Monday, March 26, 2012

50 Follower Giveaway & New Blog!

Woot, woot!! I have 54 followers on this beachy blog!! You guys are amazing, and I can't thank you enough for reading my random ramblings. :o)

To celebrate this joyous occasion, my wife has offered to help me out with my first giveaway. I don't have a TPT or a Teacher's Notebook store (yet!), so I thought I'd do something a little non-traditional. My wife is an Independent Director with The Pampered Chef and is giving away a $15 gift certificate to spend on anything you want! Yeah, it's not totally "school-related," but at the same time cooking lends itself well to learning to follow directions, measurement, science... all kinds of stuff!
So, how do you enter this giveaway?  You must...

  • Be a Beach Brains Blog follower! This is to show you all my appreciation after all, so you have to be a follower!
  • Post a comment about how you can integrate cooking into your lessons. I'm not looking for an all-out lesson plan, but just activity ideas and ways you've incorporated cooking into your lessons.
  • You have until 11:59pm CST on Thursday to enter! I'd like to announce the winner some time this weekend! Good luck!!!

Also, if you guys haven't visited yet, you need to boogie on over to Misty's, my new bloggy friend, blog: 3-6 Free Resources. It's chock full of excellent resources to make your life easier, and we all could use that, couldn't we? You can also link up your blog  Plus, it's coffee-themed which is right up my alley. My wife will tell you... I'm a little obsessed with coffee. ;o)

Ok, I'm logging off for the night. Tomorrow, my Beach Brains are making 3-D solids with marshmallows and toothpicks to kick off our geometry unit. Pics to follow! Have a good one!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Upcoming Freebie & Battling Burn Out

I can't believe I have 48 followers already!! That is (in Farley's words) CRAY-CRAY!! I think I feel a 50 Follower Freebie coming on. Since I am so new to this blogging thing I do not have much to give away that I have created, but I do have something in mind. The only thing is... I need 2 more followers! I can't wait!!

I am so glad the weekend is almost here, because believe you me, I am beginning to feel like...

It's very easy to let craziness of the work week and of life in general get the best of you. You put so much energy into what you do, it's easy for teachers to fall into the "burn out trap". If you look into the research, thousands of teachers with 5 or less years of experience leave the profession each year. Isn't that sobering?

I know I've fallen victim to burn out and it's not a good place to be. With this in mind, I'd like to offer 4 little tips on how you can battle the burn out monster and keep your head in the game while you're teaching.

1. Set boundaries for yourself - Teachers are notorious for being the first to arrive and the last to leave, even if it means leaving at 8 or 9pm! If you decide to arrive early to school, allow yourself the privilege of leaving when the buses pull out of the parking lot (or whenever your principal lets you leave! lol). Conversely, if you arrive right on time, it's ok to stay after school awhile to get caught up. I try not to take anything home if at all possible. My home is my place to be a husband and to do things I enjoy away from school.

2. Know when to say "NO!" - Personally, I am a "yes" man. My first inclination is to say yes when my administrator or a colleague asks me for a favor or to take on a new project or responsibility. I absolutely hate telling people I can't or won't be able to do something. However, I've learned as long as you are respectful, there is no harm in saying no.

3. Prioritize, prioritize, prioritize! - I am the king of ADHD (my students will even tell you I LOVE shiny objects & squirrels!) and have overwhelmed myself one too many times by taking on too many projects at one time. Try making a list for yourself each day outlining important things to get done. Or you might try setting yourself up on a weekly routine. For example: Mondays - Work on parent newsletter, Tuesdays - Make parent phone calls, Wednesdays: Start lesson planning for the next week, etc.

4. Hobbies - Doing something you enjoy or are passionate about (aside from school, mind you!) is a great way to de-stress and take your mind of the daily grind. I grab a cup of coffee and a book to lose myself in to kill time. You'll find me playing video games and shooting pics as well. Take time for yourself, even if it's just 10-15 minutes.

Again, these probably weren't grand epiphanies, but these are tips that have helped me get through some tough times as an educator.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Hiiiiiyaaahhh!! Enter the Dojo!

