Saturday, August 27, 2016

Building a Positive Classroom Culture




Establishing a positive classroom culture can be a tricky endeavor.  You want your classroom to be a warm and inviting place for students to feel welcome and for learning to feel enjoyable, but at the same time you need to create a level a respect and a certain understanding that you are in charge when it comes to your classroom and the conduct that will be tolerated while within its four walls.

Even before day one I try to establish a positive classroom culture by reaching out to my students via postcard, welcoming them to the school year and introducing them to some of what they will be seeing over the next few days.  I find that it takes the edge off the first day and helps to ease the nerves when they know what to expect and they know what their teacher is going to look like ahead of time.

I also like to welcome my students on the first day with a little treat which they find at their desk as they enter the room.  It may seem a bit elementary, but I find that even my big kids like a treat and a little recognition that the first day is a tumultuous day for everyone involved.



Once the year gets underway, I prefer to rely on a reward based system to get the desired behaviors I wish to see in my classroom.  Reward cards provide a great incentive to my students to behave properly and they don't cost me a penny.


Another tactic I like to employ is that which I call the "Hot Seat".  The Hot Seat takes about 5 minutes out of your day, but is well worth it in the end.  Each week I pick one student to sit in the hot seat, while their classmates each get a strip of colored paper.  While their classmate sits in the hot seat for 5 minutes, the rest of the class is given the task of writing down positive comments they enjoy about their fellow classmate.  I then take these strips, double check them just in case, and bind them for the students as an end of year gift.  It's one that most students keep and cherish for years to come.


Another item I like to use throughout the school year is my "Pat on the Back".  These simple hand prints allow students to thank one another, staff members, or anyone they choose, thus leading to a more positive atmosphere within the classroom and school.  I then share them and hang them up in my room for all to see.  You can get your own copy here.

Finally, as we round out the year, I love to reward the character I have seen displayed by my students throughout the school year, so rather than give GPA or Honor Roll certificates, I give character awards.  It's easy to identify a character trait or two that each student has personified during our time together, so I celebrate those moments that really stood out to me, usually shed some tears, and wish them the very best as they head off onto their next endeavor.


Hopefully I've provided you with some ideas that you can add to your classroom repertoire as you get ready for another fabulous year with your students.  Remember, your classroom culture is all up to you and how you decide to address it, so make it a positive one.

Thank you to Desktop Learning and Darlene Anne for hosting this wonderful blog hop.  If you want more ideas and ways to build a positive culture, check out the other blogs below.




Saturday, July 30, 2016

Win a $10 Gift Card


Well, I have some good news and I have some bad news.  The good news is you can win a ten dollar gift card to Teachers Pay Teachers.  The bad news is that summer is nearly over, and it's time to head back to school.  With that said, head below and check out the very easy giveaway to try your hand at winning the gift certificate to TpT.  I'll be pulling a winner Tuesday morning, and emailing you the code you need to redeem your winnings.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, May 1, 2016

The Last Currently

It's hard to believe, but it's May first already.  Once again I'm linking up with Farley to tell you what is currently up with my life.  I know you can't wait.


1. Listening - I've been listening to Prince almost non-stop since his death.  I have almost all of his albums, but haven't listened to him/them in quite awhile.  It's been good to remember the old days, but it's sad to see another legend taken so soon.


2. Loving - I am loving that my daughter who is 15, soon to be 16, still loves to be hugged and cuddled.  We have very few of the days where she screams and slams doors, and I want to quit being her mother, so I think the teen years are actually going pretty well so far.


3. Thinking - We have some of our best friends coming to visit at the end of the month (in 25 days, but who's counting).  They haven't been out here since 2002, so it's a very special occasion and we can't wait to get the families together and hang out for a few days.  I just know I have a lot to do beforehand to make sure we are presentable.

4. Wanting - It's May first and snowing in Colorado.  In fact we just had a snowstorm this past weekend that brought us ten inches of the cold, wet stuff.  We have had a snow storm almost every weekend in April, and I am so sick of snow, especially since it never comes during the week and cancels school.  I am so ready for Spring, warm weather, flowers blooming, sandals, shorts, and my lawn to be mowed.  Please Colorado, bring on Spring!

5. Needing - I'm really needing to tackle the to-do list (as a family) and get some projects done, before the friends come, before summer gets into full swing, and before we head off on our vacation. Maybe it would help if I actually wrote the list down instead of keeping it mentally.

6. Truth - I kind-of hinted at it in my title, but Farley is letting go of her Currently linky and so this will be the last one.  I am really bummed about it, although I understand.  I struggle so much with blogging and haven't yet found my voice, and so Farley's linky gave me something to write about each month.  I will always be grateful to her for the time she gave of herself.  It was fun while it lasted.


Saturday, April 2, 2016

It's April Currently

It's April and I'm joining up with Farley to tell you what's currently going on in my life.


As I sit here listening to nothing at all, I can't help but love the warm Spring weather we are having today, especially considering that it just snowed two days ago.  Spring is my favorite season.  I just love the rebirth and the spring rains, the tulips bursting out of the ground, and the days getting longer and warmer every day.

I was reminded this morning, via email, that I need to pay my quarterly taxes by the 18th of the month.  This is the first time that I've ever paid quarterly taxes, but I had to pay a penalty this past year for not paying them, so here I go.  Ugh!  I hate taxes.

