10 Genius Hour Ideas

Tuesday, May 31, 2016
Genius Hour was such a hit in the classroom! Student engagement was at an all-time high! The only problem - getting my students started! I had to get them to wrap their heads around what they COULD do, not had to do - a very tricky concept for some students. Here are a couple ideas to help you and your students get started!


1. Give students the opportunity to create a craft! Two of my students took this route and I already had the materials in my closet (major plus!).



2. Let students cook a meal! I brought my crockpot into the classroom and we all got a taste - it was delicious! I had another student bake a Giant Reese's Peanut Butter Cup - unfortunately I don't have a picture :( IT. WAS. AMAZING.


3. Another student put together a gum ball machine. It was tricky, but he worked it out!


4. A student went down to the workroom with our amazing para and learned how to use the binding machine. (I don't even know how to use it!) She had a great time and showed us all how to do it after she was finished.


5. Two students worked together to create a character from their favorite video game. They have been carrying it around ever since!


6. A student built a volcano! She spent so much time on it and after she was finished, we went outside to watch it erupt!


7. A girl in my classroom taught herself how to fold origami. All the kids were hooked and wanted her to teach them.


8. A boy in my classroom loves to build things. Here he built a boat that would float if placed in water.


9. Puppies!!! How could I say no??? This kiddo brought in his new puppy and wrote up a whole presentation about how to take care of his puppy.


 10. Another student built a sculpture of a character he enjoys. He spent so much time perfecting the details!


Hope these ideas help you and your students to get started! It was a lot of work, but such an amazing learning opportunity for them! Enjoy!

Check out my TpT shop HERE for the pack to get you going with Genius Hour! The blog post describing it all you can find HERE :)


Coordinate Planes Mystery Pictures

Monday, May 23, 2016
Here is a great review for students to practice plotting points on a coordinate plane! Check out Coordinate Plane Mystery Pictures on TpT!

The students will follow the directions and the steps to plot points on the empty coordinate plane.


The students will discover a picture once all steps are completed. The pack is differentiated as well!


I give my students the option of coloring in the picture.


Coordinate plane picture complete!


Get the pack HERE for 10 mystery pictures!


5 Ideas for Morning Meeting

Monday, May 16, 2016
Morning Meeting is my favorite part of the day! I get to connect with students, gauge their emotions coming into school and set the tone for the day! Each day is different! Here are a few ideas for you.



Read Aloud: Read a couple chapters a day or bring in a text about community building. Some great texts include Fish in a Tree, Wonder or Rules. Currently, my kiddos are hooked on the I Survived series, so we are working our way through those texts!




Writing Prompt: Give students a prompt and let them write for 10 minutes without stopping. Students then can share out with partners and with the whole group. Check out some writing prompts HERE. I also purchased the Would You Rather Cards HERE.




Picture Prompt: Give students a picture and have them write for 10 minutes without stopping. Again, they can discuss with partners and as a whole group.


Discussion: Give students a sentence frame or a topic to discuss. Allow them to discuss with a partner and then bring it back whole group to share out. A couple examples might be how their weekend went, what their favorite thing about school might be, etc.

Inspirational Video: Show them a video that can truly inspire them. Kid President is an amazing resource to get started! Have students discuss or they could write about it as well before sharing out whole group.



Morning Meeting is also a great time to update students on any upcoming events, reminders, schedule changes or announcements!

What does your Morning Meeting look like?

10 Classroom Management Strategies

Thursday, May 5, 2016

1. Structure and Organization
A classroom that is organized, de-cluttered, and labeled makes for happy students. Students are able to find materials quickly, they know where to go for information and with less clutter comes less distractions. Structure is also key - a classroom schedule and calendar is great for students to know what to expect throughout the day. Stick to that schedule as much as possible. Of course, things come up, but set them up for success by communicating any changes in schedule or change in routine.

2. High Expectations
Challenge your students! Be sure to model those expectations and practice! Students need to know what those expectations sound like, feel like and look like before they're able to follow through with them. Same goes for lessons - be sure to model!!!

3. Be Consistent
Be sure procedures, routines, expectations and consequences remain constant. If you find something that doesn't work for your students, then of course, change it, but be sure to stay consistent with your high expectations mentioned previously! Wavering in those expectations means they can get away with a lot more.

4. Hold Them Accountable
Don't allow for opt out situations. During lessons, pick popsicle sticks for students to answer, have students turn and talk with THINKING PARTNERS or give choral responses (all students must respond before moving on) to give students several opportunities for buying in. Make sure they don't have the option for opting out of a lesson, discussion or project because you're prepared with multiple opportunities for them and they know your expectations.

5. Follow Through
Empty threats are the worst for students. If you threaten to call their mom and they don't turn it around, DEFINITELY call. If you ask them to turn their body to face their partner, make sure they are doing just that. If you ask them to complete a task before moving on, come back to be sure it is happening. If you tell them something will happen, then follow through. When students know they got away without follow through, behaviors don't change.

6. Be Firm, Direct and Explicit
Battling it out with students, power struggles, and yelling do not work. During a misbehavior, be very specific about what you expect, be firm and to the point then move on. Dwelling on a misbehavior, ridiculing students and getting cranky with them can ruin a relationship and make a student more reluctant to change.

7. Know Your Students and Build Relationships
Figure out what makes your kids tick, what gets them excited, what irritates or frustrates them. Ask them about their weekend or remember special dates. Listen to them and connect with them on things that are important to them. Also, know that what works for one student in terms of classroom management may not work for the other. What you might be able to say to one student might not affect the next student at all.

8. Pick Your Battles
Not every little thing that drives you crazy as a teacher needs to be addressed. When a misbehavior is disrupting the entire class, then yes it needs to be addressed. Some misbehaviors are not intentional on their part, so a quiet reminder or quick discussion often works. Also, be absolutely sure of what you are redirecting. They are innocent until proven guilty. You must have clear evidence of what you are redirecting before doing so, otherwise it will cause more issues and throw a wrench in your relationship with that student.

9. Be Subtle
Redirections can happen in subtle ways. One thing I often do during a whole group discussion is say something like, "Jasmin, can you hold your thought to share with the group? I want to make sure everyone is giving you respect and following expected behavior." Using this strategy doesn't directly call a student out for poor behavior and generally sends a clue to the whole group. I also give praise to students who are following expected behavior. "Donte, you look like you're ready to learn and be a leader in the classroom." This gives other students a model of how they should be acting and they generally follow.

10. Respectful Talk
Encourage respectful talk in the classroom. Model it for them and practice it with them each day. Have students practice respectful and encouraging talk to each other and to you. Going back to #1, they need to know the expectation that disrespectful talk and remarks are not acceptable in your classroom.

Hope these tips are helpful for you!


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