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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

7 Reasons why I use a Behavior Notebook in my Classroom

A behavior notebook is a whole-class management technique for recording classroom misbehavior that integrates student reflection & ownership. It can quickly be implemented with any existing rules and discipline plan, and is used as an alternative to other methods such as a clip chart, card system, or writing names on the board. Each student has their own page, and they are all stored in a binder in a given location in the classroom. When a student does not follow a classroom rule or procedure, they record the infraction in the notebook on their individual page. This allows behaviors that disrupt the learning environment to be addressed in an efficient and non-punitive manner, without having to interrupt instruction.

Can be used by the teacher in a calm, respectful manner without stopping instruction. Once students know the rules and procedures, it’s usually a matter of eye contact with the student and then a glance to the back of the room where the notebook is and they get the hint. Sometimes this means walking over to a desk during instruction and during the pause of my sentence, whispering to the student to sign in the notebook. Other times I would begin writing on a designated clipboard in the front of the room, which was a warning to students that someone would be signing in the notebook. To ensure that the behavior is logged correctly, I have a student that sits in the back of the room, assigned as a classroom job, to oversee. 

Fair does not always mean equal in the classroom. Most teachers will attest the Pareto Principle being on clear display in their classroom, with 80% of the disruptions happening from 20% of the students. Higher-need students may need an individual improvement plan with a modified hierarchy of positive and negative consequences. But all students, even those with a personal behavior contract, can sign in the notebook for record-keeping.

The most important way to reduce classroom disruptions is by prevention. Expectations are clearly known by the students. They are explained by the teacher, rehearsed, and reinforced until they become a part of the classroom routine. Part of the expectation in my class, is that students sign in the notebook without any comment or arguing. If they disagree with my decision, then they are to talk to me privately at recess. These private conversations can provide great insight to the source of a problem without wasting valuable instructional time. I still leave the documentation in the notebook, but add a note that the student conferenced with me. Quickly we decide on a strategy for prevention, and I almost always give the student the benefit of the doubt and grace from any negative consequence.

The first time a student signs into the notebook that day is a warning without a negative consequence. I stress to students that signing in the notebook does not automatically mean they are in trouble. It provides an opportunity for them to reflect on what they need to do differently. Sometimes students will disagree with signing in the notebook and try to blame another student or myself as making an error. Now, I am very careful to only record infractions in the notebook that I see with my own eyes. I give a lot of grace the first couple times a student disagrees with my decision. A behavior notebook is a way to document that grace you give to students in a concrete, visual way. It also allows you to “connect before you correct”. I am human; I am going to make mistakes. Even students with an external-locus-of-control, have difficulty finding excuses after recording a similar incident multiple times on the same sheet of paper. When the time comes when you need to use a negative consequence, the student is more likely to understand that you are “on their side”, helping them learn to accept responsibility.

A Growth Mindset is a way of thinking in which one understands that personal qualities can change with effort and attitude. This is opposed to a fixed mindset where one believes qualities, such as intelligence, are based solely on ability. When the teacher is able to respond to non-compliance with patience and without emotion it helps create a classroom culture where mistakes and failures are viewed as learning opportunities. We have confidence that student behaviors can change and we know if they take ownership for their mistakes, they will learn from them. As teachers, we need to look for opportunities to accept responsibility for our own failures and intentionally model how to respond to mistakes. Signing in the notebook allows an opportunity for students to take a step towards growth mindset- taking ownership for their mistakes so that they can learn from them.
Meta-cognition is thinking about thinking and is a skill needed for Executive Functioning. There is a quick self-reflective component to signing in the notebook that allows students to think about why they are doing what they do. It is forced reflection when a student is brought face-to-face with all infractions for an entire quarter/trimester. Self-monitoring may not come automatically, but it is amazing when you see the light bulb begin to click! Students begin to notice patterns of their behaviors and the culminated effect of “occasional” disruptions on instructional time that would otherwise be overlooked with only a daily behavior system. 

A student’s page from the behavior notebook has proven to be very helpful when discussing overall classroom behavior during parent conferences. Documentation doesn’t get any better than a concrete list of infractions written by the child himself/herself. It can give parents a glimpse of the “big picture” and can be the first step to clearing up miscommunication. 

Closing:  Implementing a behavior notebook is only one strategy and is a very small component of an effective classroom management plan. As teachers we need to put 99% of our focus on positive behaviors, and using proactive management strategies to prevent disruptions. The behavior notebook is just one practical method for record-keeping in the classroom.

