Friday, 18 January 2013

A Snowy Day

As much as I dislike winter, I do love how the classroom looks with winter decorations!  For the past week I have been having my students make snowflakes after they finish their agendas, or if they finish their work a bit early.  Some even ask to stay in during recess to make them.  I'll admit, it is for a selfish reason.  I just love the way they look all over the classroom!  

I also needed one more 'wintery' bulletin board.  I saw lots of great ideas on Pinterest about how no two snowflakes are alike, but I decided simply to do a writing assignment about a snowy day.  I just love the way the colours look on this bulletin board!  It isn't the most exciting bulletin board, but I still really like the way it turned out!

I found my snowflake templates here.  I had to help most students fold the paper, but they turned out so nice so I didn't mind!  Some students also chose to make their own designs.  The writing piece is simply about their favourite activities to do on a snowy day.  Our focus is on detail and adjectives so they had to make sure to include those.  If you would like the template for the writing piece just comment!  :)

Well it's the weekend!!  Time for a date night of pizza and a movie with my wonderful hubby.  I am ready to relax!  Enjoy your weekend as well :)  

Classroom Management with Marbles Results

It's been two weeks since the Christmas break and already I feel that January is becoming a better month than my first few months of teaching.  I feel more focused, and more determined to make interactive and engaging lessons.  My New Year's resolutions of using my SMART board more and having more group work has been helping my lessons incredibly.  While it is more work at times, in the end it is so much more rewarding!  Now I just need to make a goal for getting marking done on time...haha.  

I posted about how I was going to use marbles for a new classroom management strategy here in November.  I said that I was going to try it within 2 weeks...well it's been about 2 months..and I am finally starting it :).  As for results... it is going well.  I find it is an easy strategy to keep up with (I found this hard when I used the stop light strategy at the beginning of the year).  It also motivates the kids to be more attentive when specific instructions are given.  Most of all, they are excited about it.  

If your interested in trying it in your classroom these are the rules that I gave to my students:

1.  To get marbles, it is a group effort.  Some examples of how students can get marbles is showing me that they are ready for a lesson quickly, staying quiet when you are supposed to, acts of kindness, etc.

2.  Marbles are taken away when students do not listen, are not showing me they are ready for a class, are extra loud in the cubbies, etc.

3.  There is absolutely no blaming allowed.  If a student blames another student, all of the marbles are taken out of the jar and we have to start over.

4.  By March Break if all the marbles are in the jar we get to have an afternoon class party.   I plan on playing a class game, have some treats for the students, and maybe watching a short video.  

If you have any other tips for this classroom strategy, let me know!

Friday, 4 January 2013

Intrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation

Back in November, I briefly mentioned a conference I had attended.  I mentioned that a lot of things stuck out for me from that conference and that I might blog about it at another time.'s January, and it's about time eh?  :)  I decided to take much of these holidays to organize our small apartment and some of my teaching materials.  While doing so, I found my notes from that conference again.  Some of which I have remembered and tried to incorporate in my classroom, and some of which I completely forgot about, yet are great strategies to use.  It's January, so a good time for a new start in my classroom anyways!

One workshop I attended was called 'Teaching the Learning Brain'.  The leader (whom I completely forget the name) mostly discussed the motivation of children in school.  There are two ways of motivating children - extrinsically or intrinsically.  Extrinsic being giving the child an outward reward for behaviour or work, and intrinsic being giving the child an inward desire to finish work.  I'm sure we would all agree that it would be nice to be able to use intrinsic motivation for our students.  The problem is, extrinsic motivation is so much easier!  However, it is also short-term and only generally motivates students in the moment.

I have a few students who struggle to get to work.  Specifically, I have one who will sit and stare at his work for entire periods no matter how much prompting and help I give him.  Many times I resort to using a prize bin if the student finishes a certain number of pages.  This usually works.  However, I realize that it is not helping this student have a long-term motivation for such work.  I want to try to get a way from this prize bin and start using more intrinsic motivation.  

Now, with behaviour, routine tasks and classroom management, I see the importance of extrinsic motivation (For example, a marble jar, which I have brought up that I will be starting soon.)  However, when it comes to doing work I want my students to want to do their work!  In the conference we were reminded that intrinsic motivation cannot be generated but only fostered.  Intrinsic motivation must come from inside of the child, a real personal want to do such work.  But, as teachers, we can help this want to come out!  These are some tips we received on how to foster such motivation and how I plan on using that in my classroom:

- Give students freedom and choice.   I plan on allowing students to choose between two topics for journal writing, and to give students the choice between two worksheets or even simply picking certain questions in Math.  

- Provide challenge and avoid boredom.  Having many students who excel in Grade 2, I have and will continue to do so, give such students more challenging questions and activities than others.  I believe this step is all about knowing your students and really assessing to see that the students are working at the correct level.  I also believe the importance of not overwhelming your students.  I have some students who I know, if I give work that they don't think they can do they will easily just give up.  Another important part of intrinsic motivation, is to not frustrate your students so that they also loose motivation because they don't think they can accomplish such work.

- Recognize meaning in learning.  I want to make my lessons more relate-able to students in their everyday lives.  This sounds obvious, but can easily be forgotten!

- Instructive Feedback while students are working.  I have and will continue to do this simply by walking around desks and checking their assignments while they are in the midst of working. 

One of my New Year's resolutions is to spend more time on making my lessons more engaging and exciting for my students.  I really want my students to get more excited about learning!  I plan on using my SMARTboard more, using more manipulatives, and more group work.  Let's hope I keep this one resolution! :)