Look For The Rainbows: The Positives Of COVID-19

We are roughly two weeks into COVID-19 shutdowns, how is everyone doing? Have we settled in and found our new “normal” yet? Here in Utah, schools are closed until May and we aren’t even into April yet! It’s heartbreaking to see teachers and students everywhere long to be back in their classrooms. 

Watching the news is crazy and full of negatives. During this time, let’s focus on the positives. Here are a few I’ve witnessed here in my community. 

Teachers parading the streets their students to honk, wave, and say hi to them from a distance. 

Students standing out in the rain and snow just to watch their teacher’s drive by. 

Rainbows posted in windows throughout the neighborhood to remind us that after every storm, there will always be a rainbow and that it will be okay. 

#chalkthewalk around my neighborhood

Copious amounts of incredible people on social media doing various things to keep our kids occupied and learning during this uncertain time. Storytimes, zoo tours, drawing lessons, free resources, and more. 

#chalkthewalk around my neighborhood

Sidewalks chalked with uplifting, happy messages. 

Teachers posting about how sad they are that they cannot be with their students right now, even though it may be spring break for some. 

Virtual scavenger hunts. 

More reading, more loving, and more time to slow down. 

Right now, things are uncertain and difficult. It’s hard not to be with friends, it’s hard to be walking through the uncertainty each day brings, and it’s hard to navigate our own emotions while keeping up with our kids’ emotions as well. But we can do this. Look for the helpers, focus on the good, keep a positive attitude, and remember that rainbows always come after the storm. 

We can do this. 

My Favorite Positive Reinforcement Strategies In The Classroom

You can read countless research studies on a positive environment and how using these positive reinforcement strategies can help you see better behavior in kids, spouses, pets, co-workers and more. When it comes down to it, those who are properly praised for a task will statistically try harder and do better the next time it is expected of them. 

Creating a positive classroom culture starts with a simple positive comment toward your students. Here are a few of my favorite positive reinforcement ideas I came up with while teaching. 

A cheerio or other cereal placed on the desks of students who are following directions. 

Tally points on the board for groups that were working together or following directions, that ended up amounting to no reward other than “winning” against other groups. 

Little stickers for students showing correct behaviors. 

High-fives to those following directions. Oprah style worked best for us- “Johnny gets a high-five, Amelia gets a high-five, Andrew gets a high-five! Awesome job on following directions!” It’s amazing what kids will do for a simple high-five and a little public praise. 

Simple and subtle compliments to students working hard. 

We put a money economy system in place with coins. It’s fun to see the hard work first graders will put into cleaning up the floor at the end of the day when a plastic nickel is on the line. 

My favorite way by far was telling the class every single day what an amazing group of students they are. They become what you tell them they are- So tell them they are great and eventually they are going to believe you. I have more thoughts on this later, stayed tuned for another blog post regarding this. 

Praising positive behaviors yields productive results. It has been researched, it’s science. And on top of that, I’ve witnessed first-hand how well it works, not only with my students, but my children, and even, MY DOG. 

How have you made your classroom a positive place? 

My Best Field Trip Tips

Field trips season is coming this spring! Nothing causes kids more excitement and teachers more anxiety than a day outside of school in unfamiliar territory. Field trips can be so nerve-wracking because it takes planning, permission slips, parent volunteer sign-ups, and more. 

I spent two months in a 4th-grade classroom during my time student teaching, and during that time we as a 4th-grade team went on SIX different field trips! In my next block of student teaching, I was in a 2nd-grade classroom where we went on two field trips in two months. In my first long-term substitute teaching job after graduation, the first-grade team I was working with brought the kids on a field trip to the aquarium. All within the same school year, I was able to experience TEN field trips. 

Ten field trips in nine months with three different age groups gave me a lot of experience that I am here to share with you now! 

