Happy Rocks: Positive Behavior in the Classroom

A few years ago I faced a new school year with a group of kiddos famous for their behavior, and not in a good way. That was the year I tried every trick in the book when it came to classroom management techniques. Honestly, most of what I tried didn’t work. One management strategy that DID work was using Happy Rocks.

Happy Rocks - Positive Behavior in the Classroom at morethan3wishes.com

How Happy Rocks Work

Happy Rocks are simply little “rocks” with happy faces on them. These rocks are handed out for very important and positive behaviors. When a student earns a Happy Rock, they get to keep it on their desk for the duration of the day and then take it home and keep it forever! The kiddos love the part about taking them home. Parents love it, too, because it is tangible proof of positive behavior. Many of my students kept the Happy Rocks they earned throughout the year and were quite proud of their collections. Some even made their own versions and brought them in to give to me!

At the beginning of the year, every student earns a Happy Rock for making it through the first week of school because, after all, it’s a big deal. I give each student a Happy Rock and a slip of paper explaining how they can be earned.

Happy Rocks - Positive Behavior in the Classroom at morethan3wishes.com

Click here to download this FREE printable and use it in your classroom.

Then throughout the year, I hand out Happy Rocks for many different reasons. Sometimes they are handed out for specific events or earned during times that the students expect and look forward to. Other times I hand out Happy Rocks for those unexpected student shining moments that deserve to be acknowledged and celebrated.

  • Secret Student – Each day, I choose a student from the class and that student’s identity is kept secret. I tell the class what kind of behavior I expect to see from the secret student during a particular time such as while walking down the hall, during buddy work, during independent reading, etc. Sometimes I might watch the secret student’s behavior for an entire afternoon. At the end of that time, if the student demonstrated the requested positive behavior, their name is announced to the class and they are rewarded with a Happy Rock. (The kids LOVE this and it had the most positive impact on behavior overall.)
  • Behavior Certificate – Where I teach, we have a school-wide positive behavior system in which we distribute golden “bucks” to students for positive behavior. This is done as frequently as possible. When students have earned 15 of these “bucks,” a special certificate is sent home to recognize a job well done. In my classroom, a Happy Rock goes home with that certificate.
  • Birthdays – Happy Rocks are given to each student on the day of their birthday celebration.
  • Math Fact Milestones – I use an online program called XtraMath with my kiddos to help them practice their basic math facts. When a student masters a particular mathematical operation, they are rewarded with a Happy Rock.

Since that first extra-challenging year, Happy Rocks have become an important part of the culture in my third-grade classroom. They have certainly made a positive impact on student behavior overall. That also means that they’ve made me a happier teacher. Best of all, Happy Rocks are super easy to make and they’re super easy on the pocketbook.

Make Your Own Happy Rocks

I start by visiting the nearest Dollar Store and purchasing glass beads or glass gems. I can purchase one bag of about 50 beads for a dollar. I start off the year buying 6 or 7 bags. These last me at least 3/4 of the way into the school year as I only hand out 1 or 2 Happy Rocks a day on average.

Happy Rock Instructions at morethan3wishes.com

The only other material needed is paint pens. Sharpies are my favorites, but there are plenty of options out there. I use the black and white pens the most, but I like to mix things up sometimes with a few extra colors for added interest.

Paint Pens - Happy Rock instructions at morethan3wishes.com

To make the Happy Rocks, start with the eyes. Draw 2 vertical lines and the eyes are complete!

Happy Rocks instructions at morethan3wishes.com

Paint a U shape under the eyes for a smiling happy mouth. That’s all there is to it. See? Super easy.

Happy Rocks instructions at morethan3wishes.com

Since so many of my students have enjoyed collecting and displaying their Happy Rocks, I keep my eye out for different colored glass gems and add new colors to hand out regularly. It seems to boost students’ motivation for positive behaviors.

Happy Rocks - Positive Behavior in the Classroom at morethan3wishes.com

Finally, I found a super inexpensive container and decorated it to hold the Happy Rocks. I keep this on my desk and filled to the brim at all times.

Happy Rocks - Positive Behavior in the Classroom at morethan3wishes.com

Give Happy Rocks a try in your classroom and see how they work for you and your students. How else would you use them to promote positive behavior? Please come back and share your experiences with us so we can all learn and grow. Be happy! 🙂

 

Making Wishes Happen ~ August 2016 Goals

Another month has come and gone. August is like the Sunday of summer to me. It’s the time when I try to squeeze in the most fun I can while gearing up for another year of school.

