Second Grade Nest: August 2015

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Behavior Management Ideas

For all the different teachers out there, there are that many behavior management strategies. There is not one magical answer to mastering student behaviors. Some teachers use multiple ways with multiple kids. Some teachers have one simple solution. I know that my classroom had new strategies depending on what week of the year it was. It changed all the time
I'm writing this blog post to bring many different ideas to you, so that you can try out new strategies and techniques! I hope it inspires you to try something new or improve a strategy you're already doing.  

Keep them moving.
 Many times, when kids are moving or acting out, their mind just needs a break. Looking back on my years of teaching, there are many situations where I've had to get after a wild child or two, but could have avoided that had I given them more opportunities to move. 
Brain Breaks became a staple in my classroom two years ago when I discovered Adventure to Fitness and GoNoodle.
 GoNoodle is a great and free way to give kids brain breaks.
You can also pay for the yearly membership, which gives even more content!

Adventure to Fitness is a wonderful tool to use. It is a little bit longer than a five minute brain break, but you can save your progress and the kids can come in and out of their adventures. This is great for indoor recess or a refocusing time after a transition, such as specials or lunch.
 No time for tech? The Happy Teacher has you covered! Click her blog post for a fabulous idea.
Create relationships from the beginning.
Making a student feel safe and secure can prevent many issues of acting out. If they know that they're individually loved and cared for, this may decrease a number of situations where a student acts out in order to get your attention. Treat your students like adults. Shakes their hands when they enter your classroom. Look them in the eye. Call them by their names. Make them feel like they belong there.

Focus on the positive. 
Sometimes, you'll have that kiddo that this may seem tough for! But trust me, that kiddo is the one that needs your love the most. Try the 4:1 ratio. Four positives to every negative. That way whenever a student is corrected or called out, they don't feel overwhelmed with negativity. Keep the same thing in mind for parent communication. Send home 1-2 positive notes or emails home about their kiddos before you call home with anything negative. It's too overwhelming to only hear about the negative, but to be reminded of the things they're doing right builds confidence and reiterates what you're looking for in your classroom.

Try the traditional systems.
Clip charts and color changes are your traditional behavior management systems. I started my first two years using the color change system. Although I didn't love the inability for the child to redeem themselves after a color change, it was my district's behavior plan and I stuck to it. Then, I talked to my principal and told him about clip charts that I had seen on Pinterest and TPT. He agreed to let me use it and I never went back. The great things about clip charts is that the students have the opportunity to redeem themselves after a rough start to the day. It also gives a bit of padding if they've had a great day, but maybe melted down in the last half hour of school.
 I first used the Lakeshore behavior chart.
(Source Owl Decor and Chalk Owl Decor)
Then I started using the vertical system. On the left is what I used first, then I decided the year after to put it next to my rules so that the students could read through the classroom rules after a clip down.  

Try the new technology systems. 
Class Dojo is a newer technology system that makes behavior management meaningful and fun for the kids! I have never had a class that didn't love their avatars and earning their points.
 Haley from My Silly Firsties has great ideas for how to use this as a whole class system.

OR try new noise level systems. Using apps, you can measure the noise in your classroom and let the students be in control of their own noise level.  

Give them a safe place.
If you have some serious behavior issues in your class that can be set off no matter how many behavior management techniques you use, you need safety measures put in place to keep all of your darlings safe. One year, I had two E.B.D. students who had violent tantrums. Luckily, I had an assistant at the time who could help with my class while I helped out my buddies. Sometimes, a cool-down station was all they needed. They met with our counselor and our counselor suggested these students remove themselves from any situation before they feel their anger rise. If the students removed themselves from a situation, the cool-down station was where they went to feel better.
(Source: Unknown- broken link on Pinterest)

Experiment with Whole Brain Teaching
Two years ago, I started using bits and pieces of W.B.T. It's a very big classroom system to take on and learn, but it was well worth it. The call/response kept my kids alert and responsible. My kids were always very attentive whenever they knew they were about to call/respond using hand motions. I knew since it was brand new to me that I needed to ease my way into it, but after a while, it becomes natural! 