You can download the behavior notebook record-sheet and printable cover for FREE, here.

What do you use for whole-class management and documentation?  Please leave your comments below.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Two Reasons Why I Haven't Been Blogging Lately

I have been enjoying a little break from updating my TeachersPayTeachers store and blog posts. These are my two sweet reasons why: 1) Madelyn Rose  2) James Robert.  My daughter just turned three on Friday and my son is turning one next week.  I'm just savoring all the late night feedings (still multiple times a night-but I can't get mad at that sweet face) and daytime cuddles.  I am so easily caught up in the day-to-day survival and routines, I just needed to pause and delight in these two sweet babies.  I am an emotional momma right now, but birthdays are just a reminder of how fast they grow!  I don't want to regret missing out on this stage in their lives, but I promise updates to 4th grade are coming soon!

Friday, August 29, 2014

FREEBIE: 5th Grade Student Response Pages

Are you a fifth grade teacher?  Do you teach Common Core ELA?  Here is a great freebie for you.
I started creating this resource about two years ago.  Half of my students are designated English-Learners, but let's be real...they are all English Learners!  They all need extra support, visual cues, and scaffolds when practicing standards.  Copy paper is equivalent to gold on my campus, so this review is only two pages (So it can be copied two sided).   I love that these student response pages can be used with ANY TEXT (Literature, of course).   I love the versatility of these pages for any independent practice.  I  love using these pages for NO PREP sub plans!  Enjoy.

Fifth Grade Freebie

Freebie Fridays

Teachers' Guide to Bloglovin'

Why do I love teaching blogs? 
One of my favorite parts of teaching is building relationships with fellow educators.  There is something about serving the community while "being in the trenches" and struggling alongside your colleagues that brings you closer together and forms lifelong friendships.  Blogs are means of extending that collaboration with other teachers around the nation and world.  No longer are we limited by the ideas of other teachers at our site or district.  Our collaboration is limitless!

What is Bloglovin'?
Bloglovin' is a website (and app!) that allows you to follow your favorite blogs all in one place.  I love that Bloglovin' has a very clean, intuitive interface that is easy and efficient to navigate.

What are some features of Bloglovin'?
Search for blogs:
There is an integrated search bar that allows you to find ANY blog you would like to follow.  If a blog is not currently in the database, you can add it by entering the page's web address (URL).

Find new blogs to follow:
Browse by category or scroll through recommended blogs that are similar to other blogs you follow.  Currently, there is no education category (that will be coming soon), so when browsing you would use "OTHER".  I have found it more helpful to scroll through the suggested blogs that are based on similar blogs that I follow.

Edit the blogs you follow:
Not only will all blog posts be available to view in one feed, but you can also assign group titles to organize all of your blogs.  This way you can filter your feed to keep it uncluttered from unrelated blog posts that you may want to follow.  For example, I have my teaching and food blogs in separate groups so I can focus on reading one topic at a time.  This can be a huge timesaver for someone like
myself who is very easily distracted.

Like posts to easily find again later:
On your feed, under each blog post is an option to like a post.  This does two things: it communicated to the blogger that you found their post helpful and would be interested in similar posts and it also earmarks that post so you can easily go back and find it later.  Considering I rarely have the opportunity to immediately apply what I read, this is an essential feature.

How do I set up a Bloglovin' account?
To set up a Bloglovin' account all you need is an email address (you can also connect with your Facebook account) and three blogs that you would like to follow.  I highly recommend finding blogs that are specific for the grade level/subject you teach.  Once you have three or more blogs to follow, creating an account will only take a couple minutes.

Find teaching blogs organized by grade level and subject:

Chalk & Apples

What are your favorite features of Bloglovin'?  I would love to hear how Bloglovin' has helped expand your collaboration with other teachers.  Feel free to share your comments below.

Bloglovin Button Lime photo bloglovinbuttonlime_zps6c849efe.png


Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Welcome to my new blog!

My name is Michelle and I have taught grades 5 and 6 in a low-income, rural neighborhood in Southern California.  Most years I have taught a Structured-English Immersion (SEI) class for English Learners.  As teachers, we pour all of our time and energy into our students, but it's exhausting when every night we go home and "reinvent the wheel" because we don't have access to the teaching materials that we need for our students.  I am creating this blog to help give time-saving, quality resources to upper-elementary teachers. The result is you spending more time with loved ones, communicating with parents, and building relationships with students.  Afterall, the student-teacher relationship is at the heart of all learning!

Thank you!  I look forward to sharing ideas with you!