Friday, September 4, 2015

What Works: Positive Behavior Managment

I've tried a variety of classroom management ideas. Some worked better than others. The success often depended on the student needs in my class and on where or not I could be consistent with the chosen plan. Sometimes implementing the plans would take time away from teaching. (Isn't the goal to have more time teaching?)

Let me share what works for me.

I like to focus on rewarding the positive. This post will be about the incentives I use to promote positive choices. (I will post later with how I redirect students who are not demonstrating positive choices.) I have both individual and group incentives.

Individual Incentives

I came across this sticker board and behavior management idea on Fluttering Though First Grade's blog.
Here's how it works... If I notice a student making a good choice, I'll give them a sticker to put on their 10 frame. When they have 10 stickers they get a prize. Simple. Effective.

I love that it naturally reinforces math concepts. When they earn a sticker, I'll hear them say: "Now I have 8. I only need 2 more to get to 10!" When we get to our 10 frame unit in math... we catch on quickly.

Sticker boards are kept in chair pocket folders.

If I don't want to interrupt my teaching to get/give a sticker, I let them pick one out.
(They know to pull out 2 stickers. Choose one and put the other one back.)

"Sticker Station"

I have two prize options when "redeeming" sticker charts: trinkets from the treasure chest or privilege tickets.

One of the reasons I added privilege tickets is because they cost me NOTHING! Its' also interesting to see what privileges students choose. It tells me what is motivating to them!

This year I'm using Laura Martin's Classroom Coupons. She has a great variety of rewards that your students will want to work for. Click on the picture to check them out!

Reward Coupons

Click HERE to head on over to Fluttering Through First Grade's post about using sticker boards and to get your own FREEBIE of the boards.

Group Incentives

I also have a whole class incentive that is similar to the 10 frame boards. We work together to earn 10 stars.

 We earn class starts if EVERYONE is going above and beyond. (Everyone was participating. We got a double thumbs up in gym. The classroom was cleaned up and everything was even more organized than before play time....) Sometimes we earn them quickly. Sometimes we do not. There is one guaranteed way to earn a star ....*drum role*... by receiving a compliment from another staff member. "Your class is walking to nicely in the halls!" (You  should see their eyes light up as they mouth the word "star" to me.)

When we put that 10th star up we celebrate! It's very rare that everyone wants the same reward... so... we do things the democratic way - vote! Choices can be a short video with popcorn, extra recess, popsicle party, show-n-tell day... sometimes I let them come up with an idea. (Which usually involves some sort of sugary goodness - that's kids for ya!)

Don't forget... presentation is everything! I sometimes will do my teacher dance when my class earns a star. My kids think it's hilarious! I'm not sure how to describe it.... but you put one hand behind your head, one hand holding your ankle behind your back (so you are balancing on one foot).... and then you dance!

This was in a Christmas card from a student.
What type of behavior plan and incentive have you found to work for you and your class? I'd love to hear them. Leave a comment.

Five for Friday: 3, 2, 1... and we're ON!

School is back in session! I know some of you have been back at it for quite some time already, but we just finished our first week. I'm thankful it was a four day week since our classrooms don't have air conditioning and it was HOT outside. Despite the heat, our first week was a success! My heart has been won over by a delightful class of kinders! They are absolutely precious! (And a double bonus being that only one student has cried and no one has had an accident yet. We are on a roll!)

Here are five randoms from my first week back. Thank you Kacey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for hosting!

The first day of school I always send home a little note thanking my kinders for a wonderful first day. (And then I save the left over chocolate for "emergencies"... safely in my desk.)

Click HERE to get this FREEBIE at The Very Busy First Graders blog
We started the year celebrating! This year I had two student birthdays the first week of school.

I tried a new idea called the Birthday Book Box. The birthday boy/girl can pick out a book from this special box to keep as their very own. In order to cut back on cost, I filled mine mostly with bonus books from Scholastic and a few coloring books from the Dollar Store.