Making Wishes Happen ~ August 2016 Goals at morethan3wishes.com

First a look at how things went in July…

July 2016 Wishes/Goals

Blogging Wishes

  • Get back to my schedule of publishing a new post once a week. ~ Success! 
  • Have enough posts written to get me through the first month of the school year. ~ Not yet. This one is a work in progress.
  • Update my Teachers Pay Teachers site and write some posts about my current products. ~ Success! I gave the products in my TPT store a face-lift and a more unified look. I also blogged about my favorite TPT product offering – All In a Row math fluency games
  • Increase my social media following on Facebook and Instagram by 10%. (Facebook: from 230 to 253) (Instagram: from 364 to 400) ~ Facebook fail. My Facebook followings seems to have stalled. I went from 230 to 234 this month. ~ Instagram success! I’m so pleased to have reached 408 followers. 🙂

Education Wishes:

  • Attend the awesome professional development opportunities I’ve signed up for. ~ Success! It’s been a technology-filled month. I’m ready to dive into using our new Chromebooks this fall.
  • Find more education bloggers out there and develop some new relationships. ~ Still working on it.

Personal Wishes:

  • Exercise more. – 30 minutes at least 5 days a week. ~ Mostly a success! On average I would say I reached this goal.
  • Drink more water. – 64 oz. daily ~ Success!
  • Clear out the garden in my side yard that is seriously overgrown. The whole thing. ~ Nope.
  • Lose 15 pounds for starters. (This one is a hard one to put out there AGAIN, but it needs to be done!) ~ Still working on this one.

I’m pleased with the majority of successes in July. Now on to the month at hand.

Start wishing. Start doing. August 2016 Goals at morethan3wishes.com

August 2016 Wishes/Goals

Blogging Wishes

I have so many ideas floating around for new posts and directions I would like to go. This month I am going to focus on writing and getting ahead in that area of the blogging world.

  • Stay on track with my schedule of publishing a new post once a week.
  • Have enough posts written to get me through the first month of the school year. (8 posts ready to go, at least.)
  • Try to connect with other education bloggers and find a way to provide mutual support.

Education Wishes:

Here we go! Honestly, my mind is already spinning with all there is to do this month to get ready for back to school. This is the part of teaching that I’m sure most people don’t understand. Summer isn’t over, but it’s time to get to work!

  • Get the classroom ready to go for year 14.
  • Have the first 2 weeks of school planned and materials prepared.
  • Have a plan for implementation for our new Chromebooks and determine how they will fit into instruction during the first month of school.

Personal Wishes:

See how my goals in this area are always the same? Even though I struggle, I will not give up on these goals because they are important for my mental and physical well-being.

  • Exercise, exercise, exercise. – 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
  • Clear out the garden in my side yard that is seriously overgrown. The whole thing. For real this time!
  • Eat healthier and continue to lose weight.
  • Read at least 2 more books that are not school related while I still have time.

What are your goals and wishes for the month of August? Share them with us in the comment section. We’d love to hear what you are working toward.

I Wish the Uphill Climb Was Easy – 5 Tips to Make it to the Top

One of my on-going struggles is keeping on track with daily exercise. It ends up on my list of goals month after month. True story. Just take a look at my 2016 goals for May, June, and July. I’m sure that the rest of the months this year will be no exception.

When I do muster up the willpower to carry out some kind of physical activity, walking is one of my favorite workouts. I’m not talking a stroll in the park. I push myself to walk as quickly as I can. I love getting out into the open air and taking in the views while taking care of that exercise business.

One of the Views on my Walk at morethan3wishes.com

I’m extremely lucky that a walk around my “block” is a 2 mile trek along some gorgeous country roads. My daily walking path is filled with wildflowers, fields of hay and corn, herons flying overhead, and deer leaping across the road. For real! It certainly has helped me get out and get moving more than I might have otherwise.

Despite the beauty of this pastoral setting, this walk is no joke. There are some serious hills that add an element of challenge and some good old-fashioned sweat to my workout. One hill in particular gets me every time. It doesn’t look like a big deal, but it’s a killer!

I Wish the Uphill Climb Was Easy - 5 Tips to Make it to the Top at morethan3wishes.com

The first time I tried to scale this hill, I attempted to keep up my stride and didn’t adjust at all for the climb ahead. Yup. I had to stop mid-way to gasp and catch my breath. I’ll admit to feeling weak, embarrassed, and a tiny bit ridiculous. I promised myself right then and there that I would make it to the top of that hill every time thereafter. I knew I’d have to approach it differently from that point forward.

I’m pleased to say that since that first encounter, I’ve successfully reached the top of that uphill climb without fail. Believe me, it still isn’t easy. The easy solution would be to collapse at the side of the road for a bit before crawling to the top slowly on my hands and knees. But I don’t take the easy way out. I’ve learned that there are certain things I must do to help me make it to the top.

