Tip of the Day: Organization Chart

Keeping organized is always a struggle for the students.  One small thing I have done to try and combat this is to have a chart handy for them to reference when cleaning their desks.  You wouldn't think that it would make a huge difference, but it really has!  The students have access to this chart both hanging on the wall AND in their procedure manual.  Each day, when we go to clean up the room, the check their desks to make sure they are clean and tidy...and match the chart.

In the 14 years I have been hanging a desk chart on my wall, I have to say that there are only a handful of students who EVER have a messy desk. 

(Extra points, anyone care to guess where I made my chart???  :) )

Head on over to Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies to read about more organizational tips.

Procedures, Procedures, Procedures!

Harry Wong's First Days of School is my teaching bible.  I was given his book as a student teacher 14 years ago, and read it during the summer each year.  Every time I read it, I get a better understanding of classroom behavior and student expectation.  Harry Wong is a firm believer in procedure, and after the first 5 weeks of my very first year teaching, became a believer as well.

Procedures are a part of life.  We follow procedures for eating in the cafeteria, getting off a bus, playing soccer, and attending a movie.  The reason we have procedures in life is so that people can function in society knowing the acceptable and efficient ways other people do things.

There are procedures in my classroom as well.  These procedures establish our classroom culture and allow us to function as a learning, cohesive group.

To help the students better remember these procedures, I have created a "Procedure Manual", which the student keep in their desk as all times.  This IS our reading material the first two weeks of school  We practice each procedure, model it, act it out, and generally run through them constantly in those first 2 weeks.  Periodically throughout the year, we review this manual, so as to keep the procedures fresh in their minds.

I hope this Procedure Manual is of use to some of you.  It is specific to the way that *I* run *MY* class, and will not be 100% perfect for anyone but me.  However, I encourage you to take this manual and adapt it for your own class.  Write the procedures as you want them to be followed.  That way, it becomes a useful tool for you and your students. 

But if you would like to be able to edit one, I do have one available in my TpT store here.  :)

Morning Message in Upper Grades

I am a firm believer in repeated teaching.  I teach small ideas, in small chunks and constantly revisit those ideas.  (see Calendar Math for a math example)  In language arts, I have decided to incorporate "Morning Message" into my day.

I know, I know.  I can hear the gasps from the upper grade teachers now.   But don't worry, it isn't the same thing that  they do in Kindergarten and 1st grade.....well, it isn't totally the same. 

Click the picture for an upclose view
Each morning, when the students enter the class, they find a "Morning Message" pre-written and waiting to be picked up in the front of the room.  This friendly letter is written to both preview the day, as well as help all of the students practice the important standards they must know as 5th graders.  

As I am writing the message, I am embedding the key skills that the students must practice.  Figurative language, parts of speech, sentence combining, and basic grammatical skills can all be found in the messages.  When the students are reading them, they are to be identifying the different grade level skills, fixing any mistakes they come upon, and combining any sentences that need to be combined.  All of this is done within the first five minutes of entering the room.

Once they have completely "revised" the letter, the students are then to write back to me on the lined side of the paper.  Here they are not only practicing their writing skills, but also are using the skills that they learned in the message itself.  If, for example, the message of the day focused on conjunctions, the students will be instructed to include a few conjunctions in their own writing.  It is a good, in context way to learn the language arts standards.

After about 10 minutes of working on this, we go over it as a class.  It is here where I am doing the "small teaching".  We find mistakes, focusing on the convention standards they will see on the state test.  We talk about figurative language and what it means in context.  We discuss how to combine different sentences in different ways, in context, and exactly as they will see it on the CST.   All of this takes no longer than 5 minutes.

I know they won't internalize it in one day, and that is ok.  The next morning we start again. I put the same skills and standards on it and the students get a second (and third and fourth) shot at those standards, in context

This is just one example of how I have tried to maximize my minimal teaching time.  Have you done something similar?  I would LOVE to hear about it.


