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.
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.
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!
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Here are the Top 5 Reason’s to subscribe!
In every Newsletter, it is our #1 goal to bring you VALUE!
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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!”
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These posters serve as great Anchor Charts to
use throughout the year!
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 here, here, and here!
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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!
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’!
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!
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.
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!
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 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…
This blog post is all about how to effectively run a
Literacy Center Rotation in your classroom!
You will learn all about organizing groups, getting students engaged, keeping students organized and focused, improving the quality of their work, managing behavior, checking for levels of understanding, team building, and lastly, keeping yourself organized!
That was a lot! Let’s get started!
During a Literacy Center Rotation, we group our students into groups of four. This seems to be a manageable size because many of the activities require pair work with checking another pair’s answers before moving on. In this group of four, we assign a role, or responsibility, for each student. We simply laminate the cards above and use lanyards that we have collected over the years. Another idea is to use yarn and clip them with two clothespins to make a necklace. The team jobs that we use are Spirit Leader, Time Keeper, Clean-Up Crew, and Captain. Team Spirit Leader starts each center off with hands in the middle and a phrase such as, “Go Team!” If someone starts to get negative, they redirect and get their group back on the positivity train! The Time Keeper is in charge of monitoring the time. We display a countdown on our projector for students to use. We like using this Simple Online Countdown Timer. Our Literacy Centers are set up on a 15 min. rotation schedule. Time Keepers give a five minute and one minute warning to their group. The Clean-Up Crew is responsible for stopping at the one minute marker and reminding students to pick up their things, throw trash away and get the center ready for the next group. Team Captains read the directions at each station, settle difficult decisions, and keep their group focused. Giving each child a responsibility is crucial
to building teamwork and engagement!
Working in groups is tough! Especially when the teacher is unavailable to monitor students because she is working with a guided reading group! Teaching students how to get along and how to work together takes a lot of training. We believe that explicitly teaching students how to work in groups is extremely necessary. We love to teach off of these posters and post them in an area where students can reference them frequently. Our favorite is the pink image above because we get to role play each part for students to get a feel for how their conversations should sound.
Because the teacher is unavailable, how do students monitor their own behavior? We teach them how to solve their own conflicts by using the steps on the purple image above. If students cannot come to a solution, or if a student chooses to continue the behavior, other group members can write the student’s name on the Behavior Report. We like to keep this next to us, so that students are less likely to tattle on each other. It seems to make it a little more serious because you can glance at it and send that special student your favorite “teacher look.” The key is to not allow the misbehavior to interrupt your guided reading group. We always deal with the misbehavior after our rotation is over. If it is a situation that the class could learn from, use a class meeting to solve future re-occurrences!
How to keep your students on track and organized can be tough! The forms in the image above are posted on our Literacy Center wall. Students can quickly see which group they are in and what they are learning. Students also use the Literacy Center rotation board to see which Literacy Center they are traveling to next. The first image in this blog post shows that board. Our literacy center rotations always focus on one standard at a time. We usually run anywhere from four to six stations at a time all focusing on the same standard. Each Literacy Center focuses on a different aspect of the standard, which makes it easy for us to see what parts students understand and where they may need more instruction or practice.
Another way to see if students are understanding what is at each Literacy Center is to have them fill out a
Levels of Understanding Emoji Survey!
Each student shades in the Emoji that describes
how they did at the Literacy Center.
Quick, Easy and Fun!
Now, here is the part that is a game changer! Because students are rotating through a variety of Literacy Centers, they all finish their work at different speeds. THIS is where you will run into behavior problems! Let’s keep them busy! Students don’t always know what to do when they are done, so TELL THEM! We always make a list of what they could do at each Literacy Center if they get done early. We also provide a Quality Checklist, so that students can improve the quality of their work when they finish! Ummmm, can we say A-MAZE-ING???? And the best part is that it is not coming from you! Students start to do these steps by themselves the more they are exposed to it!
Here is the part that we LOVE!
Because it is so easy and it is yet another way to recognize
students for positive behavior!
It is also an amazing way for you to find out amazing things that happened at a Literacy Center that you may have missed!
Whenever we think about this component,
all we see in our minds are SMILES!
Smiles are always an added bonus, are we right?!
