Emoji behavior incentive

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

emoji behavior management tip

I am always looking for the next best behavior tip.  I would say classroom management and building relationships are my strong suit for sure.  I have my trusty go to tricks, but I'm always trying to come up with other incentives so I keep them on their toes too.
Welcome to my weekly series 

You can find me here every Wednesday during the school year for new ideas each week.

This week I wanted to share an idea I had that incorporates - something kids LOVE - which is super important.  You gotta keep up with the lingo, and things they are into.  Unless of course it's dabbing or flipping water bottles OR the floss - then run for your lives! LOL 
So, I'm going with emojis this time around.  Kids love emojis and this incentive will definitely motivate them...I can't wait to try it out and give you updates on instagram and facebook.

So, first I created this little poster to get them excited about this new behavior incentive and I tried to be clever...notice the word tried...  Not sure how 'clever' this is but whatever.

emoji classroom management tip
Using emojis of course this message says:  Your work and behavior is ' on point! '

So I found these emoji balls.... on  Amazon and thought to myself - I could use this for something!!!

Using emojis for behavior management

emoji marble jar reward

So since the jar is so large I included Washi tape to help us meet our goals.  I got this ( tape ) idea from my amazing friend Becca - over at Miss Giraffe.  It's a great way to meet a goal and keep going for a 2nd goal.  So, maybe the first goal is a Popsicle party and the 2nd goal is an extra recess or fort and flashlight reading day.  There are so many ways you can use this.  You can even let a sub give double the amount of balls if they have a great day with your guest teacher...
OR if you know you are going to be out for more than a day and want a special reward incentive in place just pull this out on those days.
I've been teaching long enough to know that YES you need consistency and structure but you also need to SWITCH things up when it comes to incentives too.  OTHERWISE they get bored easily - ahem I blame fort night and other video game 'babysitters' for the fact that these kids are getting bored so 'easily' nowadays ~ ~ but that's a whole 'nother blog series... kidding...kinda.

emoji marble jar reward

emoji reward jar

If this is something you know your students would love and you are dying to try it....you can find the emoji balls here:

This huge bag of emoji balls was less than $10 and the large jar I got at Walmart for $11.  You can probably use a clear Tupperware container from home as well.
If you have some behavior challenges this year and are frantically optimistically searching Pinterest for fresh ideas I hope this comes in handy.  I'm telling you whenever I use a different behavior trick, things get better.  Make sure to add to your bag of tricks often to keep things fresh in your classroom.  I'm certain that in doing so you will find success even with a chatty or difficult class.

As always, happy teaching!

Writing tips for the primary classroom

Wednesday, September 5, 2018
Writing- some of you LOVE to teach it...others dread it.  It is definitely a tricky subject to teach.  Hopefully these hacks/tricks will save your sanity and help make your students a little more successful this year.

writing tips for the primary classroom

These are ideas that have worked in my primary classroom and I hope you are able to give them a try this year as well.

If you teach littles like Pre - K or K...I suggest you start with the very basics.  Soon after you teach them how to sit or hold a pencil they need to understand proper spacing.  My favorite way to do this is through my product:  Spaghetti and Meatball spacing.  It's perfect practice for little hands. 

writing tips for the primary classroom

This pack covers the basics and helps them understand that between letters in words you use spaghetti spacing and between words in a sentence you will need to use meatball spacing.

writing tips for the primary classroom
you can  grab this product ( here )

as you can see from this simple printable...they re write the word and add skinny lines between the letters.

writing tips for the primary classroom

this activity has them write a basic sentence and has them put meatballs between the words to understand proper spacing.

writing tips for the primary classroom

Before you know it your students will be saying don't forget meatball spacing when they are about to write in their journals...it's the cutest thing!  This product has several other pages that reinforce this idea along with posters and a little craft as well.  They are sure to remember this idea when you are done with the product in your classroom.