The BEST Idea I Ever Borrowed

teachinginroom6.blogspot.com     Teaching in Room 6
Click here to access the Circle Map
The BEST idea I ever borrowed from another teacher was this little gem from my friend Risa.  I was looking for something to have my early bird parents do during Back to School Night while they milled around, waiting for everyone to show up.  Risa came to my rescue.

She had the idea of having the parents make a list of all the things that they would like me to know about their child.  I turned it into a Circle Map (and my love of Thinking Map continues...) and set them out on the desks.

What I got back in return was THE MOST REWARDING AND EYEOPENING perspective of the students in my class.  Reading the responses allowed me to see these children for who they are....children.  These kids are the world to someone else.  They mean just as much to another mother as my own children mean to me.  They make someone smile at the drop of a hat, make them cry in the blink of an eye, and make them instantly proud, worried, excited, scared, and loved all at the same time.

What's more, they help me later in the year when I am so completely fed up, on my last nerve, or about ready to lose it realize that this is a child that someone loves.  I am able to take a step back and react in a way that I would want someone to treat *my* child.  Using this simple little activity during Back to School Night has really helped make me a better teacher to my students.

Meaningful Work from Worksheets

I am not against worksheets, really I am not.  They have their time and place in the hallways of learning.  However, I really don't think *most* worksheets have a lot of think power to them.  Filling in the blank is rather easy at times and I find myself wanting more with each worksheet assignment given.

So what have I done to combat this?  Well, I try to bump it up!  When I see a worksheet in a teacher book that I think might go with my lesson, I see how I can enhance it to make the kids think just a bit more.

For this lesson, which had the students ordering decimals to the thousandths, I had them cut out the little gymnasts after they ordered them, and then write a paragraph explaining HOW and WHY the child chose to order the gymnasts the way she did.  She had to use math vocabulary and actually think about the processes she was using.

This final product came from a  fact and opinion sheet that was a regular "choose the fact, choose the opinion" piece.  I wanted the kids to think about it a bit more, so I had them create a Bridge Map for facts and one for opinions.  The relating factor was "is an opinion because" or "is a fact because".  They then had to describe WHY it was a fact or opinion.  Not just identify it.

I find that using little tricks like these really help my students understand the reasoning behind what they do....instead of just filling in a worksheet.

7 Tips for Getting Funded on Donors Choose

Donors Choose has been a godsend for my classroom.  I have had so many generous people donate their own hard earned money to my classroom and have wonderful materials to show for it.  As of today, I have had 21 projects funded.  TWENTY-ONE!!  I can hardly believe it myself.

Some of the things I have written proposals for are:

*  Apple iMac computer
*  School supplies such as folders, notebooks, pencils, sharpeners, glue, etc...
*  Art materials (paintbrushes, collage supplies, etc..)
*  An ELMO document camera
*  An Easel
*  Recorders for my students
*  Test prep materials
*  Social Studies and Science supplemental materials and books
*  Binders for our Heritage Albums
*  A rug
*  A vacuum (for the rug)
*  Wireless speakers for the computer

And many more useful items that I would have spent my own money on.  My classroom is a place full of tools for my students because of anonymous donors, as well as my family and friends.

Because I have had so many projects funded, many of my colleagues often ask what my secret is.  Well, there really isn't a secret.   However there are things that I do to try and help my projects get funded.  Here are a few of my tips:

1.  The Project Title -- it may seem silly, but the #1 thing that helps me get funded (by strangers) is a catchy, telling title.  If someone is scrolling through a dozen different projects, I want to be the one he stops on.  My title is what he sees, and I need to let him know what I am asking for in those few short words.

2.  My picture -- I ALWAYS choose a picture that has my students in it.  I want the donor to see those cute smiling faces.  I want the donor to see exactly who will benefit from the projects.  I want the donor to be enticed to open my project because my kids are looking right at him.

