Monday, August 29, 2011

The Rejected or Neglected Child in Your Class

Ideally, the classroom is a place where everyone is valued and accepted. In reality, this is seldom the case. Some children seem to be socially gifted - they know how to work and play with others and for the most part, they are popular and well liked. For other, less fortunate children, the social world of the classroom, and perhaps more importantly, the playground is a black hole. They don't know the unwritten rules that others seem to know without being told and therefore are constantly breaking them - which leads to being left out, or worse, actively disliked. Rejected children are not only unhappy, they are also more likely to be bullied and to develop aggressive tendencies themselves. How can we, as teachers help these children? Here are some ideas to consider.

Rejected and neglected
First, it is helpful to keep in mind that children with poor social skills generally fall into two categories. Rejected children are actively disliked by their peers. They tend to behave in ways that make them difficult to be around. They may dominate games, they may cheat or refuse to share, they may name call or manipulate. Neglected children are not actively disliked, they just aren't noticed. They are often shy and withdrawn and because they don't put forth the effort to make friends, they may not have any. A neglected child may also just be really different in the why he or she behaves - not aggressive or offensive, just so different that other children don't really understand and relate to that child.  At the bottom of this post is a way to identify neglected and rejected children in in your class.

One friend makes a world of difference
Just having one friend can make such a difference in the life of a rejected or neglected child. Try pairing these kids up with particularly kind children. Pairing two neglected kids together could also work, but avoid pairing a rejected and a neglected child together. Perhaps a friendship will blossom. One thing that can help is to find something that a rejected or neglected student has in common with another student as a starting point. Perhaps they both enjoy a particular video game or are both interested in endangered animals. Generally, both rejected and neglected children do better in one-on-one situations than in groups.

Entering a group is an important skill
Imagine a group of children are playing a game at recess. Another child wants to play too. Here is what successful children do when entering a group:

  • They watch the group for a few minutes to understand the dynamics and the game being played. Then they jump right in taking a small role in the game. For example if it is an informal game of kickball, they take an outfield position. They do not demand to play one of the bases or to be the next one to kick.
  • They may simply ask to play, but they do so either without conditions, or they offer to play a part that is not very desirable For example if the game is an imagination game and no one wants to be a minor character, the new new player may offer to play that part. They also happily take their place at the end of the line if it is that kind of a game.
Unsuccessful children may:
  • Enter the game and demand to play the best position or part of the game or for it to be his or her turn next or ask for "cuts" from other players in line. 
  • Enter the game and then try to change the rules to a version he or she likes better.
  • Enter the game and complain about the way the game is being played or about how another player is playing. 
  • Enter the game and cheat or dominate the game.
  • Stand near the game watching, but never enter the game or ask to join it. 
Teaching children how to enter a group can be really helpful. Role playing might be one way to do this or if you have playground duty, watching group dynamics and making small suggestions could also help. Policing the situation is not helpful to the rejected child. For example, lecturing the other children about how unfair they are being. It will only make the rejected child more disliked. For some ideas about helping children work in groups please see Making Group Work, Work

Counseling can help
If your school is blessed enough to have a counselor that can help with social skills training, by all means take advantage of it. Perhaps the parents would be open to suggestions that they find a counselor privately. Once child's social reputation has been established, it is very difficult to change, but not impossible.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Hundreds of Freebies at the Lesson Cloud Today!

The Lesson Cloud is the blog to stalk today! New freebies just keep popping up every few minutes. Every grade level, every subject, from a huge group of amazing Teachers Pay Teachers sellers. You are sure to find tons of great resources. No worries if you can't get there today, the freebies are all being archived on a link on the sidebar.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Free Parent Night Activity

A "how well do you know your child" quiz can be a fun addition to Parent Night.  They only take a few minutes to fill out and are sure to be a hit with both students and parents.

You can download a free one right here.



Freebie Fridays

Friday, August 19, 2011

Win a $20 Shopping Spree!

We have our winners!

I got two numbers from the nifty random number generator:



Which means that the two winners are Cheri who was comment number 27 and Kristin who was comment number 60! If you two ladies would each drop me a note at


and tell me which products you would like from my TpT Store I will mail them directly to you. 


Thanks to everyone who participated. You all gave me quite an ego boost as well as some really wonderful ideas. If you didn't win this time - you will have another chance soon. I am teaming up with a few other sellers (they are amazing - you will probably recognize their names!) for another contest. More on that coming soon!
New: If there are over 50 participants - I will give away two prizes!

Minds in Bloom has a brand new blog button! To celebrate, I am giving away a $20 shopping spree at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It is super easy to enter. All you have to do is comment on this post and either suggest a topic for me to write about in the future or say something nice about Minds in Bloom. One entry per person.

On Saturday afternoon or evening, I will use the random number generator thingy to pick a winner (2 if there are over 50 entries). I will announce the winners on this post, and hopefully, they will contact me within a few days. If that doesn't happen, I'll pick another winner.

