Primary Chalkboard: January 2015

Individual Behavior Plan For Our Fidgety Friends!

 Hello, teacher friends! This is Christina, from Miss DeCarbo's Sugar and Spice.  I wanted to pop in and show you a quick and easy idea for an individual behavior plan you can use in your classroom.  

Do you use individual behavior plans in your room? I use them when our classroom plan simply doesn't work for one of my firstie friends. Sometimes, I'm trying to calm an extreme behavior distraction to the class with an individual plan.  Other times, it's something minor that I know the little one can overcome with an extra plan of encouragement in place!

For today's purposes, I am sharing a plan I am using for a little one who is having a hard time staying on task during the day.  I use Class Dojo in my room, but this little friend needs something more concrete and something more tangible that he can see, touch, and manipulate instantly!
 I don't like anything that causes me a lot of "extra" time when it comes to classroom management. My classroom management motto is fast, effective, and fun!  This particular little one is SUPER fidgety.  They can't attend to something you are saying without moving their hands, feet, arms, and body.  Do you have those kids???  I know you do! I needed a behavior plan that wasn't abstract and was easy for ME to manage.

Here's what I did to try to get this little one to consciously think about and reflect on how he can make smarter choices during the day. 

All you need is 10 snapping cubes or unifix cubes (or, however many cubes you want the child to "earn")!  When the student is showing the POSITIVE behavior that you set for his or her goal, you hand him a unifix cube.  The child begins to form a "train" of cubes and snaps the cubes together as he collects more.
Are you thinking: "Ummmm....Christina, this is NOT anything new...!" 

You're right! It's not new, but I think that sometimes in this crazy world of Pinterest, we need reminded of the SIMPLE things we can do to make our classrooms sweeter and our lives easier!

"Why does it work if it's so simple?"

Because this friend of mine is a fidgety friend who can't attend to my directions without having something in his hands. We've been working on strategies to help him control his body and his fidgety hands when he is at the carpet or in an assembly, for example.

Collecting cubes for his individual behavior plan allows him to fidget and "play" with the cubes while he's listening. I realize that may be SUPER distracting for some teachers.  But I know he is learning and taking in what I'm saying because I have recognized this is his way of coping. He can pull the cubes apart and snap them back together quietly while he is listening.  Do you ever doodle while you are in a PD workshop but yet you are still listening to the speaker? Kids are no different! Moving his hands and playing with an object often helps our brain focus on the task at hand. Sometimes kids need to DO something they are listening to you! So....let them! :)

I keep the cubes on my desk to remind myself to pass them out to the student frequently throughout the day.  When my friend earns 10 cubes for his train, he gets to go to the treasure chest (This was a prize that he chose on his own.)!! :)

I hope this was an easy and fast little behavior tip for you to use in your classroom! Individual behavior plans are often a great tool for helping kiddos thrive in our classrooms!

Thanks for letting me share with you!
You can visit my blog throughout the week by clicking the picture below!

I Would Make a Great Hibernating Animal...

Y'all... can I get an amen for Friday?  I was so stinkin' excited when 2:45 rolled around and I skipped out of the school.  Well, drug my almost lifeless body to the car is more like it.

Popping in to visit today and share a post that I wrote about hibernation and Groundhog's Day last January.  What a fun time to teach small humans, right?  This recycled post has a FREEBIE for you and some cool ideas to try in the classroom next week.... all with little prep and maybe just a quick trip to the grocery store!  Check out the pictures and click any of them to take you to the blog post to grab your freebie!  Hope you will all have a FABULOUS weekend!

Fun Math Apps for the Classroom

Hello Everyone! This is Susanna from Whimsy Workshop Teaching here today to share some great math apps!

As we all move ahead with using technology in our classrooms, things change so fast it can be hard to keep up! 
I recently attended a great Ed Tech presentation where teachers shared the math apps (between $0 - $5) that their students seemed to the most. 

I'm sharing that list with you today!        

Name: Math Tappers
Skill: Addition with fixed sum (ie. friends of 10) Choose the sum on the settings page, then simply tap the two numbers that add up to that total. Keep going until all the numbers are gone, then check progress.

NameMath Bingo
Skill: Basic facts practice; students win a cute big for each correct answer until they make five in a row. We play this as a whole class on the projector and they LOVE it!

Skill: Basic fractions practice; simple enough for independent practice.

Skill: Geometric Shapes with virtual elastics

Name: Number Pieces 
Skill: Place Value; count them up, or use to solve addition and subtraction problems.

Name: Hungry Fish  
Skill: Basic Facts practice; direct the fish around the eat the correct numbers.

If you need a few more math apps to try, click here to check out my full blog post.

I hope your students enjoy these new apps!


