Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Behavior Management

There is no magic behavior management system that works for every student or teacher. Behavior Management has to be something the teacher is comfortable with or it will never work. You have to be committed to the system.

Your commitment will mean that you will remember to use the system consistently which in turn demonstrates to the students the importance of following the behavior guidelines for the classroom. 

These guidelines are established on the first day of school. With the students, create a list of appropriate behaviours and classroom conduct that you and they would like to see in the classroom.

I have found that a behavior management system that rewards or acknowledges appropriate behavior works the best. There have been occasions when I have had to nip
inappropriate behavior in the bud, but this was usually a short lived behavior management issue. 

Here are a few of the behaviour management techniques I have used. I will begin with the one that I have found most effective.


Relax, no students were harmed in the making of this system. 

Each student is given a card that is about the size of a credit card. Their name is written in the center and there are ten boxes surrounding their name. Visit my TeachersPayTeachers store, Laurie's Classroom, for a free copy of the Behavior Stamping Cards
Behavior Stamping Cards
When a student demonstrates one of the appropriate behaviors from the list, he or she will receive a stamp in one of the boxes. These cards are kept in a wall chart that has a pocket for each student. 

Once ten stamps have been received, the student gets to visit the treasure box to pick a small prize and they get their name written on a paper star sticker which is placed on the Classroom Stars bulletin board.  See my Blog Setting Up Your Classroom for the First Day of School.

I find that rewarding one student has a positive effect on the other students because they want me to notice their appropriate behavior. 

Similarly, when students are misbehaving, instead of calling them out, I call out a student that is behaving appropriately and make a big fuss about that student when I give them their stamp. 

Please note that you should find an ink stamp that is difficult for them to purchase. I once used a star stamp and I had some creative/behaviorally challenged 
students that got their own star stamp and proceeded to give themselves and their friends additional stamps. 

Warning 1-2-3

If I find that the “Stamping” system is not enough to curb the inappropriate behaviour of certain students, I move to the Warning 1-2-3 system in addition to Stamping. 

I cut out a large Bristol board square and divide it into four triangles of different colours.

I have a clothes peg with each student’s number on it. You could put their name on it but I prefer not to have the names of students that are misbehaving on display for anyone who comes into my classroom to see.  

All students’ pegs begin in the green zone (the behavior I want to see).  After one warning for inappropriate behavior they move their peg to light yellow.  After a second warning, the student moves their peg to dark yellow.  

Warning number three moves their peg to red and they must then fill out a Warning Letter. In this letter (which is available free at my TpT store, Laurie's Classroom, at the following link Behavior Warning Letter) the student spells out the three inappropriate behaviors and how they will correct their behavior from now on. 

They are required to take it home to be signed and returned to school for my records. (Make sure you take a copy of the letter they filled in before you send it home in case it gets lost!)

I found that this worked well for difficult students in two ways. First, they did not want their parents to know that they were misbehaving in school.  Second, they did not like having to fill in the letter. I would have them complete the letter immediately after receiving the third warning. This meant they would have more homework because they lost class time writing the letter. If they were not done when the bell went for recess, they needed to complete it before they could go out. 

Special location

Sometimes a quick fix is simply placing the students’ desk in a place in the classroom where they will not be disturbed or be able to disturb other students. The location could be closer to where the teacher is located or at a table on their own. 

At carpet time, they are instructed to sit up front near the teacher or to not sit by certain students. If that does not work, you can take the other students aside and suggest that they do not sit beside a certain student so that they are not influenced to undertake inappropriate actions while they are on the carpet.

First Then

This approach is effective for students who have difficulty focussing and staying on task and benefit from step by step instructions. By placing the words First and Then on their desk,you can point to the word “First” and explain one thing they must accomplish. Then point to the word “Then” and give them a quick activity that gives them a break.

Some examples of “Then” activities include asking them to come to me (which gives them a physical movement break) to show me what they’ve completed and to get their next task.  

Other “Then” activities include getting a drink of water or walking once around the room. They are simple tasks that gives them a short break and becomes a reward or goal to work towards.  Make sure the “First” task is not too long and that it is achievable. 

