Monday, November 24, 2014

Mohawk When You're Ready!

Today I am going to share with you a strategy that I never thought was that unique until a teacher friend mentioned to me that I HAVE to put it on my blog for others to see.   I use different gestures to be able to see who is finished with a task in my classroom.  My class is very fast paced and I give them time limits to complete certain tasks.  When they are finished with that task, they use their hands to show me they are finished. Everyone must be doing the gesture in order to earn points for students on the Scoreboard.

Basically, I give them their task and their time limit.  I then say, "Moose antlers when you are ready!" or "Chillin' like a villain when you are ready!"It then becomes a race to complete the task and get to do the gesture.

When asked, some teachers have mentioned concern about it getting kids off task. For me, it keeps my kids ON task.  Rather than them talking to their neighbor when they are finished.  They are doing a task that I have asked them to do and is fun for them.

 I have attached some of my students' favorites.

1. Hands on your head
2. Pencil up
3. Two thumbs up
4. Moose antlers
5. Chillin like a villain
6. Shark fin
7. Mohawk
8. Unicorn
9. Favorite zoo animal
10. Bunny
11. Goggles/Binoculars
12. Happiest face because you are in science!

I hope this gives you some ideas so that your transitions go more smoothly! :)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Interactive Notebook Tips and Tricks

Hey Everyone!  Today starts part one of my interactive notebook mini-series.  Many people come up to me to ask questions about how to implement interactive notebooks and how I keep it organized. Today, I'm hoping to impart on you a few staple things that I do that make using interactive notebooks easier.

1.  I encourage my students on the school supply list to buy college ruled composition books with cardboard covers.  The ones that have plastic covers seem to fall apart easily.  The pages should not have perforations because that will be bad news by the end of the first quarter. The picture shows an example of what they should be bringing.

2.  I use duct tape of different colors to line the bindings.  This has two purposes.  First, it helps the bindings stay together throughout the entire year.  Secondly, I use different colors for each class so it makes it easy to determine which class that notebook belongs to.

3.  I use a ribbon as a bookmark.  This allows students to mark where we left off and easily turn to that page the next day.  If a student's ribbon ends up falling out for some reason or it frays, I just have them use a sticky note which also seems to work just fine.

4. Allow students to create an "About Me" page or personalize their notebooks in some way.  This gives them ownership of their notebook and will likely result in better quality work throughout the year.

5.  Use a table of contents!  I struggle with sticking with a table of contents, but in the long run it is worth it.  I can tell students they need to study a certain page and they can look back and see where that page is located rather than thumbing through each individual page.

6.  I know this will be a controversial comment for those of you who are die hard notebookers, but I prefer stick glue.  I said it STICK GLUE!  Dinah Zike and other notebooking gurus would vehemently disagree with me, but I want quickness and ease, without all the mess.  The pros for Elmer's glue is that it sticks so much better so that the items you glue in will stay, I don't think it is worth the hassle of making sure all of the glue bottles work, aren't clogged, and aren't spilling all over the place.

Well there you have it, the 6 fundamental steps to creating successful notebooks.  Later I'm going to address how I grade or don't grade (a little teaser there) notebooks.  This will then transition me into foldables and science units (with LOTS of pictures).  Stay tuned!

Friday, November 7, 2014

Engaging Incentive - MIND FOOTBALL!

I haven't had time to laminate my football,
disregard the wrinkles! 
In honor of one of the greatest times of the year, I present to you Mind Football!  Mind Football is a game that I modified from several of the Whole Brain Teaching games to make work for my classroom.  My students earn minutes to play each day based upon their success at beating me on the Scoreboard.  At the end of class, I make time to play the few minutes they have earned.  My students beg for this game!

So, here are the rules:
1.  You need two teams.  I do boys against girls because it gets the students super excited.
2.  I use a bell in the middle to ring in if they know the answer (This is kind of like Family Feud style).
3. Which ever team rings in to answer the question first gets 5 seconds.  The second team then has a chance to answer if the first team is wrong or takes too long.
4. When a team gets the question right the official (ME!) awards them yards based upon difficulty of the question and enthusiasm in answering.
5.  When a team reaches the goal, they have scored a touchdown.