I Wish the Uphill Climb Was Easy - 5 Tips for Making It to the Top at morethan3wishes.com

5 Tips to Make it to the Top

  1. Keep breathing. My breathing gets heavier and louder as I work hard to keep that oxygen flowing. Perhaps that’s another good reason for me to walk in the country.
  2. Take baby steps. I still try to keep my pace, but instead of my usual stride, I take baby steps. Even though it takes a little longer, it helps me make it to the top.
  3. Focus straight ahead. I would love to keep taking in the beautiful surroundings, but when it comes to this point in my walk, I have a hill to climb! It’s no time to get distracted.
  4. Use positive self-talk. The only person there to provide encouragement is me. Throughout the uphill climb, I am chanting things to myself such as, “You can do this,” and, “Just keep walking.” I try to coordinate my statements with my breathing and before I know it, I’m at the top of that hill.
  5. Don’t give up. Ever. If failure is not an option, then success is the only possible outcome.

Moving forward, I’ll keep walking, sweating, and pushing to the top of each hill that I meet. Some of them might be on my lovely, yet challenging, country walk. I imagine that other hills will loom ahead no matter where I go. No doubt, these 5 tips will help me with any uphill climb in my future.

 

What Stuck With You? A Tool for Sharing Ideas in the Classroom

So if you don’t already know, I LOVE Pinterest. It’s a fantastic and easy way to see all of the new education ideas out there. Many times I’ll pin a cool idea and start using it in the classroom right away. Other ideas get pinned with the best of intentions and then get lost in one of my boards for weeks, months, years… One of the ideas that has been floating around the Pinterest world for awhile is What Stuck With You. Honestly, this was one pin that got stuck in one of my education boards for a long time. This past school year I finally uncovered it and put it to use with my kiddos right away. Let me tell you, I am so glad I did.

What Stuck With You - A Tool for Sharing Ideas in the Classroom at morethan3wishes.com

I cleared out some space in my classroom and created a What Stuck With You (WSWY) wall. I always assign numbers to my kiddos at the beginning of the school year that they use all year long. I added those numbers to my WSWY wall so each student could quickly locate their “spot”.  I also made sure that sticky notes were easily accessible by placing them in each table’s supply baskets. Then we were ready to roll!

Once I dedicated a permanent spot for this tool, I was pleasantly surprised at the numerous ways we were able to use this for sharing ideas, opinions, and learning with each other. Best of all, the kids loved it!

What Stuck With You Wall at morethan3wishes.com

Sharing Learning

We all know that each lesson we teach should be focused on a learning target. Sometimes we call them “I can” statements. Learning targets are what students need to know or be able to do as a result of a learning experience. What Stuck With You is a great place for a quick assessment of these targets.

For example, the learning target for one of our math lessons was to be able to represent three-digit numbers using expanded form. At the end of the lesson, I asked my kiddos to write the number 345 in expanded form on a sticky note. Each student posted their answer on their spot on the WSWY wall. Once they shared their learning, I could quickly see who reached the learning target and who needed further help with that skill.

Sharing Background Knowledge

Our students come to us with all different levels of background knowledge. Before teaching a unit or a lesson, it is good to figure out what students might already know about a concept or a skill. Learning about student background knowledge helps us as teachers to craft our lessons to meet the specific needs of our kiddos.

What Stuck With You proved to be an effective and easy way for students to share what they already knew. This past year, I knew that our third-grade geometry unit would focus on the continents and the oceans on Earth. A few days before we were to start our unit, I asked the students the question, “What is the name of one of the continents on Earth?” They each wrote their answers on their sticky notes and posted them on the WSWY wall. I could easily see which students accurately knew that Africa was a continent. I could also see which students thought that Canada and New York were the newest continents on our planet. That knowledge helped my to direct my instruction as needed.

Sharing Kindness

If you don’t know already, I’m crazy about kindness! Kindness is an important element of my classroom and I work hard to get my kids sharing kindness and recognizing the kind acts of others. Some days I ask them to “catch” a classmate being kind. When they do, they write that student’s name and their kind act on a sticky note and add it to the WSWY wall for all to see. Other days, I ask students to reflect on something kind that they did that day and share it on a sticky note. When a student has been sick and out of the room for a couple of days, I ask the kiddos to share a kind thought or message for that student. I collect their kind thoughts on the WSWY wall and save their sticky notes to either send home to that particular student or have on their desk the morning that they return after having missed those days of school.

Using a What Stuck With You Wall to share acts of kindness as morethan3wishes.com

Sharing Questions

Kids have so many questions! This is never a bad thing, but I don’t always have time to answer the myriad of questions that inevitably come up each day. The WSWY wall ended up being the perfect place for students to leave their questions for another time. I collected the posted questions and make sure to find some time later on to address them.

