FF Mrs. Kinder-hearted

Friday, January 26, 2018

Positive Behavior Management with Sticker Cards


I don’t consider myself to be an expert of hardly anything, but there are a few things I can proudly boast about being pretty good at. Tripping on obvious objects and eating carbs is among the top of my talents. Coming in a close Third place is my experience using Sticker Cards as a classroom management and positive behavior incentive.

I sincerely believe that the Primary Classroom (especially Kindergarten) should be a place of happiness, fun and even MAGIC. With that being said, I also think a well-controlled behavior environment is a MUST to ensure all that MAGIC can happen. Kindergartners can be very-well behaved and still be happy and learning.  One of the BEST compliments ever given to me by and observing administrator was that kids in my Kindergarten students “resemble that of a First Grade classroom.” I need them to be as well-behaved and independent as 5-year olds can be and that is what I strive for.


My classroom environment isn’t a boot-camp-like setting either, though. I like to keep a good balance of student happiness and focus. This means keeping them purposefully engaged and motivated to stay on task. How do I maintain this balance? After the clich√© trial and error process with about 20 different behavior management strategies I found on Pinterest, I found my ultimate answer two years ago. And it involves my favorite thing in the World: ----------√† STICKERS.


Two years later and I still haven’t switched it out with any replacement. I do use other class rewards (like Happy Chappies for instance) but this is my never-failing, all-encompassing strategy for keeping my Kinders on task and learning. Now that I’ve reached this level of use, I’ve dubbed myself as a “Sticker Card Expert” and I want to share what I’ve learned along the way with you.

The BEST PART OF ALL? I'm sharing a FREE Starter Kit for you to incorporate this system in your own classroom. Don't begin without checking out the info within this post though. (Trust me.) :) 





How it Works

We can all say good behavior isn’t something we should reward, and I agree to an extent, but I also believe good-behavior is something that must be taught. All through their childhood, our kids are looking to the adults in their life to model and acknowledge good behavior. Acknowledging that behavior is easy with this approach. It goes like this:

-Students have a sticker card.
-Students are provided stickers when they are on task, portraying good-behavior, etc.
-When their sticker card is full, they are rewarded for their long-suffering in getting that thing full. They earn a reward along with a small collection of colorful jewels (the stickers themselves) that they can take home and show off to their families.

Sounds easy, and it is, but there are a lot of tricks of the trade I’ve learned the hard way with this strategy. Here are some Do’s and Don’ts to help you to save you time.  




DO

-Start the strategy out with an exciting introduction. Make some hype and they’ll jump on board. “Guys, you won’t believe this but I found this AWESOME way to reward you. You aren’t going to believe this!”

-Give out stickers freely in the beginning. You can tighten up your expectations as you go, but get them earning stickers as quickly as possible.

-Bring attention when someone earns a sticker. “Carley! Look how quietly you pushed your chair under! I can’t help but give you this beautiful, flower sticker for your card.” You’ll quickly notice a room full of kids striving to keep those chairs extra quiet.

-Have guidelines! Develop your own or use my FREE RULES. Either way, don’t start this out without a clear plan and expectations. Kids are clever and they’ll find loopholes in this system (or any other) if you don’t clearly define the rules.  I personally reviewed my Sticker Card Rules each morning for about a month into the school year. After that, I’d review a rule if someone tried to bypass it.


***The rule about having a "tidy" card is important to keep your kids from playing with the card. Some kids like to peel and rearrange stickers just so they can fiddle with something. If they look like this, I get a little tough (I admin) and I peel them off and require the student to re-fill the missing places. A fair warning is given before it comes to it, but it keeps the cards themselves from being a learning distraction. 



-Be organized and prep the system before you implement. I definitely have made this mistake in the past and ended up losing filled cards and having angry little people staring me in the face. Have a designated sticker-card area. Teach students a routine of getting new cards when theirs are filled. 




-Have your rewards prepped and ready to use. If you like treasure boxes, have it stocked. If you have other, non-tangible rewards in mind (like those listed here), have a list ready for them to choose from. If giving choices is just too much work for you, have a common reward that each child can expect to receive when their card is full. I used 10-minutes of technology for months one year. It works great!

-Keep parents involved. I send this explanation letter home at the beginning of the year and to each new student as they come. If their care-givers are in the loop, their little ones will be even more eager to fill a card and take it home to display. (This is also included in the starter kit!

-Don’t forget those “perfect” students. To keep those super-well-behaved kids motivated, have a sticker-card star display that is updated throughout the year. (Again, get this free!)  Have a BIG reward for those who reach the highest level! 




