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Classroom Habitudes: Week 3


In case you aren't familiar with the book, here's a listing of the 7 Habitudes covered: 

Today I'll be talking about Chapters 5 and 6: Perseverance and Courage.  My school does a monthly virtue focus and Perseverance and Courage are the two Habitudes that we've looked at in our virtues.  That being said, they are the two I would say my students are most familiar with.  

In math, one of my first lessons I do look at the traits of a mathematician.  I do the same thing with reading.  In both situations, perseverance is one of the traits.  Students need to rank the traits in order of importance.  With math, other traits include teamwork and flexibility.  Perseverance is usually in the top three traits - last year it was ranked trait number one by my students.  A good mathematician can never give up.  (Which comes in really handy in a word problem when they come to me and say, "I'm done!")

According to Angela Maiers, students need to see several examples of perseverance around them.  Many positive role models are needed for them to see the benefits of perseverance.  And unfortunately, many students aren't having these opportunities in their homes and communities.

Perseverance is also a tricky Habitude because it requires patience and self-awareness and self-regulation skills to already be developed. 

A picture book a friend has used to teach perseverance is "Stuck" by Oliver Jeffers.  In this book a young boy gets his kite stuck in a tree and in his efforts, many other items become stuck too.  But, he perseveres to get it out!

Angela suggests you show the following word to your students and record their opinions around the word.

She wants them to connect to the word with feelings and experiences.  This is something I'll be adding to my classroom for sure.  Failure is an essential piece of learning.  It is nothing to be ashamed of.  Failure will happen.  Angela says, "Failure is not your enemy; perfection is".  I've seen this issue in several students, and sometimes, in myself too!

I like this next quote, because even though it's in the perseverance section, it ties nicely into courage.....

"Students are willing and able to take the ride ad risk outside of school but don't transfer the same willingness to plunge within the confines of classroom work."  Yikes!  I've seen this in action, but haven't really wondered why until I saw it written out like that.  Why are students willing to take a risk outside of the classroom, but not within?  Is it because their peers are nearby?  Is it because the buy-in isn't the same?  I'm not sure....

A picture book I like to use for teaching courage is, aptly named, "Courage", by Bernard Waber.  It has many great examples of every day courage and makes it clear you can be courageous without the big, heroic efforts that are usually associated with courage.

Finally, Angela argues that students must be willing to get uncomfortable.  She says that when they are comfortable they are at risk for boredom, disinterest and resistance to change.  When you think about a growth vs. fixed mindset, it becomes clear that the willingness to become uncomfortable is essential to a growth mindset.  Again, another takeaway for me and my class lessons for next year.

Join me next week to check out the final two Habitudes: Passion and Adaptability.

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7 Ways to Use Post It Notes in the Classroom

Who doesn't love Post-It Notes, right?  I've got them in every shape, size and colour in my classroom!

 Sometimes the top drawer of my desk looks like it contains nothing but Post-It's!  I while back I blogged about my Teacher Must Haves.  Of course, Post-It's were on the list!
I briefly wrote in that post about some of my uses for Post-It's in my classroom and thought this could easily be a post on it's own!

Students write their thoughts on a Post-It.  One thought per note. Then, they share ideas aloud to their table group and can sort as a group. It's easy to rearrange their thoughts into categories, grouping similar ideas and coming to consensus about the most important points.  They are then really simply transferred to the whiteboard or chart paper for a whole class listing.

In the image I've shared here, my class was allowed to use as many stickies as they wanted.  They had to write one detail about weather per note.  We then placed them on the whiteboard under the main categories I taught in the unit.  I could tell right away where the deepest understanding was and where I needed to go back and reteach.

Tickets out the door are a great way to assess student understanding of a topic. I usually have kids pass me their ticket at the door, or just place it on my desk or rainbow table.  I like that it's a quick glance at what they're all thinking, but it's private too.  No one needs to know what someone else wrote down.  You tend to get more honest answers that way, especially as kids get older.

