Friday, July 12, 2013

Optimum Organization...Sorting Books and Managing Behavior

I wrote this post on Friday the 12th, but I realized the things I wrote about (especially my book sorting) would be something I could link up with for Fun in Room 4B's Optimum Organization linky.

Today was a good day. I got my hair cut since my school's principal is inviting the entire staff to a BBQ at her house tomorrow night so we can all meet each other(there is 90% new staff - including myself - at my school for the 2013-2014 year) and start collaborating for the upcoming year. I also stalked checked out Hobby Lobby to see if they got their ball chain in yet for my brag tags....I swear I had been in there at least 4 times this week to see if it came in (not quite sure the exact total, all I know is that it was enough to become the "mayor" of the store on Foursquare). The lady who usually works in the jewelry making section even knows be my name at this point because I kept looking for the ball chain... It was like looking for the lost city of Atlantis, no matter what store I went to, no one had it in stock. I was at the point that if I didn't find it today I was just going to order it online. But luck was on my side and I was able to buy the two spools of it that I needed.

After Hobby Lobby I went to the 99 Cents store and found these....
I bought out the store... They had 28 of these storage bins when I entered the store, they now have 0 until they restock. I plan on using these for my library in my classroom.

Which is why I'm blogging today...both of my purchases tie into topics that I have been meaning to blog about but haven't yet... my book sorting/classroom library as well as my behavior management system.

This year coming up will be my first year teaching a class on my own. I've been picking up books here and there since I was in grad school, but they've always just been kept in a big box in my garage. Now that I'll be  taking a bunch of them into my classroom with me, I needed to sort them out into categories and find containers for them all. So I grabbed my two "helpers"...

And started sorting through all the books I have that would be appropriate for a fourth grade classroom and this is how everything turned out...

The post its on the bins are just temporary labels for the categories for each bin until I fill out and laminate the bird ones I have that match my classroom theme. I also have library check out cards that I am putting in each book once I get over to Lakeshore and buy the pouches to to put in the back of each book. That way I'll know which kids are reading which books. I also plan on writing on each pouch which category each book belongs in, so when my class librarian has to do their job of returning books my kiddos were reading to the class library, they just have to check the inside back cover to know which bin the book belongs in. As of now, I have 19 bins and sorting the books has helped me see where I need to work on getting more books. The categories I have as of now are:

  • Goosebumps (there are 2 bins of these...I have almost the whole set)
  • Lemony Snicket
  • Help I'm Trapped In...
  • Jon Scieszca & Lane Smith
  • Fiction - Chapter Books
  • Fiction - Picture Books
  • Character Education
  • English/Language Arts
  • Social Studies
  • Science
  • Historical Fiction
  • Math
  • Poetry
  • Fables & Fairy Tales
  • Holidays
  • Biographies
  • Award Winners
  • Mentor Texts
I know I still need more books, so I may end up with more categories before the school year begins.

Now for the second thing I finished up working on today... my class behavior management system. I am a big believer in the concept of "Praise in public, discipline in private". For positive rewards I use 4 different things.

For specific achievements I use brag students can earn these for various things from being caught being good to being a good helper to mastering their multiplication facts to holding a classroom job. For those of you who aren't familiar with the idea of brag tags (sometimes called reward tags)...think of it as something along the lines of girl scouts earning badges but instead of badges, the students earn tags they can keep on their dog tag necklaces that stay on display in the classroom. At the end of the year, I let my students take them home with them.

For more individual rewards my students can also earn tickets throughout the day. Before the school year starts I'll pick up one of those giant rolls of tickets they sell at Walmart. I give them to students who are displaying good behavior/are on task throughout the day. The key is, my students never know when I am looking to give out tickets so they need to try to be on their best behavior at all times. Sometimes tickets may only be given to one or two kids, and sometimes I may reward small groups. My students can then turn in their tickets for reward coupons for various privileges like lunch with the teacher, a no homework pass, sit by a friend for a day, etc.

For whole class rewards I use a jar and 100 pom poms (I've learned the hard way that glass marbles are dangerous when they get lost on a classroom floor). I call the pom poms fuzzies and my class can earn fuzzies when everyone is on task/displaying good behavior. They can also earn them when they receive compliments from other teachers/staff members for their behavior as a class. The idea is that once all 100 fuzzies are earned, they class gets a reward. My plan for this year is that the first reward they will earn is a class pet (I plan on getting a small aquarium for my classroom). Other rewards could be 30 minutes of free time on a Friday afternoon, an extra recess period, getting to watch a movie, etc.

The point of all my strategies for rewarding good behavior is that they are affordable. The brag tags are things I can design myself in Photoshop and have printed and laminated. The reward coupons are also cheap and the rewards don't really cost anything either, and aside from the aquarium (which is really just an investment in something I will use for many years in my classroom) the rewards for earning the fuzzies can be cheap as well.

As for correcting students who make bad choices, I use a 5 step, color coded system system. I made a display poster that will remain up in my room all year so students don't forget the different consequences for making poor choices. At the very beginning of the school year (on the first day of school) I talk with my students about making choices and as a class we discuss what are good choices and poor choices that they can make at school. The one thing to note is that for "yellow" the wording for it has been changed from "Time Out" to "Think About It" as I think using the "Think About It" phrase works better...I just haven't taken updated photos of the materials.

To go along with this poster, I have a set of the small colored circles that I can hand out to students as needed when I need to correct their behavior. All I have to do is place the appropriate circle on their desk and continue teaching. It's a great way to tell the student's they need to make a better choice without having to really disrupt what you are doing. The circles students receive also have explanations on them so students don't have to interrupt me and ask what a particular color means.

The "Behavior Reflection Sheet" I have students fill out once they get to yellow is available for free on my TpT Store, so if you would like to download it, click here. If you do download it, please also take a moment to leave feedback. The great part of the behavior sheet is that I do require parents to sign it, and then I keep it in my student info binder, so if I ever need documentation for referrals, I have it. On the sheet, students are asked to list what they think a fair consequence would be if they continue to make poor choices. This consequence comes into play if the student is moved to purple and have to see me for a teacher conference. In terms of the student reaching red, I don't wait until the end of the day to contact the parent. I contact them as soon as the child is moved to red, and if it is not possible to call them at that exact moment, I call them ASAP (during a prep or during lunch). Usually though, most kids are great and won't ever go beyond green or blue because even at yellow they know their parents will definitely find out about them acting up in class.

Well, if you've made it all the way to the end of this loooong post, thanks for reading. How do you guys sort your books in your classroom libraries? What systems do you all use for behavior management? Make sure to comment below to let me know!

And don't forget to check out the other posts in the Optimum Organization linky too!


  1. Hi! Coming over from the organization linky! I love your new library bins! I have taught fourth grade for five years and next year will be looping up to teach 5th grade. I always loved 4th grade!

  2. I love the circle tokens to hand out during the lesson to those who need it. I have decided to use a color coded behavior chart this year and think your tokens will fit in nicely. I'll have to add that idea to my to do list. Thanks for sharing!
    On the Trail of Learning

  3. Your library bins look wonderful! Good luck with your new school...sounds exciting! Thanks for linking up with us.

    Fun in Room 4B


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