Blurt Cards 

It’s not very often I think up ideas on my own that actually work out for my class. Three days ago I brainstormed an idea that seems like it’s having the effect I intended. I was reading articles about how to stop kids from blurting out. My students often assume that they should just say whatever they want whenever they want. It doesn’t matter if I am talking, if the room is silent, or if the principal is in the room. My students assume that whatever they want to say they should at whatever moment suits them. It’s been driving me crazy recently. My class will just start having 14 conversations right in the middle of my sentence. So I researched. 

I found quite a few good ideas that would work for classes that were less challenging than mine. I thought about using beans, as someone recommended, and take a bean away every time a student shouted out. I wasn’t so sure about that with my class because too many of them would knock each other’s beans away on purpose. 

I read so many good ideas that were just not quite right for my class. Then I thought, “what if I wrote prizes on cards and every time a student blurts or the class starts talking while I am talking, I will turn one of the cards over and the students will not get that prize.” 

I grabbed some card stock and a marker and got to work. I put magnet tape on either side so I can easily flip them over. The students can earn 3 extra Friday free time minutes, 2 go noodle songs the next day, up to three dojo points each, and a joke of the day told by a student picked at random. 

I thought for a while about all the things that could go wrong with it. My biggest fear was that students would blame each other for loosing the prize. I decided to try it anyway. I put the cards up on the board and let the students ask about them. They seemed really interested. I told them it would be hard at first to get the prizes because we have trouble with blurting out. I also told them that if one person blurted and I turned over a card that if the rest of the class complained or yelled at them I would turn over two more because we are all learning, we all make mistakes, and we should try to encourage our friends to do better next time instead of just making them feel bad. 

It seems to work so far. I had to turn over 4/5 cards today but we were a little crazy today. Spring break is right around the corner and the kids can feel it. 

I just hope these cards work out the rest of the year. I might make a second or third set to switch out every week so they don’t get bored with the same prizes. I’ll keep you posted on how it’s working. 

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Making Friends

After a rough week where one thing after another tried to break me down, I can say I am crushing it in fourth grade. I know it sounds a bit conceited but after the week I went through I think I have a right to be a little proud of myself.

I cannot go into detail about all of the nonsense because a lot of it is quite serious and I don’t feel right to share it with the world. Just know that things are happening in my room that I feel very upset about. It was a tricky week. I tread lightly but also had to come down hard on many things. I am so thankful for all of the people around me who have been so thoughtful and have checked up on me and made sure everything was alright.

My intermediate mentor invited me out with her and a few other teachers and I have to say it was exactly what I needed. I feel like I am finally fitting in and making friends (as cheesy as that sounds). It is really nice to belong and to know so many people want to make sure I doing alright. Things are going well in terms of my own progress. Things are what they are in terms of student behavior that is out of my control. My student teaching mentor and I talked for a long while this afternoon because apparently her last few weeks have been about as wild as mine.

She is so great and can always make me laugh! I feel very lucky to be able to take on this new adventure with so many fantastic people supporting me. I will definitely have to make them all muffins really soon!

102 Questions 

Forget 20 Questions! Welcome to 102 Questions! It’s the game where your previous student teacher asks you more questions than you ever expect and she continues to ask them long after graduation and well into her first year teaching at the school down the street!

It’s a pretty exciting and high-stakes game if you ask said student teacher…

It is official that I have asked my mentor teacher enough questions to fill 23 pages in the notebook she and her classroom aide have me for Valentine’s Day. 102 questions about kids, parents, and being a teacher! I thought I might take this opportunity to share with you some of the most important answers she gave to my questions. I think sharing with my readers (many of whom are teachers, future teachers, or student teachers) the advice she has given me that has helped me more than either of us can ever know is one good way to keep the goods things coming in our schools!

Question 18- How do you figure out how to stop and think for a minute about what you should do or what is going on?

Practice. 

This answer made me feel a whole lot better about myself because she reminded me that I wasn’t going to be perfect right away and that it was okay not to be. It takes time to learn a skill like teaching. 

Question 20- Should I move so so many clips in that short of a time?

If you set up those rules then that is what you should enforce.

