Sunday, November 11, 2012

Classroom Management

If you have never heard of Class Dojo, you should check it out! I recently began using it.  I set all the kids up in the system, giving them each their own unique monster.  I projected Class Dojo on the board throughout the day.  It is similar to a clothespin system where you move pins up or down, but instead they get reds (negatives) or greens (positives).  There are some great features to Class Dojo.  For one, it keeps a daily, weekly, or all time total.  So I cleared it daily so they all had a fresh start.  However I could switch it to "all time" to see each of their running totals, for every 20 greens (positives) they get a prize.  One hundred points is an Icecream party.  The second thing I like is that you can specify the positive or negative behavior and it clocks the time.  These two pieces of information are valuable for parent conferences. You can create the positives or negatives that pertain to your class and write comments if you want to add more detail.  The third thing I like is that you can print reports for parents.  They do need to make them more customizable but it is still a great feature.  Another great feature is their is an iPad app so you can mark behavior on the go.  The best feature is that it is FREE!  I take the computer mouse to my reading table and if I need to give out greens or reds I just click on the student(s) and the behavior.  I don't need to say a word because when they see the monsters come up on the front board, they check their own behavior or noise levels.  Often times if the whole class has phenomenal behavior I do two random picks and let the computer pick who gets the greens. That's another awesome feature.  I use this with a second grade class. I would be curious to hear from others who have used it in other grades.

Getting rid of paper!

While the job market in education is stalled, at least in my area, I have been blessed to have many substituting opportunities.  The most recent was six weeks in second grade!  It was a fabulous experience!  While there were many highlights, I really wanted to share a couple of my faves with you.

First, there are times when Pinterest can be a lifesaver!  This is one of them.  The way our schedule worked was first bell at 7:45, kids come in get unpacked, listen to morning announcements, and kill two or three minutes before we lined up to go to special area.  Since I hate wasting time, I needed to make that few minutes count for the kids. I could have given them a worksheet, but that is no fun and the kids who got there on time might have seen that as punishment because the late students wouldn't have to do the paper.  Plus it was more paper for me.  I'll get to the paper issue in a minute.  One night I was perusing on Pinterest when low and behold there was a pin showing students writing on their desks!  That was the solution!  I started having the kids fill those two minutes by writing multiples on their desks!  They loved it, no paper for me, and they began getting to class on time!  While they were at special area, I walked around with a rag and spray bottle, checked their work and erased.  Let me add, they used DRY ERASE MARKERS.

More about paper.  This time in math.  The typical routine was watch this funky little animation that came with the math series, do guided practice together.  Then have the kids do independent practice by themselves and turn it in.  Ok, that's more paper for me.  Can you tell I am not a big fan of paper? Plus this routine is not very exciting.  Our academic coach is great about sharing resources with us and we happen to be going over some thinking math strategies in our meetings.  She shared the website NCTM Illuminations with us and it is chuck full of interactive math tools!  One in particular was the pan balance used for teaching equality.  The kids were antsy about that math paper taunting them on the corner of their desk.  They kept asking, "Do I need to write this down?"  I would type a problem into one pan and ask them to give me another problem to put in the other pan so it would balance.  Before long they were adding, subtracting, multiplying, and doing multi-step solutions.  It was amazing! They were so engaged and begging me to give them bigger numbers and harder problems.  Had we done the math paper, they would have been limited to the numbers and ideas presented.  Instead they were able to think bigger and at higher levels.  It was a learning moment for me too. I want as many days as possible to be like that day.  I can't explain the joy I felt watching them be so eager to learn!