Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Techie Tuesday - October 25th

Welcome to my second edition of Techie Tuesday!

The featured website in this week's edition is Class Dojo

Class Dojo is a fantastic site that is a new take on classroom management. Students earn and lose points based on skills/behaviors that you can select. It has basic behaviors to begin with, but then you are able to edit them or add new behaviors with point values. I really love this site because students can earn points back after they lose them. It's all about second chances and positive reinforcement.

One trick I have learned over the years, is to create a fake student. I have a student in my class named Whacky Wilbur. He serves as my warning when I am about to take away points. Typically all I have to do is give Whacky Wilbur a few negative points, the students hearing the sound and straighten up. It has been a lifesaver for those times when it's more than a couple students being disruptive.

Ghostly Goals

Goals are extremely beneficial to students, especially when students intentionally set them. There's no more "I'm going to get Honor Roll this quarter" generic goals. Now they have to explain the steps they are going to take in order to earn Honor Roll. Short term and long term goals are both equally important. I have students who need those shorter ones that help keep them on track for the larger goals, and then I have students who are always thinking big picture and looking further down the road. 

In the Hyperdoc above I included links to what my 5th and 6th grade goal sheets look like, as well as a link to a very simple SMART goal that can be used both long and short term. At my school we are fortunate enough to have planners, and that is where my students write their SMART goals.

Techie Tip of the week

A very useful trick in Google Drive is starring items. There are documents I use on a daily basis, ranging from my morning directions to my Math and ELA pacing guides. Instead of searching for them every single morning, I use the "Add Star" option.

When you come across a file or folder you would like quick access to, right click on it then select "Add Star". After that your file or folder will appear in the "Starred" section on the left hand side of your Google Drive. Isn't that handy?

Is there anything you'd like to see featured in Techie Tuesday? Any techie tips for using Google Drive you'd like to share? 
Post below in the comments!

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Joys of Flexible Seating

I have had a lot of questions about my classroom arrangement, seating, and management so I thought I'd write a blog post to share with everyone about it.
Okay everyone take a deep breath, I am about to say something crazy....ready?... I do not have a seating chart or assigned seating. BREATHE! It's okay. I haven't always been this way. I am now in my 10th year of teaching and up until 4 years ago my students had assigned seating, they stayed in their seats to work quietly, and there was a very rigid structure to it. I typically would assign partners for them to work with and groups for group projects. Then one summer I spent time reading other teacher blogs and articles about flexible seating and allowing students to move around more.

I will be totally honest with you. I was scared! I had to give up some of my control?! Are you serious?! Then I decided to just go for it. The outcome was amazing!!
In the four years I have had flexible seating I have only had one student who just couldn't focus. He got his own seat and each day I would ask him if he felt like he could work with a group. Some days he would say yes, other days he would say no. I still gave him the option and didn't keep him from having the opportunity. 
I like to look at my classroom now as organized, creative chaos. Ask my students what they like about my classroom and they will tell you that it's all the choices they get.
Instead of desks I have 8 tables and have acquired some big comfortable chairs from rooms being cleaned out on campus. I like to rearrange my classroom randomly because I get bored of the way it looks. At first, I wondered if this was too much for the students, but they always get excited when I rearrange things.
Most recently I received 4 bean bags, 2 camping chairs, 4 wobble cushions, and 2 fun teen chairs from a project that was funded through We have two black coffee tables to go with them. I then lowered one of my tables down to the lowest level, so that the students had more seating options. It's so much fun to come into class where it is a comfortable teaching and learning environment.

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Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Techie Tuesday

Today I started my first Techie Tuesday. As the C5 Technology Teacher at my school, we are trying different ways to have professional development. Traditional PD is so yesterday with meeting after school, so it's on to something new and exciting!

Our district has a subscription to Renaissance Place for AR and STAR benchmark tests. With parent conferences coming up next week I thought it was important to share some new ways to share the testing data with the parents. The diagnostic report will show parents the grade level equivalent that their student tests at as well as the areas where they struggled on the test.

Being a GAFE district, we have been trying to get all our teachers logged in and using the different apps. The first step is to get the teachers logged in and using Google Drive. I remember learning about color coding the folders and it blew my mind! I wanted to share this with my teachers to show them a small step in getting organized with Drive.

At my school, the teachers can be very reserved about sharing their successes. I'm not quite sure why it is, but I LOVE hearing about successes in integrating technology, no matter how small! I created a Padlet where teachers can go and share their wins with the rest of the staff.

If you haven't checked out, now is the time! They just released this amazing new dance called "Dance Party".  Students create an account at home, create their own champ, and then link it to your classroom account. In class, you select "Dance Party" and their champs will show up in your class dance! The kids get the biggest kick out of it!

So far this has been a hit with my staff, I have received a lot of positive feedback. For me, it was hard to keep it this size. I get excited about sharing things and sometimes go overboard, but when you are first starting something smaller and more direct is better. :) You don't want to overwhelm anyone.

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