Goodbye card system, hello Dojo!

To start my tenth year of teaching, I wanted to utilize something different for my behavior management. Previously I had been using the 4 colored card system. This involved a student “pulling a card” for not making a good choice, i.e. talking, not following directions, whatever their choice was that wasn’t follow our classroom rules. For 2nd graders,  I would write their behavior on the card, along with the date, but for third graders I had them write what they did. Viola! I had a record of a child’s behavior.  Points were then given for whatever color of card the child was on at the end of the day. At the end of the month, children could use their points to attend the monthly reward. 80% of the points possible had to be earned to participate.

This worked well for 9 years.

But there were some downsides to it, as there are with anything.

There were times, when I was the one responsible for writing on the card, when I would forget what the child had done. This lead to me asking the child at the end of the day, “What did you do?”

Another downside, was when a child would be asked to go pull a card they would have to stop what they were doing, walk over the the bulletin board, pull a card, write what they did, and the sit back down. All while, I continue to teach. They were missing instruction and course some classmates were occupied with the friend who had to pull a card.

And the last downside, stems from my lack of organization. At the end of the day, I needed to record the points earned by each student. In the beginning I used a pencil and paper chart. That upgraded to an Excel document. Both of these took no more than 10 minutes, but at the end of the day I didn’t want to mess with it.

I knew there had to be something else out there besides the clips that I could use that would work well. I set out on Pinterest during one of my summer coffee drinking mornings. I stumbled upon Class Dojo. Eureka!!! This will work!

  
 If you’re not familiar with Class Dojo, please check it out! The focus of this is rewarding kids for positive behaviors. You can set which behaviors you want to reward and the point level. In my classroom behaviors such as helping others, using manner, being polite, and doing without being asked are positive behaviors that earn points. 

  
Behaviors such as using unkind words, talking with others are talking, or being off task are behaviors that will lose points.

  
On Mondays I have a store open for kids to use the Dojo points they’ve earned to buy items such as candy, erasers, pencils, bookmarks, lunch in the classroom with a friend, and stinky feet pass (no shoes). Many of these items I pick up at the $1 Spot at Target or I use my bonus points when I place a Scholastic book order.

My kids have really taken off with positive behaviors. They do things without even thinking about earning points.

My kids have also liked being able to change their avatar.

  
There is even a Dojo app to download. I have it on my iPhone and iPad. I use both to give and take points. Also, another great feature is the parent messaging. Personal cell phone numbers are never exchanged. Parents can text me and vice versa. Group messaging is also possible. I rarely email my parents. All but 3 of my parents have downloaded the app and use it frequently.

I have also received many positive comments from parents. They love being able to see how their child is doing everyday. Plus it saves me times with keeping them informed.

If you’re looking for a different way to manage classroom behavior, I receommend Class Dojo.

 

Reading CAFE Board

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I couldn’t be more pleased with how my reading CAFE board turned out. Thanks to a fellow teacher for giving me the large pockets, I have a place to keep my strategies until I need to add them to the board. I purchased my menu and strategy printables from Teachers Pay Teachers. I’ll have more pictures up soon of the rest of my classroom. Only a few more days until students and parents come for Open House.

End of July Itch

It’s towards the end of July and I’m starting to get that itch. You know, the back to school itch.  YIKES! Granted Open House is not until August 12th (my district does ours before school starts) and the first day isn’t until August 14th, I’m beginning to think about my classroom and what new things I want to do this year. Today I made a poster, rather than buy one. I made a trip to Dollar General for poster board which was 2 for 50 cents and markers for a couple of dollars. I then went back through the many posters I have pinned on Pinterest. I combined my favorite parts and made this poster that I can’t wait to hang in my classroom. I saved money by not buying the already made posters, plus it was able to custom it the way I wanted. The money I saved makes up for the Target $1 Spot trip last week. 🙂image

The Game That Is Worth 1,000 Worksheets

My kids love playing this game when their morning math is done. It’s the best way to practice math facts and have fun.

Denise Gaskins' Let's Play Math

[Rescued from my old blog. Image via Wikipedia.]