Now, for some of my favorite parts of the game:
  • The ball always starts at the 50 yard line. If no one chimes in then no matter where the football is, it's a delay of game and the ball resets to the 50 yard line. 
  • In true football fashion, a touchdown is only worth 6 points, but I throw in a basic math fact question as the extra point opportunity.  
  • Lastly, if anyone argues, I give the opposing team yardage.  
You can change up the game as you like, but it is perfect as an incentive when students are good and the questions I ask review the material we recently covered.  It's a win-win for the teacher and the students.  

I hope you enjoy.  If you have any questions about how to implement the game comment below.  If you do implement the game, please let me know how it goes for you! 

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Customizing Your Curriculum through Interactive Notebooks

So, some of you may disagree with the following statement, but textbooks are a thing of the past.  Honestly, I do not believe that textbooks are the best way to teach students.  Our students want to engage in what they are learning or they lose interest.  Students reading out of a textbooks or completing questions from the text does not captivate students nor does it encourage their brains to remember those important things you are teaching them.

I'm also not quite on the technology bandwagon.  I support using technology in the classroom.  I mean I use my iPad, my iPhone, computers when necessary, and my document camera nearly every day, but technology the BEST way to teach everything students are learning?  I'm not 100% sold on it being the end all be all to education.

The solution to student engagement and content retention in my classroom (aside from Whole Brain Teaching, of course!) is through interactive notebooks.  With interactive notebooks, I can customize my curriculum to fit the needs of my students and they have a working piece of text that summarizes everything they need to know at their fingertips.

I know I've left a lot of questions unanswered about interactive notebooks, but my plan is to do another mini series about interactive notebook basics in the coming weeks.  Sorry I haven't been posting much recently, my classes this semester are killing me!

P.S.  I am totally "geeking out" over the new books for my classroom library.  Three of my students purchased them for me from the book fair.  Eek!  LOVE LOVE LOVE 5th graders!

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Making Your Scoreboard Portable!

Well, I have made one small step in Whole Brain Teaching, and one giant leap for my teaching sanity!  I introduce to you....drum roll please....the Portable Scoreboard!

This laminated index card was the best part of my day today!  To create it, I just wrote the words "Teacher" and "Students" on a neon index card.  I then laminated the card and hole punched the middle.  I added it to a lanyard for ease of marking and I was done. In total it took me about 5 minutes to make. I put a dry erase marker in my pocket and I was set!

So, what's so great about a portable Scoreboard?  I am one of those crazy teachers that are all over the place.  I'm walking around the room, nearly doing handstands as I teach my students.  I cannot be chained to my board to mark when students are doing great or when I need to correct their behavior.  This Portable Scoreboard gives me the luxury of giving my students immediate feedback wherever I am in the room.  

Portable ScoreboardStudent and Teacher Approved! :)

Monday, October 6, 2014

Air Punctuation and a Look into My Classroom!

Last week my students were exposed to air punctuation.  May I just say that this may be one of my
most favorite things I have implemented this year. It requires students to know what must be included in a complete sentence and makes them think critically about their answers.  I think it is great when teachers in multiple disciplines can integrate learning from other areas.  Air punctuation improves students' ability to speak in front of others and increases their logical thinking.  Through the skills they gain from science class, they are learning skills that are addressed in the Common Core Language Arts standards.

I am attaching a video of my classroom the first day they learned air punctuation.  I am the first to say, I have many things that need improving in regards to Whole Brain Teaching, but with the feedback from my WBT mentor, I'm getting better and better.

So here is how it works:
Capital letter:  A capital letter is represented with your hands moving from a closed flat position and opening them, kind of like an alligator!

Punctuation:  Punctuation is represented with a hand out like a stop sign and the sound "ert". When students need to ask a question or use an exclamatory sentence, they just make the symbol in the air and still end it with "ert".

Comma:  A comma is represented with the sound "zoop" and a hook gesture in the air.

In regards to WBT, this week I am working on shortening the "Mighty Groan" when a teacher gets a point, chunking the mirror words sections, and implementing the "All eyes on (name)".  If you all enjoy the videos, I will try to add another one after I receive feedback next week.  I hope your year is going well!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

I Brain Break...Do You?

You guys are in for double posts today because GoNoodle has tasked bloggers to speak out about exercise in the classroom!

