Sunday, April 16, 2017

5 Rewards that don't lead to Entitlement

5 Rewards that don't lead to Entitlement - here are 5 ideas that can be used to encourage children to take pride in their work, but not feel entitled to rewards.

I'm not a big fan of rewards. 
I feel rewards teach children to expect a payoff every time they put effort into something. Rewards often lead to a sense of entitlement, which isn't what the real world is about. 

HERE is a blog post I wrote a while ago that goes into details about WHY I don't like rewards.

I know what you're thinking... 
but how do we motivate children to complete work?
How do we motivate children to learn?

Well, I have a few tricks up my sleeve. 
The idea is to get children to take pride in their accomplishments.
It just so happens I've had a gazillion beanies in my basement from when my daughter was younger. She was just at the right age when they became popular, and people kept giving them to her! (If you ask around, I'm sure you could find someone who has a ton of these that they'd love to get rid of!)

No, they don't get to keep the beanies, but they get to keep them on their desk for the day! I'll bet you're thinking...don't the kiddos play with them all day?

Well, no, because I'm pretty strict about that. 
If they play with the beanies, they lose the beanies. 

Every morning the children are invited to put a beanie on their desk to keep them company for the day. They can earn more throughout the day by asking thoughtful questions, showing perseverance, helping classmates, and a variety of "above and beyond" behaviors that I want to emphasize.

Since it's not a thing they get to keep, it's not about greed. 
It's about pride. 

I also have a collection of flags, including many from different countries. I admit, the American flags are the most popular, but once they figure out the other countries, those become popular, too! The flags are rewards, similar to the beanies, but on a higher level. I'll give flags for effort, success on math facts, handwriting awards, or remembering to show their work in math.  Again, they don't get to keep the flags, but it is a source of pride.

Kids do need to play. Personally, I'd love to see them get a whole lot more recess, but that's not something I can control. But if the group gets their work done in a reasonable amount of time, and they put effort into that work, they can earn some play time. One of their favorites is time to play with the math manipulatives! They also enjoy time with clay, painting, and we even spent some time making paper airplanes! These group rewards serve several purposes: they encourage the children to work as a team, and they get along amazingly well at these times! When it's time to pick up, they're good sports because they know they want to earn this "play time" again! Another thing... giving them specific play time with manipulatives helps them NOT play with them when using them as math tools. 

Yes, you read that right! When my class brainstormed ideas for things they could earn with good behavior and hard work, science experiments was one of the first things on the list! (Don't tell the kids, most of these science experiments are things I'd do with the children anyway, but when it's used "as  a reward", it's very motivational!)

The above experiment, the "floating egg" is part of THIS resource: Science and Social Studies Activities for April
The kiddos absolutely loved it, and it was quite simple. (They're still talking about it!)
Lego Abe has been an important part of my classroom for several years now. I think he was part of a "Happy Meal" toy or something like that, but he's been a big hit!

Every day, Lego Abe gets to sit on the desk of one of my cherubs. It's announced in my daily morning letter, and he always goes to someone who has been a good role model or showed exceptional effort or perseverance. At the end of the day, Lego Abe takes his "Gettysburg Address" back to his "log cabin" to sleep for the night.

You may not have your own Lego Abe, but I'm sure you've got something the children might cherish as much as mine cherish Lego Abe.

Have you noticed a theme? NONE of these rewards are given for being "smart" or "talented." They are given for effort and hard work! Plus, NONE of these rewards are things the children get to keep. They are simply a recognition for a job well done, and encourage children to take pride in what they do.

These rewards don't encourage entitlement, they encourage children to work. Isn't that what we want?

Saturday, April 1, 2017

Resources for April!

Resources for April! If you'll be teaching in the month of April, this post has links to plenty of ideas, books, videos, and resources!
I'm so glad to see the calendar finally turning to April! March has always been a long month, but April has a whole lot of fun learning to be had! Here are links to blog posts for many of the events happening in April!

I've got plenty of April Fool's fun ideas in THIS blog post!

Looking for Science and Social Studies ideas for April? See my blog post HERE.

Easter is right around the corner. Here are a couple of blog posts to help you out! Easter Resources and An Easter Warning and an Easter Tradition.

Don't forget spring! Although we have snow predicted for this weekend here in New England, spring truly is trying to work it's way through this nasty weather! Be sure to check out these Spring Resources!

Plus, baseball season is starting up! If you have any baseball fans in your classroom, you'll have to checkout Baseball Fun!

For ideas and resources for Earth Day, see THIS link.
Many of my friends and coworkers agree, March was a very long month, but it's April, and there's a whole lot to look forward to! Maybe you can start the month winning some great stuff!

Sunday, March 26, 2017

3 Ways to Use Individual Whiteboards for Quick Practice

3 Ways to Use Individual Whiteboards for Quick Practice: There are plenty of ways to use individual whiteboards in the classroom each day. Here are three ways I use them!

Individual Whiteboards are incredibly handy for many purposes! I find them very handy to practice a number of skills. 

I have a good supply of individual whiteboards in my classroom, and the children have their own whiteboard markers. I have enough erasers so that each pair can share an eraser. 

I've also seen children bring an old sock to class to use as an eraser. They love to "wear" the sock on their non-writing hand, which makes it very quick and easy for erasing. These socks are also very handy for holding extra markers! 

One of my favorite thing about the individual white boards is that they are VERY forgiving! The children can practice a skill, get it wrong a few times, and no one will ever know! 

Another thing I like about them? The kids love using them! 