This next tip has been a winner in my first grade class for years...I need to bring it back now that I'm in second grade again.
I'm sure you've heard of the desk fairy visiting your classroom and leaving little certificates or stickers for those kiddos with clean desks?  Well this is the same idea but you call her the journal fairy.  She pops up unexpectedly here and there and leaves glitter in their journals while they are at recess or lunch.  Sometimes there may even be a little army guy or sticker too.  The kids love when she visits and when I mention it's been a while since she's come I see them step up their writing.  It's a great trick to pull from your teacher bag as needed.

teaching writing in the primary classroom

writing tips for the primary classroom

teaching writing in the primary grades

This really works friends!!!!  Kids need to re read their writing to become better writers and this will help them do that and even FIX mistakes...true story!
Have them re read their journal and use a highlighter, crayon etc., to highlight capitals and periods.  First of  all they love this and feel like 'the teacher' especially if you talk it up.  Secondly, they are basically proof reading their own work without totally realizing it.
As I walk around the room and watch them self correct it's truly amazing.  They will pause at their period and say out loud... OOPS!  I forgot the capital, then they are erasing away and fixing their mistake.  It's a wonderful writing hack that I've used with my partner teacher from back in the day for years!!! In fact, I'm pretty sure it was her idea!  See how important it is to collaborate with other?!?!  #teachertribe 
Once they become even more proficient you might hear them say something like oh my goodness that's a run on sentence how embarrassing!  LOL  It's so cute!

If you have a student that struggles with visual perception awareness or spacial organization this trick may work for you.  If your student often starts writing like the lower paper they might struggle with visual perception or spacial awareness.  This little trick helps them to remember to go all the way back to the yellow line to finish their thought and keep their paper organized and easy to follow.  It's a simple trick but it works!

writing tips for the primary classroom

This last tip is one that many of you use ~~ visual rubrics are always helpful to kids.  Have rubrics available and anchor charts with your writing expectations and/ or editing steps available for them to refer to...some kids like writing offices as well that have frequently used words, etc.  These all give kids more direction and confidence with their writing skills.
Lastly, remember to give them feedback and lots of encouragement.  Another tip that has worked for me in the past is to pair them up and give them 'talking sticks'.  They take turns reading their journal to their elbow partner, while they are holding their talking stick they can't be interrupted.  The partner gives them feedback ( that you have modeled and practiced with them often ) and they can hear if their writing sounds right aloud and fix any mistakes.  Then, they give their partner the stick and listen to them, it's a great collaboration tool and opens the door for speaking and critiquing one another.

writing tips for the primary grades
I hope these ideas have been helpful,
don't forget to join me here every Wednesday for my 

blog posts and every Sunday night during the school year for my Sunday Night Snippets on Instagram.
Happy teaching...

Modeling behavior the first few weeks of School

Saturday, September 1, 2018

I have a question for you ... the first few weeks of school do you model expected behavior??  
Take a second and really think about it... it's so easy to talk, talk and talk some more the first few weeks of school.  You wonder why your voice is weak and sore by the first Friday.  
We DO a LOT of talking that first week or so but let me challenge you.  Go back to the first question I asked here...are you really modeling the expected behavior you want to see?

modeling behavior the first few weeks of school

It's so important to use those first few days/weeks carefully with your students.  You are establishing your routines, what's expected and what's acceptable to do in your classroom.  The first time someone makes a joke at another child's expense I address it.  I remind my students that OUR classroom is a 'family' community.  We accept each other unconditionally with all our faults.  I remind them that no one is perfect and we all make mistakes.  I'll never forget the year my mom was sick and died 6 months after diagnosis from cancer.  It was a devastating year as you can imagine.  My students saw my red eyes daily and were so sensitive.  I received lots of extra hugs, drawings, cards and flowers that year.  I thought I was at my worst that year...my head wasn't in the game.  I was constantly thinking about my mom and how I could best help her and my dad. 
However...somehow through God's grace I must have been my normal 'self' to those students because....years later something special happened. 
I received a letter in intra district mail from a middle school teacher.  She had her students write about 'their hero'. This teacher was kind enough to send me the essay this student wrote which was clearly about me and our year together in a 1/2 combo class.
She wrote how she was a first grader in the combo ( which I clearly remember ) and on the second day of school a second grader made a comment about how her drawing wasn't good at all.  This little girl started to tear up quietly.  I noticed the exchange and went to see what went down.
I ever so carefully again with God's grace and wisdom was able to let the older child know how hurtful and inappropriate that comment was and somehow made the first grader feel like a million bucks.  She wrote how she never ever forget that exchange and she knew more than ever that her teacher had her back.  She said that gave her confidence that stayed with her and encouraged her.  
At the time, I was SURVIVING!!! TRULY going through the HARDEST time of my laugh and legit surviving.  I felt like a zombie most days knowing my mom was suffering and missed A LOT of school to be with her.  
But because I took the time to model and follow through with expected behavior right out of the gate I was able to still even in the chaos of my own  life have the type of classroom that was crucial to mine and my students well being... a classroom I strive to have each and every year.
How do I do that?  
I MODEL through my actions every behavior I hope to see and MODEL what is not acceptable.  Sometime I get them involved in a skit, or they use a hand signal to show me if my own acting was appropriate with a thumbs up or thumbs down signal.
When I say I MODEL - I do just that!  I sit in a chair and rock back and forth twirling my hair.  Is this acceptable....all thumbs are DOWN and they giggle a bit.  

