Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Monday Made It (Focus Wall)

I am joining one of my all time favorite bloggers, Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It! 

I posted a quick video on Periscope & had a TON of requests to blog about it. I did post the original video from Periscope on my YOUTUBE channel.....yes, I've had a YOUTUBE channel...I just never told anyone about it! 

Anywho, I will be uploading all my Periscope videos on my YOUTUBE channel since they only stay up for 24 hours. We are all going to get super busy very quick so I promise, I will try to keep up with these videos. 

Back to what I actually made...........

Focus Wall with cardboard lettersI originally saw this pin on Pinterest of course. If you are the source or find the link, PLEASE let me know. I could NOT find it for the life of me :o(

I fell in LOVE with this idea & have been thinking about how I wanted to create it in my 1st grade classroom. 

Raise your hand if you say this all day long? Um, yes...I do too! 

I rarely ever write on any of my white boards. I placed the letters right in front of my class (so I can see the clock), where all the students can see. I have always kept my focus wall right up in front. These letters are perfect & admin can NEVER say I don't display a focus wall...lol.

Focus wall with paper mache letters
I had already purchased hot pink spray paint and black and white striped scrapbook paper. I had a vision you see. Well, as I was walking through Joann Fabrics, I stopped in my tracks when I saw these chalkboard letters. Say what??? They come colored already???? So I was in a dilemma my friends. The store was closing in 20 minutes and I needed to make a decision and fast. I made sure to put all the letters I needed in my cart..you know just in case someone else was in the store trying to spell out "focus". I wasn't completely sure on the chalkboard letters because they needed something else. They just seemed BLAH and I didn't have that Mel D style added....at all. 
Then....I saw the wide black and white striped striped washi-tape waving it's arms at me & I ran over! This is IT! I was completely inspired! 
You can grab this Heidi Swapp tape at Michael's or Joann Fabrics. If you follow me on IG, then you know I am completely obsessed with black and white stripes & gold and I just HAD to find a way to see this every day in my classroom. 
I posted this image above on IG.....you should follow me there if you don't already. I am always redecorating something! 

Cardboard letters for focus wall
Above I am showing the back of the letter...obviously. Well...I hope it's obvious. Anyway, the tape wrapped around the back of the letter in order to get this look. I made slits along the black and white stripes for tricky corners just so they looked as smooth as possible. I used the above Scotch tape to adhere them to my wall. 

Here is my COMPLETELY UNEDITED video from Periscope. I am not ready nor have the time to get into video editing so please don't give me a thumbs down. Follow me for video notifications though just so I have more than 20 followers...K?

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Classroom Management Using Warm Fuzzies and Reward Coupons

I am joining my bloggy besties from Freebielicious for a Throwback Thursday post on Classroom Management. This is one of my most popular posts & I thought it would be a great time to revisit it...perfect timing! 

Classroom Management


I'm joining some of my blogging bff's over @ our collaborative blog, Freebie-licious for week #5 of our summer linky party series. 

I believe it was my 3rd or even 4th year of teaching when my former principal, Mr. Ja**a** had the nerve to mark me off on an evaluation because my students were talking when they transitioned into the line to leave. Oh, they also were too loud while adding dice...really???? Don't even get me started. Well, I don't take criticism well at all but my kids were good! You know how you promise them 10,000 fuzzies if they are good or everyone gets a sucker...come on, admit it! We all do it. Well, that day I did & they were very well behaved. Anyway, when I had the meeting afterwords I had written a rebuttal to my evaluation...ever since then I was a target. He actually handed me a classroom management book by Harry Wong!!!!!! I was absolutely appalled beyond belief. I thought to myself....I'll show him! And, so I did. I am very proud of my classroom management skills but it did not come naturally, it took many years.

In college we were taught the red, yellow, green light management by Lee Cantor. Did this work....meh, not really. I did the best I could with it but they still didn't care if they dropped a color. The students that stayed on green all year long....what did they get???? Nothing :o( I know... teacher of the year! I did have faults but don't tell Mr. Ja**a**. 

Honestly, my kids were pretty well behaved considering there was no consistency, no rewards, no positive or negative consequences for behavior...they just behaved...well I thought they did. 

I'll call my first several years a hot mess. They DO NOT TEACH YOU IN COLLEGE HOW TO MANAGE A CLASSROOM....AT ALL! AT ALL! When you are absent, I believe your classroom should run as if you were there. Your students should be so programmed to your structured schedule they know exactly what to do, how to do it & when to do it. No matter what "it" may be. In fact, it should run that way when you are out of the room, talking to a colleague, testing students in the corner. It's all about establishing procedures and routines..........right away...like the first day & every day after that. C.O.N.S.I.S.T.E.N.C.Y IS KEY! You will see that students thrive on structure & consistency.

