P.I.N. Treat Bags

I went to school yesterday.

It was okay.

Except that I woke up earlier than I have all summer.  It was practically dark.  But I knew I would spend the first hour catching up with the other crazies early birds.  And that's exactly what happened.  I love my peeps.

I put up new butcher paper for bulletin boards.  Much to the chagrin of certain people who think I need to invest in some fabric.  I don't know.  I'm partial to my butcher paper right now.  It was free. It was easy to cut.  And I understand it.  As in, I just pull a big long strip and that's all.  I don't have to do any kind of math, especially the kind of math that involves yards.  I'm good with front yards and back yards, but that's about it.

My twin and her kids are still here so they came for a little bit to help me with my room . . . and then we had lunch . . . and then I introduced Kerry to a bunch of people . . . and then we used the restroom a few times . . . and then the kids played . . . and then it was time to go.

It was hard work.

I was exhausted and decided to take today off.

I'll go back tomorrow after the whole airport thing.  But let's not talk about that.

I made some "new" treat bags for the parents who show up to P.I.N.  That's otherwise known as Parent Information Night.  Or People, I'm Nervous.  I hate P.I.N.  All those parents staring at me.  Judging me.  Asking how they're child is doing even though we've only been in school for 7 days.  Asking if I can challenge their child because they began reading in utero.  Asking how tall I am.  Asking.  

Stop asking, I wish I could say. 

Instead, I pass out food.  To butter them up.   And keep them quiet. Let's call it strategy.  Last year, I gave out Hershey's Hugs.

This year, I am giving out starbursts.  I saw a version of this on Pinterest.  Click {HERE} to check it out.  I changed my version for the parents.  I encourage the parents to eat the treats while I talk.  I figure if their mouths are full, they can't ask me any of those questions.  I highly discourage questions.  What if I don't know the answer?  Ohhhh, I am just not looking forward to P.I.N.  

Treat bags
Source:  My Kitchen Counter

Close up version
Source:  Still My Kitchen Counter

I bought the big bag of starbursts.  I think it's 64oz or something.  I don't know.  It's a LOT of starbursts.  Or, at least, a LOT of yellow and orange starbursts.  I prefer pink and red.  I tried to make sure each treat bag got at least one red or one pink, but it proved more difficult as I continued to sample the merchandise.  

Kerry and the kids were a little disappointed when they went for the left overs and all I had were yellow and orange ones.

Even in my stash at school.

Anywho . . . 

You can grab a PDF version (without my name) {HERE}.  It's going to look weird, but it's okay once you print it.  And it will have polka dots instead of plaid.  That was not planned.  But it's cute.  Or an uneditable version {HERE} but I have no idea what will happen to this doc in google docs.  But seeing as how I'm on vacation, I'm not going to do custom orders or anything for this.  I hope you understand!  :)

Today is my mom's birthday (Happy Birthday, Mama!) and we are going to Farrell's for dinner.  For those of you who might not know what Farrell's is, it's primarily an ICE CREAM PARLOR.  And we are going there for DINNER.

It's like it's MY birthday!!!!!  :) :) :)  I have already looked at the menu and I know I'm getting a sundae.  Just not sure which one yet . . . Talk about difficult decisions . . . 


No One Threw A Tomato

It's true.  No one threw a tomato.  Most of the comments were very supportive.  And I was actually a little surprised because I've mostly seen clip charts around Bloggy Land.  I have wanted to talk about gold tags for at least six months, but I was afraid.  Apparently, for no reason.  Because you all are super nice.  AS ALWAYS.

I felt like I had gone on and on and on in that post, but there were still a few questions.  So I'm going to answer them now.   

1.  How do parents feel about it?  Do you ever have a parent say that their child should have earned more gold tags than they actually did?

I have never had an issue with parents about gold tags.  In fact, just the opposite occurs.  Parents start using gold tags at HOME!!  Not to mention, in special circumstances, I will make the home/school connection by rewarding a student with gold tags in class for doing their homework at home without complaining.  Or whatever.  I work with the parents.  I'm otherwise known as a doormat.

The most common question parents ask about gold tags is:  How many gold tags should my child be earning each week?

I always say 10.  Because a student should be able to get two gold tags a day.  At least, that's what I think.  I'm the queen of gold tags so 10 is really low for my kiddos.  

2.  How do you get the kids to not expect/demand gold tags for every little thing they do?

My kids pretty much learn that day one.  As soon as a brand new first grader asks me for a gold tag because they picked up a piece of trash and they wanted me to know, I say:

NOPE.  Not on your life.  Not a chance.  Who do you think I am?  A pushover?  IN.  OH.  NO.  If you ask, the answer will always be NO.  Because I'm mean.  And that's that.  Don't ask.  Thanks for picking up that piece of trash, though.  Would you like to be our custodian for the whole week?  You are a fantastic trash picker upper.