I MODEL kind words and approach a student with my dialogue.  Everyone is watching with bated breath while I say something kind to my 'neighbor' of course while pretending I'm 7 years old instead of ___.  LOL
I MODEL mean bully ish words and see the horrified looks on their faces and we discuss how that makes us feel too.  Just talking at your students doesn't make the impact you need to make my friends.  They will look out the window - tune you out and miss 1/2 of your 'lecture'.  But, if you act silly, get them involved, prepare skits etc.  you will see that they are active participants in your first few weeks of expectations.  They will want to imitate back the behavior you so carefully modeled those first few weeks. 

modeling behavior the first few weeks of school

So be silly - bring in props if you need to, don't just talk at your students and watch the magic happen.  In no time at all your classroom will be a loving, accepting place that all classrooms should be.  Even visitors get the vibes from our classroom from spending a short amount of time with us.  
I say I want to be the kind of teacher I would want for my own children and I strive to live that every single day...yes, I fail...we all do.  But, if that's what we strive for everyday we are doing something right.

From kindergarten to college drop off...

Sunday, August 26, 2018

I feel like I'm a pretty balanced, strong person.  I've overcome many obstacles in life at various times and have always come through stronger.  I rely on my faith a lot to get me through difficult times...( and swimming ) I've even been told by others when I was going through the most difficult time of my life: " Wow, how do you do it?" "You're so strong!"  My answer has always been - it's not me, it's God or the Lord is getting me through this trust me.
Well I'm hitting the biggest milestone of my life right now and let me tell you two things:  It SUCKS and it's very difficult.  Honestly, there's a HUGE range of emotions I'm dealing with every day.  
My oldest, my daughter is headed off to college!  I didn't realize how emotionally unprepared I was for this.
Last year as she experienced her senior year there were lots of events that I always imagined tearing up at.  But...somehow I was fine. I surprised myself each time.  I teach at an elementary school and every year the seniors walk through in their caps and gowns and give the kids high 5's.  I thought I would be the one with the ugly mom cry going on. NOPE, I was dancing and smiling and gave her the biggest hug ever.


When she painted her senior parking lot.... no tears either.

Even her senior pics!!!!  I could go on and on - I document pics as I go.

Each time I surprised myself and my close friends with no tears.  I mean I had a few moments here and there like the first time she backed out of the driveway to drive herself to high school.  That definitely gave me a lump in my throat and a whole NEW SET of daily prayers. 
 Other milestones made me cry like when she promoted from my elementary school to middle school.  Prom, academic signing all those things I imagined being a basket case at but I was able to just enjoy the moment. Surprisingly,  I have held it together fairly well.

OK so I did cry when she gave her testimony at a Young Life event in front of a crowd...

Even college visits although bittersweet were more exciting than sad.

GRADUATION - guys I didn't cry!!! WHAT!?!?!  

Who is this person???  Anyone that knows me well knows that I'm VERY EMOTIONAL and wear #alltheemotions on my sleeve.  I cry at Hallmark commercials.  I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes but my waterproof mascara I made sure to use didn't even budge.  I was excited and proud at her graduation, smiling from ear to ear as I was at all her volleyball games, softball games and Young Life events. #proudmom
this summer when I was planning her going away party I had a good cry...a solid mama cry.  It hit me pretty hard, I had such a spectrum of emotions.  

I was sad, excited, anxious, proud and mad.  The anger wasn't about her leaving it was more about my own mom not being here to experience this with me.  I lost my mom when my daughter was in first grade.  Milestones have been extremely difficult for me ever since.  