Classroom procedures need to be modeled & practiced...over & over & over & over & over & over some more. You need to be prepared for anything & everything. After ten years things still happen from day to day that have never happened before. The success of your entire school year can be determined by what you do on the first day of school. 
As you can see I am really into teaching. If you are reading this, so are you. I don't care if you've taught for 40 years or none, every teacher needs to learn new tips. Every single class & every single student is different. You will be dealing with their emotions, personalities, intelligence or lack of it. Did you ever hear that teachers wear all different "hats"??? You will shortly find out this is so true. 

I remember thinking, O.M.G, they never told me what to do if a child comes to school dirty? College never taught me what to do if a child is getting abused? Why didn't they teach me what to do with 25 little 6 year olds looking at me for guidance all.day.long for 180 days?????? And where did all this freaking paper come from & what do I do with it??? Mom, mom, help!!!!!!!! I'm not even going to discuss dealing with parents...you might just change professions. Teaching is a UNIQUE profession that is FILLED with rewards! You! Yes, you will have a lasting influence on many, many lives so stick with it.

Most of the time, your instincts will kick it. You will get what you expect from your students. If you don't expect much, you won't get much. Effective teachers steal from the best and learn from the rest. I am not the best, but I will say that I have "highly effective" classroom management skills. 

*First off you are not there to be their friend. Mistake #1 my first several years. 
*Effective teachers teach classroom procedures with consistency. 
*You are in control of your classroom, they are not & don't let them be...you are the "Alpha".
*Have positive expectations and be a good "manager" who designs lessons to achieve mastery. 
*Beg, Borrow, & Steal but stay away from the negative & cynical teachers that live to complain all day long. These are the ones that refuse to go along with change and resist anything new. 
*You will be expected to perform the same duties as a teacher who has been there before you were even born.

I am currently writing a classroom management Ebook that will be finished soon. In this Ebook will be a more in depth explanation of my system. Don't worry, this blog post will help you too! The Ebook will discuss important procedures, routines, and general tips to help you along your journey. I will also include some books I use along with this management system as well. I will be giving some away & it will be posted on TPT as well. In the meantime, I am going to give you some tips to get your wheels spinning. 

Warm Fuzzies for Classroom Management

Above are the student containers sold by the case at Dollar Tree. These can be used or the no spill paint containers shown below which are more durable IMO.

Warm Fuzzies for Classroom Management

I have a secret...it's magical & it's NOT too late to start or consider a change.............2 words.........WARM FUZZIES. That is what I call them but they are basically a gift from above pom-poms.These magical fuzzies have worked miracles in my K-3 classrooms for over ten years. These are simply craft “pom-poms” that can be purchased at the Dollar Tree, Wal-Mart, any craft store. They are cheap friends but SO WORTH IT! I even get donations from parents.

Here are my two containers for big & little warm fuzzies. One BIG one equals 5 little ones. So to get a big one is kind of a big HUGE deal to a little one. I will give some examples for earning & losing fuzzies...big & little.


1. Each student that passes an AR test gets a BIG fuzzy.

2. If a student gets a "wow" on a spelling test or any random test they get a BIG fuzzy.

3. I have a line leader...refer to classroom job post...my line leader & I work together to watch the "secret walker" to and from our destination. My line leader picks a stick (I have about 5 cups in various places with each student's name on a popsicle stick) & is sworn to secrecy that they won't tell that person. If they are not caught talking in the hall they get a BIG fuzzy. If they are caught talking in the hall, they OWE me a BIG fuzzy. This pretty much keeps my whole class quiet down the hallway because they don't know if it's them or not.

4. Today I was reviewing what we have learned about penguins thus far. If they remember a BIG word such as "regurgitate" I will give them a BIG fuzzy.

5. I give voluntary monthly reading logs, extra spelling homework, etc & if they return it finished they get a BIG fuzzy.

6. When I blog on my classroom blog, I usually put a little note "If you read this blog tell your child I owe them a BIG fuzzy. We keep this on the down low & they know to whisper it to me. This is how I know who is even bothering to read our blog.

7. The first 5 who finish their morning work with NO mistakes get a big fuzzy. If they have one mistake then they get a little one. More than one mistake=NADA. 

8. If they use amazing words in their writing, they get a BIG FUZZY.

9. If they are a bucket filler, I give them a BIG FUZZY.

10. If a specific student gets a compliment from another teacher, they get a BIG FUZZY.


First of all I take these more than give them.

