Monday, January 30, 2012

Punch or Stamp Cards for Class Management

Over the years I've been teaching it seems that behavior has become more and more of a concern in our classrooms. There are many theories as to why this is happening and I believe it's a combination of many factors. That's definitely for a different time and different blog post. 

I've tried many different ways to handle behavior problems in my classes. Some were methods other teachers had tried and swore they worked. They didn't work for me.  Many methods were things like taking something away from a student,  giving after school detentions, calling parents in for a conference and too many more to list. 

Think about it. Why does a student "act out"?  When I first started teaching we weren't politically correct and used the terms "misbehaved" "has behavioral issues" "is a behavior problem" etc.  Today, we use "nicer" terms that are politically correct, BUT the behaviors are still the same. 

A child who misbehaves is crying out for attention. How do we know what kind of attention a child gets at home? We don't. Sometimes the only way a child might get his/her parents' attention at home is to act up. 

Mom's getting dinner ready and little Johnny wants her to look at the Thanksgiving turkey picture he made in Mrs. T's kindergarten class. Mom says, without even a glance, "Not now Johnny."

She's trying to do a zillion things for a perfect dinner so little Johnny decides the only way he get his mother's attention is to pull poor kitty's tail. MEEEEEOW! Mom scolds little Johnny and goes back to stirring her homemade gravy that's just coming to a boil. 

Little Johnny runs into the living room and grabs his sister's iPad, and tears up the stairs to his bedroom. Sister leaps off the recliner and screams "MOM"! Meanwhile, back in the kitchen, mom's gravy is done, but now she's pulling the chicken out of the oven so she can carve it before Dad comes home. The chicken nearly falls out of the pan as little Johnny's sister's voice becomes so high pitched it almost breaks a glass in the china closet.

Mom goes storming up the stairs, still wearing her oven mitts and shoves Little Johnny's door open. He's playing some APP game on the iPad and  and is so absorbed in it, he doesn't see his frazzled mother until she screeches at him an octave higher than his sister's scream. 

Mom then remembers she left the chicken on the burner where she was cooking her gravy and she had forgotten to turn it off. As she flies down the stairs she yells over her shoulder,  "Johnny, no t.v for you tonight!"

Little Johnny hurls his sister's iPad against the wall .... UH OH!

I'm sure you get the picture.  We just don't know family situations, punishments, or day to day family interactions. 

A couple of years ago I was reading a behavior management article about "punch" cards. The author stated that it really works. I thought .. Oh sure, right, uh huh. Was I pessimistic? Sure, but after I created the punch cards and started using them in my room, I realized that yes, this reward system really does work. 

The key to making it work successfully in the classroom? Consistency. Follow through. Praise. 

I also use it to motivate the little Johnny's who don't do their class work or homework. 
Do I give fancy pencils or other little gifts as rewards? No!  I'd be broke if I did. There are little stamps in the packet I give my students after I've punched a certain amount of holes on their cards. They start to compete against each other to see who has the most stamps. 

Life is good and I have punch cards to thank for it.

Try it! Yes, it really works!
(and it's FREE!)

punch cards, stamp cards,behavior management, punch cards, Ruth S, reward, free, homework, rewards, improvement

photo of Punch or stamp cards for class management, free, PDF Ruth S.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Moby Dick A Whale of a Tale

When I read Moby Dick in high school,  I was mesmerized by Captain Ahab.  This mad man was determined to destroy Moby Dick, the great sperm whale, that to him, represented ultimate evil in the world. At least that was his opinion of the gray giant.  Today, we protect these beautiful intelligent animals. If only Melville knew!

Ahab puts his entire crew in danger and doesn't let anyone or anything get in his way. One day, he announces his quest to his crew and nails a doubloon to the mast for all to see. His determination is ruthless, cruel. At that point, I would have grabbed my iPhone, made a dash for a lifeboat and called 911! No such luck for the crew of the Pequod, who were just about as mad as Ahab but recognized that something was definitely not quite right with their captain.

This symbolic move of nailing the doubloon on the mast reminded me of the nailing of Christ to the cross. It represented the rising action of the novel and makes one wonder what his deep dark plan was and if the crew would mutiny.