It is important for the teacher to stay organized and collect data from the Literacy Center Rotations. Too often, we will run Literacy Centers and not bother to collect the data that could be used for IEPs, Intervention, Parent-Teacher Conferences, or anywhere else student data is needed. We have a Literacy Center Binder where all of our data is stored. We keep track of student groupings, notes of the groups that come through our Close Reading Literacy Center, levels of understanding, and grades from student work at each center. You’re already doing the work, so you might as well have something to show for it!
If all of this looks so good that you want to have it for your own classroom… Guess What?! You can!
We cannot wait to share with you what your
Literacy Block is MISSING!
Have you ever taught a standard and had your students
perform poorly on an assessment?
Never, right! HA!
Here’s the problem….
It was happening WAY TOO OFTEN in our classes!
We would give the direct instruction lesson, do a little pair share, give a handout, maybe another handout the next day, talk about it the next day and give an assessment and wonder why our students were not scoring at a proficient or advanced level!
Well, here’s what happened.
It was time for my formal evaluation and I was writing out my typical lesson plan. Totally predictable and totally average.
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…
The problem was that our students were not getting enough exposure to the standard. We decided to create Literacy Centers for the standards that we were covering in our unit. We would focus on one standard and have students rotate through the six stations in 15 min intervals. We pulled apart each standard into its different components and designed a Literacy Center around it. This way, we could assess the output from the students and evaluate which part of the standard they were not grasping.
Each Literacy Center needed to appeal to different modes of learning. We all know that students learn in different ways, so Literacy Centers need to address the different modes!
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.
Take a look at what the Literacy Centers look like in our classrooms.
(On a side note, excuse the mess… students are learning!)
Here is the most important component to Literacy Centers!
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!
The last part that we feel that we have to tell you is how the observation went! Let’s just say that I met all of the teaching standards with flying colors. My evaluator loved the conversations students were having, how engaged the students were, the differentiation and the rigor of the content. She even asked if other teachers could come in to see what we were doing in our classrooms and that this is what great teaching looks like.
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!
If you would like to give the Literacy Centers a try for FREE,
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. MUSIC
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. MOVEMENT
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
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.
Well, we hope that you have had some takeaways from reading about our trip!
If you are every able to go to the Ron Clark Academy,
we would strongly encourage you to do so!
It is seriously a Disneyland for teachers!
Our trip will forever be ingrained in
our minds and in our classrooms.
In this blog post you will get to go behind the scenes with us to see how we set up, planned, and operated our Detective Mystery Unit!
Be sure to check out the Freebies, Tips, and Enter our Giveaway!
Now, let’s get started!
The first task that you face when you plan for a fun unit like this, is to get into character! We do everything as a team at our school, so the three fourth grade teachers plan and work together. We all participate in the events together! We started by simply getting everyone a badge off of Amazon. Our next stop was to the Dollar Tree to find some aviator sunglasses…. and just like that, we were transformed into Detective Brazeal and Detective Devlin!
We also made sure that we used detective vocabulary throughout the day for our gumshoes!
If you need some ideas, Click the button below for a Detective Vocabulary Freebie!
The next thing that we decided that we HAD to have was a crime lab to book our evidence into. Instead of transforming three classrooms, we decided to have all three teachers set up one crime lab. Our perfect spot was behind the curtains of our stage in our MPR. This was amazing for us because there were no performances going on, Also, if we wanted a small group activity, one class could go inside, but if we needed all three classes to participate, they could sit in the MPR and look into the lab. If this is not an option for you, maybe there is an empty classroom at your school that could serve the same purpose. We loved this idea because our unit was an entire week long, and this way, we didn’t have to be in this dark lab for an entire week!
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!
Ok, now it’s time for the good stuff. The first question you need to answer is, “What is the crime going to be?” If you are doing the unit with multiple classes, you will need to find something that all of the classrooms have in common. Since we were reading Bunnicula, we decided to buy a small stuffed rabbit for each classroom. We really wanted them to value the rabbit, so we made it our class pet. We brought in a pet carrier, gave him a blanket, laid out some food and water, and made sure he was securely locked in his cage every day before heading home. If you know the book, then you will get why there is a white pumpkin nearby. We also left the book for him to read at night. After we were done reading our book, it was time for the crime to occur! Bunnicula mysteriously disappeared overnight! When the students walked in to the crime scene you see the next morning, they are devastated that their beloved class pet was missing! And just like that, the mystery began!
