Friday, April 29, 2011

Conduct Sheets and Clipboards

Why is it when I don't have school the next day and I should be sleeping good because I know I will not have to get up early that I wake up in the middle of the night? Oh well, I guess I will just have to be productive!  I had some requests for pictures of my clipboard so I made a sample of the conduct sheet I use to track student misbehavior.  This idea came from my fabulous 4th grade co-worker, Brooke, so I have to give her the credit.  I tweaked the code she used a little to make it more user friendly for me.  You can also record good behavior on this sheet!   At my school, we put our conduct sheets on a clipboard and it goes wherever the kids go. Like I said eariler, this is a great way to keep up with your kids and their behavior because it goes with them to specials and PE. It makes a great documentation piece for conferences too.  Brooke uses one of those clipboards that you can store papers in so she always has important info with her.  I create a document with parent contact information that I put on my clipboard as well.  That way if I or another teacher need to get in touch with a parent we can do it right away.  I find it easy to forget to call a parent when I have to go get their number from my classroom or the office.  I hope this is helpful for you!  If you have anymore questions about this-please let me know! 

Sample Conduct Sheet

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Behavior Management in the Spring

Classroom management is a fundamental part of being a teacher.  You can't teach anything if you can't manage your kids!  My school is currently working on a school wide discipline program.  The procedures and consequences vary in our class not only from grade level to grade level; but also from class to class.  I have been leading a book study with the book Setting Limits in the Classroom by Robert Mackenzie.  This is a wonderful book that is easy to read and make sense.  It really changed the way I thought about discipline and helped me to change bad habits that left me feeling exhausted and powerless.  The teachers in the book study will be presenting this book and its simple, logical ideas for a consistent discipline plan next week. 
  One thing our school does do to help with behavior is use a behavior clipboard.  Each clipboard contains a list of student names, a column for every day of the week, and a key that lists certain misbehavior.  When a student misbehaves, the teacher records it on the clipboard.  This clipboard goes everywhere with the students-even to P.E. and specials.  It makes it a lot easier to see which students are constantly getting in trouble in certain places or for certain things. 
  One last thing- in order to prevent misbehavior (well, we can't prevent all of it but we sure can try) this spring you need to keep your kids motivated and engaged.  My first year I did a "Race Across the States" with my kids.  I divided the students into groups and assigned them a cut out of a race car.  Then I posted a map of the United States in the hall.  The goal was to get your team's car from Alabama to California first.  To do that, the teams needed to earn miles.  Miles were earned by completing different academic challenges related to the concepts we were covering.  This kept the kids working hard and excited to come to school.

Prayer Request

  I have not been blessed with children of my own yet.  However, the  Lord has sent me twenty kids that inspire me, challenge me, and make me laugh on a daily basis.  Even though this kids are not my own, I still worry over them like crazy when I am not with them (and sometimes even more when I am with them).  Today my community experienced some of the worst weather seen in years.  I know that I can not fully understand the worry and stress that comes with being a parent in this situation but the anxiety of not knowing if my kids are okay is hard to manage.  My school dismissed early today and we will not have school tomorrow due to damage.  This means I will have to wait to see my precious kids and I do not know if they are alright.  As I wait to hear news from my school, I am turning to God and asking him to keep them safe.   Now I am asking you to do the same.  Keep them and our community in your thoughts and prayers.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pictures from Edward Tulane Day

Edward Tulane day was a big success! The kids loved having their favorite stuffed animals at school and sharing them with their classmates.  The centers were a fun way to revisit the book and practice our reading skills.  The cake was by far the favorite part of the day for the students.  One of my kids said, "Ms. Lindsay (the art teacher) may know how to draw on paper, but you know how to draw on a cake."
Playing an Edward Tulane game created by Wise Guys

Working together!

List of Edward's emotions

Working on Edward Tulane Journal

Poetry Center

Sharing Edward Tulane Journals

Journal entry on the character Bryce
Cause and Effect with Edward
The yummy cake!

