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Classroom transformations are such a powerful way to get our students excited about learning.  Glow Day is no exception to this!  Let me tell you all about this AMAZING day!










I wanted to create games that allowed my students review
important learning from the year. The students answered questions or completed activities that provided practice of first grade content. Each station had a glow game/activity.
You can go big or small when doing Glow Day.  I tried to stay cost effective and got a lot of donations. You really don't need anything other than the black lights, highlighters, glow tape, and glow sticks.  You can cover the windows with two layers of black paper or a black garbage bag if you don’t want to use a flannel backed table cloth.  I used two layers of black bulletin board paper that my school supplies so that was free =)






I also put black paper on my light covers to block out lights that are always on.  I made sure it hung down a bit so it was about 4 inches away from the bulbs.

I used two black lights, a disco light and a black light strip.  You can find them on my Glow Day Amazon List.  These are affiliate links but you don’t have to use them.  I use my  Amazon Influencer page to organize items that I buy regularly.


https://www.amazon.com/shop/ilove1stgrade?listId=4OASUN93BTGB


I used  about 300 glow sticks and 100 glow necklaces. Most of them were donated by parents from Dollar Tree.


Before "Glow Day," I sent a note home asking students to wear white or neon so they glowed, too.






Let's break down the stations we had at Glow Day:



We rotated through four centers in the morning and 4 in the afternoon. I had parent volunteer man these stations.  

Each rotation lasted 15-20 minutes including clean up and transitions.  However, the rotation time can be adjusted as needed.  




Glow Day Sight Words – This is a scoot activity where students found a sight word card with one letter missing.  They wrote the word with the missing letter on their recording sheets in highlighter.  I had various color highlighters but yellow glowed the best.  When they found all 30 words and wrote them correctly, they got to build the words they found with glow sticks.  These come editable in my Glow Day Bundle so you can choose which words you would like students to focus on.  You can also make it differentiated with the editable feature.





Glow Day Ring Toss – This is a projectable powerpoint where two teams battle each other practicing math facts.  There are switch slides where players must switch teams before answering a question to make the game more exciting.  Once someone calls out the correct answer, they get to through a glow ring around the bottles for points.  This is also editable so you can choose what facts you want students to practice.  You can make it math or literacy to individualize.




Glow Day Bowling – Students choose a card and read it out loud.  Then, they tell which punctuation mark goes at the end of the sentence.  If they are correct, they get to bowl.  You can differentiate by reading the sentence or creating your own sentences in the editable version.





Glow Day Jenga – Students pick a card and answer it.  If they are right, they must take out a block of the corresponding color to the card.  I put glow tape on the edges of my Jenga blocks to make it easier to see in the black light. This is also editable so you can differentiate cards or make your own.







Glow Day Geometry - This was a scoot activity where students found a card around the room.  They drew the shape on their recording sheets in highlighter.  Once they found all 16 cards and wrote them correctly, they got to build the shapes they found with glow sticks.  These come editable in my GlowDay Bundle so you can choose what skills you would like students to focus on.  You can also make it differentiated with the editable feature.








Glow Day Cards – I purchased glow in the dark cards where students played Top-it.  All you do is split the deck in half and give each player half.  They keep the cards upside down in a pile.  Then, each player turns over one card.  The player with the higher number keeps both cards.  If the cards are the same, they turn another card over.  The player with the most cards at the end, wins.


Glow Day Cup Stack – I bought glow in the dark cups for this fun STEM activity.  We measured our cup towers to see who built the tallest when the day was done.







Glow Day Tic Tac Toe – I made a tic tac toe boards out of glow tape.  Players used glow necklaces for the Os and two glow sticks for the Xs.  This strategy game is always a lot of fun.




Throughout the day, my first graders kept saying this was the best day ever.  They were perfectly behaved and engaged all day long!  This made the work I put into this day so worth it.