-Go crazy at the dollar tree when buying stickers! Have a colorful, awe-inspiriing assortment of colors, characters and themes. (My little boys especially love Ninja Turtles, super-heroes and car stickers.) Be sure to get stickers that fit in the little squares on the cards. I’m a little O.C.D. about them fitting, you don’t have to be though. 




DON’T

-        -Don't expect it to work like magic without you putting in effort. You are the facilitator of this strategy and any other you use. You must keep on your game. Don’t be haphazard with giving away stickers and don’t slack on it either. Consistency is key.
-       Never take stickers away from cards. You’ll be tempted when little Johnny has a bad behavior directly after earning a reward for a good one, but it doesn’t work that way. This is a POSITIVE BEHAVIOR MANAGEMENT SYSTEM.

-       -Don’t focus on undesirable, non-sticker-earning behaviors. Instead, call out the good behaviors so the others can imitate them. Sometimes it’s easier to be negative but its more beneficial to keep a positive tone with our students.


When to Give Stickers

I give stickers out at all parts of the day. In the morning, it is routine for the kids who finish their morning work (neatly and with great attention) to get a sticker before we transition to the carpet. It sounds like a tedious task, handing out 27 individual stickers that early, but after doing it the whole year, I could check work, give verbal feedback and add a sticker to every card within about 2 minutes. Students who earned a sticker knew to clean up and head to their carpet spot without me reminding them.

I do random checks for model behavior. I look around without prompting and see a student doing exactly what they are supposed to be doing and I verbally acknowledge their winning characteristics for everyone to hear. “Hey! Jordan wrote his name on his paper before beginning. That gets a sticker!” or “Way to go Jessica! I’m going to add a sticker to your card for helping Miguel pick up his spilled crayons!” Think of the behaviors you desire the most from your kids and randomly reward kids who do those things. You’ll soon notice that they naturally get the notion to continue those awarded behaviors.

No Asking for Stickers

One thing you’ll find soon enough is that kids will verbally bring to attention their own good behavior and ask for a sticker. I explained each time this happens that I must personally observe a behavior without being told about it. No one gets a sticker if they asked for it.

Sticker Card Placement




You may not be as picky as I am about everything having its own designated place, but if you are, you’ll need to decide where students are to place their card when it is out and where it is to be stored during times it should be put away.

When teaching procedures in the beginning of this strategy, I taught my students where their card belonged at various times of the day. My students were to keep their cards in their pencil box (inside their desk) when it wasn’t in use (planning, lunch, carpet time). After the first week or two of reminding them to put those away, I eventually would just take any random card sitting out on the tables and replace it with a BLANK one. Sounds tough, but I’m pretty tight on my rules and the kids expect this.

Lost Cards

If a child loses their card, it’s not my problem. If 90% of the class is able to keep up with them, they all are. It teaches responsibility. My procedure for lost cards is not to look for them. That child just gets a new one and basically lost their collection. Again, it’s pretty tough but if they know the expectation, they’ll abide with it.  

Final Thoughts

You’ll love this system, if you use it the way that I do. It produces kids that are eager to do their best work and be kind to others. I hope I have included all the information\ you need to implement is and do so in an effective way. 

Have you used sticker-cards before? Do you have any more tips for new users? Please share in the comments! <3 

God bless y’all!

  










Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Free Letter & Sounds Assessment Binder for Kindergarten




Kindergarten is TOUGH, in all capital letters. If you're a new Kindergarten Teacher, brace yourself. If you're a returning Kindergarten Teacher, give yourself a hug and buy yourself something nice, you deserve it for re-entering the jungle by choice. I LOVE Kindergarten, and have dedicated the last four years of my life to mastering the art of Teaching the Little People. <3

With that being said, I've decided to let go of my deep passion for solely teaching Kindergarten and leave it for an even deeper love... teaching READING. An opportunity came open in my building to switch to 2nd Grade READING teacher. I am now readying a new room and new curriculum, but will never lose my love for creating resources for my first love, Kindergarten.



So, I'm here to share something with you all that made my life in Kindergarten MUCH easier. It never gets EASY, teaching Kindergarten, but things can always be easier. :) Assessing student knowledge of Letter & Sound Identification is time-consuming and stressful at times, so I created this resource to ease some of the trouble. This FREE Letter & Sound Assessment Binder resource will help you assess students, track their growth and compare their overall performance in a neat and organized fashion.

To get started, you'll need: 



Assemble Your Binder 


1.) Place your cover in the front. If you're like me, this helps your O.C.D. problem of needing everything to be beautifully labeled. If you're a normal person, you can save yourself some ink and skip this step. 