One thing I don't like to hold onto is guilt of any kind.  It's just so unhealthy...thankfully I don't have any real regrets - I really don't.  I think it's inevitable to have 'second thoughts' as moms. 
 I had trouble getting pregnant and have had my share of 'female' issues.  I think that really made me cherish every single stage of motherhood.  I can vividly remember building forts with my kids and wondering as they got older will this be the last time they will want to do this?  I remember the very last time I nursed her and knew I would miss that special bonding time.  My 'second thoughts' include things like:  should I have made her do more chores around the house, should I have had her take a self defense class even though one is being offered at her college first semester, have I put fear in her that wasn't necessary or have I sheltered her too much?!?  All these thoughts come rolling in at this moment...

I came across an article recently that really resonated with me.  The mom talked about how NO ONE prepares you for this.  When your child is a baby - you get advice from everyone about putting them on a schedule, letting them cry it out, how to burp them.  People are more than happy to give you advice about the toddler years and tantrums.  When they are headed to school you get advice about what to pack in their lunches or how to resolve playground issues.  Where is everyone now?!?!  No one gives you any kind of advice when it comes to sending your child off to college.  No one tells you how to navigate these uncharted waters.  It's just a simple, congrats, how exciting, best of luck to ______ ( fill in the blank. )
I have 4 more nights of her sleeping in her childhood room right where she has always been for 18 years.  18 glorious years that have brought me so much joy.  Yes, those years have brought me gray hairs, worry, tears, joy, laughter - I could go on and on.  But what a joy it has been to be her mother.  It has truly been an honor and I thank God daily that he choose ME to raise her.  It humbles me.
Yesterday when we were packing up her room I held back tears, I needed a break.  Luckily, I had to leave to get my son from his SAT.  Later I shared my sadness and it's fine.  I was told by a few friends to not cry in front of her, others told me go ahead and cry and let her see my emotions.  I try to balance both, it's good for her to see how much I'll miss her but I don't want her worrying about poor old mom either as she's gone.  Again, it's about having a balance.

Instead of joining in the masses of people that just wish you well and say congrats I've decided to do something more.  I've had it on my heart to start a support group for moms that are going through this stage of life.  If you are in this stage of life and want encouragement, real talk, advice, laughs and inspirational quotes etc. feel free to join us at the fb group I started just for you.

This girl has my heart and the best thing I can do for her now is : pray for her, support her and encourage her.  AND yes I'm that crazy mom that will send her and her roommate care packages often.  
She is ready ( even though I'm not ) and I know she will do amazing things in her life.  I've given her her wings...she's ready to fly!

To all the moms that are going through this:  it's okay to cry and your tears might pop up at the most unexpected times and that's okay.   Ask any mom if they would trade in their sleep, dirty diapers or gray hairs...not one of them would do it.
 Be proud of all you've done to help your child be where he/she is at this moment and bask in it.  Great things are to come...

Get to know you Snowball Fight

Tuesday, August 21, 2018
Happy back to school my friends....I know a lot of you are back at it and a few of you have until September.
Join me here each week for my 

weekly posts!

  I wanted to share a really FUN idea with you that my new 2nd grade team shared with me this year.
We had a get to know you Snowball Fight on the first day of school.  The kids LOVED it!  It is literally NO PREP and tons of fun.  So much fun in fact that they all were super motivated to write about it in their journals as well.  #winning

get to know you activities first week of school

So this is how you 'play'.  Give each child a plain, white piece of paper - I prefer whole piece so the snowball is bigger.  Have them write 3 facts about themselves ( can be done in 2nd and above )
I modeled it so it would be easy for someone else to read.

The facts had to be obvious - like brown hair, freckles, glasses, plaid shirt.  So it would be easy to figure out.  If you teach an upper grade you might be able to get away with more character traits if your class knows one another fairly well.
Then I said, "Time for a snowball fight!"  The kids THREW their papers ( which they loved of course ) and THEN they had to pick up a snowball.  Next, they sat back down and opened up their paper snowballs to reveal what was written inside.  Then they took turns reading what was written aloud and guessed who their person was...it was sooo much fun!!!

get to know you back to school activities

{ especially in Southern California }

back to school get to know you

This was a very simple activity, took a while and the kids were totally engaged!  Add it to your plans if you need a fun first week activity!
Happy teaching!