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Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship


Interactive Notebooks... A Love-Hate Relationship. Read all about our journey here!

Interactive Notebooks… A Love-Hate Relationship

Interactive Notebooks: Scary. Intimidating. Overwhelming. Problematic. Unmanageable. The list of words that come to mind can keep going. Are we right? This is where we started out seven years ago. Seven years ago, we were used to using the basal reader, doing the worksheet pages and calling it a day. Easy. Turn the page and do it. No sweat off my back. No fingers pointing at us if it didn’t work. BORING.

When we discussed the possibility of switching over to Interactive Notebooks, the thought was overwhelming. Many questions came up: Are we allowed to do that? What will we do in these Interactive Notebooks? Will the students like them? Will we like them? It was scary. We will be the first to admit it.

Once we made the decision to switch over to Interactive Notebooks, our Interactive Notebooks took on a life all of their own. We started out scouring Pinterest for ideas of what we could do with our students inside of our Interactive Notebooks. We would plan these ideas out together as a team and then go do them with our students. This didn’t last long. Once we started, it just became part of what we did. We would come up with ideas right on the spot. Students would come up with ideas. It was fun. It was engaging. We fell in love with Interactive Notebooks.

Here are the Top 3 Reasons that We Fell in Love with Interactive Notebooks
Interactive Notebooks build student relationships. Find out how here!

Interactive Notebooks Build Student Relationships

Building student relationships is the number one reason why we love Interactive Notebooks. Teachers get to know their students on a personal level and students look forward to their teacher reading what they have written. We always have a couple of students that insert little notes by their work or little illustrations for us to see. It is seriously the cutest thing ever! We really get to know our students through their writing responses to prompts, journals, free writes, and art work. We love writing notes in the margins of their journal prompts to show that we value what they have to say. With this comment, we know that we have just turned a lot of teachers off. “You mean I have to read everything they write?” Yes! If Interactive Notebooks are not “interactive,” students will quickly see that their work does not matter and it is not valued.

Now, with this being said, how can you manage reading through a whole class set of Interactive Notebooks? We have found that the easiest way is to have due dates for each student. We read through three notebooks each day, and with a class size of thirty, we get to each notebook two times a month… each every two weeks. Going through three Interactive Notebooks takes us around fifteen minutes each day (five minutes per notebook). The time that is spent on grading is time that is well invested, and you will see results. We have a lot more to share about grading and checking Interactive Notebooks, but we will go into this more in depth in a later blog post.

Interactive Notebooks have your year's worth of learning in one ready to reference place! Read all about it here!

 

Interactive Notebooks Have Your Year’s Worth of Learning in One Ready-to-Reference Place!

The beauty of Interactive Notebooks is that your entire year’s worth of learning is documented in one easy to find resource. These notebooks become EVERYTHING to your students. If they have questions about a topic, they can just look back at lesson notes, foldables or prompts. The notebooks become their reference source for their year. We love having students glue in lists of character traits or lists of common themes that they can refer back to for other assignments. Students learn to treasure their Interactive Notebooks and see their value. We had one student come back to us to tell us that she still used her notebook… and she was in the eighth grade!

Not only are Interactive Notebooks valued by students, but they are also valued by parents! We want you to imagine for a moment that you have a child in fourth grade. They come home from school and you ask them what they learned about. This common question is usually answered with one simple thoughtless word… Nothing. Now, in a classroom that has worksheets that are turned in after every lesson, the parents would never truly know what their child actually learned throughout the day, and in turn, you, the teacher, lose credibility. But wait!!!! You don’t have this kind of classroom (phew!) You have a classroom that uses Interactive Notebooks (applause inserted here)! The parents of the students in your class can grab hold of their child’s Interactive Notebook and be AMAZED at what their child is actually learning. And it gets even better! “What?” you say,  “How can this be?” If the parents of your students have questions about homework, they have the answers!!!!! That’s right, take a bow… you’ve earned it!

Interactive Notebooks are useful to more than just students and parents…. they are invaluable to YOU! Let’s say that parent-teacher conferences are coming up. Some teachers would need to spend all of their time gathering work samples and data to show parents, but not you! You simply grab the child’s Interactive Notebooks and you are good to go! Imagine your administrator walking into your classroom and browsing through a student’s Interactive Notebook… BAM… YOU ARE AMAZING! Imagine going to an IEP or other Intervention meeting and you need to show a student’s progress. Grab their Interactive Notebooks and mission accomplished!

Interactive Notebooks are the Perfect Goal Setting Tool... Find out how here!

Interactive Notebooks are the PERFECT Goal Setting Tool

Many teachers aim to set goals for their students and also want their students to set goals for themselves. Interactive Notebooks are the perfect tool to make this dream a reality. After grading each notebook, make a note at the end that states something that you noticed while reading their work. Maybe they used run-on sentences or maybe they aren’t giving enough details when they write. Maybe it’s a capitalization issue. Whatever you notice, write a quick goal for them to achieve by the next time you check their notebooks. Then, the next time you check their notebook, take a look at the goal you set for them and let them know if they reached it or not. If they did, set a new goal. If they didn’t reach their goal, keep the same one until it is accomplished.

Students can set their own goals in their Interactive Notebooks also! Students can evaluate their work right before you check it and tell you something they are proud of and one thing they want to improve for the next time. If you set a goal for them, they can also evaluate if they think they have achieved it or not. They can do this on a checklist, in a letter to you or just by using symbols. Interactive Notebooks provide a short span of work that can be measured and evaluated.

Interactive Notebooks... A Love-Hate Relationship. Which will win? Find out here!

Interactive Notebooks… Start TODAY!

If we have done our job in this post, we hope that you can see the value of using Interactive Notebooks in your classroom. Interactive Notebooks have been our answer to effectively teaching our students. You might be thinking, “Yes, I want to do Interactive Notebooks, but I don’t know where to start.” We are here to help you with this common thought. Our advice to you is to start small. Find what works for you and go in that direction. We have created five activities for you to use with your class TODAY that will help you get started down the amazing path of Interactive Notebooks. The best part is that these activities are FREE! ENJOY!

If you enjoyed this post, please let us know in the comments below! We would love to help you out however we can. Stick with us and we will walk you through how to make Interactive Notebooks successful in your classroom! Until our next post, Bye!

CLICK THE IMAGE TO GRAB YOUR FREEBIES!

CLICK THE IMAGES BELOW TO GET STARTED WITH INTERACTIVE NOTEBOOKS!Key Ideas and Details Interactive Notebook Lessons and Practice

Language Interactive Notebook Lessons and Practice

Language YEAR LONG Interactive Notebook Bundles

The Reading Challenge that will Create Lifelong Readers!

Discover the key to getting your students to love reading!

Hello, Friends!

Welcome to our blog post on one of our most absolute favorite topics… READING!

Big Dreams, Disappointing Results

When we started teaching, we couldn’t wait to share our love for reading with our students. We set up our classroom library, had 30 minutes devoted to silent reading each day and assigned reading for homework with students writing a summary of what they read. We even took our students to the school library every week so that students could find books they would enjoy. Here’s what we quickly discovered… our students did not enjoy reading!  Looking back now, we don’t blame them!

A reading class is a happy class. Find out how to get your students talking about their reading!

What was Happening in Our Classrooms

Our students did not enjoy reading because it was boring! Yes, our students “read” every day, but it was simply, “Okay class, take out your books. Now we are going to read for 30 minutes. Ready? Begin.” Insert half of our class doing real reading and half of our class fake reading for 30 minutes with the occasional nose blowing or trip to the restroom. Finally…  “Okay class, time is up. Put your books away and take out your language arts book.” End of reading time. And then, at the end of the day, we would say, “Be sure to read for 20 minutes at home and write a half page summary of what you read. Fill out your reading logs and we will check them tomorrow.”

