How To CONSISTENTLY Manage Student Behavior in 3 Easy Strategies!

This post contains affiliate links through the Amazon Associate program, however the views and opinions are my own.

Let’s talk about something that can make or break a lesson – student behavior. There are so many strategies and resources that a teacher can implement, but honestly it all can be overwhelming. I am going to share with you three different systems I use in my classroom to put more accountability on the students and make it less work for me.

Let me preface this by saying – when I am going over routines and expectations, students know that they have to be supportive of one another and not yell at someone who isn’t making good choices. We go over that it’s okay to feel frustrated when someone around you isn’t making a good choice, but how to express that frustration in a respectful way. I remind students of these skills regularly in order to maintain the peace, so to say!

I also do my best to instill a Growth Mindset in my students, which helps tremendously with behavior management. Students that see that you believe in them will believe in themselves, and in turn will behavior for you and respect you as their teacher because they see that you are only there to support them. It’s tough at times, but I am always as positive as possible and have many things around the room to remind me to stay positive, including my Shout Out wall. I post a Student of the Week on the Shout Out Wall, which is one of my individual reward systems.

Small Group

I’m not going to lie – I struggled to come up with an idea for small group behavior management in the beginning. For my small group system, I use a table tallies. I have the tallies on the board, clearly labeled and I have award each table a tally for perseverance, respect, and going above and beyond for each other. I’ll even give a tally to the table who packs up the quickest & quietest – nothing wrong with some friendly competition. The table with the most tallies each day gets the VIP Table Bucket, that I put special pencils, pens, and Expo markers for them to use!

The tally system has been a complete game changer for my classroom. Students who are usually chatty and off task want to earn tallies for their table, so they make better choices. And because we go over expressing frustrations appropriately, students are supportive and help each other to be their best self.

Whole Class

One of my goals as a teacher is to build relationships with my students and have them build relationships with each other. To do this, I emphasize that our class is one family unit.

The whole class system that I use is a tally system. I have table tallies, and theres a spot for whole class tally too. This means the whole class was on task, doing the right thing, and being respectful to one another.

Individual

For individual student motivation, I use a ticket system. When a student goes above and beyond, adds to the conversation, uses a great math vocabulary word, demonstrates excellent citizenship, or anything I think warrants a reward, I give them a ticket. I used the double roll of tickets and when they earn the tickets, they get both sides of the ticket. One ticket, I collect with their name on it and one they hold on to. The one that I collect that day with their name on it goes in the weekly raffle and the one they hold on to I let them redeem for prizes once a month.

Another form of individual student motivation is Class Dojo. I use this to give students points for perseverance, remaining on task, doing the right thing, and basically anything that they would also earn a ticket for. This also helps tremendously with parent communication. This year, I am emphasizing the importance of students being proud of their effort and work, so they ask me daily to take a picture of them with their work to upload to their Class Dojo portfolio. Parents love seeing how their child is doing in class. See my post on Class Dojo for more information on that!


I know there are so many other strategies to manage classroom behavior, and let me tell you I’ve tried so many of them! These are the major ways I use in my room, mainly because it’s easier for me to wrap a layer of tickets around me and hand them out as I see fit. I hope you find this post helpful & as always, contact me if you have any questions!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

QUICK READ: 3 Reasons to Use Flocabulary in your Math Class.. or any class really!

So my last post talked about engaging students in six easy websites, and Flocabulary was at the top of the list! Let me tell you – it’s one of the best websites I was told about. My students love it & I’m not going to lie to you – I find myself humming along while it’s on! I’m sharing with you today 3 reasons why I love using Flocabulary in my classroom!

Reason 1: Students Love it

That is an understatement. Every day students as me to put on a song. So far their favorite one is the Long Division song. It’s super catchy and although it doesn’t address the conceptual understanding, it’s so helpful for them to remember the standard algorithm and promotes fluency for math facts!

Reason 2: Google Classroom Compatible

The ability to assign videos and aligned activities on Google Classroom is such a great way to keep students practicing skills that they are struggling with in an engaging way. During center time, I group students by level, so I assign one whole group a video of a skill that they need to work on with one of the activities Flocabulary provides. There are 5 activities you can assign students: the video, vocabulary cards, vocabulary game, read and respond, quiz, and lyric lab. My students favorite is the lyric lab they love any opportunity that they can be creative and I love reading their rhymes!

