Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Reading Homework Rewards

I begin my reading homework around Oct. usually.  By this time, I get a sense of who of my kiddos  return homework regularly and who is going to be responsible.  I have my students read 15 mins. M-Th and return their envelopes on Fri.  If a student reads all 4 days, I put a sticker on Friday and reward those who read.  I start my rewards with simple little trinkets...prize box, stretchy things, chapsticks, tootsie pops, etc... It just kind of depends on what I choose. Most kids get excited when I pull something new out of the closet for a reward.  (I have an addiction to trinkets)  I do this from about Oct. til the end of 2nd quarter which is sometime in Jan.  In Jan I begin a new reward called Mud cups (chocolate pudding, crushed oreo, a worm, etc...) This is where the students earn a piece to the mud cup each week.  So for example, if a student reads all 4 days the first week, they earn their cup. The next week they earn their spoon, then mud, oreo, worm, whipped cream, sprinkles and a cherry.  It lasts for 8 weeks (almost the whole 3rd quarter).  I have a bulletin board so they can see what they earn each week.  Then after 8 weeks we celebrate and I make them their mud cups.  If they only earn cup, spoon, mud and oreo...that's all they get.  If they don't earn anything, they get nothing!  I figure we've been reading since Oct. so I'm pretty strict on them doing their reading AND turning it in on Fridays.  Usually those who don't earn anything are pretty bummed when we celebrate, so the next one we do, they usually try a little more.  For 4th quarter we do banana splits.
Here is my display of how we keep track.  We are 3 weeks in, so they should have earned vanilla now. Some kiddos haven't earned a thing which is pretty unusual but I have few who really don't seem to care about much. :(

                                          A close up!

Here's what a final banana split would look like if they read all 8 weeks!

I've had some teaching partners who have done things similar...one has done something for only 4 weeks where they did 3 different kinds of fruit and a fruit dip.  Also one has done ice cream sundaes. So you can adjust it to something that works for you.  Some use clip art for their pictures/decals. I did all mine myself...I use cotton balls for whipped cream, yellow felt cut out like a banana and little things like that.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Homework Linky Party

Join Laura from First Grade FUNdamentals with her Homework Linky Party

I work in a Title one school and I was told when I first got there DON'T expect kids to do homework or return things.  I soon found out that if you expect students to do it, they can and WILL do their homework.  SO I went against my partner teachers and began my own homework.  
Here's what I do: 

  •  Mon and Wed. I send home a math review worksheet.  Usually it's something they can do on their own and with minimal help.  It is due the next day, if they forget it, they do it that morning at recess (since it's usually very simple practice, it takes majority of the kids less than 5 mins so they don't miss recess really)
  • Monday-Thurs. They have reading homework (see my STAR Reading Homework )  They are to read 15 mins a night.  Some of my top readers have some writing to go along with their chapter books.
  • Spelling--Each week we have a spelling list which I'm not totally crazy about but it's what our school does.  I've made some of my own tweeks to it but for the most part, they are to study their words each night.  I also have the word lists on Spelling City  where my students can get on and practice their words.  I also sent home (at the beginning of the year) a list of activities for studying spelling words.  
I guess I don't want to have TOO much homework as it's a lot to correct and I tried that once when I was in another state/school--the PARENTS were wanting more homework for their 1st graders and they had math and spelling every night and had to write spelling words somehow.  I really don't incorporate our reading series into homework.  I use our reading series as a supplement in the classroom more than "this is what you must teach".  (and I'm not thrilled with parts of our series)  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

A Few of MY Favorite Things...

I'm joining Katie of Persnickety Pickles with her Linky Party of 7 of my favorite things (non-school related)

1.  My dogs and cats--I love coming home to my animals and how good they make me feel when I've had a long or yucky day.  They are so loyal and such snugglers they can cheer me up instantly.
2.  Volleyball--I really enjoy playing volleyball and it's such a nice outlet for me too.
3.  Bunco!  Oh how I enjoy getting with the girls (and sometimes the guys) and playing Bunco!  It's a great evening out and you can win some money!
4. Chocolate/sweet treats--I have an addiction to snacking on sweet things usually.  I go through phases with what kind of sweet treats but usually chocolate is involved somehow.
5. Baking--I really like baking...I'm not a great cook but I can make some yummy desserts!
6.  My TV shows--I have a few addictions to certain tv shows.  I love CSI, SVU, Greys, How I met your mother, amazing race, hell's kitchen, the good wife...I think there's more but I think I've shown that I'm an addict.
7.  My niece and nephew--I get to be the fun aunt that they love to see and do stuff with.  
8.  Warm blankets in the winter--I love my electric blanket on cold winter nights. (too bad my puppy chewed the wires of my newest blanket) I also like my flannel sheets on cold nights.  
 (ok so I numbered wrong and was off a number so I ended with 8 favorite things :) 

STAR Readers

I have been doing reading homework with my kiddos for a few years now and last year it seemed that some of my kids were getting bored with it.  I would send home these white take home readers that we had read in class.  I even had some parents say they were bored with them.  And I think it made sense, I mean really, they aren't in color, they (the parents) had to listen to the same stories quite a bit and well I guess I would get bored too.  SO I wrote a grant to purchase real books and the materials to start my STAR (Sit Together And Read) reading homework.  I also began going through my personal library of books and pulling books I thought would be good for homework or ones I had 2 copies of. I then used Scholastics Book Wizard and leveled them according to DRA levels.  Then I added library pockets to the inside front cover of books and an index card with the title's name, level and my name (I also put a label on the outside cover of the books). I really think this had improved my students wanting to read AND they get to chose 2 new books every week.  I still send home the take home readers so they have more than just 2 books but I'm sure they aren't read as much.  Here are some pictures of what my STAR homework looks like.

 The red bin on top is where they turn them in on Fridays.  (the other stuff is for a center)

The pocket chart with all their names-it's like a check out system at a library and I put the cards in their pocket so I know which books they have.

 This is the front of their envelope they take home.  It has a letter regarding the program and if they lose books how much it costs.  Also I added a cheat sheet on strategies for parents.

This is the back of their envelope-each month I add the calendar and parents are to initial each night their child reads. On Friday, when their envelope is due, I put a sticker on Friday if they read all the nights that week (usually it's four nights M-Th) If they don't read or don't have it signed or it's late, I put a sad face on Friday.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Grant That Should Have Been

I was so excited to apply for a grant only to find out that I did not get it!  It so bummed me out because I was totally envisioning my classroom with all my new things.  I applied for a grant for alternate/differentiated seating.  Ball chairs and cushions would help some kids wiggle while they learn.  I already have some ball chairs and T-stools (stools with one leg) but I was hoping to add to those so I could have every student on some kind of alternate seating.  I guess there's always next year but it's so far off that I just feel defeated.  :(

I don't have pictures of my T-stools but I will try to post those later.  These are the chairs I really wanted.(aren't they cool looking?)   If only the grant people knew how beneficial they really are for kids.