Ahhhhh!!!! Looking back now, we could scream!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Students will beg for more time to read with this Instagram Reading Challenge

What We Were Doing to our Students

Our little readers were basically having reading ruined for them! We had the best intentions, but we went about it all the wrong way. Students had their reading time confined to a 30 minute block of time with no purpose, follow up, sharing, discussion, etc… It was simply: open book, read, close book. Go home. Open book, read for 20 minutes (maybe) and then write a half page summary. Go to the library, return books that they might not have even finished, and get a new book that they may or may not actually read. YUCK! TORTURE!

Reading routines create healthy reading habits for life!

What Readers Need:

Readers need excitement! Students need to be able to talk about their reading and share their reading with others! Readers need a contagious reading environment that fosters a love for reading, makes reading fun and makes reading a part of who they are! Reading should not be an activity that only exists in a 30 minute block of time at school. Readers need to be able to read throughout the day and should be encouraged to squeeze in extra reading time whenever they can!

What TEACHERS Need:

Are you ready for the cold, hard truth? Brace yourselves. YOU are where the problem stems from. We’re sorry, but it’s true, and we can only say this because it was our problem too. We say this with love! Here’s what a lot of teachers think about reading: “I know I should have my students silent read, but it’s so hard to monitor. I have to have some proof that they actually read the book they said they read. I know… I’ll have them write a summary, or do a book report, or do some form of assessment (like AR) for every book they ever read. That should do it.”

NOOOO!!!!!  You are torturing your students and giving them anxiety about reading! Students view this type of reading as a long period of time that they have to sit still for, a way they could get into trouble if they don’t write a summary or book report, and a time of the day that brings anxiety! What teachers “need” is the part of reading that students dread the most!

Accountability teaches students to be responsible for their reading

How to Foster a Love for Reading

Readers bloom in an environment where the teacher is excited about reading themselves! Show your students that you love reading too by reading yourself! Talk about your reading with your students and always be ready to give recommendations to students! Show your readers that reading continues even outside of the classroom!

Readers should always choose books that interest them! Students should look for recommendations from you and other students in the classroom. They need time to discuss their reading with each other and create a Books to Read List! The buzz in the classroom should be about what they are reading or what they are going to read next.

Accountability is Key!

This is the piece that should perk your little ears right up. Accountability. This is the part that teachers are looking for in their classrooms. Accountability is the proof that students actually read the book they said they did. This accountability piece should be the most fun part! There are so many ways for students to prove they read! One way is just through a discussion! Students can discuss their reading with you, peers, or family! If you take the time to listen, you can quickly see if a child has actually read a book or not. The accountability piece should be short, fun and meaningful in order to foster a love for reading in your students.

Your students love social media. Why not use this to foster their love for reading?

Our Social Media Reading Challenge Idea

What do students enjoy more than anything else? If you answered social media, you are correct. We strongly believe in capitalizing on students’ interests and bringing them into the classroom to “trick” them into loving whatever it is we are teaching. To us, reading is our number one priority, so we saved our students’ top interest just for reading!

Students love Instagram. They love posting pictures and selfies, using hashtags, creating fun usernames, following their friends, commenting on posts and scrolling through other accounts. If we told you that students could do all of this with their reading, would you believe us? Our Instagram Reading Challenge is the answer!

When you hear the term Reading Challenge, it can turn a lot of teachers off. Here is our Challenge to our students: “How many books can you read this year?” That’s it! It’s that simple! There are no rewards, there are no prizes, there are no fancy awards. The reward for students is that they get time to spend inside books and then the opportunity to share their reading with their peers in a fun and engaging way. As educators, we all really know that the real prize is reading… and being turned into a lifelong reader!

Find out how students assemble their Instagram Reading Challenge Accounts!

Social Media, Classroom Edition

Students start the fun process of their Instagram Reading Challenge by setting up their accounts. Students use file folders and glue in the template that they will use throughout the year. There are sections for directions, followers, posts, books to read lists, and even a graffiti wall for awesome quotes! These file folders are a working document that students will use all year long to collect their reading memories in your classroom.

See how students post to their Instagram Reading Challenge

How Students Post to their Instagram Account

Students get to post to their Instagram Accounts when they finish a title. You can simply have students write the title, or they can gain some computer skills by copy/pasting their book’s cover into a Word Document. We used four computers for this. When students completed a book, they popped onto one of these computers and added their cover to the document. We printed out the covers once a month and students gathered their covers and glued them into their account. We loved this process because it created excitement and even another time when students got to share their completed books with each other.

Students also assign “Likes” to the title based on how much they enjoyed the book. We like to have them use a range of 1-100 for their “Likes.” This large range allows students some room to gauge their enjoyment of a book.

Check out how our students copy/ pasted their covers! Super quick and fun!

Where the Accountability Comes Into Play

In our classrooms, we choose to have students collect the titles they read over a month’s period of time. We have found that students usually will read four books in this amount of time. At the end of the month, we have students “share” the book that received the most likes that month. There are a variety of activities that we have students complete. They can post a picture of the main character, setting or most exciting part, create a commercial, describe emojis for the book, list hashtags for the book, make a sponsored ad,  or invent a series of comments between characters! All of these activities are high interest activities that will have students excited to complete. These engaging activities also serve as a way for you to see that students are actually reading in your class!

Students share their completed books and gain followers in this Instagram Reading Challenge

“Sharing” Books

This is our favorite part! Throughout the year, students will have multiple opportunities to share their reading with other students! Whenever we have a spare moment, we have our students grab their Instagram Reading Challenge file folder and walk around the room to gain followers! Students pair up and show their account to another student. Students look at each others’ accounts and ask questions about each book. If a book sounds like something they would want to read, they add it to their Books To Read List. If a student does this, the other student gains a follower! They write their user name on their Followers list. Their challenge is to recommend a book to every student in the class and gain every student as a “follower!”

Eye catching Instagram Reading Challenge Bulletin Board

Reading Challenge Classroom Display!

We love the idea of creating a huge Instagram Reading Challenge bulletin board to add to the excitement! We post our Class Read Aloud books to our account and have students vote on the amount of likes for each book. This is a great conversation piece when parents come into the room and a great way to look back at our loved books throughout the year!

#SelfieParty

To celebrate our reading and to have some social media/ reading fun, we throw a Selfie Party for all of our readers. You can have this be an incentive to reach a certain number of books, or just a fun time to capture your students’ love for reading. We love using props, books, and smiles to show off the fact that we are a reading classroom full of lifelong readers!

We Love Spoiling our Subscribers!

Get this fun Instagram Posting Activity for FREE! It is the perfect activity to go along with this engaging theme!

Click here to get this engaging Instagram Reading Challenge!

Click here for this Instagram Reading Challenge!

If you love reading, you will also love:

Book Clubs for Upper Grades
End of the Year Reading Yearbook Project

End of the Year Book Awards

In Closing…

Whether or not you think this Reading Challenge would be a good fit for your classroom, our hope is that you have gained some tools and tips to use in your classroom that will create a positive reading environment for your students. Students need a reading role model, a plethora of high interest books, time to read, and meaningful ways to share their reading.

We would love to hear about how you foster a love for reading in your classroom!

Comment below!

Book Clubs for the Upper Elementary Classroom

Find out How to Implement Book Clubs Effectively in the Upper Elementary Classroom.

Book Clubs… Every Teacher’s Dream Come True

It’s every teacher’s dream. We all want our students to work well together, to be motivated to work, and to be passionate about reading. We are here to tell you that this is not just a dream. Book Clubs make this dream come true. Book Clubs earn a check mark for each of these things on your list. We are here to help you add some tools to your teacher toolkit in order to become effective at managing Book Clubs in your classroom.

Click here for some FABULOUS Book Club FREEBIES!

Oh, and we’ve got some FREEBIES just for you!

Your passion and excitement about reading is contagious! Find out one way to spread this to your students!

Getting Started with Book Clubs

First of all, what are Book Clubs? Book Clubs are an opportunity for students to form partnerships in reading. Students read a book together, collaborate to get a job done, and share in the joy of exploring a book together.

So Where does a Teacher Begin?