Our librarian, Mrs. Duncan did an awesome activity with the kids this past year.  She read a picture book to each class and asked them "What stuck with you today?" She created an amazing bulletin board full of their stickies.  I wish I had taken a picture of it!  It was neat to see the kindergarten drawings mixed in with the intermediate answers all on the same topic.  A great way to differentiate!

Any time we need to vote in my classroom I pass out a small Post-It to each student.  Sure, I could use scraps of paper, but Post-It's are pre-cut and that's valuable time to me.

Some things we vote on are:
- citizenship awards at the end of the year
- the name for our Elf on a Shelf
- class reward choices

Okay, first off, don't you just love this super old copy of "Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing"?!  I just snagged it at the thrift store.  I'm so excited because it has some great images and all my new copies don't have pictures!  #teacherdeals

I start Lit. Circles in my class after Spring Break.  With their book, I give everyone a set of small Post-It notes.  They can use these to mark spots where they make a connection or have a question.  I highly value being able to write in books.  I know it deepens my comprehension.  While it isn't possible for students to write in Lit Circle books, the little flags are a great way to remind them of places they connected with for response and discussion. 

Side note: I find the plasticized ones to be better as they are trickier to write on, cutting down on notes passed about the room with them!  Not always a problem, but it has been in the past.

When I introduce area to my math crew, Post-It notes are always involved.  They think it's super fun to cover a desk top or small whiteboard or notebook cover in square Post-It's.  It's an easy way to add some interest and hands-on learning to deepen the understanding.

It's okay if the Post-It's don't perfectly line up to the edges of the thing you're measuring, it adds in that layer of deeper thinking with some estimation.


Post-It's are my quick, easy way to reminding myself where to stop during a read aloud.  I rarely read an entire picture book in a day.  It's usually spread out over a week or more. 

(What can I say, I like to build some suspense!)

A little flag on the side, and I know to stop to discuss, analyze and image or do some writing.

Of course, I use Post-It's for reminders!! Whenever a student asks me to print extra 100s charts, or bring something from home, they know to write me a Post-It and stick it to my laptop.  I can't lose it there and won't forget when I'm working after school.  My day book is usually cluttered with them too.

There are SO MANY more uses for Post-It Notes!  What do you use them for?  Tell me in the comments!

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Classroom Habitudes: Week 2


In case you aren't familiar with the book, here's a listing of the 7 Habitudes covered: 

Today I'm talking about Chapters 3 and 4, which are Curiosity and Self-Awareness.

I mentioned this in my first post, but I really like how this book is structured.  For every Habitude Angela Maiers explains the value behind it and then gives some practical, easy to implement lessons and teacher talk.  For the Curiosity Habitude, Angela shares a variety of curiousity quotes from famous people with her students.  One of the things she has them consider is "How did curiosity benefit this person as a learner?"  I have to say, I LOVE this question.  Anything that gets kids thinking about the benefit for them... I'm there.

I don't really teach with the Adrienne Gear "Reading Power" series, but I know several teachers in my building who do.  As I read the Curiosity section, I immediately thought it would tie in nicely with the Questioning power from Gear's series.

Reading Power Book Cover

 I connected a lot with the Self-Awareness Habitude.  

This quote got me.  When children enter my classroom, I want them to be a part of the learning, right away.  In every lesson, I want them to see value and understand why they are learning it.  I want them to OWN their learning.

With my Smart Learning background, the students in my class are constantly setting goals and reflecting on them.  Angela Maiers has some really good teacher talk that I'm going to add into my introduction goal setting lessons.  I'm not going to post what that is here, because I don't want too give too much of the book away!!


This book struck me often with the quick, practical applications.  I've got about 20 Post It notes down the side of things to implement ASAP, with tonnes of notes written directly onto the pages.  Every September, I have my students fill out a "What's Important" sheet.  I pull the students one-by-one and interview them during quiet reading time to finalize the information, take the pictures to add to the page and print for my TOC binder.  This file has been for sale in my TpT store for a while.  However, after reading the book, I've been inspired to update the file a bit and added two more questions:

I'm the sort of person who learns well when:

Something that gets in the way of my learning is:


My intention with this survey is to give students some ownership over their learning and self-awareness on their personal learning style.  I can help my students regulate, but only to a certain point.  They need to recognize their own learning needs too.  By including these pages in my TOC binder, any substitute teacher in my room gets a quick snapshot of each of my kids.  I've had a lot of really positive feedback from them.  Next year, I intend to update the sheets after Christmas too.