3.  How do you teach this?

Day one.  I start gold tags on the first day of school because I need to have Fun Friday that first week  I want to establish rules and procedures.  Basically, I show my kids the Fun Friday chart (I tell them I'll go over each center a little bit at a time.  I usually talk/show/model one or two centers a day that first week.  If I don't have time to talk about one before the first Fun Friday, then I just remove the clips for that center and it will be closed.), explain the competition to earn the most, and start handing out gold tags right then and there.   

4.  What kind of time does this take?

No time at all.  I pass out gold tags all day.  If we're on the carpet, I teach my kids to keep their gold tags flat on the floor in front of them.  If they play with it, it's mine.  I just hold out my hand.  No words necessary.  I will pass out gold tags during a lesson if my kids are squirmy or sleepy or chatty or what have you.  If a student in the back is being a good role model, I will ask students to pass the gold tag back to Mr. Model.  It usually straightens Mrs. Lacks Following Rules right up.  I pass out gold tags all day long.  If I'm working with a small group and a table group is working exceptionally well together, I'll just say, "Red Table, go get 3 gold tags."  And then it's magically quiet.  

5.  Does it become automatic or do you just try to remember who to reward at the end of the day?

It is completely automatic for me.  I don't wait until the end of the day to reward kids.  I am giving out gold tags all day long.  There are times when the whole class might earn gold tags.  For example, I bribe reward great class behavior at assemblies with 5 gold tags each or something.  I'll pass those out after the kids have gone home so I can do it on my own time.  Here's the funny thing about it.  If I reward the WHOLE CLASS with FIVE GOLD TAGS EACH, everyone is still exactly where they were before they got those gold tags.  If Johnny had 7, now he has 12.  And if Little Missy had 12, she now has 17.  But my kids have never figured that out.  Never.  They still freak out that the whole class earned 5 gold tags.  Every.  Single.  Time.  

6.  Do I use a treasure box with this?

No.  Because I'm poor.  And mean.  Haven't you heard?  

But I did one time.  With a super sweet class.  17 girls and 3 boys.  BEST YEAR EVER.  CLEANEST CLASSROOM EVER.  SWEETEST CLASSROOM EVER.  QUIETEST CLASSROOM EVER.  So they deserved it.  If they had earned 10 gold tags or more that week, they earned a trip to the treasure box.  That only lasted one year and every single girl (and the 3 boys) went to the treasure box every.single.week.

So you could do something like that . . . 

7.  Do I send home anything daily to let parents know how their child's day was?


But you can!  Everything you need to communicate daily or weekly with parents is in this pack and it's all EDITABLE:

I personally don't think parents need to know that their child had "a great day" every single day.  I do make those random phone calls to let a parent know that their child has made amazing progress or did an extremely kind act, but I just don't feel the need to communicate about behavior every single day.  Do you?  I tell parents that no news is good news.

I also don't like to tattle on my kids.  I think a first grader is allowed to have a bad day.  Maybe the Bachelorette didn't pick who they thought she should have and so they're grumpy.  Or the cafeteria didn't serve churros for breakfast that day.  Who knows?  But I think kids are allowed to have a bad day if nothing major happened.  Don't you?  

If I have a behavior problem, then that kid is most likely on a different behavior plan anyway.  One in which the parent needs something sent home every single day.

I send home the certificates on Monday because I don't want to put pressure on myself to get them ready to go by Friday afternoon.  That's why the certificates say "last week".      

8.  What do you send home each day to the parents?

A happy kid.

Toot toot.  (That's me, tooting my own horn.)

See number 7 above.  :)

9.  Would this work in kinder?

Yes.  One of our first grade teachers went down to kinder and used gold tags.  

The only problem was my first grade team was SUPER UNHAPPY because we wanted gold tags to be special to our kids.  Not "We did this in Kindergarten."  I don't take that very well.  I pull out a book and say, "The title of this book is Stephanie's Ponytail by Robert Munsch."  And the kids say, "We read this in kindergarten!"  And I say, "No, you didn't!"  And they say, "Yes, we did!"  And so after I cry for a little bit, I say, "Well, you haven't heard ME read it and I'm the BEST story reader EVER IN ALL THE LAND!"  This happens ALL THE TIME.  Even if I tell a personal story.  "Let me tell you guys about the time I rescued a little boy from the restroom - " and they interrupt me with "We heard about that in Kindergarten!"  

So then I just go home.

Long story longer, gold tags work in kindergarten unless I teach at your school.  And then they just do not exist.  Or I make up stories about how they don't work in kindergarten.  

10. Where do the kids keep their gold tag pockets? 

I used to have my pockets glued to a poster.  