The WSWY wall was also a great place to collect ideas from students when using the questioning strategy for reading comprehension. Before reading, students posed questions or predictions about what might happen in a book. During reading they could change their questions or add new ones. After reading they could share their wonderings about why certain things happened or what might happen next beyond the story.

Sharing Reflective Thinking

Reflective thinking is an important skill that helps one to learn and grow from previous experiences.  It’s also a skill that doesn’t always come naturally. Most of my kiddos need lots of work in this area. I used the WSWY wall as a place to collect their reflections during many different times of the school day. I would ask a question such as, “What did you do that helped you learn today?” or “What was something that you could have done better during independent work time?” They record their answers and post them up in the wall for easy viewing.

Sharing Feedback

This is one of my favorite uses for the WSWY wall because it has helped me to collect feedback about my teaching from the ones who are directly impacted by what I do. I pose questions to the student such as, “What is something you liked about that lesson?” or “What do you wish was different about the activity we just completed?” When I wanted student feedback about Walk & Talk as a brain break strategy, I used the WSWY wall to collect their ideas and opinions.

Grab Your Free Copy!

Have you tried using a WSWY wall or something like it in your classroom? Please take a free printable copy of the one that I created to put to use with your kiddos right away. I made a bunch of color options to fit into many different classroom color schemes.

What Stuck With You - A FREE Printable Classroom Tool for Sharing at morethan3wishes.com

Click here to get your FREE printable copy of the What Stuck With You wall poster.

If you try this out, please make sure to come back and let us know how it worked in your classroom. We can all learn from sharing our experiences! Can you think of new and different ways to use this classroom sharing tool? We’d love to hear them. 🙂

 

 

All in a Row: A Versatile Math Fluency Game

Math fluency is a year-long endeavor in my third grade classroom. When we start in the fall, I can quickly tell which kiddos remembered their basic addition and subtraction facts from second grade. Those that didn’t work furiously with their fingers to figure out the total of 9+8. While I’m pleased that they have some kind of strategy to arrive at an answer, I know that at some point those answers need to come more easily and much more quickly. On top of that, we jump right into multiplication and division concepts in the first math unit of the school year.

It used to be that fluency was only about knowing the answers to basic math problems quickly and correctly. By the end of the year, my third-graders should know their basic multiplication and division facts in that way, but only AFTER they have an understanding of how the operations work and how different strategies can help them to arrive at an answer. My students should also to be able to apply their skills to a variety of situations. My favorite way for students to reach these goals are through math games.

All in a Row - A Versatile Math Fluency Game at morethan3wishes.com

All in a Row

I developed the All in a Row math game for students to enjoy, no matter what area of fluency they need to work on. It provides them with a fun and engaging way to apply their skills. I created versions of the game for each mathematical operation. With these options, I can choose the appropriate game and target small groups of students based on their readiness levels. This versatility allows me to meet the needs of my kiddos at every stage of the school year. It also adapts well to several grade levels at the elementary level.

All in a Row is typically played with a game board, two dice, and a different colored marker or crayon for each player. Most often this is played with two players, though I think it works fine for up to four players. Students take turns rolling the dice. The numbers on the dice are added together. Students then find and color in a box on the board with a mathematical expression that matches the total of the dice. The first student to get four boxes in a row, either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally, is the winner.

All in a Row: Versatile Math Fluency Practice at morethan3wishes.com

Many Modes of Play

Another thing that makes All in a Row such a versatile fluency game is the variety of ways that it can be played. There are black and white versions that can be printed out for students to use in the classroom. Copies could also be sent home for students to play with their families for extra practice or for a fun homework assignment. Full color versions can be printed out, laminated, and saved for repeated use. Just have the students use dry erase markers on the laminated sets. A SMART version of the game is available with interactive dice to be played on a SMART board. This one can be used for modeling the game, as a center, or for the whole class to play together.

Most recently, I created a Google Slides version of All in a Row for students to use on their computers or Chromebooks. To play the game, students will still need dice. To mark the game board, each student chooses a shape from the Slides program and inserts that shape over each box rather than coloring it in. The first student to have 4 of their shapes in a row wins. To replay, have students delete their shapes and start again!

All in a Row: Math Fluency Practice at morethan3wishes.com

Game Variations

Once my kiddos got used to the regular directions of play, I found that variations of the game added further fun and engagement. One variation was to have them play until the whole board was filled. The student who filled in the most boxes was the winner in that case. Towards the end of the year, we added a time component to the game. Buddies would play the game and time themselves to see how long it took for them to finish. Then the goal was to play more games and try to improve on their speed each time.

Give it a Try

Grab this free printable copy of the addition version of All in a Row. Give it a try and see what you think! Visit my Teachers Pay Teachers site to purchase the entire set of 6 All in a Row games in PDF, SMART file, and Google Slides formats.