Before anything else, teachers need to launch their Book Clubs by sharing their excitement and passion for reading with their students. It starts with YOU. If YOU aren’t passionate and excited to read, why should your students be passionate about reading? We love the idea of gathering up the titles that you have available for Book Clubs and SELLING them to your students. That’s right! Get up there and give each title a “commercial,” of course, leaving out the “Spoiler Alerts.”

One word of advice is to be sure you have read the books they are reading! We know… we know… but we promise, your Book Clubs will be more successful if you do! Did we scare you off? Okay, okay, how about this… Let’s say that you have six titles. How about read half this year and the other half next year? Audiobook? Summer Goals? No matter how you decide to get the job done, find a way… any way… make it happen!

How to organize your book clubs and watch your students succeed!

Create student-led Book Clubs with just two easy steps! Find out here!

The power of choice and responsibilities in Book Clubs! Let us help you!

The Goal: STUDENT-LED BOOK CLUBS

STUDENT-LED. This is the goal, but HOW?

#1

The first way to achieve student-led Book Clubs is by empowering your students with the gift of choice.  Students need to choose the books that they are reading. Get up there and sell each book with a commercial. Let students know how amazing each book is and then let them choose. We love the idea of posting Sign-Up Sheets around the room with the book titles. We have found that four to a group is the perfect number, but you can always do what works best for the amount of titles that you have available. Students walk around and “shop” for their books.

Common Teacher Concerns

Now, many teachers might say, “Well, how do I make sure that students choose a book at their level?” Well, hopefully, they already know how to do this because you have taught them how to choose books that are just right for them. Let them try! Let go of the control. If they don’t make the right decision, guide them. Maybe let them choose between two books that are at their level. A student should never be forced to read a book they don’t want to read.

Another concern that teachers have is, “What if they just pair up with their friends?” So what! Wouldn’t you want to read a book that your friends are reading? Trust us, they won’t have time to misbehave with the schedule you’ve got set up for them. They will be busy. If students are busy and engaged, there’s no time for misbehavior. Oh, and if there is misbehavior, separate them from the group for a day… what’s more punishment than being separated from your friends that are having fun?????

If students choose their book titles and groups, they will be more likely to read, fulfill their roles and lead each other during Book Clubs.


Book Club FREEBIE! Organize your Book Clubs with this FREEBIE!

How to EMPOWER your students during Book Clubs

#2

The second way to encourage Student-Led Book Clubs in your classroom is by giving students responsibilities. They need something to do! They need a common goal that they are all working towards! If students are busy with a job in front of them, they have no choice but to lead each other. Students have no one to blame but themselves if the timer goes off and the work isn’t done!

In Our Classrooms

The common goal in our classrooms is for students to complete their Book Club Booklet and to follow the schedule of tasks in a given amount of time. We highly recommend using a timer.

We always start out by discussing the reading from the previous day. In the students’ Book Club Booklet, they each have a different job to do each day. One might collect vocabulary, while the other might focus on figurative language. The point is, each student has a job that they, individually, need to accomplish. They discuss their findings with each other and share what they produced.

Along with these jobs, students prepare, what we call, “Discussion Seeds,” Discussion Seeds are ideas that popped into their head while reading and are something that they want to discuss with their group. When the time is right in the discussion, they plant their “seed” and watch it “grow” into a conversation. A sample Discussion Seed could be, “What if the antagonist was our teacher?” or “What if we changed the genre from fantasy to realistic fiction, what would have to change?” or as simple as, “What did you think when _____ happened?” Discussion Seeds can be anything! A Discussion Seed’s purpose is to keep the conversation going and to keep a group of students from saying, “We’re done. Now what?”

The next item on our schedule is that we display a menu of questions on the board that students answer. Again, we believe in student choice. Students take turns choosing a question that their group will answer. Each person  has a chance to share their answer verbally in the group. They choose a different question each day, over the course of your Book Clubs.

Students need to be held accountable during Book Clubs. Find out how we do it here!

Why Some Book Clubs Fail

Book Clubs tend to fall apart when students do not read and do not fulfill their role in the group. Sometimes, these students will try to sink into the background and let the others do the work for them. We have all seen this happen. Maybe you were in this group growing up! Know what we mean?

Over the years, we have found the cure to this problematic disease. Our cure is that we have our students come prepared with, what we call, a “Ticket to Discussion.” Our Tickets to Discussion are very basic. They might ask for vocabulary words with page numbers or to write a few sentences about their favorite part. The point is that they had to have read to fill them out. If the ticket is filled out, students get the privilege of participating with the group and if not, they are asked to sit out and complete the reading or work that they did not accomplish. Hopefully, the student learns their lesson and comes prepared the following day. If not, this student may lose the opportunity to be in a group. Peer pressure is a wonderful thing! We have found that we very seldom have this problem because students want to interact with each other and they want to share in the excitement that Book Clubs create.

Students also need to be held accountable for their teamwork in a group. Having your students create norms for group work is critical. They need to know how to share their ideas and involve everyone in decisions and conversations. We post these norms around our room and even on their bookmarks as a constant reminder. Here are some bookmarks with some behaviors that are beneficial for Book Clubs. Enjoy!
FREEBIE to help students remember their role in Book Clubs!

Learn how students can reflect on their work during Book Clubs!

STUDENT Reflection in Book Clubs

The last major component to Book Clubs is SELF-reflection. The reflection needs to come from the students… not from you.  Students need to evaluate their own work along with their group’s teamwork.

We have found that the use of the Fish Bowl strategy helps with self-reflection tremendously. Around day three, we like to have one group sit in the middle, while the rest of the class circles around them and quietly observes. The group in the middle conducts their Book Club meeting as they normally would. The rest of the class watches. Have a class meeting after the group is done and have students list five things they really liked and one way the group could improve. This is where you can offer suggestions to guide the direction you would like your Book Clubs to go. The next day, do the same thing. You will notice the students using your words! Each day, the Book Clubs will get better and better. We like to do multiple rounds of Book Clubs, so you really only have to do this the first round. During the second or third round, you can do it a few times just to check in.

Another way to assist students with self-reflection is by having them write about it daily. Students get the chance to write about things they are proud of, team members that did a great job and also things that they wish to improve. By using this piece, students can lift each other up and work on improving on a daily basis. Enjoy!


Click here for a FREEBIE that helps students with Self-Reflection during Book Clubs!

 


Learn how to sit back and watch the magic happen during Book Clubs!

The Hardest Part of Book Clubs

Teachers like to be in control. The hardest part of Book Clubs, for a lot of teachers, is sitting back and watching the class take the reins. Your role is a facilitator, not the director.  Hold a class meeting if there is an issue and have the students come up with a solution to the problem. Hold as many meetings as necessary, but try not to jump into a group and lead the discussion. Enjoy popping around from group to group and taking notes and making observations of your little readers! You have worked hard at teaching them what they know, so enjoy watching them use it while reading and collaborating!

Check out this great display of Book Club Booklets!

Benefits of Book Club Booklets

Have Open House or an observation? Display these Booklets on your board! Fun, colorful, and full of student work!!!!

Another benefit to doing Book Clubs is that they make the perfect addition to an Author Study!  We always do these with our favorite author, Roald Dahl. First, we read about Roald Dahl, and then we learn more about him through all of his books! You could make a bulletin board just like the one below!

Find out why Book Clubs make a great addition to an Author Study!

In Closing,

Our hope is that we have added more tools to your teacher toolkit. We love spreading positive teaching ideas that inspire you to inspire your students. We would love to hear from you in the comments below! Ask any questions that you may have or share about Book Clubs in your room! We look forward to hearing from you!

Ready to Start Book Clubs?

What are You Waiting For??????

Everything mentioned in this blog post can be accomplished by purchasing our Book Clubs for Upper Elementary Bundle! You will get ready-to-use materials that will have your students begging for more!

We have done all of the work for you!

Click the image below to start this engaging activity

with your students today!

Book Club Booklets! A great activity to add to your classroom to use with ANY book!

We have all the tools you need to run Book Clubs in your room!

