Thursday, January 30, 2014

Too Many Toys

This year is going by so fast!  I've been looking back at how far my students have come.  Academically many of them have made great progress.  However, the behavior struggles are still there.

One of our biggest struggles is bringing toys to school.  The toys are a big distraction as students are constantly talking about them, showing them to others, and going to their backpacks to trade toys.  All of the students know the rule that there are no toys allowed at school.  In fact, we even have school toys in our classroom, so there is no need for students to bring their own toys.  I know that sharing their toys is a way for students to build relationships, but it is negatively impacting their learning.  A few months ago I began taking away toys.  Then, my desk drawer filled up with Hot Wheels, Legos, and other trinkets. 

I gave toys back to parents at parent teacher conferences and many of them commented that their kids had enough toys and they didn't intend to give these long lost toys back.  I discussed with each parent some possible new strategies for stopping our toy problem.  All parents agreed that I could throw the toys out.  I tried that for a few days, but then I had to deal with kids digging through the trash looking for toys.  So, I decided on a better strategy.  I now collect the toys all week and sell them in our class store.  It hasn't stopped students bringing toys to school, but it has helped them to improve their behavior to earn more dollars so that they can buy back their toys.  Students earn fake dollars for following school rules and helping others.

I think this is the best solution I have found so far.  How do you handle students bringing toys to school?  I'd love to hear your tips and tricks.  

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Bits and Pieces from the Week

We had a snow day yesterday.  It was a pleasant surprise, but in many ways somber.  It was our last built in calamity day.  Any future snow days will be days we have to make up at the end of the year.

My class was supposed to take a field trip yesterday to see a musical.  I'm sure they were disappointed as we had been preparing and building suspense for the trip all week.  Fortunately, we have already rescheduled the trip.

Our math unit on standard units of measurement is moving along quickly.  We've been chanting the equivalent units of measurement to help students memorize how many feet in a yard, etc.  My students are comfortable measuring in inches and feet.  We still need to work on estimation and how many more.  Do you have any tricks for teaching students how to solve "how many more/fewer" questions?

I gave students a little more freedom in their word work this week.  Here is what a group of students did with the direction to use the magnetic letters to make words.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Making Up For Lost Time

I feel like a bad blogger.  Sorry for not updating all weekend!  I'm thankful for the long weekend though!  Did you have today off?  We did and we needed it.  After coming back from three weeks of Winter Break, everyone needed an extra day to rest.  Our first week back started off great!  I think it was like the first day of school all over again.  Everyone was so excited to be at school.  I reviewed rules and routines with my little angels.  Well, then Tuesday hit and we were all comfortable with each other again.  Behavior issues started up and I wasn't sure the week would ever end.  Friday felt like the longest day ever.  But, here we are at the end of a three day weekend.  The weekend has come and gone faster than Friday seemed to go.

I can't promise I'll be a better blogger this week.  It seems like this is the week for meetings, my first formal observations, a field trip on Friday, grades are almost due, and it is our first official week of drama club.  I may be a new teacher, but I believe there is no better time to establish and advise a club.  The students and parents are excited too!  We had over 50 students sign up!  It is going to be a huge production!

My goal is to snap some pictures this week. I hope you have a great 4 day week!

Friday, January 10, 2014

When disaster strikes

What a week! Students still have not come back from Winter Break. They've been home for three weeks now.

Monday and Tuesday were snow days. When teachers went in Wednesday morning, we found what looked like a waterfall in one classroom, rain coming out of the ceiling in another, and the library flooded. We're in a very old building, so I'm not so surprised that five pipes burst during the worst freeze in years.  

Teachers have been working together the last few days to document damage, clean up, and relocate effected classrooms. One teacher lost everything and our modest school library lost half the books. The building had to be sprayed with chemicals so that mold does not grow.

As awful as this all has been, it's been great to see the staff come together.  We worked together to set up a classroom for the teacher who lost everything. We made it as comfortable and familiar as possible.  It's going to be difficult for those students to come back to all of their work ruined. Hopefully we can get the students to support and help each other as the teachers have been doing.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Christmas Charity in the Classroom

The afternoon of our last day before break, my class went on a very special trip.  During the month of December, we collected candy.  Parents jumped at the opportunity to get rid of left over Halloween candy!

 Each student carried a grocery bag full of candy to a local soup kitchen.  We really enjoyed getting out for a walk!  At the soup kitchen, students went on a tour of the building and learned about resources they could take advantage of if they ever need a meal.  Then, we set to work stuffing the candy we had brought into stockings.  The soup kitchen gave these stockings to kids that ate at the soup kitchen on Christmas.

We also brought holiday cards made by our students and a few canned goods.  This was really just the beginning of our relationship with this soup kitchen.  My students were very well behaved.  They stayed on task and respected the men who live and work at the soup kitchen.  As we were leaving, my students asked, "Can we come back and help for Easter?"  I was surprised and impressed!  My students are developing charitable hearts.  They are getting out into their community and helping others.

My class was given this cute stuffed animal cow by the soup kitchen.  We affectionately named him, "Cowy."

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Where Have I Been?

I cannot believe it has been almost a full month since my last post!  I'm so sorry!
Those last two weeks before break we're crazy busy!  I fully intended to write as soon as break started, but I received a rather unpleasant gift from my students-the worst cold of my life!  It made for a rather miserable break.  I guess I needed the time to relax and recharge, though.  Anyway, two weeks of break and I'm almost back to 100% health.  We have a professional day Monday and students start back on Tuesday, unless we get a snow day!

It's time to get back into school mode.  Here is a glimpse back to the week before Winter Break:

We went to the zoo two days before break began.  Crazy? Yes, we might have been.  We returned to school with all the students and they had a great time.  It was a successful trip!  Plus, we learned about elephants and rain forest animals!

On the last day of school before Winter Break, a local private high school sent a class of Sophomores to our school to do holiday activities with the kids.  They began the day making these cute paper bag reindeer.  Then, one of the highschoolers dressed as Santa and each student received a wrapped gift.  It was really impressive the thought and care put into the event by the high school students.

While the rest of the school watched movies in the afternoon, my class went on a "secret" mission walking trip.  More on that tomorrow!