Monday, December 7, 2015

SAP | A Classroom Management Tool

When your principal hands you a book and says you should read do it. Even if it stinks. However, I'm here to brag on my administration as well as give you a tool to use. My principal gave me a book entitled, The Little Book of Talent: 52 Tips for Improving Your Skills by Daniel Coyle. I can't say enough about this little book of amazing. It truly is a small book, but it is packed full of fantastic ideas for life that you will find yourself reading it over and over again. The book is so simple, yet beyond challenging. It challenges me to take 100 steps forward by doing just doing one small thing. As I was reading, I was finding myself thinking back to the days of playing piano starting in third grade and the foundational skills my teacher taught me that made the next 10 years of recitals and GACS competitions happen. I thought of my speech coach who pushed me way out of my comfort zone which led to an experience I will never forget my senior year of high school. I thought of the first few years of playing soccer (which, by the way, were way past the "foundational years") in high school and college and how not once did I have a practice that my coaches didn't spend time on the foundational skills of ball handling. I wouldn't have a NCCAA national championship medal hanging in my closet if it weren't for that.

All that to say, why do we spend so much time on trying to make things EXTRAVAGANT and "the best"? This is something I will totally own. I am the master of trying to implement so many new things that a lot of the time don't even end up working. Changing it up is a good thing-a really good thing for 5th graders, but why not just go back to the basics?

Tip #15 in The Little Book of Talent, is to "Break Every Move Down Into Chunks."

Educators, can we say "duh?" This concept was one taught in every single class in college for us. However, I haven't thought of it in the sense of classroom management much. Without further adieu, here is my tool. :)

Have your students pick a SAP (Smallest Achievement Possible) each day or week depending on your preference. I am currently starting this weekly. Eventually, I'd love to move it to a daily SAP. They completely buy into this and encourage each other ALL.DAY.LONG. to reach their goal. Our first "SAP" as a class is to "line up with excellence (quickly & quietly). The last few days, whenever we line up, all I hear is whispers of "SAP, SAP, SAP." Music to my ears :) I love that they have something to work towards and that it truly is bringing them together more as a class as well. 

I had to make this shine, so I simply bought hobby lobby wood letters and mod podged gold glitter on them. Glitter it all, y'all.

xoxo, Rachel


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Tying Responsibility into The Secret Garden

Abraham Lincoln so wisely said "The best way to predict the future is to create it." I am realizing more every day that how I teach the curriculum in my classroom is ultimately up to me. The what doesn't change, but I can create my lessons as uniquely as I desire. As I have said before, we have the opportunity to teach character education along with our core knowledge curriculum at my school. I teach a mini lesson each morning about our R.E.S.P.E.C.T acronym each morning. Each letter represents a character quality that we get to teach for a whole month to our kiddos. We are currently on our "R" letter which stands for "Responsibility." Each month, we have an assembly that introduces the new character word. These assemblies cut into my Literature class. I can either complain about that cutting into my oh so precious instructional time or use it to my advantage! 

We are currently reading The Secret Garden in our Literature class. We are LOVING the changes we are seeing in each character, so I decided to use the 20 minutes of class I had left for that day's class time to build off of the responsibility assembly. They were placed into groups of 3, given a butcher paper and a sharpie and were told to do the following:

  • Create a 3-part Venn Diagram
  • Label the circles, "Responsibility", "Mary" & "Colin"
  • Create your own definition of "Responsibility" and write it in the correct circle
  • Complete the rest of the diagram by showing how Mary and Colin showed (or didn't show) responsibility in the novel so far
Not going to lie, I was a little nervous to see if they were going to be able to use a skill we had just practiced (Venn Diagrams) and apply it so quickly to a new concept. I WAS AMAZED. They worked well as teams and each group shared a new thought that was different from the rest. It was a success!

I shared this thought with my homeroom at the beginning of the year and it has been used more times than I can count. 
"Deeper thinking=Intentional Action" 
(Y'all, that's an original from your one and only...ME) ;)

I truly believe that they were forced to think deeply during that activity. My goal is that they learn from Colin and Mary, who are the same age as them and intentionally seek to show responsibility for what they truly can be responsible for at this time in their little lives. 

