Setting Procedures in First Grade

And just like that I am more than halfway through my summer...*sigh*...

Which means I'm gearing up for next year's crew...or at least trying to....okay, I haven't even been back to my classroom yet, but I'm getting there!

Every summer it seems like I'm always trying to think of something new or better to do in my classroom.  And I always--yes, always--end up tweaking my classroom management system.  Happens every year.  Did last year's work? Yes, but I'm just a believer that nothing is perfect and it can always get better.

So, in honor of all of the procedures and more procedures running through my head...here are my top 5 things {old and new} that are a "must include" in my classroom management system for this year's group of firsties...

1.  Whole Brain Teaching - Y'all, seriously!  When I came across this 4 years ago my teacher world stopped.  Literally stopped.  After a particularly rough year {you know the kind!}, I started looking up brain based research stuff.  In college, we learned all about it and I had a professor that was particularly fond of it.  I had used bits and pieces in my first few years and loved it, so I started looking for more.  And whadyaknow?  When you google, "brain research classroom management" you stumble upon Whole Brain Teaching {WBT}.

I really can't even explain all of WBT in a blog, much less the first part of one.  And really, it's best explained by going to their website and watching their videos.  You can also find lots of videos on YouTube.

Basically, WBT is based on the philosophy {and my philosophy} that kids learn best when we teach with the brain in mind.  Knowing how the brain learns and responds to certain things helps me as a teacher know how to teach best.  It helps make learning more efficient.  It helps transitions.  It helps behavior.  WBT isn't just a classroom management approach, it's an approach to teaching in general.  I've used it for 4 years now, and I won't go back.  I've seen the results and I've had more engagement and learning in those 4 years than I had before it!

In my latest packet, I've added all of the materials I use to implement WBT in my classroom... You'll find class rules posters, smiley/frowny cards for tallying class rewards and more details on how I use it in my room!

And you can also check out these good-for-your-brain Brain Breaks as well...all of my firsties' favs on one page! :)

Speaking of brain stuff...  I'm pretty much a nerd.  We've established that. And now you know how much I love learning about brain based research... So, for those of you as interested in how the brain works as I am, you MUST check out this book my dad recommended to me at the beginning of summer.

I'm not quite finished with it yet--almost!--but it is absolutely FANTASTIC.  And it's not really even a teacher book.  It's just great for anybody who works with, and wants to better understand, people.  For each of the 12 principles he talks about, he gives suggestions on how to facilitate that best in the classroom and, ya'll, it's good stuff!  It's an easy read to... not too terribly over-your-head-wordy!

Next on my list is this one...Same author, different perspective.  This one is less for "teacher me" and more for "mommy me!"

2.  Class DOJO - So apparently I've been hiding under some sort of prehistoric rock and have totally missed the DOJO bandwagon.  And I'm totally embarrassed about it.  For reals.  Like 50 something year old Superintendent, Dr. Daddy, has known about it for a few years.  And he made fun of me for not knowing something he already did...share the wealth, Dad. Share. The. Wealth.

Anyways, ya'll know about this already I'm SURE, but I found it on Pinterest earlier this summer and just thought it was the perfect thing to use in my classroom to help me go paperless.  Really what I've been looking for is a way to cut down my end-of-the-day routine of writing in behavior calendars in my kiddos' take home folders and putting stickers on sticker charts, blah, blah, blah...  I know it's important, but it seriously gets old.  And then on days when we have an afternoon assembly and such...well...it's just plain hard to get it all in.

So, I'm goin' DOJO this year.

For those of you under the same prehistoric rock as me, Class DOJO is just a system to keep track of behavior.  No need for color changes, stickers, etc.  And it's all on your computer or iPhone or iPad or any other handheld device.  You can customize it by adding your own class rules.  And you can also email reports to parents...in their home language!  The students and parents can both log in and check their points and see why they had points taken away!  That's the basics and you can check out all of the details on their website.

I've added a parent letter and a customizable behavior calendar to coordinate with DOJO in my BEHAVE packet as well!  There is a blank calendar for each month.  You can write in the dates or import as a picture into Word or PowerPoint and type over it.  I also like to add our important school and class events since the calendars stay in their take home folders.  It has the class rules I use at the bottom, but if you're not using the same rules, you can always cut that part off before you copy...and paste in your own if you want!

At the end of each day, students will write how many points they earned for the day.  This is where I hope DOJO is going to save me a lot of time during my school day.  I have always written in folders for kids who had to "change their color" or were in trouble for some other reason.  Now I won't have to worry about all of that paperwork because it will all be online for parents to login and view.  ....I know, I know, I'm sure there will be a few parents that won't check or have access online.  But most of my parents, even my high poverty families have an iPhone or iPad at their house.  And since the app is free I'm hopeful there won't be too many calendars I'll have to write in...although I'm sure there will be some.