Math concepts: greater-than/less-than, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, negative numbers, absolute value, and multi-step problem solving.

Have you and your children been struggling to learn the math facts? The game of Math Card War is worth more than a thousand math drill worksheets, letting you build your children’s calculating speed in a no-stress, no-test way.

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Reading A to Z Summer School Theme Pack

Teaching summer school gives me the opportunity to try out some new things I’m wanting to incorporate in my classroom next year. I’m using Reading A to Z’s Summer School Theme Pack. It’s broken down by 1st grade, 2nd-3rd grade, and 4th-5th. You are provided with a whole unit of study broken down into lessons spanning 5 days. All of the materials are provided too, such as the leveled readers and graphic organizers. You’ll need a subscription to print the materials. I would highly recommend talking to some fellow teachers and splitting the cost. I’ve done this with my grade level techers and a few others in the building.

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Book Leveling

My classroom library continues to grow with each book order I place with Scholastic. Anytime I add more books, I try to locate the DRA (Developmental Reading Level), GRL (Guided Reading Level), and Lexile reading level. I then add these levels to the front cover of the book to help my kids identify if the book that looks interesting to them is a just right book based on their reading level. I have found two website to help with this task, that at times can be tedious: Scholastic Book Wizard and Lexile Framework for Reading.

The Scholastic Book Wizard allows you to search by title, author, keyword, reading level, or help you to find similar books.

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I search for Fancy Nancy. All books with a similar title show in the results. I selected the first one to show the levels given and information about the book. I found my kids being able to use this site easily, and they actually wanted to find the levels of their books often. 🙂

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There is also a Book Wizard app to use. I have it on my iPad and iPhone. It comes in handy when conferencing with kids. Also, the app features a bar code scanner to quickly find the book’s reading level.

The second website I use is the Lexile Framework for Reading. Like the Book Wizard, it allows you to search by title and author, but also by the book’s ISBN. You can also search by Lexile range which is particularly helpful if your trying to place more complex text in your students’ hands.

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I searched for Fancy Nancy again and was given results for titles containing these words. If you select a particulate book you are provided with the Lexile, along with – summary and more books like this one.

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This website also allows you to enter in a child’s Lexile to determine his or her’s expected comprehension of this book. This is a pretty handy feature.

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These are two websites I find helpful in my classroom. What do you use in your classroom?

Share My Lesson

It has happened again! I have stumbled upon another great teaching resource with lesson plans! The website is Share My Lesson. The best part of this one is that you can network with teachers all over the word and it is free! You can search by Common Core State Standard, topic, grade, and subject. I haven’t played much with it to see just how much is on there, but from what I’ve found in the first few minutes, it’s a keeper!

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Read Tennessee

During one of my Pinterest pinning marathon sessions, I decided to go back through my boards and tidy them up. I wanted to get rid of pins I didn’t need and take the time to look at ones I hadn’t yet. This led me to the Read Tennessee website. I wish I looked at this pin earlier in the school year! The Common Core  State Standards for ELA are outstanding. There are links to lesson plans and units with materials needed. There are also links for math.

 

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Brain POP Jr.

I am lucky enought to teach in a district who provides a subscription to the Brain POP Jr websites. If you are not familiar with this site, it offers educational videos featuring Annie and Moby. Together, they teach about many different topics covering reading and writing, math, science, social studies, health, arts, and technology. There are also quizzes and teacher lesson resources. FOr older students, there is a Brain POP.

I used the Nonfiction Text video today to remind my 2nd graders of the informational text features. My kids love Brain POP videos because they are funny. I don’t think the realize they are learning as they are laughing.

Smart Board Math Manipulatives

I stumbled upon this website the other day when I was planning my math lesson. I needed base ten blocks for my Smart Board and found a whole slue of manipulatives to use with my kids! 🙂 My kids loved being able to come up to use the base ten blocks and I believe it helped their understanding of represendting numbers. Today we are using the clocks. My kids

http://www.glencoe.com/sites/common_assets/mathematics/ebook_assets/vmf/VMF-Interface.html