Here are a few ways I use whiteboards in my second grade classroom:

1. Practice spelling words - Often I'll have the kiddos warm up for their word work by practicing their words on the white boards. The kiddos love to use the boards, and end  up writing their words over and over again! Here's a tip: have the children say the letters aloud while they write - it helps the memory! Quite often, after a warm up, I'll have them put a star beside their best handwriting, or a heart beside their favorite word, or maybe an exclamation point next to the toughest word to remember.  All these strategies are great for getting the children to self-evaluate, which leads to more learning!

2. Practice sentences from dictation - Writing sentences from dictation is one step away from writing sentences the children create themselves. Dictation models good grammar, vocabulary, and spelling skills. The sentences themselves can be models for the children to use in their own writing. Dictation helps the children develop the ability to hold some words in their heads while writing words. It is practice with spelling, handwriting, punctuation, and memory. Plus, the whiteboards are very forgiving when they make a mistake!

3. Practicing important math skills - Some skills just need to be practiced over and over again, and white boards are the perfect place to do it! The picture above shows my students adding three digit numbers using a couple of different strategies. To make it a little more fun, we use dice to choose our numbers, and they earn tiles for accurate answers. (When we're done, I give them a couple of minutes to create a design with their tiles. All that hard work deserves a little fun, doesn't it?)

What skills do you practice on whiteboards?
How do you make this practice fun?

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Top O' the Morning! St. Patrick's Day Resources

Top O' the Morning! St. Patrick's Day Resources: Here are videos, books, ideas, and 3 freebies to help your students learn about the Irish

Do you have the luck of the Irish? St. Patrick's Day will be here before you know it, and here are some resources to get you ready!

Here are a couple of videos to help your students learn about Ireland!

This is a great video to have on in the background when students are arriving in the morning, when they're packing to leave, or during independent work like writing. It plays about 50 minutes of Irish music, along with beautiful Irish scenery.

And, of course, a nice sample of one of those things Ireland is famous for: Irish Step Dancing!

Plus, I have 3 freebies for you! Check them out!

I always make sure the children recognize the Irish Flag.
And listen to Irish music.

And, of course, books!
And books by some favorite authors:

There's a whole lot more ideas on my March Pinterest Board.  Click HERE to see it!

I'll be celebrating St. Patrick's Week right after Read Across America Week!  I  just can't spend a day on any of these great holidays! There is too much fun learning to be had!

Wednesday, March 1, 2017

I'm Ready for March! Are you?

I'm ready for March, are you? Ideas, links, and an exclusive freebie to help you get ready for the new month!

Somehow it got to be March already! How did that happen?  

March includes plenty of activity, including Read Across America Day, St. Patrick's Day, the return of Daylight Savings Time, maple syrup season, and the first day of spring!

It just so happens I have an exclusive freebie to help you out with Read Across America! Just click THIS link, or click the image below.

Looking for more ideas for March?  Here are a few links for you!

Celebrate the King of Nonsense: Links for celebrating Dr. Seuss!

Top O' the Morning: St. Patrick's Day Resources

Maple Weekend: Resources for teaching how maple syrup is made.

Spring Resources: Videos, books, and resources for teaching about spring

Still want more? Here's my March Pinterest board!

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Three Words About Your Weekend!

Three Words About Your Weekend: Here's a morning meeting ritual we do every Monday. The kids love it, and they're learning something about words and language!

Every Monday, we have a special topic for our Morning Meeting Share. Every Monday we share 3 words about our weekend!

Believe it or not, it's harder for my second graders than it seems! 

Some have trouble limiting it to 3 words. They try to sum up their weekend into phrases and sentences. (I wish they'd apply this skill in their writing and speaking!)

Some actually have trouble remembering their weekend! They really can't remember what they did for the last couple of days! I've had weekends like that where everything blended in together.

Then I have others who start planning their 3 words on Friday, and are all excited when it's sharing time!

Then there are others who are so interested in the 3 words others share they can't remember what they planned to say themselves.  I admit, I've done that more than once.

One of the best benefits: it helps the children when it comes to note taking. It gives them practice choosing the important words and distinguishing them from those "little middle" words that aren't essential.

Example: "I went to Applebee's with my family. I had chicken. "
"Applebees, family, chicken"

"I played in the snow with my sisters. We built a fort."
"Snow, sisters, fort"

As the year goes on, they're getting better at it, and just in time! We're starting our big library research project!

Another advantage to this sharing?
It gives me lots of information about my students, and what is important in their lives.

What are 3 words about your weekend?

Monday, January 30, 2017

Will the Groundhog Predict Spring?

Will the Groundhog Predict Spring?  Who knows, but here are several ideas and resources for learning, thanks to the groundhog!

Do you think Punxsutawny Phil will see his shadow? 

It's a tough call, but I'm thinking we might just have 6 more weeks of winter. 

But even so, Groundhog Day is a fun day at the beginning of a dreary month to scramble up some fun excuses to learn!

Let's start with books! I'm a big fan of Gail Gibbons, and this one is perfect for groundhog learning. I love her books because she puts information in a way it's interesting for children. 
These two books are fiction, but with a lot of learning to happen!

Speaking of reading skills, I have a close read about Groundhogs in this resource: Science and Social Studies Printables for February.

Plus, there's an activity sorting animals that hibernate in the winter.

Then there's video! 

Look what I found! This is a reading of Gail Gibbon's book Groundhog Day!

I also found an informational video that tells about Groundhog Day.  I like this one because it has real groundhogs for the kids to see!

Besides the science of groundhogs, kids really take to this topic, so I've got a few resources to help you out!

Here's some groundhog themed word work, and it's a freebie! Perfect for grades 2-3!

Speaking of word work, Here's a fun game to practice prefixes and suffixes!

What student doesn't love story problems a little bit more when they have a fun theme! This is my plan for this week! It combines groundhogs AND Super Bowl themes!

Here's to hoping that groundhog doesn't see his shadow! 

We could use a little spring!

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