3.  Pricing -- I really try hard to keep my projects under $400 (including all of the fees and taxes)  Closer to $300 is best.  These projects tend to get funded for me, while the more expensive ones sit.  Less donors need to be involved, so it just makes it easier.

4.  Facebook -- there is an option to link up your project to Facebook, so whenever you have any activity on your account, it automatically feeds into our newsfeed.  This is a great way to generate buzz for your classroom.  Just letting your friends know that it is there is great because they then go repost to their wall, and those people repost to their wall, etc...The more people who see your posts, the more likely you are to get someone to donate to it.

5.  Company Campaigns -- The "Waiting for Superman" movie producers were really backing Donors Choose, giving out codes to use on projects.  I got all of my friends to get the codes, sign up for DC, and sponsor my projects.  Yahoo! also had a promotion running where your friends could vote for your project.  Sonic does the same each summer.  These deals they run are a wonderful way to get your projects funded.  People (re: your friends) just have to vote for you.  Luckily, I have a great set of people around me who are willing to do this.  You may too, you just have to ask :)  Starbucks will be running a campaign in January, the Wasserman Foundation is currently supporting my district, and I am sure more companies will join in on the Donors Choose bandwagon.

6.  Giving Pages -- getting yourself onto various giving pages is also a great way to get funding.  Sometimes, you have to live in a certain area to get on the page, or be asking for certain classroom materials.  Other times, it is just a matter of writing to the person who owns the giving page and asking to be included.

7.  Knowing What Is Coming Up -- Donors Choose has a newsletter and Facebook fan page that have really helped to keep me on top of the match opportunities and special funding.  It was through them that I learned of an amazing Groupon that had come out (spend $10 and get $50 towards a project...fantastic!!)  Having this on your wall and in your email is just a great way to keep on top of things.

Now, with all of that said, nothing is a guarantee.  I have had 3 projects go unfunded...and let me tell you, it is a very sad day when that happens.  But when ones do become complete, I feel so rewarded.  I now that my class will benefit immensely because of the kindness of strangers.

If you haven't created a project on Donors Choose, click here to get started.  Don't wait a single minute longer.

Classroom Economy

My wonderful teaching partner, Mrs. Simon, introduced me to her classroom economy a few years ago.  After avoiding it and pushing it aside, I finally sat down and implemented it in my classroom...and I am SO glad I did!  It is such a motivator for my students, is very little work for me, and teaches some great concepts (budgeting, responsibility, math skills, and teamwork -- just to name a few)

How It All Works

When the students enter the room, they begin to earn classroom cash for performing their job as a student.  Just as I earn money to teach (although I do love it, I also get compensated for it), the students earn money for getting to school on time, turning in homework, being on task, and performing classroom jobs.  They also earn money for proper behavior (in the form of getting green cards, table points, etc...). 

In turn, students will also lose money for being off task or neglecting their student duties.

teachinginroom6.blogspot.comOne of the classroom jobs in my class is that of a banker.  It is these two responsible students who take care of all payments.  When they walk in at the bell, they immediately go to the bank box and get the money to pay those students who are SITTING IN THEIR SEATS WORKING.  They do this silently, and without disturbing me at all (I am taking attendance and then calling my first small group for the day) Bankers also take care of payments for classroom jobs, behavior cards, as well as collecting monies owed because of bad behavior or other infractions.

Keeping Track of it All

Click here for the register document.
As the students earn (or spend) money throughout the day, they record their credits and debits in their check register.  At the beginning of the year, we spend a few math periods going over the ins and outs of inputting information into their registers.  I periodically check the registers to make sure the total in our bank as well as cash in hand matches their register total.

The students receive their weekly pay each Friday.  The banker opens the bank and gives each worker their weekly salary.  The students then have the option to visit the General Store, where they can purchase Homework Passes and Bathroom Punchcards.

Students also balance their checkbooks and make sure their cash in wallet matches their register total.

 What is the Money Used For?