If you want to give Glow Day a try, check out my bundle.  It provides everything you need to have the best day EVER.  Like all of my new resources, it is on sale for the first 48 hours. It is $4.99 until Tuesday, 5/14/19 morning and then it will go to its regular price of $9.99.




If you have done Glow Day in your room, please comment below with your favorite part!  I can’t wait to hear from you!





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Spring is here and we all have spring fever! Energy levels are higher.  Students seem restless.  Behaviors that have never been seen before appear.  And your once quiet class becomes chatty.
Every year I remind myself that this is normal. And to be expected…
But that doesn’t mean we can’t remedy the situation.

In this blog post, I will share effective classroom management strategies for taming the talkative class.

Here is my golden rule when it comes to this:  Do not begin teaching until the class is quiet.  If you teach while students are talking, you are telling them that it is acceptable to talk. So …stop.  Wait. Don’t continue until they are ready to learn.  Do not worry about the time.  If they take your time, take theirs.  You will only have to do this once or twice and they will get the message.






1.Set clear expectations
Set clear expectations. Say something like, “For the next 5 minutes I am going to be explaining  ____.  I am going to expect you to be silent the whole time” or “Our goal right now is for everyone to be silent for the next ten minutes so we can finish our work on time.” Then, you be quiet, too.  We need to model the behavior we want.  After the time is up, give students a few minutes to chat.  Then, give them feedback and have them provide feedback as well.
I also recommend creating an anchor chart with your class so they know the appropriate times to talk.


2.Talk less
We get restless when we have to sit and listen without a chance to talk.  So… talk less. Give students more time to talk to one another.  Utilize turn and talk.  Do class cheers.  Use callbacks.  Have students work in groups or with partners. 


3. Use Callbacks
Callbacks are a great way to have students reset and focus.  I use the same three for consistency.  When I use the “Class, class” callback students know it is time to repeat after me.  There are a ton of other callbacks you can use.  Find the ones that work for you.  To switch it up I will use different voices.  It keeps callbacks from becoming stale.  I will use my fairy, deep, underwater, squeaky, quiet, loud, fast, slow, etc. voice to keep it fresh.









4. Use Table Points
Give the table a point each time they work, transition, clean up, etc. quietly.  At the end of the week, the table with the most points, earns something.  Maybe it’s a treasure box, lunch with the teacher, ten minutes of free time, job of their choice, seat of their choice –whatever you decide on.





5. Blurt Alert
Blurt sticks are an amazing tool.  If students interrupt your teaching, this is a very effective strategy.  You can create a signal as a warning to give students a chance to stop. Or you can just give them the “teacher eye” and, looking directly at them, put up 1 finger then 3 fingers (make a W) so they know that is their one and only warning.  If it happens again, they get a blurt stick.  If a child gets three blurt sticks, then they have a consequence.  You can send a letter home or take away some of their free time. If you have a few impulsive kids, I suggest starting fresh after lunch so students don’t give up for the day knowing they’ve already blown it.






6. Secret Phrase

Tell the students to listen for a secret phrase (ex: lickety split.) that you will randomly insert when you are teaching. I recommend saying the phrase near the beginning and end of your teaching so they focus the entire time on the bulk of what you are instructing. Have students give a thumbs up when they hear it.  They will be so focused on you they won’t have time to chat. 


7. Read picture books
Here are a few of my favorite books to read that address talkative students.
Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein
Lacey Walker, Nonstop Talker by Christianne C. Jones
Decibella and Her 6-Inch Voice by Julia Cook
Listen, Buddy by Helen Lester
My Mouth Is a Volcano! By Julia Cook
Howard B. Wigglebottom Learns to Listen by Howard Binkow



8. Use signals
Teach children to kindly use quiet signals to help refocus classmates. If the teacher is teaching and a friend tries to talk to you, put your finger to your lip then point to the teacher. This will tell the person to stop and remind them where they should be looking. Explain to students that if someone is talking TO them and they're not stopping it with a quiet signal, they are not helping their friends learn the right thing.  Good friends help their friends be better.  If their classmate doesn’t stop after given the quiet signal three times, then they can let you know. Some students are relentless.  I’ve had students move away and the talker follow them, so there needs to be a limit before teacher intervention.