1. Often times adults see exercise as a chore, but for kids exercise should be all about fun and play. P.E. and recess offer great opportunities for kids to get their play on, but how can we bring this idea to the classroom as well?

As a middle school teacher, it is startling to me how little of exercise we have our middle schoolers engaged in.  Not only are they beginning to go through puberty and have these bodies that are changing, but then we stop giving them recess and expect them to sit longer in their desks.  This system just doesn't work.  GoNoodle provides teachers a resource to improve movement in the classroom.  
In my classroom, we use GoNoodle if students are very tired in the mornings and then as an incentive at the end of the period if they have beat me in WBT's Scoreboard game.  Students are so motivated by GoNoodle they beg for it each day.  Because they want to get up and moving, they work extremely hard during class time.  GoNoodle provides a win-win situation: I don't have to give up getting my content covered and students are engaged in fun exercise with me!

2. Something awesome happens in kids' brains when they are active. Have you observed students to be more focused and engaged in learning when you regularly incorporate movement into your classroom?  

...Um...YES!  YES!  YES!  Students are excited to come to class because they know they are going to have fun.  By making learning fun students want to learn and they are willing to put forth more effort.  Add in the brain science behind movement and learning, and we truly have a winning combination.  Movement makes students healthier.  They are academically more healthy, emotionally more healthy, and physically more healthy. 

3. Kids are watching and following your lead!  How can teachers model healthy, active lifestyles to their students inside and outside the classroom?

The first and foremost thing to do is to dance and move with your students.  By joining students in GoNoodle it builds a relationship with them.  Students see that you are all about movement so they are too!  In school, I GoNoodle with my students and play sports with them.  This not only shows them that I am active as an adult, but also builds those crucial positive relationships.  Outside of the classroom, I attend my students' games.  I encourage them to do their best, show strong character, and practice, practice, practice to help their team succeed!

GoNoodle truly provides teachers with the resources they need to build a safe community of learning through movement and fun. By getting students up and moving, we are setting the stage for a healthy lifestyle outside of the classroom and into the future!

Discipline with Dignity & WBT Pt. 2

Expectation of Success

Discipline with Dignity says:
Although schools with better funding seem to be more attractive to parents because they tend to have better test scores, the authors of Discipline with Dignity point out a profound statement:  These schools still have just as many boring teachers.  The authors than task us with this question:
"Could it be that these [thriving] schools have a cultural expectation of success?
Whole Brain Teaching does:
WBT is about setting high expectations and moving students from a place of complacency to a place where they are so engaged that they want to do better.  Through friendly competition, a safe learning environment, and "funtricity", students understand that when they come to a WBT class they will be expected to do well and when they rise to that expectation, the bar will be raised even higher.

Focus on Improvement

Discipline with Dignity says:
Academic and behavior achievement should focus on improvement.  Competition between students should be replaced with competition within each student.  Students should be challenged "to be better today than he was yesterday."

Whole Brain Teaching does:
WBT's Super Improvers League emphasizes just that, individual improvement.  WBT Founder, Chris Biffle discusses the importance of recognizing improvement rather than achievement.  Students that struggle in class may never see recognition and begin to lose motivation to do well at all. By flipping recognition towards being "better than your best", all students have the opportunity to achieve recognition and stay motivated to continually improve.

If you would like to find out more about Super Improvers, please look in my archived posts.  It's a great way to improve effort, achievement, and engagement within your classroom!

The next post in this blog series will deal with modeling and chunking information. Hope to see you back soon!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Practice Cards to Improve Behavior

So...for my regular followers, I know I told you that this week would be a series on Discipline with Dignity, but we are going to take a little detour because I couldn't wait to get home to tell you all about my wonderful day today!

Coach B's post today tied right into my blog!
School has been in session now for a little over a month and as much as I love my sweet 5th graders, I have a class of 6th graders that are the dread of my day.  Individually, the kids in that class are amazing, but together they form this overwhelming environment of chaos.  I found myself each night coming home and complaining about not being able to fully do Whole Brain Teaching because they wouldn't let me.  In actuality, I wasn't letting myself.  I wasn't using all of the tricks I had in my bag to get through to this class.

Not every class is the same and so I needed to do something different with this group of students. Thus, Practice Cards showed their face today in science class.  Practice Cards are simply warning cards in which students owe time practicing the rule that has been broken.  I am very lucky to have recess time in which my students can come in to "do their time".

