Creating Digital Buttons for your (Virtual) Digital Classroom

 
 
If you would have told me last July that we would be in the midst of a pandemic and students would need to shift over to distance learning, I probably would have laughed at you.
 
 
Sometimes things happen that force you to become a better version of yourself.  This is what is happening now. Teachers are diving deep into professional development, collaborating on a global basis, and searching for answers on how to make online learning kid-friendly.

One way you might create an online learning environment that is kid-friendly is by creating digital icons that are clickable and link to content on your LMS, or learning management system, which is the platform you will be using for online learning for your students.  Some of the more well-known Learning Management Systems are Google Classroom and Schoology. 

Here is a sample of the kind of kid-friendly classroom you can create in Schoology.

 
 
In order to create a similar look in Schoology, I have created a tutorial. I will show you how to create simple and more complex digital icons for your online classroom. Also included in this tutorial are steps to add the icons into Schoology to create a more kid-friendly experience.   This is especially helpful with younger students.
 
 
 
I used some clipart that I found for free on Teachers Pay Teachers, which you may find here:

Educlips

 
 
If you are interested in using the font I used, you may find it here:

KG Red Hands Font

 
 


100th Day of School Ideas

Celebrating the 100th day of school is super exciting!  I have tried something new for the 100th day of school almost every year.  Compiled here are a few of my favorite activities to do with the students. No matter what you do, make sure you have fun!

One thing I have enjoyed doing is creating 100th day glasses with the students.  These are super easy to make!  After you cut out the glasses you can decorate them with pencil, marker, crayon, or stickers.  You might even try gluing cereal or macaroni to the front.

If you are interested in these fun glasses, grab them here for free.

Another  activity that is really fun is dressing up like you are 100 years old.  I always send home a note to parents to give students ideas on what to wear.  If you need a letter to send home, grab this one for free here.
100
What I did for myself is hit the thrift shops to grab some fun clothes and accessories to transform myself into an older lady.  Thrift shops are great  places to hit up and find bargains.  I found these fantastic gloves, necklaces, shawl, and dress (see below) for under $15.
In addition to the clothes and accessories, I drew on wrinkles, sprayed my hair gray, and put my hair in a bun.

The last activity that we have fun doing is this 100th day of school booklet. Students practice 100th day of school activities in reading, writing, and math.  If you are interested in checking out this resource please click here.

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Simple Secrets to Classroom Management

A few years ago the perfect storm hit: a difficult class, ineffective classroom management strategies, and some family tragedy all intertwined.  My life was utter chaos.  I felt like an ineffective teacher, I felt all alone, and felt like I had no clue what I was doing. If you have “been there” and “done that”, I would like to encourage you that you are not alone and things will get better.

After spending some time reflecting, I picked myself up off the floor and realized I needed to change some key management strategies in my classroom in order to maintain my sanity, keep my students from running amok, and get things running smoothly in my classroom.

Secret #1 Find a Management System That Works for You

Here is a newsflash for you: just because everyone else is using a management system does not mean it is the right system for you. Did you hear that? I am giving you permission to NOT jump on the latest bandwagon! Be proud of yourself for what you do and what makes YOU unique. Do not feel pressured or believe the lie that you are not good enough because you choose to do something different.

There are some truly great classroom management ideas out there.  Other teachers on campus might use different reward systems like brag tags, or maybe they have behavior charts, posters, treasure boxes, use Responsive Classroom techniques, Whole Brain Teaching, Daily Five , or flexible seating as part of their classroom structure and management.

Think about what kind of a teacher you are.  What will fit with your personality? Do you want a system that is very easy to implement or are you wanting to set up a more complex system?

I tend to like systems that are easy and do not take a lot of prep time; that’s just my personal preference.  Therefore, I chose this year to do away with brag tags. I cannot handle the constant printing, cutting, laminating, hole punching, and constantly handing out that goes along with brag tags. Since I do not always have a lot of volunteers, I do not want to tie myself up with hours and hours of extra prep each week.

At the end of the day you need to be comfortable using the system you set up and handling everything that comes along with it.  Research a few systems and think critically about what each offers before you jump right in.

https://www.melicetyspring.com/reward-board-classroom-reward-system/

Secret #2 Explicitly teach rules, routines, and procedures.


Once you have identified the management strategies you would like it is time to teach the students how to follow the rules and “live” in the classroom.  You will need to teach them how to get supplies, walk through the hallways, what to do when they need something, etc.

One thing I did this year is create a list of literally everything I thought the students might need to know and printed it out so I could make sure to not miss anything. This will take some time and it may take the students a month or so to settle in.  However, the benefits will last the entire year!

Thanks to my list, it was literally one of the smoothest starts I have ever had at the beginning of the year.  I will preface that with the fact that this will work even if your class is not especially easy; it is all in the management!

If you need a quick, easy, and FREE list of beginning of the year procedures and routines, please check it out below.  This should at least give you some ideas to get you started on what routines you might need to teach to your students.

Classroom Procedures and Routines

Secret #3  Be Consistent and Follow Up

After you teach the routines and procedures you will need to reinforce them with encouragement and specific praise.

Enforce your policies and procedures fairly and firmly. You do not need to scream, yell, or be mean, but you do need to make sure that students follow the rules and the systems you have in place.  Do not be afraid to repeat instructions, go over rules and procedures, or have the students stop what they are doing for just a minute to review.

Wash, rinse, repeat! Teach the skills, give them time to practice those skills, and repeat instruction / review the skills as needed. Do not give up on any student and be patient.