Can I tell you a secret? Some of the groups thought of things that even I didn't think of...that's why I just love.this.age. I learn something new almost every day from them.

Below are some pictures from the activity:

If you've made it to're awesome ;) Hope you've been inspired to try pairing character to a new lesson. It'll change your view forever on that topic, your students, and your view on life in general.

xoxo, Rachel

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Tracking Our Thoughts with Intention

Intentional is my "goal-word" for this year. Teaching at a charter school gives me the opportunity to teach character each and every day. This is my favorite aspect about where I work. We are challenged daily to teach with intention and to guide their little minds and hearts to think deeper than what the world accepts to be the "norm." Of course, this has flooded my thoughts about how I need to be intentional with each and every lesson I teach as well.

Teaching Reading has been my biggest struggle to teach this year. We are starting with a novel that I adore--The Secret Garden. I can't get enough of the changes that each character undergoes throughout each chapter. Talk about character education in a nutshell! However, I feel as though I am struggling to challenge my students. Their comprehension skills are very high and they seem to make connections very easily...when the book is read to them. Reading to self is a different story this year. I'm not finding the joy that I saw last year in my students during this time. 

I came across a lesson that I knew would challenge them. I knew I had to be intentional about the approach I took, so I put together these cute bookmarks for them, which they loved -all about how you present it to them, right? ;)

"Sticky Note Thinking" bookmarks freebie here.
[Full credit goes to "Ideas by Jivey"!]

After giving them the bookmarks and discussing the "talking to your book thought-starters", we learned about the three levels of note-trackers. Using the shallow water/deep water illustration totally hooked them and was clear in their sponge-like minds! It was like Christmas morning seeing the light-bulb-moments while learning about the higher level thinking in this anchor chart below. 

My class enthusiastically agreed that we wanted 2 or 3 level trackers when reading! "We don't want to swim with floaties, Mrs. Baun!"

It was overall a HUGE success. I felt it was the first time I was able to visually see these kiddos pulling those thoughts into words--what a powerful skill! 
"This reminds me of the story of Mr. Craven and his wife, but Mary and Dickon." 
Wow! I love it when they make connections. Deep thinking right here, y'all.

My favorite part of the whole class period was one of my sweet boys saying on his way out the door, "Mrs. Baun, Reading class is SO fun!" 

The love of reading is a gift that can not be given--it must be caught.
Again, my teacher heart is oh so full.  

xoxo Rachel

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

The day I caved...Erin Condren TLP

So last year I spent $8 on my lesson planner. Not gonna' lie, I felt pretty wonderful after making that purchase. I grew up being taught to be wise with my I will continue to teach my kiddos when we start a family. However, last year my planner was already ripping and falling apart by Christmas. It wasn't cute but I kept telling myself I saved money with that purchase. (Woohoo!)

However...this summer I caved. I decided I was going to use some of my gift cards from teacher appreciation week (love my AVA families!) to go towards an Erin Condren Teacher Life Planner. Yep, I said it...Erin Condren. My crazy self was going to purchase a $60 planner. Don't judge until you continue reading. I decided it back in June when there was a 25% off deal and started looking. I found the perfect one and decided I would ask my husband first if it was okay before I ordered it. My sweet boy gave me the green light so I logged back in to my account only to find out that they pulled everything offline to create the updated version. I about cried so I emailed them hoping that the 25% off could still be added to my purchase when they were going to open it back up again in July but they emailed back saying they couldn't but they wanted to give me $10 towards my account because of the inconvenience. WOW! I know that may not seem much but I was blown away by their willingness to take care of their customers. I was appeased and THEN when they opened up the site again in July, I went back to customize the TLP again only to find out that they offered ANOTHER 25% off the entire original purchase along with a free gift of "colorful date dots". 

Y'all...I paid $15 dollars TOTAL for my Erin Condren Teacher Life Planner. This young, budget conscious teacher has a happy heart! 

Thank you, Erin Condren!! ❤️

If you too are thinking you're crazy, but still want to dive into the Erin Condren world, follow this link and you will automatically get $10 off your purchase! AND you will put another $10 on my account when you purchase. Yay!

Do it. Now. ;)

xoxo Rachel 

Thursday, May 21, 2015

"A few of my favorite things..."