  • Prep the students beforehand- Don’t leave them with uncertainty, walk them through what will happen, how it will happen, and how you expect it to happen. Tell them how to enter the bus, how to sit on the bus, how to handle lunchtime, how to find you if they need you, and more. Set CLEAR expectations and repeat them again and again. 
Exploring and learning about The Great Salt Lake by getting into it!
  • Give your students examples and stories of why your expectations are set the way they are. The first field trip I went on with my 4th-grade class, their teacher told them a story of how she lost a student on a field trip because the student wasn’t following instructions and she wasn’t paying close enough attention. She made them a promise that she would pay extra attention to every single one of them and do her part if they did their part by adhering to expectations. Adding a personal experience helped those students realize just how important paying attention and following procedures really was. 
  • Count your students. Then Count again. And again. Always be counting the students.
  • Use the buddy system. It is used often and is somewhat obvious for teachers, and for good reason, it works! 
Writing in their field trip journals
  • Have your students keep a field trip journal to record their learning. Give them prompts during breaks to write about what they are seeing, learning, and doing.
  • Parents. You most likely have at least one parent in your classroom that is willing to step up and to help you with what you need. Utilize these parents as chaperones, organizers, and more! Use them as often as possible. 
  • Take pictures. If possible, take pictures of your students for parents to see and to show your students later as well. These memories are priceless and everyone will appreciate them later. 
  • HAVE FUN. There is no lie a certain level of stress accompanies any given field trip. But when it comes down to it, you’ve done the planning, you’ve prepped the kids, and now it’s time to enjoy the field trip and watch the students learn and grow in a new environment. 
Handcarts and pioneers are a deep part of Utah’s state history. Field trip at the American West Heritage Center in Wellsville, Utah.
Touring Utah State University’s campus

Field trips can be incredibly rewarding if they are done correctly. Students can learn and grow outside of the classroom and it can give them the hands-on experience they need to understand how the world works around them. Gone are the days of passive learning where we sit in desks and copy notes. Now is the time for active learning and putting understanding into the hands of the students. 

What are your best field trip tips that you would add to this list? 

The Importance Of Students Having A Global Perspective

We have our neighborhoods and communities that kids are aware of. 

We have schools that they know very well. 

The towns they grow up in are a part of them. 

Sometimes even the cities neighboring can be important in their lives as well. 

And of course, our own state has an impact on them. 

But what about moving beyond our states? Or even our nation? What is the importance of giving kids a global perspective? 

Teaching students about global affairs in an authentic way can teach them acceptance and understanding of cultures and others. It can allow them to feel more empathy as they learn more about the various types of living styles. It can open their eyes to see that their lifestyle isn’t how someone else lives. 

They might even have the chance to say, “Hey! This kid is just like me.” 

Having a mindset that our world goes beyond the walls of our schools or the lines of our states gives us millions of minds to collaborate with and help with finding solutions. We can start asking the important questions like, “Why is Singapore’s math curriculum working so well and how can we use it too?” 

There is a better chance they will end up in global careers by learning about them now. 

Students won’t just know about the Great Wall of China, they will understand the history and importance of it, as well as the impacts it has on China’s residents today. 

So start introducing other cultures in your classroom. Give your students the opportunity to interact and collaborate with other students across the globe, through email, skype, or social media. Break down the four walls of your school and the limits of your cities to show our future leaders what a global perspective looks like. 

Featured Image: Pexels.com

A Little Math, A Little Art, A Lot Of Fun

When math overrides the majority of the time throughout the day, how do we incorporate the arts? We make art mathematical! Here is a fun activity to learn about the color wheel, as well as apply fraction skills in the process of creating the color wheel. 

You’ll need a print out of a blank or semi-filled in color wheel, and modeling clay.

I used Crayola Model Magic clay for this activity. It’s soft, squishy, and will change colors when mixed! Normal clay can work just fine too. You can either let it dry and let them glue it to the page when it’s finished, or toss it back all together and store it in an airtight container for future use. 

Start with three equal pieces of clay in red, yellow, and blue. 

Leave a small reference piece behind, then with remaining clay, split into two equal pieces, creating two halves.  

Mix the colors! Write out the fractions on the paper as well. 

Orange= ½ R ½ Y 

Purple= ½ B ½ R 

Green ½ Y ½ B 

For a shorter activity, find a smaller color wheel cut into sixths and stop here. For a longer activity, continue on. For the sake of a shorter blog post, I will only model one part of the next step.

