Thursday, August 1, 2013

"I am SO doing this in my classroom this school year!!!"

Do you ever feel like trying every new idea, tool or program you come across? I do! My inner voice should "I am SO doing this, this school year" whenever I come across an idea on Pinterest, or in a workshop r on Twitter.  We all know, the reality is, we come across tons of ideas and we can't possibly implement them all. I am a little GUILTY of starting stuff and then dropping it mid-way through the year. Sometimes that is a good thing, especially when my lack of enthusiasm is evident or if I get to overwhelmed with the day to day stuff. Last year I was so good about doing my daily vocabulary/word of the day and also about blogging with my students.  It helped that I had looked up from 4th to 5th with my same students so I knew them pretty well, especially what they could ad couldn't handle. So here are a few of the new things I am definitely doing in my classroom this year---

1. Class Dojo. I tested this out a few years ago and loved it. But I tried to implement it midway through the year and soon realized you have to get buy-in from the kids from the very beginning. I saw several teachers present on this at workshops this summer and it really got me pumped about using it. It is a computer based behavior management program. The kids love the cute avatars and they love listening for the "ding" when someone gets a point. I will display it on my Promethean boar throughout the day (but not all the time) but will keep the volume up so I can add/subtract points throughout the day as students work. I am using data notebooks this year (see #2 below) so I am going to have students chart their points for a monthly reward.

2. Student Data Notebooks. Let's face it. We live in a data driven world and we teach in a setting riddled with data. Yes, it is difficult to wade through it all to analyze it. But sometimes it is just what is needed to help you develop a solution to a problem to identify a problem you didn't really know was there. I am not a fan of putting more work on my own plate so the use of student data notebooks will put most of the responsibility on the students. It will hold them accountable for behavior and achievement. I am going to start small..charting only 5 things: behavior (using data from Class Dojo), Reading and Math common assessment scores, and vocabulary scores (I am going to try out Flocabulary- see #3 below).  I think this is a good start.

3. Weekly Vocabulary instruction using Flocabulary. My students know the words to every song on the radio but they have difficulty remembering much of what I teach them. We take MAP (Measures of Academic Performance) tests 3 times a year and the students in our school are always weak in vocabulary. Last year I did a word of the day with definition,  picture, context sentence and part of speech. My kids did okay with it, and it was a bit of a chore to keep up with. A colleague used Flocabulary for some of the reading skill we taught lat year and I tried it out at her suggestion. I got a 14 day free trial and I was hooked and so were my students. Argument settled...using Flocabulary for vocabulary instruction this year. There are activities (which I will use for homework practice) and a test you can give with an answer key. It is a great program!

4. Edmodo. Again, I started using it with my students late in the year last year. However, after attending some training this summer, I am ready to go full steam ahead. I love that I can post questions, quizzes, polls, etc. and even share documents. For the students who have computers at home, they love to get on after-school and leave messages for each other or for me.

Well, I think that is about all I can handle to implement this year...although I will continue blogging with my students, I was hoping to have them set up their own blogs but I think I am going to try a hybrid approach with Edmodo and see how it goes.  We are in a bridge year with common core on our grade level, we are in year 4 of Fountas and Pinnell and year 3 of Empowering Writers....I am so going to have my hands full.

I promise to blog periodically throughout the year and let you all know how this goes.

I would love for you to comment below and share the new things you are planning implementing in your classroom this year!!


  1. Maybe we've talked about this before, but I love Edmodo! :)
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    1. Brandee- Me too! I want to really harness its full potential with my students this year!!

  2. This seems like a cool list! I love the idea of Student Data Notebooks and I've never heard of Edmodo.

    I think the biggest thing for Class Dojo for me, and just generally with all classroom managment things, is to consistently use it!

    1. Anisa- You should check out Edmodo. It is fairly easy to set up and I love it! You can do general posts for your students to respond to, post pictures and files and even put a quiz on there! I am the queen of inconsistency..I get all excited about something new and then I lose track of it. Trying to get better! Thanks for chiming in :)

  3. Love all the programs that you listed in for post. I'm planning to use Class Dojo and Edmodo this year (my 3rd year using it with my class) and have my kiddos blog but I'm afraid that's a bit of overkill. We'll see!

    Would love to know more about student data notebooks.

    1. Hey Beth- Thanks for dropping by my blog. I am hoping I can achieve all this stuff and be consistent with it. I am a little worried with CCSS coming along and this being a bridge year for us, that I am going to be a little overwhelmed. But I am gonna try!! I'm planning on posting about the data notebook both as we set them and also as we are using them Stay tuned!!!