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!