Want to find out if Sit Spots work on your flooring?
also known as The Rigorous Owl!
These posters serve as great Anchor Charts to
use throughout the year!
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 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!
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!
Levels of Understanding Emoji Survey!
Want to Implement Literacy Centers in your classroom? We have a plethora to choose from!
Fragments and Run-on Literacy Centers
Formal and Informal Language Literacy Centers
Plot Literacy Centers
Character Motivation Literacy Centers
Literacy Block is MISSING!
perform poorly on an assessment?
It was happening WAY TOO OFTEN in our classes!
I stopped and thought to myself, “If my students aren’t scoring proficient or advanced, it doesn’t matter how great this individual lesson looked for an evaluation. The bottom line was that it was not getting the job done. I had to change!” I decided that I would shake my class up a bit and try something new. Because my evaluation was in four days, I had to get my students trained FAST!
Here’s what we decided to do…
Here are the six Literacy Centers that we developed.
Our first center is Close Read. This center is teacher led and examines a passage closely. Students read, discuss, and examine the text’s contents. This guided reading group is our favorite!
The second Literacy Center is the Game. Students love games! Games vary from Matching, to dice games, or even Headbandz. Students love learning with other students!
The Note Taking Literacy Center has students create three column notes. Students fill in a variety of information based on what is asked of them.
The Sort Literacy Center has students practice examples and non-examples. Again, manipulating the content is powerful!
Our Art Center is for students who learn best from visuals. They are asked to draw the concept on their “canvas” and create a short writing piece.
The last Literacy Center is Writing. Students are asked to write showing their knowledge of the standard in their writing.
We all know that we have different groups of students in our classroom. Everyone learns at different paces and we need to accommodate these needs in our classrooms.
The most powerful component of these Literacy Centers is that there is a way to DIFFERENTIATE at each center!
If you look at the image above, you can see that the pair on the left is at a lower level of understanding than the pair to the right. One asks for a definition, while the other asks students to apply the meaning to a scenario. The differentiation has been done for you! All you need to do is group your students accordingly!
This has saved us a ton of time when preparing
for GATE students or Intervention!
These Literacy Centers are perfect for small group instruction
at whatever level you need!
We can also tell you that our students LOVE it when we use these centers. When they walk into the room and see them on the schedule, we hear, “Yesssss!!!!! I loooooove the centers!”If you are interested in learning more about Literacy Centers, you have come to the right place. This is post #1 of a 3 part series! Our post #2 will be all about HOW to run Literacy Centers. Post #3 will be all about where Literacy Centers fit into the sequence of teaching a standard. Be sure to subscribe to be notified and follow us on Instagram!
Idioms Literacy CenterLove FREEBIES?
We are so excited to share our top takeaways from our visit to the Ron Clark Academy. I’m sure you’ve heard of the Ron Clark Academy, and yes, the rumors are true.The Ron Clark Academy is absolutely amazing!
If we were to sum up our trip in one word, our word would be “ELECTRIC.”
Our experience at The Ron Clark Academy was ELECTRIC.
The vibe, the passion, the learning, the feeling,,, everything was ELECTRIC.
If you have not heard of the Ron Clark Academy,
Click here to learn more.
So, what is it like visiting The Ron Clark Academy?
With all of that being said, we can’t wait to share our top takeaways from our visit! Here it goes…
1. Student Relationships
We all know that student relationships are important, but have you ever considered that student relationships are EVERYTHING? When is the last time you looked at your students in their eyes? We mean REALLY looked into their eyes when you were delivering a lesson? It’s that connection that inspires students to rise up and achieve what you are asking from them. The next time you deliver a lesson, notice how many eyes you are looking into. Find out your students’ interests, hobbies, likes and dislikes. Have you eaten lunch with them? Do you have conversations that do not involve academics? Setting this positive personal relationship with students is the foundation for everything else.
Throughout the entire training, there were three words that were mentioned over and over again. MUSIC. MOVEMENT. MAGIC. These three components are crucial for student engagement.
Mrs. Bearden said, “Music is the heart beat of life.” Wow, right?! How often do you have music playing in your classroom? According to our training, it should be ALL THE TIME. Music should be playing as your students enter and exit your classroom. Loud, upbeat, relevant music that your students enjoy listening to! Music should be playing in the background while you are teaching, music should be played while students are independently working. Go to You Tube and type in: Pop Instrumental Music and the year. You will have a plethora of options to choose from! Students can also create music by doing short chants or cheers. Music brings spirit, excitement and enthusiasm.
