Sunday, September 29, 2013

I Can't Wait!!!! The Mayans Are Coming!

Yes. That is me. No, you are seeing it correctly. I have transported myself back in time to the the time of the Mayan Dynasty somewhere between  2000 BC -  900 AD.

I am trying to figure out what to do for my outfit for my multi age grades 1-5 Mayan exploratory that I am hosting in mid October for three days of 90 minute learning segments.

Yes. That is me. I was gifted the skirt wrap from my sister upon her return from Guatemala. I figured that is well, somewhat authentic. The Mayans were in Guatemala. All I needed was lots of  BLING and outlandish head dress to be some type of Mayan Noblewoman.


Here is what I am cooking up:

I have passports already made for our travel throughout the Mayan Kingdom where we will experience the following learning opportunities.

1) Studying the Maize God and the World Tree and making corn tortillas with my tortilla press and eating them, sans salsa.

2) Studying Mayan art and making a mural.

3) Studying the engineering and design of the temples and designing one of our own.
Taken at the Science Museum of Minnesota by myself.

4) Learning to write our names using Mayan phonetics.

5) Studying the Mayan number system and writing our birthdays using the Mayan number system.

6) Taking a virtual tour of the Mayan Kingdom via a most excellent YouTube video. 1 of 4 as seen at the Science Museum of Minnesota.

7) Studying the clay sculptures with inscriptions and designing our own.

8) Studying the history of chocolate when money really did grow on trees and making our own hot cocca mix. 

9) Making our own protection belts just using paper to model the ones that the ball players used around their waist so that they wouldn't instantly die from the over 8 pound hard as a bowling ball being thrown at them. Did you know they could not use their hands or feet to put the ball through the hoop? Tricky!

10) Studying Mayan myths and legends..and then writing a myth or legend of our own. 

Taken at the Science Museum of Minnesota by myself.

I am really looking forward to #tlap-ing this exploratory! It is almost all paperless except for the passport and the art work. It is all maker centered with lots of hands on activity at every station. I also have QR codes printed up and laminated for exploring on the ipads.  It is entirely student centered! The students can build their own travel plans throughout the kingdom. The only rule is they have to travel with a buddy and no more than four at a station at once.

If you are not familiar with the Teach Like A Pirate way of teaching, here is my video on that below! I am looking forward to this time and can't wait to write about it again when we are done!

PS: Costa Rica was not a Mayan hot spot. I am not Mayan by heritage. We were invaded by the Spaniards and many of the natives of Costa Rica died from diseases..and then it was populated by the Spaniards. I am Costa Rican. Soy Tica. Pura Vida.






#makermath First Grade


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Wonderwall Wednesday: Sept 25, 2013

What activity has high expectations, develops critical thinking, has both vigor and challenge?

Yes,Wonderwall Wednesday!


Why Wonderwall? Giving the students time to "wonder" is important. It develops early in the first graders independent thinking and I model for them how to develop their student work into a project. It also has wonderful 21st Century skills of disciplined inquiry, mixed with big ideas and a guiding question. Another great thing that Wonderwall Wednesday does is provides alternative learning opportunities as well as creates a space for rich, relevant learning.


Although some people might walk by us and think we are "just playing", the truth is far the opposite. We are just learning in a style that is best suited for the needs of many people. Conversation, inquiry and hands on ownership in our thinking. Today we wondered how big the planets were. The guesses that the students made were far, far off. (Objects in the mirror are not as close as they seem...kinda moment). However, that developed the idea of very large numbers to emerge again in our studies. We are learning to put commas after three numbers as we count from right to left as well.


As you can see from this triangle image, there are many aspects of Bloom's Taxonomy that helps us as we become learners and as we use Wonderwall to help us. This week, I went an extra step and added a section for what we already knew and a section for what we now had new wonders about as we studied planets.  We enjoyed learning a few details about the planets as well like how many moons they have, whether we could live on them or not and why as well as some aspects of Roman/Greek mythology that tie into it.

