Monday, August 1, 2016

Monday Made It: Lawn Sign, Book Bags, Kindness Sticks

Happy Monday Friends! I'm so excited to be a guest blogger over at my friend Tara's blog, 4th Grade Frolics, for her  Monday Made It linky. Go check out all the goodies I made for this upcoming year! I'm super excited about the motivation it will bring to our classroom!
Click the image.

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Spark Student Motivation: Read-a-thon

Happy Saturday Friends! Today is officially my first day of Spring Break! I wanted to share something I did with my students to motivate them to READ!
I present to you a..............
I kept my students after school for 4 hours to READ. Yes, it's that READ. EVERY single one of my students attended. :) (I actually had to change the day so three could attend-they were so upset about missing "reading", that I had to change it for them.) I can't tell you what this does for my teacher heart! Even some of my parents commented how excited their child was to attend. I could tell they were a bit surprised that their child wanted to stay after 4 extra hours just to read! LOL!
I wanted to keep the anticipation and excitement up all day so I displayed this sign on my light up frame and created a bulletin board to track their reading progress during the Read-a-thon.
What would a Read-a-thon be without food? We had snacks and drinks at our reading buffet because with all that reading we would definitely work up our appetites!
And, bookworms! My students loved the worms!

They took off their shoes and brought pillows and blankets to get cozy with their books. (I think taking off their shoes was their favorite part!) They read everywhere in our classroom!

After about two hours, I had pizza delivered.
We watched the Gotta Keep Reading video to inspire us to keep reading for two more hours. I love how the entire school collaborated to create this video-it's amazing! A must see!
Well, if music is playing, we HAVE to dance!

After every Reading Counts test they passed, they got to ring the bell! That bell was ringing all afternoon, but it's ok, it was music to my ears!
After they rang the bell, they got a book Post-It for each point they earned to display on the board. This was a great visual for us to be proud of as a class and each individual student. Some students had to make a second row of sticky notes!!
Here are the final results...
There wasn't a contest, but this young lady earned 38 Reading Counts points during the Read-a-thon! Pretty impressive! The goal was for each student to earn 20 Reading Counts points. I was excited and inspired by my students' excitement to read, ring the bell, and post their book notes on the board! They celebrated each others' successes too!
I've done this a few times with other classes and will for sure keep this as an annual event in our classroom!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Spark Student Motivation:Transform Your Classroom...Classroom to Courtroom!

One of the most effective ways to HOOK your students is to transform your classroom. In can be as simple as moving desks and covering walls or as elaborate as bringing in furniture, props, and decorating the entire room with a theme. Either way, your students will love it!

Last week I decided to transform my classroom into a courtroom to get them excited about finding evidence in the text. I wanted to make it glaringly obvious when they have a "debate or argument" with someone they use elaboration every day.  They expound on their evidence by explaining and adding in more details in their conversations.  It's important to have a balance of evidence and elaboration in their writing, so my hope was this lesson would transfer that into their writing!

Florida 5th graders have a state writing test to write and opinion or informational essay. Both pieces require the use of using evidence from the texts provided and elaborating on the evidence. I found three different articles about whether students should or should not be allowed to use cell phones in school-I knew this would be a hot topic!  We read all three articles before we "entered the courtroom".

This room transformation was easy, quick, and basically free! I already had my college graduation gown (I normally use this for my multiplication graduation), plastic gavel, black paper, black tablecloths. My only cost was the printing of my jury members, but this could be hand drawn by your students. I thought of this idea on Sunday before I transformed my classroom on Monday, so no time for drawings! I also printed the Florida flag for my backdrop.


1. Cover front of room with black paper.
2. Move table for judge and desk for witness and cover with black tablecloths.
3. Hang jury members on side wall or tape to extra chairs on the side of the classroom.
4. Finishing touches: flag on judge's table with gavel and papers. Hang flag as a backdrop behind the judge.

 As soon as my kids walked in, they were filled with excitement and curiosity. I dressed up with my hair back and clear glasses to look more official. I grabbed the flag off my wall and placed it in a vase with rocks (also in my classroom stash) to hold it in place. I did not have a real base for my gavel, so naturally I used a pad of Post-Its! :) favorite part was calling the court to order! (I may have done it more than once!)

We swore to use text evidence and elaboration on our all time favorite read aloud (Wonder).

I hung my12 jury members on the side wall.

I separated the desks in our classroom in half to represent each side.