You can click on the images above to head to my store and view the file. 

Don't forget to check out what the others thought of Chapters 3 and 4!

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Must Have Monday


Freebielicious has a GREAT linky party going on today!  They are sharing their teacher must haves.  I knew right away what items I would list!! 

So, without further ado...

 Must Have #1 is definitely my #1, without a doubt!  I love Expo markers!  Nothing else will touch my whiteboard.  I loathe those cheap ones the school buys.  They erase terribly and leave smears all over my board.  Expo's come in so many pretty colours, too!  I treat myself to the multi-pack twice a year, once in September and once after Christmas.  However, I may have splurged this year, because they came out with a pack with new colours! My heart was soaring.  Can't wait to write out my first day schedule with these babies.  I love the feeling of a fresh Expo marker gliding across the board.  I am seriously obsessed.  #teacherobsession

Item number two is Flair Pens.  If you haven't used these yet, you must be living under a rock.  Again, so many pretty colours. And! They've just released a pack with new shades I had to snag too.  Writing staff meeting notes with these pens makes it a little more fun, don't you think?

Post-It Notes are my next must have.  I have them in every size, shape and colour.  Just a few things I use Post-Its for... student voting, ticket's out the door, brainstorming webs (students write their ideas and stick to the board), literature circles, guided reading.  So many awesome uses.

My final must have is something I'm not sure I could live without.  I've got many of these caddies from Really Good Stuff in my classroom.  I use the colour in the top right - neon blue.  I hate students having cluttered desks.  We keep scissors, glue sticks, markers, pencil crayons and sharpeners in these bins.  When we're working on a task, they grab a bin and bring in to their table group.  It cuts down on the unclaimed supplies rolling about the floor and people cutting their hair or clothing during lessons.  Yeah.... the things we deal with, right?

If you are a blogger with a "must have" item, please share it on your blog and link up with Freebielicious!
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Classroom Habitudes: Week 1

One of my goals this summer is to do some serious reading.  I've a *MASSIVE* stack of books on my nightstand, both for personal and professional reading.  One book I've been wanting to read for a while is "Classroom Habitudes".  Last summer, I did a book study on "The Book Whisperer".  If you'd like to read that book study, just click here.  When Linda suggested we do another study this year, I knew right away this was the book for us.

What are the Habitudes, you ask?  I could tell you, but I found this short clip of the author, Angela Maiers, explaining them, and I can't do it better than her!

So, in the video she mentions 7 Habitudes.  If it was too quick for you, here they all are:

Each Habitude has its own chapter.  Since I'm looking at the Introduction, Chapter 1, and Chapter 2, I'm going to talk about Imagination (Chapter 2) in a bit.

What struck me about this book was that it is full of QR codes.  If you haven't played with QR codes, you need to download a scanner app and play with one immediately. They have so many uses in the classroom!  I just thought, "Wow, what a technologically advanced book I'm reading".  It is really cool to scan the codes as I'm reading and head to her website for further examples or video clips.  I'm able to go a little deeper and it's more interactive and engaging.   A very cool concept!

Chapter 1 is all about nurturing genius.  Angela says it is important learners who are told of and understand their unique abilities will become more confident and better able to handle themselves under stress.  If you're a frequent reader of my blog, you know I'm working hard to develop a growth mindset culture in my classroom and this really speaks to my efforts.

Angela says you need to name the Habitudes with your students so they can have better meaning of them.  She's got some great lessons to get this going.  Another pro to this book is all the teacher talk.  She lays it all out for you, so no guesswork is needed!  One activity I will be using next year is where she lists the Habitudes, and students need to explain what each one looks like, sounds like and feels like.  They then need to explain when would be a good time and a not so good time to use each Habitude in their learning journey.