Did we get our numbers right? No. We're we close? Not. At. All! But that was not the point. We were learning. We were creating. We were analyzing. We were understanding. We were evaluating. We were applying what we already know..to things we are learning about. Beautiful, organic learning. The best way to learn!

PS: Yes, we know Neptune is tilted differently. A student said that he knew it was. I didn't even know that. We looked it up. He was right. Scientists think some big huge thing knocked it off kilter.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Talk Like A Pirate Day, Teach Like A Pirate Day and the Big Storm.


I was so looking forward to today when I woke up. I knew what shirt I was going to wear. Today was Talk Like A Pirate Day and of course, I had the t-shirt to go with it thanks to my fellow pirate Dave Burgess! I even had a wonderful little song to go with my little bit of time I was going to use on the subject (10 minutes...I mean, we're talking first grade here)   I had this awesome video from Veggie Tales: We Are The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything and we had words to a goofy kids song about pirates.





A Children's Pirate Shanty

by Mark "Cap'n Slappy" Summers 


I'm a pirate! That I be!
I sail me ship upon the sea!
I stay up late - till half past three!
And that's a peg below me knee!

Yo Ho, my friends I have a tale
of treasure, plunder, sea and sail
my story's bigger than a whale
it gets so deep, ye'll have to bail.


I like to fish, I like to fight
I like to stay up half the night
When I say "starboard" ye go right!
Me ma, she says, "Ye look a fright!"

I've got no hand but that's me hook!
I pillage stuff but I'm no crook.
Me booty's in this chest I took.
They'll write about me in a book!

And that's all there is to this song.
I hope it hasn't been too long.
A pirate's life might just be wrong
So grow up nice and big and strong!


Armed with two books that my partner in all thing pirate had, we were set to go and so was the weather! You could not have picked a better book to match the weather, the t-shirt, the song and the video! If I were to write, "It was a dark and stormy night..." I would be right on! The blue sky turned green, then it turned black. The window began to pound with the sound of hail hitting the pane. With two teachers and one aide in the room, were we scared? Yes. I mean, that sky was VERY creepy! But good pirates don't let on to others what is going on and they sail on! Sail on we did. Ten minutes turned into 40. 
We had NO ONE crying..a miracle in first grade as all the eyes and ears were on our story. What would happen next? And just as we had entered about the 15 minute mark of waiting out the storm and keeping the minds of students on something else, I read this part of the page. "It wasn't easy to fall asleep without a story, but I was finally dozing off when a storm broke. Thunder boomed and lightening flashed." It did! It really did. The students were so surprised. I told them I had arranged that all! Special effects! 
They were AMAZED! SPELLBOUND! NOT SPOOKED. 

And then just after I read the words, "When the storm was over, we rowed back to shore....," the darkness faded. We could sense a clearing coming up. Again, I did mentioned to them that I had asked for special effects! 

What could have been a scary thing (because it was) was not so scary with  a great book about pirates and a teacher who LOVES her #tlap and book Teach Like A Pirate. That is what pirates do. They seize every opportunity. 

Here is another great book I read to the students today and just for fun, below you will be able to find your pirate name. Mine would be Scallywag Creeper Bart. Not the prettiest of names. I'll keep what I've got! So, go ahead...find your name and next time strange circumstances come upon you, seize them. Carpe Diem!








Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Wonder Wall Wednesday September 18, 2013 Curious Passionate Learning

Children are curious and naturally passionate learners: “The desire to learn, to discover, to figure something out, and to be able to do something well enough to proclaim it as one’s own must surely be as strong as any impulse in the human soul” 
Fried: The Passionate Learners and the Challenge of Schooling 

Wonder Wall Wednesday is our way using #geniushour techniques to bridge the gap that is happening in education.

Wonderful things don't have to just be imagined. There is the possibility of wonderful moments and wondering moments in our classroom. This is a phenomenal example of education going in the right direction for students.



