Classroom Management: Restroom Breaks

Are restroom breaks an issue with your class this year? Sometimes the issue is your schedule, other times it can be an avoidance behavior with your "frequent flyers", and in some cases there is a medical reason.

 Look for patterns when this is an issue for your class.  You can do this easily by having a chart like the one in the picture above.  Use the same chart with your class or give each student their own chart if it is an issue with a small group. Students circle the day of the week and write the time they left and returned.  Looking for patterns will help you get to the cause of the frequency of the breaks.
  • Did one of your students always ask to go to the restroom when it was math time?  Is it avoidance behavior or the time of the day when math is taught?
  • Do two students ask to go at the same time or close to the same time?  This may be a social issue.
I just added the chart to my Busy Teachers Forms and bundle of Teacher Forms.  If you previously purchased one of those, you may go to "my purchases" to download the form for free.

Want just the form?  You can get it here.

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Teaching Consonant Blends & FREEBIE

Do you like the song "Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes"?  It is a good way to get your students up and moving.  Introduce your students to consonant blends using the motion from the song. Say a word with a blend.  
  • If your students hear the word in the first syllable, they will touch their head.  
  • If they hear the word in the middle syllable, they will touch their hips.
  • If they hear the word in the last syllable, they will touch their toes.
  • Students will touch either their head or toes if there are only 2 syllables.
Heads, hips, and tips of toes can be used as a warm up activity, brain break or for inside recess.
You can do a similar type of activity with your small group.  Dry erase tape on plastic folders works great for this.
  • Students write the word on the top strip if the blend is in beginning syllable.  
  • Students write the word on the bottom strip if the blend is in last syllable.
Incorporate as many of the 5 senses as possible.  You can add flavoring to make playdough smell.  It will also make your room smell good.  Kool-aid playdough is colorful and smells great.  You can ask your parents to make it using this free recipe.
Looking for new ideas to use with your small group?  Metallic markers on black construction paper can be used a variety of ways.  
  • Level 1: Ask volunteers to say words with the blend you are focusing on. Students write the word and underline the blend.  Words can be real or nonsense.
  • Level 2: Ask volunteers for words with blends in the first, middle, or last syllable.  Write the words on the paper and underline the blend.
  • Level 3:  Give your group a set amount of time to write as many words with blends as possible.
  • Level 4:  Give your group a set amount of time to write as many words with blends as possible.  Give 1 point if the blend is at the beginning of the word, 2 points if the blend is in the middle or last syllable.  

Students love codes and real world connections. The stoplight code printables includes both of these. Student will:
  • Color in the red light if they hear in the blend in the first syllable of the word.
  • Color in the yellow light if they hear in the blend in the middle syllable of the word. 
  • Color in the green light if they hear in the blend in the end syllable of the word.
Would you like to try some of these activities?  
I have a free sample for you.


Sub Plans Tips and Freebie

Have you ever compared subbing to cooking a meal? You can cook a meal for your family in your kitchen with little fanfare. Now imagine what it would be like if your job was to go to a stranger's house to cook a meal.

For this example, we will say that your job is to go to Mrs. Parker's house to make an evening meal for her family. When you arrive at Mrs. Parker's house, you walk in her kitchen and see some of the utensils and supplies you will use.  But, you don't see the roasting pan and few other key ingredients that you need.  Hunting through drawers and cabinets takes time - more time that it would take Mrs. Parker to make the meal.

Now add to this "cooking job",  20+ children in your kitchen, and a dishwasher malfunction.

Then a neighbor drops by with a question, which is followed by a phone call from another neighbor with a message for Mrs. Parker. Mrs. Parker left a note telling you the names of her neighbors who can answer any questions you might have.  But, you can see that her neighbors are busy making their own meals.

Surprise! By the end of the cooking job you are looking for something with caffeine to recharge your batteries.

  • SUPPLIES: Even with the best of intentions and quality plans, you may not have all of the necessary supplies.  It is best to arrive early so will have time to find everything that you need.
  • TECHNOLOGY: Check all of the technology that you will be using.  Have a plan B in case a glitch occurs.
  • NEIGHBOR - Parent: Bring a clipboard with paper.  Write notes from parents who drop by with questions/information, phone calls, etc.  Clip notes to the clipboard.  It is helpful to have everything in one place instead of wasting valuable time searching for them.
  • NEIGHBOR - Teachers:  Yes, the teachers next door and across the hall are busy, too.  But, there is usually at least one teacher who is friendly and willing to help if you ask.  Don't wait for the teacher to come to you.  If you have a question - go to experts.

