Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Check Me Out!

Remember how I won those free pockets from Tommie's Tools? Not only did I get my free pockets in the mail yesterday, but she also featured one of my ideas on her website. Pop on over there to see her variation on my lunch chart idea. She even linked to my blog! :)

Here are my new pockets... TWO packages for FREE. I also bought matching nametags that I'm going to use for my new work station chart!

Behavior Management

I've been contemplating trying out a new or modified behavior management system in my classroom for next year. The problem I find is that you really don't know what system works until you meet your students and get a feel for the personalities and dynamics that you have in your classroom. For example, my class my second year of teaching was, well to put it nicely, not the best behaved and I could have paid them with $100 bills for good behavior and they still would make horrible choices. Then my class this past year was wonderful... The best behaved group of kids I've had and I really had no need for any system. They were so good they'd rat themselves out for minor things because they'd feel so much guilt. (Don't we wish we could have those types of classes every year?)

Through my lurkings around Pinterest and various blogs, I've found a lot of teachers using a colored chart where the students have a clip and can move up or down depending on their behavior throughout the day. In fact, this system is ALL over the place, so it makes me think there's something good about it! It seems fairly easy to manage and a great idea for classroom management. I love the idea of rewarding kids for not just being good, but going above and beyond. I'm all about having high expectations and I can see this really working well. (I think it would have been a fantastic system for last year's class that was so good.)

Here are a few links to this behavior management system and some of its variations. There are some awesome ideas on these sites!

I've used a "star system" as my primary behavior management model over the past few years. The kids start the day with three stars in a pocket chart. For each misbehavior they "pull a star." One star is a warning, two stars is 5 minutes lost of recess, and three stars is all of recess lost where the students fill out a "think sheet" about their day to share with their parents a and a possible trip to the office. I've really liked this system and feel like it's been pretty effective, but I get bored with things after a while... One of my favorite things about my job is that I get a fresh start each year and can switch things up when I want to!

Had you noticed that I don't give the kids anything for being good? Trust me, I do give my kids plenty of rewards and incentives, but I've been trying to figure out a way that I could add more in with the whole star system and now possibly with the colored clip chart system. Here's the issue... I'm not made of money and it can get really expensive constantly buying rewards for students. I did a monetary system with my "bad" class during my second year and felt like I spent tons of my own money on prizes each month. I also attempted to do extra recess at the end of the week, but that was difficult to keep track of who earned how much time, being stuck inside during the winter months, dealing with short weeks, and just plain finding the time to fit in extra recess!

I've always liked the idea of using coupons for classroom priviledges, but I've always struggled with coming up with fun ideas. And so, to the internet I went... Here are a few things I've found.

I hope these links help any of you who are looking for ways to reward students without breaking the bank. As I said, sometimes you really don't know what works until you meet your students, but hopefully you find something fun and effective that will help them stay motivated and well behaved!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I'm a Winner!

Last week I wandered over to Tommie's Tools through the Creative Teaching Press website. If you haven't been on either site before, you need to check them out. CTP is my favorite site for decor for my classroom and I'm a little bit addicted to their Poppin' Patterns collection. Tommie's blog is full of great ideas for using CTP's products in the classroom. She's got plenty of neat ways to use items in new and unique ways (many of which I'm not sure I'd have come up with). Anyway, last week on Tommie's Tools she was having a contest to win cute library pockets... All you had to do was submit an idea on how you use them in your classroom. So, here are two of the the pictures that I submitted.

I use library pockets for two primary purposes in my classroom. The first is for the students' library cards and bookmarks. I usually mount this chart on the door for easy access as the students come and go from the library. The second way I use the pockets is to take lunch count. Each child has their own pocket and I have labeled index cards with the four lunch choices at our school-- hot, other, milk, and cold. Each morning the kids come in and stick the card in their pocket with their preferred choice sticking up. It's a quick and easy way to take lunch count.

It ended up that everyone who submitted ideas won, so I've got two packages of library pockets headed my way! Here are the ones I'm getting: Poppin' Patterns Library Pockets.

So, how do you use library pockets? Any new and exciting ideas anyone wants to share?

Friday, June 17, 2011

My New Addiction: Pinterest

If you haven't been on or heard of Pinterest before, you need to check it out. It's basically a virtual idea board where you can "pin" pictures that you find online. I've already started three boards for my three biggest interests-- shopping, teaching, and home decorating. There are so many people with really cool ideas out there and this is one more way to share and explore them!

Here's the link to my Pinterest page of classroom stuff. You can also check out my other two pages from there.

Happy pinning! :)

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Turquioise, Coral, and Comfy

I have recently come to enjoy looking at blogs of all types (teaching, fashion, and home decor are my primary loves) and have stumbled upon several new favorite sites. I put this outfit together on Polyvore, which is a site that allows you to create your own outfits or other boards with online items. This outfit isn't near as cool as some of the ones I've found, but it gives you a good idea of what it's all about. I started with two items I already own, boyfriend jeans from AE and the turquoise sandals from Target, and then went on from there. Other than the scarf and the $1,000+ purse, it's all stuff that is from stores I actually shop at and can afford. So cool! I love having the summer to explore fun new websites!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Clutter-Free Classroom: Sports Themed Classrooms

My school is doing a sports theme next year and to my surprise it's been a little more difficult than I'd anticipated to find cute ides for this theme. Well, our awesome friends at Clutter-Free Classroom have been doing a series on classroom themes and recently had this post on sports theme ideas! I love this!