I would be thrilled if you grab the button for your own blog, follow Minds in Bloom or my TpT store or "Like" my facebook page, but none of these are required to enter. Just a happy comment is enough.

Cheers!




(I have a new signature too, but I am not entirely happy with it yet)

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Find the Teacher's Mistake!

Here is something fun to try this year. Let your (upper elementary or middle school) students know that sometimes you will intentionally make a spelling or grammar mistake on a handout or worksheet. It is their job to find that mistake. They will never know if there is a mistake on any given worksheet - it could come at any time, in any subject, so they must check each one carefully. Of course a little extra motivation for finding these errors is sure to help. Consider:
  • Giving extra bonus points on the assignment for finding the mistake.
  • Giving a few minutes of extra recess if more than 2/3rds of the class find the mistake.
  • Letting students who find the mistake put their names in for a raffle to win a small prize.
  • Keeping a running tally for each student and when a student reaches a particular threshold, he or she gets a small prize (and then starts again at 0).
Not only will this keep your students on their toes and give them excellent proofreading practice, it will also be a great cover for you if you accidentally make an error!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Character Education Ideas plus 42 Free Character Trait Strips

"If there is beauty in character, there will be harmony in the home. If there is harmony in the home, there will be order in the nation. If there is order in the nation, there will be peace in the world."
-Chinese Proverb
With all the academic testing that is currently an integral part of elementary school, character education often not as much of a focus as it once was. But since most teachers would agree that learning how to be good people and citizens is at least as important as academics, here are some ideas for working character education into your day.


These ideas all involve using a set of character words, which you can download for free at the end of this post.


Start a "Word of the Week Program." Each week choose a different word to display on a special bulletin board. Have students complete a worksheet (two versions for different grade levels are included in the download) or have them write about the word in their journals. Use the word for class discussions and role playing activities. Encourage students try to demonstrate the trait as much as possible during the week.

Pick out a few character words that you particularly want to emphasize and display around the classroom.
Distribute words randomly as a writing prompt. Each child can write about a time when they demonstrated the trait they were given. Or they could write about how the trait could be demonstrated in the future.
Divide students into small groups or pairs and give each group a word to role play. A fun way to do this is to have them do two scenes, first without the word and then with it.
At a center, students can work alone or in pairs with 6-12 words, putting the words in order by importance.
For class discussion, randomly pick two words. Ask the students to vote on which is the more important trait. Discuss.
Choose three traits. Discuss what a person who embodies these three traits would be like. How would he/she behave? What kinds of things would he/she enjoy doing?

Do you have more ideas to add?

100 Brain Teasers to Use with Your Students

I stopped publishing these at 100, but there is a nice collection for you to use with your class! 

Be sure to check out the main page to find tons of teaching tips and ideas.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Exploing "Would You Rather..." Questions

Would you rather...


teach a year of third grade using no books or print media of any kind

or
teach a year of third grade using no pencils, whiteboard, or writing materials of any kind?

"Would you rather..." questions are great for practicing critical thinking because they require you to evaluate two different, but seemingly equally appealing (or unappealing) options and choose one. One way to use "Would you rather..." questions is to ask them whenever you have an extra few minutes. In classroom setting it can be valuable to have kids first choose by a show of hands and then discusss the question. If you want to get some movement into the activity, designate one end of the room for each answer and have students move to make their choice. Then ask students to share why they chose one option or another. Pose the question a second time to allow students the opportunity to choose a different option. This exercise is not only fun, but it also helps kids become more flexible on their thought patterns. Rather than holding onto an idea no matter what, they learn to consider other's opinions.

There are several different kinds of "Would you rather..." questions that you can pose. Some are very basic:
  • Would you rather be a pencil or a rubberband?
  • Would you rather be a good athlete or a good student?
  • Would you rather be able to fly or turn invisible?
These ones make good writing or discussion prompts and should always include a follow up question asking why.

Some questions have an ethical bent and ask you to pick one value over another:
  • Would you rather have someone give you $100 or give $1,000 to the charity of your choice?
  • Would you rather have parents who loved you but were poor or have parents who did not love you but were rich and gave you everything you wanted?

These are great for discussion. You will learn a lot about your students as you listen to them defend their choices.

Some questions use the same variables:
  • Would you rather be allowed to shower everyday but never be allowed to wash your clothes or never be allowed to shower but have clean clothes each day?
  • Would you rather never be allowed to eat your five favorite foods for the rest of your life or be allowed to eat only your five favorite foods for the rest of your life?
Some are fun and silly:
  • Would you rather jump into a pool of marshmallows or a pool of jello?
  • Would you rather have yummy edible hair that regrew each night or have retractable wheels on the bottoms of your feet?

or only offer unappealing choices:
  • Would you rather go to school in your underwear or have to eat worms for lunch?
  • Would you rather have a head the size of an orange or a watermelon?