Grab more ideas for Whole Brain Teaching on my WBT Pinterest Board
Grab more ideas for behavior management on my Behavior Management Pinterest Board.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Getting to Know Each Other- Tips and Activities

During the first two weeks of school, it's okay if you're not drilling the students with content all day, every day. Creating a positive, happy, and safe community is a huge importance that some may skip out on in order to start getting into the content.  
Yes, teachers have to follow curriculum maps and scope/sequences, but giving your kids 5-10 minutes a day to truly gain relationships with friends and with you will pay off 100% at the end of the year.

1. Let them get to know each other. 
Fun games and activities in the first few weeks of school may take 5-10 minutes of instructional time, but that's okay if you're successfully building a community in your classroom. Here are a few very quick games that your kiddos can play without taking too much instructional time away from your day.
(Source: Minds in Bloom)
 (Source: She's Crafty)
(Source: Mommies Hobbies)
(Source: Love Teaching Kids)

Have you ever heard of Kagan? He made several structures for cooperative learning. They're a staple in a classroom. It gives the students practice with communication, team building, and social skills.
We work through several of the structures in the first month of school. My kiddos love mix-pair-share and round robin!
 For a full pack on cooperative learning activities, click here!

2. Let them get to know you. 
Find your favorite teacher bag.
Fill it up with important things that describe you as a person. On the first day unload the bag and describe each item.
For example: Last year, I unloaded a picture of my family, a few books, pictures of the beach, running shoes, M&Ms, Kcups, half-marathon medal, my diploma, and more!
(Source: Yeehaw Teaching in Texas)
I love Sarah's idea of making a giant get to know you book.
(Source: Confessions of a Teaching Junkie)

3. Let them showcase themselves. 
Having a wall of 'all about me' crafts inside of the classroom is something that I have always done. On the first few days, the kiddos complete their all about me book craft and as they finish up, we put them on the wall. As they get added, the kiddos get to present their book to their classmates.

Or create a wall of portraits with NO names! It's a fun game to play in the class and when parents come in for Open House or Curriculum Night. 

Thursday, August 13, 2015

How I Maintained Differentiated Sight Word Lists

There are many different skill levels in every classroom. And there are many, many sight words for a kiddo to learn before they leave elementary school. I have always used the Fry 100 lists with my sight words. I have also always let my students work through their sight words at their own level. Some of my kiddos will be on the first 100 through the entire year. Some kids will get through all 1,000 words. And I love allowing them to achieve that! 

Getting started... 
In the first month of school, print out the first 3 or 4 100 lists for each kiddo and put them into a binder. They may not get to the 4th list, but it keeps you sane to print it at the beginning of the year and not have to run copies every single week. 
Ask a few parent volunteers to come in  to pull your students out of the classroom and give them the assessment on the first 100 and second 100 sight words. (If a student knows all 200 words, move on to the 3rd 100 list). 

Now. Onto keeping up with this craziness throughout the year....

1. Parent Involvement
-I couldn't have done it without the parent help at the beginning of the year and throughout the week.
Every Friday, I had a parent volunteer come in and test the kiddos on their 5 words for the week. Then, they would make sure the kids have 5 new words for next week.
For example, my room mom came in on Friday and tested a little girl named Marley on her five words. Marley got all 5 correct, but she completed the 2nd 100 list. Instead of just giving Marley the next 5 words on the list, my room mom would have Marley read through the words until she got five incorrect. Those would be Marley's 5 words.  This ensured that no kiddo was studying words that they already knew!
(If a parent couldn't come one week, I would pull students during down time.)
(Full lists are part of my Fry Assessment Pack.)

2. Make a Schedule
Friday- Room mom comes in to pull each kid and test their words
Monday- I make flashcards and kids take home to study for the week
Every Monday at lunch was my time to update my sight word lists, type differentiated cards into a PowerPoint and print. Then 5-10 minutes after recess, students came in and saw their cards on their desks, cut them apart, put them in their baggies, and we started our lessons.
Friday is usually our spelling test, so they would test right after their spelling test on their sight words.
(Weekly list and editable flashcards are part of my Fry Assessment pack.)