Reason 3: Great for English Language Learners

Music connects us all, and having Flocabulary for ELLs helps to promote fluency in English as they are learning it. When I taught AIS with ELLs, I used Flocabulary all the time to help them to remember steps to solve problems, promote fluency in reading, and even for parts of speech. You can change the speed of the video to give ELLs time to listen and comprehend what they are listening to. Flocabulary has videos in all subject areas, not just math, so students who are learning to speak English can start by learning a few songs to help them!

So basically, this website is another gem to help keep up that student engagement. And of course, videos are CCLS aligned, so we can be sure we are showing the right video for the right standard! Try it out with your class today and see their faces light up when they hear the beats!

As always, don’t forget to subscribe to get exclusive access to my resources in Google Drive, for FREE! I will be sharing more specific videos for Flocabulary on there!

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

How To Boost Student Engagement in 6 Easy Websites

1: Flocabulary

My students absolutely love Flocabulary and so do I! It’s a great way to boost engagement through hip hop music. Videos are aligned to CCLS standards for ELA and Math AND they have activities for students to do with the topics. Did I mention you can assign these videos and activities to kids on Google Classroom? One more reason to lovelovelove this website!

My students favorite video is the Long Division song and ask me to play it on a daily basis – even when division isn’t the topic we’re focusing on! They also have a Lyric Lab for students to become creators and make their own raps. It’s one of my students (and mine!) favorite activities to do and it really helps to boost their understanding of the material, which is an added bonus. I love reading and listening to their songs and raps of the topic we are working on!

2: Code.org

So I am new to the coding world, but my students seem to be pros already! I started using code.org in Saturday School and my students are absolutely loving it! The best thing about code.org is that all the lessons are there for you! All you have to do is set up the roster for your class and it’s completely self-paced, which helps for differentiation. There are courses based on each grade and there are even non-tech lessons that just help students with the basics of coding and what coding essentially is.

I only just started it with my students, but I am already loving it! Lessons are aligned the CCLS for ELA and Math, and I have been noticing significant improvement in teamwork. Students are helping each other out when they get stuck, and sharing their work with each other, which is amazing!

3: Quizizz

Quizizz is one of my favorite interactive ways to gather data on students. There are three ways to play a live game – classic, team, or test. I have a lot of experience with the classic version. Students compete to answer questions the quickest and most accurate, and the report is generated and you can save it. I love this because it gives me easy data to read and students are having fun while practicing topics. You can find assignments already made, or create your own. The possibilities are endless!

Oh and did I mention the memes? Students love seeing the memes that are in between each question! You can even add some of your own custom memes! This will definitely boost engagement in your classroom for sure!

4: Kahoot

Kahoot is very similar to Quizizz in that it’s like a game show way to review. The major difference is that it’s not self-paced and all the questions are timed, which can make or break the game. Some of my students shut down when they have to move quickly, while others rise to the challenge. You really need to know your students and what will really engage them. I love how excited students get when they see we are using Kahoot because they want to get to the top of the leaderboard. There is a paid option for Kahoot, but I stick to the free version because we all know us teachers are on a budget!

5: Quizlet

The last website that I love using in my classroom is Quizlet. Quizlet also has a paid option, but again I stick to the free one. What I love about Quizlet is the focus on vocabulary. I can create decks of cards with our vocabulary words, or find pre-made ones. I post the link of the sets that I create to Class Dojo so that parents can see and help their child with the vocabulary. Kids love playing the games and practicing vocabulary.

6: Prodigy Game

Last, but definitely not least, there is Prodigy. This is 100% my students favorite game to play. I did a complete write up of this website here, but I will give you the basics now. It’s a role playing game where students are a wizard and they have to battle to get pets and gems. Their battles consist of math problems that they have to answer and teachers get a full report of what each student is working on. It is a favorite center of my students and they even play at home for 20 minutes each night! That’s another report you get as a teacher – the time each student is spending on Prodigy and how many questions they’re answer in that time. It’s a great tool for teachers and it really is a fun game for students. I created my own student account to see what the hype was, and I can see why students love it!

I’ve only skimmed the surface with these websites – and I will be doing a complete write up of most of them (if I didn’t do so already). There are so many opportunities to keep students engaged, while giving you the data you need to plan your curriculum. I love these websites because they are a great way to check for understanding, or give as an anticipatory set to see what students already know. Personally, I use them for a centers and mid-chapter checks. Kids are so excited when it’s time to review and cheer when they’re assigned the digital center for the day!

