Sunday, September 16, 2018

Classroom Transformation: Mock Trial

Last week, our weekly story was The Trial of Cardigan Jones. If you are a third grade Texas teacher, you are very familiar with this story. I wanted my students to make a deeper connection to the story, so I decided that a classroom transformation was the way to go! I turned my classroom into a courtroom, and we had a mock trial. When my students entered class, this is what they saw:

...and they went crazy over it! I think teachers feel that classroom transformations have to be elaborate. This one was so simple. I remember leaving school the night before thinking that my classroom wasn't very "transformed," and I felt that I needed to do more. But the next morning, the students made several comments about how amazing the classroom looked and how it was the best day ever. I just love kids. Want to do this transformation? Here's how:

1. Black tablecloths (you can buy these from Dollar Tree, but I was near Party City so I bought them there for $2 each)
2. Gavel (my husband is an attorney, so one of his coworkers let me borrow his)
3. Dictionary (or some type of book that the students can put their hand on when taking the stand and swearing to tell the truth)
4. County crest (I found this online and printed it in poster size)
5. American flag (I borrowed this from our school gym)
6. Black robe (I used my husband's robe from his law school graduation, but you could use any graduation robe)
7. Nameplate (I made mine in PowerPoint)

Total Cost: $12! Most of the items were either borrowed or I already had them!

I set up the classroom as close to a courtroom as possible. I had the stenographer/bailiff to my right. I had the witness stand to my left. I put the two witnesses (milkman and the rabbit) to the left of the witness stand. In front of the judge's bench, I put the plaintiff (Mrs. Brown) and defendant (Cardigan Jones) on different sides with their lawyers. I know in the story there are no lawyers, but for the mock trial I gave each character two lawyers. I assembled the jury behind the parties in rows.

Day Before the Trial:
I asked students what characters they wanted to play, and took those choices into consideration when assigning roles. Once I made my decisions, I told the students and pulled different groups of students to explain to them how they should act during the trial, depending on their assigned roles. For example, I told Cardigan Jones and his lawyers to come up with questions to ask all the witnesses and that their goal was to prove their client's innocence. I gave each party 15 minutes to create questions that they could ask all the witnesses.

Day of Trial:
When the students entered in the morning, I told them to reread the story so that they could get into character and act just as the characters did in the story. For example, the jury did a lot of murmuring throughout the trial. The stenographer took notes, and he also acted as the bailiff. Every time a witness came to the stand, the bailiff told the witness to place one hand on the dictionary and say, "Do you swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?" We were very official ­čść
Once both parties gave their closing statements, the jury deliberated. We actually had a hung jury with 10 for guilty, and 4 not guilty. So the trial was dismissed.

Our classroom transformation was a blast and so easy to set up! Do you have any classroom transformations that you've done in your classroom? I would love to hear about them in the comments below!

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Throw Kindness Like Confetti & FREEBIE!

Every year I try to find a new way to build a classroom community that is safe, inviting, and friendly! My first year teaching, I had A LOT of behavior issues. I think that I wrote 10 office referrals that year. That is a lot of office referrals to me, especially since the past 3 years I've had 3 office referrals. One of the biggest issues that I had that year was kids being mean to other kids in the class. The reason why I had so many behavior issues is because I didn't take the time to build a classroom community. So many teachers say, "I don't have time for that!" Am I right? I was one of those teachers. I thought that if I kept the kids busy, then they wouldn't misbehave. BIG MISTAKE. But once I took the time to build a classroom community, my behavior issues were few and far between.

 I use a lot of different positive behavior strategies and community building in my classroom. One of my favorites is my classroom shout out wall. I'm sure you've seen doors and walls like this on Instagram or Pinterest:

Credit: Kindness Kit (FREE!)

As soon as I saw this, I knew I wanted to do this on the wall outside my door. Problem? I didn't want to cut out all those little squares and glue them on my wall. I just didn't have the time. So I thought, how can I implement this by getting my students to do the work and it being more meaningful to them? Then I saw this on Instagram:

Credit: Shout Outs Using Sticky Notes

And I had a great idea! I put the shoutout notes on every table group. My kids write shout-outs throughout the day to their classmates. Once they give it to their classmate, the person who received the shout-out sticks it on the wall. The kids are creating their own confetti, and it's literally made out of kindness! The students LOVE it, and they are always on the lookout for nice and helpful things that their classmates do. It's a WIN-WIN for me. Here is what our wall looks like:

FREEBIE TIME! This is one of my best sellers in my TpT store, but the first 10 people will get it for FREE! Comment below with your email address to receive these Meet the Teacher: All About Me EDITABLE flyers! They are the perfect way for parents and students to get to know you. You can put them out at Meet the Teacher, Open House, Curriculum Night, Parent-Teacher Conferences, information meetings, and more!

Meet the Teacher Editable Flyer

Saturday, January 6, 2018

One Word New Year's Resolution

Happy New Year, everyone!

The beginning of the year means that it's time for new goals, right? Every year, I try to create a list of New Year's resolutions that I plan to follow. I'm really good about following through with them for the first month few months. I write these resolutions with good intentions, as I'm sure you do as well. But writing them down and actually doing them are two very different things.

There is this one word idea floating around Instagram. I'm not sure where it originated, but the idea of it really resonated with me. Instead of making a list of resolutions, the idea is to choose one word...that's word that represents what you want to work on in the new year. This is what I decided on:

My family is from the Virgin Islands and they grew up on island time, therefore I grew up on island time. (Side Note: Island time means that there is no rush to get anywhere) Time is SO hard for me. Between trying to be a good wife, a pig mom, a teacher, a blogger, a TpT seller, and a doctoral student, time management is really tough sometimes. I want to make time for the important things in life. I want to spend less time on social media and more time on fitness. I want to spend less time grading papers (wouldn't that be nice?) and more time reading books that aren't work or school-related. I want to spend less time dawdling before bedtime and more time sleeping.

I plan on sharing this with my students this upcoming week. We are going to talk about their resolutions, and then each student is going to come up with his/her one word for 2018. We're going to make a classroom chart about what we want to do more of and what we want to do less of. I can't wait to hear what my students come up with! I'll keep you posted!

What's your word for 2018?