All in a Row - Addition Fluency Game Free Printable at morethan3wishes.com

Click here for your FREE printable All in a Row Addition game.

How would you use All in a Row in your classroom? If you decide to share this game with your students, make sure to come back and let us know how it went!

Making Wishes Happen ~ July 2016 Goals

I’m glad to have made it to July. It’s a month of NO SCHOOL (Yay!) which means a little time for me. I totally plan to rest and relax a bit because I need it! However, I also have lots of wishes for the month ahead.

Making Wishes Happen ~ July 2016 Goals at morethan3wishes.com

First a recap of last month’s goals…

June 2016 Wishes/Goals

Blogging Wishes

  • Continue with my schedule of publishing a new post once a week. ~ Not so much. I took a few weeks off with the new posts. I think it was a little bit of writer’s block and a little bit of burn out with wrapping up the end of the school year.
  • Develop an email newsletter that is useful and marketable. ~ FAIL. Two months in a row of not meeting this goal. I think I may need to put this one on the back burner for awhile.
  • Update my Teachers Pay Teachers site and write some posts about my current products. ~ Sort of. I did update the appearance of a few of my products, but no posts written yet.
  • Increase my social media following on Facebook and Instagram by 15%. (Facebook: from 222 to 255) (Instagram: from 309 to 355) ~ Another sort of. Facebook only grew to 230. I am happy with the growth none-the-less. Instagram was a yes! I reached 364 followers. 🙂

Education Wishes:

  • Complete report cards for all 25 of my kiddos. ~ Success! They’ve been completed and mailed out. Such a good group of kiddos this year. They will be missed!
  • Seek out valuable professional learning opportunities I can complete in July and August and sign up! ~ Success, and I’ve already got a few days of workshops under my belt. I signed up for a TON of workshops centered on the new technology that will be in my classroom next year.
  • Plan out a new floor-plan for my classroom that I can put into place for the new school year. ~ Sort of. I have a few ideas. I want to make my guided reading area more prominent in the classroom. I also have a corner devoted to our new Chromebook cart.
  • Try at least 2 new STEM activities with my students during the last few weeks of school. ~ And another sort of. We did 1 STEM activity that went along with our science unit. The kids loved it! I am looking forward to implementing more of these in the next school year.

Personal Wishes:

  • Exercise more. – 30 minutes at least 4 days a week. ~ FAIL. I had some good days and some bad days. I was more successful with this towards the end of the month. Not giving up on this one!
  • Drink more water. – 64 oz. daily ~ Mostly a success. I would say that I met this goal more days than I didn’t this past month.
  • Clear out the garden in my side yard that is seriously overgrown. ~ FAIL. It’s a mess with a few beautiful blooms tucked among the weeds. 
  • Lose 15 pounds for starters. (This one is a hard one to put out there, but it NEEDS to be done!) ~ FAIL. I had the best of intentions, but my will-power wasn’t working in my favor. Not giving up on this one either.

Overall, I’m not really thrilled with how I did on my June goals. Oh well. Putting it behind me and moving on!

July 2016 Goals and Wishes at morethan3wishes.com

July 2016 Wishes/Goals

This month I get to back off a bit on the education goals and focus on myself and blogging. I am curious to see how these wishes progress once I get into the swing of things…

Blogging Wishes

This summer I want to get myself ahead of the game before the new school year starts again in the fall.

  • Get back to my schedule of publishing a new post once a week.
  • Have enough posts written to get me through the first month of the school year.
  • Update my Teachers Pay Teachers site and write some posts about my current products.
  • Increase my social media following on Facebook and Instagram by 10%. (Facebook: from 230 to 253) (Instagram: from 364 to 400)

Education Wishes:

  • Attend the awesome professional development opportunities I’ve signed up for.
  • Find more education bloggers out there and develop some new relationships.

Personal Wishes:

Now is my time!

  • Exercise more. – 30 minutes at least 5 days a week.
  • Drink more water. – 64 oz. daily
  • Clear out the garden in my side yard that is seriously overgrown. The whole thing.
  • Lose 15 pounds for starters. (This one is a hard one to put out there AGAIN, but it needs to be done!)

What are your wishes and goals for the month of July?

Walk & Talk: An Easy Brain Break That Kids Love

Brain breaks are moments in a school day when teachers give their kiddos a break from learning to rest their brains. Not for a long amount of time like recess, but for a few minutes here and there to work out the kinks and regroup. Brain breaks often involve getting students up out of their seats to move around and get the blood flowing.

Over the years, I’ve found lots of great ideas for structured brain breaks. I’ve used one where a student rolls the dice to see which movement activity the class gets to use. Sometimes I’ve used music as a means for my students to get up and dance the wiggles out. Other times I’ve led the class in stretches or jumping jacks as a break from classroom learning tasks. The students always enjoyed these activities and they served their purpose. However, it always took planning and preparation on my part.

