What happened last year

The new school semester has started off so strong I haven’t had time to blog or to recount what happened last semester. Thankfully, I have a day off to think about it. Here’s what happened last semester in no particular order.

  • I don’t have a filing system. However, my crazy paper mess makes sense to me. I don’t LIKE it, but I can usually find things within a matter of minutes.

  • BOWTIES! What else is there if not bowties? wpid-20150109_175519.jpg

  • My charts are ROCKING! I’ve found them so useful this year. I do have them hanging in a system. System is to easy to understand! I think my co-workers have been poaching my charts!wpid-20140513_110035.jpg

  • My progress monitoring of struggling students is working. I can see where each student is and a have a plan for each one. I’ve even got a shout out a couple times for having my paper work on point.

  • When I saw that something didn’t work I didn’t try to make it work. I just dropped it and kept it moving.

  • My centers are so/so. I overhauled my Centers chart and now it just doesn’t make sense. Should have left it well enough alone. That being said the kids have great center time. They like it and they’re learning. I simply have to have a better rotation schedule.

  • I didn’t do a great job laying down the rules/procedures of the class. Some have picked them up, but the vast majority aren’t trying to do right.

  • We don’t go outside AT ALL!

  • I find myself busy most of the day. Not a lot of down time. That’s good. That’s bad.

  • MEAL PREP! Excellent idea. I don’t know who I picked it up from, but I’m glad I did.wpid-20141007_095025.jpg

  • My class isn’t on auto-pilot. I think this is a goal that I should let go of. My students more than likely aren’t going to be the kinds that will follow a schedule without someone pointing out to them to do it.

  • Keeping all homework in a spiral notebook was a great idea! Keeping all classwork in 1 spiral wasn’t as good an idea.

  • I’m so glad that they started the 4 week lesson plan. It makes it so much easier to plan.

  • Speaking of planning, I’m doing a pretty good job planning. I could always do better.

  • Class Dojo is perfect! So glad I didn’t give up on this.

  • I stopped asking dumb questions. Here are a few.

    • Did that make sense to you? (Of course it made sense to a 7 year old!)

    • Why didn’t you do ABC? (Because I didn’t want to!)

    • Do I need to call your mother/father? (Just call ’em don’t prime the pump)

2015 has started off perfect. I realize that last semester I spend a lot of time trying to get 4-6 students to do while the other suffered. This semester the 4-6 are going to have to get in where they fit cause I’m focusing my energy on those who want to be prepared. We only have 80 days of school left! No time to patty cake with those who aren’t trying to do what needs to be done.

No matter what I have just about 640 school hours to get as much info into the minds of these students. 3,2,1…go!

Let’s retie last week

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Last week was busy. Lots of fun activities, but at the end of the day this stuff has to stick. Somehow I need to cover each lesson in gobs & gobs of honey so it sticks. Maybe peanut butter. Whatever the analogy, I got to get as much info to stick in these little minds as I can.

Doing great with my daily filing and grading. I’m a little slack writing my plans for the next week, though.

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Meal prep has been on point. It really has transformed my daily routine for the better.  My portions are good and I’m not starving all day.

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The wife is liking the selections. I’m slowly getting rid of all plasticware for our warm meals. Glass just seems to be a much better choice. Holds up in the microwave and dishwasher better.

College road trip week

 

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I've been having a ball during this College Road Trip week. My only goal is; to make college sound like an obtainable goal. I know it's a long shot and most of my kids have a rough time thinking past next week. But if there was hope for me, I can at least hold out hope for them. If nothing else my students won't pull one of these on me. (They don't have a choice, but know where I went to college.) 

To get the kids hyped up I mixed up our Class Dojo for the week. Everyday they want to earn 3 points (which should be pretty easy) to move to the next "grade". They seem receptive to it,which is a major plus! 

  • Monday 3= Freshman
  • Tuesday 3 = Sophmore
  • Wednesday 3 = Junior
  • Thursday 3 = Senior
  • Friday Graduation Day! We celebrate my decorating these Class of 2027 badges I have and making Coke Floats for our science lesson. 

So far this is what I've done. 

Monday I wore my cap and gown around to tell them that they have to start today thinking about what they'll have to do to get to high school graduation in 10 years and college in 14. 

Tuesday I wore my Morehouse apron all day coupled with that gigantic flag I picked up last week. 