How much do your students move around the room? They should! How often do you move around the room? Your answer should be ALWAYS! Movement is another way to build a connection with your students. When you deliver a lesson, talk with your hands. We learned that your hands should be moving in an invisible box close to your body for normal speech. When something is of great importance, your hands should break through this invisible box to let students know that they should be listening! If you are walking around the room, STOP when you get to an important point to draw attention. It’s all about these “opposites” that students will quickly pick up on. Students learn when they are moving! Gestures are a great way to reach your students.
Magic is that little something extra that YOU bring to a lesson. A scenario was presented… Imagine that there are six classrooms… three on each side that have their doors open. Each of them has the same materials, the same classroom decor, the same lesson, the same lesson plans, etc… You walk through the hallway and are asked to pick what classroom you would like to be a part of. You pick. What made you pick that classroom? Was it the smile on the teacher’s face? Was it the smile on her students’ faces? Was it the quick joke? Was it the way she moved? Whatever it was, it was her MAGIC. The teacher makes the difference.
3. Teach High
At the Ron Clark Academy, Ron encouraged us to keep teaching to the high students of your class. Don’t stop because a few do not understand. Keep going! He advises that this is what will motivate the others to improve! This is a great reminder! Too often, we may hold the higher students back. We need to provide the enrichment they need, while providing intervention to those that need it also. We should always move forward!
No matter what goals you set for yourself and your students, we need to remember that consistency is key. You can have the best plans, but wonder in the end why they didn’t pay off? You may find yourself blaming your students or complaining to others about how nothing you do seems to work. The problem, as hard as it is to admit, is YOU! You are the number one reason your plans do not work out. You are in charge of how successful you and your students are. The faster you realize this, the further you will get reaching your goals. Start small. Set achievable goals that you can follow through with and build onto them!
Here was one of our BIGGEST take-away from the Ron Clark Academy. If we are being honest, it’s where we struggle the most. Parents. Am I speaking to ya? We can love on our students day after day, but until we love our students’ parents and get their buy-in and involvement, we will keep wondering where we are going wrong.
Have you ever gone above and beyond for a student and then find out that it’s their parent who filed a complaint on you or went to the principal because they questioned something you did? EVERY TIME… are we right?! Ron encourages us to keep two separate compartments. He tells us to separate our heads from our heart. Who’s in your heart? Your personal life and your students. Who’s in your head? The parents. Never let your head affect your heart. Don’t take it too personal and let it affect your heart! You are not going to be able to please everyone all of the time. Someone will hear a story wrong or view something in a different light from what you intended it to be.
With that being said, how should we deal with parents? According to Ron, we should give them the red carpet treatment. Take the extra time to build rapport with them. Get to know their names and their entire family. Build relationships! Have you ever done a home visit? If not, maybe consider going to “that student’s” home to grasp a full picture of who they are. Get that parent’s support and buy-in. Another thought is to consider the way you dress. If there are a group of teachers and you are dressed the nicest, how do you think that you are perceived? Ron stated, “Perception is reality.” The way that parents see you is the reality that they have painted in their heads. When a parent has respect for you, they will be more willing to work with you in a positive way!
So, what we are going to implement at our school? We believe that the above takeaways are more of a mindset than anything else. They are great reminders and philosophies to use in your classroom on a daily basis.
Below, you will find different strategies that we plan to implement. Again, we are going to start small and take it one step at a time so that we can have consistency and success. Here are some amazing strategies that we saw at the Ron Clark Academy.
- Taking the Floor: Taking the floor is all about students answering questions posed by you and moving into a classroom discussion. This strategy puts students in control and gives them a voice. If they have an answer PREPARED and are ready to speak, they simply stand up and address the class (not you). If two students stand up at the same time, they work out who will speak first. For example, if Bob and Mary stand up at the same time and start speaking, Bob can say, “Go ahead Mary. If there is something else I want to add, I will.” Mary can then speak and ask Bob if there was anything else.
- Chants: Chants are short little cheers or attention grabbers. Chants redirect student behavior. For example, if you’re moving around the room and students are not looking at you, you could say, “Track me now!” Students can reply, “Zoom Zoom Pow!” Students would use gestures while doing this. After students respond, you should wait to make sure that everyone is actually looking before moving on.