9. Five Finger Countdown
Hold up your hand with 5 fingers up when teaching. If someone talks, blurts, or interrupts, you put down a finger. You do not need to announce who interrupted, it’s just a signal for students.  If you have no fingers up at the end of instruction, decide on a consequence.

10. Relationships {the most important strategy}
When you have positive relationships built on love, care, and mutual respect, problems like this end quickly.  If you have a student who is constantly being disrespectful, go out of your way to talk to them and get to know them better.  Find the positives and appreciate them.  Have conversations with them explaining your frustration.  Ask them to help you.
Relationships matter.  They are the most important aspect of our profession.  They make coming to work enjoyable.  Pour all of your efforts here and I promise you that you will see a change for the better.


 
I have posted all the materials included in this post as a freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Find it here.  And while you are there, give me a follow my clicking on the green star that says, “Follow me”.


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We all know that research says students need to feel included, loved, and safe in the classroom to learn.  They also need to move.  Team Builders are the best way to incorporate both of these!
Positive relationships with teachers are important in supporting higher levels of self-esteem, higher academic self-efficacy, and more confidence in future employment outcomes (Ryan et al., 1994)





Team Builders have their purpose.  Here are the primary:
1.         Build connections – I always say relationships are the most important aspect of teaching and learning.  Team Builders help build connections with teachers and peers.
2.       Mental break – We all need mental breaks to energize our body for more learning.
3.       Movement – Movement stimulates brain cells and the ability to learn.




Team Builders help our body refresh so students can focus on learning.  If teachers need breaks when doing hard work, so do young students.  Breaks from learning help us recharge and reset.  They give us energy.  Taking breaks is essential to learning.



Important social skills, such as, encouragement, acceptance, compassion, acceptance, cooperation, and respect are embedded in every activity. Team builders develop community and foster a positive classroom environment where students feel safe and encouraged to take academic, social and emotional risks. 




You may be saying that you have a positive climate in your classroom so you don’t need team builders.  Maybe you think you don’t have time for them or maybe you don’t see their benefit. I am going to respectfully disagree.  Our students are going to need to be effective communicators, collaborators and problem solvers to get a job in the 21st century.  Team builders work on all three.  You only need 10-15 minutes for each activity and the benefits will far outweigh the time spent.




Team Builders come as projectable slides or printable cards.  You choose the format you prefer.



If you are interested in fostering relationships in your classroom, you can find this resource here

Let us know how you build relationships in your classroom in the comments below.


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The Reading Restaurant was open this week and it was a hit! I served up some fabulous books and my first graders were totally engaged.
If you haven’t tried a book tasting yet, I highly recommend you give it a try! It’s easy to do and an inexpensive room transformation. All you need is great books, a serving tray, and if you want, a chef’s hat and apron and tablecloths.








The day prior to the Reading Restaurant have students make reservations.  I used a reservation list and students just signed their names onto the reservation list.
I decided to serve books that were fiction, nonfiction, fairy tales, biography and series.  I selected diverse books from each genre.  I had around ten to fifteen books for each type.  I did not want to overwhelm students with a ton of books.  Since book tastings are supposed to be like speed dating, I wanted my students to have enough time to look at all of the books. 






On the big day, the classroom was ready to go. The above photos were taken before school. Once students arrived, I divided them  up into five groups randomly.  I asked if they had a reservation and took them to their table. I turned on some soft instrumental jaz music to add to the mood.



Students were given their book tasting books and I explained what would happen and reviewed expectations for the day.






I served each table the books from their genre on my serving tray.  I introduced myself as the Chef and asked them to jot down in their books the characteristics of the books in that specific genre.  Each table had a sign explaining the genre as you can see in the pictures above.






Once students wrote the characteristics of their genre, it was time to read!  Students were asked to look at all of the books and, then, if there was time left, to read.  After about 20-25 minutes, groups rotated to another table and began the process all over again.