Take a look at what our students do in their Book Club Booklets!

EVERYTHING you NEED to run Book Clubs in your classroom!

Find out why YOU and YOUR STUDENTS will LOVE Book Clubs!!!!

Interested in doing an Author Study with your Book Clubs?

Click the image below!

 

How We Implemented The House System Inspired by The Ron Clark Academy at Our School

How We Implemented the House System Inspired by Ron Clark and why you should too. Check out these simple steps to make your class more amazing.

Welcome!

We are so excited to be rolling out the House System, inspired by The Ron Clark Academy, to our entire school! As we posted pictures on Instagram and videos of our students participating in House activities, we were asked by many of you to share how we implemented it at our school. You asked and we are answering!

How to roll out the House System inspired by Ron Clark. Check out these simple steps to add tons of fun to your class. You won't believe how easy it is!

Before we get started…

Before we go any further, we want to make sure that you are familiar with The Ron Clark Academy. If your aren’t, you have just hit THE JACKPOT! You will never be the same! We had the pleasure of going to their two day training in Georgia and it has COMPLETELY changed the teachers that we are today. If you want to read about our Top Takeaways from our visit, check out this blog post BY CLICKING HERE. Just in case you haven’t heard of The Ron Clark Academy or the House System, we are going to share a few links with you to direct you to the right place!

The Ron Clark Academy Home Page

See what we are talking about with this RCA Experience Video!

Link to download their App (If you download their app, you will get a ton of free tools, guides and resources!)

Overview of what The House System is

Now, Let’s Get Started! Welcome to OUR House!

Why you should implement the House System inspired by Ron Clark at your school. Our students love belonging to a house! Click here and learn more about the House System.

After hearing Hope King and Wade King speak about the House System, we just knew that we had to bring this back to our school! It was exactly what our school needed… a positive school culture that focused on lifting each other up! What school doesn’t need that, right?!

Now, where to start?

This is a huge task! How were we going to roll out the House System to a staff that had never even heard of it before? Because we went to the training in December, and half of the school year was already over, we decided that we would pilot it just in our grade level. This was a great decision because we were able to work out the kinks and ease the staff into the idea along the way.

We decided to stick with the names that The Ron Clark Academy uses for their houses… if it isn’t broke, why fix it, right?! The names are Reveur (dreamers), Altruismo (givers), Isibindi (courage), and Amistad (friendship). Our grade level started by taking our class lists and assigning houses in a random pattern down the list. We believe that assigning houses should be at random. One teacher in our grade level was also assigned a house at random to “lead.” We decided to have our students discover their house at a fun get together. Each student was given an envelope. We got together and everyone opened them at the same time and their houses were revealed inside. Students were then given a t-shirt with their matching house.

House Points

 

House Scoreboard and Points Freebie. Click here and learn how change the way your students behave! You won't believe how easy and effective using House Points is!

Houses earn points for positive behaviors. Each House is a team that works together to collect points. As a grade level, we decided on what behaviors should be rewarded. Check out the FREEBIE for the behaviors that we chose. These behaviors were just a guideline. Points could be given for any reason that the teacher felt was appropriate. Points were collected on a “scoreboard” in each teacher’s classroom. At the end of the week, we submitted how many points each House earned into a Google Sheet and the points were tallied. The points were revealed at our House Meetings.

House Meetings

Our grade level chose to hold House Meetings every Friday. We did these House Meetings the last 30 minutes of the day, and it was an event we all looked forward to attending. Our House Meetings were divided into 2 15 minute blocks of time. Each House met for the first 15 minutes by themselves. During this time, students got together and created a chant/cheer/dance that they would perform for the grade level. Teacher sat back and watched. WARNING: This is hard to do!!!!!! You want to jump in and offer suggestions and give them tips. RESIST! Why? We decided to to this because students gain ownership and learn how to work together this way! Trust us! It gets better with each meeting. By the end of the year, our students ROCKED teamwork and communicating with each other. They also gained so much pride for their House!

For the last 15 minute block of time, we all gathered in one classroom and celebrated and lifted each other up in a variety of ways! Check it out below!

Learn how to engage your students through music. Students love music. Click here and learn the simple steps to add music into your class. Plus grab our FREE music lyrics!!!

Music

We always started our House Meeting with songs and music! Students love music and singing, so why not use that to our advantage? We wrote songs that were to the instrumental versions of songs that our students knew and loved. We had four that we sang at every House Meeting.

Read all about using music students love with messages you love. You will change the whole culture of your class with just a little music. Plus grab our FREE music lyrics.

Each song that we sang had a different message, whether it be teamwork, positive school vibes, or just plain fun! Students were singing these songs all day long. We also found that they made for a great brain break!

Our Little Secret…

Let’s just get this straight right now. FACT. WE CANNOT SING OR DANCE… neither of us. This idea terrified us when we went to the training. Here’s where the beauty of taking a song the kids already know comes into play. All you have to do is write new lyrics, go onto YouTube and find the instrumental version, and then have your students sing the song with your new lyrics. Type those lyrics up, put them on a projector and watch the magic happen!

Let us help you use song and dance in your classroom. Click here and read the simple steps that require no work on your part! Plus grab our FREE music lyrics.
Click here and read why music should be part of your daily routine and grab our FREEBIES.

Part of Your Routine

The key is to have students sing these songs multiple times throughout the day so that when it comes to the House Meetings, they’ve got them down!  Students usually only needed to practice each song for  few days until they had them memorized. We sang them in line walking down the hallways, in between lessons, as a reward at the end of the day, as they were packing up. etc… Break up your day and sing about loving school!

We know what you’re thinking…

Right now, you may be thinking, “Wow, I would love to do this, but do I really have to write a song?” NO! We have got you covered! Here are four songs that you can use in your class starting tomorrow… or better yet, TODAY! We have done the work, so ENJOY!
Calling all teacher who want to add music to their classrooms but don't know where to start!!!! We have just the thing for you....lyrics to 4 songs FREE just for you! Check it out!

Here are videos of the songs so you can get some ideas of what they look like!


(We didn’t get the “Juju on that Beat” song in a stand alone video, but if you watch our assembly performance below, you can see that one too! )

Want to add music to your class but you don't want to write the songs? We've done the work for you. We've taken popular songs and tweaked them to work in the class. Grab them by clicking here.

Rewards

The other way that we lifted each other up in our House Meetings were through rewards, or maybe a better word would be recognition. In each House Meeting, we awarded one students from each House with a certificate. We gave a little speech, such as, “This young lady is getting an award today because she went above and beyond on her book report this week.” The reason can be for ANY positive behavior. The student came up and then earned the opportunity to spin the wheel (that we purchased on Amazon) for bonus points for their House. ALL students cheered EVERY student on!

Read about student recognition at House Meetings and how this will change your classroom culture. You won't believe how easy House Meetings are to implement. Click here and find out how.

Want these certificates for FREE? Click below!

 Click here and grab our House Certificates Freebies and read about how to implement the House System inspired by Ron Clark.

The Results:

Read about how the House System changed our school and how you can experience the same thing with a few simple steps.

At the end of the year, we unveiled what we were doing to the rest of our staff. Most of them already knew about it because they had seen the effects. The school was buzzing with excitement! Our grade level held an assembly where we performed our House Meeting so that everyone could see what it was all about. The students sang, cheered, gave awards, and smiled. We had students explain what a House was in their own words. Here is what they said:

“A House, to me, is a group of students that earn points for positive behaviors.” -Amistad

“A House, to me, is a way to have fun and be silly.” -Isibindi

“A House, to me, is a way to connect with students that are in my grade, but not in my class.” -Reveur

“A House, to me, is a group of students who cheer me on and make me feel special.” -Altruismo

AMAZING, RIGHT????!!!!!

