Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chase the Shark: Hungry as a Bear

This week my class was visited by local author Mr. Wiley "Chase" Griffin. Mr. Griffin, a parent of one of my students and former student of our school, came in this afternoon to share his experiences as an author and to help motivate some of my reluctant writers. It was a success! He read his book Chase the Shark: Hungry as a Bear, and my class was very into it, especially the boys. It was amazing; the experience totally transformed my students. By the end of the presentation, my students had folded up several sheets of lined paper, stapled them like a book and began writing their own stories. Seriously! What is even more amazing is that the book had been in my classroom, sitting on the chalkboard, for the last month. It wasn't until  Mr. Griffin read the story to them that they actually "got into it". My students were able to relate to Mr. Griffin. He shared with them his experiences as a child and young adult and really drove home the message: FOLLOW YOUR DREAMS, YOU CAN DO ANYTHING YOU SET OUT TO DO. At the end of his presentation he passed out several copies of his book and told the students to share (we're still working that part out!!)

This was the first author visit I've ever hosted in my classroom and I look forward to hosting more in the future! 

It all begins with Chase the Shark who lives in the Philadelphia Aquarium with his friends, Herman Hammerhead and Sara Sand shark. When Mr. Kirby, the night time security officer, realizes that Chase and his friends have once again escaped from the tank he sets out to find them immediately. After an evening of searching for Chase and his friends, Mr. Kirby ends up paying a hefty fee! Fortunately he was able to get Chase the Shark back home before he created any major trouble. Once he was settled in for the evening, Chase didn't waste any time planning his next big adventure! 

Purchase the book: Chase the Shark: Hungry as a Bear

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Not So Wimpy Tips and Tricks for Dealing with Challenging Behaviors PART 1

I don't know about you, but my kids have been a handful this week! We just finished the PSSA's and spring break starts Monday Friday afternoon at 3:01....It is Wednesday, HUMP DAY, and I am absolutely DELIRIOUS! If you are experiencing anything like what I am experiencing maybe some of my tips and tricks can help you survive finish out this week on a good note!


1. JAZZ IT UP a little bit. Take a writing lesson and add some pizazz! I've been using video prompts in place of picture prompts. Most of the prompts don't have words and provides an opportunity for students to create their own story/ dialogue. My students enjoy watching the videos and each day I show the same one at least three times. Not only is it something cool for them, their writing this week has been full of descriptive words and imagery! Using these videos are a life saver! They not only stretch our writing lesson (which is necessary because of a change in our schedule this week) but it also keeps the students engaged!

Alma (youtube video) 
Pigeons (a cute animation film)
Robby (a cute animation film with an ironic ending)

2. Sometimes changing up the room can make a world of a difference. My students normally sit in groups but for the last part of our day I had to put them in rows. They were soooooooo talkative. It didn't matter where I moved different students, they were just super chatty today. Putting them in rows calmed them down significantly and allowed me to get through the end of our lesson quietly. We put our desks back in groups at the end of the day. Hopefully tomorrow will be quieter....

3. Creative punishment redirection. Sometimes you have to dig deep and pull out some tricks to enhance whatever discipline model you already have....
 a. THINK ABOUT IT. When my students are being very chatty and difficult to manage first I stop and clean the room while they sit with their heads down. That is what I do when my stress level is high and it helps me WOOSAH! My students also know that they have pushed me too far and it gets very quiet. I pull out some chart paper and as a class we brainstorm what positive classroom behavior looks like, feels like, and sounds like. Then I pull out the timer and give them 3 minutes to write a short explanation of what positive classroom behavior looks like using the key words we identified as a group. They have to write until the timer goes off. When they are done we share our thoughts. If they can not listen respectfully, we stand up to regroup and gather our thoughts. We also recite the classroom rules:
We recite the rules until everyone is on the same page. Then we continue with writing for three minutes about what positive classroom behavior feels like. We do the same drill for what positive classroom behavior sounds like. Usually this redirects them enough to get through the rest of lessons for the day.

b. Another trick is using the above classroom rules and completing the same drill listed above. I will have students write for three minutes explaining what "respect yourself" means to them. We will do that for all of the rules and discuss their reflections as we go along.

c. On a day when we are having a really difficult time, I have the students go back to the drills we do during the first week of school. We practice lining up, sitting down, walking through the halls, walking up the steps, entering the classroom, and so on and so forth.....And this is done during recess!

d. Sometimes a personal reminder about their actions is necessary so my students practice their handwriting using this great paragraph:
They get this signed by their parent/ caretaker and return it to school the next day. I also attach a think sheet to this which is  a reflection completed by the student that highlights the reason why they are writing this punishment.

e. If all else fails, call home using this really cool think sheet. The students parents LOVE this!
During spring break I really hope to start combining most of my behavior modification plans/ideas, whole-class behavior plans and other tips and tricks that work into a PDF. Behavior/classroom management is one of my strog points, I would love to share my ideas. Check back soon or sign up for my email if your interested in learning more!!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


I want to apologize for basically neglecting my blog : ( The last few weeks I have been in buckle down mode as I prepare my portfolio for National Board Certification submission.... Blogging, blog stalking, making freebies is totally addictive and will take over my entire evening/ weekend if I am not careful.....which is why I have been kind of putting updating and posting on the back burner. I will be back and in COMPLETE BLOGGING MODE after April 15!! Until then, happy blogging. I'll be back soon!