Only give them enough “First” and “Then” tasks that allows them to complete the work in the allotted time with a final fun task as a reward.  All my student’s seem to love to draw, so at the beginning of the year each student gets their own drawing book. Students in the First Then system can be allowed to draw in their book as a final “Then” task. 


For students that have difficulty remembering the daily routines which can cause them anxiety, putting their daily schedule on their desk can help them to remember what they need to be doing.  I tape a clear sheet protector on their desk and slip in that day’s schedule. 

This way you can add any changes to the normal day’s routines that are occurring that day and it is a visual cue for the student and for you to point to if he/she begins to exhibit inappropriate behaviors.   

At the bottom of the schedule you can write an activity like GET A DRINK, or TAKE A WALK which you could point to when the need arises. This reduces the amount of time you are calling that student out in front of the other students and reduces both your stress and the student's anxiety.

Group Points

I have used a system where the table group will receive points or stamps when everyone in the group is on task or is the first group to put away their work, or get their work out ready for the next lesson. 

The group that had the most points at the end of the day or week depending on which you choose (sometimes a whole week is too long to get a reward) will get extra computer time, free time or a special treat. 

The problems I found with this system is that it sometimes causes the inappropriately behaving students to become ostracized from the group because they are always the ones causing the group not to get points.  This can then spill over into playground incidents and shunning of the student.  It also meant that I had to remember to give the group their points which I would sometimes forget when I was busy in the classroom!


I once tried a whole class reward system but found it difficult. I would start the week with a few scoops of popcorn kernels in a jar. When the whole class was on task they would get another scoop of popcorn kernels. When they were off task, kernels were removed. At the end of the week I would pop the kernels and the class would get to eat the popcorn at the end of the day.

I found that this caused the same effect as the group rewards in that certain students were constantly the cause of kernels being removed. It also took up my lunch hour popping kernels and it was a little messy because I am always finding kernels on the floor in the classroom.

These are the behavior systems I have tried. I hope they help you out with behavior issues you are experiencing in your classroom or at least give you a place to jump off from (figuratively, not literally).

Please visit my TpT store, Laurie's Classroom, to check out all of my teaching products and free materials.   

Please check out my other Blogs at Laurie's Classroom Blogs and stay tuned for my next Blog. 

Happy teaching.


Setting Up Your Classroom for the First Day of School

The first day of class is fast approaching which always brings with it that feeling of panic that you need to have your classroom perfectly ready to welcome your students. I have found that while you need certain things ready for the first day, a calm yet enthusiastic welcome is what the students enjoy the most!  

Before school starts, I arrange the desks into groups of four, five or six tables, depending on classroom size or the optimal size for specific activities such as reading groups.

On the first day I ask the students to choose where they want to sit so they feel comfortable. They get to remain in these seats for the first week while I observe the class dynamics and then I make adjustments where needed.  

I change the seating arrangements at least monthly throughout the year to coincide with changing reading groups and to ensure a cooperative and calming atmosphere.

Student Materials

I have one central location in the classroom for all student materials.

There is one bin each of rulers, glue sticks and scissors and enough bins for each group of colored pencils and markers. These get distributed when needed.  


Have one bin for sharpened pencils and one bin for pencils that need sharpening, which is labelled “pencil exchange”. This eliminates lineups at the pencil sharpener and broken electric sharpeners.  The task of sharpening pencils becomes one of the student jobs.

I have one larger bin for each main subject area such as math, science/social studies, music etc. that are large enough to hold all my students duo tangs.  

For students language materials, I supply a separate file folder, which I refer to as literature box, for each student that is labelled with name and student number.  These file folders are used only for language materials such as reading and writing.  See my Blog 7 Tips for the First Day Back to School for an explanation of student numbers and literature boxes.

Bulletin Boards

For the first day, I limit classroom displays to only those charts that will be discussed that day.  These charts or displays include the following:

Washroom Pass Cards
A Washroom Chart with a pocket for each student with their name displayed.  I use this for keeping track of who is in the washroom and controlling excessive washroom use. See my Blog 7 Tips for the First Day Back to School for a detailed explanation.  You can get my free washroom pass cards at the following link  Washroom Pass Cards at my TeachersPayTeachers store, Laurie's Classroom.