My husband got us both on this vegetarian diet and I am trying to be supportive, but I think I've actually gained weight while on it.  I don't mind fruits and vegetables, but being iron anemic, I really miss my red meats.  Iron pills just aren't the same.

I've been working on an Ancient Mesopotamia Interactive Notebook.  I'm up to the last section before I write the review guides and test, and all of a sudden I'm have writer's block.  It's driving me crazy.  I've tried to process it through with my hubby, but he wasn't the help that he usually is, so I'm trying to work on other projects as I wait for my inspiration to return.

My poor dog chews on his toes incessantly and he chewed on one until it was very swollen and the nail was all malformed.  So the vet tried antibiotics and a cone but that didn't help, so they decided that they had to amputate the toe, that it could be embedded with a foreign body or cancerous.  So this past Thursday my dog lost his toe and is now bandaged and in a cone for three weeks.  He's not supposed to jump or do stairs, and he has to be monitored when he goes outside to make sure he's keeping the bandage clean and dry.  Here's a picture of my little guy and his toe pre-surgery.



Sunday, March 20, 2016

The Sunday Scoop

I'm linking up with the Teaching Trio this Sunday and wrapping up what I have to, hope to, and get to do this Sunday afternoon.

 
It's my turn on the collaborative blog I belong to so I need to finish up my video blog by tomorrow and get that posted.  I have to also clean up the kitchen and get headed back on the vegetarian diet my husband and I started.  It's definitely not my favorite, but my husband swears by it, so I'm trying to be supportive and give it a try.  I definitely could use the help, and I've had a couple tasty meals, but more than a few have been less than desirable.

I know it seems like an oxymoron, but I hope I get to take a walk with my daughter and I also want a nice cozy Sunday afternoon nap.  We'll see what comes of it.

Lastly, I am loving March Madness - that's trademarked by the NCAA by the way - so I love watching all the games that I can.  I don't really have a favorite this year but I picked Kansas to win it all, so I'm still good there.
Hope you're having a nice Sunday.  Link up if you'd like to join us.  





Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Pi Day - Not Just Another Day

One of my favorite days of the year is quickly approaching.  On March 14, we get to celebrate Pi Day in math, and that's one of the best days by far.  Not only do we get to celebrate something in math and have pie, but we get to teach kids that math is more than just numbers and equations and that is cool.

At my school we have a whole afternoon devoted to Pi Day.  Each teacher at our grade level takes on 3-4 activities and the students not only rotate through activities, they rotate through the rooms, so that they get to engage in at least 9 activities each year.  Between that and the fact that almost everyone wears a Pi Day shirt, which our math director designs, the day is epic.

Here's an example of a typical set-up.  We usually have one teacher that enjoys crafts more than the others, so he or she takes on most of the craft related activities.  In their room, they may have stations related to making a paper chain with colored rings related to the digits of pi.  They may have a similar activity where students then use beads to make a necklace, key ring, or bracelet.  And finally they may have a station with a crossword or word search puzzle with terms related to pi and circles.
Our next teacher often doesn't mind a little chaos and noise in their room, so they often get the round table buffet with foods which are round.  Also in this room we often have a piano or synthesizer marked with keys as numbers and students play the digits of pi as a musical number.  As a last station this teacher might have a basic measurement station where students measure the diameter and the circumference and then try to figure out the ratio between the two - which is obviously pi.


The third teacher's room tends to be more mathematically based and has activities that line up with that premise.  In this room students may test the magical ratio with polygons just as Archimedes himself had done.  They may play with the wonder that are moebius strips and see how they react when twisted in different loops various times.  Another good activity for this room is to discover the relationship between parallelograms and circles.  Finally, if you have the time, space, patience, and responsible students, an experiment with Buffon's Needle is an interesting look at pi and probability.

These activities and many more are available in my packet, Pi Day Fun Activity, available in my TpT store, but whatever you decide to do, I hope you have an amazing Pi Day educating your students on the wonders of Pi.




Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Currently March 2016


It's March first which means it's time to link up with Farley and talk about what's Currently up with my life.  I hope you'll check out her blog and link up too.


I'm listening to Big Bang Theory from the other room - how I love that show - as I complete today's Currently.  It's been a delightful February here in Colorado.  We've had beautiful weather with about two days exception and actually set some record highs up in the 70's.  This past weekend we actually had the windows open and the attic fan running, clearing out the winter air from the house.  It's been lovely.  March and April are our two snowiest months though, so we'll see what happens over the next few weeks.

We've decided to take my larger SUV on a road trip this summer, so I'm thinking I need to get a tune up before we go.  It's ten years old and although I'm not having any problems, I would be devastated to break down somewhere.  Now the trick is to find an honest mechanic who will be forthright about what really needs fixing up and what doesn't, especially since I'm a woman taking it in.

As for wanting and needing, they are connected...I have so many ideas for projects I want to create, but a lot of them require Photoshop skills and my skill set is so very small.  I try to learn more but it's like learning a foreign language to me.  It's almost complete gibberish.  My husband on the other hand, can do a lot of what I need, but he works long hours, plus he commutes over an hour to work, so my time with him is limited to pretty much the weekends.  Then I hate bothering him over the weekend for stuff related to my work, so it's a real catch-22.

Here most of our polling sites are in middle schools and high schools with the rest in churches.  With the world we live in, I think things need to change but the question then becomes where do polling sites move to?  With all the restrictions on size, location, accessibility, etc. I don't think there are a lot of other options.  Therefore, I think when schools are going to be used as polling places, it should be a day off for students.  What do you think?