We also asked them why they liked the House System. Here’s what they had to say:

“I like being in a House because we get to make up cheers, sing and even scream and yell!” -Reveur

“I like being in a House because it makes school a fun place to be.” -Altruismo

“I like being in a House because we get to make up songs, sing and dance.” -Isibindi

“I like being in a House because we get to see friends we don’t normally get to see very often.” -Amistad

We think it is safe to say that they enjoyed the House System! The students and teachers were PUMPED and ready to dive in to implementing the House System the following year!

CHECK OUT OUR ASSEMBLY HERE!

What We Saw that We Never Saw Before…

Before we wrap up this blog post, we have to tell you what we saw in our classrooms that we had NEVER seen before. We have both been teaching fourth grade for quite some time now. We had always thought that our classroom had a positive environment. Here’s what we discovered. Our classrooms had always had a positive environment that was dependent upon US. We were the ones that “made” students behave. We were the ones that told students to use kind words. After using the House System, the shift was that the STUDENTS were the ones in charge now. Scary for a teacher, right? Not really. It is amazing. Students were now cheering each other on without the push or “the look” from the teacher. Students were now using kind words on their own. The House System is STUDENT led. Talk about a powerful tool!

Read how to implement the House System inspired by Ron Clark and experience the joy students have by creating a postive school culture. It is truly life changing.Click here and learn how you can do the same for your school.

You might be asking, “What did the House get for having the most points at the end of the year?” Well, we don’t have an answer for you! We did not give a reward! You heard that right! We did NOT give an award! They never even asked! Not one student (out of 101) ever asked what they got for earning points. The positive experience, the feel good moments and the pride of having your House on top was enough.

Is your teacher heart happy? Ours is.

And our students’ hearts are happy too!

5 Ways to be That “Favorite Teacher” Every Child Begs to Have

Every time we end a school year, we always reflect upon what went well throughout the year and where we need to improve. Between the two of us, we have 26 years of experience teaching fourth grade. That’s a lot of reflection time! As the school year comes to an end, we often have students tell us that we are their “favorite teacher.” Don’t get us wrong… we know that this is a phrase that most students say to every teacher they have. In no way are we trying to say that we think that we are every student’s favorite teacher. We wish, right?! What we are saying is that we do have multiple students coming back to us each year after they leave our school and they still tell us that fourth grade was one of their absolute favorite years. So why is that? This is the question that we found ourselves reflecting upon at the end of this school year.

So What Does It Take To Make A Teacher “The Favorite?”

Here is our “Top 5 List!”  Are ya ready? We will be working our way backwards to the number one way to be that “favorite teacher.”

#5: Be a Teacher with Clear Expectations

#5: Be a Teacher With Clear Expectations

We all know that children need clear expectations. It is not a new idea. In order for students to learn they have to feel safe. When students know what is going to happen on a daily basis and what behaviors are acceptable, they feel safe and are ready to learn. To us, clear expectations means three things: routines, behavior expectations, and work expectations.

Routines are a part of having clear expectations. Routines are crucial to a child enjoying your classroom. Some examples of routines are: posting the daily schedule, knowing how to enter or exit the room, attendance and lunch count procedures, etc… This is a lot for a teacher to remember! We can’t tell you how many times we forgot to do something and the class fell apart. Here’s the secret we have learned over the years. Are ya ready? Here it is: YOU DON’T HAVE TO DO IT ALL! Guess what? There are kids in your class. One more secret… kids love to help! We have found that the easiest way to make sure that your routines happen is to assign jobs for your students to do! How many times have you planned for a sub and found yourself explaining every little detail so that the day can operate smoothly. If you put your students in charge of routines, all you have to write in the sub plans are: “The students run the day. Enjoy!” Sounds a little crazy, right? Nope. We do it. We promise. It works. Your students will thank you.

Clear expectations means that you have set up clear behavior expectations. Students should know what behaviors are acceptable. They will have more time to enjoy their learning in your room if the class knows how to behave. In our classrooms, we only have one rule. RESPECT. This one rule covers everything. In the beginning of the year, we hold frequent classroom meetings to discuss what respect looks like. If there is a frequent problem, hold another classroom meeting and let the students (not you) discuss the behavior and come up with a solution. Put it in their hands! Peer pressure is a wonderful thing! We want you to think about 5 behavior problems you have had this year. Seriously! Write them down or say them out loud! No, but really! Okay, can each one be corrected by asking the child if it was respectful? It’s fool-proof. Keep it simple.

Work habits are another important part of having clear expectations. Students will try to get away with doing as little work as possible! We all know that! Do you want to be that teacher that they know they can trick, or do you want them to respect you? If a child turns something in that doesn’t match your expectations, give it back! If you hold your students accountable for doing their work with excellence (Did you catch that? WITH EXCELLENCE) your students will take pride in their work and learning. There is a difference between just doing an assignment to get it done and turned in  versus spending time on an assignment and being proud of the outcome. Your students will thank you (over time) and bump you up their list to that coveted “favorite teacher” title.

#4: Be a Teacher who Teaches

#4: Be a Teacher Who Teaches

Okay, here’s one that we are a firm believer in. How many of us know of teachers who like to look like their students are busy learning, but really they’re just trying to keep those kids busy and quiet with something… anything until that final, glorious bell rings at the end of the day. Are you guilty of this? Probably not because the fact that you are reading this shows how dedicated you are to your calling! There are teachers that “teach” and teachers that REALLY TEACH! At the end of the year, when students look back at their year with you, what do you want them to say? We know that we want our students to say: “Wow, I never thought I could do everything I did this year!” We want them to be pumped about the academic language that they are now using and the amount of books that they have read. When students grow and reach that “unobtainable” goal, they will have YOU, their “favorite teacher,” to thank for guiding them!

#3: Be a Positive and Happy Teacher

#3: Be a Positive and Happy Teacher

Here’s a biggie! A lot of times, we focus on the way our classroom looks or the lessons that we teach, but how often do we focus on ourselves? YOU are the most important part of your classroom! YOU are what matters to your students! YOU! How much do you smile throughout your day? Do you sprinkle little jokes and bits of humor throughout your day? This is a much needed break for you and your students! Keep it fun! Students need to see the happy side of you! When you’re happy, your students are happy! When you’re positive, they’re positive! We have all seen teachers that grumble about how terrible their class is or how unmotivated or lazy their students are. Don’t be that teacher! Be positive! Be happy! Take care of yourself. Do things that make you happy when you’re not at work so that you can bring the happy and positive teacher your students need and desire to your classroom every day.

#2: Be a Teacher Who Cares

#2: Be a Caring Teacher

Student relationships are EVERYTHING! Take the time to get to know each of your students. We love conferencing with our students about their learning. Conferencing can be a huge and overwhelming idea that turns most teachers off. They might say, “I don’t have time for that,” or “I talk to my students all day long.” Here’s our question to you, “What about that child who doesn’t feel comfortable in whole class discussions, or for that matter, even small group discussions? Is that voice ever heard?” We were both one of those students who would NEVER share anything personal in a group setting. Set up one-on-one conferencing with your students. Here’s how we accomplish this “daunting” task. We conference with every child one-on-one every two weeks. During our 30 min independent reading/ reader’s workshop time, we conference with 3 students, for 10 minutes each.  We have a class size of 30 students, so at the end of two weeks, we have conferenced with each one. We start each conference with a quick little open conversation and then go into our academics. You will be amazed at how much you will learn during these quick little conferences. You will get to know them, and they will get to know you and how much you care about them!

#1: Be a Teacher Who Gives Them What They Want!

#1: Be a Teacher Who Gives Them What They Want!