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Miraculous Edward Tulane Cake

Tomorrow is the big day!   We are finishing Kate DiCamillo's amazing book, The Miraculous Journey of Eward  Tulane, so we are having our Edward Tulane day. Our day will start with Edward Tulane word problems (you can buy a copy at my Teachers Pay Teachers store).  Then we will share our stuffed animals we brought from home.  I found two amazing games from Wise Guys on Teachers Pay Teachers that we will play.  I will also be using their great Facebook activity for this novel.  We will do Edward Tulane centers and do some of the activities from the official website for this book.  At the end of the day, we will eat a special cake that I made (with some assistance from a very loving Mom!).  Check back tomorrow to see how our day went!

List of Events:
Edward Tulane Word Problems Wise Guys Games (
Share your favorite stuffed animals
Share your Edward Tulane Journals
Write Edward a friendly letter
Reader's Theater and crossword puzzle (
Wise Guys Facebook Character Profile
Centers- see my Edward Tulane kit on Teachers Pay Teachers!
Edward Tulane Cake

Friday, April 22, 2011

Website for Whole Class Fun

I wanted to share a website I found in my first year of teaching that I have continued to use.  It is called Sheppard's Software (  The math games are great and my kids love to play them in centers or as a whole class on our Promethean Board.  The math games are also sorted by concept so they are easy to find.  This website also has some great science items.  My students love the food chain demo (they think it is so cool when the cartoon animals eat each other) and the animal classification game is great for teaching the differences between herbivores, omnivores, and carnivores.  In addition to math and science, there are some language arts games and geography games.  Hope you find this site as enjoyable as my class does!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spring Time Frustration

I can feel it coming down the hall with my students as soon as the bell rings- that restless, can't sit still, can't stop talking, spring time feeling.  As it travels down the hallway, I feel my spring time frustration creep up my body.  That tense, why can't they just listen, why do I have to keep repeating myself, if only they would...  Ugh, we have all been there.  Today it was all over my school.  The students were restless from being inside due to the rain and the teachers had hit their limits(the lack of air conditioning did not help).  So, what can we do about it?  More times than I would like to admit, I have given into it and snapped at my kids.  How do we stop ourselves from reaching that scary teacher moment?  Today I tried a new strategy.  I pulled my kids together and did something I enjoyed.  This just happened to be a novel study we are doing that I love.  I went to my happy place and it not only calmed me down-it helped restore some positive energy back into our classroom.  Next time you feel yourself getting that anxious, I could just scream feeling pull out your favorite book or activity and invite your kids to do it with you.  Just a theory-see if it works.
  One more thought to share.  In my professional development this week, our trainer said that we often have those frustrating days on the days we are less prepared.  I know it is hard to stay motivated this time of year with testing over and the weather getting warm but try to keep your kids engaged.  Now is a great time to test new strategies you want to use next year, extend concepts kids enjoyed, and enjoy the last few weeks with this year's kids.  I want to encourage you to stay focused on our goal as teachers- sparking curiosity, teaching how to learn, and loving our kids like they were our own-yes, even when they throw things after you told them to stop 28 times.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adverbs and Adjectives

We have been studying adjectives and adverbs in 4th grade the past few weeks.  My 4th grade teammate currently has a student teacher, Kasey, and she came up with this wonderful idea.  She wrote a different adjective on ten index cards and a different adverb on ten index cards.  Then she mixed them up and passed one out to each of the twenty students in the class.  The students had to decide if their word was an adjective or an adverb.  Next they had to find a partner with the opposite part of speech.  Once they had their partner, they came up to the teacher and told them who had the adverb and which one had the adjective.  The teacher then handed the kids a sentence strip on which they were to write a sentence using their adverb and adjective.  They also were asked to write the adverb in red and the adjective in blue.  As soon as everyone had finished, they read the sentences as a class and talked about the parts of speech.  I did this with my kids and they really enjoyed finding a partner and coming up with their sentences.  Some students will need more guidance than others so you will need to circulate and confer with students.  You could also leave out the color coding part of this activity and have the students identify the adverbs and adjectives in each other's sentences. Hope you enjoy this grammar activity!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Postivie PD