A Behavior Chart which I use to track each student’s appropriate behavior.   This chart has a pocket for every student with their number. See my Blog on Behavior Management for an explanation.

A Classroom Jobs Pocket Chart that displays the jobs for the classroom with a space large enough for two students names for each job. I have enough jobs so that everyone has a job for the week.

The jobs that I assign to students are: attendance; coat rack (make sure all belongings are off the floor); library (organize our class library ); clean up (check that there are no pencils, erasers or papers on the floor at the end of the day); chairs (stack chairs); washroom sticks (remove sticks at the end of the day); calendar (change date); agenda (distribute agenda to students); Daily 5 (change the groups for the next day); pencil sharpening; jobs (change the names weekly); collector (gather papers and duo tangs); and deliverer (pass out paper and duo tangs to students).

The names get rotated weekly. If you have an odd number of students, make one job a single person job.

A Daily Five Pocket Chart that has the centers listed and space for the names of the groups. See my Blog Guide to Daily 5 for details on my approach.  

A Homework Chart.  On a white board or black board, I square off a section using electrical tape that is labelled HOMEWORK. This is where I write the day’s work and any notes or reminders for parents.

All of my other bulletin boards for individual subjects such as math, reading, writing etc. are left blank.  I feel that information for these boards needs to be displayed as the lessons are being taught. This way, students understand what is being displayed and will remember that it is there. 
Otherwise the wall material that is displayed without the student’s involvement becomes wallpaper. 

I also find that too many displays become distracting and over stimulating. Students need to be able to easily find information to reduce frustration and build confidence.

It may sound like a lot of preparation but the bins and pocket charts can be used from year to year which reduces the amount of yearly preparation.

Good luck with setting up your classroom!

Please visit my TpT store, Laurie's Classroom, to check out all of my teaching products and free materials.   

Please check out my other Blogs at Laurie's Classroom Blogs and stay tuned for my next Blog. 

Happy teaching.


Thursday, 2 March 2017

A Unique Approach to Teaching Grammar

Call me old fashioned, but I believe establishing a sound foundation in grammar in the early grades remains important and can be easily integrated into all aspects of a language arts program.

In this blog I will provide an overview of how I plan and teach my grammar program for Grades 2 and 3.

My approach involves:
  • introducing a daily activity at the beginning of the year called “Grammar  Morning Work” which involves spending fifteen minutes every day reviewing grammar rules and writing concepts;
  • using phonics and a unique symbol based teaching system; 
  • slowly introducing new grammar concepts and writing rules once students have mastered current lessons;
  • incorporating grammar skills in all aspects of my language program; and
  • actively involving students in the teaching process. 
My Approach

Grammar Morning Work

Grammar Morning Work

Within the first few days of a new school year, I introduce Grammar Morning Work which is included in my daily plan for the entire school year.  This includes teaching students the symbol system for the basic phonics and writing rules.

The next five days are spent doing what I refer to as grammar search which involves practising the symbols using a poem as detailed below. 

Once the students understand the system, a different student each week is given the job of symbol drawer and the teacher becomes an observer. 

Grammar First 

During the first class, I will start the lesson by discussing which letters of the alphabet are vowels and consonants.  As a class, we say the two sounds of vowels and then I demonstrate the symbols used to show if a vowel is a long or short sound in a word.  

Simplify with Symbols

I use a symbol based system that I have created that the students can use to identify various letter combinations such as blends, long and short vowels (mentioned above), endings and language rules of writing, etc.  For example, for the word “the”, I have a symbol (a tongue sticking out because your tongue sticks out when you say “th”) that shows the blend “th” is one blended sound and not two separate sounds. We say “th e”, not “t he”.  


I use a variety of symbols that help students recognize many other phonic blends.  I then move onto ending sounds such as “ing”.  To help the students remember this sound, I use a ringing bell symbol which would be placed above the “ing”. 


After teaching a lesson, I will display a poster of the symbols that have been covered.  I have a total of five posters that cover the full symbol system.   

