Thursday, August 31, 2017

Weekly Parent Letter

As the school year starts, it is important to have good communication with parents. I accomplish this by sending home a weekly newsletter that gets sent home on Monday (one hard copy and one sent through e-mail). Each weekly newsletter includes spelling words, vocabulary words, upcoming events, subject focus for the week and what their child will be learning that week in school. I also read through this with my students at the end of the day Monday before dismissal so that they can always know what to expect for that week in school. Upper elementary students really enjoy knowing what to expect in school that week and they also use this newsletter to help with studying their weekly words. I have created an editable parent newsletter in my TpT Store: Mrs. Kearsely's Classroom. 

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Back to School Writing Lesson

It time for Back to School!! One of the first week activities that I do with my students is to learn about their summer through a writing lesson. I start the year with doing a paragraph writing lesson to ease them into the school year with something simple and it allows me to review the basics of good writing structure with "paragraph writing." I use a paragraph song that I learned a few years ago. It is to the "Itsy Bitsy Spider" melody. Here's the Paragraph Song:

First you introduce the topic in a general way
Next you add three details of what you want to say
Then you add the clincher, put that sentence last
Now you have created your great paragraph. 
(Source Unknown) 

We brainstorm all the activities they did in the summer and adjectives to use in their writing. I believe in teaching writing in a real structured way. I always have a brainstorm time, outline, and a guided writing of paragraph structure. I have the complete lesson including brainstorming and outlining worksheet in my TpT Store. This also turns into a cute bulletin board when done. 

 "T-Shirt" theme "Have a T-rrific Summer" 
*This could be used as a beginning of school writing or end of the year writing.

To get this lesson, click HERE

Happy Back to School! 

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Check out my new TpT store!!

I love creating lesson plans, ideas, and teaching resources for my classroom and thought I should start sharing them on Teacher's Pay Teacher's. If you teach upper elementary and want quality, low cost...even FREE resources...follow my TpT store. I will posting new products all year. Enjoy!

Click HERE to go to my TpT Store: Mrs. Kearsley's Classroom

Monday, July 10, 2017

"All About Me" Back to School Project!

Back to school is just around the corner and I wanted to share my favorite project for the first day of school. I created this simple "All About Me" flag pennant for the students to fill in information about themselves. It not only allows you to get to know them better, but it doubles as a great addition to my Back-To-School bulletin board. Just cut it out and string it together! You can download this project and more at my TpT store HERE.

Friday, July 7, 2017

Free Time Friday

It's Friday!! I thought I would share about how I do something called "Free Time Friday" in my classroom. Every Friday I carve out 20 minutes at the end of the school day for my students to enjoy themselves for working hard all week long. It is basically a free choice time for students to do whatever they like (within reason of course). Free Time Friday allows you to reward students who have behaved well and completed all their work. However, if students did not have good behavior that week and/or did not complete all their work....this time allows for them to make up for that. My students love it and it helps me reinforce classroom management and make sure all my students stay up to speed on all their work.

Who Does Not Participate in Free Time Friday

For students who cannot participate in Free Time Friday because they have incomplete work, they can join in on the fun once their work is about high motivation....all of a sudden my slow working students become very quick! If a student cannot participate in Free Time Friday because of behavior I sometimes send them out of the room...either office or a team teacher's room depending on their behavior, with approval of course. Give them something to do like incomplete work or a book to read.

How to Establish Free Time Friday

When I introduce Free Time Friday, I do an anchor chart of what it looks like and what it doesn't so I set clear expectations: volume level, behavior, and the choice of activities. We discuss what types of activities they can do during this "choice time." Some examples are: computer time, play a game, read a book, draw, etc. Some students even choose to be a peer tutor and help those who have incomplete work to finish.

Free Time Friday is a privilege and not a right...remember you are in control and if they don't deserve it one week because as a class they were not can do that.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Classroom Jobs

When you teach upper elementary, having classroom jobs not only is good for the students it can make your life easier! Over the course of my years teaching I have finally found a smooth hassle-free class job system that works for everyone. 

What Kind of Jobs to Create? 

First establish what kind of jobs/roles your classroom needs. Each year I had a different number of students, so determine how many jobs you need to fit the size of your class. Remember that some jobs can have two or more students in charge, ie. material master. 

If you need help with a list of jobs and posters for your classroom, 

please visit my TpT store, MrsKearsley's Class, for a freebie! 

Job Bulletin Board
Create a bulletin board in your classroom with job titles....I'm so bummed that I never took a picture of my job bulletin board...sorry. Then get wooden clothespins from the dollar tree or wherever and label them with student numbers or names. Clothespins with student numbers can be used for so many things and reused from year to year! These clothespins can be easily attached to the job titles and transferred when jobs get changed. Having a board helps you and the class know who is responsible for what. 