Click here to see my Earnings, Fines, and Fees charts
Just as in real life, there are debts to be paid in the classroom.  Students must "pay" each month to rent their desk, chair, and pencil box from me.  They also pay a text book "fee" at the beginning of the year.  When students need new pencils, glue sticks, folders, or any other school supply, they can "purchase" these items using their classroom money. 

There are also privileges that may be purchased.  Once a week, during Payroll Pay Day, the merchants open "Mrs. Moorman's General Store."  In the store are items such as Homework Passes, Bathroom Punchcards, and Computer Use Passes.  There are also small treasure chest items that may be purchased as well. 

At times, students may be fined for inappropriate behavior.  Students who do not turn in their homework, are misbehaving, or are generally off task, must pay.  Students who wish to use the bathroom, may pay to do so.

What Do You Need To Get Started?

These are the things that I use for the Classroom Economy in my room:

*  Play money (I got these as a grant from Donors Choose....in the past I copied some play money from my daughter)
*  Wallets for the students (again, this year, I use some from a Donors Choose grant.  I used plain paper envelopes in the past)
*  Money Till to house the money.  I got mine at Staples.
A list of Fines, Fees, and Earnings

For more info on how I run this, see these posts:

The Jobs
The Store

A Little Questionnaire, A Wealth of Knowledge!

On the first day of school, the students walk in, quiet and ready to work.  I take advantage of this and have them complete this questionnaire for me.  Not only does it give the students something to do immediately, SILENTLY, when they walk into class, but it answers some burning questions that *I* have about the students as well.

Once I read over the questionnaire, I have a better idea of who they are, what life is like for them at home, how long they have been at my school, who their friends are, etc...I also get to see their work habits right off the bat.  This simple little questionnaire (which takes them about 20 minutes to complete) gives me a wealth of knowledge about the students.


Tracing Our Roots

I am big on "At Home" projects.  I like that the students have a chance to budget their own time (something critical for when they move on to middle school), that they get to work with their parents on a school related project, and that they will have a great project, made with materials they found at home, as an end product.

Now I know there are some people who feel they can never grade something that a child did at home because they don't know how much input a parent had.  Well, I honestly have never had that problem.  My students are doing the work.  They have *help*, but I haven't received a project that was completed solely by a parent (or if I have, it has not be evident in the least ;) )

Anyway, that is not what this post is about.  Back to the subject....

Heritage is a unit that we teach through our reading series in 5th grade.  The unit is jampacked with stories of different people, where they come from, and how their culture influences who they are today.  As it just so happens, our ELD (English Language Development) unit is about Immigration and the reasons people would want to come to the United States.  These two themes go so perfectly together that I thought I would create an at home assignment to round it all off!

Click here to access the project.
Since many of my students are immigrants, or second/third generation here in the United States, I had them start with an interview of someone who immigrated to the United States.  Most had access to their own parents, grandparents, or other relatives that they could interview.  For those few that didn't, I allowed them to interview a neighbor or even a teacher at our school who immigrated.

Next, the students needed to write a report about the country of origin they most identify with.  I use myself as an example.  My great-grandparents on my father's side both immigrated from Russia at the turn of the 20th century.  On my mother's side there is a slew of European countries that are represented.  However, the Russian side of my family was the most prominent while I was growing up.  Russia is the country I most identify with as having "originated" in.  The students need to choose one of the countries they most identify with.

The final piece of this project was to create a parade float representing the immigration journey from the "home" country to the United States. The directions I cut and pasted from Enchanted Learning, however the requirements I made specific to the project.  These floats were so varied and came out so amazing!  Students put pictures of their relatives, artifacts from the country they researched....so creative!  We then presented the floats to the school in a "parade" (as you can see in the picture below.

To keep the kids on track, I had them periodically (about once a week) turn in a "check in form" to me.  This let me know what questions they had, what materials they needed, and helped me to see that they were actually doing the project.

