August 11, 2015

Buddy Bio Poems: Partner Poetry Writing

Buddy Bio Poems is a terrific activity that's a content-based writing lesson AND a fun icebreaker!
Imagine yourself in a new classroom during the first week of school. Unless your teacher starts off with at least a few getting-to-know you activities, it might be weeks before you feel comfortable enough to talk with your classmates and actively participate in lessons. 

On the other hand, if you're lucky enough to have a teacher who does start off with icebreaker activities, you'll settle in and be ready to learn in no time! 

The only problem from the teacher's standpoint is that it can be challenge to find meaningful icebreakers that don't feel like a complete waste of time. That's why you'll appreciate this partner poetry lesson! Having students write Buddy Bio Poems is a perfect way to integrate a content-based writing lesson with a fun icebreaker! In this lesson, each student interviews a partner to gather facts and information about his or her classmate. Then each person composes a short bio poem to share what he or she learned during the interview.

My Buddy Bio Poem idea began as a simple back-to-school activity based on my Bio Poems Made Easy freebie. However, as I began to write out the directions and create the printables to go with the lesson, I realized that the activity is something you can do any time during the year! If you like the Buddy Bio Poems concept, feel free to adapt the printables in that freebie to use with the activity. 

Ready-to-Use Buddy Bio Poems Lesson
On the other hand, if you're short on planning time or don't want to bother creating your own printables, you can purchase the ready-to-use Buddy Bio Poems pack shown below from my TpT store. If you'd like a closer look at what's in this packet, click here to see a complete preview.  Buddy Bio Poems includes complete teacher directions, a sample bio poem, buddy interview questions, a list of character traits, a bio poem planning page, and a variety of decorative writing papers for the final poems. In other words, I've done all the work for you, and all you have to do is print what you need and have fun teaching the lesson!

Sharing Buddy Bio Poems
Did I mention that bio poems make a terrific bulletin board display, perfect for open house? :-) One option is to add a student photo to the final version of each poem as shown in the example below. If you choose this option and post the finished products on a bulletin board or wall, your students will learn each other's names in no time! The poems can also be laminated and bound together to create a class book to keep in a literacy center for students to read at their leisure. Or you could scan the poems, convert them to PDF files, and create a digital ebook to publish on a class website or blog. 

Included in Laura Candler's Poetry Combo!
If you've already purchased my Poetry Combo, I have good news for you! Because I just added Buddy Bio Poems to that combo, those who already own it can download this new addition absolutely free! Go to your My Purchases page on TpT and search for this product, then download the file again.

In addition to being a fun back-to-school icebreaker, the Buddy Bio Poems activity would be a fun lesson during the hectic days before a holiday or as an introductory lesson for a poetry unit. No matter when you do this activity, your students will be proud of their poems and will enjoy learning fun facts about their classmates!

August 4, 2015

Easy Classroom Management System that Works!

Easy classroom management system that will take the chaos out of your classroom!

When it comes to classroom management, actions speak louder than words. If you have an effective management system in place, you don't have to raise your voice or waste class time lecturing students about their behavior. You simply take action!

The most effective system that I ever used was called the "stoplight" management system. To implement this system, I first created a "Go for Green" bulletin board in my classroom. I posted a large illustration of a stoplight, but mine had a slight modification. It had four colors: green, yellow, orange, and red. I arranged a set of library pockets around the stoplight, and each numbered pocket represented a student in the class. Here's a picture that was taken in my classroom over 10 years ago, and you can tell it was something I used again and again!

Go for Green is an classroom management system that will take the chaos out of your classroom!

Here's how it worked. Everyone started off each day on green. The first time a student engaged in an off-task behaviors, I pulled a yellow "tag," or paper slip from the pocket at the base of the stoplight and inserted in the student's pocket on top of the green tag. This was simply a warning. If the off-task behavior continued, I added an orange tag to the student's pocket and they had to complete a Time Out form. Red was reserved for severe infractions and resulted in a trip to the office and/or an immediate call to parents.

If you like this system, you can download a free set of directions and a picture of the stoplight bulletin board to help you remember what to do.

One reason I like this method so much is that it's an easy way to manage the learning environment without constant nagging and angry outbursts. Students can be reminded without a lot of fuss that they are off-task and easily redirected to the assignment at hand.

I kept a poster like this one on the wall at the front of my room that proclaimed my right to teach and my students' right to learn. I promised to do everything in my power to ensure that these rights were respected. This system helped me keep that promise and ensure that our time together wasn't wasted. If you like this poster and would like a copy, read below to find out how to get it.

Go for Green is an classroom management system that will take the chaos out of your classroom!
Go For Green Stoplight System
A few years ago, I wanted to share the entire system with other teachers and make it easy to implement, so I began to write out step-by-step directions. The next thing I knew, I was creating a pattern for the stoplight because I didn't want anyone to have to draw one by hand. Then I decided to add a helpful class chart for recording the stoplight colors at the end of the day and and two Time Out forms! What started out as a simple one-page description morphed into an entire product! The Go for Green Stoplight Management packet also includes a copy of the teaching and learning poster above. You can preview the whole thing online here or on TeachersPayTeachers to see if it meets your needs.

I recently updated this product, so if you have already purchased it and your version doesn't look like the one shown here, you can go to TpT and download the new version for free.

 If you would like to purchase the complete packet shown here, you'll find it in my TeachersPayTeachers store. I think you'll discovered that it's easy to implement and it really works!  
Laura Candler