My first graders absolutely loved the Reading Restaurant and asked if we could do it again.  We just may!  It was a wonderful way to celebrate books and share the love of reading!


All of the materials I used are from my Reading Celebration Diverse Books resource.  Beside materials for the book tasting, it has some great activities to go with amazing books.
I am Sacagewea by Brad Meltzer
The Girl Who Thought in Pictures by Julia Mosca
I am Jackie Robinson by Brad Meltzer
Chocolate Milk, Por Favor by Maria Dismondy
Brave by Stacy McAnulty
I am Helen Keller by Brad Meltzer
Malala’s Magic Pencil by Malala Yousafzai
Little People, Big Dreams Anne Frank by M. Isabel Sanchez Vergara
Alma and How She Got Her Nameby Juana Martinez-Neal
I am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer
You can find it here.


My Amazon store has a list of everything that I used for the book tasting.  Find it here. {These are affiliate links}


I hope I convinced you to try a book tasting!  Let me know in the comments below!







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I Love 1st Grade by Cecelia - 2M ago

Number sense is an absolutely critical math skill.  Without number sense, computing and understanding relationships within numbers is difficult.  We all know students that know algorithms but have little understanding of the math involved. These students don’t know what to do if an algorithm goes wrong.  Some of them can’t even tell if the answer they got makes sense or not. This is why early number sense is critical.



What is early number sense?
1. An awareness of the relationship between number and quantity
2. An understanding of number symbols, vocabulary and meaning
3. The ability to engage in systematic counting, including notions of cardinality and ordinality
4. An awareness of magnitude and comparisons between different magnitudes
5. An understanding of different representations of number
6. Competence with simple mathematical operations
7. An awareness of number patterns including recognizing missing numbers
(J. Way, 2001)
Students need to understand numbers relationships and work flexibility with numbers. This number sense is crucial when students encounter more challenging math standards in the upper grades. We have got to build number sense in the primary grades.  It takes a lot of practice and most math curriculums do a very poor job in including these critical skills.
One of the best ways to develop this number sense is through subitzing and counting activities.





This post shares some of my favorite ways to use math warm-ups to develop and improve students’ number sense. These activities are perfect for a quick daily math review and/or as a time filler. They all easy to do and make an incredible impact in students’ number sense.
Flashing quantities encourage students to grow their subitizing abilities.  I show my class an image for a few seconds (like the ones above), and have students try to name the quantity shown. The speed of the image flash decreases students’ tendency to count by ones. After students share how many they saw, we discuss the strategies for identifying the quantity. I also use a paper plate and play doh to do this activity.  I like it because the play doh sticks onto the plate and I can quickly change quantities and how they are displayed.



Counting is not just a memorized sequence. It is putting a name to quantities, understanding how our number system is organized, and using patterns. Counting experiences help students recognize the relationship among numbers.  Students need repeated practice with counting to become fluent with counting sequences and to develop their number sense, and one of my favorite ways to teach this is through a counting circle. Counting circle is a routine that requires whole-group participation, where each person says a number as students count one-by-one around the circle.  We can go forward, backward and even skip count.




Ten frames are a great way to show quantity.  Once students understand how they work, they can use them to add and subtract.  We can also use multiple ten frames to work with larger numbers. I keep blank ten frames in the classroom so students can easily access them.
Do you have ten frames in your classroom?  If not, here is a link to download mine. 
Thank you for reading and please share how you develop early number sense in the comments below!





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Research has shown that phonological and phonemic awareness are the #1 predictor of future reading success.  Being phonologically aware prepares children for later reading instruction in phonics, word analysis, and spelling (Adams, Foorman, Lundberg, & Beeler, 1998; Chard, Simmons, & Kameenui, 1998). But what is phonological and phonemic awareness?





Phonological awareness includes identifying and manipulating pieces of oral language; such as words, syllables, onsets and rimes. Children who have phonological awareness are able to identify and rhyme, clap out the number of syllables in a word, and recognize words with the same initial sounds like 'farm' and 'father.'