1. If they don't write their name on a paper...all I say is "fuzzy" & they turn one in.

2. If they are a "chicken" refer to post HERE...they owe me a fuzzy.

3. If they hand in homework w/out a name....fuzzy.

4. If they forget to pick their lunch, turn in their homework, sharpen a pencil, etc by the bell....fuzzy.

5. One of my classroom jobs is a "Scrap Monster". I will give them a heads up when the scrap monster is coming & if they have a crayon, pencil, glove or whatever on or under their desk...fuzzy. If they are clean & organized they get a fuzzy.

6. One of my jobs is "Cubby Inspector". If they leave a book, coat, shoe, whatever they may leave on the floor...fuzzy.

7. If another teacher pays us a compliment...each of them will get a fuzzy.

8. If they ignore the principal & don't attack him every time he walks in the room...fuzzy.

9. If they interrupt me while I'm gossiping taking care of business on the phone...fuzzy.

10. If they interrupt me and another adult while we're complaining talking about an issue with a parent...fuzzy.

I think I might just tally myself & keep track of how many times I say "fuzzy". Once this system is in place when I take one away it's like I just ruined their life. There are tears, kicking & screaming...you name it...I've seen it. BUT...it works. If we are ever gifted with a child I will totally do warm fuzzies with them at home. In fact, over the years I have at least a handful of parents that "steal" this idea and use it at home.

Warm Fuzzies

This is what they hold their fuzzies in. These no spill paint containers from Lakeshore Learning are supposed to be used for painting. The brush just lays inside. The hole is perfect. I can walk by & throw one in or if they owe me one their little fingers fit right in there WITHOUT taking off the lid. This caused problems at first. Basically, if they touch it, I take it. I know I'm a meanie. But you know if I wasn't strict about playing around with it they would have their hands in it or on it ALL. DAY. LONG.


On Friday is when we usually trade our fuzzies for the following. The lid ONLY comes off on Friday when I say they can count their fuzzies. If I see them trying to count them before, I take them all. Needless to say, this doesn't happen...EVER.
This is a view of the shelf with all the trading goodies. 

They can get a pencil, pencil grip, homework pass, or pencil top eraser for the price of 2 big fuzzies (=10) or 10 little fuzzies. 

Back in the 2010-2011 school year I knew that after the first week of school the treasure box or a piece of candy WAS NOT going to work with this bunch. Let's just say they were very active with MAJOR verbal overflow issues. 

This system is trial & error and what works best for you. If you keep reading you will see how this is going to change further this year. 
When we trade they can only pick the same coupon once. I learned this the HARD WAY. I had one student that chose 5 "Teacher's Desk" coupons. That is one of the most popular ones BTW. It has been trial & error with each coupon. For example, the "Teacher's Desk" coupon can only be used in the morning. They must go back to their own desk after lunch. If they are not focusing, which has happened....BUH-BYE. All coupons must be given to me by the bell or they are not "valid" that day...lol. Trust me, they remember this. They don't remember to pick their lunch but they remember to give me the "Stinky Feet" coupon! At first my little nuggets were overwhelmed by the choices but eventually they all have their favorites. Naturally since there are over 100 choices I do not pull these all out at once. I show them a few a day starting from day one. They know that our classroom is going to be fun and they will get rewarded for good behavior and for many, many other things & they are EXCITED.....YOU HAVE TO REEL THEM IN & they will take the bait!

I love when it's trading day & they get all excited....especially my really good students...because they get TONS of coupons that they deserve. On the flip side, if they are not reading, passing tests & not listening they barely have enough fuzzies to get one coupon. It's a very sad day for them BUT it makes them make better choices...for an hour..lol.

I printed them on card stock, laminated & cut & store them in the plastic container. It's their responsibility to hold onto their coupons in a safe place. If they lose it, not my problem. I think I have had one student lose a coupon & he's lucky he even had one. It's A.M.A.Z.I.N.G how responsible they become with these coupons. It gives them ownership & even more responsibility. It's great to reward the students that deserve all the prizes they get.

Now for the changes......................

Reward Coupons
As explained above I personally use fuzzies. Well, for some reason not everyone uses fuzzies...huh?? Say what? I get it....no I don't. Anyway, some of you use tickets, pennies, etc. Well, I'm not going to send you pennies but I did provide this new system with tickets to copy & laminate as well as suggestions on how to implement it. As you can see I have provided full color pictures of various ways to organize this magical classroom management system. If you are one of thousands who have already purchased this...guess what???? Go download it again for an additional 175 PAGES! You're welcome. This has consumed my entire summer & now I have to stop ignoring my husband.
Reward Coupons
You will see what these numbers stand for when you purchase or re-download. I will tell you that you do not have to use the numbers, fuzzies or whatever I use with the coupons. I made that part editable.
Reward Coupons
This was something that I ran into this past year that drove me nutso! The kids would hand me their coupons, by the bell, & I would just throw them in a container. Well, then I had about 6 gallon size ziploc bags full by the end of the year. I decided to make this loveliness above for my desk. Again, you will find out what the numbers mean after you re-download. The picture on the left I put the paper behind the drawer & I didn't like it. I like my colors to pop & practically blind me. Then I reached for my BFF, Modge Podge, & slapped it on the front of the drawer & look how much brighter that is! Oh, happy day! So, when the kids are in a mad rush to get me their coupons I will have somewhere to put them & keep them organized.
Reward Coupons

