Howdy! I hope you're all having a great back to school!

 My husband and I went to beautiful China for vacation during late July and regardless of what people had told us to expect, we had a fantastic time and loved every corner of it! The food, the people, the scenery... everything! Of course, we did a lot of research before going to avoid bad experiences. Here we are being goofy at the Chinese Wall:


Anyways, I usually get started organizing my room one or two weeks before school starts, but this time I obviously couldn't; so when we came back I was rushing to finish decorating and organizing my classroom in basically two or three days. The good news is that I managed to get almost everything done with the help of some extra hands. Besides, I try to reuse as much as possible and be as practical as possible so that helped a lot. You can see some ideas [HERE].

One of my best friends, helped me decorate my door, look how beautiful it is!!You know she saved me about 2 hours of work here. I couldn't have done it by myself on top of everything else!

This year I feel blessed to have a fantastic class and we are having so much fun together already! I'll be self-contained this year (to which I'm still adapting to) so you'll be seeing some of that but I can tell you that I'm already loving having 18 kids instead of 44. Classroom management is so much easier!!

We started the year off with some ice breakers. My favorite was passing a roll of toilet paper around and having the kids get as many squares of paper as they wanted. Then, they broke down in groups and had to share facts about themselves according to the number of squares they had. It was easy, no prep and tons of smiley faces. The downside was that some kiddos only got one square and didn't share as much about themselves, next year I'll probably  ask them to get 3 or more squares. 

Later on,  they did a cute "All about me" sheet, then sat in a circle and shared facts about themselves to the class. They enjoyed finding similarities among themselves. The next day we connected this activity to a writing piece...

(All About Me)

(Writing piece)

(Later in our bulletin board... Cute right?)

... then we connected it to math and graphed all the data from the "All about me" sheets. I helped collecting the data, then modeled one example (food because it had the most variety in the answers), then broke them into groups to work on colors, pets, age and what they want to be when they grow up...

After all the excitement about getting to know each other, I read David Goes to School by David Shannon... I know, I know!! It's not 2nd grade level!! But the funny thing is that half of my students had never read this story... Isn't that weird? Anyways, for me this should be an all-ages-book, besides, I love to read this story because all David's no-nos are my introduction to our yes-yes (rules). They got a little confused at the end when he gets a sticker and a "good job" from her teacher but it was a great opportunity to discuss the reason behind the teacher's actions. After the read aloud I posted a poster asking "What did David do wrong?" then gave them a post it to write one rule he broke. See? I'm adapting this story into a deeper reflection more appropriate for 2nd grade. They came up with great answers, although I have to say that the food fight and chewing gum had a great impact on them, so I helped with the ones they missed. :-) 

After reflecting a lot on David, we compared a good student versus a bad student because I really think they don't know what it takes to do good in school. They try to fit everything in the category of "be good" right? But what does 'be good' mean? I feel like it has to be clear and it helps to set high expectations. We had some interesting debate about a few items, for example losing supplies, they thought both good and bad students lose stuff , which is totally true, so we focused on who loses supplies all the time and who is more responsible about taking care of their supplies. Then they were able to categorize this behavior. By the way, if you want to read more about how I manage supplies in my classroom and save some money, you can read more [HERE]. Here is how comparing behaviors looked like:

After comparing good and bad behaviors, students were ready to write a letter to David and give him advice on how to be a good student... We reflected so much before introducing the real big thing: rules, rewards and consequences. I just realized that I forgot to take a picture so it will be coming up soon lol... 

2 days later, here there are a few favorite writing drafts, (please pay attention to the "no chewing gum" part in all samples.. love it!)

Now, the next part is where I got totally out of my comfort zone but it totally worked better than I thought. Every year until now, I had basically lectured kids about the rules, asking them to remember them for the rest of the year, but this time I'm doing something different. I've been reading some books  about good instruction and one about discipline. I'm trying to put it all together by making things more interactive and engaging. So I involved the students in the "decision making" when "creating" our rules. They broke in teams and brainstormed about 5 rules they wanted to have in our classroom. We came together as a whole group and ended up with 21 rules, then we voted for the most important ones until we narrowed the number down to 7 rules. (Phew! I'm glad we ended up with the rules I had in mind lol). Being out of my comfort zone has paid off so far because when a little friend breaks a rule, instead of me being the only one person in the room  knowing the rules and their importance, I go back to say "Remember when we created the rules together? Can you tell me what rule did you break? Why is it important that we follow that rule?" I literally kiss my brain every time I hear something like "Well it's important to listen to other people when they talk". These are our 7 rules:

Once we created or agreed on our rules, we wrote the rules in our journals and related these rules to Classdojo. We added their names and I (for the first time ever) allowed them to choose their monster. Then I input the good points and the bad points explaining that when they break a rule there could be a consequence (or bad point) just like when people break the law in real life. Above on the right, we decided that when they get 3 points it means they did Awesome, 2 points means they did a great job, 0 or 1 point means they came ready to learn (but could do better). Then, one point off means they need to think about their behavior,  -2 points there is a consequence such as losing privileges (no treasure box reward), and -3 points means i need to call their parents to get help correcting bad behaviors. I have the English version of these posters in the back of the Spanish ones. You can get them [HERE]. With this guide on how they did, they can color a face in the behavior calendar and take it home. They have to get 15 points per week to open the Treasure Box where they can choose a prize on Friday if they met their goal. I buy the Mega Deluxe Toy Assortment online at Oriental Trading, the toys last about a semester.  [By the way, I'm working on creating Reward Passes to add to the Treasure Box, I'll let you know when they're done]. 

Example of how we transfer points to the calendar. 

To continue reinforcing the rules, on the second week we started connecting the rules to real-life comprehension activities, you can get them [HERE] where the students read about a kid who broke a rule then answer questions about it. I noticed by some of their answers that in some cases, my students were not understanding the questions, so I brought the questions to discussion groups and deepen understanding. This is definitely helping a lot!

During the second week we also started setting up and getting started on Learning Stations/Centers and Daily 5. It is going well but I haven't taken pictures so I will explain more step-by-step on another post. I have also been assessing my kids individually to see where they are at. I created this assessment that tells me if they know the sounds, letters and syllables (in spanish), I do this in addition to a fluency check. You my friend, can get that assessment for free in [HERE].

So as you can see, we've been really busy in "Mi salón" but we've been having so much fun as well. I hope you enjoyed these tips. If you did, please remember to share this post with your colleagues. Also, if you are interested in getting some or all of the materials I mention above, they are all available in English and Spanish, except for the student activities and the All About Me, those are just in Spanish. Also, my followers on Facebook got most of these products absolutely for free because when I post something on TPT I release it for free the first 12 hours and I announce it on Facebook. So if you'd like to ALWAYS get my new products for free, follow me [HERE]. You can find these resources here:

I hope you have a great school year and get to enjoy your students as much as I'm enjoying mine! If you have any comments or questions please let me know! See ya next time!

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