That presented some problems.  Such as traffic.  And dirty rotten thieves.

Now they are supposed to keep their pockets in their pencil box which is supposed to be inside their desk.  This is hit or miss.  At any rate, if a gold tag is on the floor, it's mine.  Unless the student is a super cutie patootie and then I make sure the gold tag finds its rightful owner.

11.  Is it hard to keep this up all day?

Not for me.  But it's second nature after having done it for about 10 years.

12.  Do you carry the gold tags around with you?  Or do you keep them somewhere for the kids to get them?

I do both.  I carry gold tags in my pockets (and I always end up bringing some home with me, and then washing them, and then finding them in the lint tray of the dryer) so that I always have them on hand.  And I keep two different baskets filled in our classroom.  One is right next to where I do most of my teaching (carpet area) and the other is near my Ladybug.  I have easy access and so do the kids if I say, "So-and-so, go get 2 gold tags."  Meanwhile, the other little stinkers sit up a little straighter, become a little quieter, etc, etc.

By the way, never worry that some little rascal will take more than the two you are trusting him to take.  It will happen.  And then everyone will rat him out.  So you can just say, "Never mind.  None for you.  Hope you make a better choice next time, blah, blah, blah."  Or however you speak to your kids.

Here are some more tidbits that no one asked about:

*Paying each other

One of my commenters mentioned something about the students paying each other gold tags . . . and yes, I do that.  It's not often, but you could definitely talk about it with your class.  One of my rules is to be kind to others.  So if a student continues to use hurtful words or whatever, you can have it set up that they pay the victim 2 gold tags.  Or 1 gold tag.  Or whatever.   

*Team Teaching

All my teammates use Gold Tags.  This makes it super easy for us to reward each other's kids.  I love it.  On the flip side, we can also take gold tags away from a first grader who is not in our class. That doesn't happen often.  But it can.  

Hypothetically, if a kid that wasn't in your class told you that you were too short to be a teacher, and that your last name (if said slowly) sounded like Old and Dumb, and they said it in a holier than thou voice, you might feel compelled to take a gold tag away.  Hypothetically, of course.  

*Gold Tag Factory

I tell my kids that I get the gold tags from the Gold Tag Factory and that they are worth gold.  So they are not to be folded, rolled up, or put in our mouths, noses, pants, ears, shirts, etc.  That will happen.  And then the gold tag is mine.  Because I'm mean.

And on very rare occasions, when it feels like I'm running out of gold tags and it's not yet Friday (when they will turn them in and we'll start all over), I tell my kids I need gold tags so I'm watching for bad behavior.  I say this in a joking manner.  Obviously.  But I'm half serious.  Because I never have time to go to the Gold Tag Factory.


Yes.  Re-using gold tags from week to week does mean germs will be running rampant in your room.  


It's no more than usual.

Cough, cough.


Pardon me.

Well, that's all.  

I hope this was informative and not too boring.

Thank you so much for all of the comments and support.  I am SO relieved now.  :)


What Happens In Vegas

Well . . . I never intended not to post for four days.  It just accidentally happened.  

As you know, what happens in Vegas, Gods knows.

So all of you can know, too.

First, I didn't bring my laptop.

Second, I did bring my Ipad, but it was only allowing me to work in the HTML format and that, my friends, is frustrating.

Third, I had to pay $20 for 3 days of WiFi.  I did.  But it was horrible WiFi and if I was the confrontational type, I would demand my money back.  But I'm not.  So mostly, I just complained to any family member near me who would listen.

Fourth, I was at the pool a lot.  In it, next to it, by it, etc.  

Fifth, I had to finish reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  Enough said.

Sixth, my family is here.  Obviously, I need to pay a bit of attention to them.

Seventh, when we got home yesterday, we had to catch up on TWO Big Brother episodes and watch the Opening Ceremonies of the Olympics.  (And in between, watch other things, and then click back to see if the United States had walked in yet.  It's really too bad we're U.)

Meanwhile, during the second episode of Big Brother, we kept trying to shoo the kids out because it's not exactly . . . kid appropriate.  And my six year old nephew turned to me, pointed, and said, "You're addicted to this!"

My sisters and I cracked up.  And then shoo-ed him out of the room.

I am not addicted.  I am just a fan.  And I like to keep up on the lives of the people in the Big Brother house.  And it doesn't mean anything that I know the shoe sizes and the names of the pets of my friends the contestants.

I actually don't have an addictive personality.  Not an addictive bone in my body, as a matter of fact.

I just like things.

Like blogs.  And chocolate.  And coffee.  And school supplies.  And books.  And Real Housewives.  And bachelors and bachelorettes and pads.  

On our way to Vegas, we stopped at a Bob's Big Boy.  We used to eat there as a family all the time.

The service was HORRIBLE.  

