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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Teaching Inspiration . . . Exploration!

I was so amazed with these children.   I am so selfish with my time with my kids in class and I am sure many of you are too with all there is to teach.  Every once in a while when I need a break or the kids just need a break from me I will bring out the blocks, lego's, logs, pattern blocks, etc. just to let them use as they please with no directives.  Of course they are at their happiest at this time too. Besides the much needed interaction with each other and being able to observe how they play and take turns - it is amazing what they come up with.  I am happy that I had my camera with me on this day because when I saw these two kids doing this, I was amazed. 
They were counting the blocks.  They took turns outlining each others foot.  They were comparing who's foot was bigger and had more blocks.  I couldn't have planned a better lesson.  Not to mention, one of the children is not very motivated during the day.  I sometimes need a reminder that children need time to explore and play and that it is not "wasted" time.  I hope their pictures inspire you to let your children play and explore more if you don't already.

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Seat Pouch Tutorial - I finally Finished It!

It's Here!  It's Here!  I know this a long awaited for tutorial.  Thank you for your patience!

This was 2014's New Year Resolution - to make a tutorial for a denim seat pouch. Over Christmas break I made 7 more seat pouch because I needed them - and in a BAD way.  I cannot express enough how much it simplified the process of student organization with these Kindergarten children.  They also take pride in keeping their stuff together.  The toolboxes enable them to move quickly and work with a clipboard when needed or when I need them to.  I finally made the tutorial since I needed to make them anyways.  It was a good refresher for me.  It is my first video tutorial so you'll have to tell me what you think.  I hope this helps you!  I can finally check off  1 of my 2014's NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTION - Better late than NEVER.  Click to Watch!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Good-Bye Behavior Chart Hello Classroom Routines and Procedures!

It's that time of year again.  I want the rest of the year to go well and I want my students to learn as much as they can.  I will be changing what I do and adding a reflection corner.   I know we are all gearing up and getting ready to teach all those wonderful units on winter but don't forget the BEHAVIOR PIECE. 

As some of you may know, I switched to a new school in a new district and a new grade.  Everyone in the grade has to have the same rules posted and follow the same format sort of speak so - I DID.   I am all for consistency and uniformity but it is just not working for the kids.  We had to have the whole clip chart going with  Good Day, Warning, Time-Out, etc.   It was so disheartening for me.  I was the newbie so I could not break the RULES and step on toes plus I need to keep my JOB!  Anyhow, I am bringing this out after break.  Yep - I am.  Why?   Because I believe in it and the clip chart does not work for those kids who are always moving their clip - and guess what?  The other teachers in my grade level are talking about poor behaviors, not listening, students don't care. etc. and plan on revisiting routine and procedures when they get back.   I will tell you right now that my hardest 3 4 kids - the behavior chart does nothing to help or change their behaviors.  Here is my rundown.
Kid 1:  My 1 (cute as a button) but oh so difficult child when it comes to following rules constantly was disheartened when he did not get a happy face at the end of the day.  He said to me one day,"I just can't be good."  So - there, I was done. Good-buy Chart! Again.  
Kid 2:  My other little guy (cute as a button too), shut down every time he moved his clip and stopped working.  At the end of the day, he would say, "I superstar?" He honestly had no clue why he was not a superstar.  He proceeded to say, "My dad is so happy when I Superstar."  Okay, so my job is to help him get there and moving a clip doesn't address his issues.  
Kid 3:  My 3rd little guy struggles with doing the right thing and wants to but "walks the line" most of the time.  Moving a clip doesn't help him either.  He really needs to identify what his strengths and weaknesses are so he can put himself  in good situations.   He does fairly well in the classroom now because he knows I care,  Outside the classroom - he struggles.
Kid 4:  I almost left this little guy off.  I just love this kid and he wants to do well all the time.  He is so smart and caring and he is diagnosed ADHD and not on any medication.  He is getting some help through a counselor to help him manage his impulsiveness.  He just can't help it.  Sometimes he talks so much his voice is almost gone by the end of the day and exhausts himself (bless his little heart).  He cannot possibly be on the same expectations and consequences as everyone else.  NO WAY.  It would break his spirit and his love for school.   

Okay - so you probably get my point here.  If your chart works for you and your kids that's great but if you are still struggling with the same classroom issues - what's working, what's not?  Try something different.  As a matter of fact I am going to my work today to work on just the behavior piece for when the kiddos come back.  I will not be putting up the clip chart.  That is a component in case you just cannot keep up with tracking during the day.  At the end of the day you can look at the chart for specific behaviors and mark them on your tracking sheet.  
The Way I Teach Tonya Leslie
I added 30 reflection sheets like the pictures above.  One to go with each symbol and at 3 different levels.  Those will be completed in class or at home when I send the slip home (I will be adding editable slips for you to edit if needed).  I also need to have a plan for students who continue to disrupt after non-verbal cues and removal from the group as a "silent participant."   A silent participant is removed from the group (not to far) but still has to listen.  They may not talk.  I have a hand signal for this so that way I don't have to verbally tell the student and lose the pace and flow of instruction.  Children don't lose valuable instruction this way either.  Part of my plan is the reflection area (see below).

Here is a reflection piece too that has 30 pages for different levels if needed.  Each one matches the symbol (sort of a re-thinking letter).  Can be done at school or at home.

There are also ones that are blank with just the symbols for students who are not writing yet.

I won't be adding the nameplates at this time of year.  Instead I will be putting up the  symbols and we will use them as part of our "responsive classroom" in our morning meeting and part of the journal prompt.   Here is how.
1.  Post all symbols - Tell what each symbol is for.
2.  Pick 1 for the focus.  Introduce it.  
3.  Morning Meeting.  We sit in a circle and in this case I would give a sentence stem for children to answer orally.  Example.  Kind.  Why is it important to be kind?   When someone is kind to you how does it make you feel?  When someone is mean to you how does it make you feel?  How can we show kindness to our friends?  When someone cares, they are showing kindness - how can you show you care when you are working at your table?  How do you show you care about  yourself?  
4.  Children respond in complete sentences. 
5.  Since children just spent the time orally saying and expressing their thoughts, I have them use what they say to write it and draw a picture of it.  Children can expand on this by adding an example.  One time . . . 
6.  We then complete a social story that goes along with the sentence stem and prompt.  I have a book with every social story possible and it is very effective. They were given to me by a high functioning autistic kid who was in my class and just happened to be the superintendents kid.  I will check the name of the book that has these after I go to school in case you want to get them.  
7.  Repeat each day for each symbol and rotate weekly.   
Talk about soft skills and meeting the Common Core - Young children need this so they know what responsibility, respect, and safe is and it helps build good character.   
If I absolutely have to have a child take a time-out they will be going to a reflection area.
I will be using a  unit by another teacher- Nikki Sabiston over at Teaching in Progress (posted below).  I will be putting this together today too when I go in.  I took a masters level professional development class in managing difficult behaviors and this is exactly what it talked about.  PERFECT! SCORE! It's already made and I don't have to make it. YEA! She has great pictures of her set-up on her blog and as soon as I get mine set up I will take pictures and post them.    
I think the biggest thing with any behavior system is to be organized, have a plan, and be consistent so children know what to expect.   

Click on the Picture to take you to the Unit on TPT.  Preview the download to see clearer images of those posted above.

You may want to follow my Behavior Management Pinterest Board too.  It's a collection of things from various teachers - not just mine.  Click the picture below and click follow.

Warm Regards & Happy 2015!


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