Reward Coupons for Classroom Management

Yes, I finally caved with the full pages. I got so many requests for these full pages but I really didn't see the point so I never took the time to make them. Well, as I was putting this all together, I do see a purpose. I can't wait to see those little nuggets paging through the binders to see what they want to earn. They have to see what they want...you know shop...shopping for goals! I LOVE IT! And the poor babes that don't have fuzzies can watch everyone else shop for their rewards..ha!
Reward Coupons

Reward Coupons for Classroom Management
After I found these Rainbow Loom storage containers at Michael's Craft store. I decided to print out my coupons @50% & now I'm able to store my coupons in 4 different containers. I have 10 fuzzies, 20 fuzzies, 50 fuzzies & 100 fuzzies. The ones for 100 fuzzies are the ones I feel are extremely special and really get on my nerves...LOL.

Reward Coupons


 Reward Coupons
 This is just about my favorite thing I did & can't wait to display this for my little nuggets. Since I don't pull out each coupon right away I made this display board to place in my classroom. I simply used a black tri-fold science board & placed velcro dots on each coupon & the other side on the board itself. Why did I use velcro? Well, you couldn't possibly fit all the coupons on all at once...that would overwhelm your little nuggets. You know your kids & you know what they like. You can tell if a certain coupon doesn't get chosen. If it doesn't, change it! That is why there are so many choices!
Reward Coupons
 All the letters you see on the display board are included! I also provided a ton of different variations to choose from in case you like different color combinations.
Reward Coupons
 All the circles with the numbers are included & are editable!
Reward Coupons
This portable tri-fold display is perfect to display all week or just on trading day!
Reward Coupons

Now if you are a new follower & would like to purchase these coupons click on either picture below. I am currently working on an Ebook that will be done soon. I have hundreds of emails to go through to answer all your questions & am also really anal about providing visuals that is why all my posts take so long! 
Since this is a throwback post, the Ebook was finished & you can check it out HERE! 

Reward Coupons

This set contains 55 DIFFERENT coupons and now features full page versions as well! Read the description to see the different choices. 

Set #2 is COMPLETELY brand new coupons!
 65+ DIFFERENT coupons from set #1 with full page versions as well!

Each set is over 250 pages! I have increased them both by at least 175+ pages! Yes, my entire summer has been consumed by this project! Tons of work & thought & EVEN SOME TEARS has went into both of these sets. It's at your fingertips, why reinvent the wheel?

Reward Coupons


After MANY requests, I decided to BUNDLE the COUPONS ONLY HERE


 I am giving away 5 copies of this new bundle. Please comment with your email and your favorite classroom management tip below! 

Reward Coupons

Reward Coupons

 My fingers started to cramp up...ouch! This is only a small sample of the 120 DIFFERENT reward coupons provided. 

Classroom Management

Read the awesome reviews, and I personally promise you, if you are consistent and follow this system.....YOUR CLASSROOM WILL TRANSFORM BEFORE YOUR EYES! 

Reward Coupons

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Periscope for Teachers


So Periscope is absolutely EXPLODING!!!!!! TEACHERS ARE TAKING IT OVER AND BREAKING IT! Right Ashley & Angie
If you are new to this or have never heard of this, please sign up NOW!!!!!!!!! You can find me under Seusstastic or @Mel_dillard. I have 3 broadcasts that I believe might have already expired. I will be trying to film something at least every other day. 

Follow Ashley & Angie ^^^^^^for Periscope tips...they are the Periscope Queens! 

Personally, I will be scoping things about Daily 5, classroom management (fuzzies, reward coupons), back to school routines, meet the teacher night, all about ORGANIZATION (school and home), my planner obsessions, school shopping, home decor, renovations and so much more! 

Teachers on Periscope

This is my teaching BFF Stacey from Teaching Ever After & you need to follow me on IG here & Stacey on IG here! We will be broadcasting live from our classrooms every Thursday at 3:30 central. We will be chatting about different topics each week. For example, classroom management, dealing with parents, back to school, routines, meet the teacher, organization, yearly planning, team teaching and so much more! We are excited! Mark your calendars or do an IG search for #melandstacey. 

I am super stoked about this app & I hope you all join me!
Comment with your periscope names & I will follow you. 
In the meantime, hop on over to sheilajaneteaching.com and join her periscope linky to find other teachers to follow.