Saturday, September 22, 2012

Positive Affirmations for Students

This year, my teammates and I decided to start each class period with positive affirmations for the students. We want to encourage our students and build them up so they have an "I can" attitude rather than "I can't."

Each of us picked a few affirmations that we liked best. I have mine displayed on the front wall so the students can always see them.

I will choose one per day and start each class with it. There is power in the spoken word and we want our students to feel empowered, motivated, and full of self-worth!!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Using Finger Signs in the Classroom

I think these words will be the story of my life this school year....

            "This year I'm trying something new!"

Being that last year was my first year teaching middle school (and my first year back after a long teaching hiatus) I did A LOT of trial and error with classroom procedures. Some things worked, but most things didn't. So this year I'm implementing a lot of new ideas to see if I can have a smoother year.

One new idea that I stole borrowed from lots of other teachers is the use of finger signs. Last year, I constantly had lots of students getting out of their seats and wandering around with the excuse of "My pencil broke" or "I need a tissue."

Not this year! I'm going to try using finger signs for using the bathroom, getting a new pencil, and getting a tissue.

On top of that, I'm not letting them out of their seat for a pencil or tissue (of course if they need to go to the bathroom, they can). If they hold up two fingers, I'll take them a new pencil and they give me their broken one. If they need a tissue, I'll take it to their seat. Hopefully, this method will help keep the kids in their seats and more importantly, keep the class on task. We'll see how they work!

Here are the signs I'm using. Borrow away!!

Classroom Finger Signs  

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Classroom Behavior System for Upper Grades

For those of you who are middle school teachers, you understand the difficulty in developing a classroom management system. You only have the students for 50 minutes a day so it's hard to keep an account of each student's behavior.

So at the end of last year, my teammates and I (we are the Jaguars by the way) developed a plan for keeping record of each student's behavior. Each homeroom teacher has a chart with their student's names. That chart goes with each class throughout the day. If a student misbehaves or breaks a rule in class, the teacher puts their initial along with the number of the rule that was broken. For example, my last name is Stidham so if little Johnny breaks rule number 4 in my class on Tuesday, I put S-4 next to his name. Then when he goes to the next teacher, she can see that he's already gotten in trouble in one class. We began noticing that some students got in trouble in every class on a daily basis.

It worked so well because we were able to easily document each time a student misbehaved and then meet as a team if we noticed one student was breaking a lot of rules. It is also nice to show parents when they ask how often their child misbehaves.

In addition to consequences, there were also rewards for students who did not have any marks after a certain number of days. It was a great way to see which students were consistently obeying and deserved to be praised and rewarded for their excellent behavior.

I should note that in my school, homeroom students travel together throughout the day. So the same group of students are together for every class. This would be harder to do if students don't stay together. However, it has worked great for my team and could even work for an elementary classroom when the students travel to their related arts classes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Paint Chip Calendar

 In an effort to redo my classroom this year and make it more functional for both my students and me, I decided to make a paint chip calendar rather than using the standard classroom calendar you can buy in teacher stores.

I'm so excited to use this because now I can write important dates on the calendar for all students to see rather than constantly answering, "When is our next test?" or "Do we have a day off from school this month?"

It was very cheap to make but took a little time to get it just right. Here's what you need.

  • Picture frame (I got mine at Michael's for $11 and it's an 18x24)
  • Paint chip samples (free from any paint store)
  • Spray paint
That's it!!

The first step is to spray paint the back of the paper that comes in the frame. You could also use scrapbook paper for the background but I had some spray paint on hand so that was easiest for me.

Then, cut your paint samples down to size and lay them out on the board.

Next, glue or tape them to the background, add your days of the week, and you're done!!

I saw some really cute school scrapbook stickers at Michael's. So to spruce it up a bit, I'm going to put them on there to indicate test dates, holidays, and field trips.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Behavior Reflections Sheet

I found this awesome Behavior Reflections sheet on Pinterest and I wanted to share it here.

I found last year that when I would send my kids for a time out to another room, they wouldn't really care. I don't think they took as seriously as I hoped they would. I guess the times, they are a changin'. When I was a kid, if a teacher sent me out of the room I would have cried and begged to stay, all the while promising that I would change my behavior if only they didn't call my parents.

Anyways, I think that this behavior reflection sheet is a great way for kids to reflect on why they chose to act a certain way. It is also something that we can go over together later in the day and reflect together on how their behavior can improve in the future.

It's from Laura Candler, who has a great website with LOTS of free stuff! And what teacher doesn't like free stuff?? Definitely check out her website for more great stuff.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Science Matching Game Cards

They are finally done!!! Yay!!

When I started making these cards, I was only going to make one set. But I guess the teacher in me went into overdrive and I ended up making 7 sets!

Last year, I created a matching game for one unit and my kids loved it. The problem was, I didn't make any more cards the rest of the year because I just didn't have the time.

So I decided to use my last weeks of freedom to create something that can be both fun and educational for my kids. I've put all 7 sets on TeachersPayTeachers for $3.00. Each set contains 12 definitions and 12 vocabulary words so for all 7 sets, you get 168 cards!!

They are done in a pdf format so you just have to print, cut, glue (or tape) and then laminate them.

Also, if you buy them on TpT and then want the original copy so you can change or add to any of the sets to meet the needs of your students, I will be happy to email it to you. Just let me know!

However, as a little treat for those of you who visit this site, here is one set for free.

Friday, August 3, 2012

Thursday, August 2, 2012

KWL Chart

A KWL chart was not something I used a lot last year and when I did use one, it was a really quick, crappy drawing on the board.

For this school year, I wanted to create a nice looking chart that could be used over and over again. I'll print it on giant paper at Staples and then laminate it so it can be enjoyed again and again.

I'm also going to make smaller copies (with no polka dots) for the students to jot down their ideas before the lesson.

As always, I'm happy to share!

Friday, July 27, 2012

Parent Contact Log and Exit Slip Sheets

If you're any thing like me, keeping up with parent contacts can be one of the most tedious aspects of teaching. Part of my problem is major lack of organization. But it's also really hard when you teach 100 kids.  Hopefully, this sheet will help tremendously in the upcoming school year.

I also created this exit slip to help me assess my students on a regular basis. It's so easy to just end a lesson with no closure. So one goal I have for this year is to do a better job of assessing how well (or not so well) my students understood the lesson. We'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Cute Storage Bins

I am redecorating my room this year and kept trying to find something cute to use for my classroom supplies. Everything I found was either too expensive or would cost too much money to spruce up and make cute. Then today I was at JoAnn's Fabrics and I came across these photo boxes that match perfectly with my color scheme this year.
They were only $4 a box and didn't require much decorating. Plus, teachers get a 15% discount at JoAnn's so they were even cheaper than that.
I also picked up a few sheets of scrapbook paper for the background and then printed out my labels on my printer.
I took a template that I had (yes, it's also my header on this blog) and used Picasa to add the text to the labels. Feel free to use the link below to get the template.

Blank Template

A New Blog

I've been blogging for several years now and absolutely LOVE it! It's so therapeutic and helps me to keep up with all the exciting things going on in my life...especially now that I have a little one.
My desire to start a second blog came from all the awesome elementary blogs I found while desperately searching for ones related to middle school. There are some amazing blogs out there with great ideas for teaching little kiddies but very few blogs targeted to upper grade teachers. My plan for this one is to document pictures, lesson ideas, bulletin boards, and all the other fun things that happen in a middle school classroom.
Hopefully you will be able to gain some inspiration from the ideas and pictures posted here. We don't start school for another 7 weeks but I'll try to post some summer projects I've been working on before then.