Common features and characteristics evident in these schools include:
• Guiding principles that focus all stakeholders
• High standards, including a commitment to post secondary advancement of students
• Belief in each student being known, understood, and encouraged
• Emphasis on student inquiry, experiential learning, learning in
depth, and interdisciplinary learning
• Some degree of choice inherent in the program
• Commitment to higher-order thinking and to students practicing
creativity and innovation, analysis and evaluation, and real-world
problem solving
• Belief in the importance of personal values, democratic process,
integrity, and morality
Wilson, Louise, Great American Schools:The Power of Culture and Passion



A Passion for Learning

"Great teaching traffics in enduring puzzlements, persistent
dilemmas, complex conundrums, enigmatic paradoxes. Certainty
is closed, and closed streets don’t interest the mind. Great ideas
have legs. They take you somewhere. "
Eisner 2006, p. 44


What then is Meaningful learning

• Learning builds on preconceptions and needs to be integrated and
interdisciplinary.
• Building deep conceptual knowledge and expertise is critical to
future learning.
• Students must learn problem-solving and learning strategies.
• Students learn best when learning is contextualized and authentic
and when they respond to strategic, student-driven inquiry.
• Students benefit from metacognitive awareness of how they learn
and in shared discourse with others.
• The brain loves challenges, problem solving, and relevant mysteries.
Bransford, Brown, and Cocking 1999; Diamond and Hopson 1998;
Brown and Campione 1998

It also involves the construction of knowledge, including higher-order thinking;
• Disciplined inquiry, which includes an opportunity to develop deep
knowledge and engage in substantive conversation;
• Value beyond school, learning about things that connect to the
world beyond the classroom. 
Newmann, Secada, and Wehlage 1995

I like what Mr. Robert Fried explains below. I am including an excerpt from his abstract.

Fried, Robert L. Passionate Learners and the Challenge of Schooling.

"The opposite of command and control is a genuine learning partnership, one that requires of students and teachers a level of shared responsiveness that goes against the traditional hierarchy of school, Fried reminds us. Such mutuality will be critical to the emergence of learner-centered schools in the future.

EVERY CHILD is a passionate learner. Children come into the world with a desire to learn that is as natural as is the desire to eat and move and be loved. Their hunger for knowledge, for skills, for the feeling of mastery is as strong as any other appetite. They learn an amazing variety of things in the years before they enter school, including, miraculously, how to talk fluently in their native language. And they continue learning at a terrifically high rate throughout their childhoods.

We are less likely to see this same passion when we look at children in school. Something happens to a child when "learning" is replaced by "schooling." It doesn't happen all at once. The excitement of the kindergarten or first-grade classroom begins to dissipate by third or fourth grade. Of course, some children do hold on to a dynamic interest in learning as they mature as students, while others get enough support at home for their individual passions for learning - in music, hobbies, books, or sports - so that they more easily contend with their disappointments with school-based learning."



And this is in the end, why Wonder Wall Wednesdays are important and why the use of #geniushour or #passiontime is vital. We are not just wasting time! What may look like child's play to you, is learning to us.


Today we wondered about how far away the Mississippi River is from our small town of Isanti, MN. The fastest way to get there is to go to Anoka. That is about 30 minutes away. This spawned discussions about what states the river flows through, where it starts, where it ends as well as life on the river.  We talked about that this river is not as far as you may think..and learning distance perception is a very high order skill.   My heart begged to read anything by Mark Twain, (Samuel Clemens).   We also wondered about how many kinds of birds there were. The answer is 10,000. We wrote down our favorite bird and our best estimate. We talked about that this might be more than frogs...(5,000)  We also looked at this site: http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com/news-seven-blow-your-mind-beautiful-kinds-bird to see how creative and different each bird was made.


It was a precious, precious time and a high honor for me to be a witness to this learning.






Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Design a Constructivist Learning Activity: Using Wonder Wall (Genius Hour)





Design a Constructivist Learning Activity: Using Wonder Wall (Genius Hour)


mrsbmw.edublogs.org

My first graders and I are so excited to introduce you to our Genius Hour that we call Wonder Wall Wednesdays.

 How did Wonder Wall Wednesday get its name? At the beginning of the school year which started the end of July, we sat together as a group and wrote down wonders. It was simple to do. You start with the question, “I wonder…?” Because we are using our math time we will stick to wonders that have to do with numbers.  Our Wonder Wall is out in the hallway so our whole school can learn with us if they want to and so that when parents come, they can see it as well. We were so excited to just LOOK at all the things we wondered about.



Wonder Wall Wednesday is all about the students. It is student driven active learning.  In just a small window of time each week, we are able to touch the passions of the student via their wonders, learn about technology and fuse it together with math, social studies, literacy, science and LIFE! For the first grade when we deal with course work, we work on little numbers. That is why Wonder Wall Wednesday is so much fun! We are working with large and abstract numbers in their own reality and going far and above the standard while collecting data recording it and organizing it. We also continue to learn about being a digital citizen and how to find out information! We also work on collaboration and teamwork, essential learning elements of any student today.


Here are some standards based on Mathematical Practice that we tackle as we do Wonder Wall Wednesday:

 1.  Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
2.  Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
3.  Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
4.  Model with mathematics.
5.  Use appropriate tools strategically.
6.  Attend to precision.
7.  Look for and make use of structure.
8.  Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.


Wonder Wall Wednesday allows for all the  principles of constructivism to be met.  I was asked to provide two examples but it is impossible! Wonder Wall Wednesdays are far too rich for me to limit it to simply two principles.

 Principle 1: Posing problems of emerging relevance to students: I am always excited to help the students make predictions to their student generated wonders and I am thrilled when one wonder leads to another wonder. For example...when we studied; “I wonder how much a gallon of ice cream is?” it lead to learning about gallons and averages. Not at all first grade concepts but they wanted to know! This is a worksheet and workbook free zone. Brooks and Brooks would say that in the design of constructivist classrooms, curricular activities rely heavily on primary sources of data and manipulative materials.  That is why we go straight to the internet as well to find and learn about primary sources and also I get to coach students on being a digital citizen.



Principle 2: Structuring learning around primary concepts: The quest for essence:  Together we are stronger as we link relevant facts together and learn from each other. As we deal with large numbers, my first graders are learning to go farther. When one student guessed that Germany was only 10 miles away or that deep space was 100 miles away now, they are getting better at forming numbers of greater amounts and lining them up with what we learned so when we were answering the question, “I wonder how far it is to the center of the earth?” Our numbers were not two digit numbers! I call that success! Brooks and Brooks suggest that this way, curriculum is presented whole to part with emphasis on big concepts.

 Principle 3: Seeking and valuing students’ points of view:  I love this! I love when students show me their thinking. I think along with them when we do our Wonder Wall Wednesday. The honor of guiding their thinking never escapes me. It is a window to the future of the world. I get to build their knowledge!

 Principle 4: Adapting curriculum to address students’ suppositions This principle allows me to think back to thinking outside the box of small numbers and bridge their thinking between what they know, and what they don’t know. Again building numbers out of the two digit numbers to broad numbers and uncountable numbers is crucial.

 Principle 5: Assessing student learning in the context of teaching:  I do not grade anything formally. I like the idea of watching them operate day to day and specifically week to week as our Wonder Wall Wednesday grows and grows. I can see how they are approaching numbers in such an organic way and see where they are stuck. Brooks and Brooks would suggest that the assessment of student learning is interwoven with teaching and occurs through teacher observations of students at work and through student exhibitions and portfolios. For example, as we collect data I can see what how they are applying what we are learning to this activity. Excellent!