2. Place your whole-group monitoring sheet in the front of the binder. Fill in your student names. I have created space to accommodate 30 students. If you have more than that, Lord bless your soul. :D  I like to keep mine sheet-protected because I use it quite often. This saves unnecessary wear and tear. 



3.) Place Student-Progress Monitoring sheet at the beginning of each tab divider. You will date and record student performance each time you give the assessment. This gives you a quick over-view of each individual student and the specific number of capital letter/sound and lower-case letter/sound they have mastered. I like to have this view (rather than only a percentage) so I can discuss this info quickly with parents during conferences. This also gives me an insight as to whether the student has a better understanding of letter names or sounds. During my experience, many students catch on to the sounds of letters more quickly than the name.




4.) Make plenty of copies of the Student Assessment and Student Assessment Results sheets and store in the binder pockets.  Now, you're READ Y to assess!




Assessment Procedure 


When assessment time comes, grab your binder from the shelf and start tracking student performance. I would pull the Student Assessment Sheet from the front pocket and a results sheet from the back. 


In the beginning of the year, students will need your assistance in tracking the letters. Use a pen, pointer, colored-chip or any other tool to help them visit each letter. As they identify their letters/sounds, record the information on the results page. I like to use an X to signify that they do not recognize the letter/sound. This seems like a lot in the beginning of the school year, but as time passes, they will learn more and the X's will become fewer. At that time, you'll want to focus more on the letters missed and will be able to spot them more quickly. 


Store your dated assessment results behind the Student Progress-Monitoring page in your binder. This way, if you want to see specific letters/sounds missed, you can turn to the correct assessment and see quickly which were missed. As you can see here, on August 27th, little Jessica missed every Capital Letter name except for 3 (Q, J and V). She missed ALL Capital Letter Sounds. She went on to recognize 2 Lower-Case Letter names (j and x) and identified 1 lower-case sound (letter j). 


                      


After assessing that individual student, record their performance on the student progress-monitoring sheet. After calculating the percentage correct, record this info on the Whole-group monitoring sheet. This sounds like a lot of work, but in the end, you'll be glad you did. You'll have a perfectly documented story of how that child performed throughout the school year.  As you can see, little Jessica had 100% mastery by January. If you didn't have this information, you might forget how little she knew in the beginning. Don't you love seeing student growth?!?! 


I also use a highlighter to mark students who have reached 100% mastery. This motivates me to work hard until each student has had their name highlighted. I would have demonstrated that here, but I'm on SUMMER BREAK (wooohoooo!!) and apparently don't own a highlighter outside of school grounds. Yikes! 




I love free stuff, but I especially love USEFUL free stuff. If you find this to be useful, let me know! If you see need for improving this product, let me know that too.  

If you need ideas of how to get these little people to be successful during this particular assessment, visit my most popular blog post, How to Increase Letter & Sound Fluency in Kindergarten. I've had oodles of positive feedback from really GREAT teachers. Be sure to check it out! :) 




Happy Kindergarten Assessment to you! I'll be in 2nd Grade this year, but I'll still keep all of you crazy Kindergarten people in my prayers as you take on a new group of angels.

God bless you and yours! 


Friday, December 30, 2016

How to Increase Sight-Word Fluency in the Primary Classroom



Many, many people have benefited from my "How to Increase Letter/Sound Fluency" piece that I posted almost two years ago. This was a simple strategy I used, but had no idea others didn't have access to. Now, I'm going to share some ideas I have used to reach the same level of fluency with Sight-Words. This is how I teach sight-word fluency in my classroom and for the past three-years, I’ve found much success with it. I use a combination of kinesthetic movement with phrases and the RAINBOW sight-word system to ensure my students are learning those infamous high-frequency words.

Sight-Word Motions

You may have noticed from my other posts that I am a very kinesthetic person. I like to move and I love to keep my Kinder-babies moving too. It helps them retain knowledge. I know there are tons of research behind this idea, but I don’t need any of it to recognize how effective learning through movement can be. That is why you’ll see that I have motions (mostly self-created, some borrowed from who-knows-where) for everything I teach. Sight-words included.

After realizing how helpful and effective it was to add motions to my letters/sounds I quickly applied the same strategy to my sight-word routine. When I say quickly, I mean that I introduced it mid-year. I’m always concerned about introducing new things after my students already have a routine down, but when I get great ideas, I always take the risk.

The idea behind sight-word motions (from my experience) is that you tie in a motion  that corresponds with a word. When students see that word, they may not recall the actual word itself, but their little bodies (most-of-the-time) can recall the movement that goes with the word. I witness my students recall these motions every-day. It is a natural occurrence.