Phonemic awareness is the most advanced level of phonological awareness. This is the awareness of individual phonemes, or sounds, in spoken words and the ability to manipulate those sounds.  Phonemic awareness can be done in the dark.  No letters are attached – just phonemes.  Phonemes combine to form syllables and words. For example, the word 'sat' has three phonemes: /s/ /a/ /t/. There are 44 phonemes in the English language. 


Phonemic awareness is the foundation for reading.  Phonemic awareness is one of the best predictors of how well children will learn to read.

Beginning readers NEED systematic, explicit phonemic awareness instruction.  Children should be given opportunities to apply and develop facility with sounds.  As a matter of fact, phonemic awareness has been found to predict reading success in later grades.  This has to be a primary teacher’s top priority.

Examples of phonemic awareness include:
·      phoneme counting : "How many sounds do you hear in the word cape?"
·      onset: rime manipulation: “Add /k/ to the beginning of at.”
·      syllable awareness: “How many syllables in the word watermelon?”
·      word to word matching:  "Do mat and men begin with the same sound?"
·      rhyming: "Tell me all of the words that you know that rhyme with the word cat?"
·      blending: "What word would we have if we blended these sounds together: /t/ /o/ /p/?"
·      phoneme segmentation: "What sounds do you hear in the word sun?"
·      phoneme deletion: "What word would be left if the /k/ sound were taken away from cap?"
·      phoneme manipulation:  “Say track without the /r/.”

Children from culturally diverse backgrounds may have difficulties with phonemic awareness.  Exposure to language at home, exposure to reading at an early age, and dialect all affect the ability of children to understand the phonological distinctions on which the English language is built. Teachers must apply sensitive effort and use a variety of techniques to help children learn these skills when standard English is not spoken at home (Lyon, 1994).

Students at risk for reading difficulty most often have lower levels of phonological awareness and phonemic awareness than do their classmates. The good news is that phonemic awareness and phonological awareness can be developed through systematic, direct instruction.

Finding curriculum for phonemic awareness is difficult.  There are many products that have bits and pieces of the components of phonemic awareness but teachers don’t want to {or have time to} piecemeal a program. There are resources labeled phonemic awareness and then have letters and words in them.  That’s phonics.   Teachers want to be sure they are teaching effectively and efficiently. 
After spending many months looking for a program, I decided to develop a resource for teachers.  We have been using it successfully in my school for years now.  This program provides 10-15 minutes of daily instruction plus TONS of activities to do as intervention.  Of course, an assessment of all of the components of phonemic awareness is included to allow teachers to target remediation.  






Since this is a bundle, I thought I would give you a sample to check it out.  That way, you know some of the resources included in this 656 page bundle.  You can check it out here.


What I love about this resource is it is all encompassing – every aspect of phonological and phonemic awareness is included.  There is daily instruction for the year.  It has Powerpoint slideshows to practice skills and incorporate technology.  There are games.  It has activities with Jenga, dot paint, cones, and play dough.  This resource has words for kindies and words for second graders.  It’s perfect for third graders who need additional support.  It has it all.




















This bundle is 50% off today, 2/16/19, as part of a President’s Day sale.  Download the freebie and check it out today!  Please let me know what you think!





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These are always burning questions: How do I work with small groups of students? What is the rest of the class doing?  How do I create independence with my learners so my guided reading time will be uninterrupted?





"What do you do with the rest of the class during Readers Workshop while you are meeting with small groups or holding 1:1 conferences," is the question I get asked the most.  As we all know, you can have the best small group lesson but if the rest of the class is disruptive or disengaged, the lesson will fail.
There are many options of structures you can use, and I am sure that over my 24 years of teaching that I've done most of them.  The trick is finding a structure that meets your criteria and needs and works with your particular group of students.