Wednesday I'm rocking the highly anticipated Morehouse bow tie.

Thursday I'm pulling out the Morehouse sweater. A true fan favorite. 

Friday I'm doning the cap and gown to celebrate our kids moving forward in life. I put it out there and I hope some of the other teachers wear their's as well. What else you going to do with it? 

Pictures will follow. I really wish I could've done more. I've already put in some ideas for next year. We do this again I'm going BIG or going home. 

A fidget solution

If you teach boys you know they have an extra battery that allows them to just do to much. Not sure why, but God chose this and it's just the way it is. 

 

I saw this somewhere and thought I'd give it a shot. 

I used some stretching bands from the gym. Shout to my coach at Crossfit South Cobb. I tied it up as a rope around the bottom of the chair and bang! It worked excellently. The Energizer Bunny has been tamed. I only did this to 1 chair and so far the kid was on point. Actually he was only off task when he wasn't in his chair. Hahahaha. 

 

I'm thinking I'll attempt it with another real mover and shaker. This one sadly, I think, will try to break the band more than anything else. I have two others that could use it so I'll fix their chairs in the AM. What I will do is make it a reward to those who get better at classdojo and the 7 habits. 

My other classroom fix the Anchor chart hanger has been outstanding. I just scored a few more hangers so I think I can hang every chart I have right now. I won't mention that I've made 4 charts since I did this video Tuesday!

 

This week has been good. We have some lofty goals, but we're ready for the challenge. How was your week of teaching and learning? 

Flash cards and recycled photo albums

 

This worked better than I thought. The kids loved it. I'll certainly be adding  a subtraction and maybe some phonics cards as soon as I get some more photo books.

Kids are LOVING the actions and movements that go along with 7 habits. We practice the movements in our AM meeting. I was able to order some of the books and materials for the program and we're reading them in class. 

   

This week we set goals (Habit #2) for ClassDojo points each wanted to have by the end of the day. Everyone just about hit their goal. We'll start planning other academic goals today. 

I have a good sense about our progress so far. I know the mountain is high, but they do want to do right. I've been able to roll out a lot of modifications that have helped me with my class management as well as over all stress. I don't feel my class is the BEST it could be, but it's certainly functional. That was my goal for this year. 

A month left

My calendar tells me that I have just under 30 days left in the school year. Not 30 days to chill or take my foot off the peddle. Nope. I have 30 days to make 20 second graders glad that they're going to 3rd grade. For some,sadly, I want them to seriously pray they don't have me next year. 

What the Hunger Games has taught me about teaching

I devoured the HG series this week. Amazon did me a huge favor by allowing me to borrow the 1st copy to get me hooked. Needless to say I ravished all three books in a week. While I was working with a small group of kids I realized even more how the students respond to Class Dojo. They want to get as many points as possible, especially when they know that Friday we're going to have a treat. It made me think about the HG and how Tributes responded to the parachutes during the games. Here are some things I'm going to implement in class. 

  • I'm going to give out my classroom jobs by lottery. I've attempted doling them out by having the students write an application. This would be much more interesting. *Update, this worked perfect. I am going to have to change the classroom jobs more often. Allowing them to keep them for weeks and weeks isn't working right. Maybe 3 days top.   
  • Drop little "gifts" on students during the lessons. Maybe a calculator during a math 2 min drill or a book to help give more insights during a science lesson. 
  • I have to manage classroom supplies better. "3 pencils and that's all. If you need another I will have to start taking a Class Dojo point from you." 
  • Push the kids to work in groups that grow and flex all the time. This is more of a planning issue than anything else. Need to find a way to reward them for successfully working together. The catty-ness is so old!
  • The more we understand our situation to better we can make decisions and not have to repeat lessons. 
  • Understand that it's easy to become the thing you despise even if you think you're doing a noble work. Don't sink in order to get what you need. 
  • Going to have some kind of mid week reward on Wednesday not just Friday. 5 days is too long for my students. Maybe if the students get 1/2 of the points needed for Friday by Wednesday they can do something fun on Wednesday afternoon. 

Testing starts next week. I can't wait for this to be over. I'm not sure how well my class will do, but I'm just ready for them to get it over with. The stress on the teachers and the kids is immense. The desire to succeed is even tougher when it doesn't seem to be met with equal desire by the students. Just got to hope and trust for the best. 

