September 26, 2011

Classroom Odds & Ends

After the past few weeks of minimal blogging, I've accumulated a bunch of random pictures on my computer desktop just waiting to be blogged.  Does that happen to anyone else??  I decided to just combine a handful of miscellaneous school pictures to do an Odds & Ends classroom update.  :)

New Computers!!!
First...we got new teacher computers today!  Hooray!  You guys, I cannot tell you how excited I am about this.  Our old school laptops were so old and junky.  They desperately needed an update!  Not only did we get brand new laptops, but they are tablet computers!  How cool is that?  Basically what that means is the screen can swivel around.  We can hold the computer in tablet form and write on it with the attached stylus.  I can see absolutely no reason for ever using this feature in my daily life, but in the classroom I know it's going to be awesome.  For example, I can project worksheets I've created and fill in the answers using my stylus.  For math notes, instead of writing on the board or overhead, I can just write them in a blank word document and project on the screen.  I'm pretty pumped.  And who doesn't love a brand new (pretty) computer??

I love you, Clip Chart.
Also, I must update on my clip chart.  This summer I decided I was ready to try a new behavior plan after using sticker charts and play money the past two years.  Mrs. Sunny at The Caffeinated Teacher sold me on the clip chart system that so many bloggers have mentioned.  (I absolutely cannot take credit for this system.  Learn more about it here.)  I have to admit, when I was planning it out this summer I was still a bit hesitant.  Would my 5th graders really buy into the whole thing?  Especially if there weren't any prizes involved?  Would it be a management nightmare to have students constantly getting up and moving their clips?  Well, I am pleased to report that it is going wonderfully and I am SOLD.

What I Love About It:

  • Every day is a fresh start for the kids
  • Kids can choose to turn their day around ANY TIME.  No day is ever "ruined."
  • I don't have to worry about moving clips down the way I did with giving strikes and checks--I used to hold back if I felt like the student maybe didn't MEAN to do something...but now it's no big deal, because they can earn their way back up.
  • Emphasis on student choice
  • Goal Setting: Where do you want your clip to be at the end of the day?
  • Trinket-free motivation
Okay, I'll admit I still do a weekly prize raffle using our school PBIS tickets, but the clip chart is absolutely trinket free.  Every day, any kids who are on outstanding earn an MVP Award.  I must give total credit for this idea to Mrs. Sunny who gives Rockstar Awards.  I present these little awards at the end of the day, and all the kids clap for our MVPs.  I wasn't really sure how into them they really were until last week I caught one of my "tough" boys showing it off to his friends from another class during dismissal.  The other boy remarked how cool it was!  WIN.  I know they also love showing them to their parents.
After earning an "outstanding," I also stick a little sticker on their clip.  Continuing with our ever-present sports theme, of course the stickers are sports-related too!  Once a clip is "full" (5 stickers), the clip is replaced with a new COLORED clip.  First it's a red clip, the bottom color on the chart.  Then orange, etc.  When a kiddo gets a new colored clip, I make sure to recognize them in front of the class and make a big deal out of it.  Let me tell you, I never expected 5th graders to care so much about an orange clothes pin.  LOVE IT.

Guided Reading
I'm not sure how guided reading works in your classroom, but in the past year or so our literacy specialists have told us to change our structure a little bit.  Instead of popcorn reading or checking in with the group after every page or so, we now set a purpose for reading, then have studetns read in their heads for about 12 minutes (the bulk of the guided reading time) while we listen to students read, cnference, and take running records.  We only come back together as a group for the last 5 minutes or so.  This works pretty well, but every day without fail some students will finish the "assignment" WAY quicker than others.  One of our coaches suggested I try typing up some suggestions of ways to interact with the text after reading the assigned selection and tape them to my guided reading tables.  I just set this up Friday after school, but I love it already!  It's great having the visual, and it's super easy for me to redirect forgetful students just by tapping it, even if I'm busy doing a running record on a different student.  
Closer View:
Little Smile
I loved this short note I got from a parent written on their kiddo's weekly progress report:
Thank you for all of your love to my son. :)
To the parent: It's my pleasure. :)


  1. LOVE your new computers ... SO jealous! We have three ancient desktops in each classroom (the teacher has a laptop) ... and that's it - no computer lab. Publishing student work has become a nightmare!!!!

    Runde's Room

  2. I got a new teacher computer Saturday. SO excited to be rid of my old clunker that moved so slow. I didn't get anything as fancy as yours, but I'll take whatever they want to give me! You have some fabulous ideas. I love the Clip Chart and MVP award!!

  3. I use the clip chart, too! I LOVE it and the kids really work for it!

  4. that computer is fancy! wow! so fun...and love getting sweet unexpected notes from others :)

  5. That last note is just priceless. Being a teacher is such an amazing talent and gift. You effect so many childrens lifes and I admire you so much for that.

    How freaking awesome is that computer?

  6. I'm so glad the clip chart is working so well for you! I love it too. The kids are so giddy with the RockStar awards, it's funny. Even my big kids last year went crazy for them :)

  7. I'm jealous of your new computers :) And that behavior system looks great - SO glad the kids are buying into it!!!

  8. The clip chart is something I've been struggling whether or not to use. . . And now I'm sold!! Thanks :) hope it works as well ominous 2nd grade as it does in 5th!!

  9. Love the "I'm Finished. What now?" idea for guided reading group! Going to try a version of it with my 3rd graders!


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