Even if they didn't agree with the "side" they were on, there was enough evidence in the text to support either argument.

Each side called "witnesses" to argue their points. It was so amazing to see them all constantly referring back to the text to prove their thinking.

I love room transformations, and this one will be marked as a favorite and brought back, especially with it's ease and low cost. My students really learned from this experience and it made our learning memorable. I knew this would be a great way to review and ease their fears the week of testing.

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Spark Student Motivation: Let's Make a Deal! Weekly Ticket Drawing

Let’s Make a Deal!

 I've been using this motivational trick since I interned! I have always loved game shows and try to incorporate fun anytime I can in my classroom! I got this idea from the game show "Let's Make A Deal". I pass out tickets all week for miscellaneous things (participation, sharing, prepared, helping others, using or finding their vocabulary words, correct answers, etc.). My students go crazy for tickets, even this time of the year because of my weekly drawing!

At the end of the week I choose 10-12 tickets and they receive a small prize (treat from candy jar). The last ticket called is the big winner and they can go for the treat (the for sure thing) or go for the deal (taking risks/chances).  In the photo below I try to offer a lollipop, but they usually walk up and say I want to go for the deal right away!

I have three bags set up: 2 are big prizes (full size candy bar, cotton candy, movie theater candy, etc.), and one is a zonk (paper clip, used homework pass, rubberband, etc.). They know there's a chance they could lose, but in 20 years I've NEVER had any student take the "for sure" treat and not go for the deal! I'll admit, I do feel bad when they get a zonk, but we're not all winners. It's a great life lesson.

Of course, I play all of this up with the "audience"..."Should they go for the deal? Do you think it's Bag #1 (cheers), Bag #2 (cheers) or Bag #3 (cheers)? It's up to you, you can go with the audience or go with your gut/heart? Which bag will it be?" And then of course, I drag it out by putting my hand in and out a few times to draw out the suspense! "Are you sure you want this bag?" And then I pull out the prize!

Here are some examples of "ZONKS", you could use anything that will get a laugh. You can use an extra homework packet, broken pencil, sticky note, tissue, rubber band, paperclip, (look around your desk for something you plan on throwing away!). Funny thing...many of my students (who aren't in the drawing) want the zonk as a souvenir!
Warning: You will feel bad the very first time someone chooses the zonk bag, after the first one it's not as bad, but those little faces when they lose....
(They have to learn to take risks and they win some and they lose some, but the odds are in their favor with only one zonk).

We don't have a strict candy policy at our school, but if you do you can use alternatives for your weekly drawing. I've done a book drawing too for a reading week.

Kids love to eat, it doesn't have to be candy. You can use healthy treats or snacks too. If they win the microwave popcorn and you pop it right away so they can eat it at their desk, you will be a hero! I also have water bottles prizes that are fun to display on their desk as another healthy choice reward!

School supplies are a win-win! When your students start running out of pencils or dry erase markers, put them in the bags! It solves your problem of them not being prepared and they win a prize!
The three bags are set up when they get back from lunch on Friday-they remind me every Friday when I drop them off not to forget to set up the drawing! I've upgraded my bags since I first started this incentive-for years I used Publix brown bags and sharpie marker numbers.

Here's a video clip of one of our weekly drawings:
(You will here them get mad at the end when I hesitate to check the bag to see if it's a prize! I like to play it up a little!)


I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Spark Student Motivation: Accountable Talk-Live Professional Development

My students and I conducted a LIVE lesson for teachers after school for professional development. This was motivating to the teachers and my students! They love showing off! :)
My students also loved that they were part of the SURPRISE! Our faculty knew I was facilitating the professional development, but they didn't know it would be a live presentation with my students!!!
(My students were hiding in the back room of the media center.)

It was soooo awesome. I started the workshop with why using accountable talk is so important in our classrooms and then pretended I was going to show them a video of my class in action. Of course, since there wasn't a didn't work. I acted all upset and struggled with the computer for a minute and then let them know it was ok because I had a back up plan! I walked over to the room, opened the door, and introduced my student participants! (The teachers were so surprised and excited!)
All of the teachers, all 50 of them, gathered around the group of desks and watched my students do their thing. I talked with the audience and my students at the same time explaining what I do and what my students are responsible for during this kind of lesson.