On the blue and green side- split the blue and green pieces in ½. (For reference, I pulled a new piece of blue clay for this.)

Mix the blue and green pieces to make green-blue. Green-blue is equal to ½ G, ½ B. Or it is also equal to ¼ Y ¾ B. 

The other half of the green that was split before will be used to mix with a half piece of the yellow. 

Continue the same with yellow-green, red-orange, etc. 

Common core standards: 
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.3.NF.A.3
CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.4.NF.A.2

featured image: hosmerart.blogspot.com

Integrating Arts And The Benefits It Provides

If you read my post about crafting with my first graders, you know that I am not a crafty teacher, and I accept that. However, just because I’m not into crafting or making cute folded paper animals doesn’t mean I don’t see the benefit of using art in the classroom. 

Art is a fantastic way for students to take a break from the regime of always having the “right” answers to everything. There is no right or wrong in creating something artistic, there are just different levels of creativity. It’s a way to allow students to express themselves and have the opportunity to grow something how they want to. They are given the chance to make something that has never existed before.

We have preschools, daycares and even some schools across the nation that hone in on art skills, whether that be painting, drama, or the study of fine art. Why does this need to be more limited once students hit kindergarten or first grade? With common core standards for each core curriculum, it can be so hard to fit art time into your everyday schedule, but by integrating arts into core studies, it is possible, and it can be simple too. 

Have art supplies readily available for students. 

Allow students to be creative and hands-on with the material they are learning. 

Teach clean up procedures and expectations with art supplies to minimize messes. 

Encourage creativity.

Using arts in education gives students the opportunity to share thoughts, feelings, and understandings without having to speak or write. It not only teaches them another form of communication but gives them an alternative for when speaking and writing may be too much for them. The benefits of art go beyond what I can even explain. However, this video does a great job of it. 

The integration of arts into core subjects will show longer and better comprehension of the subject, as well as deeper interest. Vocabulary grows and creativity develops. Who wouldn’t want that for a child? 

How are you using arts integration in your classrooms? 

Teaching The Boundary Pushers- ISTP Personality Type

This is part of a series of using Myers Briggs personality types in the classroom. For more information, click here. For information on how to figure out your student’s MBTI type, click here. 

Do you have a wandering student that struggles with keeping boundaries? They are confident and realistic in their thinking and learning. This personality type could be ISTP. Although, according to statistics, there is a small chance to have a student with this type in your classroom, ISTPs only make up 5% of the population, making it a lesser common personality type. 

Introverted
Sensing 
Thinking 
Perceiving

Being introverted, they keep to themselves. The way they process information is in a personal way, using all of their senses. They need hands-on manipulatives to sit and work with while they quickly take in the information. Often working in groups or even with a partner can feel stifling to them because they don’t want to be limited by other’s thinking. They never want to discuss topics with peers, they want to answer questions as quickly and efficiently as possible. 

The sensing side of them thrives on using all of their senses to learn. Worksheets and procedural learning are difficult for them to use to understand concepts. In fact, ISTP students are commonly known for having a difficult time excelling in school and are the least likely to continue education beyond high school. 

School systems are built around extroverted, intuitive personality types, which are students who engage with others, work in collaborating groups, and learn in a procedural way instead of learning using hands-on techniques. While learning in a personal setting with hands-on manipulatives is becoming more and more common, it is still not ideal for this personality type to learn in typical schools. A study was conducted asking ISTP types what type of school they preferred. Trade school came in first place with public or private schools receiving very few votes. 

So how can we help these students be more successful? First, be aware of their needs. Give them the independent study time they need, as much as you can feasibly do with the collaboration-driven schools that we are in now. Also at the same time, teach them ways to cope with learning in groups and speaking with peers on learning topics. Provide them with learning that uses all of their senses, and find a balance with their resistance to structure and boundaries. And obviously the most important, just know who they are and be in tune with what they need. That’s the best thing you can do for any of your students. 

How do you keep respectful boundaries with your students who resist them?