Something about most of these websites that I love is the fact that they can all be assigned through Google Classroom. This gives the opportunity for teachers to differentiate instruction without having to worry about creating different material for each student. The websites definitely will boost engagement for students, which in turn will enhance their understanding. Students love to play video games, why not use that to our benefit when teaching?

What other websites do you use to boost engagement? Comment below to let me know!

☆Alexandra☆

Promethean Board Part 1: Five Best Features of the Infinite Whiteboard

Hello Everyone! 

So I’ve been recently taking workshops to help better me as a teacher, as we all do, and I’ve been learning a lot about the Promethean Board I have in my classroom. For those of you that don’t know, a Promethean Board is an interactive white board that has more tools than you can imagine!

In short, the Promethean Board is a giant Android Tablet. There are so many tools of the board that I am going to break it down into a few parts. The first part has so much to offer, that I love, is the infinite whiteboard. Looking at the sidebar can be a bit overwhelming. There are so many tools and each one is so useful when teaching – here are five tools I can’t teach without!

ONE: Ellipsis Menu

The three dots at the top are similar to the “File” button on Word. The “Export PDF Screenshot” is one of my favorite features! As long as you have a flash drive plugged in or Google Drive, One Drive, or any email app installed, you can save what is written on the board. Any time I have the kids show work, I save it. I use the work as pieces in their portfolio, post it to our Class Dojo story, or print it to hang around the room. 

TWO: Split Board Button

Fun fact: there can be up to 10 students writing on the promethean board at once! Not that there’s room for them to stand around the board, but the option is there for us! Splitting the board is my favorite thing to do with the infinite whiteboard. The cool thing about splitting it is whatever you wrote on the board before the split stays there – and student can’t erase it! This makes for fast fluency, number strings, and team games to be way more engaging. Showing multiple strategies is a key factor in Common Core Math, so I’ll split the board to have two students or groups go up and show their different strategies. Having the side-by-side visual helps students to see the connections in the content. 

THREE: Paper Changer Button

Okay, so Paper Changer Button isn’t the formal name for this, however, that’s what I call it because that’s exactly what it does – changes the background. There are so many options for paper background, and you can even change the color of the background! The paper background I use the most is the graph paper. You can adjust the size of the squares to meet your needs. Helpful hint: use the ruler tool make your axes perfectly straight! 

FOUR: Insert Charts & Templates

This third icon down is to insert a picture or graphic organizer. The board comes loaded with a few charts and templates already, but you can look some up on the internet, upload them yourself with a flash drive, or save them to your google drive and take from there. This is great for when you need a T-Chart, hundreds grid, place value chart, tens frame, or any other math tool you may use to solve a problem. At my school we use GO Math primarily, with some Engage NY lessons thrown in there. It’s so easy for me to go on the Chrome App and save it to the gallery to use on the infinite whiteboard. This is great because you won’t have to draw the tool in every time – it’s already there for you! 

FIVE: Math Tools

All the way a t the bottom of the tool bar, before the undo/redo arrows, are the Math tools. The tools are a ruler, a set square, a semicircle protractor, and a full circle protractor. Teaching fifth grade, I use the ruler and the semi-circle protractor the most, however for other grades the set square and full circle protractor are a great digital resource! The kids are always so amazed when I click the ruler tool and I can expand it or make it smaller with the pinch of my fingers. 

Basically – these five tools make my life a lot easier when I am teaching. The kids are always so amazed and what I do with the promethean and when they have a chance to come up and explore the board they’re so excited. 

What tools do you love on the Promethean? What tools do you wish they would add?

☆Alexandra☆

Google + Jigsaw = Engaging

Happy Sunday Everyone! 

Oh my goodness it’s been a while since I posted. I got so caught up with my online courses, grading, planning, and life that I put this on the back-burner, but I am back & ready to write all summer long! This is my favorite time of the year, not only because it’s Summer, but because I get to start planning and thinking about next year! It is a time of reflection and adjusting based on what worked and what didn’t work throughout this past school year and I can be creative and take my time planning for the upcoming school year! Since I have been absent for the last couple of months, there is a freebie waiting for you at the end of this post!

One of the online courses I took was about creating a more student-centered classroom. As a teacher I want to show them all of the amazing things that I love about math, but honestly, it’s much better when they discover the concepts and get excited about it all on their own, am I right? One thing I read up on was the Jigsaw method. I know this is usually used in the other content areas, and you’re probably wondering how the Jigsaw method works in Math – fear not my friends, I will share this with you!

