Archive | October, 2012

Managing Behavior

29 Oct

My mentor teacher, Tammy, and I created a behavior chart.  In the past my mentor teacher used a color chart.  The color chart had a pocket for each student and each pockets contained a green, yellow, cow print, and red card.  Every student started the day on green, however, throughout the day based on their decisions they could get their color changed. It first changed to yellow then cow.  Cow means they have to take some time away form others in this cow print chair in the classroom.

If they got to red they got a phone call home.   Tammy and I found something on Teach-ARoo that we thought might help with positive behavior.  Like the color chart everyone starts on green or ready to learn.  They can move down to yellow or think about it.  Then they move to cow and then red.  We are still using the cow chair but we also gave students the option to go to the cow chair at any time if they just need some time away from everyone.  They can also move up to showing pride, role model, and outstanding.

Students have his or her own clothespin with their name on it.  On the second day they got to color it with crayons to make it their own.  Again each student starts on green and moves their clothespin up based on their decisions.  Most of the students get really upset if they move down even if it is just to think about it.   I think this shows that it is working for some students.

One student went down to think about it within 10 minutes this week.  During read to self he threw a book.  I told him he needed to move his clothespin down to think about it but that I hope he makes better choices so he can move up.  He did not like this much and started to cry.  My mentor teacher even talked to him and reminded him he had the whole day to get back up.  Throughout the day he slowly started to move up.  At around 2:00 p.m. my back was to the chart but I heard my mentor teacher tell this student he could move his color up.  Next thing I know I have this little tap on my shoulder.  I turned and he was standing there and he whispered that he was on outstanding.  He was so proud that he made it all the way back up.   That was probably one of the most rewarding things of this semester.

Forever Learning

25 Oct


Teacher collaboration and sharing is amazing! This is something I have known for a while and never want to forget. Some of the best resources I have found are other blogs, Teachers Pay Teachers, Claco, Twitter, and just having conversations with teachers I am working with. In many other careers sharing your ideas is seen as a threat to your job security. If you don’t beg, borrow, and steal in teaching you are doing your students a disservice. If something works better for the students, why not do it? Most teachers are happy to share their ideas to help students everywhere.

This week I sat in on the other first grade teacher’s class. In thirty minutes I learned a lot! This teacher was a very positive teacher. The students were supposed to be reading but some of them were making the choice to do something else. Instead of talking to those students about what they were doing wrong she said, “I like the way _______ is becoming a better reader” and “Look how ________ is becoming a better reader.” She also used everything as a learning experience. There were two students who were supposed to put three stickers each on a poster. When she went over to them they had ten stickers on it. She didn’t say they did it wrong. Instead she asked them how many they should have had on the poster. They then counted by two’s and talked about odd and even numbers. The teacher seized the opportunity to teach those students instead of disciplining them.

After attending the Midwest Brain and Learning Institute, I am very interested in finding ways to promote movement in my classroom. The teacher I observed did a spectacular job! She noticed the students were having a hard time sitting still on the carpet. She stopped what she was doing and had the students flick their fingers, touch their face, and flick their fingers again. It took all of about 20 seconds and it redirected the students enough to finish her lesson.

Another resource I use often is blogs. I have about ten teaching blogs that I follow for new ideas. There are times that I use someone’s idea to come up with a new idea for my own students. All students are different so it is important to evaluate the relevance to my students before I use it in my classroom.

The best part about these resources is that I will forever be learning. I can always adapt my teaching to help the needs of my students. There is no one way of teaching and I am willing to try everything once.

Expanded use of the iPad

23 Oct
Response To Intervention or RTI is a way to provide all students with the best opportunities to succeed in school. The school district I am working in uses this method to reach as many students as possible. Everyday the Reading Specialist pulls four of our lowest students for 25 minutes. During this time we are not allowed to teach the remaining students any new material. So far we have done things like The Daily Five and Math workshops. This week students read to self, read to someone, or made post cards. I also pull students aside to use the iPad. I pick an app based on the students’ needs.There are a couple of students who are struggling with their sight words so I allow them to use one of our word work apps. Sight Words by Photo Touch tells them to find a word and gives them a couple of options to choose from. I noticed some of my students just guessing. I reminded them to listen to the first sound of the word and try and find a word that starts the same way. The other app for sight words is Sight Words by Little Speller. This app gives the student one word and the letters of that word are mixed up. They have to move each of those letters to the right place and then the iPad says the word and spells it. I like this app better because the student is spelling it and hearing the word said multiple times. The best part is both of these apps are free!

I also got the VGA Adaptor this week! Now I am able to use the iPad for whole group instruction. During RTI time we went over story problems. I used Educreations which is an interactive whiteboard. I could have easily written the same thing on the whiteboard and not used the technology but I believe this engaged the students so much more. They are used to a document camera, so they were amazed that they couldn’t see my hand drawing the images. Using this app also allowed me to face the students even while I was drawing. The one thing I wish I would have done was record the lesson. It would have allowed me to go back and evaluate my teaching and how well the students were understanding the material.

When we have a couple minutes before lunch or the end of the school day I read them a fun fact. I have a free app called Facts that pulls up a random fact each day. The students love it! One of the facts was that an Elephant has fingers on the end of their trunk. There is a fun picture to go with the fact as well. It is a nice way to relax before lunch or the end of the day but still learn.

Apps, Apps, Apps

7 Oct

I have now had the iPad for about a week and a half and have downloaded about 100 educational apps all but 2 of which were free.  There were probably a million other things I should have been doing instead of finding all those apps but I justified it by telling myself it was all for my students.  My sister shared Ms. Lirenman’s blog with me which is where I learned about most of the apps that I downloaded.

This week I mostly used the iPad for reading.  During read to self time, I called aside one or two students each day to read a story on the iPad.  They really enjoyed hearing a story especially the ones that were interactive.  One of my students really liked the book app JellyBook.  Another student read an Ice Age storybook and loved it!  We did run into a challenge because the students have to be able to hear the story but it was a little loud for the students trying to read quietly.  I might have to see if we can get some headphones.

We have a couple of students struggling with their alphabet still, so I was able to do some one on one work with those students.  I used an app I had to pay for.  The lite version of it got me hooked and I couldn’t help but buy it.  The app is MyABC.  It was totally worth the $3.99 I paid for it.
It is nice that the students see the iPad as a fun learning tool.  During Fun Friday time, a couple of my students played with Little Speller Sight Words.  They built different words and the iPad said the word. They loved the app and it was exciting that Fun Friday could be educational and fun at the same time.
I am hoping to get a VGA adapter so I can use the projector to teach whole class lessons with the iPad. One app I could use for this is Educreation.  It is an app where you can create your own lesson or search for other published lessons.  It is like a white board but you can record what you are doing and saying.

I am looking forward to another week of exploring new ways to use the iPad.  I have a few math apps so maybe I can double dose some of my students who need that extra help.