Five For Snowy Friday

I recently found a new awesome website filled with resources for teachers called Creative Shapes Etc. A teacher had charts that he was using to track students Class Dojo points. Looking to buy my own charts i looked up the company that made them and found this awesome website. Besides incentive charts, they have super cute bookmarks, notepads, stamps and different seasonal and holiday cut outs. They also have individual incentive charts. The prices are affordable and the products look really nice. 
(See? How cute are all those?)

I love the Class Dojo blog!  They have loads of great ideas! I use the digital behavior tracking system with all my classes. They love seeing their little monsters and tracking their points each week. I've found it especially helpful to use it to goal set for points with students before class. It cuts down on misbehavior a lot because when I remind them about how they're working towards earning 5 points that period and it allows them to mentally check their behavior without me having to make a big deal about it. I can also communicate with parents through the app which I love. The parents can see how many points their child earned that day and we can message each other with concerns and with exciting news.
When I went to their blog that I found via Twitter I  initially thought it would just be about how to use Class Dojo in your class but it's not. It is a full blog filled with lots of ideas for classroom management in general. One post I loved recently was about ways to beat the blahs as a teacher which included Someecards and Kid President (Love him!) which had me smiling and instantly lifted my mood. 

My favorite new app is Charity Miles. You can walk, bike or run and with your mileage you donate to worthy causes. For example, I ran about 4 miles and the app donated 99 cents to The Nature Conservancy. It doesn't sound like a lot but over time it adds up. Plus it gives an added layer of meaning to your workout: you're not just running to stay in shape, to challenge yourself or to prepare for a race-you're also donating $0.25 per mile to a worthy cause. There are  about 33 charities you can donate to including Back on my Feet, Special Olympics, and Girls on the Run. 
And speaking of running I am only 5 miles away from successfully running 171 miles in January for the 2,015 miles in 2015 challenge! Wow! I plan on completing that run tomorrow then celebrating! 1 month down, 11 to go!

I successfully finished Module 1 (Classroom Management) for TEAM (New Teacher program in CT)! I just started Module 3 (Instruction for Active Learning) where I am going to be focusing on providing feedback to students. I'm really excited to have completed the first Module (yea!!) but something I realized is that even though I successfully completed the readings and observations, putting my new knowledge into action and wrote my reflection paper, I'm not done learning about classroom management. In general do I now I have the tool kit for managing a class? Yes. Am I able to respond more quickly to individual student behaviors and problems that arise? Yes again. But are there still situations that in the moment baffle me? Absolutely. And that's the thing I realized about TEAM: although it is broken into modules, your learning related to that module is by no means done once you finish the module. The module provides you with a strong base and a great starter tool kit: but I am always learning! And I wouldn't have it any other way. Because with each issue that arises I have opportunity to pause, reflect on strategies and implement the strategy then begin again until I become more and more fine tuned with my strategies and responses. 

I mentioned in a post I wrote in December how my Monday and Tuesday students used the Daisy the Dinosaur app to learn some basic coding. Well this past week, my Monday classes were playing catch up because of MLK Jr. Day and then a snow day; and I didn't see my classes on Tuesday or Wednesday because of snow days. I decided it was the perfect lesson for my Thursday and Friday kiddos (especially since Friday we had a delay-wow!). 
Like I mentioned in my earlier post, when I taught this lesson again I would create an extension activity to go along with the app as well the opportunity to write some of their own challenges. Well here it is!

The students loved writing their own challenges and they loved having their classmates complete them. 

Happy Friday!


Five For Friday

Happy Friday!
After the first week back that sure sounds nice!

This is my first year working all year with younger students so it's interesting seeing how they react to the holidays and act at different times of the year. Monday I came in tired. Middle school students (who I worked with two years prior) usually were tired too. We would sludge through the day in tired solidarity. The younger kiddos? Oh my! They were filled with energy! But by Tuesday I was thankfully back in the swing of things!

 I spent the first week reviewing with my students rules for the library. We had touched on this a bit in the beginning of the year of course but I wanted to set the tone and review for the rest of the year - fine tuning behavior expectations and taking the opportunity to address some issues that had come up. 
I started with reading a book called Know and Follow Rules on the SMARTboard drawing attention to the different ways the students were behaving in the story.