 Problem based learning, Constructivist Learning, Genius Hour, Passion Time, Twenty Percent Time, or Wonder Wall Wednesday is a beautiful way to learn, but from my front porch looking out at the students working in front of me, engaged, energized, I realize how fortunate I am to be in this sacred space in their lives. It is an honor that I take seriously and ponder with my whole being.

 Brooks, J.G.,& Brooks, M.G. (1999). In search for understanding: The case for constructivist classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Wonder Wall Wednesday September 11, 2013

September 11. That day brings back haunting memories for all of us over the age of  I think 25. For those under that age, I think it is still a blur, that is recalled with loose ends via video clips and photos. It is a day my first graders will NEVER remember, but one day will learn about. Though we briefly, ever so briefly made a mention of it at calendar time that today is a remembering of a rough day in the USA and don't we all have rough days, it is a day to celebrate doing our best to overcome adversity.

Then we went right from calendar time to our Wonder Wall Wednesday. Here are our wonders for the day.

One student wanted to know: How much is a gallon of  ice cream? So first we wrote our names down under favorite kinds...(pick two). We drew tallies and chocolate won. Then we researched most favorite ice cream in the world...and the answer was vanilla. We discussed why...more things to add in or on it...you can make it special.

Then we got a sideline question...what IS a gallon??  We learned that in a gallon is 16 cups of ice cream and I quickly drew my chart again....

Then a word popped up. AVERAGE. As you know first graders are not sure what average means...and so we learned about AVERAGE. WE added up all our ages and divided them by the total amount of people. In this case, there was seven so in our first grade small group, including me, our average age was 11. Now that blew their minds.

And now we could talk about how much a gallon of ice cream was!!! We wrote down our answers, put them in order and learned that the average price was 4-5 dollars. That meant that some cost way more..some cost less.

The other topic we hit for our Wonder Wall Wednesday was: How far is it to the center of the Earth?  First we guessed how far it was. We are getting better at making good estimations as we are learning about big, big numbers! Then we learned that the Earth has four parts: crust, mantle, core and inner core.  We learned that it is stinking hot and there is no way people can physically find out..they will burn up after a few hundred feet digging down into Earth! We also processed why you really can't dig a hole to China...but keep trying.( Its too far, to long, too hot) It is 3,959 miles to the center of the Earth.

I always learn something knew during our Wonder Wall Wednesdays. I hope you do too. I really hope the students are enjoying this process. We most certainly go beyond  First Grade Common Core Standards! We dive into what they want to know! Students don't learn much of anything when a teacher does all the work for them...it takes the students leading discussions to build retention. It takes teaching the students to be global explorers as well.  Although our Wonder Wall Wednesdays are a challenging day, I would suggest to you that students learn well when they are challenged and in an enriching environment that involves messy learning with questions that lead to more questions full of curiosity and wondering.


A Powerful Learning Experience

I was to write about a powerful learning experience for my Masters in K-12 Education course at Bethel University. Creating learning experiences is essential to teaching. I believe that is why Teach Like A Pirate touched my soul so deeply or the #youmatter and #geniushour ways of teaching. Here is what I wrote.

The year was 1999 the month was January. It was New Year’s Resolution season and like  many New Years come and gone, I have made resolutions, but this year was different. I was led by the Holy Spirit to pursue teaching overseas in Costa Rica where I was born. I don’t recall the exact day, but I was sitting next to Angie in the choir loft at North Heights Church at the time when the Pastor Vaagness suggested that maybe the Lord is calling YOU (Who me?) to do something different this year.

My heart’s prayer has always been, “Here I am Lord, send me,” and he did. I applied at one school, got the job. I sold everything but 4 boxes of “stuff”, my home, my car and as a single mother of a 3 year old, I moved to Costa Rica to teach technology Pre K-12th grade at a school high up in the mountains.  Was I scared? Yes! I was also excited.