Teaching Tips

I regularly use poems, which are a core requirement in our system, or short stories, to teach the various phonic sounds and symbols.  I will enlarge and laminate a poem so that students can draw symbols on it with washable markers.  I read the entire poem aloud with the students and discuss the type of poem it is and who the author is. 

I will expose two sentences on the enlarged poem or story per day.  I will ask the class what elements of grammar they see in these two sentences.   A student will say “I see a capital on the word May.” I will ask why there is a capital on the word and what symbol should I draw?  

This exercise will continue until we have marked all of the elements that have been taught to this point such as capitals, periods, endings, etc.  This activity usually takes about fifteen minutes. 

Once the students are familiar with the symbols, I assign one student per week to become the symbol drawer for the rest of the class which entails standing at the chart stand and drawing the symbols based on input from the other students.

The use of symbols is a very important part of this system since students can easily associate a descriptive visual symbol with a grammar element which aids in remembering new concepts.

Repeating this activity on a daily basis further reinforces the acquisition of grammar and writing rules.  

Start every month with a Grammar lesson

Grammar Writing
les Bundle 
At the beginning of every month, I teach a specific lesson on a different grammar topic – capitals, punctuation, nouns, verbs, adverbs, adjectives, pronouns, endings, etc.  

I begin every grammar lesson with a read aloud grammar book. These books are available through suppliers such as Scholastics.   The book will be discussed followed by a lesson and then activities to reinforce the lesson.  

I have individual lessons for each grammar and writing rule concept as well as the complete Grammar Writing Rules Bundle for sale at my TpT store, Laurie’s Classroom. The Grammar Writing Rules Bundle contains all lesson plans, activities, assessments as well as posters for the entire school year.

Students will add a new symbol for each of these new lessons to their Grammar Morning Work activity. 

This progresses through the year as new grammar elements are added.

I will also incorporate grammar into other language lessons such as writing.  I will remind the students of the grammar lesson taught that month and make that one of the elements in my assessment of their writing.

The symbols can also be used to help students in their reading since they can apply the system to sound out new words they are not familiar with.  

The full Grammar Morning Work package is available at my TpT store, Laurie’s Classr
oom. This package includes step by step instructions on how to teach the symbol system, five posters illustrating the symbols, and two poems.   

Please visit Laurie’s Classroom, to check out all of my teaching products and free materials.  To get notices of TpT sales and new products, please follow me on TpT.

Stay tuned for my next blog.

Happy teaching.


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

My Guide to Daily 5

There are a number of ways to do Daily 5. This blog provides you with a structured approach to running your Daily 5 program.

As I mentioned in my My Guide to Guided Reading blog, I divide my class into five groups according to their guided reading level.   Each of the five groups attend a different center each day of the week.

In my approach, each center remains the same, with the same behavior expectations, throughout year.  For example, during silent reading, the tasks are either silent reading or writing a letter to the teacher about what they have read.  The only changes are the books the students are reading and the content of the letter.

This makes it easier to track student accomplishments because there are clearly defined tasks that the students must complete by the end of the center and hand in to the teacher. In this way the students remain on task to complete the expectation and your assessment can be included in the overall assessment of the reading and writing report card components.  

As well, students can concentrate on the material rather than learning new centers.

Setting Up Daily 5

I introduce the Daily 5 program at the start of the school year.  As referenced in the book, The Daily 5, by Gail Boushey and Joan Moser, I start with demonstrating appropriate and inappropriate behavior when I introduce each center. 

For example, appropriate behavior for the guided reading center would be actively participating in the group discussion about the book they are reading as a group or quietly reading to the teacher. 

Inappropriate behavior would be reading when they are supposed to be discussing the book or talking to other students that are not in their group. I ask students to identify and role play inappropriate and appropriate behavior, which is not only fun for the students, but it clearly reinforces the rules. 

The following Daily 5 Posters and Stamina Charts are available free of charge at my TpT store.
Daily 5 Posters and Stamina Charts

The next step is to develop stamina by having the students practice the appropriate behavior and task for each center.  I begin by seeing if the students can complete the center's task appropriately for one minute.  If successful, I will praise them for their appropriate behavior and then increase to two minutes the next day.