Then I presented the students with some scenarios specific to media and  had them turn and talk about what they would do. Some of the scenarios included 'What do you do when you are working on the computer and you get stuck?' and 'If a student is running around chasing other students during book check out, what should you do?' (Yes, that sounds silly but it unfortunately has happened and needed to be talked about). Another scenario I decided to add after an incident where one student tattled on another for not talking about the question I asked during turn and talk was 'What should you do if a classmate is doing something wrong or not following directions?' (I'll be talking more about my crusade on tattling in number three!).

After this on Monday the students went on Google Drive to create a collaborative class presentation of their own rules for media along with pictures. Oh boy that was a mess! If you've never used Google Drive and its apps: they are collaborative as in multiple people can be in the same document at the same time editing it simultaneously. Awesome right? Well yes if your collaborating with other teachers. Or you're high school students. AND YOU KNOW NOT TO DELETE OTHER PEOPLES WORK. Okay now glad I got that out! ;) Lets just say the students found it fascinating that they could see their classmates work but they were accidentally deleting each other's work and typing on each other's slides. Oh boy! I approached using Google Drive completely wrong - instead of using this time as a time to explore and experiment I expected them to create a product right away. Lesson learned! 

For Tuesday I decided just to stick to using MaxWrite (a kid friendly version of Microsoft Word) and focus on the skill of naming and saving their document to a specific folder. Tuesday's lessons went SO much better than Mondays! Phew! 

I definitely do want to return to Google Drive but more as an exploration. I was also thinking of grouping students: instead of having the whole class in one document, I could group them into 3-4 students each based on the computers they sit at that way the can talk to each other and they can see what the other students are doing in a limited, focused way. 

 And here starts my crusade on tattling. As I mentioned in two, there was an incident Tuesday where a student (Let's call him Student A) tattled on another student (Student B) for being a little silly when he was turning and talking. I should clarify that Student A was not partnered with Student B. Student B's actions had no effect on Student A. But when B saw A tattling on him he got mad and said some unkind words to A. I had B stop and think because unkind words are never acceptable but I have a secret to tell you: I kind of understand why B got upset: yes, he was being a little silly with what he was saying but it wasn't offensive, it wasn't mean, no one was hurt and it was actually about the question I asked (what do you do if you get stuck on the computer). 
Now I've never been one to blatantly, flat out say "No tattling!" Because at this age I think that would lead some students to not tell me things that they should share. But because I've never addressed the issue, I have about ten students a week tell me things that honestly are very low on my radar. After this incident I realized that while the tattling wasn't happening that often, I needed to address it because it was leading to hurt feelings. By ignoring addressing tattling, I wasn't setting a boundary for where I stood with it. What did I consider tattling? What were the sort of things I wanted to be told? 
I sought out information on tattling and found this article. My favorite quotes from it are:

"I do, however have a theory about tattling especially at the second grade level. Second graders seem to be the worst, or is it that they are the best tattlers in the world. Tattling is extremely important to a second grader and I often just tell them, "Thank you for telling me" and ignore it. Sometimes it is something out of my control and I tell them I will look into it. I'm not convinced that squashing tattling completely is the right thing to do. I have come to the conclusion that at second grade something is going on developmentally. The children are highly aware of what you have set down as a rule and are becoming aware that so many children are not following the rule that you set up as a rule. I think they are really dealing with the issue of "you said this is a rule and we should all follow it...but I see so and so is not following it, and when I tell you, you get after me for telling you, so exactly what is a rule. Is it a rule if you don't get caught. Which rules are the ones that we really have to follow all the time and which rules are only sort of rules." As they go through this process of tattling, they are developing a sense of what a rule is and that we definitely do not follow through every time a rule is broken. I think they are getting a sense for what are really rules (better not hit someone ever, and verbal abuse is not too good, but one can get away with it a lot...) and which ones are just guidelines that we use to keep our classes fairely quiet--the children eventually learn what your limits are, just how much talking is allowed during quiet work time, walking in line, waiting for the assembly to start, what ever. I think tattling definitely helps children develop this sense." (Sorry I know that was long!)

"Maria Montessori found that children tattle because they are trying to figure out the difference between right and wrong so they have to question every thing. Between 1st and 2nd grade is prime time for that stage of development. They are only wanting you to confirm their assumption that the thing they are tattling about was wrong or a bad thing to do or say. It is not necessary to impose punishment on the person they are tattling about or to confront the other party immediately, they just want confirmation or not."