Students formed a discussion circle and used accountable talk and discussion stems to engage in a meaningful conversation with each other about a piece of text. They constantly cited evidence from the text to justify their thinking and prove their points. The stems help them lead their conversations and to stay focused with their arguments.
I wasn't nervous about facilitating the workshop or the lesson itself because I know my students' are amazing at accountable talk. However, I was scared they'd be nervous with 50 people standing around them and staring at them and they might not talk in front of that size audience.
BUT...I was wrong! They acted just like they do in our classroom! (Calling me over to show me the hearts they drew around my name at the bottom of the page, making jokes, and one even had to use the restroom during the lesson!)

The teachers laughed at their humorous comments and were as engaged as my students were. They were impressed with how much they pulled out of such a small piece of text. kids nailed it! They were so impressive. I seriously almost wanted to cry I was so proud of them. I've had these students for two years and to hear the conversations and dialogue they have between each other is beautiful. They've made so much progress together.

At the end of the lesson (my students didn't want it to end!), I allowed questions from the teachers to my students about the lesson, using accountable talk, and anything else they were curious about. Again, my students impressed me and were able to answer all of their questions with ease and with such enthusiasm. They did explain to everyone that we've been working on accountable talk for a long time and we do it often. They said they trust each other and know each other well enough to know when to include others in the conversation or help each other out. They are truly a class family.

The following is a short segment of the accountable talk lesson. You will see how my students engage in conversation with each other and build of each others' ideas and thinking.
**Ten of my students are featured in the video (I grabbed some extended day kids, teacher kids, and had a few volunteer to get picked up later). I have a variety of levels in this group including students that receive ESE and ESOL services. I wanted a mixed group to show that with practice, modeling, and the right tools, everyone can do it! :)

The materials/resources used in this video and to get my students to this level can be found here:
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Spark Student Motivation: Classroom Transformation

Warning: This idea is not as simple as some of my other ideas to motivate your students. This one does take a lot of prep and some investment, but it's TOTALLY worth it!

Our school conducted a book study on Teach Like a Pirate and it's filled with ideas to engage and excite your students. The idea I bring to you today is..

A Classroom Transformation!

The week before my room transformation I piqued their curiosity by putting this message on my board. Of course, this got them excited! I told them just to bring scarves, hats, and gloves to stay warm. This simple message can work with any lesson you want to surprise your students with and gives them something to look forward to. (I purchased this light up frame at Michael's).
I've transformed my room for a day before for Halloween with black paper on the windows, a fog machine, and glows ticks, but this transformation was for the week. (I wanted to get as much use for the money I spent!) Thank you Hope King for the inspiration of this room transformation. :)

 I purchased a snow making machine to give my students the full effect! Living in Florida this gadget was VERY exciting! We turned it on every day (maybe several times a day) to play in the snow! It's like a foam that is dispensed, but it doesn't leave any residue.

I wanted to cover the furniture and walls with white sheets (which were way too expensive), so I used white plastic tablecloths from Dollar Tree. They're a little see-through, but they did the trick.

Of course, once you play in the snow and get cold, you have to warm up by the fire!
We got cozy by the fire and read our articles. (My students kept putting their paper in the fire like it was going to burn!) LOL

Each day we did a different activity with our snow theme. I focused on text structure writing. The following two lessons were inspired by food, which is the way to a student's writing hand!

S'mores were made for our sequential writing assignment. It's amazing how closely they wanted to listen to directions and steps for making something when it's edible!

 Each day we transferred what we learned into our text structure writing. I modeled examples and provided my students with frames and stems to guide them through their writing. These mini-offices are a great visual and tool for my students to use while writing.
The writing I received this week was amazing! Yes, it was a lot of work on my part, but they did their
part and gave me their best writing because of their hands on experience.
For description writing we ate snow cones. I already had a snow cone machine, so I only needed to purchase the syrup and cups. For each type of writing I had certain requirements (a specific number of points, key words, number of paragraphs, etc.). For example, the descriptive writing had to include at least one piece of figurative language. They were super creative with these "juices"!
"The snow cone was calling my name."
"Eating the snow cone was a dance party for my taste buds."

Teaching text structure writing this week will prove to be worth the time and energy because it has already transferred over to their reading. This experience gave my students such concrete examples and something to remember and relate to, they will be able to recognize these text structures with ease.

I know this week's transformations were a little extreme, but once I started on this idea I couldn't stop! I was just as excited as my students. Equally important to me about this week is that I created memories. Lifelong memories about school and making learning fun!
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

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