Hey ya'll! This is Karen from An Apple a Day in First Grade. Last week was spring break and I tell ya, I'm having a hard time getting back into the swing of things. By mid morning, I was just plain exhausted! That week off was much needed, but it was just a teaser for what is to come in 30 days! This will be the first summer that I haven't had to take classes for my Master's and I am so excited about having absolutely nothing to do!
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In the meantime, it's crunch time in first grade. So much still to do, with so little time to accomplish it. Add summer fever, after school sports, and just plain "over it" attitudes (I'm speaking of the children!) and you get some "not so great" behavior. I've got a sweet class and have been blessed with very few behavior issues. But sometimes, we just have a bad day. And sometimes those bad days turn into bad weeks. Before spring break, my sweet little class started to have some "issues" that were becoming "habits." I'm not in the mood to spend the last few weeks dealing with these "habits," so I had to do some serious thinking about our behavior management system.
Do you know about Whole Brain Teaching? Love it. Love the idea behind it. Love how simple it is to use. Love how engaging it is for students. Did I mention that I love it?! If you haven't heard about it, you can find out more about by checking out the site at www.wholebrainteaching.com . You can also find the book about Whole Brain Teaching on Amazon. I have it and it is a great resource to have. It would make a great summer read too!
If you are familiar with WBT, then you know about the scoreboard. I have used the scoreboard in class for several years now. It has worked and we have all celebrated by cheering our mighty "Oh Yeahs" and hung our heads in disappointment with the groan "boo hoo!" I started the year using the scoreboard and it worked fairly decent. But after Christmas, I started noticing that my kids just weren't getting in to it like they were. Like all good educators do, I reflected! Was it not working because of me? Or were my kids just not as engaged like they once were. I continued to use the scoreboard for a couple more weeks, trying my best to really make it work. It didn't. Boo hoo.
I have my students desks arranged in groups. I have 3 groups and 1 island (yes, I have one student who works better when he is on his own island). As we were struggling one day with the scoreboard, I had an idea pop into my head. Instead of the scoreboard, why not a "group board?" Hmm, maybe it would work. You say, what's so different about groups earning points? Well, that's what is different about my group board. The goal each day for my students is NOT to earn points on the scoreboard. Those once coveted "oh yeah" points are now dangerous! All it takes is a few positive praises, with a negative thrown in, to get my kiddos to check themselves. "I like the way group 2 is working hard to get their work done." "Wow! Look at group 1 rock it with their quiet voices." "Oh my, group 3 needs to check themselves. It's looking like they might get a boo hoo mark on the group board." At the end of the first day using the new group board, my class had earned "0" points!!!! Yes ma'am! Zero points. Score!!!!!! Now, in all honesty, we have had days when we have racked some points up (like today). But overall, it has worked very nicely. The groups are working together and reminding each other about what they need to be doing. At the end of the day, if the scoreboard is at zero for ALL of the groups, I allow our helper of the day to choose a "special activity" from a bucket. These are simple activities such as: smarties, extra recess, sit anywhere on the carpet during group time, brain breaks, extra reading time, stinky feet days, bring a buddy to school, etc.. Just a quick and simple acknowledgement of their hard work for the day.
If you would like this chart, click the picture above.
Will this continue to work for the next 30 days? I sure hope so. I'm to pooped at this point to try something else. But if necessary, to keep my sanity, I will try anything to maintain a sense of peace and calmness in my classroom until the end!
How about you? How are you surviving the end of the year craziness? Do you have something special in your toolbox that you only bring out for this time of the year? We would love to know! Leave us a comment and share!