May 27, 2017

2 Items That Will Keep Your Students in the Room

It can be frustrating when you are in the middle of a lesson and a student has to leave for the nurse. I'm not referring to true medical necessities (diabetes, vomit, etc...). I mean those tiny little hiccups that add up to too many minutes of missed instructional time. The 2 most frequent little hiccups I've encountered: blood issues (picked scabs/hang nails/paper cuts) and chapped lips.
So, there are two items that I stockpile religiously in my classroom:

1. Band-Aids
These are a must-have. In fact, if I could choose only one item to keep on hand, band-aids would be it. From the simplest paper-cut, to picked scabs that transform into mini blood domes, band-aids help stop the bio-hazards from flowing and get the students back on task. A quick wash-rinse-bandage and it's back to business as usual. "No, you don't need the nurse. I have a band-aid right here!"

After the first few attempts to leave the room, they learn to simply come to me and I will supply the needed bandage. Better yet, they stop picking scabs altogether as a means to leave!

2. Lip Stuff
This one can be tricky. But, it's a fantastic remedy when chapped lips start to appear. I keep a tube of Vaseline-like lip balm available. When cracked, dry lips become too much and a student wants to go to the nurse for some relief, I grab my handy tube and keep him/her in the room.

The caveat to this nurse-denying trick is that I am the only one allowed to touch the tube. To keep things sanitary there are two ways you can deliver the much-needed balm. You can squeeze it onto a student's finger (I hold their finger so they don't accidentally touch their finger to the tube) or you can squeeze some on a tissue or paper towel. Then, the student smooths out those distracting ridges and gets back to work!

These 2 simple items will lead to less instructional time being missed and give needed relief to those students who may encounter blood or chapped lips during the day.

What are your full-proof ways of keeping students in the room?

May 2, 2017

Refocusing for the Rest of the Year

There are certain times of the year when students need to be reminded of the rules in a more structured, formal capacity. Traditionally, those times are most prevalent right around Thanksgiving and again in the spring. Although, the spring reminder moves around depending on when Easter, the spring break, and State testing occur (and if there is a full moon)!

I use a blend of Whole Brain Teaching, Class Dojo, and a hodge-podge of tricks and tips I've acquired during my time in the trenches. There are quite a few classroom management systems in place. The students hear the rules and/or experience reinforcement of them in small degrees throughout the year. But, springtime offers an opportunity to help the students refresh their understanding of the rules so that the year can finish off as smoothly and painlessly as possible!

I saw an idea from 2nd Grade Sassy Pants and decided to give it a shot. I made a few adjustments to meet the needs of my classroom. 
Finished Anchor Chart
The basic breakdown is as follows...

You Will Need:
  • chart paper
  • colored markers
  • sticky notes
  • pencils
Time Frame:
  • < 30 minutes
  • Prep the chart paper with whichever heading works for your students.
  • Write out a few sticky notes that have "acceptable" and "unacceptable" behaviors on them. For this chart I color-coded the stickies (green and red) and keep them out of sight until we discussed them as a whole group.
  • Ask students to give a thumbs ups or a thumbs down to indicate which section of the chart the sticky belongs on.
  • In pairs (or triads) have students write down an additional behavior to be added to the chart.
  • Add the red "no" slash or the green star as you and your students discuss their sticky notes.
  • Add the student suggestions to the correct side.
  • Display the anchor chart to remind students of acceptable and unacceptable behaviors.

Overall, this was a success! Behaviors were immediately adjusted for the better. And, I now have an additional resource in the classroom for students to refer to when the need arises. The interactive piece was a hit in my room. The students loved sharing their ideas and they added a few things that I wouldn't have thought to include. 

Give it a try and let me know how it works out for you!