Walk & Talk: An Easy Brain Break That Kids Love at morethan3wishes.com

This year, I let go of the elaborate brain breaks. At first I was hesitant to try this because I felt that I needed to be in control and provide structure to every minute of my students’ day, including their breaks. I thought perhaps I wouldn’t be doing my job if my third-graders’ time at school wasn’t guided by my amazingly wonderful and thoughtfully-planned activities for every second they were there. The thing was, the students weren’t the only ones who needed their breaks. I needed them, too.

Walk & Talk

This year when my students needed a brain break, they got Walk & Talk time. Walk & Talk is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a time when students are allowed to get up out of their seats and walk around. They can talk to their friends. They can go to the window and check out the scenery. They can stretch their legs and grab a drink of water. Walk & Talk is a time that is completely unstructured so students can just be themselves and socialize. Most Walk & Talk times were short, around 3 minutes. On a few occasions they were longer and ranged between 5 and 10 minutes.

At first, my kiddos were surprised that I let them walk around and talk to each other. I heard things like, “No teacher has ever let us do this before,” and “You mean it’s okay if we talk about whatever we want?” Once they figured out that I really meant it, Walk & Talk time was a flurry of movement and conversation. Students were laughing and enjoying each other’s company. That was when I realized that the students were starving for time in their day for social interaction.

Once Walk & Talk became a regular staple of each learning day, I noticed several positive things happening.

  1. Students really did get their brain breaks and they were ready to learn as soon as Walk & Talk was over.
  2. Students were more focused during learning times in general.
  3. Chronically chatty students talked less during instruction and independent work times.
  4. I was more refreshed and ready to tackle all aspects of my job after Walk & Talk times.

I used Walk & Talk differently each day depending on the needs of the class. It was the perfect wake-up tool when students seemed tired and sluggish. After students had been working independently for long stretches, a 2-minute Walk & Talk refreshed them and allowed the productive work to continue. When the class seemed chatty or unfocused, Walk & Talk did the trick and got them back on track with learning. Then there were the times that I needed to change the course of a lesson or gather needed materials. Walk & Talk gave me an opportunity to get the lesson back on track while providing the students with a break. It really was a win for us all.

Walk & Talk: An Easy Brain Break That Kids Love at morethan3wishes.com

My observations of Walk & Talk were positive, but I wasn’t completely convinced about its effectiveness until I asked my students for their feedback. First, I asked them if they liked Walk & Talk. The answer was a resounding, “Yes!” Then I asked them why they liked it. To this question, I got a variety of responses.

  • “I get to do most of the things I want to do.”
  • “We get to talk to our friends.”
  • “It gives me a break of some work and it lets me stretch out my legs.”
  • “My brain gets bigger and bigger when I learn. At Walk & Talk it goes back to normal size.”
  • “I can relax and take a break.”
  • “Some people talk a lot like me. Then they can talk and not hold it in.”

Walk & Talk is now my first choice for brain break time in my classroom. It can’t get any easier for me because there is no planning needed. I love it because it’s effective for everyone involved. Most importantly, the kids are crazy about it.

What kind of brain breaks do you use in your classroom? Consider giving Walk & Talk a try. Come back and let us know how it went so we can all learn from each other’s experiences.

 

 

10 Acts of Kindness Behind the Wheel

Let’s face it friends, driving is downright dangerous. I have a 30 minute commute to work each day from my country home to a suburban school district. Often, the closer I get to civilization, the more afraid I am of the drivers around me. It amazes me how careless and inconsiderate many people are when they get behind the wheel.

10 Acts of Kindness Behind the Wheel at morethan3wishes.com

Being kind while in the driver’s seat is a big deal. It can literally save your life. It may also save the lives of those around you. When it’s time to hit the road, please remember and practice these important acts of kindness.