Click HERE to visit my earlier post on Celebrating Birthdays to see what else we do on their BIG day!
I always start the first week off with a mini Chicka Chicka Boom Boom unit. We read the big book, we pain coconut trees and add letters, we even make and eat coconut trees!

We made these edible Chicka Chicka Boom Boom trees for our snack on the first day. How cute?!?
This is all you need to make them. The only prep is cutting the apples (and dipping them in lemon juice), but you can buy them in precut packs to make things even quicker.

It was a good activity for following directions. I would pass out the supplies and would have students practice raising their hand if I didn't give them the correct number of apples or grapes.

I am so thankful to be able to teach at a school that incorporates the Bible into all apsects of its curriculum. We also have a stand alone Bible curriculum that goes through the Bible (from creation to the life of Paul). I started our Bible lesson on the first day by bringing this gift.

We made guesses as to what could be inside! A toy? Game? (One kid guessed a "frog". Umm...probably not. Haha!)

The Bible! We discussed how the Bible is God's gift to us. It's a letter telling how much He loves us and how we should live. I also brought a letter my grandma had given me. We talked about how when someone writes us a letter, we are excited to read it. We don't just leave it in the envelope - we open it! Just like the Bible. This year in kindergarten we are going to open and read God's letter to us every day!

Here is a sanity saver. Back up clothes! I can think of numerous times I've gotten food coloring, chocolate milk, paint....(insert stain causing agent), on my clothes at school. Then, I have to quick wash that area of my clothes in the sink and walk around the school with a prominent wet spot until it dries. It even happened this week! I was helping students paint our coconut trees and the green pain shot at me. A well meaning student said, "I think you should wear a paint shirt". 

Here's my bag of extra clothes that I keep at school. I went through my closet this summer and donated a bunch of clothes. I saved one outfit that looked nice, but I didn't wear very often to have this special role. Now I can man the painting table with confidence!

I hope everyone had a fabulous week! Enjoy the weekend!

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Celebrating Birthdays

I don't know about you, but my birthday is pretty much my favorite day of the year. (Followed by Christmas). I love getting birthday texts, celebrating with my family, ordering my free Starbucks coffee, opening birthday cards/gifts, and going out to eat for my favorite meal.

I want my students to feel loved and celebrated on their birthdays too. Here are some ways I have found to make their day memorable... without spending a lot of classroom time or money.

When the birthday student arrives, they find this cupcake stand holding their birthday certificate, sticker badge, and a sparkly birthday pencil.

I think most birthday hats/crowns are...uh,....not very cute. Not to mention they cost more money than I'm willing to pay, especially the years when they come in packs of 12 and I have 14 kids. (No, I do not want to buy 2 packs.)

But I came a cross these absolutely adorable birthday cake crowns over at Kindergarten Kindergarten. Kathryn has a great tutorial. They are easy and I used left over scrapbook paper I had on hand. I made most with 6 candles since that is usually the BIG number we are celebrating. All you do when a birthday rolls around is write their name on it and use a sentence strip for the head band part.

Then there's the gift. What to do? Some years I've just stapled a fun sized bag of Skittles to their birthday certificate when I send it home. This year I came across the Birthday Book Box idea.

The birthday boy/girl can pick out a book from this special box to keep as their very own. I filled mine with bonus books from Scholastic and a few coloring books from the Dollar Store.  (I still give them the Skittles.)

The birthday person is also our line leader and brings snack for the day. Sometimes families go all out. Last year I had a student's dad bring an ice shaving machine and make snow cones for the class. (We all had purple tongues afterwards! Hehe!)

We of course sing the birthday song before devouring whatever sweet treat they brought. In an effort to discontinue the "...cut the cake and say high-ya!" that students love to tack on to the end, we sing an alternative ending: "...and God bless YOOOOOU!" (With jazz hands towards the birthday student.)

I'd love to hear how you celebrate birthdays in your classroom. Another teacher at my school creates a birthday letter on chart paper for the birthday student using kinds things their classmates share about them. (What an awesome idea for modeling how to write a letter!) Leave a comment below with your birthday celebration ideas.