Monday, July 25, 2016

Clip Chart: Why I use it and why it works for me

Over the past several years, there's been quite a bit of buzz surrounding the infamous classroom clip chart.  I would like to start by saying that I have used one for 12 years and I can't imagine my classroom management without it.  Today's post is dedicated to the clip chart and the reasons why it works for me.

We are a PBIS {POSITIVE BEHAVIORAL INTERVENTIONS AND SUPPORTS} school.  We have been for 11 years now.  One of the main components of our system are clip sticks.  I should add that by "stick" I mean it's a yard stick that has painted sections on it.  It hangs vertically and each child has a clothespin with their name on it clipped to the stick.

Our sticks are set up with a color code system from top to bottom: BLUE, GREEN, SMALL GREEN, ORANGE, YELLOW, RED.

  • Blue stands for outstanding behavior or something special a child did that day.  
  • The green is where everyone begins their day.  
  • The small green serves as the "warning" section of the stick.  If I ask a child to stop a certain behavior verbally and they do not, they are asked to move their clip down.  *The small green is really just a portion of the green sectioned off with a black, Sharpie line.  
  • Orange is for when a child has had several warnings, been moved down to small green, and still isn't correcting the behavior. Orange equals a note home. 
  • Yellow is obviously more severe and equals a phone call home.
  • Red equals a visit to the ole' principal and a phone call home from HIM.  

I go over the stick with my kids at the start of the year.  It's one of my classroom procedures that I introduce.  They've already had the same stick in kindergarten so it's not really new.  What is new is the way I use it.  I use it mostly for positive reinforcement.  This is especially important to do those first few weeks of school.  Here are a few examples of things I say:  "Oh, Johnny, I love the way you ignored a friend that was trying to distract you from doing your work.  You can move your clip up to the blue."  "Wow!  Jess, you came in so nicely from recess.  You got a quick drink, walked to the rug, and waited quietly for the rest of your friends.  You may move your clip up to the blue."  Now you may think that I am just rewarding kids for expected behaviors.  I am.  And it's completely fine because we are talking about 6 year old children here who are JUST LEARNING.  And aside from that, they are learning what OUR CLASSROOM should be like.  So yes, I do reward kids that do what is expected early on in the year.  They are modeling proper behavior for their peers.

For me, the orange, yellow, and red portions of the clip stick serve more as intimidating colors on the stick that "you never want to be on."  I very rarely move a child's clip down below the small green. The thought of the kids moving their clip to those colors is enough in itself. When you have solid classroom management, you shouldn't have to move clips constantly.  The kids should know exactly what's expected of them.   However, we are all human and humans make mistakes.  Moving a clip below the small green definitely does not mean someone is a "bad kid."  We talk a lot about this point early in the year as well.

I do move a clip down on occasion and depending on the severity of the behavior, the children have the chance to move back up.  I always watch for them "turning themselves around" and make a conscious effort to praise the behavior and ask them to move their clip up to blue.  NOTE:  The children are by no means allowed to ask to move up.  The kids can sign our "Blue Crew" poster if their clip is still on blue at the end of the day!

Each day, the students color their behavior calendars in their take-home data binders.  They also have monthly goals for their calendars.  The calendars go home every night, in the binders, so the parents see them constantly.

Pardon the glare--I'm not a professional photographer!
In conclusion, the clip stick works for me and always has.  However, it must be paired with a lot of praise and positive notes home! Having these two things in place helps give me solid classroom management. The kids know exactly what to expect and I know what to expect from them.


Monday Madness 7.25.16

Happy Monday and welcome back for another "Monday Madness!"  Today's deal is my First Grade Sight Word Bundle.  This contains ALL of my sight word activities listed in my store.  Included are 21 different sight word activities.  This is a tremendous resource that can be used all year long to keep your literacy centers interesting!  Each week, I incorporate one sight word activity into my literacy centers.  This ensures that the kids are getting the spiral review that is ESSENTIAL for emergent readers!  Grab this bundle 50% off today, July 25 ONLY!  Click the cover photo below to check it out!!!


Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Birthday Bags

It's July which means I am in full prepping mode for back to school!  I've been reading a few PD books {I'll share that info. in another post}, shopping for bts deals, and doing some small projects for my classroom.  One thing I always do in the summer is prep my upcoming students' birthday bags. This year, their bags are a little sparse!  I decided I spend enough on all the fun projects we do throughout the year so three little trinkets and a sticker will have to suffice!

I bought some cute popcorn bags at Hobby Lobby, bubbles at Target {summer clearance}, and a big trinket assortment pack at Wal-Mart {my annual trip to Wal-Mart has turned into two trips--YUCK}.  I stuffed each bag with 3 trinkets and placed them in a basket.  I also keep the birthday badge stickers in the side of the basket.  When a child's birthday comes up {I keep my FREE birthday frame chart right next to the basket of bags}, I simply grab a bag and a sticker and place it on their desk the night before their big day.  They know they have to TAKE THE BAG HOME TO OPEN b/c lord knows they'd have those little trinkets out all day if I let them open the bag at school!

Birthday bags are a great way to prep student birthdays without all the fuss!  See last year's bags HERE.


Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Madness 7.18.16

Hi, friends!  It's time for another "Monday Madness!"  I hope you've been enjoying the deals the past three Mondays. Today's deal is my "Daily Sentence Edits Bundle."  This is such a great pack to supplement your language program!  6 months {Jan-June} of sentence edits are included.  Each month contains edits that relate to the holidays or special days with in.  

My kids LOVE finding the mistakes in the sentences each day.  We do it together on the projector and then they get their own sheets to correct and add a picture to.  Having a buddy "check" their work is such a fun novelty!   Grab this bundle 50% off today, Monday, July 18 ONLY!  Click the cover photo below to see more information!


Saturday, July 16, 2016

Making 10 DIY Project

If you are a k-1 teacher who uses CCSS, you surely know about the importance of making 10.  It seems as if we work on this skill all year long.  I typically use my giant magnetic 10-frames as the kids use their student ones, but I wanted to have something larger to use for modeling and hands-on practice.  One of my summer projects this past month was to make a "Making 10 Ring."  For this project, you need the following:

  • a small hula hoop
  • a small pool noodle
  • a knife
  • number cards
  • a large binder clip
To begin, slice your pool noodle across the side of it, making sure not to cut all the way through. Next, cut your noodle into 1-2 inch pieces.  Pop 10 of the pieces onto your hula hoop.  Clip a large binder ring in the middle to hold the number card of the number you will be making.  *I cut enough pieces of noodle to do everything from making 5 to making 20.  This pool noodle model will be great for whole-class demonstrations, Math tubs, or early finishers!  It's also simple to differentiate by using larger number cards and more pieces of noodle for your advanced kids or small number cards and less pieces of noodle for your struggling kids.  Easy-Peasy!  As a really easy center, you could have your kids write all the facts they can make with the noodle on their dry erase slates!  Easy-Peasy!

You can get some free b/w number cards by clicking the cover picture below.  They aren't as large as the ones shown in my picture.  Those colorful ones can be found HERE.  


Thursday, July 14, 2016

8 Essential Books for 1st Grade {BTS Edition}

It's no secret that I LOVE children's books.  See examples A and B below!  I've been collecting them since before I was even teaching.  The library is my favorite part of my classroom.  It's the focal point, after all, and is so inviting for kids!  In addition to my classroom library, I also have a personal library.  This is where I keep MY books that kids RARELY get to touch.  These are books I use for Writing Workshop, Reading, Phonics, Social Studies, Math, and Science.  For the classics, there are duplicates in the classroom library, but most of these books are single copies that only I use for instruction.

Let's not discuss the fact that the fourth shelf is now full of books {just two years after this was taken...}.

Many of you liked reading my "8 Essentials for 1st Grade" blog post that I did a few weeks ago. Because people often ask me about my favorite books for back to school, I knew a blog post was in order!  I decided to continue with the "8" theme {don't ask me where 8 came from} and list out 8 of my "must have back to school books."  These are books I use for read-aloud the very first few days of school.

1.  Froggy Goes to School--This is such a fun read-aloud for the first day!  Kids always lose it when it comes to the part about Froggy forgetting his underwear!  Froggy is so silly; what child doesn't love him!?


2.  The Night Before First Grade--I love all the books in "The Night Before" series.  Their predictable rhyme and clever wording makes reading these books aloud a blast!


3.  Junie B Jones: First Grader At Last--If you've been following my blog for any period of time, you know that I *love* Junie B. Jones.  I read a chapter aloud every day.  For the entire year.  And have done so my entire teaching career.  That's 13 years of daily Junie B.  The first day of school is no exception; I start in right away with this classic book all about Junie B. heading to First Grade.


4.  First Day Jitters--This book was gifted to me by my parents before my very first day of teaching 13 years ago.  My mom even wrote a little note in the front cover {{so sweet!}}.  I read it every year on the first day.  This book is all about Sarah Jane Hartwell's fear of going to school.  This book has a surprising twist at the end, which I won't tell you about!  You'll have to get the book yourself to find out what it is!


5.  The Kissing Hand--This classic is a MUST for every elementary school teacher.  It's a sweet story about Chester the Raccoon feeling sad about leaving his mama to go to school.  She gives him a kiss on his paw and tells him to remember it when he's feeling sad.


6.  David Goes to School--I don't know about your students, but mine are OBSESSED with the David books.  Like I think I have 4 copies of each in our back to school bucket in our library and there is still heartache when one isn't available during our book trading each week.  The kids literally read these books all year.  Infatuated.  David Goes to School is about David's mischievous ways at school...he loves to get into trouble!  This book will have your kids wanting to read it over and over again.


7.  Brand New Pencils, Brand New Books--I just love Gilbert books!  In this cute back to school story, Gilbert is worried about what first grade will be like.  Luckily for him, everything turns out ok!


8.  Curious George's First Day of School--I never get tired of Curious George books and neither do my kids!  It's always exciting to find out what kind of trouble that silly monkey will get into!  In this book, George is invited to be a special helper...enough said!


Well, there you have it, my top 8 books for back to school.  Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for most posts like these about my favorites!

*This post contains affiliate links but these are my own opinions of the books that I have used in my classroom for many years.*