Ahab seems to believe he's a god who's immune to anything and anyone. Melville portrays him as a tragic hero who will most likely meet a tragic ending. His quest is obsessive. Destroy Moby Dick, the great sperm whale, no matter what.

The climax of the novel in chapter 132 is evident when Ahab realizes that he has no will to stop his obsessive quest to kill Moby Dick. Starbuck is present as Ahab questions himself about it and knows there will be no turning back. His madness is very obvious and tantalizes the reader to continue with him on his dark voyage.

The falling action, which the reader might not quite expect, is when Moby Dick destroys the ship (GO MOBY!) that causes the death of Captain Ahab and all aboard except one crew member, Ismael, who floats out to sea on a coffin, and then is rescued by another whaling ship. It reminds me of the scene in the Titanic when Leonardo DeCaprio and Kate Winslet were clinging to debris from a ship and he was slowly sinking in the deadly Arctic waters. A watery grave isn't my cup of tea.

From all the madness and turmoil of man versus nature, the fact that Ishamael was rescued by another whaling ship was a message that his madness and unfortunate fate represents an eternity of hell. Tragic ending, the prediction that came true!

I've created a free packet of student worksheets for this epic saga. If you've read it, it's worth a second read! Click on the image for the free download.                


Moby Dick a Whale of a Tale,Captain Ahab, climax, Kate Winslet, Leonard deCaprio, Moby Dick, rising falling action, Ruth S,  Captain Ahab,  novel study, literature

Friday, January 27, 2012

Adopt a Chimp for Chimpentine's Day

In past years, I've introduced my students to organizations dedicated to saving wolves and sea turtles. My students adopted these animals and were given adoption papers and other information about them.
Caregiving organizations, such as these, provide sanctuary for injured, elderly or abused animals who  often require assistance, love and the comfort of their natural surroundings.

I was recently made aware of a chimpanzee sanctuary in Fort Pierce, Florida. This sanctuary is the largest chimp safe environment in the world. It all began in 1997, when founder Dr. Carole Noon discovered that many of the USAF chimps, that were used by the original NASA space research program, were going to be relocated to a biomedical research facility.

Take a look at this extensive site where you'll find photo galleries, family information, videos of the chimps and more. One shows 19 chimps who had been at a biomedical research foundation and had never touched grass their entire lives. Watch as these magnificent chimps explore their new beautiful surroundings!

Adopt-A-Chimp for "Chimpentine's"  Day!
Click on the images to see more.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Chocolate Fever

Can you imagine what it would be like if you broke out in CHOCOLATE SPOTS while you were at school?? I would have been mortified if it had been me!  Kids love this book. Maybe it's because they've had some kind of allergic reaction and relate to it.

I remember the summer I was ten. It was a scorcher and my friend's mother had some ice cold oranges and gave us each one.  We sliced them in quarters and then began munching away. Orange juice dribbling down our chins, and laughing like goofy kids.

An hour later, I was at the doctor's office, covered from head to toe in huge hives. I was swelling up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and couldn't see because my eyes were slits due to the swelling on my face.

"How are you feeling, dear" the doctor asked me. I peered at her and thought, are you kidding?
It was determined that I had an allergy to the white stuff on the skin of an orange. Just my luck, I had to have a cortisone shot and I wasn't the biggest fan of any sharp objects being jabbed into my arm.

After I read Chocolate Fever, I just had to create some easy to use, ready to print worksheets for my students that were standards based, yet fun to do. Whoever thought of writing Chocolate Fever couplets?
"There was a kid in New York, who looked like a chocolate stork...."  Fun Fun Fun!

Check out my packet! Don't worry, you won't break out in chocolate spots!

Chocolate Fever student worksheets, novel, novel study, Ruth S, chocolate, novel packet,student worksheets, literature circles,

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Secret Valentines

I was looking at kids' Valentine packets in the store yesterday and couldn't believe how "tacky" they were.  Not only that, but they're expensive!

Every year, at school, I'm a "secret" Valentine. I sign my tiny initials on the kids' cards somewhere where they can hardly be seen. In Donald Duck's ear. On a shoe of a character. In a dialogue bubble.

