Weekend Warriors {Back to School Cool, Day 2}

Welcome back to Weekend Warriors!  I hope you're ready for some more back to school tips and ideas!

I thought it would be fun to share with you some of my favorite back to school read alouds.  I like to keep a stash of back to school faves in a tub next to my "teacher chair."  Whenever we have a few minutes, I read one.  While I could easily tie my books to a comprehension activity, I actually like to use these books to facilitate class discussions about important topics.  Here's a look at some of the books in my tub.

I am a Booger...Treat Me with Respect!

Miss Nelson is Missing!

My Mouth is a Volcano!

The Recess Queen

Time to Say "Please"!

Don't forget to visit these awesome ladies to see what kinds of back to school tips they have in store for you!

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Weekend Warriors {Back to School Cool, Day 1}

Welcome back to another edition of Weekend Warriors!  This weekend, my gal pals and I are bringing you lots of great back to school tips.

This is probably the busiest time of year for a teacher.  There is so much to think about!  But, I think we would all agree that we just want to make sure that our classrooms run as smoothly and efficiently as possible. I thought it would be helpful (hopefully) to share with you two of my favorite procedures for making sure that my classroom runs smoothly.

I love using hand signals!  They are such a great way to make sure that instruction is not interrupted for things like requests for pencils, drinks of water, and so on.

This chart is from Keeping it Captivating.

I've always used hand signals in my class, but it wasn't until last year that I made the sign. Boy, am I glad I did that! Although the signals are not complicated, sometimes students confuse them and ask to use the restroom when they really just needed a new pencil.  The sign helps to eliminate confusion.

The hand signals are great because they are non verbal and do not disrupt the flow of a lesson.  When it comes to needing any of the things on the hand signal chart, I teach my students to ask for them during "non-teaching times."  That is, unless it is an emergency, save the bathroom request for when I am done teaching. And, we all know that drink of water can wait two minutes.  And, no one needs a new pencil while I'm in the middle of teaching a lesson on reflexive pronouns, so don't ask. Yep, I'm a meanie. ;)

I also love using my voice level chart to keep things running smoothly.  I have always set expectations for voice levels during work time, but I never made it visual until last year.  The display is located on the whiteboard at the front of the classroom. Once I announce the acceptable voice level, I clip a clothespin to that level on the chart.

You can find this voice level chart in my TpT store. Click {here}.

It's nice to be able to refer to the Voice Level Chart when a student forgets they should be working at a 1, but they are working at a 3.  They can see that they are off task and I can ask them to tell me which level they should be working at.  I have found that by having the visual, I am reminding the students less and less about their voice levels.

Be sure to head on over to these lovely ladies to see what kinds of tips they have in store for you today!

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Classroom Reveal {2014-2015}

Over the past week and a half, I've spent my mornings setting up my classroom.  Truth be told, it is one of my favorite things about back to school time.  I love, love, love turning my classroom into a space where my students, and I, want to be for hours on end.  We spend a lot of time in there, so we might as well feel cozy and comfortable!

This is the second year that I have used my Rock Star theme.  Those who know me well were convinced I couldn't repeat a theme (I never have until this year), but I did it!  And, I plan to use it again next year because I love it that much!  While this year's room is similar to last year's room, I did make some changes and brought in some additions.  I hope you love them as much as I do!

Warning: this post is loaded with pictures (and I hope you enjoy them all).

This is the view from the door.  I'm still working on that one blank wall behind my desk, and I still need some curtains (Long story short, I made some, but they didn't quite work out.  The end.).

Here is the view from the back corner of the room.

The view from my desk.  Isn't that ceiling projector just beautiful?  Bleh.

This wall shows the board I will be using to display student work.  I don't put a heading on the board because it takes up too much space, making it difficult to fit 22 pieces of work in that space.

I love my little Melonheadz characters!  I made them out of scrapbook paper last year and they are still going strong!

Next to the student work board is the space where I store the materials we use for writing and/or grammar.

My desk.  It's so clean...for now!

This is my birthday display.  Since it is located on the front of my desk, it is very easy for me to see who has a birthday coming up. And, since I walk past it each day, I always see it (and I always check it). I am otherwise terrible at remembering birthdays.

My Rock Star of the day gets to use this cozy little reading area throughout the day.  Each day there is a new Rock Star.  Whenever they have free time, this student may silent read in the pink chair or on the zebra bean bag.  They looooove when it's their turn to be the Rock Star of the day!

