Help your kids SPARKLE

Every student can SPARKLE!  Want to make sure your classroom is a positive environment for kids!  You can, with these ideas and tips.

Another school year is about to begin.  All those bright, smiley faces will soon be focused on you and you want to make sure the year starts positive and stays positive.  Hopefully, you'll be blessed with a class where staying positive is easy.  But chances are, there will be some days when it will be a challenge to keep that positive attitude.  That's why you need a tool box of ideas.  

Here are a few suggestions for when you're having a difficult time tapping into that positive attitude.

1.  Positive language is important.  When you feel those negative words bubbling to the surface, take a deep breath and then close your mouth! It's okay to tell the student, "We'll continue this discussion later." It's better to take a few minutes to regain your positivity than to let hurtful words find their way into the conversation.

Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom

2.  Avoid negative places.  Negativity is contagious. How many times have you heard others griping and complaining and before you know it you've joined right in.  If you're having a challenging day you need to choose a positive place for your break.  That might not be the teacher's lounge.  Instead why not invite a few other teachers to join you in your classroom for a more relaxing lunch.  Talk about your weekend plans, your latest shopping excursion or the latest movie you've seen.  Try to get your mind away from the challenges you know will be returning to your classroom after lunch.

3.  Be flexible and be fun!  If you're having one of those days where nothing is going the way you planned, throw those plans out the window!  Be flexible enough to switch gears when the students are restless and can't stay focused.  Have a few go-to games or activities you can play with the whole class to give them (and you) a break. One of my favorites is taking the class outside to read.  It's quick, easy and kids can always benefit from more reading time.

Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom

4.  Give students choices.  When a student is not making wise choices on their own you should give them two choices. Make sure they are choices that are incompatible with inappropriate behavior. For example, when a student is bothering others in her group give her two choices:  You can work at this empty desk or at the library table.  Don't make the choices punitive, like take your work to the office to finish. Also, make sure the choices are ones you can live with for the rest of the day.

5.  Let your students tell you how they're feeling.  Many times kids are having a bad day because of things outside of school and many times outside of their control.  What they need is someone who will listen.  If you can't listen at that moment let them know you want to hear what they have to say, and ask if they'd like to schedule some private time with you.  Most will love the idea of being able to spend some special private time with you.  For older students I might ask if they'd like some time to write me a letter.  This lets me return to my teaching and they get some quiet time away from the lesson to express their feelings on paper.  When the letter is finished I'll read it and spend time with the student.

5.  Our class is the best because . . .  Sometimes we just need to be reminded of all the good things.  Take a break and ask your students to write down what they love the most about the class.  Then gather in a circle and share their responses.  That little positive circle can do wonders at turning around a trying day.

My last piece of advice is to add a
little SPARKLE to your classroom.  

 SPARKLE, Positive Behavior Tool box,  Crockett's Classroom

This tool box is full of positive incentive ideas to help you maintain a positive and productive classroom.

SPARKLE stands for . . . 
Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom

Highlights of what you'll find in the SPARKLE Tool box:
Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom

Students choose a reward and then earn punches on their card for positive behaviors.

Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom

The Gnome Patrol is on the look out for desks that are neat and organized.  Students can be nominated for recognition when other students see them SPARKLE-ing.

Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom

Students will love getting individual recognition for their positive behaviors as they collect brag tags.  32 different tags are included which cover character traits, academic achievements and positive behaviors.  There are also 8 blank tags so you can customize your bragging!  The tags are ink friendly, cute and motivating without using so much color ink.

Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom
The Tool box also has an editable class reward page. You can choose a reward your class would like, type it in, print it and let the kids start earning the sparkle stars for the reward.

Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box, Crockett's Classroom
For those of you who like the behavior clip charts the Tool box has a design your own chart.  You can choose the frame, add the phrase you want to create your own clip chart.

To get a better idea of the SPARKLE Tool Box, you can download this free sample.
 SPARKLE Positive Behavior Incentive Tool Box
Click on image to download the free sample.

I wish you all a year full of SPARKLE!


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KISS your Literacy Block Time!

Keeping things simple is always my goal.  Teaching is too hectic to try and manage a complicated literacy block schedule.  This blog post shows you how to Keep it Super Simple, KISS!

     If you're like me you've tried a lot of different schedules for your literacy block time.  And no matter what you try, it's still a major scheduling challenge.  Every year I'd try a new schedule or rotation system and it never quite worked like I planned.  Why does it always look so good on paper and then fall apart once you put it into use????  I'd have one group that needed more time so I'd want to keep them a little longer, but that meant that another group would have to be cut short. I also had a hard time keeping up with the students at the centers because they needed varying amounts of teacher assistance. 