- Ways to Celebrate: Students should celebrate each other’s accomplishments! Teachers should encourage students to whisper, “Great Job,” if a student “rocks” an answer. That act should get praise too! Students should not be timid to give praise to students that deserve it!
- Essential 55: Ron Clark’s Essential 55 is critical for students to be able to do any of the above tasks. Students need to know how to behave and how to consider students and teachers around them. Ron Clark says that he values the role playing of the Essential 55.
- House System: This is what we are MOST excited about implementing at our school. We believe that the House System provides the sense of family that is critical for a school. If you haven’t heard of a House System or if you haven’t checked it out, be sure to! They have made it so easy for us! The Ron Clark Academy has a FREE app available in your app store. Once you download it, click on Resources and scroll down to Hope King’s House System. She has a whole article titled, “Houses for Dummies.” It is awesome. It takes you through the idea step-by-step! We plan to roll out this House System in upper grades first, work out the kinks, and then go school wide.
we would strongly encourage you to do so!
our minds and in our classrooms.
Now, let’s get started!
We also made sure that we used detective vocabulary throughout the day for our gumshoes!
If you need some ideas, Click Here for a Detective Vocabulary Freebie!
Check our YouTube video out below to get a feel for it!
You Tube Video of our Crime Lab!
All right, so here’s where we got all of the materials for our lab. The first thing that you will need is black plastic sheeting. Here is what we used Click Here. We simply used a staple gun and lined the area. The only other thing we bought were our detective cardboard boy and girl and the footprint stickies from Oriental Trading. The rest of the supplies were found around our classrooms or school. We already had black lights, cation tape, and we found the cool items on our lab table in our science materials kits. The glowing liquid in the test tubes is made from glow in the dark paint that one of the teachers had at home. We already had the flashlights that the students are holding in the picture because we do Flashlight Friday reading, which we purchased from Amazon. Overall, it looks like a lot, but when you have three teachers making one lab, you have more resources to pull from!
The main purpose of the Top Secret Lab is to build excitement for the students!
It is so amazing to hear them shout out, “Wow!” “Ahhhh!” and “That’s Awesome!”
If students are engaged, they will be more motivated to complete the academic tasks that you present for them! Another reason is for your excitement! It is so rewarding!
We were excited to get to work each day and pumped when it was time for our Lab time!
we complete one task from each domain each day.
FREEBIE: REPORT AND SKETCHING.
Their first task was to make a sketch of the crime scene.
Then, they had to write their report.
In their report, they had to circle all prepositions and underline all of the prepositional phrases.
Describing the crime scene was absolutely PERFECT for prepositions!
We pulled all of the classes together and debriefed.
We talked about what was seen in each classroom (all the same) and what we thought our next actions should be.
We decided that it was time to canvas the campus and start gathering tips!
Various staff left these messages on our voicemail portraying eight different character traits. When our students came in the next day, they were given the piece of paper in the image above.
We also have it available for FREE by clicking here!
We told them that we had several new messages that needed to be investigated! They were hooked! With each message, students had to assign a character trait and list the evidence that supported their claim. Most of the messages were pointless and led nowhere, but several fed the students ideas about what they should do next in their investigation.
We had an expert come in to close the case!
Our forensic specialist came out and shared with the students all about the law enforcement career. Students took notes and asked some amazing questions! They loved this!
At the end, we explained our crime to the expert and asked if he could pull prints from an item left at the scene. He pulled the prints successfully!
Now, our case was ready to be solved!
All we needed was to collect prints from each of the remaining suspects and make a match!
She was served with a search warrant, and our rabbits were found safe and sound! Immediately, our students chorally read her her rights and our principal was booked!
When asked about her motives, our principal told the students to look inside the basket. We discovered that our cute little bunnies were holding rolled up papers! These rolls ended up being diplomas from Bunny Obedience School! When our principal explained, she told us that she heard our bunnies might be vampire rabbits (If this sounds a little crazy, read the book! You’ll love it!). She didn’t want anything to harm the students at her school because safety was her top priority. She decided that she would send them to a four day obedience training and she didn’t want to tell us because she wanted them to finish their training.
Talk about an amazing principal, right?!
Our students immediately forgave her and released her!
We had fun with fingerprint poems and pulled out all of the elements from some detective poems. The students were able to practice and apply all four concepts that were in our month’s unit, while having a blast!
while they are sitting next to their friends?”
Take a look below at the system we use in our classroom.
Clean Zone, Talking to Neighbor, Out of Seat, Inappropriate Use of Seating, and Trips to Backpack.