Tips for teachers making sub plans

It is cold and flu season. You know what that means, right? Time to update your emergency sub plans. Remember emergency sub plans are like an insurance plan. You hope you never need them, but if that day ever comes when you do need your plans, you'll be glad you made them.

Planning for a sub has become more important with all of the pressures on students and teachers to improve test scores. You want to ensure that instruction continues when you can't be there. Planning now - before you need a sub - is key to making sure your students and the sub has a smooth day.

Details! Details! Details! I cannot stress enough the importance of details. Have an overview (lesson plans & schedule) of what will happen during the day. It is very helpful if you have some type of handout or binder with all of the details that are rote memory for you.
PROCEDURES: When you began teaching at this school, either as a first year teacher or a veteran teacher, you needed to know procedures that are school-specific. Include all of those procedures in your sub binder.
  • Where do you pick up your class in morning?  Where does your class lineup? 
  • What door does your class enter (or exit) the cafeteria, recess, etc.?  Subs can cause traffic jams by going in the wrong door.  Do not assume your class will tell the sub.
  • What information is needed for lunch count?  Number of students buying lunch?  Or does your school take a count of choice 1, choice 2, or choice 3?
Details about your duties - Before school, lunch, recess, and after school duty include details that need to be included with your plans.
  • RECESS: Does your school use signals such as:  2 tweets of the whistle - students stop and listen, 3 tweets - students line up?  Is there an assigned area to playground that you are responsible for supervising?
  • LUNCH:  Do you responsibilities include telling the classes to cleanup and lineup when their lunchtime is over?  Or are you expected to walk around and open milk carton, make sure students stay in their seats, etc.?
Teacher's Editions - Leave your T.E. on your desk for the sub even if the lessons in your plans do not include the T.E.  Students may have questions about one of the lessons.  The sub can look through the T.E. to find out how skills have been taught in the former lessons.
Grading:  Check with your administrator to see if there is a policy regarding subs and grading.  As a general rule, the only assignments I asked subs to grade were ones like #1 above. Assignments like math facts or spelling are pretty quick to grade and the grade is not based on a teacher's judgment call.

Assignment #2 is another one of those times where we forget how many decisions we make on a daily basis as a teacher - especially when it comes to grading.  If you look at asmt. #2 you can see that the top part of this free assignment is a color by code.  A sub could easily grade that section. The bottom part of the lesson would be a challenge to grade because it includes teacher's judgment.  The assignment's directions state "write at least 3 sentences or a story about swimming".  As a teacher, we know our students' abilities and challenges.  Many of us differentiate our expectations for a simple assignment like this, which affects how the page is graded.

Example:  Joey has struggled with writing this year.  For this assignment, he would be expected to write one sentence using correct spacing, capitalization, and punctuation marks. Think about how Joey feels when his graded assignment is returned with a lowered grade.  You may have an upset parent on you doorstep if you didn't catch this oversight when you returned from your absence.  It is hectic enough when you return from being gone, why create obstacles for yourself?

Just like it takes longer to cook a meal when you aren't in your kitchen, the same holds true for a guest teacher in a new classroom.  Even a sub with teaching experience will not be as time efficient as you. Use your first couple of weeks of school with your class as your gauge for how much time each lesson will take.

Have you made your emergency sub plans yet?

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Author Study & Birthdays Freebie

Most teachers would rather not count their birthdays. Students, on the other hand, usually have a count down to their big day. Use that excitement for birthdays to build interest with your author studies. You can do this by setting up a permanent literacy center celebrating authors' birthdays. Best of all I have free printables that you can use with your center.
Take the list of authors included with this download to your school or public library.  In the picture above are some of the books written by authors who celebrate their birthdays in February.  As you can see, some of their books would be perfect for your Presidents Day or Valentine's Day lessons.
Author, Jane Yolen, was born February 11th. She is the author of How Do Dinosaurs ____ series. 
The author of Clifford, Norman Bridwell, was born February 15th.  Clifford goes to Washington would be a perfect addition to your Presidents' Day unit.
Introduce your students to new authors with this activity.  Jim Aylesworth, author of Old Black Fly, was born on February 21st.

Who is your favorite author?

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