Picked up by my aunt and uncle, I got settled into our apartment 45 minutes down the hill and around the corner from the school. This also became known as a long bus ride in the cool mornings, the heat of the day and the rainy season. I often wished that year for my very own car there...but realized driving in Costa Rica was a nightmare!

It has been thirteen going on fourteen years since then. I have not been able to return since to my birthland but the moments of that year linger still in my heart, my mind and soul.

I can still smell the Mercado Central with the stench of fresh fish (or not so fresh?) the flowers for sale, the breads and the gallo pinto lunches. I can still hear the bustle of busy streets filled with busses and cars with drivers who can’t drive! I can see the mountains spanning up to the top of God’s sky. I can still taste the copos--shaved ice with syrup and tres leches on top.

I can recall deep, life lasting friendships full of laughter, deep conversations. I can name the places and spaces of events like I know the age spots on my hands. I still know the feeling of anxiety from stepping over the beggar who fell asleep on my front sidewalk outside the apartment with my son by my side. I can still hear the drunks at 6:30 AM at the bus stop down by the Iglesia Catolica de Moravia and their cat calls.

I can still hear the worship from church, Vida Abudante with the worship team ever so glorious and songs by Marcos Witt still take me back!  I can draw for you the city lights as I look at them from the tops of the mountains and wondering is this what God must see when he looks down at Earth at night?
Why do I recall these things so? I believe it is because I was in love. I still am. Costa Rica is my homeland it calls to me. This was not the first time I had been back. Have you ever felt a call so much on your soul that thinking about it again and again makes you cry? Like now? If I could go back RIGHT NOW I could. I love my country. I love my people. I love my language. I love my food. I love my dancing.

I can’t express for you the pain of not being able to travel with two kids and life happening here. I can’t find the words to tell you what this season of “staying put” feels like on my heart that wants to fly, to travel, to see the world. I am trying to be faithful to the Lord and to appreciate this season, but I admit
it is hard. I take trips in my mind. I look up places to travel, things to do there, restaurants to eat at and places to stay for virtual trips around the world. It helps, but it is not the same.

God has blessed me richly with godly parents who adopted me and gave me a marvelous life and who developed in me a love for my heritage both by birth and by adoption that brings tears to my eyes to think about. I have been so blessed.

When I think of a passion based learning experience, I think of this. I desire this for my children. To be so close to God, to be so hot wired to him that they hear his call on their lives and go. That they become global explorers. That they make connections with the people around them and seek first to understand!

This experience was not passive observation. It was living life loudly. Breathing in each thing. Making snapshots of it in my mind. I was highly challenged. I was curious. I felt alive. That is how I love to live life. That is also how I prefer teaching. I want it to breathe! I want it to be passionate. I want it to have meaning.

 It is a different season of life right now, however in my heart, I am always in Costa Rica. Viva siempre, Costa Rica! Que te amo mucho!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

From One Little Seed

Sunflower 2013: Since taking this photo, more have
grown out of this one little seed. 
Epic fails in my life usually manifest themselves in the form of gardening/ harvesting veggies or flowers.

Not a bone in my body that I would say was that good ol' farming bone, much to the chagrin of my PA farm girl mama. :)

But every year for the past 4 years I have managed to grow sunflowers.  I am sure that there are several kinds of sunflowers. I could look that up, but I really don't know.

Here is what I DO know. I planted seven seeds. Our dirt in my area of the woods in MN is really sandy and where I plant the seeds first needs to be assisted by purchased black dirt.

Then here is my trick, I let the sprinklers water the area. Yeah, I am not a reliable water-the-flowers kind of girl.

So let me break it down for you:

1) Buy seeds
2) Add black dirt
3) Plant
4) Make sure the sprinkler system hits it
5)Wait and watch
6) Sprinkle miracle grow every now and then

This is what grew from just one seed. It was the only one of the seven seeds I planted that grew.

Sometimes, life is like that. We are seed planters. We do our best to cultivate the ground that we are planing in, we bring in the "good dirt" that would help the seeds grow. We plant seeds.