Clean Zones are necessary to keep items from spilling over into other students’ “work bubbles,” since work spaces are less defined than the traditional desk. The Talking to Neighbor offense is hit with a fine of $20 and the action of moving! If you put a fine on this, your problems will be reduced significantly! The act of moving sets the tone for other students in the room also. The loss of seat seems to have the highest impact! Students start to realize that they need to find a “Just Right Seat,” rather than just sit next to their BFF. And from our experience, we can tell you that we do have BFFs sitting next to each other every single day and they behave extraordinarily! They quickly realize that they are in control of whether they sit next to each other or not! We noticed that in the beginning of the school year, students tend to think that they can get up whenever they want. The Out of Seat fine helps with this problem. The Inappropriate Use of Seating is extremely important. It took one deflated ball and a snapped lap desk to figure this one out! When this type of thing happens in your Flexible Seating Classroom (which it will at some point) you will be shocked at how the other students react. They were NOT happy with the offender! A popped ball means one less ball for them to use! We highly recommend that you DO NOT replace items that have been destroyed by students. If you replace them, be prepared to keep replacing them! When this happened, the boy who popped the ball with his pencil brought a new one in THE VERY NEXT DAY without even being asked, along with an apology note to the class. The gasps and looks of disappointment were far more powerful that anything else! Trips to the Backpack fine is put in place so that the students are prepared for their day. We keep our backpacks outside, as mentioned in our first blog post. If you missed it, click here .
So, you’ve seen Flexible Seating and you want to try it, but it seems a bit overwhelming…. am I right? We felt the exact same way!
Hopefully, after looking through some of our tips, you will gain the
confidence and motivation to start it in your room!
YOU WILL NEVER GO BACK!
WHERE WAS THIS WHEN WE WERE IN FOURTH GRADE?????? RIGHT?!
We mean, COME ON… They look so comfortable!
“Where is all of their stuff? They don’t have a desk, so where is it?”
This took some time to figure out! We can’t wait to show you what we came up with!
…and by the way, we have to tell you that the fact that students do not have a desk is AMAZING! There are no more messy desks or the famous excuse of, “I left it at school in my desk!” For the desks that we did keep in the classroom, we turned the sides that open toward each other so that students cannot use them. The bonus is that I get to use the desks for added storage!
One of our students is the “Host.” The host calls different groups of students in at a time. This solves the problem of students making a mad dash for the favorite seats and provides everyone a chance at getting first dibs. The arrow on the left hand side is on a clothes pin that gets moved down each day. No more arguing!
Super simple… and better yet, this sign is a FREEBIE in our store!
Click here to grab it for yourself!
First Choice Seating FREEBIE!
in our Flexible Seating Classroom!
Because students are spread all over the room, and sometimes tucked in corners, direct instruction can become problematic. Whenever we are teaching whole class, students bring their binders in their laps and sit on their Sit Spot. Each student is assigned a Sit Spot. This allows us to pair students up with ability based partners and we can even create groups based on the color of their Sit Spot. (We will go into this in a later blog post!) Sit Spots are the bright colorful dots in the picture above. They are Velcro, so they are perfect for carpets! We do what we need to do whole group, and then the students return to their work area.
Interested in Sit Spots? Click below to check them out! They even have a free sample that you can test out in your classroom!
Here is what works for us in our rooms. This Flexible Seating Contract goes over our basic Flexible Seating rules. It is given to students and parents at the beginning of the year. It definitely takes time for students to catch on, but once they get it, it works!If we are being honest, there were many moments of frustration and feelings of throwing in the towel, but we pushed through our difficulties and made adjustments when problems surfaced. We can honestly say that Flexible Seating has transformed the way we teach and the way our students learn. The feeling that Flexible Seating creates in your room is one that you MUST feel for yourself. The classroom changes from a stuffy and formal environment to a cozy, personal environment. It opens the flow for communication and conversations that we have never had in our rooms before. You seriously feel like a family and you get to know your students better than ever!
Not only will your students love Flexible Seating, but others will too! Here’s a few examples…
When students from other classes walk by our rooms when the door is open, we hear,
“Wow! That classroom looks fun!”
“I’ve never seen a classroom like this! Tell me about it!”
“My child told me they didn’t have a desk, but I didn’t believe it until I saw it for myself!”
“My child loves your room!”
We hope that we have provided you with some tips and tools for you to use in your room!
We would love to hear any questions or comments that you have in the Comments below!
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