When I began teaching, we used Readers Workshop.  Students and teachers read for long periods of time.  Then, we switched to centers.  Centers were a lot of work and required lots of time.  The students were busy, but I didn't always feel like they were doing authentic tasks.  Next, we switched to Daily Five.  Again, I felt like students were spending less time reading and more time completing the tasks of the week.  Now,  I am back to the Readers Workshop model. It is not the same workshop model I used 20 years ago.  There is more teaching, structure and choice. Students spend the bulk of their time reading.  All of the time is spent working with books.

A workshop framework is less structured than centers or Daily 5.  Students naturally transition and the time flows.  I don't sound chimes or ring a bell to let students know it is time to switch.  Students do that independently.
What I love about Readers Workshop is that students spend their time reading...and they love it.


We spent a lot of time at the beginning of the year building independence.  Here is where some of the Daily 5 practices come into play.  We build stamina and chart it. It takes a long time.  We begin at our desk and then branch out to flexible choices around the classroom.  We still chart our stamina and have daily discussions on how we are doing, why we are doing what we are doing, and how to be better.  Are you in need of a stamina chart?  You can snag my chart here for free.


It takes about a month to get students independent with book shopping.  I allow them 5 just right and 5 just for fun books in their book box. They have a reading mat and place all of their books on the Start side.  After they are done reading the book, they place it on the Done side. Then they can read backwards.
This is what their Reading Mats look like:



What Readers Workshop Typically Looks Like in My Classroom:

1.  Teacher reads a book and teaches a lesson.  I use Reading for Real as my instruction.
2. Students do a comprehension task that is based on the lesson.  Teacher pulls a small group.
3. Students find a comfortable spot in the room and read from their book boxes.
4.  Teacher continues pulling groups throughout that time.

If students wish to read with a buddy after they read their book boxes, they may.  Many of my students continue reading their own books.

Buddy reading needs to be taught.  I am very explicit down to elbow to elbows, knees to knees, both partners are holding the book.

My students keep all of their work in their Reading Comprehension Journal.  This is a great way to progress monitor and look at student growth.  I use these during conferences all of the time.




The Reading Comprehension Journal focuses on comprehension strategies.  We begin with the favorite part {and why}.

Then, we move on to characters and setting.


Next, we work on connections {text to self and text to text}, predictions, asking questions, retell, main idea, visualization, making inferences, and finally, synthesis.










What I love about this journal is that it has multiple ways to show mastery of skills and you may use your favorite sheets over and over again with different books.  We keep our journals on a ring so it is easy to add new pages.  Students just put the pages under the tab we are working on so they are again reminded of the strategy  Each strategy has page teaching them about the strategy and some sentence stems.











I love Readers Workshop because my students are actually reading.  Research shows students need to spend more time in books to become proficient readers.  I love that my students are doing authentic tasks instead of busy work.  Skills and strategies that are taught during the lesson are practiced during this time so students are able to use them correctly.  

What are your students doing when you are meeting with small groups?  What works for you?  Please let me know in the comments below!



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I have said it before, but I truly believe small group time is the most important time of our day. Small groups are the backbone of my instruction because I can meet the needs of all of the learners in my classroom. Combined with whole class instruction and activities, small groups help me ensure my students master the standards and skills in deeper levels. 

My class size ranges from 18-26 students each year.  I usually have 6-8 groups that range from learning to read all the way to already reading so I am switching gears a lot. In my December blog post, I explained the structure of my guided reading groups.   This post is going to explain to you how students arrive to small group while I am maximizing the time we have together.






You want students to know exactly what to do when they arrive to the teacher table for reading groups.   Some of my groups have work to do BEFORE they even come to the teacher table.

My high readers actually read before they come to me.  I have them practice retelling prior to coming to the teacher table, too.  I use these retelling slides, which are so helpful. 



My students who are just learning to read do important sight word work before reading groups.  I have them sit on the floor by the teacher table and work there as I am finishing up with a different group.  These are my babies who typically have less stamina during readers workshop so I feel like this helps them stay productive during our literacy block.