A party of about . . . 20 something came in after my family of 8, and they were served their food first.  We were told "they knew what they wanted".  

We knew what we wanted too, but there wasn't a waitress to tell it to.

The table of 5 across from us also waited FOREVER.  Eventually, they got up and WALKED OUT.  Just walked out.  

I would have done the same thing if I was from a confrontational family.  

I'm not.  We all just sat there and complained to one another.  The closest we got to walking out was to stand up halfway and ask for more ketchup.

Then, I had a scuffle in the restroom.  Which is not the place to have a scuffle because it's gross.

But all the stalls were taken so I had to wait.  I was the FIRST in line.  And then two women came in, passed me, and stood in FRONT OF ME in FRONT OF THE SINKS.


And, sure enough, some more people showed up and guess where they got in line?

BEHIND ME.  Because they were NORMAL.  That's how a line forms.  I'm sure all of you kinder teachers are saying "I hear ya, sister!"  I mean, did these ladies never go to kindergarten????

Can you see where this is going?

Because if you think that when the first available stall was open that one of those women IN FRONT OF ME tried to go in it, you are CORRECT.

I whispered, "I was next."

And then I cried.

On the way home from Vegas, we stopped at IHOP.  Everyone had breakfast except for me.  You know how I feel about breakfast.  But my club sandwich did have bacon on it.  Plus, the ranch for my fries was a bit of dairy so I considered myself all set.

Anyways, our waitress there was AMAZING.

No joke.  She was also super cute and adorable.  We were ready to adopt her.

Instead, we left her a GIGANTIC tip with a note.  We wrote her a note.  Like we were in highschool.

And I'm happy to say that there were NO restroom issues at IHOP, either.

I think that takes care of my excuses.

I was ALMOST finished with my Gold Tags Part 2 post, but thought I needed to explain where I've been for the last four days.  So I'll finish that and post it tomorrow like a good blogger.  Wouldn't want to blog twice in one day.  (Oh, yes I would!)

So now you know what happened in Vegas.  And so does God.


Talk About It Tu-MONDAY!!


Before I begin, let me just say that I was quite busy last night.  

1.  New Jersey Housewives - Be quiet, Joe Guidice.  And Teresa.
2.  Big Brother - Holy shock and violence!!!!
3.  Bachelorette - We'll talk.
4.  After the Final Rose - Coming right up.

My head was spinning (and it wasn't just the wine!).

I had a party.

No, I didn't.  But I should have.  It's not like I had to wake up this morning.

All right.  Here we go.

Jef met Emily's parents.

Did Emily's mom have a deep voice or was that just me?  Did anyone else notice that her forehead did.not.move.at.all?  People, she's Emily's mother.  I think it's appropriate that a full grown woman's mother has wrinkles.  Not to mention, a grandmother.  But what do I know?  (And as I say that, my wrinkles are out in full force.  Picture me making a face with my hands out, palms up.  What do I know?  Wrinkle, wrinkle.  Move, move.)

Jef did a lot of talking about love and smitten-ness . . . with every single person in Emily's family.  Love, blah, blessing, blah, proposal, blah . . . My name is Jef and I'm a boy in a white T-shirt and skinny jeans.  Blah.  

Then it was Arie's turn.

Does Arie have some gray hair?  Or was that just the lighting?  I have thought this on several different occasions.  

Arie was awkward.  And he rambled.  But at least his shirt was blue.  

He talked to every single person in Emily's family, too.  It was also a lot of blah blah blah.  I have decided I need my husband to go on TV, and talk to a bunch of people on camera, and tell them how much he loves me.  He needs to use words like smitten and never-felt-this-way and so-in-love, etc.  It would be so romantical.  Sigh.

Dad gave both guys his blessing.  Awwwww.  Or, on the other hand, we could say "What's he thinking?"  He just met these jokers.  And he doesn't even know who Sean is . . . 

Mom told Emily to wait on an engagement.  

Whether or not she has wrinkles, she is a wise old owl.  (A cute one.  Not a scary one.  And one that would never swoop down and make a nest in your hair.)

Final Dates.  Jef had one wayward hair at the beach and that's pretty much all I could concentrate on.  Plus, they played sad piano music in the background.  So after a lot of sad hair blowing, it was decided that Jef could meet Ricki.  

So Jef met Ricki.  Ricki showed off her tricks.  And Emily talked kind of loud.  Then they all went swimming.  This time, violin music played.  All uplifting and such.

Jef and Emily had some alone time.  It was all lovey dovey and cute.  It was.  I'm not being sarcastic.  The music at that point sounded like the end of an old west mini series.

{In the midst of this whole episode, Chris Harrison was in a live audience talking to the people.  I think I'd like his job.  He even asked someone about the one "f" in Jef's name.}

And then BAM.