How I am formatting my Practice Sessions are as follows:
1.  Students receive a Practice Card when they break one of the five classroom rules.
2.  For each card a student receives he/she must practice that rule (WITH GESTURES) for one minute.
3.  If a student gets three practice cards, we are calling home to talk with parents.

Today, I had five 6th graders practicing Rule 2: Raise Your Hand for Permission to Speak.  The power of the Practice Cards was not only in having the students practice the rules, but also in detouring others from breaking the rules.  It acted as a reminder of my expectations and when they saw me follow through with the Practice Cards they knew I meant business!

Class ran SO smoothly!  I was able to teach instead of harp at students for talking.  It was as Coach B says "Teacher Heaven"!  What discipline strategies do you use that reinforce positive behavior rather than dwelling on the negative?  I'd love to hear from you.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Discipline with Dignity & WBT Pt. 1

This week's blog series is going to touch on the first three chapters of Discipline with Dignity, but rather than just telling you what is in the book, I'm going to present it in a way that gives those of you that use Whole Brain Teaching validation that we are making a difference in the lives of our students!

Before we truly get into how WBT reinforces Discipline with Dignity, I want to present you with a quote from the book:
"Good discipline is about doing what is best for students to make good, healthy choices, not about making the lives of educators easier."  
Many teachers ask me why my classroom management plan has so many components and how I can keep them all straight.  The answer to that question is quite simple. It isn't easy. It isn't easy to do everything I need to in order to make sure that I follow WBT.  What is easy though, is teaching students in a way that makes my job fun all the while shaping my students into well-rounded, hard working people.

Discipline with Dignity's main focus is reinforcing positive behavior and using negative behavior as a teachable moment to change the behavior rather than drawing attention to the negative and lessening the self-esteem of the challenging kids in your class.

How Does WBT align with Discipline with Dignity? This series will focus on the following areas in which WBT has gotten it RIGHT! :)

Expectations of Success
Focus on Improvement

Rule Reinforcement &
Evaluation of Discipline Plan

Tomorrow's post will be about the expectations of success and focusing on improvement.  Can't wait for you to check back tomorrow!

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Blog Series Coming Soon!

As I work my way through ASCD's book Discipline with Dignity, I can't help but point out to my colleagues how most of the suggestions in the book align directly with the strategies in Whole Brain Teaching.  These reflections will make up my new blog series:  WBT Rooted in Research!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Remind for Parents

Image courtesy of
Do you have that principal that keeps driving home the need to stay in contact with parents?  Or do you have that parent that insists that you contact them all of the time to let them know the homework assignments?  I have experienced both, and what could sometimes be a frustration due to lack of time, has been made easier by Remind.

Remind (previously known as Remind 101) is a one-way text messaging opportunity for you as a teacher. You can text the parents and students that sign up for Remind quickly and easily. This year, I have had multiple parents thank me for my communication with them. I have also had many of my students prepared for class the next day because their parents reminded them of the science homework.

When I first considered using Remind, I just assumed it would be another thing to add to my list to start remembering to do, and honestly it is, but it makes my classroom time so much more efficient.  This year I have a system where during my plan period, which is after all of my classes, I really quick access the website and send out the messages.  It is so quick and easy that I timed myself today and it took a whole one minute and 24 seconds to send out messages to all of my classes.

But what if you forget? Remind has an app!  I have the app on my iPad and then can send messages  when I'm sitting at home watching TV!  It's quick, it's easy, and will make a world of difference in your classroom!

Do you use Remind?  What great ways has it affected your class?

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Go Noodle Works!

Today was the day that I decided to introduce GoNoodle to my students.  I knew it could go one of two ways.  The students could get completely into it or they could think it was super lame.  Guess what!?  They loved it! 

What's GoNoodle?  If you have not heard about GoNoodle, definitely click on the link provided to access their website.  GoNoodle is a website that provides different brain breaks for your students.  Currently, my plan is to primarily use the dance category, but there are several categories to calm or energize your students.

The best part of GoNoodle is the interactive avatars that are provided. Below you can see the different avatars that my classes selected. Each class is different and I love that! Each avatar, such as "Bart Reynolds" or "Zap von Doubler" grows and becomes stronger as students move up levels.