I have them practice tapping out and blending words to improve their ability to do this. This is from my Phonics All Year resource.





Other days, I have students practice reading their cut up sentences book.  Students write a sentence about the book during guided reading.  I write it on a strip and we cut it apart and scramble up the words {or the letters, if I cut up words}.  Students glue the sentence into their cut up sentence book, like the one above.








Sometimes these students work on sight words using my sight word centers.  I have these ready to go so all I have to do is grab the container and a dry erase marker and they are ready to go! I love these because they have so many uses and can be used with any group.  They are editable, too, so I can make them for any word!

Once students are at the table, they have a few minutes to do work while I get situated. 
Here are some of the activities they do:
Fluency Baskets
This is where students read familiar books, short phrases or passages.  They learn to scoop the words so they can read like talking.





The phrases above can be found here.




These cards are part of my Guided Reading Made Simple pack.



Sight Word Rings and Folders – I have two types of sight word rings.  One set has a single word on each card, like the ones above.  The other has a word and three sentences using that word on it, pictured below.  








The above can be found in Sight Word Centers


For my students who are just learning sight words, I use sight word folders.  They have six pockets.  I typically begin with ten words in the first pocket.  If the student reads it correctly, it moves to the second pocket.  If they don’t know the word, it stays in the first pocket.  I send that word home so they can practice it at home.  The next day we begin with the second pocket.  If they read those words correctly, they move to the third pocket.  If not, they stay in the second pocket.  Then we read the words in the first pocket.  Again, they move to the next pocket if they know the word.  We keep doing this until the words move out of the sixth pocket.  I add new words to the first pocket when this occurs.  This is a great way for students to learn words because it calls for daily repetition and they are working at home, too.


These are SUPER easy to make.  I bought the pockets at the Dollar Tree.  I glued six in a file folder and laminated it.  Using an exacto knife, I slit the top of the packets to place the words in.  I just took our first grade list, enlarged it and cut out the words in strips.  I highlyrecommend trying this out if you have students who need to master sight words!



Did you like my retelling slides?  You can download them here for free!  Just copy on cardstock and cut in half.  Hole punch the top and bottom and place a string, wire, or pipe cleaner with a bead on it through the holes.  Secure.  Try them out with your class and let me know what you think!




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When trying to build relationships with students, discipline can get in the way.  Behavior programs or clip charts negate any positives you are doing in your classroom.  When you pass through the halls at school and hear "Pull a red ticket" or "You're on yellow now" or “You lost a point on Dojo” you can bet that student forgot every good thing that happened that day.  Hear it enough and it truly affects a child’s self-esteem.  So many times the kids that have trouble are truly not able to control their behavior.  After 23 years of teaching I am convinced that negative consequences, timeouts, and punishment just make bad behavior worse.







I know what you are thinking.  “How do you discipline if you don’t use a behavior program?”  or “But I have this one kid…”

I get it.  Chronic disruptive behavior is a significant challenge!  I’ve had those kids, too.  I have a son at home who was in eight schools from preschool to 8th grade… and his behavior is better at school than it is at home. I watched him suffer.  He’s the one who taught me we have to do better.  My son has autism and even he knew the impact of behavior programs, especially those where you can’t improve.   So I knew if he understood, surely our students without a developmental disability did, too.  What good does it do to punish a child who literally hasn’t yet acquired the brain functions required to control his or her behavior? {and why does the entire class need to know?  Even if you are private, clip charts are there for everyone to see.}  How is that helping them? It is sacrifice long-term goals (student behavior improving for good) for short-term gain—momentary peace in the classroom.  

So, then what do I do?  Let me walk you through my thinking.


In my class I have guidelines for student behavior. They are:

1.        You may engage in any behavior that does not create a problem for you or anyone else in the class.

2.      If you have a problem, you may solve it however you want as long as it  does not cause a problem for anyone else.

3.       You may engage in any behavior that does not jeopardize the safety or learning of yourself or others. Unkind words and actions will not be tolerated.

That's it.  