All too often professional development becomes a gripe and eat session leaving us teachers feeling discouraged.  Today I experienced a different kind of PD-even though I still ate way too much.  My school has been having ARI (Alabama Reading Initiative) training for all grade levels and this week it was finally 4th grade's turn.  We focused on the things we could control and did let ourselves become disheartened by the things we could not.  In this session, we learned how to use Anne Goudvis and Stephanie Harvey's Comprehension Toolkit to supplement our county mandated reading program.  I had used a few lessons from the toolkit before, but today I was able to see these lessons broken down, reflect on their main purpose, and discuss the steps with a partner.  I am really looking to forward to teaching a lesson to my class tomorrow about their inner voice.  
    One thing that was brought up several times today was letting go of some of the teacher control.  As teachers, we desperately want our kids to succeed.  There is nothing wrong with that at all!  The problem comes in when we let this desire enable their learning.  It is so easy to simply tell them the answers but then are they really learning? We must put the responsibility of their learning back on them.  I am not saying that we need to give them the text and walk away- we must model using strategies and provide authentic ways for them to practice.  Our trainer told us today that learning is social and I completely agree!  I learn the most when planning with my fab co-workers.  I want to encourage you to release some control and get your kids out of their desks and get hands on with text and learn!  Enough of me on a soapbox- just pumped about all the new ideas I am getting.  More tips tomorrow!

PS- There is a second edition of Strategies That Work out that has 20 new lessons along with old favorites!

Monday, April 18, 2011

Egg-stra Great Easter egg ideas!

My class did a cute (and educational) Easter egg activity today.  This activity was mainly from the fabulous mind of my co-worker and friend, Brooke.  We found some Easter egg coloring sheets and wrote decimals on each egg.  The kids colored the eggs, cut them out, and ordered the eggs from least to greatest.  Then they glued their eggs onto a sentence strip.  They turned out really great!  You can make this activity work ordering whole numbers, sequencing story events, and putting words into ABC order.

Another co-worker and friend, Michelle, did this egg-cellent math activity with her students last year.  She filled plastic Easter eggs with brightly colored candies and hid them around the classroom.  After her kids found an egg, they had to write which fraction of their candies was blue or green or red, etc.  Of course, the kids loved eating the candy after they finished!

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Blogs to Check Out Today

Here are some of my favorite ideas I found today.

One Extra Degree- Spelling Stop-musical chairs type activity to practice spelling words.  You could also use it for math facts or vocabulary words.

Lesson Plan SOS- Easter Egg Comprehension- Each student writes down some questions related to a story and puts them inside a plastic egg.  Then the students hide their eggs.  Students find an egg and then answer the questions in the egg they found.  So cute, so simple!

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Getting ready for Edward Tulane Day!

My class is reading one of my favorite books of all time- The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tualne by Katie DiCamillo.  We started this book during testing as a fun activity.  It took me three years but I finally got a class set so each child can explore the text while we read aloud or with partners. We will soon be finished with the book so I decided to have an Edward Tulane Day to celebrate. I made invites which I will try to post.  We will be doing center activities, finishing our journals, making some sort of craft, doing Edward Tualne word problems, and eating Edward inspired snacks.  Check back for pictures of our day and items to download.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Free Business Cards

A co-worker told me about a wesbite called Vistaprint.  You can get free business cards, note cards, and more- all you have to do is pay the shipping and handling.  I ordered some at the start of the year.  They had my name, school email, and our school mission statement on them.  I glued magnets to the back and placed them on my magnetic white board at our school open house.  This way parents know how to contact me and can easily keep up with my info by sticking the magnet on the fridge. 

Thursday, April 14, 2011


This is my first attempt at blogging.  I have been inspired by all the teacher blogs I have seen recently and wanted to give it a try.  In my blog, I will try to post new ideas from my classroom, links to favorite sites, and stories from my day.  Thanks for stopping by and let me know if you have any suggestions or questions!