My whiteboard is split into three sections.  This is the section that is on the right.  I use it to write out our daily objectives, and to display acceptable voice levels throughout the day.

At the back of the room, I have my rules and job displays.  Next to the job display is the cute "Second Grade Rocks" sign.

We use Saxon Phonics and so I need to display these posters.  Framing them with bulletin board border is my way of making them a tad bit more attractive. Ha!  Next to the phonics posters are some fun glittery guitar accents that I made.

Our word wall.

This blank space is reserved for the students' self portraits. I do them every year.  They always look so amazing...stay tuned as I'm sure I will be sharing pictures of their amazing creations!

Finally, this is my hallway bulletin board. I display student work on this board as well.  If you've followed me for a while, you might recognize this set up from last year and that's because I did not change a thing!  I love it just like it is, so I decided there was no point in reinventing the wheel.  Hehe.  Isn't that exit sign just lovely, by the way?

I hope you enjoyed taking a look around my room!

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Keeping Table Groups on Point {Using Table Points to Reward Small Groups}

Table points are a great way to recognize students' efforts in a small group capacity. They are also a great way to motivate students to work together as a team. 

I love using table points to recognize students in small groups. I have individual, small group, and whole group reward systems in my classroom.  I realize I am not the inventor of table points, and that there are lots of ways one can utilize table points in a classroom, but I do hope that you find this post helpful and/or informative. :)

What are table points?
Well, they are just that, points that are awarded to each of the table groups in my classroom.  The purpose of awarding points is to collectively motivate the students at each table group to stay focused and on task at all times.

Earning points
The students can earn points for practically anything, but I most frequently award them for working at the appropriate voice level, transitioning quickly (slow transitions are my pet peeve), following directions, responding to attention getters, and/or packing up at the end of the day.

The students know that they have to work cooperatively to ensure that these things are being done and when they see me standing by the table point display on the whiteboard, with a marker in hand, they quickly remind each other to "get with the program."

Keeping track of points
There is nothing fancy or complicated about how I track the table points.  Take a look!

Since the display is on the whiteboard, I simply assign tally mark points throughout the day.  The kids can see where their table is at compared to other groups and most of the time, this motivates the groups to work a little harder and do what they are supposed to throughout the day.

You can grab this free display HERE.  Simply print, laminate, and attach to your whiteboard. I used magnetic tape, but good ol' Scotch tape would work too.

Table point winners are declared at the end of each day AND at the end of each week.

At the end of the day, the winning table group earns a sticker.  It's a small token, but it's a big deal. They are always excited to see which sticker they get that day, and they seem to love any and all sticker designs.

At the beginning of the year, I gave my students a sticker book.  Confession, I got the sticker book idea from my genius colleague (and sweet friend). So, each student has a blank sticker book. Each time they earn a sticker, they add it to their book.  Which they loooooooove doing.

The sticker book is not fancy.  It's simply made with photocopy paper and card stock.  I laminated several sheets of card stock and then cut each one into fourths.  I used the laminated card stock for the front and back covers of the sticker books.  I filled each book with about 7 or 8 pieces of white photocopy paper (also cut into fourths so each page was the same size as the laminated covers).  Finally, I placed a 2x4 inch address label to the front so that the students could label their books themselves.

This is my example below, but the students wrote the same title on their sticker books. They also decorated the edge of the label. Oh, and they got to use markers.  Another big deal.  ;)  Finally, I gave them a "free" sticker and they placed it on the cover.

So, as mentioned, at the end of each day, the table group with the most points is awarded a sticker.  I do this by having them place their hand on top of their head (another idea from my sweet friend and genius colleague). Then, I walk around and place a sticker on the hand that is on top of their head. This saves a lot of time (we don't have to wait for indecisive 7 year olds to weigh their options), and the kids like being surprised.

Over time, their sticker books begin to look a little something like this.

At the end of each week, we tally up all the table points from the week. The table with the most points is declared the winner, and the students at that table group gets to pick a classroom privilege coupon. The coupons below are from Libby Dryfuse.  Click here to see them on TPT

Using stickers and privilege coupons as rewards are great because they are both easy to manage.  The privileges don't cost me anything, and stickers are super cheap. I stock up in the Target Dollar Spot and Michaels craft store.  Every once in a while, I splurge on fun sets from Lakeshore too.

In my experience, table points work.  Kids are competitive by nature and they want to please me and their classmates with whom they share a small space.  Put more succinctly, they want their team to win and they usually do their part to help their table earn those points.

How do you reward small groups in your classroom?


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