3. Rewards - I've used rewards since the first year...really, who could live without a treasure box??  But my treasure box has changed over the years.  I'm pretty much Mrs. El-Cheapo when it comes to treasure box junk {yes, junk...}  I have never bought anything!  This comes from the fact that I'm cheap, AND because when I did my internship 9 years ago {holy cow!!!}, one of my mentors collected junk for her 4th graders and did an auction on Friday afternoons for the junk that her kids could bid for with money they earned throughout the week.  The kids LOVED it and LOVED the junk.  Seriously...an empty box of kleenex easily went for $10 week after week after week!  Granted, my mentor teacher was quite the salesman and got the kids thinking of ways they could use her junk and what they could turn it into, but it was perfect!  And then kids learned a little creativity and imagineering alongside some economics!

Fast forward to now with my firsties.  An auction is just slightly out of the realm of possibilities for my 6 year olds, but the junk stuck.  My dad collects all of the freebies from conferences he goes to and I collect freebies from kids meals I eat or my mom or mother-in-law eat...or random stickers I get in the mail, or left over gift bag stuffers from party days, or TOMS flags and stickers from my shoe purchases...all of it goes in the treasure box tubs.  And with "junk you can sell to kids" in mind, the possibilities are endless.  Really.  At the beginning of the year and then a few times throughout the year, I "sell" these items just like my mentor did, by saying things like, "Can you imagine what you could do with this??" It's really a great thinking extension for them and they get so. stinkin. excited.  Over junk.  Makes my heart happy...and probably makes some of my parents cringe.  Ha!

In addition to my "treasures," I have always had things like "free computer time" or "lunch with the teacher" cards too.  But in the last few years, I've expanded my reward cards too!  I now have 10 different reward cards for kids to purchase.

And in this mini-size, they fit so cutely in this tackle box!

In the past, I have had kids pay for rewards in a bunch of different ways.  I've tried it all--money {before Common Core when we had to teach money...*wink wink*}, points, stickers...This year I'm going with some suggestions from other teacher friends who are apparently much more in the know than I am and have already used Class DOJO and I'm using fake dollar bills for rewards.  My plan is this: Give students one dollar for each DOJO point they have at the end of the day.  I have already ordered these super cute colored envelopes to laminate for kids to keep their dollars in.  2nd grade and up could easily use coins in a similar way to incorporate more money connections!
Add a  little cutesifying {yep, I just made up a word!} with these numbers from my letters & numbers die cut set ...

...and these are gonna be sooooo uh-dorable!

Aren't they the perfect size for this play money?

On Friday, I'll let them cash in their dollars for prizes.  Once I see how many points they get, then I can "price" my treasure box and reward cards.  I always have priced my reward cards higher than treasure box stuff because it's what most of my kids go to first.  This year I plan to price some of my tech rewards and lunch rewards even higher because of their popularity!  I'm excited to go back to "pricing" items because I think it is such a natural way to incorporate economics like spending vs. saving!

All of my reward cards along with the other materials I've talked about for management in this post are all included in my BEHAVE packet.  Check it out and let me know what you think!

4. Lunch Choices - The longer I teach, the more I find that I need wall SPACE--and more of it!-- for all of those lovely anchor charts I need to hang for my babies!  Any chance I have to free up wall space and I'm all in!  2 years ago, I decided it was time to get rid of my lunch choices display which took up wall space and do lunch choice on our Promethean Board.  My kids come in and make their lunch choice on our Promethean Board by moving their name to the choice they want.  Simple as that!  And when I have the inevitable new student, or two, or three each year, I don't have to worry about throwing away clips or cards or whatever from the student that moved.  I just simply type over the old students name and resave my chart.  But what about subs, you ask?  No problem, they just do lunch choices the old fashioned way..."Raise your hand if you want...."

The trick to making it work is to make sure you don't save the lunch choices file each day so you start over fresh each morning!

Download your copy here!  There are several designs to choose from and several layouts so you can pick the one with the lunch choices that match your school {and you can also message me and let me know if you need one formatted differently and I will be happy to add it for ya!}.  They are PDF files so you can import and use on SMART or Promethean Boards or you can upload as an image and print a poster magnetic poster to post in your room too. {Thanks to one of my TPT buyers for that great idea!}

5. Transitions - I'm always looking for and changing up my transition songs, but last year I found a few gems that I'll definitely be keepin' around this year!  I keep this flip chart open every day.

My favorite is Good Morning, by Mandisa.  It's such an energetic song and the perfect time for letting my kids clean up their browsing boxes and breakfast {Yes, we do Breakfast in the Classroom.}

And it's such a happy way to start off our mornings.  Honestly, it has put me in the right mind set a day or two!  You can grab your transition flip chart in my TPT store, but this file will only work for Promethean Board users...*sad face*

Those are my "must haves" for procedures in my room.  What are yours?


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