If I have a student who cannot follow these guidelines, I work extra hard to help this child.  First, I spend extra time getting to know that child.  Sometimes I have to dig deepbecause it’s easy to feel as if the child is misbehaving to punish me.  I need to remember that misbehavior is a cry for help.  This really helps me react without anger or haste and staying calm is key! 




You may have heard the saying the students that need the most love ask for it in the most unloving ways. When I look at misbehavior as a cry for love and attention, it diffuses the situation for me immediately.   
It's best not to problem solve with a student in the heat of the moment.  I make sure they are safe and let them calm down.  Sometimes that means I need help from a colleague, such as a teammate, the school psychologist or social worker or an itinerant teacher.  That's okay.  Typically I ask them to watch my class while I help the student in distress but sometimes that is just not possible.  

Once the student has calmed down it is time to problem solve.  I try to get to the bottom of what happened, what the student was feeling, and why they were feeling that way.  I teach 6 year olds, so it's not always possible for them to do and sometimes I need to look for patterns in behavior.    Next, we brainstorm alternative behaviors for the circumstance.  We discuss outcomes of the alternative behaviors and then the child will pick one or two to try. I try to target when these behaviors are most likely to happen and remind the student in private to try the alternatives if they feel that way again. This is a process, but it works.  We celebrate victories and discuss and brainstorm again if the disruptive/negative behavior shows up.



In case you are wondering,  there are consequences for behavior.  Consequences are not punitive nor public and allow  for the child to experience the results of a poor choice, enabling him or her to make better choices in the future. There are A LOT of discussions and reminders involved in this.

The goal of my discipline is to help and teach students.  There is always the exception where a student needs more help than I can provide in the classroom and I work with a team to ensure the student gets the help, and sometimes placement, that they need. I have found when you show a child you are on their side and you are rooting for them and believe in them, it works wonders. This maintains positive relationships and makes for an emotionally safe place for all students.

What are your thoughts? I would love to hear them.  Please comment and let me know!




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    It’s a new year and that means time to reflect and change.  The MOST important thing when it comes to my classroom is relationships. Relationships are what drives students {and teachers} to want to come to school and take risks.  When we feel safe and like we belong, we are more willing to make mistakes.





    So how do we do this?  We all know getting to know our students and families help.  What else can we do?

    A game changer for me has been greeting my students at the door every morning using my morning greeting resource.  Seriously, my students rush in the building, quickly get unpacked and line up to greet me in the morning.  


    I change them every week and students cannot wait to see what new greeting are up or if one of their favorites has returned!
    Students decide if they would like to give me a hug, fist bump, robot hello, or whatever else the choices are. I remind them to make eye contact when we greet each other and use names. Then, I am allowed a few moments to interact with each student and ask, “How are you?”  or “ What did you do this weekend?” This simple act lets students know that it matters that they are in school and I am happy to see them.  It provides a smooth transition from home to school. I seriously could not teach without this product!




    I’ve extended our greeting into the classroom by allowing students to use the greeting with one another while I am getting through the line.  I had to teach this because just like everything else, explicit instruction gets the results we want. Students love to interact with one another and get a sense of belonging and this provides that.  Check it out hereI promise you will love it as much as we do!





    Another way we build relationships is through our calendar and morning meeting.  If you have a SMARTBoard, you MUST check this out.  We sing good morning songs, read a note from the teacher, complete a fun morning meeting activity and review important math skills all in an interactive, engaging way!  I have been using this calendar {and adapting it} for a decade now and it is one thing I cannot do without –and neither can the students! 
    Here are a few examples of the morning meeting activities.




    The wonderful thing about this resource is it changes each month while some things remain the same.  It allows for continuous review so that learning sticks!  
    If you have a SMARTBoard and Notebook software, I know that this will become a staple in your classroom as it has been in mine and my teammates!


    These are two easy ways to help foster relationships in your classroom immediately.  I would love to know what you do in your room!  Please share in the comments.



    Have a wonderful New Year friends!



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