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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Turning Point

As part of a grant, our 4th grade received a set of clickers from Turning Point Technologies. If you are unfamiliar with clickers, it is basically a calculator sized response system. It allows you to ask questions at random or in a set of questions and elicit responses from your students that gives you instantaneous feedback. I have had the opportunity to use it in my math class multiple times. It really gives me an idea if students understand key concepts in the chapter. If students fail at a certain type of problem, I know that I need to reteach, review, or clarify how the problem works. This system also saves the data from each student, so potentially you could have students complete assignments or assessments and have their tests graded instantly when they finish the assessment. The limitations of our response system is that students are not allowed to type in answers or numbers to different styled questions. Another limitation is having to build or find all the different question sets that match our curriculum and goals of our students and classroom. Overall, I think this will be another excellent tool for reviewing that the kids can get excited about!


I had the opportunity to attend a professional growth training focusing on a presentation tool called Prezi. This internet tool allows students to create presentations, that include writing text, drawing, inserting pictures, and videos. The concept is similar to all different types of presentation formats, however, this tool makes it a lot more interesting and fun for the students. The 3d effects are like you are flying through infinite space. The ultimate goal would be to have students make their own presentations about a topic of study and then present it to the class. Although, this would take lengthy time in the computer lab, which we all know is impossible. I would also like to integrate it into my teaching because it allows you to add a lot of dimensions to your lessons with pictures, videos, and linking to websites. If you was not able to make it, you should check it out. It is also free for education members, and all you need is a email. Students can also work on the project together, while being at two different!

responsive classroom (r)

I was pleased with the year and my focus on installing responsive classrooms. Improvements that I want to make next year include keeping the morning meeting interesting and exciting (as hard as they may be sometimes). This includes adding more greetings, activities, and sharing opportunities. In addition I would like to give more responsibility to the students as the year progresses. This includes allowing more choice in all aspects of the meeting. Also, I would eventually like to turn over the whole meeting by the end of the year and have it run by the students. I think this would be good for several reasons; public speaking, leadership, and responsibility. I am eager to find out if this would work in 4th grade or not. There is no doubt that I will continue endorsing responsive classroom ideology. Also next year I would like to include the "take a break/quiet place" for all students, and of course myself. I am still debating whether or not to have that inside the room or outside the room, and whether I want them to complete a check list or do some type of reflecting while they are refocusing. Overall it was a good year with RC and I hope to improve the skills I teach to the students.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Reflection on the Year

This year, I have been pleased with a lot of the RC concepts that I have implemented.  The most effective thing, and the thing I have referred to the most throughout the year, has been the introduction of CARES.  Before starting anything new--group work, first substitute, field trips--we discussed which of the CARES we were really going to need and how that would look.  We also discussed CARES when we had problems to address.  It was nice to have common language and clear expectations.

The other thing I have found very effective is activity breaks.  Particularly at this point in the year, I can see when my students are starting to get antsy or completely glaze over.  I have a variety of quick activities I can pull from in order to wake them up or just shake up the routine. 

The main thing I'd like to work toward next year is keeping up a more positive environment throughout the whole year.  I think we all expect things to fall apart a bit as we hit spring and the kids are ready to be done, but I find that this time is far too stressful for the kids.  I would like to work on getting ideas really enlist their help in keeping the classroom environment positive through the end of the year.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

RC Year in Review

I have enjoyed implementing Responsive Classroom into my classroom this year. I can say that my greatest strength this year has been classroom management and I believe it is because of the responsive classroom framework. As much as I get sick of modeling over and over and OVER again it has really paid off. The things that were successful in my classroom this year were:

  • Hopes and dreams- the flower pot at the front of the classroom and the students can change their hope/dream each quarter.

  • Take a break chair and buddy room- The buddy room worked the best for my students. I also used a visual stoplight system that went along with the take a break chair and buddy room.

  • MODELING-over and over for EVERYTHING!!

  • Y Charts- What it looks like, feels, like, sounds like

  • Morning Meeting: This has become very repetitive but it has been something that helps the students get going in the morning and it helps me know what kind of day I am in for based on the students behavior!

  • Activities: I love the activity cards I made. When we have a few minutes of the students need to get up and move around I grab a card and we do a quick activity.

Next year I want build on what I did this year and learn more responsive classroom ideas from the website and my colleagues. I also want to work on making morning meeting not so repetitive. I want to find new ways to do morning messages and activities. It has been a great year and this blog has helped my get new ideas from my colleagues and keep my RC up to date! Thanks everyone for the great ideas!! Have a great SUMMER! 20 more days (but who's counting)!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Consequences vs. Short Term Fix

One of the things I've really been thinking about in the past few weeks is my reaction to negative choices at school.  I think I tend to play it safe, fearing that I will go overboard with a consequence that is hurtful to a student.  I constantly hear stories from friends of "that teacher back in ______ grade" that did something so terrible.  These are adults that aren't able to let go of the incident that occurred in 2nd grade because it was so hurtful or undeserved. 

Because I always have that thought in the back of my mind, I think I walk a careful line between giving consequences that solve the problem for the time being and consequences that are a little more serious.  For example, if a student is talking in the hall, I move him/her to stand next to me.  Should I be having that student practice at a different time?  Am I being too lenient?  I know that the most helpful thing is to help that child make better choices in the future--that is my job and my desire as a  teacher.  But I think that looks different for every kid.  One student may need to be moved in the line...another may need to practice during Quiet Choice.  That's the part that makes it tricky.  There isn't one right answer.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Reflection on the Year with RC

With only one month of school left, I have been thinking back a lot on how this year went. I have been thinking about the things that worked well and things that I am going to change for next year. My goal was to really start up the year with RC and use as many components as I could fit in. I did use it a lot at the beginning of the year in developing our hopes and dreams, creating rules, talking about consequences and setting up the Take a Break chair. I feel that all of these activities were beneficial, and I am for sure going to use them next year. I remember feeling crunched for time at the beginning of the year and not knowing if I should take the time to do these activities. I have seen benefits throughout the year and have referred back to them. I also redid their hopes and dreams 2nd and 3rd quarter and I will do this again. I didn't get to it fourth quarter, so I will give that a try. I also did a lot of modeling this year which I will do again. I have been lucky with a very well behaved class this year, so I need to for sure look through the book and papers from this summer to gear up for next year since we will have such a different population. I would also like to learn more about the problem solving meetings that go along with RC. I will also continue my morning meeting with greetings and activities. I have noticed that I have become comfortable with a few greetings and activities and another goal I have is to expand the number of activities and greetings that I do next year. Any other suggestions of things I should implement next year? Thanks! :)