then write what they choose. This is their writer's workshop time. This allows me to focus on the mini lesson when having conferences with students during their writing time. Organizing my writing time this way, will move away from teaching forms and having everyone write the same time at the same time. This is a shift for me. I think teaching forms is easier to mark so essentially, it's easier to manage. All students work on the same thing at the same time, we can create success criteria using a specific form and I can create a rubric from that. This is organized. This is familiar. This works for me.


Is it beneficial for the students? Is it meaningful writing when everyone is writing a letter or a list at the same time? Even if they're not engaged or have nothing to write about on that topic?

This year I'm changing it up. I want to leave writing open for students to choose WHAT they write about. I want my students - most importantly, my reluctant students, to view themselves as writers. REAL writers. I don't think I get this with writing forms.

Am I going to throw away forms? Of course not. I have to teach forms, it's part of the curriculum  - just as voice, spelling unfamiliar words, adding capitals and periods, etc. are outlined in the curriculum. It just doesn't have to be my focus. I'll incorporate forms into my mini lessons, as I'll do for the various traits and grammar that needs to be taught.

This is not a new idea or a novel concept - I know that. Lucy Calkins outlined this beautifully in her "writing workshop" concept years ago. I've read it before, I believed in it before, but I went back to familiar - went back to forms. This year, I'm going to try hard not to get sucked back in. I'm going to teach to my students' needs. I'm going to conference with students. I'll give timely feedback about their writing. This is my goal. I'm going to try it. I know I'm going to get "messy". It might not be as organized as I like. But, I'm changing it up. Why? Because ultimately this is what's best for my students.

Friday, 27 July 2012

Change... scary or exciting?

This new school year brings some new and exciting adventures my way. I've moved schools (again) this year. This will be my 8th classroom to set up in 7 years of teaching. The downfall of being an LTO means I need to pack up and leave at the end of each year. I've gained HUGE experience by getting to be a part of so many different schools and meeting so many fantastic teachers on the way, so I really can't complain about moving so much! This year after getting a full time contract, I didn't think I would go anywhere... then my dream job came up. I couldn't pass it up just because I was "lazy" of moving again. So here I am, moving into my 8th classroom. The excitement this brings is beyond words! I'm in my dream school, teaching grade 1with so much technology available. I'll have a SMARTboard, document camera, wifi and 5 classroom ipod touches (a class set if I want to sign them out). There may be possibly more, but that's what I know of right now. My goal is to get an iPad or two in there by the end of the year as well!

All this can really be summed into one word... CHANGE.

But change can be a good thing, even if starting something new is scary. I'm going to have to change to how I teach - I was in a portable last year with very limited technology teaching grade 3. I'm jumping into a tech school teaching grade 1.

But change is good - it makes me look at how I taught things before and evaluate what worked and what didn't. I've been reading other teachers' blogs and have been so impressed on what they've been doing. (If you want to build up your own PLN check out this website: it has classroom and teacher blogs organized by grades. AMAZING!)

Really, the point for me is this: I want to be the best teacher I can be.

The technology I'll have in my classroom is going to be wonderful; however, it is only a tool in the classroom for learning. Just like hundreds charts and 2-sided counters are tools for math. I need to remind myself that as I get excited about all the possibilities. I need to do what works best in my classroom for my specific students. I want to use the technology to help gain understanding and learning from the curriculum I need to address. Teaching the fundamentals are essential, using technology to help is only a bonus.

How have you integrated technology into your classroom to help teach the curriculum?

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

First Blog!

Today is the start of something new.

I've just set up my own personal blog. 

Quite honestly, this scares me. A LOT. However, I've been told many times that blogging can be so important for my own personal growth as a teacher, that I just can't ignore it anymore.

This blog is going to be my space to write out my thoughts and try and organize my thinking of teaching. I love teaching and being in a classroom. As we head midway through the summer, I know I still have time to enjoy and relax but I also know I need to get back into my classroom and start getting ready for September. I have a lot of new experiences this year. I'm changing schools, changing grades and jumping head first into technology. My new school is a technology school. I want to embrace this tool as something for my students that will help and encourage them in their learning journey. I hope that this blog will help me get through my crazy new year as I embark on something new and exciting!

Will my blog be successful? Who knows... but does it matter? This is really just for me. It still scares me... but I'm going to press on anyway. Here are my reasons for why I haven't started blogging yet...

1. time consuming - I already spend too much time on school stuff... will this be another thing to take time away from my husband and other interests?

2. what will I say? - do I really have something important to say that needs to be posted on the Internet for anyone to read?

3. being a perfectionist - I like things done well... this is new, this might be messy, I might make mistakes. I need to be okay with that.

I'm not sure those really qualify for being great reasons NOT to blog, so here I am. Trying it out. Next step: Pressing Publish.

I would love your thoughts on how you felt when you first started your blog. Are there any tips you can share with me, that I can get the most out of blogging?

Thanks for reading and for your encouragement!