How does this link with Whole Brain Teaching?  This year my goal was to stay consistent with the Scoreboard.  When students beat me on the Scoreboard, then they get to play GoNoodle for 1-3 minutes.  This keeps my students wanting to play more, so they are sure to have great behavior the next day to finish their current dance party! 

GoNoodle is the perfect incentive for students in relationship to WBT's Scoreboard because the activities are short enough to complete or get students hooked enough in the time frame available.  I never thought I would have time to give students game incentives.  When you only sacrifice 1-3 minutes of class, it's worth it to improve engagement and get students excited about learning!

Good luck, and let me know if you implement GoNoodle in your classroom and how it works for you!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Update from the Whole Brain Teacher!

Hey guys!  Not a lot has been happening to blog about recently.  I've been super busy with school, but everything is going great!  My students are engaged and excited about learning mainly due to my full implementation of Whole Brain Teaching. 

I have blogged about several topics in regards to Whole Brain Teaching (WBT), but I thought that today I could show you some of the strategies in action.  Due to a video camera don't have actual video of me teaching, but I did manage to take a picture of a wall I use regularly. 

Okay, there is a lot going on here and much of it is hard to see, so bear with me. On the left is my Scoreboard.  This was after my ROCKSTAR AWESOME 5th period class.  Today they beat me hands down.  They wanted to show my mentor how well they could follow WBT.  I have improved greatly on keeping points on the Scoreboard, but still have a lot of improving to do.  As hard as it is to stay consistent with the Scoreboard, it is worth it!  I find myself almost speechless at how excited my students are when they receive points!

In the center of the photo is my rendition of the Universal Homework Model.  Whenever we take notes, students have different tasks to do to reach different star levels.  Today I wrote the number of stars they received as a class. Tomorrow their goal is to beat their current score.  If they successfully beat their score they will get a star on the Super Improvers Wall.

The last section of the photo shows the Super Improvers Wall.  All of my classes are at the Rookie level because it is the start of the school year, but two of my classes are moving up quickly.  The interesting aspect of the Super Improvers is that it rewards improvement.  This is hard for my 4th and 5th hours because they started out great and are slightly bummed that they aren't getting stars.  They'll be able do it, though! Their next chance is tomorrow when they need to beat their star homework score.

Well, there you have it!  Hopefully in the next couple of weeks, I will have an awesome video of me using these strategies in the classroom.  Remember, if you need more information about WBT strategies you can find information, videos, and printables all at!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Feeling Inspired and Inspiring Others!

Today was one of those feel good days.  You know those days...the days where you finally feel validated that what you are doing is actually making a difference.  Today, not once, but twice, I had people come up to tell me about students that have said they want to be science teachers so that they can be like me.  I also received lots of hugs and a sunflower!  Teaching is like fighting in the trenches when it's pouring outside and you can't see an end in sight.  But occasionally, the rain subsides and you see a rainbow.  That rainbow gives you hope for the future. I saw MY rainbow today!

Today's post is not going to be about a strategy to implement in your classroom. I've created a list of 10 things I do to inspire students, and, also, to help you get through those days where you feel like you are in torrential downpour.

1. High five, fist bump, or make up a crazy unique handshake with your students.
2. Compliment at least five students a day.  This does not have to be anything planned. "I like your shirt!"  "You look great today!" 
"What a neat idea!"  "That's really cool!" etc.

3.  Greet your students by name.

4.  SMILE, and not just a little bit.  I maybe take this to an extreme, but really it's a lot more fun to be in class with a teacher that seems like he/she is enjoying him/herself.

Photo from We are Teachers
5. Don't make everything about business. Teach, teach, teach, and then stop.  Work on teambuilding, collaboration, critical thinking, or just mix it up with a content related game or trivia.

6. Listen to your students....even the ones that tell you the never ending story.  You may be the only one that will listen to them.

7.  Find a system that does not criticize students individually.  Whether it be Whole Brain Teaching or another system, constantly reinforce good behavior rather than focusing on the negative behavior.

8.  Have some sort of incentive program.  Last year I used gem jars, this year I am using Whole Brain Teaching's Scoreboard.  I also give out stickers for students or teams that successfully complete a challenging activity.

9.  Find time to pray about your students.  I pray on my way to work each morning.  I ask God to give me guidance on what I should do each day in my classroom and to help me make a difference in the lives of my students.

