Monday, July 25

The Bead Behavior System

Last year I hesitantly bit the bullet and took down my green, yellow, red chart.  Until then, I had clung to it as a security blanket.  The funny thing is that I knew it didn't really work several years earlier, but I really hadn't found another system I wanted to try.  What I disliked most about "flipping cards" was the focus on bad behavior.  I really wanted to find someway to praise the good bahaviors (which actually do happen more often than the bad, it's just the bad is much more noticeable) while at the same time holding students accountable for their bad behaviors.

So, last summer I was browsing the web and came across The Cornerstone for Teachers website.  Angela Powell has so many great ideas (many for classroom mangagement, but that's not all she blogs about).  I was so intrigued by her website I bought her book.
In her book she makes this statement, "There must be a balance between teaching students to behave for intrinsic reasons and having something meaningful to work towards.  As teachers, we show up to work everyday on time because it's the right thing to do, not because we're expecting a reward...but we wouldn't show up at all if we weren't getting paid at the end of the week."

Her website and her book both talk in detail about the Bead System.  I started using it last year and really liked it alot.  Here's how it works:
  • Each child has a pipe cleaner (cut in half) taped to their desk.
  • During the week they have the opportunity to earn beads (pony beads) to add to their pipe cleaner.
  • By the end of the week they need 10 beads (unless it's a short week at school).  So, they know the goal is 2 beads per day, but they can earn more or less based on their behavior.  They can earn beads for: helping a friend, being the first one sitting on the carpet, walking quietly in the hall, cleaning up without being asked...  They learned quickly that if they asked for a bead they wouldn't get one.
  • On rare occasions beads could be lost-- but this was rare.
  • Those that earned 10 beads by Friday, had "Fun Friday."  I would get the iPod Touches out and let the kids play apps.  By the end of the year some kids prefered to just draw or sit and talk-- most still wanted the iPods.  Those that did not earn 10 beads just read from their book box by themselves.
  • Children earned "sick pay" (2 beads) when they were absent.
  • I told them that if I ever saw them stealing beads they would lose all of their beads for the week.  The threat must have been enough to scare them.  I never had stolen beads.  Actually, my sweet friends last year would find beads laying around the room and bring them to me to put back in the jar. 
The bead system helped to reward good behavior.  But, I still wanted some way to report bad behavior to parents.  I added a little behavior chart to the bottom of my monthly calendar that goes home with the kids each night.  I loved this system last year.  It didn't take but just 3 or 4 minutes to quickly write down the behavior code for the day (mostly 1's for good behavior), plus it showed parents issues to address at home.  Here's what my calendar looks like so far for August. 
I'm sure there will be more to add once I get my class list and official school calendar.  I have a really simple system for take-home folders.  The calender gets stapled on the left side of the folder (the poly kind without brads- Office Depot sells some really sturdy ones) and their papers go home on the right-hand side.  Each month I remove the old staples, put the new calendar on top and re-staple all previous callendars together in the folder.  The calendars are great documentation for parent conferences.

How do you manage behavior in your classroom?  Link up with The Lesson Plan Diva and share your ideas.

Sunday, July 24

More About My Math Notebook

I had a few questions from my previous math post, so I thought I'd answer them here.

 My math notebook is just a cheap spiral notebook (you can get them for a penny in the summer).   Each day of the week we do something different. 

Monday- Number Talk- There are so many ways to do a number talk.  In first grade I try to keep it simple and just look for different ways to make a number.  So, I have my kids write "Ways to Make ___" at the top of their page.  Then, they think of 7 ways to make the number using addition, subtraction, tallies, money, pictures, etc.  After they are finished I will ask a few to share and write them on the board. 

Tuesday- Graphing- I create very simple graphs that fit 2 to a page.  Each child gets a page and glues it into the notebook.  We do our graph together using their notebooks and the Promethean Board.  I go around the room, asking each child the question.  We all write the child's class number (easier than their name) in the graph.  I ask follow up questions once the graph is complete.  I try to keep the graphing questions simple during this time.  Any really cute graph, like graphing Skittles or Goldfish, we try to do during our unit time.  I like to include as many different types of graphs as possible (tally graph, graphs going up, graphs going sideways, graphs with different amounts of choices).

Wednesday- Estimation- Each week the Star Student (or in my class the Top Banana) brings in items to estimate- usually on Monday just to make sure we have them by Wednesday.  Almost everytime they bring in great items...almost.  In the past I've estimated rocks, individually wrapped pieces of candy, cotton balls, silly bands, bird feathers, erasers... and Wal-Mart bags all wadded up together (remember the "almost?!!)  The kids write "How many (items)?" at the top of their notebook.  Then as I walk around with the estimation jar they write down their guess.  I go around the room and ask for everyone's guess and record it on the Promethean Board.  We come to the carpet and count the objects together- making a focus to count by 2's, 5's, or 10's.  Then, we look back to the board and see who came the closest.  They children go to their seat, write the correct answer, put a big "star" around it, and then have to write one of the following- "I was too high, I was too low, I was pretty close, I was the closest"  We use the Promethean Board to decide who will write each sentence.  If the items are edible we eat them during snack time.  Sometimes the kids will bring things, like pencils, that they other children can keep.  If it's a collectible item I send it home when we're finished.  You'll be surprised how much better they get at estimating by the end of the year (my estimating skills have improved tremendously! ha!)