Emily met with Chris Harrison and told him she's in love with Jef.  And she wanted to let Arie go.  Wow.  This WAS THE MOST INCREDIBLY EMOTIONAL SEASON FINALE OF THE BACHELORETTE EVER!!!!  

Then Emily had the talk with Arie.  I was feeling for her.  I also tend to run from confrontation.  I am not good at it.  It comes as no surprise to my husband that I'm still dating a few boys from high school.  I just couldn't break up with them. 

Arie got a little emotional.  Do you think he was wishing that there was a race car nearby that he could hop into and speed away in?

Instead, he was a tad bit immature.  Just a tad.  "I don't know what you waaaaant," he said in a whiny voice.  And "Now give me a hug." (Which was said with stiff arms and an unyielding body.) 

Oh, Arie.  Just let it out.  

So . . . we had the leading up to the proposal scene with getting ready, and ring shopping (in which there is no shopping, just choosing a ring on behalf of ABC and advertising for Neil Lane), and walking on the beach, and a obligatory video montage.

Next, Emily proclaimed her love for Jef.  He proposed.  She hesitated.  She said yes.  The music was by Chicago.  Oh my word.  You're a hard habit to break.   (That wasn't the song, but I love that song.)  We Did It All For The Glory Of Love.  (I about died when the lyrics "Like a knight in shining armor" synced with a video of Jef in a skirt  kilt with a bow and arrow.  HIGH-larious!)

Then Ricki rushed in.  And off they went.  Well, not really.  It was taped in slow motion so it took awhile.

After the Final Rose:

It was a little anti-climatic for me.  It was hard to stay awake, too.  There just wasn't enough drama.  Arie and Jef are FRIENDS.  Jef helped Arie get over Emily.  Okaaaaay.

Jef and Emily are in love.  Or, at least they say they are.  It looked like it.  It was definitely a different couch scene than the one Emily had with Brad.  Remember that awkwardness?  

So I'm happy for them.  But I'm not getting them a gift.

And that's the end, folks.   

It was fun while it was lasted!

Tonight, The Bachelor Pad season premiere airs.  Now, I don't want anyone to throw any of those rotten tomatoes that you decided not to throw yesterday (at this post), but I have some sad news.

I'm tho thorry, but I'm going to take the season of The Bachelor Pad off for Talk About It Tuesdays.

I have ducked down and I'm scrunched up into a ball.  My eyes are closed and I'm protecting my hair.  I mean, my head.

I know, I know.  Wait.  I have reasons.  First, my twin and her family arrive tomorrow.  And then we are going to gallivant to Vegas to stay at my parent's timeshare - it will be less about gambling and clubs and more about water slides and pools and bowling alleys.  I can't wait, actually.  And second, I have  get to set up my room next week.  AND THEN SCHOOL STARTS.  So I'm just taking this season off so I can get adjusted.  It doesn't mean that if I feel the need to remark on something, I won't talk about it.  You know I will.  But I need a little break.  I just hope you understand.  I'm really thorry.

Lastly, I will be back tomorrow to answer some questions I received about gold tags.  I thought I went on and on and on as I tend to do, but I forgot some stuff.  Or it didn't occur to me to include it.  So I'll be back with that.  If you're wondering.



I Don't Use a Clip Chart. Please Don't Throw Rotten Tomatoes.

It's true.  I don't use a clip chart as a behavior system.  

Are you still reading or did you click out already?

I know.  I'm such a rebel.  So is Jen over at The Teacher's Cauldron.  She recently talked about her behavior system which is not a clip chart either.  She inspired me to be brave.  Thanks, Jen.

I did use a clip chart at one time.  Back in the dark ages before I think it was even cool to do so.  Call me a pioneer, if you will.  Even then, I was a rebel because everyone else was using those "Turn Your Card" systems.

I don't know.  I don't think I used my clip chart the way they're used now.  With the "top of the chart" and "add a jewel" options.  I think I just said, "Move your clip."  

And then I moved to a different school and met Christina of Mrs. Winter's Bliss, and Susan, two of my teaching heroes.  And they did "Gold Tags".  

Click {HERE} for more information.

And that was that.  I fell in love.  I copied the system as soon as I could and have never wanted to do anything else.   Neither have my teammates, as a matter of fact.

Here it is.  

Laminate yellow construction paper and cut them into the size you like.  Mine are 5x1.  Or 1x5.  What do I know?  You could go crazy and do 1x6.  