For those of you who have not read about our Year Long Plan, you might be unfamiliar with the way we teach. Each unit lasts one month.
In each unit, we teach four main standards… one from each domain.
Here is what we were teaching during this unit.
Key Ideas and Details:Character Traits
Craft and Structure: Elements of Poetry
Vocabulary Acquisition: Context Clues
Language: Prepositions and Prepositional Phrases
During our Engaging Scenario (what you are reading about),
we complete one task from each domain each day.
For the very first day, our focus was on Prepositions. The students were given this
FREEBIE: REPORT AND SKETCHING. Click the button below to get it!
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!
The next step was to book all of our evidence into our lab!
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!
Students created posters that listed basic information about the crime. In this poster, they had to include five prepositions and prepositional phrases. Again, the prepositions were circled and the prepositional phrases were underlined. On the posters, students advised witnesses to contact our Crime Hotline with any tips that they had. Each student made a poster and they were plastered all over campus! Talk about building excitement! The whole school was buzzing!
The next day, our focus was Character Traits. We wrote eight short scripts for eight different callers. Click Here to See What Our Witnesses Read!
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.
From the hotline, a suspect list was generated. Our first thought was to make a list of everyone that had access to all three rooms. From there, we focused on the time of the crime. We had our custodian report that the bunnies were seen at 4:30pm. This dwindled down our suspect list to six suspects. The next day’s standard was Context Clues. On each of our doors, there was a black light message left inside a Top Secret envelope. Students came together to examine the messages. On each paper, there were more clues given. Students had to use their knowledge of Context Clues to decipher the messages! One of them said that there was a very important clue left by the piano in the MPR. Student RUSHED over to discover it! This important clue was an invitation to a party that had a map on it. The students then interrogated the remaining six suspects and discovered that three of them lived in the area on the map. Our mystery now had three prime suspects!
The next day, we focused on College and Career Readiness.
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!
Our match led to no other than our very own principal!
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!
The next day’s focus was on Poetry Elements.
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!
WANT THIS MYSTERY AND DETECTIVE ACTIVITY AND DECOR BUNDLE FOR FREE?! ENTER OUR RAFFLE!
This post is all about your Classroom Management! We are so excited because we’ve got some FREEBIES, tips and a GIVEAWAY for you in this post!
There are many questions that arise with Flexible Seating…
“How do you get your students to behave well
while they are sitting next to their friends?”
“You’re telling me they really sit on the balls and don’t bounce?”
“Ya right, my students would destroy all of
those fun types of seating!”
Are some of these your thoughts and questions?
Well, you’re in the right place!
We have found that the answer to Classroom Management in the Flexible Seating Classroom is through a Classroom Economy! The Flexible Seating Classroom is made for this! In our classroom, we use “Brazeal Bucks” and “Devlin Dollars” to encourage positive behaviors in our rooms.
Take a look below at the system we use in our classroom.
This system of Deposits and Debits is ideal to encourage students to behave properly in the Flexible Seating Classroom. In our room, students are assigned jobs. The jobs that they have help to create a sense of ownership for their classroom. The biggest hurdle for students to jump over is to view the entire room as their responsibility, not just their seat for the day. Once students grasp this, the Flexible Seating Classroom is more likely to succeed.
Notice the items on the list above that encourage responsible behavior in the Flexible Seating 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 the freebie button below.
If you are interested in implementing a Classroom Economy, we have some fun tips for you! In our classroom, we have two Police Officers and two Bankers. We love theme, so we set them up with some fun accessories! We got the $$ glasses, blinged-out necklace and aviator glasses from the Dollar Tree. A student brought in the doughnut accessory, so I’m not quite sure where that came from. By the way, when she brought the doughnut in, we never laughed so hard! This student gets us!!!! We have found that the only way to store/use money in the classroom is by using a cash drawer. We found this on Amazon. We created our money to fit perfectly!
Our Classroom Economy Bundle is completely editable!
We love putting the students in charge and having them run the classroom. Our Police Officers collect fine and our Bankers pass out rewards. We also open our bank every Friday for students to make change, etc…
Your students will have counting money MASTERED! This is a life skill that they are getting and they don’t even realize it!
