July 8, 2015

The First Week: Full Lesson Plans to Get Your Classroom Up and Running

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The beginning of the year is both exciting and exhausting all at the same time. I always describe the beginning of the school year to my non-teaching friends like this:

Imagine being given 24+ puppies that you will proceed to pour all of your time, effort, blood, sweat, and tears into. Training, said puppies, and molding them to be the very best little puppies they can be. Learning skills that will not only enlighten them, but instill in them the framework to be good dogs when they grow up. Then turn around and receive 24+ new puppies the following year and start all over again. 

That’s kind of like the first few months of the school year when trying to establish rules and routines in the classroom.

Today I am excited to share some of the beginning of the year activities and resources I use to introduce my classroom to my new kiddos. I incorporate a lot of fun read alouds, activities, and engagement to model to my students the expectations I have for the year. I’m always surprised as to how quickly my kids pick it up!

Launching Routines & Rules

This has everything you need for the first week of school and getting your rules and routines established. Of course, it takes longer than a week to practice and revisit your rules, but this resource allows you to introduce your students to the framework of your expectations through reading and discussion using some of my favorite books.

After a main lesson and read aloud, students are to discuss and fill out each page of their workbook that highlights the rule being introduced. This is an example of rule #1 which is to make good choices. Good choices come in all forms and it’s fun to see how students come up with different ways in which good choices can be made!

Rule #1: Making Good Choices

This is such a silly story of when Good Ideas turn Bad! Engage students further by handing them the GOOD CHOICE, POOR CHOICE paddles and throughout your reading have students participate by deciding whether or not the character made a good or poor choice and how that incorporates to how they should treat each other in the classroom.

Rule #2: Be Respectful to Others

I love this story and have been reading it for years to my students - kindergarten through second grade. It's a silly story that allows students to understand the Golden Rule and the importance of treating yourself and others with respect. I also love it's available on Vooks if you're looking for an animated version of this read aloud!

Hang your rule posters in a prominent place in your classroom or have students use the coloring pages to create posters themselves!

Rule #3: Always Try Your Best

Trying ones best can be difficult for some and for others it simply comes naturally. Each child is coming into the classroom with different sets of skills and experiences that affect their mindsets. This could easily be the year that one kid goes from a fixed to a growth mindset and fostering this kind of thinking is oh, so important! The Mighty Street Sweeper is a cute story that shares the message that you don't have to be this big, powerful truck to do something important. That each of us have talents, interests, and skills that make us unique yet just as valuable. 

Rule #4: Keep Your Space Organized

Read Aloud: Franklin is Messy

Discuss with students how organization leads to preparedness and a readiness to learn. This skill is often overlooked and this packet helps students realize that keeping a clean workspace is important and is expected. After all most report cards include this skill each quarter/semester. Why not teach them about it?

We join Franklin in this story who learns a valuable lesson in tidiness. He is good at so many things, but one: he's messy, which causes him to lose things. This is the perfect story to share with students at the beginning of the year because they can instantly relate to losing something. It lends itself to a wonderful discussion of how we can be ready for school and learning by respecting materials in the classroom - including their desks and shared work spaces.

The Classroom Contract

I love developing the rules together through a classroom contract that every student gets a copy of. After reading, discuss the main four rules and have students draw a picture and write their understanding of that rule in their student workbook also provided in this packet. Once finished students may keep them somewhere visible in the room or take home. Also, laminate and hang the classroom rule posters somewhere in the classroom where students can be reminded of the rules they created together as a classroom community.

Interested in a BUNDLE of all of my favorite, and most popular, behavior management tools?

NEW! Hopes and Dreams Pennant!

Something new that hit the shop in 2020 are these Bitmoji Pennants for student hopes and dreams. I love beginning the year with a discussion on what students hope to accomplish that year. It's a conversation that lends itself to goal setting and reminders throughout the year of what efforts students to make in order for their hopes and dreams to come true.

Head on over to check it out for yourself! I can't wait to add this to my lesson tool belt once we get back to the classroom next year!

How do you begin the school year and establishing those classroom rules and routines?

July 7, 2015

Thinking About Behavior Management

Establishing a good behavior management plan is vital to a successful year regardless of how long you’ve been teaching. It’s taken me a few years to figure out what works best for me and I'm always having to keep in mind that this plan may change from year to year based on the kiddos I receive. 

One aspect to my plan that never changes and works with almost every child is a Think Sheet. A think sheet is a simple form that students fill out that describe, in their words, what happened and explain how they’ll change their behavior next time. It gives them responsibility over their words or actions, forces them to be accountable for their behavior, and cuts down on time taken away from teachers during the day. Also, it’s a super easy way to keep parents in the loop as to what’s happened at school and how it was handled.

Because how many times have parents asked their child about ‘what happened’ and they’re response every time is: ‘I don’t know.' No longer with these Think Sheets!

One of my most popular product since the beginning of this blog has been my Behavior Management: Think Sheets. I was inspired a number of years ago when I was teaching at a before and after school program out of my church who used a similar method. This think sheet process works for many reasons:
  1. gives the child time to calm down and reflect on their behavior
  2. the teacher facilitates the discussion and help bring the child to understanding why their behavior was wrong
  3. places responsibility and accountability back on the child by having them think and write out exactly what happened and caused the behavior
  4. note is signed by the teacher, student, AND parent....then returned to school to be kept on file by the teacher

These forms have been extremely helpful in my classroom and I’ve found that parents love them too! It’s the perfect tool for students to talk about their feelings and subsequent actions because it’s written by them and checked by the teacher before going home. Parents are able to see how the child reflects on their behavior and notice if they understand what they did was wrong or not, a common problem with just a talking-to. It’s amazing to see the difference when students actually understand and can communicate what they did and how to improve next time. Most importantly, students learn that mistakes are made but that one can learn from them and always be given a second, third, fourth....chance.

This bundle differs from my previous Think Sheet because it includes forms that are appropriate for K-6th grade! It’s perfect for those teachers switching grades or for differentiation within your own classroom. We all know children mature at different ages and grades and their Think Sheets should reflect this, even with discipline.