Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Classroom Management

It's spring break over here but alas, I'm continuing to work (my next science unit is done which feels great!) and of course that little cough and illness that has had me feeling kind of meh is being extra persistant now that I have time off.


I have a confession
I don't think I'm very good at classroom management.

I know I have to give myself SOME credit.  I have a pretty needy class this year and the angels that I brought with me from when I taught grade 4... well they have all grown up a bit over the last few months and are now preteens.

We have been doing Ruleopoly in my classroom which the kids LOVE.... though I'm no longer much of a fan.  Some of them don't care that they get their names flipped over when they don't turn something in and if a lot of them are still facing the correct way at the end of the week the process of playing Ruleopoly can take 15 minutes away from our day (which I suppose isn't SO bad).

We also created a class constitution that we all agreed to and signed.

But I'm starting to think of next year and what I could do instead (whilst crossing my fingers that I get a job for next year).

One of my coworkers was telling me about My Classroom Economy and it sounds like something that would be right up my alley.

Before I get into what My Classroom Economy is I'll give you a warning... it requires a bit of set up time at the beginning of the year.  BUT once it is set up and running and assuming you've got a class of reliable and happy workers then it should run relatively smoothly after the first couple of months.

I've been looking into the grade 4/5 version of it and the grade 6 version (because I'm teaching grades 5 and 6 this year).  BUT they have it for grades kindergarten to grade 12!

So what is it?

Here is the really quick version of it because I'm just going to trust that you are going to be so hooked on My Classroom Economy that you go and click on that lovely link above to check it out for yourself.

1) Everyone in your class gets a job and every job earns a salary over the course of the month.  Some of the higher paying jobs (like the banker) require the student to apply for it with recommendations (possibly from their teacher from last year).  But ultimately it is up to you to decide who gets what job.  They even give you a list of examples that could be jobs.

2)  Everyone has to pay to rent their desk for the month.  I think in the grade 6 one the rental fee was $1000 for the month.  There is just one problem... no one earns a salary that is $1000.

3)  Students can earn extra money for getting good grades on assignments, getting compliments, or handing in their assignments on time.

4)  Students can also be fined for handing in assignments late or not keeping their desks tidy (as well as other things I'm sure - like not following the classroom/school rules)

5)  Some students will be raking in the moola while others may not be.  Those that have quite a bit saved can buy their desk for $3000... this means that they no longer have to pay the rental fee every month.  They can also buy others desks from them so that they are earning an extra $1000/month.  It's really quite the system.

6)  Students can buy insurance (I don't remember if this is something that they HAD to buy).  They buy insurance to cover something happening to their desk.  What could happen to their desk you ask?  While likely nothing.  Unless, of course, you are like the story I heard where a teacher dumped their desks over and made a big mess.  Those that had the insurance the teacher (or the bank) paid the students for their losses but those that didn't have the insurance had to pay more money.

7)  After everything has been paid for the month students have the chance to participate in class auctions.  Basically, the teacher gathers some gifts together that the students who are left with money can bid on (students can also choose to save their money).

8)  There is also a bank that students can keep their money in.  If they choose to keep their money in the bank instead of in their desks they earn interest (I'm sure this depends on the grade level you look up).

9)  Remember the jobs the students had?  Well, if a student decides one day that they don't want to do their job or someone has a messy desk but doesn't want to clean it... they can post a classified job on the classifieds board in the classroom advertising the job and how much they will pay.

Or basically, it teaches students how to be responsible with their money.  We all know of someone in our lives that is not responsible with their money.  They likely have a nice car, wear all the latest fashions, eat out all the time.... but at the end of the month they aren't putting anything away to be saved.  Those people need a lesson like this.

They give an approximate amount of time that it will take at the beginning and end of the year... I think an hour at the beginning to explain everything (this likely doesn't include signing up for jobs) and possibly another hour at the end of the year (though I didn't quite get that far in my readings to remember why)

and best of all

You can download everything you need to run the program (other than the prizes) from the website.
Here is the link again for My Classroom Economy

I'm thinking that I'm going to try this one out next year.

So... now it's your turn to chime in.

Have you tried My Classroom Economy?
What did you think of it?
Or, what do you use in your classroom?
Or maybe you use nothing at all... why?

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Was That Pig a Smoker?

Today my grade 5's had a presentation put on by some students from another school.
The presentation was about smoking and why we should not be doing that.

The first thing they did was tell us about some of the chemicals that they put into to cigarettes.
and the third thing was to show us what it would feel like to breathe if you were a smoker and developed bad lungs. 
 (to do this we had a dance party and jogged on the spot then we tried breathing through a straw).

But what about the second part?

Well that was when they brought out the pig lungs.
First they showed us what a healthy persons (or pigs) lungs would look like.
Then they showed us what an unhealthy set of lungs would look like.  They were black and had a growth on them.
They had already explained to us that the lungs got to be like that by having them sit in a room with chemicals in it (to simulate what a smoker does to their lungs I suppose).

But apparently someone wasn't listening..
Because the question these students got from my lovely grade 5's...
"was that pig a smoker?"

All I could do was picture a smoking pig for the rest of the presentation.

Day made!
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