  1. Use your turn signals. Just do it! I’m not a mind reader and my guess is that you aren’t either. Cars have turn signals for the purpose of alerting other drivers to your actions. I can’t tell you how many close calls I’ve had because I thought someone was going straight instead of turning. Using your turn signal with ample notice allows others to safely adjust their driving.
  2. Keep a safe distance. Honestly, tailgating scares me. When it happens to me, I fear that I may need to stop at a moment’s notice and that the person behind me is going to ram right into me. The rule of thumb is to keep at least 3 seconds of space between you and the vehicle ahead of you. When speeds are fast, more space is needed between vehicles. This act of kindness allows room for reaction time and may avoid serious damage or injury.
  3. Adjust to the weather. Different kinds of weather, such as rain, snow, or fog, make driving conditions more dangerous. Adjust your driving habits accordingly for your own safety and the safety of others.
  4. Pay attention. This is a big one. It is easy to go on automatic pilot while driving, especially on routes that are very familiar to you. This act of kindness requires purposeful attention to the act of driving. Keep your eyes and your mind on the road and the task ahead of you. In the age of multi-tasking, this is a tough one for many people, but so worth it for everyone involved.
  5. Move over for vehicles on the side of the road. This act of kindness and consideration is so important that it has now become a law in many states. Vehicles need to use the side of the road for a variety of reasons such as for an emergency, when a car has broken down, or when a police officer is doing their job. For safety, make sure that there is physical space between your car and those on the side of the road. Slowing down and being more careful and alert add even more layers of safety to this kind act.
  6. Keep calm. I’ll admit to feeling angry and frustrated behind the wheel. It happens most often when others have not extended one of more of these acts of kindness to the rest of the vehicles on the road. In my experience, the angrier I got, the worse I drove. The best way to keep safe is to keep calm. Take a deep breath and let go of the anger. Keep kindness and safety in mind.
  7. Put down your phone. This is a hard one for many. I know people who have lost loved ones due to texting and driving. I have seen what it has done to the friends and family left behind. It is devastating. This is yet another act of kindness that saves lives. Another one that is so important that it is illegal to use phones at all while driving in many states. Please. The text messages and phone calls can wait.
  8. Use the left lane for passing. On major highways, the left lane is to be used for passing. Once the passing has occurred, it is important to move back into the traveling lane. This act of kindness allows others to pass as needed. It prevents speedy drivers from recklessly passing on the right and weaving in and out of the flow of traffic. It helps to avoid dangerous situations.
  9. Slow down. It seems like everyone is in a hurry these days. I’ll admit to getting caught up in the rush and being impatient with the ticking of the clock. You know what? It’s not worth it. Bring your speed down a couple of notches. Make your goal be safety rather than setting records for commute time. This act of kindness is another one that is beneficial for everyone on the road.
  10. Give yourself time. One way to avoid hurried driving is to give yourself ample time to get to your destination. Leave 5 or more minutes early and focus on safe, mindful driving.

10 Acts of Kindness Behind the Wheel - free printable at morethan3wishes.com

Click here to download your FREE printable list.

These are perhaps some of the most important acts of kindness that you can share with others. The next time you hop behind the wheel, be purposeful with your driving and spread some kindness around. Make sure to come back and share your stories of kindness from the road. Your words may be just the thing to set more kindness into motion. Your kindness may just save a life.

Making Wishes Happen ~ June 2016 Goals

I thought May would drag by at a snail’s pace given that there were very few days off of work this month. Not the case. It FLEW by! I have super high hopes for June.

Making Wishes Happen - June 2016 Goals as morethan3wishes.com

I think it’s important to revisit my old goals before moving on to new ones…

May 2016 Wishes/Goals

Blogging Wishes

  • Continue with my schedule of publishing a new post once a week. ~ Success! At some time in the future I would like to publish more regularly, but I feel like I am off to a good start and I am comfortable with my current pace.
  • Develop an email newsletter that is useful and marketable. ~  Nope. Honestly, I didn’t have any time for this. I have several ideas in the works, though. Does that count?
  • Grow my monthly blog views by 10%. (351 views in April to 386) ~ Success! Thanks to some fantastic low-carb gurus who shared my post about 5 awesome blogs for low-carb eating, my monthly views grew by a mile! 351 views in April to 677 views in May. (I know the numbers are still super low compared to others out there, but I am pleased with the better-than-expected progress.)
  • Increase my social media following on Facebook and Instagram by 10%. (Facebook: from 159 to 175) (Instagram: from 211 to 232) ~ Success! I surpassed my goals for this one. 🙂 (Facebook: 159 in April to 222 in May) (Instagram: 211 in April to 309 in May)

Education Wishes:

  • Complete the F&P reading assessment for all 25 of my third-grade kiddos. ~ Success and phew! This was a feat that took way too many hours away from my instructional time. I did, however, see some incredible growth in my students’ reading skills for the year. 🙂
  • Find 3 uses for our new Chromebooks that I can implement at the beginning of the next school year. ~ Nope. Not yet. I suspect that this will be a big part of my work this summer.
  • Help my students be more aware of the kindness that surrounds them and that is within themselves. ~ Progress. We set mini-goals at the beginning of each school day to be on the lookout for kindness in others. The kids enjoyed catching people being kind in the classroom and across the school setting.
  • Collaborate with our literacy specialist to plan and co-teach some lessons on the Notice and Note Signposts for reading fiction. ~ Success! Our time has been short, but we co-taught several lessons about the Contrast and Contradictions Signpost. The kids loved it and I am inspired to dig deeper and improve this area of my teaching next year.