This continues until the students can appropriately complete the center for ten minutes.  If a student acts inappropriately during this time, the timer stops and the students must review the appropriate behavior expectations and the timer begins again. The students will remain at the same timed session the next day until they can complete the session without any inappropriate behavior. 

Daily 5 Centers

1.  Silent Reading Center

I have a classroom library that I have color coded into reading levels. Each student is instructed to pick a silent reading book from their reading level/color.  If they are reading picture books, they need to choose two books.   Each student is given an exercise book. 


As mentioned previously, the silent reading center has two tasks, silent reading and writing a letter.  During the reading block, the students will have learned about a reading strategy.   During the writing block of my language arts program, the students will have learned the proper format for letter writing and how to write a letter for each reading strategy.  See my language block weekly planner below to see how I structure my language arts program for the week.

Language Block Weekly Planner 
At the end of every month, students must have completed and handed in at least two letters.   They get to choose the two letters I assess for letter format and the reading strategy focused on that month.

2.  Listening to Reading/RAZ Center

For my second center, I use RAZ which is a computer program purchased by our school which allows the students to listen to books at their own reading level and answer comprehension questions. 

If RAZ is not available to you, you could purchase or make CD books for your listening center.  


The RAZ program evaluates the student’s performance for you. If you are using books on CD’s you could have the students write a short summary for the story or draw a visualisation as your assessment.

3.  Grammar/Word Work Center

Grammar and Writing
Rules Bundle
During the writing block of my language arts program, I teach one grammar concept every other week and a word list the opposite week.  The students complete work sheets relating to the weekly grammar concept or word lists.  

At the end of the week once all students have been through the center, they complete a grammar test or spelling test.  These are included in the my Grammar and Writing Rules Bundle and units that are sold separately at my TpT store, Laurie's Classroom.

4. Guided Reading Center and 5. Comprehension Questions Center 

Please see my previous blog, My Guide to Guided Reading, on how I approach these two Daily 5 centers.


Students must read their assigned reading in order to answer the comprehension questions. Comprehension questions need to be completed in order to participate in the discussion of the chapter at the next guided reading session.

I hope you've found this blog informative.  My other teaching blogs, which are applicable for Grades 1 through 4, are as follows:

7 Tips for the First Day Back to School
My Guide to Guided Reading
Long Range Planning

Please visit my TpT store, Laurie's Classroom, to check out all of my teaching products and free materials.   

Stay tuned for my next blog.

Happy teaching.


Sunday, 16 October 2016

My Guide to Guided Reading

This blog focuses on guided reading which involves a teacher working with a small group of students who have similar reading abilities.

I feel this is an important subject for a blog because there are many different approaches used by teachers and questions about which approaches work.

The following details how I approach guided reading in my Grade 2 and 3 classes.

Running Record

Prior to beginning a guided reading program, I conduct a running record for each student.  This entails assessing each student’s reading level.   Our school supplies Nelson’s PM Benchmark Reading Assessment Resource which consists of short fiction and non-fiction texts along with comprehension questions which enable you to assign a reading level for each student.

Organizing Tips

Reading Level Chart

I create a chart on the inside of a file folder with columns on both sides where I record the reading level for each student.  

For example, if the lowest reader is at level 14, that would be the first column in the chart and the last column would be 30+ for a total of 18 columns.

I write each student’s name on a Post-it 1/2” flag and place the flag in the appropriate column (red flags in the chart to the right). This enables you to move students to different levels as they progress throughout the year. As well, the file folder protects the Post-its once the folder is closed and keeps the information private.  It also visually assists you in organizing the students into reading groups of four to six students. 

Now that your guided reading groups are established, it's time to choose a level appropriate book for each group that best suits the composition and interests of the students in the group. 

Please go to my TpT store for a free Reading Level Comparison that I created that relates the various guided reading levels to each other.  For example, PM Benchmark Scholastics, Fountas and Pinnell. 