Here’s the million dollar answer for being that “Favorite Teacher!” Drum roll, please…. Are you ready? Cue the black drape being pulled from the answer! BAM! GIVE YOUR STUDENTS WHAT THEY WANT! Your students want FUN! They want a fun teacher, they want learning to be fun and they want to do fun activities where they barely know they’re learning! The Rigorous Owl’s saying is, “If you’re bored, they’re bored.” Stop the boredom! If you dread coming to work every day or if you’ve done the same thing year after year, change it up! Try something new! Transform your room for the day! Teach outside! Dress up! Do something you never thought you would do! Sounds like a lot of work, right? Guess what? It is! BUT, it’s also fun! Get your grade level on board with you to lessen the work load! We worked side by side doing our own thing for the first three years of teaching and then slowly started doing classroom events together. After nine years of operating this way, we would both never go back. We are constantly looking for new things to try and new ways to bring content to life for our students. When we work together, it is half the work. Totally worth it. Let them experience learning first hand. Let them get excited! If you are learning about Native Americans, why not have them dress up like Native Americans for the day? Let other students see how much fun your students are having. You will probably get a few eye rolls from other teachers, but slowly, maybe they’ll ask what you’re doing and want to get in on the fun too. Being a child’s “favorite teacher” is contagious!

SO NOW WHAT?

Now that you’ve read about the five ways to be that “favorite teacher,” we want to help get you started! We love spoiling our followers and showering them with freebies and tips! You are a superstar! Our goal is to inspire you and send you off into your classroom with the tools you need to be successful. We have prepared one helpful freebie or link for each of these five ways to be that “favorite teacher!” Enjoy!

#5: Be a Teacher with Clear Expectations

Download these two FREEBIES! Just click on the images below! Enjoy!

#4: Be a Teacher Who Teaches

Check out how we plan our year and make sure that we cover all of our standards every year! We will be posting many more posts just like this one in the 2017-2018 school year. Be sure to follow us to be notified! Click here to see how we plan for the year!

#3: Be a Happy and Positive Teacher

I’m sure you are not the only one who could use a reminder once in a while about being a positive and happy teacher. We need constant reminders! We decided to post these in our staff lounge and workroom! You and your staff will enjoy this FREEBIE! Click on the image below!

#2: Be a Teacher Who Cares

Download this colorful reminder to post by your desk! Click on the image below!

 

#1: Give Them What They Want!

See for yourself what a classroom event looks like! We do many!

Click here to check out our Mystery/ Detective Classroom Event

Click here to see our POETRY SMACKDOWN Classroom Event

Click here to see our Back to School Boot Camp Classroom Event!

Click here to see our Market Day Classroom Event!

Need some resources to get you started?

We’ve got you covered! Click any of the pictures below! We chose some that would help you out with the 5 Ways to be That “Favorite Teacher!”

50 No Prep Classroom Reward Coupons Motivational Quotes Coloring Pages Classroom Jobs Career-Themed (Editable)

Classroom Awards        Back to School Boot Camp Brag Tags and MORE!

Market Day Event Bundle  Detective and Mystery Activities, Decor, and MORE!  Poetry SMACKDOWN Event

Vocabulary Interactive Notebook Common Core Standards YEAR LONG Bundle  5th Grade Grammar and Language Interactive Notebook  4th Grade Grammar and Language Interactive Notebook

End of the Year Blog Hop Giveaway!

Welcome to the END OF THE YEAR!

End of the Year Blog Hop Giveaway

It’s the End of the Year! We are just as excited as you! To celebrate, we are hosting an End of the Year Blog Hop Giveaway! We are working with some amazing bloggers and TPT sellers to raffle off a $100 Gift Card to Target and the chance to win up to 9 End of the Year products to use in your classroom!

Who couldn’t use $100 at Target for some SUMMER GOODIES?

To enter the $100 Target Gift Card GIVEAWAY, complete ALL of the tasks in the Rafflecopter below.

You MUST complete ALL of the tasks in order to win.

Good Luck!!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Need Some End of the Year Activities?

ENTER OUR END OF THE YEAR

GIVEAWAY BELOW!

Your End of the Year Experts

We absolutely love the End of the Year with our students! You’ve worked so hard all year and now it’s time to enjoy your students! End of the Year Activities are a great way to reflect on the year, spend time with friends and just to relax and enjoy each other!

lasting memories with your students

Check out some of the fun End of the Year Activities we do with our students!

NO PREP ACTIVITY BUNDLES

    30 No Prep Activities   20 No Prep Technology Themed Activities

Our 30 No Prep End of the Year Activities are our number one top seller in our store! Here is some of our favorite feedback and the reasons why we believe it is our number one seller!

“This just made my life a whole lot easier!”

“Great resources for the end of the year… when my brain is fried!”

“The kids loved the activities and they lessened my STRESS!”

“Thank you for providing such a fun and meaningful resource for the end of last year. I will definitely be using this again this year!”

“I love that this has so much in one product! Thanks!”

“I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this product! It saved my bacon the last two weeks of school. We need to get our grades completed 8 days before the end of the year, and I’m always scrambling to come up with engaging activities for the kids so we all don’t go bonkers. This was just the ticket. Thank you so much!”

We could keep going, but we think you get the picture! All of the images above are NO PREP and are a LIFESAVER for the end of your year!

No Tired Like End of the Year Teacher Tired

End of the Year for the Reading TeacherEnd of the Year Book Awards   End of the Year Reading Yearbook

Calling all Teachers that LOVE READING!

These End of the Year Activities are for YOU!

End of the Year Book Awards:  Your students have read A LOT of your books over the year… and some of them are worthy of an award! Students vote for which books will win an award. If the book wins, it earns a bookmark and a label that goes inside the cover of the book! The bookmarks are a great way to recommend books to students the next year! The discussions you will hear will amaze you!

End of the Year Reading Yearbook: Your students have met MANY friends over the year in the books they have read in your class! This Yearbook activity takes the characters from students’ books and puts them into a class of their very own. Students draw the character and list their name and book title. Students then complete the Reading Yearbook just like a regular Yearbook! THIS ACTIVITY ROCKS!

Here is some feedback that pretty much sums it up perfectly!

“I cannot say enough about this product…WOW! It was the perfect way to end our year of Reader’s Workshop. The students especially liked “Classroom of Characters” and “Reading Memories”. It gave everyone, including myself, the chance to be reflective and look at how far we have come. It led nicely into our goal setting. The application is incredible. Thanks for creating something that teachers and students can enjoy together!”

“Great way to end the year! The kids loved revisiting all the stories we have read throughout the year! Thank you!”

Love creating READERS in your classroom? You deserve a FREEBIE!

End of the Year FREEBIE

Don’t Forget about Math and Writing!
End of the Year Color by Number     End of the Year Stationary

End of the Year Color By Number: Want your room to feel and look like summer, while students are learning? These Summer Color by Math pages will help your walls POP and have students begging for more math! Here’s why we (and you will) love this product: The best part of this product is the fact that these pages are self-correcting! We had students coming up to us and telling us that we made a mistake in the product… BUT the mistake was on THEIR part!!! Since they couldn’t find the answer or their colors didn’t match their neighbor’s, they IMMEDIATELY caught their mistakes. This is PERFCT for immediate feedback! Best all, I could do all of my grading with a quick glance!

End of the Year Summer Themed Stationary: Want your room to look more like summer? Want your writing wall to POP? This stationary bundle is great for writing with summer in mind! Students love coloring the borders and clip art!

End of the Year is near

LET THE COUNTDOWN BEGIN!

We are so excited to RAFFLE OFF our End of the Year Countdown to Summer Activities!

We love the end of the year and we know you do too! This Summer Countdown is just what you need to make the end of the year easy for you and fun for your students. Here, you have 26 days of fun, simple, cheap activities that will have your students looking forward to each day!

http://www.thelittleladybugshop.com/2017/04/end-of-year-activities-ideas-and-more.html

a Rafflecopter giveaway

End of the Year Memories    End of the Year Exciting

The way we make this fun and exciting is by hiding the day’s countdown activity card under a student’s chair. Each morning the students come to class and rush to check under their chair to see if the day’s activity card is underneath. The student with the card under their chair has hit the jackpot! Not only does that student get to announce the day’s countdown activity, but they also are in charge and get to hold the Countdown Basket which has the day’s supplies for the activity. So much fun! Everything is right here! We’ve done all the work for you so sit back and enjoy the end of your year!

Keep your students from bouncing off the walls

Send Your Kids Off to Summer with THIS!

