First Week Plans 2017

Saturday, August 19, 2017

It's the weekend before the first week of school! Last week was full of classroom prep and professional development (some good, some not so good). Now it's time to get excited for a new school year!

I finished my first day plans about a month ago...although some things have been tweaked and changed! The Solar Eclipse on Monday has certainly thrown me for a loop! We won't be able to go outside after 1:15 and depending on my students' ability to focus on anything BUT this big event, I might be making the entire afternoon an indoor eclipse celebration. 

Anyway, I am popping in quick to share my first WEEK plans. My first week is all about, you guessed it, getting to know my students (and giving them plenty of opportunity to learn about each other) while reviewing and practicing routines and expectations. Some activities are the same as last year (you can find those plans here) but there are some new ideas and books! Let's get to it!

***PLANS are DOWNLOADABLE and CLICKABLE 
so you can access where to buy the books or download resources**


This year, one of our school-wide initiatives is Responsive Classroom practices. Every grade level has 15-20 minutes blocked out in the AM for morning meeting. I will be using this AMAZING paperless resource by Erin Waters to help me stay on track with this goal. 

The time after our AM special will be dedicated to getting to know each other. On Day 1, we will read How to Get Your Teacher Ready and share (which I will record on chart paper) about how we got ready for 2nd grade. Day 2, we will start this adorable flip book by Renee Dooly. Honestly, this will definitely take more than one day. 

On Wednesday, we will play a whole group game that doesn't have an official name and I don't really remember where I learned it. The class will sit in circle and each student will think of something they want to share about themselves that can be represented by a hand gesture. For example, I like to paint so I might do a painting motion with my hands. Or Susie might like to play with her baby brother so she makes a gesture like she is holding a baby. We take turns one at a time reintroducing ourselves and sharing about our hobby. "Hi, my name is Mrs. Stahl and I like to read." The whole class repeats it "Mrs. Stahl likes to read" while doing the gesture.  Then the next person goes and reintroduces themselves. The whole class has to repeat what person 1 said, then person 2. So it is kind of a memory game/getting to know you. I hope my directions make sense!

On Thursday, students will share about their summer vacations by drawing a picture on a paper with puzzle pieces. Then they will cut it out and stick it in an envelop. When students are finished, I will pair them up to put each other's puzzle back together while sharing about their vacation! 
And on Friday, students will be scooting all around the classroom answering questions about themselves and their interests.

The next half of the morning, we will concentrate on classroom expectations. Each day, I have chosen a book to focus our discussion and an activity to help drive home the importance of each expectation. I will use some great books (links to purchase them on Amazon are in the downloadable plans) and a few resources to help me do this:

-Roll and Respond by Savvy School Counselor
-Small vs. Big Problem by Jordan Dunagan Heyheyfirstgrade
-Behavior Stories by me : ) 


Phew! We made it to the afternoon. Just typing it all out is making me teacher tired : )

After recess/lunch we will have some quiet time. I might play a little music or read a poem book to settle everyone and get focused on the important stuff- ROUTINES and PROCEDURES!

I am going to mix up learning and practicing routines with building reading stamina. I use A Year of Many Firsts' resource to help me review expectations for reading. For the first week, my book boxes are NOT labeled so students will just grab one (they already have 4 books in them) and find a spot to practice! By the end of the week, we will also do a whole group word work activity and I can see if we are ready to possibly start rotating between read to self and word work the next week--but I do NOT want to rush things! 

Next up is math. We won't start math on Day 1. Instead, we will use Mrs. Spitzer's Classroom to talk about a growth mindset. Then for the next few days, we will explore math manipulatives and review expectations for using them. Towards the end of the week, we will play a game (Trash Can Math---you can read about it here) and dive into our math notebooks with The Applicious Teacher's Back to School Math Activities

Finally, after recess, we will do more fun getting to know you activities to get them moving around! The first is my FAVORITE by School and the City called 4 Corners. She explains the directions "Label your corners 1 - 4 like you would when playing regular four corners. Project one of the questions. Read aloud, then students should move to the corner that corresponds with their answer choices."

We will also play Back to School Jeopardy by Tiny Toes. This was on my plans for last year and due to an unfortunate mold situation, we ended up only going to school for 1 full day that first week. This required me to cut out a lot of my fun B2S plans and this was one thing we never got to  : (  Last but not least, students will "Find a Friend Who..." with a freebie by Learn Love Teach.

Well, I think I covered it all! If you have any other questions, feel free to leave a comment. Don't forget to download the plans and save them to your computer. Then you should be able to click on any of the pictures or links in the plans to find that resource!

Happy Teaching!






4 Steps to Set Up a Classroom Economy Behavior Management System

Monday, August 7, 2017

A classroom economy can be a wonderful behavior management tool. We know relationships are the key to creating a safe and stable learning environment.  However, a classroom economy can be an added layer of support which ties real world experiences into the classroom. It is not only motivating for students to earn and choose rewards. They are learning the basic ins and outs of finances--saving and spending! I am going to highlight some things to think about if you want to set one up in your classroom. I also share what I do and how it works (or hasn't worked) for me! 