     Finally one year I came up with a way to keep my literacy block very simple.  It was one of those "Duh!" moments and it turned out to be the best thing for my third graders and for me!
Simplifying your literacy block time., Students are spit into two groups.  One group works on reading activities and the other group works at centers.  The teacher calls small groups to work with her.  Very simple!

I called this TeRC Time . . . Teacher, Reading, Centers.
    Basically, the literacy block is divided into two parts: Independent Reading, and Centers.   The students are also split into two groups. Make sure the groups are a good mix of ability levels. Also make sure that both groups have good models of behavior and work habits to follow.  Group A works on independent reading first and then switches to centers.  Group B is the opposite, working on centers first and then independent reading.

  • During the Reading part of the schedule students read.  It can be a book they choose for themselves or one selected by the teacher. They can also read with a partner or listen to a recorded story. 

  • During the Centers part of the schedule students work on the other activities or written practice. The centers can focus on any literacy skills or strategies for reading or writing. Students can work independently. with a small group or with a partner.

  • During the entire literacy block time the teacher calls small groups to meet with her.  Regardless of where the students are at the time, reading or at centers, they put away their task and join the teacher at the reading table.  When their time with the teacher is finished they return to their reading or center activity.

     While the teacher works with small groups or conferences with individual students the rest of the class is either reading or working on a literacy center task.  This puts more responsibility on the students because they have to pace themselves to complete their tasks by the end of the week.  If they are called to work with the teacher during their center time then they may have to complete that center work the next day.  Students are also responsible for completing any assignments given in the small groups.  This should always be their first priority when they leave the group.
To sum it up: (click to download this graphic.)
 TeRC Literacy Block Infographic, Explains how to set up a super simple literacy block time.
Click to download

     Fridays are a “catch-up” day.  The teacher, generally, does not call small groups. It’s a good day for the teacher to also catch up on conferences or work with students who need reteaching of skills/strategies presented through the week.  The students have the time to finish the reading and center tasks for the week.  If they finish everything then they can have more reading time or perhaps play a literacy game.

     I hope you'll be able to use a few of these ideas to use
during your literacy block time and

Keep It Super Simple!  


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Establishing a differentiated, responsive classroom

I've been reading the book, Mindsets in the Classroom by Mary Cay Ricci,  and just finished chapter 3.  It was a real eye-opener.  Through all of my years of teaching, I thought I was differentiating by planning and implementing reteaching and enrichment lessons and activities as my class worked through a unit.  But in this chapter, I learned how important it is to start the differentiation before the unit even begins!

This process begins with the preassessment. So much valuable information can be gathered before you begin teaching a unit.  The purpose of the preassessment is to find how much students understand the content before you plan and teach the unit.
  • Do they have a complete understanding of the content? Then they will need enrichment and/or accelerated activities.
  • Do they have a partial understanding of the content?  Then you need to make note of the gaps in their learning so you can plan accordingly.
Checklists are a great way to keep track of the objectives and student mastery.  From this checklist, you will also see students that need to be grouped for instruction.  Keep in mind that this grouping will change as students master the objectives.
 Classroom Assessments for a Differentiated, Responsive Classroom

Another insight I gained from this chapter is the different types of assessments used in a classroom.  I put together this graphic to sum up the three types of assessment you should be using in your classroom.  Click on the image to download the pdf version.

You can also download this free packet with three quick and easy formative assessments you can use 

 Quick and easy formative assessments


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June Pick 3

Ahhhh!  Summer at last!  We wait all year for these few months to relax and enjoy our time off from school.  But, if you’re like me your summer will probably include a little time for school things.  After all, teaching is more than a nine-month job for us.

My Pick 3 this month are more like my summer wish list, things I’d like to do . . .

 Sew a Travel Map
I love this idea!  I recently took a trip through China.  How cool would it be to get a map of China and stitch a line to show my route.  This is at the top of my summer to do list!
 Sew a Travel Map from Martha Stewart

Get Organized!
Next on my summer to do list is get organized! Closets, cabinets, garage, etc.  You name it and it needs to be organized. I always start the summer with high hopes of organizing everything, but in reality I'll be happy if I can get my closet organized. This pin will take you to a site with lots of unique ideas for getting organized.

 DIY Organizing Ideas

Time to Relax!
After all that crafting and organizing it will be time to relax. How about a cool drink by the pool!  This sparkling summer sangria looks wonderful!
 Sparkling Summer Sangria

Hope you have a wonderful summer!


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