Thursday- Problem Solving- I type up the problems on 2 X 4" labels.  I give the kids time to answer the problems then we share strategies together as a class.  I will record their answers on the board and discuss why some ways were better than others.  The kids are allowed to correct their answers in their notebook and change their thinking if needed.  We do many different types of problems throughout the year.  Here's my general progression (addition (answer unknown), addition (middle part unknown), subtraction (answer unknown), subtraction (middle part unknow), subtraction (beginning unknown), multiplication (super simple), comparisson, division (just grouping).  I use CGI, Cognitively Guided Instruction, during my problem solving time.

Friday- I don't formally teach math on Friday.  In first grade, Friday is our day of Social Studies/Science Unit study.  Of course, there are fabulous math (and reading and writing) ideas to tie in with any unit.  So, we are always doing math on Friday.  It just doesn't follow the same routines as the rest of the week (no math tubs, no math notebook).  This is the time I pull out the cute graph, or we measure a pumpkin and count the seeds, or create a themed glyph, etc.

Wednesday, July 20

Math Freebies

With all of my team's math planning, I've been busy creating lots of new math activities to put in my tubs.  I haven't shared any math games with you in awhile so I thought I would tonight.  Hope someone can use them.

Monday, July 18

An AMAZING new blog

I just stumbled upon the B.E.S.T blog tonight!!  It's called The Scrappin Cop.  Deb creates digital images and shares them for FREE!!  I have already spent two hours looking at all of her stuff and downloading like crazy.  I found many great teacher resources by looking in the Doodles section.  Here's just a few of the things I've found:
The images are free for personal use.  She charges just $2.00 per set if you want to use it for commercial use-- or you can buy all of her images for commercial use for only $20.00.  What a deal!
Click here to check out this unbelievable resource.

Saturday, July 16

Christmas Cheer Math Centers

I have FINALLY finished my first set of math centers for sale at TpT!!  Why wait until November to start preparing your materials for December?  Start early and sit back and relax when the busy holiday season rolls around. 
This pack includes 6 math centers, all focused around a Christmas theme.  These activities will help your kiddos practice these Core Curriculum Standards:
  • adding 3 numbers (while looking for an "easy ten")
  • subtracting from 20
  • nonstandard measurement
  • telling time to the hour and half hour
  • counting coins (pennies, nickels, and dimes)
  • ordering numbers up to 100
To jump on board the "Christmas in July TBA bandwagon" I'm offering this unit for just $5.00 until the end of the week.  Click here to check it out.

Friday, July 15

Math Overhaul

After teaching Everyday Math for six years I am ready for something different!  I think many of the lessons on their own are great, but I'm not a huge fan of the overall system.  It moves at a fast pace and isn't very hands-on.  Plus that spiral gets really annoying.

So...the first grade teachers at my school have been working hard to re-vamp our math block.  We've met each Wednesday to plan, using resources like Everyday Math, our old Investigations materials, Debbie Diller's ideas, North Carolina's math program (which I'm very impressed with), and lots of great blog ideas.  We've planned up to February so far and I'm really excited about math next year!

We also decided that we wanted math to be more of a focus than it has been in the past.  Reading always seems to get the most attention (especially in first grade).  We increased the time we spent teaching math from 60 minutes to 90 minutes each day.  I'm hoping this will pay off in my classroom this coming year.

This is what my math time will look like:
7:55-8:35- (40 minutes)- math tubs / small groups with me
8:35-8:50- (15 minutes)- whole group lesson
8:50-9:10- (20 minutes)- math notebook
9:10-9:30- (20 minutes)- calendar on Promethean Board

I started doing math tubs in February of last year after reading Cara Carroll's post about how she does them. I LOVE MATH TUBS and the kids love them too! I have four activities for the week (many of these come from Blog Land). The children are divided into four groups. They will go to one tub each day. It generally takes them 20 minutes to finish the activity. They are allowed to work with a partner or by themselves.  I always let one group sit out in the hall and work-- really helps to cut down on the chatter in my small classroom.  

After their "tub work" they go to a second activity. They use the chart to see where they are going. At the beginning of the year the four choices are MATH GAME, PATTERN FOLDER, COMPUTER, and EXPLORATION. All of these choices are open-ended and don't require work to be turned in to me. And, they can end at any time so I don't have any late finishers during math. Later on in the year the choices change to MATH GAME, COMPUTER, NUMBER SCROLL, and NUMBER FAMILIES (Here's a link to the number families- created by Kathy Gursky. I modified it a little to meet the needs of the kids in my class, but it is a fabulous FREE resource to help children learn their addition facts.)

I really like the way we're planning to do the math notebook this year.  (I secretly get tired of doing problem solving every single day).  Plus, we need time to practice these other skills each week too. 