Student Guided Reading Pocket Folder

I give each student their own pocket folder in which they keep their guided reading book, the comprehension questions, a pencil and a small quantity of Post-its (2”x1½”) which they use to write down unfamiliar words and then stick it on the edge of the page where the word is first located in the book. 

Cam Jansen,The Mystery of the U.F.O.
As I described in my first blog, 7 Tips for the First Day Back to School, I have the students keep the pocket folders in their literature box which is kept on a shelf in the classroom.

I also make my own pocket folder for each reading group which contains a copy of the book they are reading, recording sheets for each student where I write anecdotal notes after each session and a copy of the comprehension questions and answers.  

How Often

I meet with each group once a week for twenty minutes unless I have a group that is reading well below grade level which I meet with twice a week.  I organize my class into five groups because I run my Daily 5 centres (guided reading being one of the centres) on a Monday to Friday schedule and the students go to one centre per day. I feel this is sufficient because students are exposed to other reading activities during their individual Daily 5 language activities.  For example, the other four groups could be doing word work, independent/silent reading, completing comprehension questions and a computer reading comprehension activity called “RAZ”.    

Independent/Silent Reading Assessment Tip

As part of independent/silent reading, students are expected to write a letter to me every time they complete a chapter (or a small picture book) which describes a connection or prediction (whichever reading strategy we are focusing on that month) they’ve made to the book.  I give the students a letter template with paragraph starters for them to explain the reading strategy.  

All Daily 5 activities are displayed on a pocket chart in the class.  Each group is assigned a number which I rotate in the chart daily to show what activity they will be doing on a particular day. 
What to do during Guided Reading

At your first meeting with each group, hand out to each student their pocket folder with their name on it and ask the students to remove the guided reading book.  After reading the title and looking at the front cover, I ask them in a group discussion setting to predict what they think the story will be about and their reasoning. If the students are not supplying a reason, I make sure to model how they should make the prediction making sure to use the words “I think that” and “I think this because”.   

I then review any words from the book that I feel they would not know.   This is the time that I explain why they each have small Post-its and how they are to use them to identify words they are unfamiliar with.

Next, I explain that when they are silently reading, I will be going to each student and leaning in close so they can softly read out loud.  At this time I can assess their reading level and fluency.  After I have listened to each student, I allow the students to continue silent reading until the end of the 20 minutes.  If they haven’t completed the assigned reading (either a small book or the first chapter), they need to finish it for homework that evening.  

I use Guided Reading Assessment and Anecdotal Notes, which is for sale in my TpT store, to record each student's reading assessment.

The next day, before I begin the session with Group 2, I give Group 1 their reading comprehension questions which they complete during this 20 minute period.

In week two, when I meet with the groups for a second time, I review any words that they have noted, and discuss the reading comprehension questions with the group.  I would ask a student to read out their answer as a starting point for a discussion by asking the other students if they agreed.  Once completed, the students would begin silently reading the next chapter.  While the students are reading, I record my observations on fluency, rate of reading, ability to answer questions and which type of questions they are having difficulties answering.

While this approach may seem to focus on reading comprehension questions, the questions have been structured to include reading strategies in addition to the who, what, where, when, why and how comprehension type questions.
Reading strategies include predicting, connecting, visualizing, summarizing and inferring.

My language block is broken up into three separate time slots: Daily 5; writing; and reading.  During the reading portion, I give individual lessons on the reading strategies so that the students understand how to use them while reading.

Four Corners Reading Book Talk

In addition to the above, once a week, four students are each asked to give a verbal book report to the class on a book they select.   I refer to this as Four Corners Reading Book Talk which is available at my TpT store.  This unit includes a rubric to assess the book talk and oral reading skills. They are expected to complete their book talk outline and practice their presentation at home.    

Student Reading Assessment

Assessing student’s reading for report cards is something many teachers struggle with.   My approach is to assess a variety of different reading activities which together determine the final assessment.    

These activities include:
I have developed my own reading comprehension units to use during my guided reading program.  If you are interested in this guided reading approach, which I have found to be very successful in progressing a student's reading level, please go my TpT store, Laurie's Classroom, and check out my units.
Stay tuned for my next blog.

Happy teaching.