Thursday, August 15, 2013

Taming the Wild

I am linking up again with 

to share some ideas for "taming the wild".  What a great title by the way, because sometimes I feel like I'm in the jungle!

So here are a couple management tools that I use with my fifth grade kiddos:

{one} Numbering system:  
I assign each of my students a number from day 1.  It is in alphabetical order and they use these numbers for everything.  I have them set up their papers with name, date, number in the top right hand corner (that way, I can flip through a stack of papers to see who has theirs and who doesn't).

I also have the kids line up in number order to travel the halls.  I started doing this last year because I had a wild class and they were so noisy!  This helped because they didn't rush to be first in line or lag behind to always be last.  They knew where their place was and it was an instant fix.  Sometimes they could line up in  reverse number order, or start with number 3, etc just to switch it up.

I have popsicle sticks that are numbered also, so I can pick random students for special things, answering questions, etc.  They come in handy!

If we go on a field trip, on the bus I have the kids count off in number order for a quick check to make sure everyone's accounted for.

These are just a few ways I use the numbers, but I'm sure there are many more that I am not thinking of at the moment!

{two} homework check-in
I wrote about this earlier in this post.  I use pocket charts from Really Good Stuff to keep my homework organized.  It has saved me SO MUCH TIME because I can glance at the chart and see who's pocket is empty.  It is also helpful because there is always someone who forgets to put their name on their paper*.  If I collect the homework (or have a student collect it, which I normally do) I collect it in order and can tell who's paper is a "no namer" based on where they fall in the pile.  Genius! 

If students forget their homework, they usually stay in for part of their recess to make it up.  They also write their name in the "Homework Black Book" which is available for free in my TpT store.  Every student gets their own page, and if they forget their homework, they fill it out accordingly.  This serves as a great reference for parent conferences.

*Also, for the mystery papers who I still can't figure out who's they are, or if they are handed in during class, I have a "No Name Board" by my door.  Essentially it's a piece of molding with clothes pins hot glued on. I stick papers there and kids can claim them.

{three}Magic Piece of Trash
You ever look at your room and go, "jeesh...looks like a bomb went off in here?"  Ok, well, I do.  And some groups of kiddos are messier than others.  So when the room is really messy a great way to get it cleaned up quickly (push in chairs, pick up pencils, put away materials, etc) is to say, "I see a magic piece of trash."  Keep your eye on a piece of trash and whoever picks it up is the winner.  Now, the key here, is to not let them know who the winner is until you're happy with how the room looks.  Sometimes I like to keep it going a little longer just to make the room cleaner (sneaky?  maybe...).  The winner gets a small prize from my prize box (filled with stuff from the dollar store) but it could also be a prize of your choosing.  

{four} getting student's attention
I use a variety of  methods to get my students ready to transition from one activity to the  next.

  • Clapping.  I clap a pattern, they copy it and clap it back.
  • Say, in a quiet voice, "If you can hear my voice, clap one time." and wait for some students to listen.  Continue with "If you can hear my voice, clap twice" (and three times, four times, etc) until the kids are all listening and clapping.
  • Pass out tickets to those kiddos who are doing what you want and say, "I like the way ________ is listening quietly and is ready to learn." Usually, the other kids will see the positive behavior being rewarded and fall in line.
Those are a few of my "tried and true" methods, but there are also times when I say, "If you don't (fill in the blank) I am going to jump out the window." That's not recommended, but can be used in extreme situations. 
disclaimer: I have never jumped out the window, nor do I intend to, but I'd like to imagine the look on their faces if I stuck a leg out.  Also, I'm on ground level, so stop worrying.

{five} PBIS
Our school is a Positive Behavior Intervention School.  We pass out tickets to those students who are doing the right thing.  We also teach the students to follow three basic rules: Be safe, be respectful, and be responsible.  On the first Friday of each month, we have a whole school pep rally and our mascot comes parading around and the kids go wild!  Each teacher nominates three students in their classroom who exemplify being safe, being responsible, and being respectful and they get called to the front of the gymnasium for acknowledgment.  They receive a certificate and pencil, and get their picture taken with our mascot.  The picture hangs in front of the office and they get a month of recognition for their positive behavior.

There is a significant amount of teaching what we expect in regards to their behavior, but by fifth grade, they should be well aware of how to behave in the bathrooms, hallways, playground, cafeteria, etc.  There is a lot to PBIS and this is just a snapshot, but it works for me and my school!

Classroom management is challenging, and I think that it is about 90% of my day.  It starts from day 1, and continues to the last day of school.  I've tried things, they've failed, and it's alright because each group of students is so different from the last!  Be sure to link up with Blog Hoppin' with your tips-- I love reading everyone else's and learning new things for the upcoming school year.  

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