Monday- number talk- at the beginning of the year, we will actually start with "quick images"- lessons from Investigations.  After a couple of weeks we will start doing "Ways to Make ___".  Each week the children will think of 10 addition or subtraction problems to make the number given.  I'm planning to start with the number 5 and work one week at a time until we get to 20.  Towards the second semester, we'll stop doing Ways to Make and start doing more of a true number talk, with problems such as 5 + 8 =  The children will find multiple ways to solve the problem, then come back and share as a class.  Each of these lessons will take lots of modeling, but I think it will be great math discussion.

Tuesday- problem solving (CGI style).  We will start with simple addition, then move to other types of problems such as addition middle unknown, simple subtraction, subtraction middle unknown, addition beginning unknown, subtraction beginning unknown, comparrison, multiplication, and division (dividing into groups).  I love the conversations we have after the children have solved the problems.  They always amaze me with their thinking.

Wednesday- graphing- each child will complete their own graph as we collect data as a whole class.  My team has thought of a different graphing question for each week.  I'll use the document camera to create a graph as they make it with me in their notebook.

Thursday- estimation- each week I will choose a child to bring in items to estimate.  I decided to stop doing Star Student (gasp!), so this will be a way for one child a week to bring in something special.  This is a great time each week to practice counting by 5s, 10s, and especially 2's.

I've been slaving away (ha!) creating lots of new math activities to put in these tubs (since I didn't start them until later in the year last year).  The Christmas math activities turned out really cute.  They need a little more work, but I'm very close to listing them as my first item for sale!  I can't wait to finish.  Hopefully, I'll have it ready for purchase tomorrow-- perfect timing for the TBA Christmas in July!

Thursday, July 7

Favorite Book Linky Party

I'm linking up with Runde's Room for her Favorite Book Linky Party. 

I'm short on time (currently I should be getting the kids ready so we can go to Thank You Thursday at Moe's in 10 minutes) so I'll make this quick.

I LOVE so many children's books.  It would be way too hard to make a list of my favorites.  So, I thought I would share a book I love to read each year that you might not know.

The Treasure Tree is a favorite "chapter book read aloud" each year.  My kids fall in love with the characters in this book.  It is written by two Christian authors and teaches the children about good qualities of others, in a non-Christian way (that didn't come out right)  I meant a way appropriate for public school.  If you haven't seen this book before you should defiinitely check it out.  Your class will love it.

Wednesday, July 6


I was totally blown away by the response to the FREEBIE linky party!! I really didn't expect many people to care or to link up, but I guess I underestimated the allure of something free! Thank you to all who participated. There are lots of really great resources.

Here's one more activity you can download for FREE as a way to say "thanks!" 

Directions: Students will walk around the room and tally each object listed.  Then, they can record the number in the circle.

I tried to keep in generic so it can be used in many types of classrooms.  The "crayons" and "markers" are meant to be the amount at the child's own desk-- unless you have a quick finisher that you need to keep extra busy !

Friday, July 1

FREEBIE Linky Party

In celebration of 100 followers I am throwing a PARTY!!!  I think we can all agree that the BEST part about teacher blogs is sharing AWESOME ideas.  Who doesn't love a FREE activity to take back to the classroom? 

This is my first linky party.  I'm a little nervous, because I don't want to throw a dud party.  I hope each of you will participate and share a FREE idea with everyone else.  Just imagine all the goodies you'll have to start the new year.

I'll get the party started.

Here's the finished product
Math About Me is an activity I've done since my first year teaching.  My teaching mentor, Ms. Corretti, showed me this idea and I loved it.  Each child will receive a head (boy or girl), body, and feet.  (There are no arms.  They get in the way of hanging.  Although, I did them one year and put the each child's phone number and address on them).  I generally have my kiddos complete one or two squares each day during the first week of school.  I show them how to write their number as large as possible to fill up the box.  Then, I find any type of art supplies to decorate the number.  I normally use stickers, yarn, stamp ink, sometimes glitter if I'm in the mood, sequins, etc.  These turn out really cute to hang up for Open House.  I also use this activity to jump right into class graphs (age, teeth lost).  Click here to download this activity for FREE.

Everyone has probably seen or played "I Have, Who Has?" before.  I wanted to create a cuter version of the same game to play when we discuss skip counting.  I made a version for counting by 2s, 5s, and 10s. 
Click here to download the 2s version for FREE
Click here to download the 5s version for FREE
Click here to download the 10s version for FREE

In need of short vowel Word Work activities?  Here are some color by the code pages to help your kids visually discriminate word families. 
One last FREE activity.  This is another activity that I always do at the beginning of the year when we are discussing names.  The children write their name, one letter at a time, into the boxes.  I tell them to write in capitals (just this once).  Then, they will color each letter a different color.  For example- Amy would color all of the A's orange, all of the M's green, and all of the Y's yellow.  If a child has a duplicate letter (like Carter) then both R's will be the same color.  You will need to MODEL this lesson while the children are working, step by step.  After they are finished, we always talk about the different types of patterns that were created.  Click here to download for FREE.

Example of the finished product

Don't be a party pooper!  Please link up with me and share at least one FREE activity.  If you don't have a blog, share your ideas by leaving a comment.  I can't wait to see all of your new ideas.  I'd better go buy some more ink!