Ideas for Teaching Phonemic Awareness

Hi everyone! It's been a while! I'm really excited about today's post. I've been working on this post for a while. This is a topic that I feel really passionate about. Phonemic awareness is a huge part of my kindergarten curriculum. I wanted to share with you some things I do with my students to strengthen their phonemic awareness. You've maybe heard many or all of these before, but I thought it would be nice to have them in one spot with pictures and videos. 

Before I begin, let me make it clear that I do NOT claim to be an expert. I'm just sharing what I've learned over the years and what works for me. I know there is SO much more that I need to learn and I look forward to every. single. bit of it. :) 

Here we go! Let's get started.
Here are some activities that my students (and my son) love to do.

I do this with my kindergarten small groups every day. There are three ways we do this:
1. I use the slinky to stretch a word and they guess the word (they are blending sounds)
2. I give them a word and they stretch the sounds with the slinky (they are segmenting)
3. Make it a game: One student gets a picture card. They segment the word with the slinky and the group guesses the word. To see a little video, visit my blog (link at the bottom of this post).

I have all these trains and tracks since I have two boys. I'm putting them to use! 

In this video, I'm showing you different ways to use this track:
1. Isolating sounds
2. Segmenting Sounds
3. Manipulating Sounds 

I know what you're thinking. Sarah, these are the same activities just with different manipulatives. Yep, you got it. Repetition for our students is good. They think they are doing something different when you put something new in their hands.

I use this one the most. You've seen it before. You can use anything to push the sounds: pennies, pom-poms, math counters, etc. Make it interesting. I've even used acorns.

This is a favorite! Get a favorite stuffed animal or little puppet. I got this idea from this amazing teacher I worked with years ago in North Carolina. She taught me pretty much everything I know. Get your little puppet or stuffy. Tell your students that he speaks a funny slow language and you need help figuring out what he is saying. Ask questions like, "what is your favorite color?" Have your puppet answer, "/r/ /e/ /d/". Act really dramatic with the kids. A little dramatic flare gets their attention. Ha, ha. "What?! I can't understand you! Say it again." Have your puppet do it again. Then call on a student to "translate" for you. 

I had a video then I accidentally deleted it! Argh! It was a funny one. I had Shawn cracking up here.

SitSpots are the best! You can use them in your classroom to hop out the sounds of a word! Sorry this video is so blurry! 

I love using pipe cleaners and beads too! 

To read my full blog post with more videos AND to see my Intervention Kit, visit my blog:

Birthday Bonanza!

Hi!  This is Autumn from The Primary Techie.  I am so excited to have joined The Primary Chalkboard.  This week is my birthday so I decided to celebrate with a birthday blog!  I must confess that I do not actually enjoy birthdays at school.  Have you ever had that 2:55-getting-ready-to-leave-"aren't-you-going-to-sing-me-happy-birthday" moment?  I know I have!  While birthdays are not my favorite thing, to my kiddos they are the most important day of the year.  My school day is not really about me, it's about them!  That means I put on my happy face and make the most of every birthday.

The Birthday Celebration
Many years ago, when I taught third grade, I had an "ah-ha moment" that changed the way I celebrate birthdays at school.  We had FIVE birthdays in one week.  Did every single one of them bring cupcakes?  You betcha!  Was it also the week of Valentine's?  Yup!  Did more kids bring in sugary treats for Valentine's Day?  You know it!  We were so sick of sweets!  A couple weeks later, another birthday and another two dozen cupcakes.  We were outside scarfing them down, when I noticed one of my little guys looking very bummed out.  I asked what was wrong.  He told me that he had never had cupcakes for his birthday and he never would.  The terrible part was, he was right!  This was a kid whose family had fallen upon hard times.  This was a kid who had a difficult home life and often went without.  This kid was not going to get cupcakes and that really bummed ME out!  So, I looked at the situation.  FIVE sets of cupcakes and NO cupcakes.  Ah-ha!  The teacher light bulb flashed over my head and the birthday celebration was born!

ONE day each month where everyone with a birthday is celebrated!  I choose the day!  I always tell parents and kids about this at the very beginning of the school year.  I post birthday celebrations on our classroom calendar (which the kids take home each night) and on my class Facebook group.  Parents coordinate it so that we don't have five sets of cupcakes, we have one set and juice boxes and carrots and strawberries and plates.  I have had several parents bring in a cake with the names of all the birthday kids.  One year, I had a kid literally hopping with excitement because he had never had his name on a cake before.  There are things that many kids take for granted that mean the world to others.  This is a way to even the playing field.

Here are the pros of monthly birthday celebrations:
  • Everyone is included!  We even have a celebration for summer birthdays.
  • I plan it!  Celebrations are always on a Friday and are built into my lesson plans.
  • We get a variety of treats instead of perpetual cupcakes.
Here are the cons of monthly birthday celebrations:
  • Some parents are not good at following directions!  If I get treats on a child's birthday (not the celebration day), I send them home.  Yep!  I am that firm!  It isn't fair to all the kids and parents who abide by the rules to let the ones who don't have treats.  This rarely ever happens because it is a part of our routine and I have lots of communication with families.  Those who send treats know they are breaking the rule.  
  • Sometimes nobody brings anything.  When this happens, I bring a treat for the class.  It is important to me that all students are celebrated - even if that means I have to be the one to supply the treats.  
To remind parents about this class rule, I send home a little note at the beginning of the month.  They can sign-up to bring something or decline.  Click here to print your own notes.  