Overall, this project was successful in getting the students to think about their roots, as well as connect our literature unit with our ELD unit.  They walked away from it with a greater appreciation of their own family as well, which was the ultimate goal.

Tackling the Impossible -- Organizing the Classroom Library

Since my first day of teaching, I knew that one of my main goals as a teacher was/is to create lifelong readers.  I strive to give the students the tools they need to gain a real love of reading.  One way for me to do that is to have an ample supply of appropriate books for students to read available in my classroom.  And, boy, do I have books!  That was never a problem for me.  What was a problem was the over all lack of organization to my library.  I had books in bins, but they weren't really labeled, the students had a hard time putting the books back in the right place, books seemed to be strewn all over the place, and there was a general "whatever" type attitude towards the library as a whole.  

I knew that students wouldn't become readers if they didn't ever read, and my library was holding them back.  So I decided to change that.  One hot summer day, two years ago, I sat down and finally did it.  I organized my library in such a way that it would remain that way....forever (she says in her most confident voice)

** An Overview **

Here is a view of the entire library.  As you can see, I have 3 main genre sections:

Pink = Non-fiction
Black = Fiction
Blue = Theme related (mostly from our reading series)

On top I have a moving novel rack.  This is where I have classic novels (Little Women, Charlotte's Web) and award winning children's literature (Number the Stars, The Giver)

The baskets are for student book recommendations and my own recommendations.

** The Book Bins **
I am determined that no book shall ever be out of order again.  To accomplish this, I set up the bins in my library  in the exact same way.  First and foremost, they were a score from the dollar bin at Target!  They are super cute, and I love them :)   I then created the tags for each bin on Word in my computer.  I used DJ Inkers clipart (I would attach the document I made, but since I didn't create the clipart, I can't do it.  So sorry!)  and then inserted a text box into the middle.  Once the tag was printed out, I cut it out, backed it on black paper, laminated and, viola!, it was done.  I then punched a little hole in the top and used a binder clip to secure it to the book bin. Finally, on each individual book in the bin, I used an Avery label, colored the top and bottom with the same color as the bin, wrote the bin title on it and stuck it on the book. 

** The Sections **

 This is the non-fiction section of my library.  Each bin is labeled with one category that would fit in the non-fiction genre.  I have categories such as biography, animals, space, science (general), history, and even one for the "If you lived during..." series. 

 Here is a close up view of some of the bins I have in the non-fiction section.  This really is a very popular place for the students to find books.


 The fiction section of the library is set up in the same way as the non-fiction.  In this section, I have categories such as realistic fiction (both picture books and chapter books), fantasy, myths and legends, fairy tales, and mystery.
 Because the novels are so much thicker than the skinny trade books found in the non-fiction side, I had to use two bins for some categories in the fiction section.  As you can see in this picture, I have two Realistic Fiction bins. 

In the blue bins are my books that correlate to the units of study in our reading series.  I also have books by authors like Roald Dahl, or series books (like The Babysitter's Club)  These are just my "themed" books.  The bins are set up in the same way as the other two sections.

Well, there you have it.  My library in a nutshell.  Can I just tell you that I am IN LOVE with it?  Seriously, swoonfully in love.  I walk by it sometimes to marvel in its organizational loveliness.  And more than just me, the students love it as well.  They are easily able to find (AND RETURN) books without much searching on their part.  They spend their reading time actually reading now instead of searching for a book.  Overall, this organization system has been a blessing to have!

Real Estate Math

I LOVE those real estate magazines you get for free at the supermarket.  The gorgeous houses just call out to me.  The pools, the rooms, the fantastic layouts, the backyards.  One day, I will live in a magazine-worthy house.  However, until then, I can dream....and use the magazines in my classroom.