End of the Year Send Off Activity Bundle

End of the Year Send Off Bundle: Want to leave a lasting impression on your students and have parents thanking you? This End of the Year Send Off Activity Bundle is just what you need. This is a great gift to give to your students at the End of the Year. They can complete it over the Summer or it can be used as time fillers at the End of the Year. This packet contains 20+ activities that are fun and hands-on while students are still learning.

This is a wonderful way to help prevent summer brain drain and helps keep students entertained! You can even use this packet as an incentive program and have students return it to you at the beginning of the new school year to earn a prize or high five!

http://www.thelittleladybugshop.com/2017/05/end-of-year-activities-end-of-year.html

Click the image or click here to HOP to the next blogger!

 

Poetry Smackdown… THE EVENT YOUR POETRY UNIT IS MISSING!

Poetry Smackdown FunARE YOU READY TO RUMBLE??????

Poetry Smackdown is a KNOCKOUT Classroom Event!

Get your students ready to step into the ring with their favorite poems and poets!

What is Poetry Smackdown?

If you know anything about The Rigorous Owl, you know that we love a good theme! We also love to put on, what we call, Classroom Events. So what is a Classroom Event? A Classroom Event uses an exciting theme that captivates students’ attention and ignites their passion for learning. Classroom Events take students out of their desks doing boring old worksheets and instead takes them onto the stage to experience content with a full understanding. Students are learning when they don’t even realize it. The event motivates students to not only understand a standard, but to master it.

The standard that we focused on was Poetry. In our class, we had already learned the elements of a poem, and now we were ready to dive deeper into how a poem should be read. The goal of Petry Smackdown was to show our students that Poetry is an art that is meant to be enjoyed. We wanted our students to take risks and have fun! This is when our idea for Poetry Smackdown was born.

What is Happening During Poetry Smackdown:

  • Memorizing multiple poems
  • Understanding a poem’s meaning
  • Reading with expression
  • Reading fluently
  • Public speaking
  • Listening
  • Team building
  • Evaluating
  • Encouraging
  • Learning how to be humble winners
  • Learning how to deal with losing
  • Realizing that Poetry ROCKS!


Steps to Creating a Poetry Smackdown

Poetry Smackdown Trading Cards for Bulletin Board

The first step to Poetry Smackdown is to create a bulletin board to track your participants. Think “March Madness.” To begin, we shuffled our student “trading cards” and created totally random competitors. Competitors were then  given the same poem and were given a week to memorize and master it for their performance. This was Round 1. At the end of the week, students got into the “ring” and battled it out. Once they were in the ring, students each took turns performing their poems and the class nominated a winner. After everyone performed their poems, we had a class discussion of what made for a good performance and what did not. The students that lost Round 1 then had the job of encouraging their “opponent” and preparing them for the next round.

Poetry Smackdown Bulletin Board and Props

Now, it was time for Round 2. Round 2 meant that all students received new poems and were paired up with new competitors. The competitors received the same poem and were given another week to memorize and master it. Each round looks the same, until you are left with your final competitors.

An Unexpected Surprise

When we first came up with the idea, a couple of red flags were raised and we weren’t quite sure how it would all pan out. We were a little nervous about how students would take the losing aspect of the event. Okay, are you ready for it???? Here’s what we didn’t expect week after week. Because we had the students who lost, root on their “opponent,” the entire vibe that we were afraid of was null and void. Students did not show any negative behaviors. Instead, we had the losing students ask for their “opponent’s” same poem in order to help them! We saw our students out on the playground practicing their poems and giving each other tips on how they could win the next round! Our teacher hearts were overflowing when we saw our students lifting each other up!

Who Participates in the Main Event?

Poetry Smackdown Main Event

The main event works best with anywhere from six to eight performers. Since we are a school with one hundred fourth graders and three fourth grade classes, we decided to have each class submit their top two performers to the Poetry Smackdown’s Main Event. This set us up for three rounds.

We wanted our Main Event to be a show, so we decided to have other students who did a good job with their poems, but didn’t make it to the main event, open our show with their favorite poem as “Honorable Mention” performers. Each class submitted around four students to open each round. In our minds, the more students participating in the Main Event, the better!

Other students who participated were our “Cornermen.” These “Cornermen” were students who stood out to us and truly uplifted others throughout the rounds. The “Cornermen” were given water bottles and towels and were up on stage with the Man Event qualifiers to encourage and root them on in their corners. This was absolutely hilarious to watch! They patted the performers’ foreheads before and after their performances and provided moral support. The “Cornermen” really added that sense of entertainment a show needs!

Let the Show Begin!

Poetry Smackdown Awards

Our main event was a little bit different from the other rounds. Each class had two students. These students were not given the same poems. They were each given their own. We were done eliminating students. In our minds, these students had been through enough rounds. They had both proven to be amazing! Now, they were competing for awards under different categories. We awarded Most Dramatic, Most Entertaining, Most Fluent, Best Overall, and so on. It was more entertaining to hear different poems during the Poetry Smackdown’s Main Event.

If you are looking for ways to improve and add to your Poetry Smackdown’s Main Event, you can’t go wrong with props! For our main event, we added an official Ringside Bell, two robes for the competitors, boxing gloves, microphones and MUSIC! We played Jock Jams- Let’s Get Ready to Rumble! We HIGHLY recommend using it in your Poetry Smackdown’s Main Event!!!!! The high energy music pumped up our students and set the stage! The music was playing as the students entered and also between rounds to add excitement!

After the Main Event

After the Main Event was over, the buzz did not stop! The teacher’s lounge was buzzing with:

“We will forever do this event!”

“Can you believe how good ____ was?!”

“Man, that was so much fun!”

“That was the best thing ever and it was so easy!”

“The kids had a blast… heck, I had a blast!”

Needless to say, it was a KNOCKOUT event! Our students had fun, we had fun, and best of all our students learned how fun poetry can be. This event is definitely worthy of assemblies, parent nights and is a show for whoever is in your audience!

Even after our Poetry Smackdown was over, students still asked if they could get new poems to practice on the playground. The event was over, but their love for poetry continued. Mission Accomplished! What more can a teacher ask for… am I right?!

Poetry Smackdown Materials

Click Here to Get This READY TO USE BUNDLE!

Want to get this Poetry Smackdown Classroom Event for FREE? Enter below!

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Resources We Love BLOG HOP GIVEAWAY!

Welcome to our “Resources We LOVE Blog Hop!
Blog Hop Giveaway
We are teaming up with some amazing and talented bloggers for a HUGE GIVEAWAY! There are two parts to this amazing GIVEAWAY, so check it out!

PART 1

Want to win a $100 Target gift card?
Who doesn’t???? We all LOVE Target!
Enter below!
In order to qualify, you must complete all tasks!
Good Luck!

 

PART 2:

We all have those resources that we could not live without in our classroom, are we right?!! For us, one of our favorite resources are our Sit Spots! We love Flexible Seating and we have found that Sit Spots work extremely well for the Flexible Seating classroom.
Sit Spot GIVEAWAY
If you would like to learn more about Flexible Seating, check out our blog posts by clicking here and here! With Flexible Seating, students choose different seats and sit next to different students every day. Sometimes, we need our students to have certain partners or to be in certain groups for certain activities! Sit Spots are our answer! In our classroom, we use four different colors of Sit Spots. We group our students into four ability based groups. Each color represents a different group. For example, our green colored dots could be our high group, etc… Sit Spots are the perfect way to organize partners, centers, teams, and any other grouping that you need to create. They are also great for dismissing students, or calling on different groups of students to choral read. You could call the purple group first or the color with the most girls. The possibilities are endless! We also use our Sit Spots to bring students together for direct instruction or for class meetings.
To learn more about Sit Spots, CLICK HERE!
Since we could not live without our Sit Spots,
we know you would love them too!
To win a $50 gift card for your own class set of Sit Spots,
enter our raffle below!

Want to find out if Sit Spots work on your flooring?