Sight-Word Phrases

 I not only have motions for words, I also include phrases. I found that the phrase also scaffolds students to recall the word. It seems like a lot, but I pinky promise that it is a tool, not just extra stuff to remember. Sometimes I find that students will look at the word, recall the motion but still can’t get to the correct word without that phrase.  I promise, you’ll see it too when you use this strategy.

See it in action!

In case you are curious (like I always am) of how strategies actually look in the classroom, I had Ms. Kathy film our daily sight-word practice. I take five-minutes to review the color words we are working on every day. At the end of the week, I take an extra ten-minutes to review all former words. My classroom (at the time of this post) is currently on the BLUE list of words. (See more about this below.)



Rainbow Words

A saving grace in my classroom has been a Rainbow Word system that I created. As I mention in the video below, I found the idea on Pinterest. I bet you’ve seen it too. It truly works. If you are thinking about implementing it (even right now, mid-school year), I say GO FOR IT! You will NOT regret it! I implemented it in January my first year teaching and it truly helped motivate my kids.


You don't have to purchase my file! You can definitely create your own system, but I’m compelled to share with you something I’ve worked so hard on the last few weeks. For three years now, I’ve used a PowerPoint file that I created to create my Rainbow Words resources. It takes me hours every year to distribute my word lists through that file and to each resource. Thankfully, I just learned how to create a file that allows me to type my words in one time to appear throughout all the other parts. I AM SO EXCITED! TYPING WITH ALL CAPS AND IN BOLD TEXT DOES NOT EVEN BEGIN TO EXPRESS MY HAPPINESS! 



In case you’re new to the idea of Rainbow Words, it is a strategy in which you use colored cards to motivate students to learn their sight words. Each color represents a number of words. (For my system, there are 12 Red, 12 Orange, 12 Yellow, 12 Green, 12 Blue, 16 Purple and 16 Pink. 92-words total.) When a student masters a set of cards, the red for example, they go on to the next set. When my kids reach the top of the Rainbow, they get a certificate and set of Rainbow glasses.



As you can probably imagine, students are super-motivated to learn all their words. Some teachers don’t like data walls (and I understand why), but my district requires them and I find this particular system to be very kid-friendly in Kindergarten. Students are only in competition with the Rainbow itself, not other students.

Easy Assessment, Easy Feedback for Families.

A key advantage to my creation is that it makes assessment time simple and time-efficient. I barely get time to pee at school, so I’m always sure to use my time efficiently. My Rainbow Words Assessment Binder makes this happen.



Inside, I have a master checklist and a tab divider for each kiddo.


In each child's tab, I have their Assessment Log pages.. 



I also keep my Teacher feedback pages and rainbow cards close by for when I’m ready to assess.



I flash the cards, insert the data and complete the appropriate feedback page (pass or fail). I add the next set of cards if that student passed that day. I also allow students to place their picture up to that stripe (if they passed red, they go on the red stripe.) Repeat 26 more times (I have a big class!) and BAM! I’m done. 

Rainbow Display 

This is one of my favorite parts of my colorful classroom. I can also see the satisfaction in the eyes of my Kinder-kids when they get to move their picture up a stripe.


Here are some instructions in case you want to create this in your own classroom. 


Video Demonstration





Sight Word Tips

Here are some things I’ve learned (mostly the difficult way through trial and error) about teaching sight-words. I hope these save you some time and trouble.

-Introduce a few at a time. Don’t overwhelm your class!
-Avoid introducing similar words during the same week. (Like eat and ate.)
-Keep parents informed and use them to practice! (I send home a practice log as homework.)
-Review often. Even your brightest kids can forget words they once knew if they don’t practice them.
-They are still babies! Don’t overwhelm your class with too many words. I knew a Teacher in another district that required her Kindergarten class to know 150 words in order to pass on to First grade. This may work for some, but I personally feel this puts too much pressure on our little ones who aren’t developmentally ready for it.  I do cover 92 words in the school year, but I only require my students to master 80% of those by the end of the year.
-Have students with special learning needs? You can accommodate them by shortening word lists. I have adapted my percentage scores to help my special learners to feel successful. One of my students is only required to recognize 6 of the 12 Red words in order to pass. Same for other colors.
-Make it fun! Use songs, dances, motions OR WHATEVER you need to use to keep them engaged. YouTube has so many free resources available to you!

I hope you've found something helpful here today. That is my main goal of this post and all others. 

God bless you and your little ones!