How to Assign Jobs?
The first week of school and introduce the class jobs to the class. I handout a packet that describes each job and their responsibilities along with a job application form. Both can be found at my TpT store, Mrs Kearsley's Class. By the second week, I assign the jobs. In my class, some jobs have more responsibilities then others. To make it fair, I have high paying jobs that require more work and responsibility and low paying jobs that don’t require much work. The high paying jobs are things like: Teacher’s assistant, Banker, Homework Monitor, etc. These jobs pay more because they are done frequently and have a high-level of responsibility. They also require more training up front, so these jobs are held the entire year of half of the year so that they become proficient and you don’t need to consistently be training new students in that role. I tell my students that all have the ability to lose their job if they don’t do their job or perform it correctly.just like the real world. This allows some students to have two jobs potentially; however, most of the time this never happens because students want the money. The lower paying jobs like: pencil master, door monitor, light monitor, etc. rotate once a month. All you do it switch the clothespins and announce the new roles for those students. 

Class Economy and Class Jobs

At the end of each month, students get paid for their jobs. Students have bank accounts (account sheets in a binder) and get a "direct deposit" each month. All high paying jobs get $100/month and low paying jobs get $50/month. However, they are not guaranteed to get the full amount if they have not done their job for the month. Students can get a cut in their pay if they do not perform their job. 

Hope this helps give you an idea of how to implement classroom jobs into your classroom. It takes a month or two before your class starts running like a good oiled machine. 

Thursday, June 29, 2017

Class Dojo Economy System & Classroom Management

I was introduced to the Class Dojo App a few years ago at a Education Tech Conference in Silicon Valley. My students are absolutely in love with Class Dojo and are really motivated to get "Dojo Points!" I decided to come up with a new classroom management system that combines the old school "economy system" with this new modern classroom management app. 

Class Dojo is really easy to set up and can be used with multiple devices: laptop, ipad, phone, etc. This allows you to reward students and keep track of their behavior wherever you go....Great for field trips! After you set up your class, the app assigns each students their own avatar monster...but can later be changed and personalized (this becomes an incentive and reward to earn). Students love this program because it is colorful,fun, and makes a fun noise every time someone earns a positive point. It has both visual and auditory ques to entice students to want to earn more points. Sometimes I just allow them to only hear the points being earned, that way they don't know who is getting the point and it gets them all on task because they are hoping to get a point next. You can also project the app onto your smartboard to allow them to see their progress...the only downside is that it shows everyone's points. 
As the teacher you decide how you want to give out points. You can customize what types of behavior earns points and they even have negative points for unwanted behavior. My first year I used both positive and negative points, then the next year I only used it for positive reinforcement which seemed to work out better. Either way, you use it to fit your classroom needs. 

Not only do students and teachers love Class Dojo, but parents love it as well. At Back to School Night I explain the system and print out parent codes for them...this allows them access to their child's individual report. This gives parents a peek into the classroom to see what kind of behaviors their child is doing. One of the reasons I stopped doing negative points is because it sends an immediate e-mail to the parents of the negative behavior...however, it doesn't not allow any kind of explanation. So I found myself explaining a lot at the end of the day when parents pick up. In my opinion, not all negative behavior needs to be explained to parents (ex. talking to a neighbor, off task, etc.) However, it is good to use for behavior that you want parents to know about. 

I created a classroom economy system based on Class Dojo. You can get the full system including posters, coupons, and more at my TpT store by clicking here. 

I decided to give out weekly rewards and monthly rewards to encourage student behavior all month long. This work great for 4th and 5th grade levels. It might need to be adjusted for younger grade levels. I came up with percentage rewards (if you are using both positive and negative points) and point rewards. When I only used it for positive points I had students get different rewards/coupons to redeem prizes at different point levels throughout the month and then the big incentive was that all their points get turned into cash at the end of each month. Instead of wasting a bunch of paper to make "teacher money" I just created bank account sheets for every student in a binder and did "direct deposits" of their total amount each month. (One of my class jobs is a student banker who did all of that for me...someone who is very responsible of course.) This made the economy system "electronic" and all withdrawals and deposits were recorded on the bank account sheet in pen so no forgery can happen. Students can then spend their money at the class store every Friday during Free Time Friday. Click here for more information on how to implement Free Time Friday or Class Store in your classroom. 

At the end of each month, the student with the most points earns the Class Citizen Trophy that they get to put on their desk. After all points have been accounted for, clear the points and start again fresh each month! 
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