And a way to clarify if something was worth telling:
"A couple of things I've used in the past include: 1. Tell the tattler, "Are you trying to get someone in trouble or out of danger?" The younger students understand that! 2. We also used "M.Y.O.B." or "mind your own business"--my students loved it because it was like a secret code. All I had to say was, "M.Y.O.B." and they loved to spell it out. There will always be students who tattle more than others, just be patient with them. Talk with them on an individual basis about the difference between tattling and informing."

I also like this article for its realistic and practical look at tattling (or reporting as he calls it). 

As I mentioned above I added a question about tattling to the scenarios lesson. I wanted the kiddos to think about what is pertinent to share with me and what they need to talk to themselves or their classmates about. I'm thinking about adding a tattling box to my classroom but I'm going to try addressing it first then go from there. What tips do you have for students eager to keep tabs on their classmates?

Here is the To Do list (or Wish List) as I called it from before the vacation. I'm pretty happy that I got most of it done! Did I get all of it done? Nope definitely not! But I made progress and I relaxed which is important! 

 I mentioned in my last Currently post that I had signed up for a virtual race sponsored by Run the Edge to run 2,015 miles in 2015. Which comes out to 5.5 miles a day. Which doesn't sound like much until you consider that's 7 days a week, week after week after week. I'll obviously need rest days so that means tacking 5.5 miles (with one rest day a week) onto my other runs. Or 11 miles if I take two rest days (which is what I normally do). Anyway you cut it I have  to run 38.5 miles a week. Which isn't too bad. I mean I ran 40 mile weeks this summer...when I wasn't working! So far what I've been doing is running right when I leave work. It prevents the whole 'Oh I'll do it later' and clears my mind from work stresses. I'm a little apprehensive about this journey but something tells me that if I keep with it, it'll be worth it. I'll be sharing my progress here every once in a while just to keep myself accountable. Here is my mile totals for January so far:

I'm currently right on track! Yea!

Bonus 6: Glee airs tonight! That's all;)


Currently January

Motivational running videos are a mainstay for me before any race. My personal favorite is of the 2012 Olympic Marathon Trials in Texas. 

 I had homemade potato pancakes and they were DELICIOUS. I have them quite often and every time their awesomeness doesn't fade. 

 I always fade about mid-day then wake up again come 7 at night. NOT good! I need to make more regular sleep patterns. 

 I am running a Resolution Road Race and I really, really, really want to PR. My current 5K PR is 23:23. There is a slight problem though: I have barely trained. Like at all. I did some speed work November. Then at the beginning of December I crashed completely and my running nose dived. Running period was hard. Doing speed work, hills, and timed miles? Yea not happening. My goal was just to run 20 miles a week to keep a solid base. And I know what my problem was: After my marathon did I take 26 days easy like they said? Nope! The Thursday after I was doing speed work on the track. NOT SMART. To all runners out there: If you run a marathon, take 26 days off easy! That when I should have focused on just keeping a base of 20 miles, easy, and then focused on the harder workouts later. 
SO it all makes me a bit nervous. Because I really want to run a good race but I know I didn't put in the training. 
(UPDATE: I ran it in 23:21! Yes I have a new 5K 2 seconds! Not sure how I pulled that off exactly but I'm just hoping it means I'm stronger and faster than I think! Imagine if I actually trained what I could do!)

Oh Lord in heaven help me. I need to focus and get my work done. I have written none of the lessons I said I was going to write. Did minimal work on TEAM. But I did read about 6 books so far and went on some long runs! Still I really really need to just buckle down and do my work. ASAP.

Yes: I signed up for the 2015 miles in 2015 virtual run challenge through Run the Edge. That averages out to be about 5.5 miles a day and 167 miles a month. I know I have no clue what I have gotten myself into except I really want to challenge myself this year. 
Maybe: It would be logical that with all this running I would run another marathon right? But I'm not sure. I have a half marathon coming up in February and I'm having a hard time mustering excitement for that. Not that I didn't LOVE running my first marathon because I did. But we'll see.
I Wish...I really love writing and I have about 30 stories that I've started and I would love to finish one of those stories till it's a full novel. Time, discipline, ideas: all excuses but I really hope to make progress. 

Happy New Year!


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