Kids seem to especially like those one!

Asking the questions is great, but you can step it up by having kids come up with their own questions.   Writing "Would you rather..." questions requires kids to not only create two options but to evaluate whether or not those options are roughly equal in appeal. Part of the process is answering the questions, so be sure and give students an opportunity to share their questions with the rest of the class. Consider creating a class Would You Rather Book.







Have you used Would You Rather Questions with your class? How did it go? 

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Ideas for Student of the Week, Super Star, VIP etc.


Most teachers in the primary grades (and often upper elementary too) have some sort of program to honor a different student each week. Usually this involves a special display, sharing, and sometimes special jobs or privileges. Each day of the week brings a different Student of the Week activity.

Here are some ideas for things you might want to include in your Student of the Week (or whatever you call it in your classroom) program. You can also download this free parent letter and Information Sheet.

General Tips

  • For the display, you can simply send home a piece of butcher paper or poster board (I used yellow butcher paper cut to a star shape) for the student to decorate with photos and mementos. 

  • In addition to the display the student creates, I also have him or her fill out an information sheet about family, favorites etc.that is also displayed (see below).

  • Another option (if you have the budget for it) is to use one of the ready-to-use posters like this one that students fill in. 

  • Most teachers send the poster and explanation letter to parents home the Friday before the child's superstar week. Another option is to send it home with every child at the start of the year along with a schedule so that parents will have time to plan ahead. 

  • If you can manage it, it is nice if the child's week corresponds with his or her birthday. 

  • Some teachers like to select a child randomly each week rather than planning ahead. Others use the Student of the Week as a reward for good behavior, effort etc.
Activity Ideas
  • Child brings something special to share with the class - a possession, collection, or possibly a pet if the school allows it. 

  • Child brings a favorite book to share. The teacher can read the book to the class or the student can. For longer books, just a selection. Another idea is to allow the child to invite a grandparent or other special adult to read the book.

  • Child brings in a special CD to share.

  • Child puts a special object in a bag and leads the class (or helps the teacher lead) in a yes/no guessing game to guess what is inside. 

  • Child gets to eat lunch with a chosen friend in a special place in the room such as the Class Library

  • Each student completes a page for a special Super Star book. The page includes a positive statement or note about the child and an illustration. The Super Star decorates the covers. Be sure to include a teacher page as well.
Find more great teaching ideas and tips in 300+ Teacher Tips.

What do you do for your Student of the Week? Please add your ideas with a comment.


A Little Magic

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Cyber Showcase - FREE Resources for Grades 3-5!



Sorry You missed the Cyber Show Case Giveaway


This event was on August 8 only.


But all is not lost, you can still get tons of freebies from my TpT store. You may also want to follow Minds in Bloom and follow on facebook so that you will hear about the next big giveaway (we are already planning it!)

Here are the other sellers who were participating in this awesome giveaway. You may still want to hop around to check out their amazing blogs. If you aren't getting Laura Candler's free Classroom Connections Newsletter, be sure and sign up when you visit her page!
Free Bonus File Hosted on Laura Candler's Teaching Resources: Ruth S's Chocolate Fever Student Worksheets.

Here at Minds in Bloom, the featured free product was Literature Response Worksheets for Any Book (2).These 26 Ready-to-Use worksheets are great for independent reading or small groups. They can work in place of a comprehension questions or as a supplement for our literature guide. This is one of TpT's all time top 100 best selling products and sells for $5.50.
BTW, There are three usable worksheets in the Product Preview, so you may want to take a peek. 

Friday, August 5, 2011

20 Back to School Writing Prompts



Want to go beyond the classic, "What I Did Over Summer Vacation" essay? Try some of these writing prompts. 
  1. Who is someone you spent a lot of time with this summer? Describe this person.

  2. Where did you go this summer that you have never been before?

  3. How did you spend Independence Day?

  4. Where did you spend most of your time this summer? Describe this place.

  5. What was your favorite activity from the summer? Why did you like it so much?

  6. What was you least favorite part of the summer? Why?

  7. What is one important thing you learned this summer? How did you learn it?

  8. What is something you did this summer that you are proud of?

  9. Describe something you did this summer that involved water.

  10. Describe something you did this summer with a large group of people.

  11. Write about something you did this summer in nature.

  12. Write about something you did this summer to stay cool.

  13. Write about something you did this summer to earn money.

  14. Write about something you did this summer that you have never done before.

  15. Write five words that describe your summer. Then tell why you choose each word.

  16. Write about something you made this summer.

  17. Write about something that made you angry or upset this summer.

  18. Write about a time when you had good luck this summer

  19. Write about a book you read this summer.

  20. Write about a party or other special event you attended this summer.

Looking for more great writing prompts? Consider purchasing these 200 Question Cards.



Got more ideas to add to the list? Please comment.
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