The first thing I want to clarify is – what is the Jigsaw strategy? Well, it is a collaborative learning technique that gives students the chance to become masters of one specific concept or skill to teach to their home group. Here’s a visual I created to help you see what I mean:

As a math teacher, this may be difficult to picture doing. One way I plan to use this strategy in my classroom is to do a Resource Roundup in the beginning of the school year. Students are assigned a “Home Group” and then within the group, each student is assigned some classroom tools and resources to become the masters of. They look at the manipulatives and resources we are going to use in the fifth-grade and evaluate and compare them. This includes the digital resources involving the iPads and computers that we are fortunate enough to have (see my post on virtual manipulatives for an overview of what I use). Once they have mastered their resources, they return to their home group to share what they found. I plan to teach this activity over the course of two days – the first day giving students a chance to work with their master group and the second they share with their home group. Home groups will create a poster to advertise at least five classroom resources they look forward to using in the fifth grade. Once the posters are complete, I will hang them throughout the room as a reminder of the great tools we have to help us.

So now that you see how we can use Jigsaw in a math classroom, how does this relate to technology? Well, the G Suite is one of the greatest educational tools, and I have written about it in this postBesides having one of the master groups looking at technology resources, when students are with their home groups creating the poster, they can make it digital! Google Drawings is a great app from the G Suite that students pick up on in a snap! Nowadays, students are so tech savvy that most don’t even need direct instruction on how to use certain apps. Once students create their digital posters as a group, you can print them and hang them around the room to refer throughout the year.

One thing I noticed this past year is as students get older, they are more reluctant to use manipulatives and resources. Students see a word problem and immediately start scribbling down an equation to help them solve – the equation usually dealing with the current unit. Students don’t take the time to break out the resources we have in the classroom such as fraction bars, base ten blocks, graphic organizers, and even a problem-solving folder they have right at their tables! Reflecting on my own teaching, I realize I seldom used the resources and I hope that this activity will help students to recognize what we have in the room and when it can be useful to them. I also hope that the posters will be a reminder for myself to refer to the tools and resources as I am teaching my lessons.

What other ways are you thinking about using the Jigsaw method in your math classroom?

Enjoy!

☆Alexandra☆

PS – Here is a Freebie for you to do a Resource Roundup! in your classroom!

Find the full lesson plan at my TpT store here!

@TechAboutMath

Virtual Manipulatives: Fraction Edition

Taking regular fraction manipulatives and making them fun & engaging for students.

Happy Friday!
I know it’s been a while since my last post (February just flew right by!). I’ll just get right to the elephant in the room: fractions with manipulatives!

I am all about building conceptual understanding and using manipulatives to do so, but sometimes students get distracted using them more as toys than mathematical tools. I’ve rounded up a few of the best manipulative websites that students can use on iPads or you can use on the board (assuming you have a SMART or Promethean Board) or with a tablet or laptop. There are so many virtual manipulatives out there it can be overwhelming. My students love using the virtual manipulatives because it’s like they have an unlimited amount of them and they love any excuse to use the iPads. I love them because then they’re not tapping the fraction bars like drumsticks and dumping out unit cubes all over the room! Don’t get me wrong – when students are exploring a concept, we use hands on manipulatives, but when they are solving problems with the manipulatives I allow them to use the virtual manipulatives. I taught my students how to take a screenshot on the iPad and then mark it up with their name and class so I can upload it to their ClassDojo portfolio. (See my ClassDojo post to learn more about that!)

Toy Theater

The first website I use for fraction manipulatives is toy theater. I love this website because it has basically every math manipulative you can think of to use virtually. Some of the other manipulatives I use regularly are counters, dice, decimal bars, and pattern blocks. I plan to use the percentage strips, area and perimeter explorer, and the graph square in the future.

How do I use the fraction strips?

I first used them so show adding and subtracting fractions. Seeing as I teach fifth grade math, students generally have an idea of what a fraction is and what a unit fraction is. I pose a problem involving adding fractions with unlike denominators and give students the opportunity to explore with the manipulatives to see what they come up with. I use the virtual fraction strips the same way I use hands on fraction strips.

The one challenge with the fraction strips is that you’re limited to the denominators that are provided. The fraction strips are more for concept development of adding and subtracting unlike denominators and once students see the concept, they can then move to the procedure.

Math Learning Center

The second website I use for virtual fractions is Math Learning Center. I use this when I’m reviewing the concept of comparing fractions, showing equivalent fractions, and creating equivalent fractions with a least common denominator. There is more room for different approaches with this website. For example, you can choose the number of pieces for each fraction strips up to 100! This website also has applications for an Apple and Android tablets.

