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Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Sink Or Swim

Have you ever heard of the game Sink or Swim? I love playing games in the classroom because it's fun and something different. The students love anything and everything game related so it's win-win! We played this game today, and the students and I thought it was just about the best thing ever!

Here's why Sink or Swim is awesome:

1.  100% student participation (Yay, engagement!)

2. Soooo fun

3. NO PREP! 

4. You can modify it to fit whatever objectives you are working on - Today we were working on double digit addition.

5. Competition

Back to the game, you want all of your students engaged so they all need something to write on. I used white boards today, but you can always use a journal or scratch paper.

Everyone solves or answers ALL problems. Today I wanted students to practice solving problems by drawing it out in base ten, and I really just wanted the students to solve a bunch of problems I didn't make copies of a worksheet and couldn't find one (and didn't look for one) without any regrouping problems. 

You divide the class into 2 teams, and they get to sit on their desks. They are immediately excited at this point since they never get to sit on their desks :) They see me sit or stand on desks and tables all the time, and this is the closest they will ever get to that in my room... so it is just about the best thing ever!

Assign each team a student 1, 2, 3, through however many kids you have in your class. Today, each team had 1-12 since I had a few students absent/out of the room at this point. This is important because ALL students solve ALL problems!

To begin, write a problem (or pose a question, depending on what you're working on) and have all the students respond on the white board (journal, etc). Give them adequate time to solve it and then call out a number - say number 12. The student who is number 12 on team 1 and 2 will show you the answer. The right answer allows them student to "sink" someone on the other team, or "save" someone who has been sunk on their team. If the student gets the answer wrong then they are sunk. When you're sunk, you sit in your chair instead of on your desk. BUT IT'S OKAY IF YOU'RE SUNK - YOU STILL HAVE TO SOLVE THE PROBLEMS! You can either be saved by someone on your team, or if the teacher calls your number, and you get the answer right, then you can get back in the game. The winning team is the team with the most people who are still "in" the game.

Here are some unwritten rules I play by:

1. I always do an extra tricky question at the end that's worth sinking or saving more people at the end to keep it interesting.

2. Arguing with me or showing poor sportsmanship results in the student being sunk until I say otherwise (Be careful and be reasonable with this - usually the students who argue or show poor sportsmanship are the ones that NEED engaging activities like this)

3. You talk out of turn or cheat - you're out! The only person who can save you is the teacher - with good behavior once being out, of course. Remember, this is an academic activity and we want ALL students answering ALL questions all the time. The student just would not have the option to save themselves OR sink someone until the teacher has allowed them to be back "in" the game.

4. Keep the game moving - don't give them too much time to solve the problems. It needs to be fast paced in order for the students to be engaged and STAY engaged. Give them enough time to solve the problem, but if the students you call aren't finished - they're out. I'll say something like "I need a final answer!" because sometimes they know the answer but couldn't write fast enough, but if they aren't finished then they're out. You don't want to sit around waiting for everyone because you'll be waiting forever. This is why being "out" isn't a big deal - keep the game moving fast and they won't be upset that they didn't finish in time. Also, they know that if they sit around wasting time then they could be out, which gets rid of a lot of kids just spacing out.

What games do you play in your classroom that are quick and easy?

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five for Friday

Happy Friday! 

The first box from my Donors Choose project has arrived! The kiddos were so excited to open it up, and check out the frog habitat and read the frog books. Now we just have to wait for the tadpole to arrive and we will be good to go! 

I cannot thank Donors Choose enough for this opportunity. I am beyond excited to begin this project with my students, and I'm pretty sure they are even more excited than I am. If you haven't done a Donors Choose project before, and there's something you need, then I highly recommend checking it out! It is well worth it. :)

We had the APEX Fun Run fundraiser at school, and I managed to trample several children run 24 laps! I didn't have to go to the gym that night.. woo hoo!

I've been catching up on my new favorite show on Netflix. I looooooove this show!

I am addicted to these books. I have literally spent hours two entire days reading them over the past few days. I just can't put them down! #booknerd

It's time for a haircut. I love having long hair, but I just don't have the time to deal with it. #teacherrproblems 

These are my top 3 picks, so we'll see what I decide tomorrow! 

Enjoy the weekend!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Working the Crowd: All About Seating Arrangements

I've never had a seating arrangement that I really like. I like to have my students in groups for various cooperative learning activities, and because it's easier to move around the room. The problem is that my classroom is much longer, which drives me crazy because some of the students are just so far away. It didn't matter if I constantly circulated the room because no matter where I was standing I was too far away from at least one student who needed redirection or help. I didn't know it at the time, but I wasn't working the crowd.

Fast forward a few months, and I see a class pop up about classroom and behavior management. I always am trying to up my game when it comes to classroom and behavior management, so I signed up right away. The class is all about "Tools for Teaching".

According to Dr. Fred Jones, you need to work the crowd, or the crowd works you. We all want classroom management that is cheap, meaning that it requires very little of our time and effort. That's just what we all need.. am I right??

 Each child is constantly asking himself or herself the question, "Is the coast clear?" Well, it depends on their proximity to the teacher, and we all know that we need to circulate around the room which is why our feet always hurt so stinkin' bad. The child may answer the question with one of the following responses:

1. No, the teacher is right next to me. THE COAST IS NOT CLEAR! (red)

2. Eh, well the teacher isn't too close, but they're facing me. The coast is probably not clear. (yellow)

3. The teacher isn't too close, and they're facing away from me. The coast is probably clear. (yellow)

4. The teacher is on the opposite side of the classroom. GO CRAZY THE COAST IS CLEAR! (green)

It all comes down to working the different zones in your classroom. Each classroom has 3 zones: red, yellow, and green.

The red zone is directly around the teacher. Students in this zone know the coast is NOT clear and that they won't be able to get away with anything since you are near them. The yellow zone is just outside of the red zone, and the coast may or not be clear depending on which direction the teacher is facing. The green zone is on the opposite side of the room, and anything goes in the green zone since you're so far away from those students.

Ideally, you'll move around the room during guided practice and constantly change the zones. With the zones changing quickly, the students won't have enough time to register that they're in the green zone, since in a few steps and they'll be back in the yellow and then red zone. It's the cheapest form of classroom management.

Now here's the question that I am constantly asking myself:

How can I constantly change the zones without killing my feet?

The answer is.. an interior loop!

You want an interior loop that you can walk around your classroom to monitor behavior and "check in" with your students. This allows you to "work the crowd" with the smallest possible amount of walking to save our feet. After a few hours tries, I finally came up with an arrangement for my interior loop!

This loop is maybe 10 feet. I hope it'll save my feet AND work out for my students!

I hope you can find ways to make this work for you. I'd love to hear how you work the crowd and manage your zones!