Get some library pockets.  This year, I got fancy pockets and I'm just going to use a regular old address label with their name to stick on the front.  
Now, pass out gold tags for good behavior.  All good choices.  Give one to those kind students who pick up the supplies that fall out of someone's pencil box because they have no idea where their body is in space and constantly elbow it off the desk.  Pass out gold tags to kids who transition quickly.  Or who walk in line nicely.  Anything and everything.  Surprise the whole class when they're not listening to you  so engaged in a lesson that they are too engrossed to look up by showering the one student that is listening with ten gold tags in one fell swoop!  That, my friends, gets them.  Then, instead of a class of hooligans, I have a brigade of soldiers standing at attention.  The kids will fill up their gold tag pockets.   

On the flip side, you can take away gold tags if you have to.  But I would rather GIVE gold tags to a quiet student than take a gold tag from an unruly one.  Although, honestly, if I do have to take away a gold tag, it speaks volumes to the whole class.

The best advice I can give for this is set the rules.  Discuss the rules.  Ask the class to vote on how many gold tags should be given for this or that, or if/how many should be taken away for this or that.

For example, last year, it was voted that if one line was quieter than the other, that whole line should earn one gold tag.  It was also voted that if you're sent back to your seat during a lesson on the carpet, you would owe TWO gold tags.  Automatically.  No questions asked.  My class decided that.  Not me.  Apparently, I am so fascinating that the very idea that someone would talk or fool around on the carpet while I was in the director's chair doing what I do was so incomprehensible that two gold tags were necessary!  Gasp.  TWO GOLD TAGS.  Obviously, they didn't vote on any more than two being taken away at one time.  

So what are all these gold tags for?   

FUN FRIDAY!  Otherwise known as a twenty to thirty minute prep period chance for students to extend their learning, and work on social skills on Friday afternoons.  

Here's my Fun Friday chart.
I have 4 clips for each center.
Some teachers only offer 2 clips per center.  Or 3.  That's up to you.  

Before we begin, the kids count their gold tags.  I teach them to do it in tally marks.  It's a MATH SKILL.   But they don't know it.

They write their name and the number of gold tags they earned on a "certificate".  Kids love certificates!  

I call one table at a time to turn in their gold tags (to the basket) and give me their certificate.  I'll fill it out later and stick it in their homework folder that goes home the following week.  I start putting the certificates in order of who-has-the-most to who-has-the-least.  It's okay if kids have the exact same number.  It's not an issue.  They're tied.  I'll still call them up to the chart one at a time.  They're fine.  

When we're ready, everyone comes to the carpet.  The person with the most gold tags gets to choose their Fun Friday center first.  That student will take a clothespin from the center of their choice, clip it on, and off they'll go.  And it continues.  If there are no more clothespins for the center, then too bad, too sad.  Pick something else.  

Meanwhile, the kids on the carpet are dwindling and everyone is playing and you have about three kids left on the carpet waiting for their turn.  This is a perfect time to do a little, "So, um . . . what happened this week?"  And then the culprit usually shrugs and says, "I don't know."  To which I say, "Well, I noticed that every time I called the class to the carpet, you were always the last one.  And so you kept missing out on chances to earn gold tags.  What should we do next week?"  Or I might say, "Remember how you were using unkind words with your friends this week?  How could we work on that next week?"  

Anywho, the kids all play while I try to gather materials and get stuff going for the next week.  The students can put clips back and choose different ones if they want to.  Or they can stay in that center the whole time.  I don't care as long as they leave me alone work on their independent skills. 

Kids totally understand the concept of earning and losing gold tags for their behavior.  Not to mention, they become extremely competitive.  It becomes less about Fun Friday and more about "How many gold tags can I earn?"  I love to hear kids say, "I broke my own record!"  Not only did they do that, but they behaved VERY WELL for me!  Win win.   I LOVE it.  

The centers on my Fun Friday chart have been staples for years.  Some I bought and others just happen to be around the classroom.  Once you have them, you have them.  Mine have been "free" forever.  

That's it in a nutshell.  

Yes, I've had kids steal gold tags.  Yep.  The horror.

It's pretty obvious when it happens because it's usually a student that is . . . um, how do you say . . . er . . . behaviorally challenged and you can only recall giving him those two on that Tuesday when he actually told the truth to a question that you asked him (even if that question was "Did you really just break all of your crayons in half?").  So said student should only have two gold tags and now he has a whopping 48 or whatever.  Well, sad to say, but said student doesn't get Fun Friday when that happens.  They get to write a letter to their parents.  Or me.  Or both.  Or whatever you want that kid to do.  Send them to kindergarten to sit at a back table, or fifth grade to copy a page out of a dictionary (That only happened once and the dictionary idea was not mine!!  I swear.  But, man, did it work.).

I also had a repeat offender one year, (can you say klepto  he thought everything should be shared?) and so I made his gold tags blue.  Yep.  His were blue.  I just made some tags in blue and those were for him.  After a few weeks of that, he was ready to try the gold color again and then all was well.