Day 62 of the 115 Royal Burpee challenge. Been beating my up for sure. I have the lion share of them to still do. Joy! *I'll do 5 burpees for every comment I get about my comparison on THG and teaching. Almost got a muscle up yesterday at Crossfit South Cobb. Got to build off that momentum. 

Mr. Whitaker’s behavior report from Mr. Whitaker’s Workshop.

ClassDojo has just increased their usefulness many fold! Now, I'm able to email parents much faster.  This is great, cause I email and text parnets often. This is a snippet of what they receive via email. As you can see I'm always on task. 

Hi,
I would like to share this report of Mr.’s behavior from Wednesday, 1st Feb 2012 to Thursday, 1st Feb 2018 with you. The report is attached to this email.

I hope this is useful.

Mr. Whitaker

I'm using ClassDojo to track and help you engage with your child’s behavioral progress. This will have a big impact on how much they learn in class, and will help your children build good behavior and good academic results.

Download Dojo

Class vs. Shaving cream (Round 1)

I get tired of watching my students go through ream upon ream of paper just wasting it. So I got this idea from another blog to use shaving cream as an assignment. It's not cheaper per say, but it's sure a lot more fun. 

*Mind you I did notice that this student has the "+" symbol in the wrong place and an "=" sign where it's not needed. My hands were covered in shave cream and I was good to get one picture. 

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We were working on inverse operations to see/prove that subtraction can help us better understand addition. The kids loved it. Since I did a lot to prep the lesson this really hit home. They did this for about 20 minutes, cleaned up and and journaled what they found. Only one had cream all the way up to his elbows. None got any on the floor. Most surprisingly none got any on their classmates. 

It cost me $1.16 for a can of cream. Not bad. Tomorrow we may pull out the shave cream again and work with forms of energy. Might save this for the next time I'm being observed to either a) hit a home room or b) crash and burn in a blaze of glory. 

*Points to remember if you use this method

  • Tell the class they're icing cakes. That will keep them from rubbing the shaving cream so much that it evaporates.
  • I'd think that whipped cream would work, but it's sticky, the kids will try to eat it, and it might attarach bugs. 
  • They don't need a big space. The size and shape of a legal sheet of paper is fine. 
  • One can of shave cream goes a LONG way. Thought I was going to need like two, but ended up using 3/4 of one. That's with me re-upping many kids work areas. 
  • Take your time wrapping up. As you're talking and going back over the steps, the shaving cream dries. This makes it very easy to clean up. 
  • Have baby wipes on hand unless you want to send them to the rest room to wash their hands. 
  • Don't sweat cleaning the table/desks until after school. Shave cream is soap and doesn't hurt anything. It just leaves a film on the desk, but it washes off quickly. 

The bet that my class could get 150 class Dojo points has been less than spectacular. As of today they've earned 80, but also have lost 79. That's not good. Going to do something special for those who are on track with 5 or more points tomorrow. Maybe they'll get extra center time or get to go as a small group to the media center. Can't focus to much and to long on those who won't do right. I have some Prince and Princess students who want to learn and are making the most of each day. Can't let a few ogre's ruin it. 

Off to Crossfit South Cobb

The heart of a teacher

When I get really beat down and don't feel like anyone understands what in the world I'm going through, I recite this to myself. "I have the heart of a teacher and I'm making a difference for many generations to come".  

Today I recited that little bit more than a few times. It was tough, but I had to keep reminding myself that I'm getting through to these kiddos. I chose to suspend Fun Friday this week. It wouldn't have been beneficial to only have a celebration for just a few kids. This week the goal was 11 ClassDojo points. Some of my kids not only weren't on track to hit 11, but they weren't on track to get 3 points this week. I let Monday spoil me since everyone was on their game. I reminded them yesterday during our end of the day reflection time that they needed to make sure they pushed to get as many points as possible Wednesday. To many misunderstood me and came in to get as few points as possible today. I don't think enough of them believed that I would cancel it. So they had to see that getting the core content was far more important to me than anything else.

I also threw my hard cases a curve. I called everyone of their parents this afternoon. Many was on the phone with me when the offender walked in the door from the school bus. I wouldn't have minded seeing their faces. 

This week has been good, even with today being a tough one. I'm ready to start tomorrow anew. Back to the grind. 

Great Crossfit workout today. I feel like I was run over from the heavy front squats Monday, but that's why we do it.