Chapter 2 brings us to the first Habitude: Imagination.  She says that "imagination is our mind's eye and gives us the capacity to jump from present facts to future possibilities."  Again, she has awesome teacher talk and lesson plans to get your students thinking about imagination.

I'll finish up this week with an imagination quote I really enjoyed and think will give a bit of real-life meaning to my students.

Head over to these lovely ladies and see what they thought of the first part of the book:

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Teach Like A Pirate

I'll admit, I wanted to read this book because of the name.  I know!  You aren't supposed to judge a book by its cover, but I did.  And I'll be honest - I'm glad I did!  This book was excellent.

I love teacher books where reading them is like a conversation.  I HATE the dry stuff.  Dave Burgess did an awesome job of connecting to me and my teaching style.  The name comes from the 6 pieces of the philosophy a teacher must have to empower classroom climate:

 Throughout the book, I kept saying things like "wow" or "I really need to meet this guy" or "I wish he worked in my building" as I read.  Our philosophies are so similar! Dave says that teachers need to find passion in every lesson and if they can't be passionate with the content then they can find ways to be passionate about the delivery. 

He argues that a teacher can either be a lifeguard or a swimmer.  You can get in the action or sit on the sidelines.  It's far more powerful to "swim" with your students.  We talked about this so much in my self-regulation book study this past year.   People have such difficulty being in the moment.  Life is fast moving and people need to put down their cell phones and just enjoy what's happening around them.  We are seeing a lot of children enter the school system without the ability to have a proper conversation and it's because parents just aren't talking to their kids anymore!  The electronics need to go away!  .... but I digress....

My school did a trial of a morning run the last 6 or so weeks of school.  I hope that we continue it next year.  It was a great way to connect with kids beyond my classroom.  I also stand at my door at recess and lunch and greet kids at the door.  Not only is it a good check to see how things went for my people outside, but also to interact with other students.  Dave says "being available to kids says a lot to them about whether or not you are interested in them beyond your particular class".  I agree 100%!

One bit that I disagree with, is Dave's mention of his classroom and lessons being a "show".  I get that he is trying to build anticipation and intrigue with this reference.  However, I am by no means an entertainer.  What I do in my classroom can be engaging and I certainly hope a good time, but I am not there to put on a show for kids.  We have a job to do, and it won't always be a good time for everyone.  It will be hard work, but based on how I structure the lessons, I know they will enjoy it.

In the "Ask and Analyze" section, Dave says that teachers need to be reflective.  After every lesson they should be asking themselves "How was that? What can I improve? What will I keep? What will I change?" I heard this a lot in my teacher training.  But, even before the lesson, he says teachers should be asking questions.  He says, "the types of questions we ask ourselves determine the answers we will receive".  This really spoke to the growth mindset culture I'm trying to build in myself and students.  He has a whole section on questions a teacher can ask themselves when creating a lesson, including:

- How can I incorporate movement into this lesson?
- How can I get my class outside my four walls for this lesson? (LOVE this one!)
- Can I use music to make my transitions smoother and more engaging?

In fact, there's over 50 pages of these questions and great examples of how to employ them in your room.  I am going to recommend this book to our teacher training facilitator in the district, because I think student teachers NEED to read this chunk of the book, if not the whole thing.

What am I taking away from this book?  Here's my big 3:
1) My students need to get outside of the classroom more often.  There's so many real life learning examples in my community and I need to get my kids out there experiencing it.  My goal for this upcoming year is to do 1 lesson a month out of my classroom, even if it means heading out to the playground or school library.
2) It's okay to do things in class because it increases the fun factor and positive feelings about school.  The new BC Draft Curriculum really allows for this too, and I think takes the pressure off of teachers guilt for not "covering it all".  It's okay to go deep, not broad.
3) It's okay to answer that awkward question: I want to be great.  Dave says "your greatness in the classroom doesn't negatively impact or inhibit anyone else's opportunity to be great" and "by being great, you are raising the bar and providing a model for others to emulate".  I have to tell you, those two sentences made me feel really good about all the hard work I do in my classroom for my students.

Note: I was not compensated in any way for this post.  I just really liked the book!

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