Many teachers ask, “Ok, so you use classroom money… What do they do with their money?” Great question! Our students get to purchase Reward Coupons once a month. The “store” opens up and the frenzy begins! We charge $100 for a coupon, and they fly off of the shelf! These colorful rewards are ideal for the Flexible Seating Classroom. Want them in your room? Enter our GIVEAWAY below or Click here to buy them in our TPT store. We love these because most of them don’t cost you a thing and they fit inside baseball card sleeves! So easy!
In the image below, we list some of the ones that work great in the Flexible Seating Classroom. First to Enter means that a students can cut to the front of the line when it isn’t their turn to enter first that day (If you don’t know what we are talking about when we say this, Click Here for this FREEBIE!) Make ’em Move means that if someone is in the seat they want, they can make ’em move! They love this one! Reserved Seating is when a students enters the room and chooses their seat, they can reserve a seat for one of their friends too. Flexible Seating Rewards are so easy and they don’t cost you a thing! Students love them!
Our students also spend their hard earned money on Market Day, but that is a whole other story, if you are interested in it,
Welcome to the first post of a three part blog post series!
We are so excited to share our Flexible Seating classroom with you!
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!
We are telling you…
ONCE YOU EXPERIENCE IT FOR YOURSELF,
YOU WILL NEVER GO BACK!
In this post, you will see our types of seating, how we enter our classroom, where students store their materials and how students are introduced to the idea of Flexible Seating!
Here are the types of seating that we have available in our room. We did not start out with everything you see in the pictures here. We started small and continued to add more and more options. Some of our first seating options were: yoga balls at desks, a lowered kidney table with pillows, lap desks, and spare rolling chairs. These are all extremely low priced items.
Once our administrator saw what we were doing, we were given 4 wobble stools. These were a bit pricier, but your school might have funding for them or there is always Donors Choose. Our advice to you is to not let the fact that you don’t have the pricier items stop you! Start off simple and build over time. Later, we added in bean bags, bean bag chairs, cushioned crates, and our favorite… a couch!
Here are some action shots of our students! All we think when we look at them working, is
WHERE WAS THIS WHEN WE WERE IN FOURTH GRADE?????? RIGHT?!
We mean, COME ON… They look so comfortable!
While you are looking at these pictures, you might be thinking to yourself,
“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!
Our students do not keep their backpacks in the room. Students empty their backpacks and keep them outside. This reduces the amount of clutter in your room and keeps you from tripping over bags all day. One day, we hope to have hooks mounted to the outside of our rooms, so that the backpacks can be kept off the ground… here’s to having goals, right?! The next thing you need to know is that we are an AVID school. All of our students have binders, which we think is IDEAL for the Flexible Seating classroom! Students keep all of their materials inside this binder. We think three inch binders are the perfect fit for our needs. In the binder, students have their pencil pouches with supplies, dividers for each subject and paper. The binders travel with the students and they use them for a flat surface to write on.
Here is our Supply Station. The material baskets on the top shelf are community supplies. If students need supplies for the day, they are free to use and return. The pencil boxes on the second shelf are called their “Safety Deposit Boxes.” Here is where students keep spare, or back up materials, so that they are always prepared. THESE HAVE BEEN THE BEST ADDITION! On the bottom shelf, you see student book bins. Students keep books or items that we do not want leaving the classroom inside of them. This is also where we pass out supplies or papers if the students are not in the room.
Attendance in the Flexible Seating classroom isn’t as easy as when you have a desk for each student and you can just quickly see who isn’t there based on an empty seat! To avoid calling each student’s name every day, We have the students move their magnet as they enter the room. At the same time, your lunch count is also done for you. Simply count (or have a student count) how many need a lunch and note the magnets that are left at the top and you’re done! If you look at the picture to the right above, you can see that we have laminated a paper that says, “Absent” and “Lunch Count.” We have a student do this each morning and leave it on our roll book, ready to be marked! If a student is absent, we simply clip the day’s papers on the bottom of our board for them to grab first thing in the morning. A folder on the counter would serve the same function, but this way, it’s out of your way!
Our boards, as you can probably tell, are just cookie sheets!
Here is a video of our students entering our classroom.
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 below to grab it for yourself!
Sit Spots have seriously been amazing
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! Sit Spots
Click below to get this poster!
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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