Saturday, August 7, 2010

Day 1: Why didn't I think of that?

The first day of school is always a bit of a rush. There's a kind of shiny newness and sense of expectation that seems to permeate the building. On the first day of school anything seems possible, which I guess is why I decided to try one of the more difficult folds - the display box. 

Classroom management has always been my strong suit. And one of the parts of my procedure is a ticket system made up of slips of paper we refer to as "Positive People Points." Is it a cheesy name? Totally. But, the alliteration seems to amuse the kids and help them remember the purpose. 

In my class these points are given out (by me) for good behavior, although students can ask me to give them to classmates if they feel they've done something to merit it. At the beginning of the year we develop a list of things that points can be used to redeem. It's the usual stuff like a homework pass or trip to the treasure box (a.k.a. little junky stuff that kids love but parents hate). I also include larger ticket items like pizza or donuts and juice for the class. I assign significantly higher point value to these, so if the kids decide to redeem them they have to work together to pool points. 

I have one rule with the points - once given I will never take them away. I tell the kids that even if they make a bad choice it can't take away the good things they have done. I think that's really important.

The points as mentioned are small pieces of paper (think ticket size - the ones that come in rolls) and the kids always need somewhere to keep them. I've tried bags and pringle containers, but nothing has really worked well. So this year, I thought I'd try the display boxes. I figure, worse case scenario, if they need to make a new one - it's just two pieces of paper right?

To make the display box, you need a square. This had been a problem in the past with my class. I would try to show them how to make the taco fold (where you fold one corner up to the opposite side) and have them cut off the excess. I would always have 2-3 kids who were totally confused and several others who would get so flummoxed about making things even that i'd end up having to do it. Luckily, at my training this summer I learned a better way - or so I thought.

If you take two pieces of 81/2 x 11 paper and place them at a right angle to each other it leaves on each side a piece that can easily be cut off. This is a quick way to make two squares. And it was the perfect option because I wanted them to have a top and bottom for their box. So, I explained, demonstrated, and then asked them to proceed. Most of them did well, but there were a few disastrous results. Some of the kids had a hard time holding the papers together so their squares ended up....well not square would be the nicest way to put it. I gave out more papers and demonstrated again. It didn't help. At this point one of my girls raised her hand.

"Ms. L. if you use the clothespin to hold the papers together it makes them easier to cut."

And I thought to myself, "Why didn't I think of that?" I had given the class clothespins in anticipation of using them to hold the box sides together while the glue dried, but this had never crossed my mind. I told her what a great idea that was and had her show the class what she was talking about. Problem solved - well except for the one kid who had apparently not understood the concept of  "right angle," but at least it was just one - not 10.

After that box assembly proceeded well. We created the bottom and glued it. Then we created the top and I showed them how to cut out a tab to put the tickets in. They got to personalize their lids by decorating them with markers and colored pencils. I did realize partway through that I needed to revisit the concept of horizontal and vertical with the class.  I do this by showing horizontal like an umpire making the "safe" call in baseball and vertical like doing a chopping motion - think "tomahawk chop."

The kids and I were really pleased with the finished product and most wanted to keep them on top of their desks. They were so creative and really showed the individual personality of the students! Several of the kids said that they were going to go home and make boxes to put things in for their rooms, which was adorable. I think for once I won't have a problem with people confusing their point containers with others which will be a nice change.

So far so good. :)


  1. Sounds like it went well!!!

  2. I'm going to come by and check the "products" out! :) Very cool!