Get a sample Sit Spot for FREE and test it out!
Just click here!
Ready to see what the next blogger is raffling off?
Click the image below to HOP on over!
http://theanimatedteacher.com/2017/02/11/products-we-love-giveaway/
Each blogger is giving away a resource they
LOVE to use in their classroom!
This Blog Hop has a $100 Target Gift Card
and 12 total resources up for grabs!
Happy Hopping!

 

Top 5 Reasons to Subscribe to Our Newsletter!

 Hello! We are Deserae and Michelle,
also known as The Rigorous Owl!
We are so happy that you are here!
We guide passionate educators who are determined to stand out from the crowd by providing thorough, high quality, no prep lessons that will keep students engaged and begging for more.
Our goal is to help students love their learning
and in turn love you, their teacher.
We are very passionate about our students, the materials that we use in the classroom, making learning fun, and sharing great ideas and strategies with teachers like you!
By subscribing our NEWSLETTER, you will get the
Red Carpet Treatment from DAY 1!
Here are the Top 5 Reason’s to subscribe!

 

The Rigorous Owl

 In every Newsletter, it is our #1 goal to bring you VALUE!
This means that you will not just get product updates.
You will get something of VALUE that you can use!
We have brainstormed a list of ideas to GIVE to you, our subscribers. We will send some new posters to use in your room, a video showing a strategy to use with your students, some cute homework passes that serve as a free gift to your students for holidays, and so much more! We are constantly popping into each other’s room to say, “Hey, we should give this to our subscribers!”
It will always be a Newsletter worth opening!
WE PROMISE!

 

The Rigorous Owl

 Here is the #2 Reason to Subscribe! You will get these colorful Key Idea and Details Posters for your classroom for FREE! These posters cover your basics from RL 1, 2 & 3, HOWEVER, they also dive SO MUCH DEEPER! For example, RL 3 says Characters… Well, we go over your basic Character Traits (that everyone else does…yawn…) AND we also include Character Analysis, Character Change, Character Motivation, and the Types of Characters!
These posters serve as great Anchor Charts to
use throughout the year!

 

The Rigorous Owl

 The #3 Reason is that you get our Literacy Center Toolkit (that’s completely editable) for FREE! Yep, another amazing FREEBIE! Students love using this board to guide their Literacy Center Rotations! Check out our blog posts on Literacy Centers by clicking herehere, and here!
 Are you ready for another FREEBIE?
The #4 reason to subscribe to our newsletter is that you get our 200 Key Idea and Details Sentence Frames for FREE! These are AMAZING and we personally use them every day and all year long in our classrooms! This is how students respond to their independent reading books. The possibilities are endless on how you will use them!
 The #5 reason to subscribe is that you will be the first to know about our new products. Why do you need to know this? Because all of our new products are 50% off for the first 48 hours! You can also follow us on TPT by clicking here to get notified! Just click the green star!

 

The Rigorous Owl

Now, if we weren’t who we are, we would have stopped at 5 reasons, but WE ARE THE RIGOROUS OWL! We aim to go above and beyond for YOU! There are definitely more than 5 reasons to subscribe to our newsletter. Inside of our newsletter, you will also find a schedule of private VIP sales JUST FOR OUR SUBSCRIBERS! We also include Blog Highlights from recent blog posts. We love blogging about themed activities, strategies for teaching a standard, and other ways to help you in your classroom! (By the way, if you aren’t following our blog, please do!)
So, there you have it!
Here are the Top 5 (plus more) reasons to
Subscribe to The Rigorous Owl’s Newsletter!
We hope you will subscribe and share in our adventure in the most rewarding job there is out there! We love what we do and we know you do too! Our goal is to make a difference in your teaching life and add value to your classroom!

 

What Comes Before and After Literacy Centers? Part 3 of a 3 Part Series

sequence of teaching

 Welcome to our third post on Literacy Centers! 

If you’ve made it this far, you’re almost an expert! 
We are so excited that you have found the value of implementing Literacy Centers in your classroom! 
We truly believe that this is where good teaching happens! 
Students need exposure to a standard through different modes of learning. Literacy Centers check off both of those boxes… and more! We believe that this is what our students have been missing all along!
In this blog post, you will learn about the ideal sequence to teaching a standard! 
Let’s get goin’! 
lesson plans
 Above, you can see the ideal sequence for teaching a standard. We gave the example of teaching Idioms. This is a common standard that everyone teaches, so the idea can be applied to whatever you are teaching. As you can see, students are given a plethora of activities to expose them to the standard! They have multiple chances at accessing the standard and you have a variety of assessment tools to monitor their proficiency along the way! 
This is what we have implemented in our classroom this year, and we can honestly say that we have had the biggest growth that we have ever had before. Our students are performing at a level they have never reached before… and guess what? 
THEY ARE HAVING FUN! 
AND EVEN BETTER… SO ARE WE!
interactive notebooks

 When we first introduce a standard,

we start with our “Week Long Lessons.” 
Day 1 starts with having students take notes on the standard and creating an Anchor Chart in their Interactive Reader’s Notebook. This provides a point of reference for later questions. It is also an excellent tool for parents to see what their child is learning and how to help them at home. Day 2 gives students more practice by providing them with a Practice Page. These practice pages are not just a worksheet! Students usually have a maze, ti-tac-toe game or other engaging activity in order to practice the standard. Throughout the week, students also complete a foldable, which is placed inside their Interactive Reader’s Notebook. Students also use sentence frames while they are reading their Independent Reading book. A sample sentence frame would be, “Idiom Alert on p. ____! The idiom is ____,” or “A great idiom for today’s reading would be ______.” These sentence frames are also applied to our class Read Aloud. This is great for Modeling and Teacher Think Alouds! Another activity included in our “Week Long Lessons” are JOT ideas. “JOTs” are a quick jot about the standard. Our JOTS include an art activity with a short writing piece applying the standard. There are two JOT ideas included. There is an assessment included in our “Week Long Lessons,” but we save the assessment for the very end… after our Literacy Centers and Task Card Activity Bundles.
differentiated instruction

Literacy Centers come next and they are our favorite! Literacy Centers allow students to use what they learned in the “Week Long Lessons.” Students have a variety of opportunities to master the standard! We have already posted two blog posts all about them, so check them out by clicking here for Post #1  and here for Post #2! 

the rigorous owl

 After Literacy Centers comes “Task Card Activity Bundles!” 

These task cards are not just your typical task cards! 
We love the differentiation that is included. From the Literacy Centers, you will get enough documentation to group students accordingly. We love using the Task Card Activity Bundle for Intervention! We rotate students into three groups. Each teacher uses the Task Card Activity Bundle at a different level. The Proficient group uses the enrichment, the Basic group uses the task cards in a larger group setting and the Below Basic group uses the task cards in small groups with a teacher, or assistant, at each group. The differentiation included is sufficient for all three categories of students. 
the rigorous owl

The best part of all three of these tools is that they are “Print and Go!” The work has been done for you! It’s as easy as sending it out to the printers, or doing the printing yourself at school. None of the activities require additional materials. It’s about as easy as it get at a thoroughness and quality that will have your students begging for more! You will stand out from the rest with your test scores and your level of differentiated instruction!

Here is a sample of what this post has been about… 
We have many more options available in our store!
WEEK LONG LESSONS
Context Clues Week Long Lessons Common Core Aligned   Quotes Punctuating Dialogue Week Long Lessons! Common Core   Proverbs & Adages Week Long Lessons Common Core Aligned    Relative Adverbs Week Long Lessons! Common Core Aligned L4.1a
LITERACY CENTERS
Context Clues Literacy Centers   Punctuating Dialogue   Proverbs and Adages   Relative Adverbs
TASK CARD ACTIVITY BUNDLE
Context Clues Task Card Activity Bundle   Punctuating Dialogue Task Cards   Proverbs and Adages Task Card Activity Bundle   Relative Adverbs Task Cards

Click the above images to check them out in our store!
Thanks for joining us on this blog post series! 
If you have any questions or comments, 
we would love to hear from you in the Comments below!