When I first started subbing, I had the opportunity to work with two amazing 4th grade teachers at the beginning of the year. I was "extra help" because they went from class sizes of about 22 or 23 to 30 that year. They each had their own classroom economies and their currency was a play on their names. Mrs. Reinhart had "Reinhart hearts" and Mrs. Stettler had "Stettler Stars". I die cut a bajillion laminated hearts and stars for them to start off the school year. A few years later, Mrs. Stettler bequeathed her stars to me! (She transferred into a reading specialist position). So that's how Stahl Stars were born!



Whether you use something tangible like paper stars or fake Monopoly money, or something digital like Class Dojo points, choosing your currency is the first step! There are a few things to consider when it comes to classroom currency:

Where will students store their currency? 

I have tried (and seen) few things. Mrs. Stettler had this AWESOME large purple pocket chart that was labeled with each students' number.  Kinda like this one, except it was purple but I could never find one that was exactly the same. :(

My first year, I had my students keep them in their desk in a plastic baggie that had a label with their name on it. Nothing fancy and it worked--for the most part. The problem with the desk is they mess around with them, count them, and lose them often. I would also find them on the floor all the time and it drove me crazy.

This year, I had my students thumb tack their baggie to a strip of cork board that is under my whiteboard/SmartBoard area.  This worked WAY better. Students could only access their bags in the morning and afternoon.  Bags didn't go missing and stars were all in one spot!


I moved my rules to above the Smartboard and this is where my students thumb tacked their "Stahl Star" baggies. 

How and how often will the currency be distributed?
Will you hand it out or will this be a student job? Are you handing out currency hourly, daily or weekly? In 2nd grade, I usually do the handing out for at least the first month of school. It is definitely a big responsibility for the little ones to be handling the currency accurately! I actually pick 2 students to do it since it is such a big job! 

I pass out my stars at the end of each day. If students are still there, they put them away right then.  Sometimes, I forget or it is too busy so I don't get to it until after they are gone or maybe even the next morning.  In that case, students put their stars away as part of their morning routine. 


Next, you have to think about how students will earn (and possibly lose) the classroom currency.  I use a clip chart. I know not everyone is a fan but it is what has worked for me and my former classes. I feel that the emphasis on Stahl Stars has helped me use the clip chart is a mostly positive way. Each spot on the clip chart correlates with an amount of stars. Here's a closer look at the chart:

I put the stars on the clip chart so it is super easy for everyone to remember (including me and especially students who end up with the job of handing out the stars!). If a student end up below Ready to Learn, they do not receive a star for that day.  I, however, do not take away stars. I have thought about it but it just hasn't happened--not to say I never will. 

Another way students earn stars is through their classroom job.  Jobs are worth different amount of stars. I am strict about students doing their job daily in order to earn the stars! I usually start this after the first marking period--not right at the beginning of the school year.

{Writing down the daily lunch choices is a 10 star per week job}

What will the rewards be? When will you give them out?
On Friday afternoons, I hold "Stahl Star Store" (try saying THAT 3x fast!). While I call over 2-3 students at a time to shop, the rest of the class is reading with a partner. I lay out all of the reward options which includes about 20 different coupons and a box of candy. My first year, I planned to only do coupons. BUT I realized quickly that some of my students just didn't have the drive to save up for anything and candy was what motivated them. I figured that if they didn't see the value in their currency, motivation would be lost so I kept the candy box. I fill it up about once a month with candy from the $ store. A piece of candy is 5 Stahl Stars. All of the other rewards vary in price from 5-50 stars. Lunch with the teacher is the most expensive (because I'm worth it, right?)
If you are interested in these reward coupons, you can find them here

I am always SO proud when students say they are going to save. <3

This year, my plan is to only introduce about half of the coupons at the beginning.  Then I will add a few here and there throughout the year. I think this will keep things fresh and exciting!  I bought this jewelry holder hanger thingamabob to keep all my reward coupons in. I will hang it in the closet and then it will be super easy to pull out on Fridays! You can find it here on Amazon.



After all your planning and preparation for your new system, you may find out early on that you need to make some changes. Or mid-year, you notice your students just aren't as motivated as they were. There is no shame in changing things up to fit your students' needs. Just don't try to change too much too often or it will get confusing and lose its effectiveness. 

One year, after lots of girl drama, I had to ban combining stars to buy rewards. Students were making promises to put their stars together and purchase lunch with the teacher.  Then they would change their mind, feelings would be hurt and Stahl stars would be all mixed up. This year, I didn't have issues with it so I let it go!

I hope I was able to answer some questions or provide a few ideas to getting started with a classroom economy behavior management system.  If you have any other questions, leave a comment below!
Happy Teaching!






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