One of my passions in teaching is utilizing technology in the learning process and even to make managing my classroom easier. With this in mind, I want to talk about my newest find - Class Dojo!

To quote the creators of Class Dojo, it is a "real-time behavior management system that allows teachers to recognize positive behaviors as it happens". All teachers need to do is register for their FREE account and they'll be given the Class Dojo tools. You set up your class (or classes), establish the behaviors you want to track, and you're ready to go! I could go on and on about this awesome tool, but I thought I'd hit on a few of my favorite features.

1. Avatars - Students are represented by avatars on Class Dojo. My students were immediately engaged when I introduced this tool, because they wanted to pick their own avatar. I allowed them to do this, and I got immediate buy in! You can also "unlock" a feature that allows you upload student photos to Class Dojo instead of avatars. Fun stuff!!

2. Customized Behaviors - As the teacher, you can set the positive and negative behaviors you want to track. I tried to make sure there were more positive behaviors to reward than negative, but it's totally up to you. This is especially helpful if there is a problem in the classroom community and you want to resolve it quickly. For my class, we had a hard time with following directions. We set a goal to achieve "X" amount of points for following behaviors, and was pretty quick about taking points away from students who were not listening & following directions. 

3. Reports - As teachers and school become more data driven, the reports you can pull from Class Dojo become INVALUABLE! You can e-mail student reports to parents or you can print them individually to send home. You can even track class progress as reports give you the percent of positive behavior rewarded compared to the percent of negative behaviors. I show these reports to students and it's amazing how they take control, set goals, and improve their own behaviors.
My class behavior report - 80% positive! Yay!!

4. Points - Points rewarded or taken away are displayed next to each student's avatar. This is a self-checking tool as students get the immediate feedback. My students hate to see themselves "in the red," so they really go out of their way to get noticed for positive behaviors. This way students who are having a bad morning can turn things around and have an exceptional afternoon. 

If my students are in the negative, I take away 5 minutes of recess for every negative point they have. If they get more than 5 negative points, then I refer them to the office. BUT... students can work their way out of the proverbial hole they've dug for themselves. They don't owe recess minutes unless they're in the negative at recess. 

While there are a lot of great things about Dojo, I need to tell you that this is still in beta testing. All accounts are free to teachers, but I'd be naive to state that it is always going to be free. Second, some of the features in Dojo are still a little buggy. However, they have a great area where teachers and other users can make suggestions and vote on upcoming features. The creators of this great program really take the time to listen and try our ideas.

With all of this in mind, put on your karate gi (uniform) and headband, and then head for the Class Dojo. It's a great tool that you and your students will enjoy! 

Do you already use Class Dojo? If so, post a comment and give your feedback about it. I'd love to hear your ideas & criticisms! 

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Linky Party!!

Lorraine over at 4th Grade Froggies is hosting a linky party for all those teacher bloggers out there who teach 3rd, 4th, or 5th grades. Head on over to Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies and link up! 

As for my little blog, I'm sorry I've been AWOL over the last few days. We're on spring break and I think I've been enjoying myself a little too much! Are you on Spring Break right now? Post a comment to tell everyone out there how you relax and rejuvenate!


Thursday, March 8, 2012

Currently: A Case of the Spring Crazies

Is it just me, or has anyone else noticed the kids at school have come down with a severe case of the spring crazies?! I'm not kidding my precious ones have been CRAY-ZEEE the last couple days. I think they are ready for some much needed time away from their teacher. I think the same goes for their teacher. ;) It seems life, in general, has been nuts too. I am sure most of you out there can relate. I can hear the "amens" resounding already. :)

Today, I am linking up to Farley's blog and posting my Currently for the month. These are always fun and provide a nice break from the daily grind. I promise my next post will be more substantial. I'm planning some future posts I hope you all will find beneficial and discussion-worthy. Anywhoo... if you haven't surfed over to Farley's blog and done your Currently, get a move on and do it! You know you want to! :)