Even if you are in the middle of the year it’s okay to stop and restart. It is never too late to change.

Make sure to grab my freebie, Classroom Routines and Procedures which is available in my TPT shop.


Reward Board Classroom Reward System

I have tried many different reward systems in my classroom and most recently tried brag tags.  I love brag tags and so do my students, but I needed something that was just as effective and didn’t require using so much ink all year long and so much prep through printing, cutting, laminating, and hole punching. I like to keep things simple!

So I developed something I call the Reward Board.  This is similar to using reward coupons for students, but in a bulletin board format.  The benefit of using this system is that I do not have to make multiple copies and pass them out. I just print off the posters, put them up and let students select the reward they would like from the current choices available.

The Reward Board posters include classroom-based rewards that students can earn! I currently have created 18 different rewards that students can select from, but I only post seven at a time. I will switch out one or two rewards per month so students have something new and exciting to choose from.

Here is how the system works:

1. Print the posters you would like to use. I recommend using a small number to start so students are not overwhelmed with too many choices.

2. Post them on the bulletin board (you may decide to use library pockets as shown in the picture or you may choose to create a clip chart instead and students can use clips to select their reward) and number sticks to match the number of students (or write the names of students) in your class.  If you want to use clips instead you may number or write names on those.

3. When a student earns a reward have them move their stick (or clip) to the reward (pocket) they would like.

4. You choose the frequency rewards are handed out! It could be immediately, daily, or weekly.

5. I change out posters about once a month and keep up the more popular posters for students to choose from.

You may check out this Reward Board Set here.


How to Find What You’re Looking For at Target®

As an elementary school teacher , there is just something fun about redecorating your classroom! For years I have had mismatched tubs, bins, and containers in my classroom.  So this year, I decided to invest some money in color coordinating my classroom storage bins, magazine files, caddies, trays, and book bins.

There are many places to shop including Dollar Tree, Walmart, Big Lots, and Target as well as many other box retail stores.  Each store offers different items and colors so check out each to get an idea of what you would like and what you will use.  That is KEY!  If you will not use it, do NOT buy it.

Often times teachers get caught up in the frenzy of thinking they need everything.  Now before you click OFF this page because I am saying you don’t need everything, just remember that you do what you are comfortable with doing and the amount of decorating you are comfortable with.  That may differ from teacher to teacher depending on the amount of money you feel like investing (or can afford to invest) or whether or not you are reimbursed for purchases by your school or PTA.

If you love the book bins and different kinds of containers, check out these awesome supplies you can find at Target® in the Dollar Spot section.

How do you find enough of what you need at Target?

 

 First, Target Dollar Spot items are not currently offered online. That means you are left to visit your local Target store to see what they have in stock.  If you live in a rural area, or an area in which you do not have access to many Target stores, this could become a little frustrating and discouraging to visit your local store and not be able to find what you need.

The first step is to find the DPCI number on the UPC label. Since I know some of you may not have easy access to these items at your local Target, I have included the DPCI numbers here to help you search.  The DPCI number is Target’s stock number.  Some of the items will have the same number, even for different colors of the same item.

You will find the DPCI number on the barcode, usually on top of or under the UPC number.  Most of the time it is marked by stating, “DPCI Number”, but sometimes there is just a number there and you have to look for it.

After you have the DPCI number, go to the website www.BrickSeek.com and select Target as the store.  Then enter the DPCI number there.  Enter your zip code and click on the search button.  You can opt to have the  list sorted in different ways, but I always have it sorted by distance so I can see what stock my local Targets have.

For instance, for these Book Bins with labels that Target refers to as “Connectable Holders” I would enter in 234-24-0163 for the DPCI number on Brick Seek.  Again, the color is irrelevant as these items are shipped with multiple colors in one box and each color has the same DPCI number.

Then, Brick Seek will create a list for you like this:

By looking at this list I can see that two of the three Target stores closest to me do not have any of these book bins in stock, but one has 20 available.  I usually go by the Saleable Quantity and not the On Hand Quantity.

Here are a few specific tips to find what you need: 

 

1. The best time to check is in the morning before the store opens.  They typically receive shipments in the early morning and the inventory will usually change dramatically overnight.

2. Stock can change throughout the day and may not be updated immediately online.  The best time to shop is right when they open.

3. If you get to your local Target and you do not see what you want, ASK! Go to the customer service desk and have them run a scan with their zebra (that’s the machine they use to find where stock is).  Sometimes they will say there isn’t any, but ask to have them find someone in the stockroom to look for the box. Sometimes, they will have stock in the back that has not been put out yet.  Many people overlook this handy customer service feature so this is very helpful.   Yesterday I was able to get eight book bins from a local shop in this teal green color. The customer service rep was SO helpful and I thanked him profusely.

4. I have included a list of DPCI numbers for the items I have pictured in my post. You can easily find them at the bottom of this post.  Just copy and paste the DPCI numbers onto the Brick Seek site to help in your search.

5. Enjoy!

Book Bins (Connectable Holder): 234240163
Plastic Caddy:  234240161
Dry Erase Pocket: 234240148
Plastic Tray (fits the dry erase pockets perfectly): 234240239
Metal Magazine Holder: 234070811 
Plastic Bin: 234240162
First Day of Board: 234240171

Disclaimer: I am not affiliated with Target or Brick Seek at all.  I am not responsible for inventory tracking which may or may not be accurate when you visit any store.