These are great tools to get the students using and thinking about large numbers.  In the beginning of the year, I have my students "go shopping" in one of the aforementioned magazines.  Given a budget of $5,000,000, the students must purchase three houses, with at least one priced over $1,000,000.  (since we are in Southern California, that isn't a problem in the least)

Once the houses are "bought" (cut out from the magazine), the students write a check for each one.  This is where they practice writing large numbers in both word and standard forms (if you wanted, you can have them write it in expanded form on the "memo" line)

Then, the students have to input the checks into their check register.  They must add up the checks to see how much they spent in total, as well as subtract the house prices from the original $5mil.  Subtraction across zeros at its finest ;) 

When the math is done, I let the students create their new neighborhood, complete with "sold signs" and everything!

Want the free templates I used?  Click here to access them all!!

Reading Log -- Recording What You Read

There is much debate on whether or not to use Reading Logs.  I myself have gone back and forth on them.  I really don't like the "you read for 30 minutes and mom signs" logs.  They just weren't working for me.  I didn't feel like the kids were actually reading, or getting anything out of it.  So I decided to create my own.

I wanted the students to have to respond to what they were reading in a meaningful way.  To help try to ensure this, I created a 5 part response log, with different responses each day.  The students choose which response they want to do, and complete one part a night.  They then get the log back the next day to repeat the process.  By the end of the week, they have done 4 responses of their choosing (with one response left on the log).  The next week, they get a brand new log, with new responses to choose from!

 Here is the doc I made on my Teachers Pay Teachers Store (it does cost $5, but if you read the comments you will see that it is SO worth it...your reading log is set for the entire year!).  You will notice that there are A LOT of pages....9 to be exact. I just copy them, back to back, interchangeably so that there are at least 5 different responses for the kids to choose from.  (you will see what I mean when you open the document :) ) 

 Just click on the picture and it will take your right to all the reading logs!

 For me, this has been a successful way to not only help keep the kids accountable for the nightly reading, but also to get them WRITING about it!   They love the graphic organizers and are really into the Comprehension Strategies on there.  They also like the element of choice.   *I* love that they don't realize how much thinking the students are actually doing!  Win-win for all!

And here are some books that I LOVE, in case you are looking for books for your students to read and respond to!

There's A Boy in the Girl's Bathroom
 The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread

Sunday Pinspiration

Over the summer, I discovered the amazing timesucking resource known as Pinterest.  I quickly became addicted and found myself pinning idea after idea after idea.  After about a month of pinning, I decided that I should actually *make* one of the things I was pinning. 

This post is dedicated to two of those early projects.

 This is *the very first* Pin that I aspired to recreate for my classroom.  I saw it and knew that it would be perfect for my classroom.  Since Vista Print was having a sale (and my love of Vista Print grows), I immediately hopped on it and created this poster, which now hangs on my wall.

Now that we are 1/3 of the way into the year, the banner is not clean and white anymore.  It is filled with many of the things we have learned this year in 5th grade.  The students remind me daily that we need to add something to this banner.  (Since my mind can't remember ANYTHING anymore it seems!)   They really like having the record of their learning.  It has become a sort of badge of honor for the to get their idea up on the wall. 

The second Pinspiration I will share with you today is my rule hanger.  The pin on the left, helped inspire my own version (on the right).  Now mine isn't as cute at the pink one, but the overall color scheme of my room is black....so I went with it ;)

And there you have it, my Sunday Pinspiration. Next week, I will post a few more.

Have you made anything you saw on Pinterest?  Please post your pictures and let me see!  I LOVE to be Pinspired!

Hands-On Equations Shout Out!

Math is one subject I dread teaching.  For me, math is SO easy (well, not calculus, but that was a whole different ballgame ;) )  I just get it and I don't understand why the kids don't.  5 + 5 is 10.  It always will be.  And I just don't see how some kids can't grasp that concept.  So when I am looking for ideas and ways to teach math concepts, I always look for things that will help the students better understand with little frustration on my part ;)

Hands-On Equations was a program sent from the gods to my classroom.  It so simply, so easily, so ridiculously effectively taught algebra concepts to my struggling 4th and 5th graders that I thank my lucky stars I went to the random inservice one day to learn about this program.

teachinginroom6.blogspot.com  5th grade   Mrs. Moorman
Hands-On Equations uses manipulatives to give the kids a concrete experience with this abstract concept.  My students LOVE it.  They BEG for it.   It gets cheers, yes, actual cheers, from my students!  They feel successful doing algebra, and I feel successful teaching it.  