When the kids open them, they alway make a comment "HEY! There's no name on THIS card! Who gave me a Valentine with NO NAME??"  I give myself one too and when I open it, I tell them that it happened to me too.

Once they've all opened them, they're buzzing about THE card that doesn't have a NAME. They look around the room as they look at each of their cards, trying to find out who gave them a card with no name. They're probably thinking that someone has a crush on them and doesn't want them to know. That's when the room becomes silent and they're all looking at each other shyly.

Eventually, one kid will give me a look, point at me and blurt out, "Ooooooo I know who gave us those cards!" Then I hear,  "WHO WHO WHO WHOOOO????  I tell them they sound like little owls. It's not long before someone finds my initials and they all begin searching for them. That's when I explain what a secret Valentine is and that I'm all their secret Valentines. Fun!

Getting back to the Valentines I saw in the store. The colors just aren't like the colors they used in the past and they weren't as cute as when I was a kid. When I got home, I decided to design some of my own. No, these aren't the big time designer name Valentine cards you see in the stores. These are the kind I'd LIKE to see in the stores.

kids valentines, Ruth S, valentine, Valentine's Day, homeschool secret valentines
Here are six that I designed that you can download for free. I had a great time creating them!
I have other Valentine packets too if you'd like to look around my store :)
Click on the cover to download them. 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My Book Review of Eric Carle's New Book "The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse"

It's a great honor to be a guest author on Teacher2Teacher. Most of you don't know it, but I've been an avid writer all of my life.  My passion .. teaching kids to write!!

I also love nothing better than reading to kids because I take on the persona, accent or whatever else is within a story and act it out as I read it.

I was retained by NASA as an author in 2009, which was a dream come true! With the budget cuts to NASA it's doubtful that the program I write for will continue to exist or will be cut back drastically.

When I first came across Eric Carle's new book, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse
it instantly brought back vivid memories of reading one of his first picture books "The Very Hungry Caterpillar" to my students. The plump ,bright green caterpillar with its red head is still vivid in my mind.

When you get to the site where my book review is, take a few minutes to watch Mr. Carle, as he explains why he wrote the story, a very inspiring event. Also watch as he creates the horse using his famous paper collage methods.

Many links are included, one of which is a Eric Carle page that is all about ladybugs and things that teachers can do with their kids in the classroom.

Click on the image to see my Carle review

Eric Carle, The Artist Who Painted a Blue Horse, primary, picture books

Monday, January 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Alphabet Cards

These Valentine's Day alphabet cards can be used many ways! Use them as name cards at Valentine's Day parties. Have your students write "Roses are Red" poems in the bubbles. Create a Valentine's Day word wall. The possibilities are endless. Check out my free packet of these cards by clicking on the image.

valentine's day alphabet cards language arts

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Genre Favorites

Over the years, I've surveyed my students to see what kinds of books they love to read. I remember one day when my fifth grade teacher introduced Jack London's Call of the Wild by reading a chapter of it to us and I was hooked immediately! I became so engrossed in the story that I couldn't put it down. Buck was my hero and the memory of his struggle in the far north is still as vivid as it was back then.

This activity will give you a good idea of what genre your students love to read. Once they complete the worksheet, I have them share their thoughts about their favorite genre in small groups. I tally their results with the whole group to see what were the most and least favorites. My objective is to expose them to other genre via their peers which hopefully will convince them to explore other types of literature!  Click on the poster to see this packet. 

genre, Ruth S, novel study, literature, what's your favorite, realistic fiction, nonfiction, biography, historical fiction, autobiography, science fiction, literature circles

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Be Mine Valentine!

I've always loved the sayings on those little pastel Valentine sugar hearts! 
Surprise your reading/writing classes on that sweet day by introducing these 24 
Valentine Language Arts worksheets to them.
 The picture on the front cover is our view from the Meistertrunk Hotel in Rothenburg ob der Tober, a charming walled in medieval German town, that's on the Romantick Strasse (Romantic Road). 

photo of Valentine's Day Activities, language arts activities, Grades 3 - 6 by Teacher Park,