10.  Take time for yourself.  Find something you enjoy doing and attempt to do it as often as you can.  If you are feeling overwhelmed in your classroom, take a second to breathe and think about a time when you felt you were making a difference.

11.  Don't give up hope.  With all of the things going on in the world, it is easy to feel down.  Know that you CAN inspire students, you CAN make a difference, and if you don't do it, who will?

I wanted to conclude this post with an inspirational video.  After seeing Rita Pierson's presentation, I hear her voice throughout my day. Good luck inspiring our future. 
I know you can do it!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

What Worked and Didn't Work at Open House

Well, tonight was open house.  It went awesome!  The parents were friendly and my students were super nervous to move into middle school.  It was great to be able to encourage them and let them know they could come to me if they ever had a question.  Reflecting on tonight, there were definitely some things that went well and some things I will change for next year.

What went well? First, I had my students' seats marked with colored sticky notes depending on their period.  When students walked in, I could tell them to find where they sit so that I won't have to worry about that tomorrow. Also, I labeled each station so that parents knew where to go.  Another aspect that was received well was the graphic syllabus that I blogged about last time.  I had several parents thank me for making
it easy to read.  Lastly, my homeroom kiddos loved the little highlighter gift I placed at each of their desks.  I loved
giving out a gift so much, that I'm already
brainstorming ideas for next year!

What I do I need to change?  I, definitely, planned too much!  I printed out sheets for my parents to sign up for Remind, but many didn't look at the signs and those that did, didn't have their cell phones with them.  I also set out sample interactive notebooks, but they were in a different section so parents and students were not aware that they could look at them. 

I think that next year the focus needs to be on the basics.  If I need to send more information out, I can through email. The parents and students were already overwhelmed with entering middle school for the first time, and then to flood them with how my classroom works was just a little too much. 

Words for the future:  Less is More...unless less is chocolate, then the saying does NOT apply! :)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Draw the Eye in with a Graphic Syllabus

Each year my syllabus has morphed into something else.  I started teaching with a very basic syllabus that was missing much of the information that parents needed to know.  I then created a lengthy, multiple page syllabus that I doubt my students and parents read.  Well, it has now changed, again, and this time, I think it is for the better.  This graphic syllabus draws the eye into important information and still conveys effectively every thing I need my students and parents to know.

I saw this idea on Pinterest, and modified it to work for my class. You may look at it and think it has to be missing things, but it really isn't.  My class rules are very to the point and follow the Whole Brain Teaching model.  Remember, Rules 4 and 5 cover all of those little things that you would want to include in your syllabus about being prepared, being on time, etc. 

The one thing that is missing, in my opinion, is a list of topics to be covered throughout the year.  This year, I am at a new school and the curriculum will soon be changing.  Rather than putting in writing what is going to be covered throughout the year in advance, I plan to update my classroom website in order to keep parents informed about what we are learning.

I know many of you have already started back for the year, but I hope this gives you inspiration for next year's syllabus.  Have a relaxing Sunday. Tomorrow we hit the ground running, changing lives, and inspiring minds!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Data Collection Pt. 5 - Charting YOUR Progress

Collecting data on students is a very important aspect of establishing a system to improve student learning, but just as important is creating a system to assess yourself as a teacher! This concept was somewhat mind blowing to me because I just assumed based upon how I felt my class was going, I could determine their success.  I have come in contact with a better idea!

Charting Your Progress:
Chris Biffle states in his book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids,
"You cannot manage student behavior if you cannot manage your own behavior."
The two features to evaluate yourself on are:
1. Controlling emotions and tone of voice.
2. Consistently following through with the classroom management plan.

On top of personal reflection, you are going to chart student behavior progress!

This information will provide you with undeniable evidence about growth in your classroom!  First, what you need to do is give yourself a score each week between 1-10 on your ability to control your emotions, then give yourself a score between 1-10 on how consistently you followed through with your expectations and procedures. Add these two scores together, be honest, this is your baseline score.  Write this down somewhere and each week you can write your new score.  Don't expect yourself to immediately score perfect.  The school year is not a sprint, but a marathon.  Reflect upon what areas you need to work on and then hit the ground running on Monday being the awesome teacher that you are!