I wish I had some free worksheets to give you that I created to go along with this program, but I don't.  The program itself is just THAT GOOD.  I really, really love it and just wanted to spread the love.  :)

Stop the Bullying!

A few years ago, Oprah had a special on about bullying in schools.  Watching that episode was, for me, a "lightbulb moment" (as the great Oprah would say).  As I sat there, bawling my eyes out over these terribly tragic stories of students who were bullied in school, I thought to myself, there has to be *something* I can do.  Anything.  There is NO reason why children who are 10 or 11 (the age range of my students) should be driven to the point of killing themselves. 

I scoured the web, looked through all of my materials, even thought of some ideas on my own.  But nothing I found fit what I wanted to accomplish.  Everything I saw dealt with preventing the bully from acting.  There was nothing I found that gave students strategies for coping with a bully going after them.

 The next day, I immediately paid a visit to our psychologist.  As luck would have it, she had gotten a shipment from The American Girl company with some information on their new Girl of the Year, Crissa.  The entire program was an anti-bullying campaign geared towards what to do if you are being bullied.  It was JUST what I was looking for.

The problem?  It was barebones.  So I took it, beefed it up for my own needs, and began to teach my students about bullying and how to deal.

Find the program worksheets here.  (if you email them, they will send you the DVD to use as well.  I highly recommend having the DVD)  Below is the lesson plan that I used.  What I did was take the existing plans American Girl had written, added Thinking Maps and some discussion points.  I take no credit for the original plan, I just modified it to fit my own needs. :) The lessons took about 45 minutes each class session.  I would teach one or two lessons a week.


The difference in my students was amazing.  They began reflecting on their own actions, standing up for themselves, and asserting themselves into other situations to help prevent others from being bullied.  They began to see the "innocent" teasing and name calling as very serious actions.  They realized that their own behavior could be seen as bullying, and they STOPPED!  Students became equipped with strategies on how to not only control their own actions, but how to help themselves when someone else wasn't in control.

By the end of the year, I had students coming up to me telling me about how they used to be bullied.  How children in *my very own class* at the beginning of the year were harassing them, making them feel unwanted, making them hate school.  But that after all of our lessons, after all of our work, those children were leaving the victims alone.  Both victim and bully reflected on their actions and learned how to deal with them.  It brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it.

Here are the books that go with the lesson plan, as well as the full DVD (if you contact American Girl, they will send you snippets.)


Fitting it all in -- Algebraic Table Points

My wonderful teaching partner, Mrs. Simon, had this amazing idea in her classroom that I have stolen borrowed to use in my own class.  Algebraic table points!!

It was such a simple, yet brilliant idea, that I just HAD to use it in my class.  So, for the past three years or so, it has become a staple for me.  The basic idea is that instead of earning tallies for points (as I had done in the years past) the students earned either x's or + points.  The points area was set up like this:

The x is assigned a value each week.  Sometimes, it is high.  Others weeks, it is low (as shown in the picture, it was only worth 2).

The students then either can earn x's (they can have 2x or 3x or 5x or 9x by the end of the week)  or +'s.  Right now, it has a +0.  If they earn +2, the equation on the board would be x + 2.

X's are earned for whole group, spectacular behavior.  If the table was very quiet when no other table was, they earn an x.  If the table cleaned up really well, they can earn an x.

+ points are earned for a few kids at the table being noticeably good, or for smaller things that the students do each day.

At the end of the week, the equations are solved by the entire class and we discover who won that week.  In my class, they earn money in our classroom economy.

It is just one, small way to get math in on a daily basis.

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