Monday, March 18, 2013

Classroom Economy System

At the end of last school year I decided to start up a Classroom Economy system for this school year. I have a few challenging students that I knew would really respond to these tangible rewards. Rather than having a different system for a few students, I made it a class-wide project.

Here are the basics:  The students earn $1 for coming to school each morning. (I purchased the Lakeshore paper bill pack for our class money.) They can earn $2 for homework, and at the end of the day, they earn $5 for still having a green behavior card. So the students earn $6-$8 daily. Then on Friday afternoon's we have our class store where they are able to purchase one item.  Some of these items are toys, crafts, erasers, snacks, etc. Then there are items that do not actually cost me money, like my classroom reward passes. These are actually the most popular items in my class store. It's amazing how they love free play on the iPad. I also have high-ticket items like lunch with the teacher, pizza lunch, and movie with a friend. I have students that have been saving since day one to choose one of these high priced items.

Since starting the classroom economy system, my challenging students have really responded well. They love to earn money and hate to lose their money. I'd say they really think twice about actions when they know money is involved.

Just like in real life, there are bills to pay. The first Friday of the month, rent is due. I charge for desk, chair and textbook rental. In the beginning my students would whine on rent day. I told them to talk to their parents about how expensive it is to pay rent or a mortgage. And yes, that happens every month. Now they do it without complaints, which is always nice. They also have to pay for their supplies such as new pencils or glue. It seems like the students are taking better care of their supplies this year knowing they have to pay for replacements.

When I started this system at the beginning of the year, I was looking forward to better behavior choices and consistent behavior consequences. But what has occurred has been amazing.  Students are learning to delay their gratification by saving their hard earned money for bigger items. They can count money and make change (the older kids). On the job chart each week one student is the banker. That is a coveted job and they look forward to being the banker.

In November I applied for, and received a Teacher Innovation Grant to help pay for some of the rewards I've been using in the class store. This will really help off-set the out of pocket costs and provide items for our store in the future. I can't imagine what kinds of behaviors I would be seeing this year without the use of the classroom economy. The little bit of work it takes to keep it stocked pays off in the long run and makes my job easier.

I've opened up a TpT store to share some of the things I'm using in my classroom. Stop by my store and download my Classroom Economy Reward Passes for free. While you're there, rate my work and follow my store.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Author Study: Doreen Cronin

This afternoon we finished up our Author Study on Doreen Cronin.  I really enjoy her books and they are fun to read with the kids. We recently read Diary of a Worm and then Diary of a Spider for our classroom read aloud.  They were the perfect books to tie in some science concepts.  We worked on living/non-living, and insects vs. spiders.  The younger kids labeled parts of an insect and spider and learned a lot of new insect vocabulary. Since the books were written in a diary format, we also focused on sequencing the months of the year.

I found this cute paper plate Venn Diagram on Pinterest so we made our own. We compared our two stories that we read. The older kids are getting really good at understanding where to place concepts that are the same and different and how to use the Venn Diagram.

A few days before we had compared insects vs. spiders using post-it notes and hula hoops. They really enjoyed this activity.

I am loving Teachers Pay Teachers. I found great resources there to help with our literature and science. I am especially loving the premade Power Points that people are willing to share. I might just have to open up a TpT seller account so I can share my vocabulary Power Points that go with our read alouds. For free. =)

Here are some of the resources I used:
Diary of a Worm Sequencing/Timeline Activity- Freebie
Worm Farm Video on PBS
Diary of a Worm Literacy Mini Unit
Incredible Insect Literacy Centers- Freebie
Label an Insect- Freebie
Insect Invasion Listening Worksheet- Freebie
Insect Invasion! Vocabulary Word Wall Cards- Freebie
Insect or Not?- Freebie
Insects PowerPoint- Freebie
Insects Write the Room- Freebie (Write the Room is seriously one of my younger student's new favorite activities!)

Monday, March 4, 2013

Bridge Phrases

My students that have mastered the first two or three Adapted Dolch word lists also visit the Bridge Phrase rotation. An interpreter sits with the students and works on a phrase a day. Bridge Phrases are English phrases requiring American Sign Language (ASL) translation for understanding.
The students learn the phrase (and multiple signs/meanings) and practice them in sentences. I wish our wireless at school was more reliable and faster so we could run the online tool on the iPad or laptop. For now, the students come over to the desktop and review their Bridge phrase for the day using the online tool. (The online tool is fabulous because you can just click on the phrase you need rather than fast forwarding the DVD.)

After practicing the multiple meanings/signs they develop their own sentences for their Bridging Dictionary.  They write a sentence and illustrate their photo.
My students really struggle with reading comprehension. Mastering these English phrases will increase their reading  comprehension and word choice when writing. I'm already seeing incredible progress since using all 5 components since August. My students are 'seeing' Bridge Phrases everywhere. They are quick to point them out during other content learning time. During Guided Reading I ask the students to 'bridge' whatever they can on their own first after reading the passage once. It's amazing how quickly they have picked this up and now their signs are more conceptually accurate when reading. I love to see progress!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

California Blogger

Today I'm linking up with Fifth in the Middle in an effort to find other California bloggers. I have no idea where this blog will take me, but I'm on the hunt for other D/HH Special Day Class blogs out there.

I started this little blog a month ago and I'm shocked at the amount of views some of my posts have received. It's really exciting!  Now I just need to get out there and network, network, network! Gotta love social media!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Anchor Chart Storage

In my class we use a lot of charts. This is what my literature board currently looks like. We just finished up Diary of a Worm. Now we're reading Diary of a Spider and will be doing some comparing and contrasting the two books, which is why it's so full.

You'll notice charts on vocabulary, a time line, prior knowledge and a T chart. My students are visual learners. The charts are a resource for the students. I create a Power Point with vocabulary pictures and words that accompany every read aloud. I create two versions: words + picture and just the vocabulary words. My older kids are working on reading the vocabulary while my younger kiddos are just working on basic vocabulary and retelling the stories with this vocabulary/new signs.

Last year I saved all of our anchor and vocabulary charts and hung them on the back of our white board easel. It was too cumbersome to flip through all the pages looking for just the right chart to refer back to. I like to keep them as a resource for the students. They may not remember how to spell that vocabulary word from A Bad Case of Stripes back in September, but they sure know where to locate the information.

So this year, I decided to create a binder with photos of our anchor charts. I started by taking photos of each and every chart we made and used. I put them into page page protectors into divided sections. I color coordinated the subjects for my pre-readers. I can tell them to look under a certain color.

Each section has a sheet listing the name/topic of the chart and then the page number where it can be found. 

I printed each photo (on fast draft to save on ink!) and slipped them into the numbered sleeves.

Now all of our vocabulary lists for each read aloud and all of our other anchor charts are easy to find and available all the time. It takes up little space and we can refer to them over and over again. 

It makes my students responsible for their own learning and promotes independence.

Life is not always about knowing the right answer. It's about knowing where to find the answer.