Clutter-Free Classroom: Sports Themed Classrooms: "Throughout the month of June, I am going to run a Classroom Theme Series and feature a different popular classroom theme each day. Themes a..."

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

We all have them... Those things that we do or indulge in just for ourselves? Summer is my time to enjoy my favorite guilty pleasures. I feel like during the school year I have very little time (or energy) for some of these thigns. I've added a few new ones to the list recently as well. I wanted to share mine and would love to hear about what yours are...

  1. Sleeping! It doesn't take me very long to throw out a good sleep schedule and adjust to my "summer schedule." Last night I started watching a 4 hour movie I'd DVR'd last week and didn't go to sleep until almost 4 a.m. Sleep 'til 11:45 a.m.? No problem! Take a nap in the afternoon? Why not!?!

  2. Awesome 80's video block on VH1 Classic. I'm a HUGE 80's music fan, so I've started recording the 2 hour video blocks and watching them when I'm cooking, blogging, or just piddling around. The best part is that if I don't like a song or video, I can just forward right through it. What's on my TV right now? You guessed it!

  3. Full House reruns. I'm a child of the 80's and 90's and still to this day I can watch endless episodes of Full House. I've seen every episode at least 10 times (not even kidding) and I still love being able to watch it during the summer. I've been trying to get to the Y and watch it while I'm working out in the morning.

  4. Blogs. This is a new one for me... I started this blog back in the spring and have started really getting into reading other teacher's blogs. I'm not near as cool or creative as a lot of you out there, but I've been inspired in so many new ways and have tons of great ideas for things I would like to do in my classroom. I've also been discovering non-education blogs on my two other favorite topics-- clothes and home decor! Two of my favorites are J's Everyday Fashion and Young House Love. Definetly worth checking out!

  5. Reading. I will totally admit that I am a teacher that really doesn't enjoy reading all that much. I loved it as a kid, but it seems like around middle school or high school having to read all of those boring classics sucks out your desire to read for pleasure. I got into reading Sophie Kinsella's Shopaholic books a few summers ago and then moved onto her other books as well. I don't really read during the school year, but over the course of the last three summers I've read almost all of her books. They're fun, light-hearted girlie books that are perfect for a summer day. I usually take mine out to the porch, get a little tan, and enjoy some quiet time with a good book.

Just for fun...

Here are a few awesome (or awesomely bad) 80's videos I've seen recently:

Rick Astley - Never Gonna Give You Up

Deniece Williams - Let's Hear It for the Boy

Swing Out Sister - Breakout

Paula Abdul - Opposites Attract (my personal FAVORITE from my childhood)

Mike and the Mechanics - Silent Running

Excuses, Excuses

I told myself that over the summer I'd be more consistent with my blogging and minimum post at least once a week. Well, summer is two weeks in and I'm barely staying afloat with that promise. I have excuses, though, so I though I would share some of my non-school related summer projects with you. I mean, a teacher can't spend her WHOLE summer prepping for the next school year, right? Summer is our time to get caught up on all of those other projects we don't have time for during the school year.

The first of my summer "projects" was to try to get in better shape. Now, I workout all the time during the school year. In fact, going to the gym with a good magazine and my iPod is one of my favorite ways to unwind after a long day. The problem with my workouts is that I do the exact same things all the time and don't really challenge my body in new ways. So, a friend mentioned that she's doing Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred... I went to good 'ol Target and picked up the DVD. I've been doing it for about 6 days and I can actually tell a pretty decent difference. It's only about 25 minutes total, so time wise this is something that I can continue through the school year if I want to. (I've also been doing this in addition to my regular cardio at the Y. Typically a hour consisting of the elliptical and treadmill. Heck, I've got time to workout an hour and a half a day right now, so I might as well!) The numers on the scales haven't changed dramatically (I'm building muscle and burning fat so it's kinda evening out right now I think....) The biggest proof for me was my last trip to Banana Republic where I went a little crazy with their extra 25% off sale items deals. I found these two really nice silk shirts that I'd tried a few weeks earlier, but that hadn't quite fit the way I'd prefer. They were marked down to about $15 each (reg. $69.50!) so I thought I just give them another try. They fit just right this time and will still be okay if I just so happen to shrink a little bit more!

The next big summer project was to have a garage sale and get rid of some JUNK! I've lived in my house about a year and really tried to weed out a lot of crap before I moved here, but somehow in the process of moving from a 1 bedroom apartment to a 3 bedroom house my stuff seems to have exploded! I got to a point earlier this year when I decided I just needed to get rid of some things and I might as well try making some money off of it. I think my conscience won't be yelling at me quite so much when I go shopping if I get rid of some of the things that I don't use or wear anymore. This was also one of my end-of-the-year school projects. My car was full of junk that I had at school that was just collecting dust in my classroom that I am going to attempt to sell. What should I be working on right now? Oh yeah, buying stuff to label my sale items and make posters...

My final (ha ha ha) project of the summer is to actually make my downstairs bedroom an office / guest room that I'd actually want to use. Right now it's pretty much just a giant closet and collecting spot for my random junk that I don't want upstairs. I'm thinking about painting my desk furniture that I've had since high school and decorating that room with my random assortment of home items that don't currently have a place to live.

So, there you go... That's what's on my summer list! We'll see how it all goes! So far so good, but I'm also only into my summer vacation about two weeks.

What are YOUR personal projects for the summer???