Feelings Journal & Behavior Management

Feelings can impact the climate of your class.  Students are little thermometers.  They absorb all of the good and bad vibes around them. It is important to have a strategy in your teacher toolbox to help your students.
Have you used a feelings journal?  Use a feelings journal as a morning work assignment.  Students are able to begin their day more focused after sharing what they are thinking and feeling. BONUS: You can take the pulse of your class with this assignment.

Holding students accountable for their behavior is important. Make the end of the your day a time of reflection.  Students can reflect about their feelings and behavior at school with this assignment. 
Different pages from "My Feelings Journal".

Organize books about behavior, feelings, or character traits.  It is very helpful to have a "go to" tub of books when an issue happens in the classroom.  You can reinforce your class rules, discussions, and conferences with students about behavior using read alouds.
You can integrate your behavior management with your literacy lessons.  Quick prep, addresses behavior issues . . . kills two birds with one stone . . . . what's not to love?
Tattling can become a big issue during cold and flu season.  Students are irritable which causes more conflicts.  This is a good time to read A Bad Case of Tattle Tongue.  You can do the easy prep option of read aloud and reading response page. 

I recommend making a tattling tongue bulletin board if this has been an on-going problem.  Point to the bulletin board when your students have a conflict to remind them to use the strategies from the book.  My new file includes a bulletin board, too.

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Reading Fluency: Magazines & Readers Theater Tips

This blog post is sponsored
by Scholastic Magazines.

Do you have any budding actors and actresses in your class this year? Channel all of that creative energy and increase your students' fluency skills with Readers Theater.  This month's Storyworks Jr. magazine includes the Readers Theater script,Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story.

Getting a Storyworks Jr. magazine in the mail is like getting a gift for yourself.  Readers Theater is fun, which keeps students engaged at this crazy time of the year.

You can organize the performance of Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story different ways.  Add a simple prop like the red fan (picture at the top of the page) to make it more engaging for your students.  I found the fan at Dollar Tree this summer.  I also bought a box of fans (dozen) at a party supply store for $2.50.
There are enough parts of the script,Yeh Shen, A Chinese Cinderella Story, for half of your class to perform it. Divide your class in two groups.  Both groups will perform the play.  Write the names of the students in the groups on a marquee sign like the one in the picture above.  This will help students remember their group.
Use glitter to add a little glitz to your bulletin board with the play groups.
Color code your groups. Students can wear a necklace with the name of the character or their part of the play. When it is time to practice all you need to do is say, "It is time for the green group to practice" instead of calling a list of students.  Color coding is a big time saver! 
Let students make their own signs.  You can also set this up as a center.  You can get a free copy of the play signs and marquee here.
Your students fluency skills will improve with all of the practicing they will happily do.  I'm sure your students will want to know when the next issue of Storyworks Jr. is coming so they can begin the next play.

As you know, I love reading and giving stuff away.  When Scholastic contacted me and asked if I would be willing to tell my readers about their magazines, it was a quick yes.


You could win a $200 gift card from the Scholastic Teacher Store!

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Handling Parent Complaints

Mom's advice, when you hear it you may or may not take it. If you are a mother, you may see more of the "not taking it" occurring in your house. I am the mother of teen so I see more of the not taking it.

It made my heart sing when my daughter began to look at education as a career. When she was younger, she swore she would never teach because "teachers work too hard". I couldn't imagine teaching if you didn't feel a real calling to the profession, could you?

Now that she has shown an interest in my passion, I am trying to impart as much teacher wisdom as I possibly can before she goes to college. You know, all those life lessons in the trenches that you didn't learn in undergrad. This is one of the reasons why I began the "Need Books?" book giveaways this year. I wanted to show her how to level books.

Now I am going to begin a new series of blog post called "Life Lessons from the Trenches". I want to apologize ahead of time in case this sounds too Mom-ish. These are tips I wish someone would have told me before I began teaching. Feel free to share your life lessons in the comments at the bottom of this post.

Life Lesson in the Trenches - Lesson #1

You will get parent complaint. Good teachers get complaints, vanilla teachers get complaints, ineffective teachers get complaints . . . are you seeing a pattern? You can be the Einstein of teachers but, still a parent will be less than pleased with you. Why?

You need to get to the root of the problem.

Comparison: The neighbor raved about all of the amazing stuff their child's teacher was doing.   Now one of your parents is upset with you because you aren't doing the same stuff as the "amazing teacher".  If this happens to you:
  • Invite the upset parent to volunteer in your class so he or she can see all of the amazing stuff going on in your room. 
  • Communicate the great stuff happening in your room.  Don't be shy!  Add pictures to your website or newsletter.  A picture is worth a thousand words.
  • Ask the "amazing teacher" if he or she would be willing to share some ideas or activities with you.
Boomerang: Mom and Dad had a fight about the sad note you sent home. Your note causes dissension. Now the parent is unhappy with you.  It is the boomerang effect.

When you sense this is the issue, invite the parents to come in for a conference so everyone can share their point of view. It is easier for everyone to get on the same page when you have spoken face-to-face. The student needs a united front at home and school.

Ambassadors: The outspoken member of the community has shared his or her concern about how you are performing your job. It is important to listen to all complaint. Don't dismiss a complaints by Mrs. Frequently because she freely shares her opinions. There might be several other parents who feel the same way as Mrs. Frequently. These parents know that Mrs. F. loves to give free advice. They have given their tacit agreement which made her your class ambassador.

It is easy to take complaints personal and let them cloud your view of your job.  Remember, only a small percentage of parents may have a concern.  These parents may have a concern on that day about that particular topic.  The other 179 days of the school, these same parents may in fact think you are doing a great job!

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Independent Word Work for Fall: Making Words

Making words is a simple and easy-to-plan activity for Daily 5, literacy centers, seatwork, or homework.  One of the benefits of an assignment like the one in the picture above is students will differentiate the assignment INDEPENDENTLY.  Students working above grade level will make longer words. One page works for the entire class.
Cut out the letters at the bottom of the page.  Rearrange the letters to make new words.  This is beneficial for your extra support and enrichment student.  Bonus points for being hands on!
Are you a fan of interactive notebooks?  Students can choose words from their making words assignment for the foldable extension.
Need an easy November bulletin board?  Students use words from the Mayflower assignments to write a story on the suitcase accordian book.  The accordian book is a quick and easy bulletin board.
Do you have early finishers?  There are several extension assignments that you can give your students that finish early.
What type of making words activities
do your students like?

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Veterans Day Readers Theater Freebie

Veterans Day is next week. Does your school have special plans? You can incorporate my FREE Readers Theater - Veterans Day with your reading plans. I'm sure your students would enjoy performing this for other classes.

What are your favorite military themed books? I am going to mail one of the followers of my Facebook page some military books to use with their plans. Visit my Facebook page for a chance to win.

Sources to make my blog post graphics can be found HERE.
Click HERE to read my blog's disclosure statement.