So I hate that I didn't start blogging until after this first year, but I thought I'd share a "few of my favorite things" from my football themed classroom this year. If you'd like to see the rest of my classroom and decor, feel free to check out my board on Pinterest here!

So here goes my favorites. It was hard to choose just a few, so...I may have chosen a lot ;)

This was my biggest hit this year. I got to the point where I felt I was not recognizing those who did what was right and how important that piece is when teaching, so I created this "Hall of Fame" board. Each class, I would choose a "Hall of fame-er" and they ATE.IT.UP.
Positive Reinforcement is key. 
*When students would get chosen, their name would also get on the "leaderboard." If they made it on the leaderboard 7 times, they would choose from my Touchdown Choice Board (next post). 

This is just a simple Choice Board for my reward system. They LOVED the "teacher chair and desk for two classes" reward. I sat at my kidney table most of the year ;) Freebie here!

My M.I.A. Board (Missing or Incomplete Assignments) was my lifesaver this year. When you teach 80 kiddos in one day, it's impossible to stay on top of missing assignments. With 5th Grade being a transition year from elementary school to middle school, I wanted to give them a way to take responsibility of coming in and checking my MIA board for any missing assignments. If they didn't, it only affected their grade...not mine ;).

It helped my sanity with being aware of who had missing assignments and who I wanted to keep in for detention and so on as well as allowing them to  OWN THEIR LEARNING.

P.S-It eliminated the "Mrs. Baun, what am I missing for your class?" question. One less question I had to answer! :)

My momma used this when she taught 5th grade and it's worked so well for whole class behavior Marble Jar. Pretty simple...if they do well as a class, they earn marbles; if they do not-so-well as a class, they lose marbles. If they fill the jar up to the ribbon, they get a whole-class prize. We had a school-on-the-floor-day and they loved it!

Classroom Clean-up: 
My classroom used to be left so dirty until I started this system. We have a "clean-up song" (we've used "Walking on Sunshine", "Brave", and now "Summer" (HSM2). When the song starts, they know voices go off and they start packing up and cleaning their pod and team shelf area. By the time the song ends, they know to be in their seats with hands folded. I then walk around the room and check for any paper (I'm picky ;)). If their area is perfectly spotless, they earn a point. When they get to 10, they get to choose from the Touchdown Choice Board. 

My room is spotless. 

Teacher-life-changer :)

"Wait! Did you remember to write your name?"

I was so frustrated at the beginning of the year when I had SO MANY no-name papers. Once I enforced this highlighting system, it changed everything. When they see the highlighter mug beside my turn-in bins, they never forget to write their name if they have to highlight it! Who would have thought. :)

Hot Seat:

My kiddos love our "hot seat" game! It started out being a get-to-know-you activity at the beginning of the year. One student would sit on my stool and everyone would have a chance to ask that person any question they wanted. It was a fun way to learn more about each other. Before Christmas break, my CVC Room Momma brought this PATRIOTS chair in for me as a gift for our Hot Seat. I am a huge Pats fan so this was definitely a favorite for this year! So thoughtful.

"I'm Done Jar":

Room Momma striked again! I mentioned how I was looking for "I'm Done" activities so she created strictly Core Knowledge Curriculum supplements that were straight from our What Does Your Fifth Grader Need to Know book. You can't get much better than that. Students come up to me constantly so excited about how they remember learning about specific concepts or novels and that they knew exactly how to demonstrate whatever it was asking for. Such a cool thing to see your students enthusiastic about USING prior knowledge!

Thank you for visiting! Hopefully you can walk away with some ideas for your classroom! 

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Year One...Complete✔️

"The real turning point in my classroom wasn't some moment when I felt like I knew everything about teaching. It was the moment I fully embraced that I didn't know everything and was a learner just like my students."

My first year of teaching is complete.

The above quote couldn't have said it any better. For my first year of teaching, I learned right along with my "Little Baun-Bauns." I wish I started blogging back in August with my football themed classroom, but we all know how your first year teaching is. NO TIME. It was an amazing first experience and I wouldn't change my profession for the world. God's leading is incredible. Love my school to death.

I can't wait to share my ideas, freebies, along with what's worked and not worked with next year's JUNGLE THEME!'s about to get WILD in here...