Now for the second portion of charting progress: student behavior.  I love this idea and am eager to implement it into my room.  I have uploaded the form I am going to use for this on TeachersPayTeachers.  You can get it for FREE on my page: Click Here!

Evaluate your students on a scale of 1-5.  Be brutally honest, no one is going to see this, but you!

5 points = Leader: This score is very difficult and likely you will have NO leaders at the beginning of the year.  They can 100% self-manage themselves.

4 points = Alpha: These students follow directions and stay on task.  They do everything you would want them to do.

3 points = Go-Alongs: These students go-along with what is asked, but sometime make mistakes. They may occasionally be off task or not turn in their work.

2 points = Fence Sitter: These students could go either way and may begin talking if others are talking or get off task.

1 point = Challenging Students: These students cause disruptions in class, do not do their work, get off task, and about any other number of things that make you want to pull your hair out!

Total your entire class and find the average.  This is your baseline for student behavior.  Each week evaluate your students.  I know this may take some time, but it will be worth it to see the progress!  I think a great goal would be to move every student up one level by the end of the year.  If that is the case, you'd hope to see a .1 change each month.  Remember: a marathon NOT a sprint.  Obviously, if students jumped a full level, then you as a teacher have succeeded in helping mold those students' behavior.  You can then give yourself a pat on the back! :)

Good luck!  Remember to document, document, document. For the rest of the school year, I won't be posting as much.  I will try to post at least once a week, so be on the lookout!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Data Collection Pt. 4 - Spreadsheets

Alright, we are now to the portion of my data collection series that I have been dreading, not because I don't think it is important information for you to use, but because it's very hard to explain without showing you.  Please know that you can contact me through email, Facebook, or a comment on here for clarification or if you would like me to send you my spreadsheet format to reference.

Okay, so let's get started!  Spreadsheets are the easiest method to keep all of your data in one place.  When you need to access information to show student growth to your administrator, you can pull up one document with several pages within that document. 

Here are some examples of student data I collected last year:

To clarify, the cells that are highlighted in blue mean that the students took the opportunity to request to retest (a form from Data Collection Pt. 3 - Student Analysis) in order to improve their original score.

For those who are not strong in working spreadsheet this may seem overwhelming, but I assure you with a little playing around you can do this too!  Here are some tips to help you organize your data in spreadsheet:

1. Keep the format similar for each page. Once you have typed in all of your student information in one page, you can copy and paste to new pages.
2. You can add new pages at the bottom.  They look like little tabs.3. In order to provide meaning to the data, you will likely need to use a formula.  To get formula options you can type the "=". 
4.  Once you have your "=" you can highlight the cells you want and use the +/- signs. You can also look in the upper right corner and you have further options such as sum, average, etc.
5.  In the center of the spreadsheet formatting tools there is a symbol that is "fx" If you click this symbol you can also create your formulas and it gives you more options. 

I hope those are some small tips that can help you get started on keeping your data organized in one place.  Remember, feel free to play around with spreadsheet.  If you are completely lost, you can contact me and I will try to work you through it.  Good luck, and make today amazing! :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Data Collection Pt. 3 - Student Analysis

While it is important for us, as teachers, to analyze the data collected during an assignment, it is just as important that students are learning to analyze their results.  In order to do this, I created standard graphing sheets.  These sheets are separated into the units that I teach.  The standards for each unit are listed and a labeled graph is below.

When I hand back tests, I have my students look at their percentage of proficiency for each standard.  They then fill in the chart with a different color for each standard. By doing this, students are taking time to see their where they did well and where they did poorly.  They can visually see what their scores really mean.

Once the students fill out the graphs, I have my students write a five sentence reflection over what they learned about their knowledge about that unit.  I give them writing prompts such as:

1. My score was _________. I believe I scored that score because _____________.
2. One of my strengths was ______________ because _____________________.
3. One of my weaknesses was _____________ because __________________.
4. One thing I could do to improve would be _______________________________.

Once the students have completed their reflections of their work, I allow them to complete a Request to Retest form. This year I have changed the form in a way, that I feel will help students process and come to a conclusion about what they need to do to improve in science.  You can download this document for FREE at TPT. Click here to download!

I hope this helps!  Let me know if you implement any of the student analysis and how it works for you.  Make it an awesome day!