Math Learning Center also has a ton of amazing resources to check out for teaching (both tech & tech-less!) I’ve been doing some more exploring and will update in the near future!

How else can you use virtual manipulatives in your classroom? Drop a comment below!

Don’t forget to leave your email address to never miss a post!

Alexandra

ClassDojo: Classroom Management at it’s Finest!

Happy Monday!

Hope everyone had an exceptional week!

How many teachers struggle with classroom management? Personally, it was one of the bigger challenges my first year in the classroom and can even still pose as a challenge. One way I combated the struggle was with ClassDojo. This website (and app!) is a great resource to help students keep themselves in check and give you a great reward system with minimal extra work for you!

The way it works is you import your class, then you can set up skills you want students to earn points for doing. One skill I wanted my students to improve on was persevering through a problem, so I made that worth 1 point. Other skills i wanted improvement on were being an outstanding citizen, completing all their classwork, demonstrating excellent teamwork, and using math talk. Again, you can choose the skills you want your students to work on and give each skill a point value. The teachers on my grade are rewarding students with the most Dojo points with a pizza party, so it’s an incentive for students to earn.

This is what the skills looks like: (My school is departmentalized, so my skills are labeled “Math – skill” so the other teachers can create their own skills)

The second half of the management is taking away points for negative behavior. I don’t like taking away points they already earned for positive behavior, but some behaviors warrant the negative points. Students in my classroom can lost points for calling out, not handing in HW, being off task, and using unkind words. Again, taking away points they’ve already earned isn’t my favorite thing to do, but there are times where students can be very distracting to the students around them and there has to be consequences. To take points away, you click, “Needs Work,” on the top and the skills will look like this:

Another feature I’ve been using more often is the Portfolio feature of ClassDojo. While students are working I go around with my iPad and take pictures of the students work. There are two ways to upload the work to ClassDojo – to the Portfolio of the child or the Class Story. I use this as a motivator for students to keep their work neat and organized because my kids love when I share their work to the ClassStory or their Portfolio for their parents to see.

Finally, the best part about ClassDojo is the parent engagement piece. You can either print out a slip of paper for parents to register and get the app, or you can send them a text invite through the app! Personally, phone calls can take quite a bit of time, but with ClassDojo you can message parents and even send out mass messages to keep them aware of whats going on in the classroom. Most parents prefer this as well and are able to message the teacher with concerns or questions. Don’t worry – as a teacher you can choose “Do Not Disturb” times when you aren’t teaching or the weekends to still have a life outside of school!

How else could ClassDojo be used in the classroom? Drop a comment below with suggestions!

Enjoy

☆Alexandra☆

Prodigy Game – Engagement & Data Goldmine!

Hi Everyone!

My first official post was about the five tech tools I use in my classroom regularly. One of the programs I use daily is Prodigy Game. This game is a great way to assess how students are doing in skills and standards and it shows the data in a clear and concise way. It’s not your typical math online assessment – it’s disguised as a Role Playing Game where students have a character, collect gems, and battle each other. My students are always so excited when it’s their turn to use Prodigy on the computers during center time.

First, when students login or create an account, they take a placement test. The test is the game, so they are still battling each other as they are answering questions, but it’s the placement test in disguise. When this is done you’ll get a report emailed to you. This is a great way to get a baseline to help you group your students based on the skills they are strong in and skills they need to work on. The placement test is given a few times throughout year – The skills are broken down by standard strand and the baseline report will look like this:

This is a good way to get a general overview of the class. When you scroll over the bubbles you will see the list of students who were that grade level in the domain row, or overall placement. From this page, you can go into the individual student reports to determine the skills they need to work on.

From this, if you click on the “Reports” tab on the left side, you will see the various reports from the data and it will look like this:

The reports that I use most often are the progress and student usage reports. I have a “Prodigy Player of the Week” in each of my classes and choose a student who uses it the most at home and answers the most questions. This gives students an incentive to play at home and make proper use of the time they have to play in class.

The best part about this game is that it’s completely free! Parents can buy a membership for their child for added bonuses such as a membership box, but there is no extra cost for the teacher! Several of my students have memberships, but it doesn’t effect the questions they answer and how many battles they see. Members receive a membership box monthly in the game that gives students gems and various items for the game.

What games do you play in your classroom to boost student engagement?

Alexandra