We used clips to manage student behavior. They moved up or down depending on their following the rules. It makes sense that when you tell students what you expect and they do not follow it that there are negative consequences. Even if the whole group gets that consequence, you have to stick to you guns. 

Question 26- What do you wish you had known when you first started teaching!

Classroom management.

I cannot remember what she said to expand on that but I could see it every day in her planning and implementation of the procedures and rules she set up. She was consistent and it made a huge difference in the students’ behavior. 

Question 35- How do you make judgments about situations you did not see? Example: boys pushing each other in the restroom. 

Give them the benefit of the doubt…

I don’t like this answer because I want students to be honest with me and own up to their misbehavior but being 100% honest, that is never going to happen for many of them. It makes sense and I have given my students the benifit of the doubt many times already. I simply say that I did not see it happen but in the future it should not happen. It seems to work for quite a few of them. 

Question 39- How do you determine if a situation is beyond your ability to deal with it on your own? When does it become necessary to involve the principal?

If parents hear about it and would have a problem with it. 

This came after the first time I saw her take a student to the office and not handle the situation on her own. After having gone to my building principal’s office deal with something out of my control, it makes sense. If it seems like something a parent would have a major issue with, better be safe than sorry. 

Question 72- How do get to the point where your room is quiet while you are doing an activity?

Just keep going and do not acknowledge students who talk out. Tell them, “I am waiting for you to get quiet.” Say, “okay, I’ll wait.” And watch the clock. For every second they talk they loose that much recess.

I included this answer because it proved worthwhile in my class today. We were playing a place value beat-the-teacher game that my students love! They were all so excited they could not stay quiet. Before I showed them the card, I said, “I am waiting for you to get quiet.” They took a minute to settle down but all in all it worked pretty well and I wasn’t shouting over and over again. It works with lining up too. My students are down to only four seconds of missed recess. Rather than three minutes we lost on the third day of school. 

Question 81- (this is probably the most important question I asked her all semester long. I have written about it before but felt it necessary to say it again.) Why did you become a teacher and why do you stay after so many aweful things happen?

Kids need stability. I am always going to be here. 

Even when the world seems to have forgotten some students, it is the teacher’s role to make them feel worthwhile. To show up for them every day means that someone cares enough to get out of bed for them and believe me some days I might be the only one willing to get out of bed for that student. This one really hits me every day when my students tell me about not seeing their mom or dad every day or how they live with someon who is not their parent. 

It’s a tough world, especially for kids, and I am forever greatful that I have someone to ask about the tough stuff I can’t answer on my own. 102 questions later and I still don’t know everything but I am getting there! Small steps make a big difference and every answer puts me closer to where I want to be! 

A Sunday for Crafts

I have spent most of the day today doing “teacher prep.” Which is a fancy way of saying, I searched Pinterest for things to do with education. I found this Behavior Bingo that someone had written an article about. The writer explained how she used it in her classroom and that the students got really excited about it. So I thought I should try that. I think it would be good for any age because it provides the class with an opportunity to work toward a common goal and promotes a community of students mindful of how their actions effect those around them. 

Basically what it is, is a poster that looks like a bingo board. In a jar are numbered magnets that correspond to the numbers on the bingo board. When the class does something good, like follow the rules in the hallway or keeping their table clean at lunch, the teacher chooses one student to pull a magnet out of the jar. Whatever number the magnet corresponds with on the board is where it is placed. Once students have five in a row (or however many they need) they get some kind of reward. 

The site I got the idea from is onesharpbunch.com. The page had tons of great classroom management ideas that I am definitely going to use! 

I really liked that idea and since it would work for all ages I went ahead and made my own. Here are the results!  

   

  

 As you can see, I made mine in two pieces so that as the year goes on I can put more numbers on the board (7 x 7 so the students would need 7 in a row to get the reward). The main part that says, “Behavior Bingo,” is on one of those half size poster boards. The letters and numbers were cut with the Cricut (chalkboard fonts, size 3 letters, size 1 1/2 numbers). Now all I have to do is lamintate it and get magnets. Depending on the board space in my room, I may put this on the board, the side of my desk, or I might buy a metal sheet to put behind it on the wall. 

I am trying to prepare as much as I can now so that I am not overwhelmed my first week. I especially want to be prepared in case the job I do get starts after the students start!