So on their real birthdays they get NOTHING?  Of course not!  We celebrate that too, just not with treats.  Here are some of the ways we celebrate actual birthdays:

1) Reading Birthday Books
Have you read about how I love scanning books?  If not, click here to check it out!  I am passionate about  reading books from my board - the ultimate big book!  I have a folder on my desktop called "Happy Birthday".  I keep all my digital birthday resources here.  In this folder, I have another folder filled with birthday books I have scanned.  I have thirty birthday books.  To easily track which books I have read, I named the files with numbers.  For example "1 - How do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday?"  All of my students are numbered and I read the book with their number.  If Abby Armstrong is number 1, on her birthday we are going to read How do Dinosaurs Say Happy Birthday.  I am not going to lie, scanning 30 books and creating digital versions of them takes time.  I put the time in several years ago and have been reaping the benefit ever since.  It is worth the initial investment of your time.  If you don't already own birthday books, look for digital versions and save yourself the hassle of scanning.  Before I realized the joys of reading from my board, I had bought entirely too many books.  I could not justify buying digital versions of books I already owned, so I started scanning.  I can't talk about scanning without mentioning that it is only okay to scan books for your own use.  You cannot share digital copies of your books, sell them, or post them on the internet.  This is a copyright violation.  I don't want to give you a bad idea that could get you into trouble!

2) Happy Birthday Handwriting
Oh man, do I ever HATE handwriting.  SO important, but SO boring!  Kids hate it, too.  BUT, they love making things for their friends.  I made some Happy Birthday handwriting sheets.  They trace the happy birthday song and turn it into a card to give to the birthday boy or girl.  It is good practice and the kids work extra hard because they want to do a nice job for their friend. These sheets are always a big hit in my classroom.  Click here to download a freebie! FYI - I predicted that I would get requests for d'nealian and cursive, so I included those options.

3)  Birthday Themed Behavior Management
Remember that birthday file on my desktop?  It also has some of my Classroom Management Life Savers with a birthday theme.  To read more about Classroom Management Life Savers, click here.  These keep the class on-track and they are extra-special when we have a birthday in the house!  I hope I am not including too many freebies in this post, but I actually love giving things away and if you have never tried my Classroom Management Life Savers, I want you to try them out.  Click here for a Birthday Puzzle.  

4)  Smells Like a Birthday!
This one is silly, but I really love it!  The sense of smell is very powerful to me and is attached to memories.  In my classroom, we melt a birthday cake scented wax cube from Scentsy only on a birthday!  All day long, it smells like birthday cake in our room.  It is a fun and easy tradition.  The kids actually notice and remind me if I forget.

5)  The Birthday Bag
I have several take-home bags for my kiddos.  One of the most popular is the birthday bag.  When a student has a birthday, they take the bag home for the night.  Inside, there are several birthday themed books and a little birthday stuffed animal.  To make the bag, I just took a plain tote and used fabric paint on the front.  On the back of my bags, I use fabric paint to write "Please enjoy this bag tonight and return it to school tomorrow."  There is also a journal for students to write about how they spent their big day.  When they return the bag the following day, they share their page with the class.  To make the journal I used a three-ring binder and clear page protectors.  In the pockets at the back of the binder, I put enough blank journal pages to last all year.  For copies of my journal pages, click here.

For more birthday ideas, visit my birthday board on Pinterest!

Make those days special for the kiddos in your classroom!  Check out these other birthday resources created by some of my very talented, Chalkie friends.

I am celebrating my birthday with a sale in my TpT store!  Stop on by to save 15% off of everything in my store!

Do you have any special ways to celebrate birthdays in your classroom?  Share them in the comments.  I would love to read them!

Until next time,

Common Core Writing Rubrics

Aloha everyone! It's Corinna from Surfin' Through Second. I hope the New Year is rolling right along for you and your class.

Today I wanted to share some Writing Rubrics for 2nd grade.

Last year I attended a workshop where we sat down and broke apart the 
Common Core standards at 2nd grade for each writing strand.

If you would like more details on the process you can check out my full post {HERE}.

It was a long process, but great to really understand what to look for in a student's writing.

Each rubric is broken down into 5 areas -Introduction, Development/Evidence, Conclusion, Organization and Language Skills (which apply to each strand). Click on the pictures to download each rubric.

I have an editable version that you can grab on Google Docs---> {HERE}

These are a great starting point and you can easily adapt and make kids friendly versions for your classroom.

I hope you find these helpful!