Building Stamina

One of my biggest struggles is how to build kids stamina!!!!   I know, I know...its a simple quick fix. The problem is that it isn't quick at all. I have such a hard time finding time to have sustained quiet reading in my school {which is jam packed with tons of things that have to be done between 8-4}. I know schools out there have "this" time and "that" time built in, but I don't {and I don't have the freedom to change that anytime in the future}. So...... in an effort to increase student reading time and getting them inspired to read' I created "Stamina Strips". 

Each student receives a strip for every 15 minutes of sustained, silent, focused, independent reading {mouth full}. I do have benchmark prizes for reaching a certain amount of hours. 

Here are the increments that I award something for:

  • 30 minutes (2 chain links)- they got an eraser...and every kiddo got this prize the first day because it is important to give a tangible reward right when they start to get the "buy in" from our students. At this point I had them ALL hooked.
  • 1 hour (4 chain links)- Pencil
  • 2 hours (8 chain links)- Piece of Candy
  • 4 hours (16 chain links)-Snack 
  • 5 hours (20 chain links)- Notepad
  • 10 hours (40 chain links)- Soda (I know what you're thinking, but they are all fighting off their daydreams and nod-offs to get one!) 

Let me end by saying this...I did this with the 14 kiddos that attended extended school year (Summer School) and they started with only being able to read for 5 minutes....up to 45 minutes of focused quiet reading!!!!

Visualizing, Visualizing...What do I see?

"Visualizing, Visualizing...what do I see? I see ___________ in my brain indeed!"

I love using this simple chant when teaching visualizing. I start off with an anchor chart {of course} and a teacher think aloud on how to visualize.
To give students a chance I choose something super quick and easy to visualize...Then we do the chant {to polar bear, polar bear what do you see, I see a ____ looking at me}.

Teacher: "Visualizing, Visualizing...what do I see? I see ___________ in my brain indeed!"
Then point to a student.

Student A: "Visualizing, Visualizing...what do I see? I see ___________ in my brain indeed!"
Then points to another student.

Student B: "Visualizing, Visualizing...what do I see? I see ___________ in my brain indeed!"
So on and so forth until everyone has a quick chance to tell about their visual.

I began by reading an excerpt from one of my favorite books...Pippi Longstocking. This is the perfect read aloud for teaching visualizing because it describes Pippi to a T. As I read the students had their eyes closed...when I was done they had supplies and drew what they saw in their brains....super fun way to see how they were all different, yet similar {Ironic, I know!}
Here's what they saw: 
All very similar!

 Then I reread it and I drew her out on chart paper with labels containing the author's wording for each part of her body. {Citing text I believe is a new common core expectation}
Things like "she had carrot colored hair in 2 tight braids that stuck straight out", "two black shoes as twice as long as her feet."

I was SHOCKED to find out that none of my students had any clue who Pippi Longstocking was?!!?!?!?!!!! {Guilty of having only one of these books in my library}

I read an excerpt from Alice in Wonderland, but didin't show the cover and didn't read any of the names. The story began with Alice making daisy chains by the lake when she saw a white bunny with pink eyes hop by looking at his pocket watch. He then jumped into a long dark hole and Alice followed him and began falling. 

WARNING! WARNING! Technology alert!!!!!!
We then turned to Comic life:
Click on the picture to take you to the website. I have a mac so the students can access it on the computer in our school. 
Each student had to create a 4 frame poster of what they pictured in their mind. They searched images to find one that closely matched their visual and then made captions explaining their visual more. They then labeled their poster with our Sentence Starter "In my mind I saw...."

Another App...Classroom Management Points

I have found yet another great {must have} iPod/iPad App on my quest to make this the most productive year with technology.  Actually it is not an App per se, more like a website to use that can be linked to the iPod/iPad or the iPhone and used as a remote to add points. It is called Class DOJO. Click on the picture icon below to take you to the website. 
Here is what you will see as you use it:You get to edit your classes specific to your use: It is strictly for classroom management, but there are a few varieties that can be done to make it more versatile. You can even use this with multiple groups {Like middle school and high school with multiple classes, or in elementary with different groups throughout the day.}I am thinking of using this for:
  • Reading groups {Enter reading group names and specify awards for guided groups like using a strategy, paying attention, bringing supplies...etc.}
  • Table Groups {Enter reading group names and specify awards for table groups like working together, a clean area}
  • Individual {students with behavior plans}
  • Or just as my main classroom management plan in general.

It is a positive {and negative} reward system. Here is a view of the negatives...if you choose to use those too. 
The cutest part is that the kids can visually see their progress and hear it. As you award a point {or subtract} there is a slight sound that gets all of the kids revved up! I just keep the sound plugged in and  the view hidden so the kiddos are in suspense of who got awarded the point...they just hear the noise and instantly my whole class is reminded to try to make good choices to be able to earn a point:)

I love that you can specify the type of rewards they receive that are specific to your classroom needs.

It even has report cards you can pull that breaks down their brain started seeing STARS at this point of my exploration!!!  Imagine this for conferences, behavior plans, the RTI process...etc.
 You can choose to see this graph for each kid, or the whole class view. 
So how is it used with the iPhone/Pad/Pod??? You can remotely control it by adding an icon onto your homepage (like an app, but no downloading from itunes it is all done through this website.) Simply click on the pic below to take you to the mobile website where you enter in your login and can begin controlling points through any device. 

Let me know how it goes :)

Classroom Library Checkout App ~FREE!!

Okay....I know I just said I found the best app in my last post, but on my endeavor to REALLY use my iPods for all they are worth this year I found an App that will change my {and your} life FOREVER!!!  It's called Classroom Organizer. 

By a show of hands, how many of you hate dislike your library check out system? ME ME ME ME ME! No matter how many anchor charts, think aloud's, teacher models, library monitors or incentives I do my kiddos still have a hard time being responsible with my classroom library. 

Well here it is people: An App that is a library checkout/checkin system. It is mainly for iPad and iPod users, but is also available for the classroom. You download this app that has a built in scanner. You scan all of your books (I know it is a daunting task but totally worth it...hmm maybe a parent volunteer can do this for me:) Now that all of your books are in the's time to set the settings to organize your books. You can choose by title, genre, author, reading level, grade level...etc. 

The COoLeSt part is that the kids use an iPod/iPad to SCAN OUT BOOKS AND SCAN IN BOOK!!!!  Just like a real library system {As a teacher I always volunteer to help scan books in because I really love the scanner} Every kid has an account and it keeps track of the # of books they have checked out, how long they have been checked out, and the genre (to make sure they are mixing things up a bit). There is even a setting for them to comment on the condition of the book, rate the book, and require them to do a review of the book before they can turn it back in!!! AMAZING :)

Then it emails you if kids are overdue. This takes the library classroom job to a whole new level. I am thinking of a librarian who is in charge of checking out to kids, and when it is check in time the librarian's job is to comment on the condition of the book and make sure the kid does a review before turning it in. Maybe have a book checkout day and a separate check in day to make things run smooth. 

Oh and one last thing it does- it has a built in rating scale so kids in your class rate the book as they check it back in. This is great for end of the year purging! I remember taking my bins and holding up books for kids to raise their hand if they have read it and liked it before I gave away those books that weren't liked/being read. 
I can't wait to try this out this year. Has anyone used this or heard of a colleague using it?