January 21, 2017

Sticky Note Shenanigans to Increase Student Enagagement

It's no secret that I have a love affair with sticky notes. It doesn't matter the color or the size, I will find some way to use them in my class. And, just as I have a love for them, so do my students.

In September, I establish a SMART Goals routine with the students. We record weekly goals with sticky notes. Then, the students archive their goals within their data folders. The ability to stick, remove and re-stick is awesome! The students get a kick out of going back into their SMART Goals data and reflecting and analyzing where they were at the beginning of the year compared to where they are now. 

SMART Goals Recording Form 
I use a different color each month.
SMART Goal Anchor Chart 
One quick look and I can see if a student
hasn't posted their goal yet.
I use flexible grouping in my classroom. There is a lot of collaboration and small group/partner work. To help increase the engagement and accountability, I use sticky notes! I will prep chart paper to house the student responses. Sticky notes are passed out for students to record their thoughts. I often will use colors to distinguish which groups have responded and how many times.

Venn Diagram Comparing Cultures

Finding Explicit Details
Anchor Chart
Students also have a bookmark
to remind them of codes. Most will
create their own codes when
these won't suffice! 
As a part of Reading Workshop, students are asked to use sticky notes as part of their reading routine. They use them to record their "Thinking Codes" in their novels. Those codes help students respond in writing when it's their turn to write in their Reading Response Journals. They also use them when they come to the group to discuss the novel. 

Codes Within a Novel
(cut a sticky note into thirds)
I also ask students to use them when working on Character Traits. Students will find evidence in the text to support their opinion. They record the page number and quote.

Anchor Charts for The Hope Chest

Character Trait Chart (8.5 x 11)
Students find evidence and record it.
They are only allowed three.
So, they must rank their own evidence!
These are just some of the ways I use sticky notes. If you have a favorite way, please share! I love learning new ways to incorporate these lovely little bits to increase student engagement!

January 7, 2017

How to Create the Best Home/School Connection with Just ONE App

Are you ready to hit a home run with home/school connections? Then look no further than Class Dojo.

I have been using this app for the past few years and I'm not leaving it anytime soon.

Although there is a myriad of amazing things this app can do for you, I am listing my top 3 favorite things I use it for...

Brag Tag for the Weekly Victor!
I track each student's behavior every day. They can earn (or lose) points at any given point in the day. This includes walking in the hallway, when on field trips, or at an assembly. Parents can link up to the dojo and see where and how their child is earning points. Each week the student who has earned the most points is awarded and recognized as the Class Dojo Champion!

Classroom reminders help
parents keep track of
what's going on!
Classroom Stories runs like a mash-up of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. The best part is, only people with the class code can see what's going on. To make it even better? The fine individuals at Class Dojo occasionally throw pre-made, ready-to-go graphics into the mix that you can choose to put into your class story!

Stories lets me take pics of what my students are working on during the day and post it for families to see. I include everything: group shots, individual shots, spirit wear days, bulletin boards. I have even taken short 15 second videos and been able to share those too! A quick click of a shot and a few swipes later and I have shared a piece of our day with my students' families. 

Screen shot flyers and
parents can refer to the
class feed if they forget!
I also use stories to take pictures of flyers for upcoming events such as: character ed assemblies, after school groups, or spirit weeks. Then, parents have a go-to place where they can access information about places and times. 

Class Dojo messages (similiar to texting) are a work of genius! Once a parent has linked to the Dojo I have the ability to contact everyone all at once (as a group text), or contact a selected/small group, or a parent individually. When a parent responds, the response only goes back to you. Messages allows parents to contact you about any issue using a confidential, direct format.

Ultimate Blend of
Behavior Management
Aside from the home/school connection that Dojo offers, it's a great behavior management tool. That's why I originally started to use it. But, it's now morphed into so much more. If you already have a rockin' management system in place, do not fret. Dojo can blend with anything! I have been using a combination of Dojo and WBT seemlessly for 3 years. I have simply incorporated those adorable dojo monsters onto anchor charts for the WBT prompts. And, I sometimes award Dojo points when the class beats me on the Scoreboard.

If you have not been using this handy-dandy (and free) app I highly recommend that you stop reading (!) and go HERE to download it to your device.

If you are looking for Dojo resources, check out my TpT store in the "my store" link above!