Some of my teammates also have red tags for the bathroom.  Each kid gets 2 or 3, and they can use the red tags to go to the restroom during class time.  Once they're out, then they have to use their gold tags.  (I don't use this method because when I was in first grade, I wet my pants ALL THE TIME, and I have let this earlier life trauma influence the way I allow my kids to use the restroom during class time.  But that's another story for another day.  Suffice it to say that my kids are almost always in the bathroom, and never in class so I'm usually napping.)

I start the week off by giving my kids two gold tags every Monday. Just for showing up.  Because I know it's hard and they're lucky I came.  And that I'm not wearing my pajamas.

I'm sure there are holes all over this behavior plan.  Just as I'm sure there are some holes with the clip chart.  I don't know.  

And there you have it.  My behavior system.  Which isn't a clip chart.  

Now.  I doubt you want this system because you're a die hard clip chart-er.  I get it.  I understand.  Except that I'm a die hard gold tagger.  

If you want to get started, this pack is completely editable and you can customize it to meet your classroom needs:

Did you put down the rotten tomato?  

Please do.

P.S.  Raise your hand if you think Wil from Big Brother has the same hair style as me.  And did he purposefully drop the second "l" in his name?  Is this a new thing?  Jef.  Wil.  Clif.  Bil.  Tod.  I don't get it.  I think I'm going to buy a consonant and add an "n" to my name. 
Did Wil copy Kristinn's hairstyle?


Math Facts Revisited-They Will Not Go Away

It's Saturday.  Did you know that?  I had to look at the calendar to figure it out.   

I have to talk about Math Facts again.  Or, Math Fluency Assessments to be exact.

 Well, it has created some discussion amongst the peoples.  I've been getting the same three questions so I thought I should bring it up.  Address it.  Stamp it.  Mail it.  It's also a good discussion topic.  Which makes for a wonderful blog post.  

Introducing Math Fluency Assessments FAQ.   

1.  When do you start Timed Tests, Mad Minute, Math Fluency Assessments, Hurry Up And Answer These Facts, etc?

Well . . . my team and I used to start Timed Tests sometime after we had "officially" introduced addition and subtraction (in the vertical format) through our Math curriculum.  That's about 6 weeks into the school year.  And then we usually stopped sometime around Spring Break because we couldn't take grading them anymore.  You can read more about that {HERE}.

I'm not exactly sure when we'll start these Math Fluency Assessments.  It's a little different because the kids can work at their own pace at home,  and test when they are ready.  So if you've got a smart cookie that started memorizing facts in kindergarten, they might be ready to get started sooner than someone else.  I don't know.  We'll have to figure that out later . . . Put our heads together and discuss it.  I know we'll bring up this new program at our Parent Information Night--just not entirely sure when we will start it.  I'm not too worried about it at this point.  I'm mainly focused on making sure no one throws up or cries on the first day.  Or starts crying because they're throwing up, or throws up because they're crying.  (That particular first day is permanently burned into my brain.  Shudder.)

2.  What do you do for those students who lack parental support and almost never (or actually never) turn in a list? 

Well, I have a similar take-home program for my Sight Words (you can read about that HERE) and so I imagine I'm going to do the same thing with the math facts program.

When parent volunteers come, I'll have them work with students on math fluency at their level.  (The flashcards will be perfect for this.)  If they're ready to move on, they can.  No parent signature required.  Let's just get the kids moving is what I always say.  Well, unless they're supposed to be sitting still and then I say "Does everybody have ants in their pants today?"

I also have older student helpers.  Usually 5th graders, sometimes 6th graders.  As long as they're shorter than me, they're welcome.  After my helpers have pulled kids for sight word testing and math fact testing, I will have them practice math facts with kids who haven't turned in any levels in a really long time.  Again, I'll have the older helpers use the flashcards for this.  

I also have Watch Dogs.

These are not to be confused with actual dogs that I love.  If you have a second, check out this live web cam of puppies that are going to grow up to be service dogs to veterans with mobility issues.  I got this link from Denise over at Yearn to Learn.  I am now obsessed and check on them all the time.  It's a good thing they can't hear me, though, or I'd be waking them up all the time because I can't help but tell them how cute they are.  I also tell them to give their poor mom a break.  She has sextuplets and I feel really bad for her.  I especially worry that she will become like Kate Gosling.  When you have a second, check out it out {HERE}.

Anywho, big tangent there.  Our Watch Dogs are Dads that volunteer whenever they want for the WHOLE LIVELONG DAY.  And it doesn't matter if you already have other volunteers scheduled, or if it's your one art day for the trimester, or if you have district assessments . . . they get to be in your classroom, regardless.   It is never a good time when they arrive because I usually find out last minute  an inconvenience.  They are always helpful.  So I will definitely have Watch Dogs pull those kids who haven't turned in a Math Level in awhile.  Or in ever.  And again, if they're ready for the next level, by all means, move on!