We will plant a great amount of seeds over the years spent as a parent or as a teacher on the hearts of those who have been entrusted to us.

This little flower from one seed was a nice reminder to me that I will never know the power of just one seed.This little seed must have deep roots.  Jonas Salk says, "Good parents give their children roots and wings. Roots to know where home is, wings to fly away and exercise what's been taught them." 

Providing a foundation of security and stability for my children in my home is just as the nourishment and stability of a plant depends on its root system. Human life is sustained and stabilized by its roots and I would also include that the classroom is as well.

So here is to seeds and deep roots because in the end, "It's easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."-- Frederick Douglass

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

All That Shimmers Isn't Gold

Ask me how I feel about behavior charts where students have to do the walk of shame across the room as many sets of eyes focus on them while they go and "flip a card."

Ask me!

Yeah, I hate it. The chart in my opinion based on being an educator since 1994 is that it  makes the assumption, that a child is going to misbehave. That is, even before a child crosses the threshold of the classroom, they are set up for failure.

I had one when I was teaching back in 2001 in 4th grade and I will not ever do that again. Nor will I do points charts where students earn points though others in my school do that. I promise.

I will also not ever do Class Dojo. I admit, I tried it out...I got the app to see what it was like and here are the wonderful things about it.


  • It had Monster like critters that were cute (not scarry).
  • It had lots of colors.
  • It was easy to use. 
  • It had the ability to delete the negative comments with the possibility of focusing in on the positive.
  • It had the ability for parents to look at their child's progress.
  • It had lots of shimmery stars. 


Yipee.

But as Matt Gomez said well, and it can't be said enough, "Why don't you just taser students instead?" Exactly.

Because even when I tried to add the positives and to desperately try to mesh them with the core principles of guided reading or guided math I came up empty.

I tried.
I did my best.
It still stunk.

Why? Because I think that giving out "stars" for good behavior is as bad as sending kids to the walk of shame to pull a card.

Yes, even charts that track positive behavior and even as I tried to rig this one to fit the expectations we hold in our guided math and reading practice are of poor value.

So no more look at me and how awesome I am...(aren't I awesome?) No more walk of shame.

Put yourself in their shoes. Put yourself inside their heart.

It doesn't fit with the #youmatter philosophy that I have grown to love.

So what works? May I suggest the Responsive Classroom concept which is an open and fluid discussion on behavior. Designing I-Charts. Taking the time even in class to review expectations. Taking the time in the middle of a lesson to regroup and review the I-Chart where expectations are listed. It is always best if the I-Chart is designed with the students voice.    One like this:

Behavior Expectations During Reading
Student  / Teacher







You can change the title of any I-Chart ( Expectations on the playground, in Math class, in Science class, in the lunch room, on the school bus...etc).

And when the trials come, because they will, again refer back to the chart, see what was going wrong, and turn the other way...make a better choice.

Sometimes offering a quiet place in the room for reflection is essential. Here is an example of some first grade questions during behavior recovery. This would be sent home.

First Grade Recovery Time Think Sheet

1. I feel:
 sad
 alone
 angry
 foolish
 embarassed
 silly

2. I chose to:
 be loud
 talk out of turn
 ignore direction
 sass
 argue

3. I could have:
 been more respectful
 been more responsible
 kept our classroom
 more safe

4. Do I need to apologize?
Yes No
So to sum it up, Class Dojo is a NO NO!

And finally, here is a video that I love that goes along with #youmatter and about not giving out scars and stars.


As always, #youmatter! 




Monday, September 2, 2013

Guest Blogger...Click Below For My Post

I had the honor of being a guest blogger for www.geniushour.com this week. I will try to be a guest blogger twice a month.  Click HERE  for my post. (And ignore the one typo that I missed. Hey, I'm not perfect! And check out Chris' awesome #geniushour video! Its AMAZING!