Personal Wishes:

  • Exercise more. – 30 minutes at least 4 days a week. ~ Nope. I could make lots of excuses for this one. The truth is, I just need to do better.
  • Drink more water. – 64 oz. daily ~ Pretty much no. Some days I met this goal with gusto. Other days not so much. It is a little tricky to stay properly hydrated at work given the challenges of bathroom access for teachers.
  • Stay ahead of the weed growth in my flower gardens. ~ Not too bad! The large garden across the front of my house is shaping up nicely. 
  • Finish the book I started last month! ~ Success!

Overall I am pretty pleased with my successes in May. I feel like June is full of promise and I am excited to focus on my new goals.

Send your wishes out into the world - June 2016 goals at morethan3wishes.com

June 2016 Wishes/Goals

Blogging Wishes

One of the challenges for me with blogging has been fitting it all into the crevices of time between my full-time teaching job and my personal life. In the few short months since the launch of More Than 3 Wishes, I have been working hard to find a schedule that works for me. I hope that the summer months will allow me to spend more time blogging. For now, I am happy with the status quo.

  • Continue with my schedule of publishing a new post once a week.
  • Develop an email newsletter that is useful and marketable.
  • Update the my Teachers Pay Teachers site and write some posts about my current products.
  • Increase my social media following on Facebook and Instagram by 15%. (Facebook: from 222 to 255) (Instagram: from 309 to 355)

Education Wishes:

I am envious when I see so many teachers out there who are already done with school for the year. Here in Western NY we still have several weeks to go. My last day with my students isn’t until June 20th! Despite the late finish date, I like this time of year for wrapping things up and beginning to imagine great things for the start of the next school year.

  • Complete report cards for all 25 of my kiddos.
  • Seek out valuable professional learning opportunities I can complete in July and August and sign up!
  • Plan out a new floor-plan for my classroom that I can put into place for the new school year.
  • Try at least 2 new STEM activities with my students during the last few weeks of school.

Personal Wishes:

For some reason, these wishes, while prominent in my mind, get pushed to the back of the line when it comes to priorities. Mostly it is a matter of too little time. I am very hopeful that as things wind down at work I will be able to get back to focusing more on me.

  • Exercise more. – 30 minutes at least 4 days a week.
  • Drink more water. – 64 oz. daily
  • Clear out the garden in my side yard that is seriously overgrown.
  • Lose 15 pounds for starters. (This one is a hard one to put out there, but it NEEDS to be done!)

Linking up with Breakfast at Lilly’s and My So-Called Chaos. Visit their blogs to see lots of inspirational goals for the month.

What are your wishes and goals for the month of June?

 

Wishes for My Students at the End of the Year

Here it comes. The end of yet another school year. It’s been a good one for me. All 25 of my third-grade kiddos and their individual quirks made it one of the best years of my 13 so far.

Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

This year I taught my students about multiplication and division and how they are merely opposites of each other. My students learned to “live on the number line” with fractions and measurement. We figured out that people all over the world have needs and wants and sometimes people go to great lengths to meet them. We discovered that frogs and wolves have amazing adaptations that help them to survive. I taught my kiddos how to justify their answers and use evidence from texts to support their thinking. We worked hard to be able to choose “just-right” books for independent reading. I want them to remember all of these things and hopefully apply these concepts to their future learning. In the end, however, these concepts aren’t the ones that I want them to remember the most.

Along with all of that, I have also been working hard to teach my students about kindness. I showed them how mistakes can help them learn and encouraged them to not be afraid to try. We learned that effort and hard work matters. We talked about our individual differences and struggled to learn how to accept people that are different than ourselves. Each day we set goals and worked hard to reach them. These are the things I want my students to remember and practice and perfect. These are the understandings I hope they will carry with them for a lifetime.

So, to each and every one of my students…

 

~I wish for you to always be kind to others, to our earth, to yourself.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to put forth your best effort in everything you do.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to be accepting of others and to appreciate the diversity in our world.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to find your passion and give it your all.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to embrace your individuality and not be swayed by others.~

8 Wishes for My Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to keep learning for the rest of your life.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to take risks and to learn from your mistakes.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

~I wish for you to make many wishes in your life and to do everything in your power to make them happen.~

8 Wishes for my Students at the End of the Year at morethan3wishes.com

I will share one wish each day with my students for the last 8 days of school. For each wish we will talk about its meaning and imagine all the ways they can carry them out in the days and years ahead. On the last day of school, I will send this list of wishes home with each student with the hopes that they all come true.

Your Teacher's Wishes for You at the End of the School Year - FREE printable at morethan3wishes.com

Click here to download your FREE printable copy of wishes.