3.  Do any of the levels have math facts that overlap?

Yes.  I wanted the facts to overlap because if the student knows that 3+2 is 5 on Level 2, for example, I hope that they'll still know that 3+2 is 5 on Level 3.  Or the inverse relationship, as well.   There are two to three levels in each "group" where students will see a lot of the same facts.

Here's how it's set up:  I hope you don't fall asleep.

*Addition - sums to 5 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*Subtraction - differences from 5 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*One level that is mixed with addition and subtraction facts from above.

*Addition - sums to 10 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*Subtraction - differences from 10 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*One level that is mixed with addition and subtraction facts from above.

*Addition - sums to 15 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*Subtraction - differences from 15 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*One level that is mixed with addition and subtraction facts from above.

*Addition - sums to 20 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*Subtraction - differences from 20 (with 2 or 3 levels)
*One level that is mixed with addition and subtraction facts from above.

4.  This is my own question.
Do you think first graders (kinders, too) are capable of memorizing math facts?  I know there are studies that show the brain is not ready to memorize stuff until you're 8 or 9 years old . . . which would explain why I never memorized my addition and subtraction facts, but had absolutely no problem memorizing my multiplication facts.  Occasionally, I still second guess what 16 - 9 is.  Just saying.

I don't know.  Math Fact Fluency is a California State Standard.  This is actually how it reads:  

2.1 Know the addition facts (sums to 20) and the corresponding subtraction facts and commit them to memory.

Sounds serious, right?  So I do it.  (Well, I do it in that I used to do timed tests, and now I have this take-home pack.  It's up to the kids to actually do it.  I already know my facts.  Most of them, anyway.)  And I'm pretty sure it's a Common Core Standard, but we're not doing those.  Yet.  Talk about pins and needles.

So.  There you have it.

Does it make more sense?  

I answered some of your questions and now I have some of my own.

1.  When do YOU start timed tests (or whatever you call it)?
2.  Do you have Watch Dogs?  Is it a Free For All policy at your school, too?
3.  Do you think young learners can memorize math facts?
4.  Are YOU watching Big Brother?  (I just threw that in there.  For fun.)


Guest Blogging Re-run (and downloads from said post)

I am guest blogging today for my friend, Teri, over at A Cupcake for the Teacher.

This has more to do with our friendship, rather than any need or longing for a delicious cupcake.  Especially one that is caramel salted . . . which I had at that fancy wedding not too long ago, and I can't stop thinking about it.  The unfortunate thing is that I don't know how to make them . . . nor do I really have the energy to do so . . . so I need a kind hearted person to whip me up a batch.  Anyone?

Anyways, I couldn't think about anything to write about for my guest post.  Isn't that the way it always goes?  I just took up a whole paragraph about cupcakes and had no problems with the writing process there . . . but get me in front of someone else's blog and I'm all atwitter.  

Do you twitter?  I don't.  I can barely keep up with guest posting, let alone keep myself alive on a diet that does not include cupcakes.   

I have a re-run post on Teri's blog.  It's actually two posts combined.  One was called "Going Postal" and the other was called "Going Postal Two" or "Going Postal Again" or "Gone Postal".  I don't recall.  At any rate, some of you have already been over to Teri's blog and you said you missed those posts so after I got over feeling offended, I decided to take the high road and pat myself on the back for re-running a post that was valid.  Necessary, if you will.  

While you're over there, I'm going to be here, cutting out laminate.  This is proof that I have been getting stuff crossed off my to-do list.  I have to cut out 89 feet of laminate.  Which cost me $8.90.  Talk about a bargain.

I imagine I'll be here FOREVER.

Have you seen that eCard that says something like "I can't believe that in the year 2012, my clothes dryer does not have a fold button."?? 

I feel that way about the laminating machine.  Where's the button that says "Cut Out"?  With another button that says "Cut Cleanly Along the Edge" (for anal people).  I can't stand "extra" laminate on the sides.  Nope.  Must be close.  Must be perfect.  Must drive myself crazy.  Must tell parent volunteers to cut along the edge.  (Must cry later when one parent volunteer inevitably leaves extra laminate and I have to do the whole thing again)  How do you feel about laminate?  I feel quite strongly, if you can't tell.


Check it out!  :)

Okay, so apparently, the links weren't working correctly for the Post Office documents and/or you had to pay a sum of money for a freebie which defeats the purpose.

So here are some links to google docs -- Fingers crossed.  I had a little bit of trouble, but I hope it works!!!!  Click the pics!  Thank you and I'm so sorry about that.  DRAMA.  Hate it.  (Unless it's on a reality TV show and then I can't get enough of it.)

Tho thorry about that.  It appears as if I need someone to write to me and solve my problems now.