3. Keep a Binder
Each kiddo will be on a different list. Keep their lists tabbed in a binder.
Here is what I do:
-Keep a 1 inch binder.
-Print off lists 1-4 for each kiddo.
-Separate each set with a Post-It note and the kids name. (Saves money on tabs.)
-Keep extra copies of lists 5-10 in the back of the binder so you don't have to run to the copier every time a kiddo graduates to a new list! 

4. Celebrate It! 
We have a class chart that goes from the floor up our wall. It starts at the first 100 list and moves all the way up as the kiddos move from list to list. 
Our super stars moved up and down the sight word wall very often. I asked students at the beginning of the year if they were comfortable with their hero being on their board. If they don't want their friends to see what list they're on, don't put it up!
They also take home a certificate with each 100 words!

So, while it may seem crazy and a lot to keep up with, the routine starts to set in and it's a quick and easy process. And it really pays off for the kiddos. I can't imagine giving every children in my room the same sight words, so this process makes me feel much better! And my kids love it, too.
 Two resources that make it easy are my Fry Assessment Pack and my Sight Word Super Stars.


Monday, August 10, 2015

Teaching Kids to Ask Questions

Asking questions has always been one of the harder things I think that we have to teach in primary grades. Kids ask questions ALL the time, but when it comes to asking relevant questions about what they just read, it becomes difficult. I have always struggled with this standard, which is why I'm writing this blog post today. I'm hoping to give you some ideas if you, like me, struggle to teach kids to ask questions before and after reading. 

While it seems silly to teach a first or second grader the difference between a sentence and a question, it is quite necessary. The students likely know exactly how to ask their mom to buy them a piece of candy at the store. And they certainly know how to state that they are bored and want something else to play with. But when it comes to information and fictional text, it doesn't come as easily. The questions they want to form are typically lacking text evidence. 

Have them work on reading sentences and questions and sorting them. 

Once the students have mastered the ability to differentiate between sentence and question, it is very important for students to acknowledge that some questions are WEAK and some questions are STRONG. 
In my classroom, we would always ask questions, then determine if they were 'easy-peasy' questions or strong questions. Kids loved this because it made it more enjoyable for them to determine strong and weak questions.

Click the image above to find a cute article with 4 games to teach kiddos to ask and answer questions from Sandbox Learning

Anchor charts are important to create WITH your students.
As you create anchor charts on this topic stop and have students discuss what you've written and introduced. This will make the anchor chart more accountable for them. 
Ask THEM to come up with question words for your anchor chart.

Lesson time. 
Start with a picture
Show an image on the board. Have the students turn and ask a partner one question about the picture and tell one sentence about the picture. Remind their partners to keep them responsible and accountable for using STRONG questions and not easy-peasy questions.

Modeling in the classroom is necessary strategy. 
Many teachers give instructions and let students try it out on their own. While that may work for a large number of your students, kids also need to SEE their expectations, especially in primary. 
When teaching asking and answering questions, modeling is very important so that students can see how to read their text, stop throughout, asking meaningful questions.

My students have always been animal obsessed! So I stock up on as many animals books that I can through Scholastic! The 'Who Would Win' books are a hit with both my boys and girls. While allowing them to read, keep them accountable by giving them a partner to read to and ask questions with.

After you have let them explore real text, try to transition into passages. When starting the early stages of answering text-dependent questions, I always use color coding strategies. For example, the picture above is a high-interest whale passage with 6 task cards. The task cards give specific directions, such as 'Use your red crayon to underline who studies whales'. 


Partner activities, whole group, small group, independent work. 
All of these things have to happen in order to teach students how to ask meaningful questions. 

Take this partner activity for example... 
Students are asked to  work together to look at a fictional picture and write their own questions on a Post-It note. Then they will read the text together and if they find those questions in the text, they have to underline it. Then they can answer the question using their knowledge from the text.

Passages are always a great practice for asking and answering questions. 
Especially when needing an assessment tool to see where the kiddos are at. 

Check out these four resources for first and second grade fiction and nonfiction standards. 
They come with 3 mini lessons in each, passages, printables, task cards, and an assessment.