Monday, April 8, 2013

Spark Student Motivation, Let's Get Acquainted, and a follow up on my Spring Break Bucket List!

First up, I am linking up with my sweet friend Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her:

Yes, I know it's not Saturday, but it kinda is for me since I'm on spring break (finally!!) so, it's ok that I'm a few days late, right?  ;O)

I'm just gonna share a quick trick I use each year about 2 weeks before testing starts.  Our state testing comes a week after we get back from spring break.  So, the weeks leading up to testing, students are sooooo ready for spring break, and it can be hard to keep their attention, especially when we are in full review mode.

So, I throw something completely new at them in hopes that this new idea will motivate them to pay attention and participate.  And it does (thankfully!!)

I have these pink tickets from Oriental Trading:

They have lasted forEVER.  So, here is what I do...

I explain how they can earn tickets (paying attention, staying on task, and participating in discussion and review- my students "mostly" behave, I just really want them focused on instruction ALL...DAY...LONG).  Then, we get right on started with the reviewing and I give away tickets like crazy that first hour.

Once a student receives a ticket, they put their name on the back.  At the end of the day, I pull 3, 4, 5, or however many I want from the pink bucket they put them in (can you tell I have an affection for pink?) .  I wish I had pictures, but I forgot to take one before I left Friday.  :O(

Once their name is pulled, they can come get their prize.  Usually, it's a piece of candy from my candy box.  Sometimes, though, it may be no laps at recess (we have a track and students are required to do 2 laps before they can play) or maybe they get to use one of my pillows the entire next day while we are doing floor activities.  Honestly, it doesn't really matter what the prize is, they just want to win!

I leave all of the tickets in the bucket after I have pulled the day's winners.  That way, they have more chances to win if they have received more tickets (we discuss probability briefly).

I started this this past week with my students and there was an immediate improvement on focus levels and participation.  I know it's a very simple motivation tool, but it works, and I'm all about simple in the midst of the stress of upcoming testing!!  :O)

Head over to Joanne's blog and find some more great motivation strategies and link up your own if you can!

I'm also linking up with Latoya for:

(Beware- the rest of this post is totally personal and nothing to do with teaching!)  ;O)

Finally...if you recall a few weeks back I posted my spring break bucket list.  On there, I said I wanted to start going to the gym again.  Weeeeeeell...I went today.  Here's how it went:

I decided to take the spin class because it was only 45 minutes long and I'd mostly be sitting so maybe it wouldn't seem like I was having to do as much?

I tell my kids we are going to the gym and I hear things like, "Wow, we haven't been there in forever!" and "K has never even been there because we haven't been since he was a little baby!".  I'm already feeling very out of shape but this isn't helping.  Thanks kids.

Anyway, out we go and off to the gym.  We get there and I'm trying to sneak in because I haven't been in over a year.  I quickly scan my card and head to the kids room but, nope, don't get past before the trainer at the front desks checks the computer as I go in and she looks at me (with THAT look) and says, "Welcome back Amanda!" and then she kinda laughs.  Not really in a mean way, just in a "I've got your # you lazy thing you!" kind of way.

So, it's not going great so far, but I'm a finisher so I don't give up (and I haven't even started working out yet!)  I drop the kids in the playroom and head upstairs to the spin class.  First off, they've changed the bikes and so now I have to figure this out.  I do and it's fine.  Phew.

Finally, we start the class and I'm nervous.  30 seconds into song 1 (there are about 7 songs) I realize I've made a huge mistake by taking this as my first class.  By song 2, my legs are screaming.  By the 3rd song, I'm looking around wondering who I need to tell that I have 3 kids down in the playroom so please have them call my husband when I pass out, fall off the bike, and go to the hospital in the ambulance.

Song 4 is a "ride easy" song so I sat and "rode easy" trying to catch my breathe.  Song 5 I realized that I had gripped the handle bars so tightly I had ripped off a little bit of skin on my right thumb when I was trying to will myself to keep going.  By song 6 pure adrenaline kicked in and my body was in fight or flight mode so most of the pain subsided and I was just trying to be done!!  The last song hit and I was soooo happy to be finished!

It's always a little nerve-wracking when you get off the bike because it's never a sure thing your legs will hold up under you.  Mine mostly did, but it was touch and go for a second.  We stretched and then I headed for the stairs to get my kiddos.  One foot down the steps and I knew that I was possibly not going to make it down the stairs on those legs.  I considered going down like my 2 year old (sitting on my bottom and just sliding down) but I thought that may call a little too much attention to myself so I gripped the handle hard and took it step by step.  Finally, I made it with out falling and picked up my kids.  (I'm sure this was quite comical to many people to watch.)

So, how do I feel...hmmm.  Mostly like I'm very out of shape.  My legs are ok now, but definitely when I go upstairs I realize tomorrow I probably won't be able to walk.  But I'll push through it and go back tomorrow anyway.  Oh, and I probably won't be able to sit for a week.  I wonder what class I should do tomorrow...hmmmmm...  ;O)

Anyway, back to school related things,  how do you get your students motivated during spring fever/test prep time?  I'll take all the suggestions I can get!


  1. Hilarious story! I probably wouldn't have made it through the first song let alone all seven!! Kudos to you. I definitely need to start exercising myself. Testing is a stressful time of the year for me since I am an intervention specialist I get the joy of administering the test to three different grade levels for 2 weeks straight! Yuck! Leading up to testing I try to be positive and uplifting. Then we practice, practice, practice! Of course this information is not rock science. Best of luck to surviving your testing:) Enjoy your break!
    The Phonics Phenomenon

  2. Oh friend, that is quite the story. I'm sure someday soon I'll have something similar (though I'm not sure I'd be brave enough to share it). My husband signed up both up for gym memberships so we could golf (I'm not sure he truly understands my lack of hand eye coordination). Haha. Make sure to enjoy some of your break too before all the testing begins!

    Teaching Tales Along the Yellow Brick Road

  3. What a way to ease into your Spring Break - wasn't shopping on your bucket list - you should have started there! Enjoy the rest of your break!

    Looking From Third to Fourth

  4. The first spin class I ever went to I had no idea what I was getting in to-- that is what I call an intense workout! When my husband and I left the gym after the class, a lady wanted to be real nice and let us cross in front of her car since we were the pedestrians, so she stopped, but we felt like we should hustle across to our spot so she could get on her way and we both nearly fell over when trying to move our feet faster than a slow walk...but we survived and went back and loved those spin classes! So I totally get where you are coming from--too funny! Hope you find another fun class tomorrow! :)
    Learning to the Core

  5. You should have called to not only make me suffer with you, but I could have driven the kids home to the hubby. LOL
    ideas by jivey

  6. Oh my goodness your gym story had me cracking up. You won't catch me in a spin class! I get sea legs on the treadmill! I am a Zumba girl all the way.

    Everyone deServes to Learn

  7. You are closer to in shape than me. I don't even have a gym membership. I walk the dog. Occasionally, I walk by myself. Your story was funny, but inspiring.

    For pre-test/springitis, I am using Class Dojo. I've been using it for a little over a year now. Today, I introduced a new way of using it to my classes. We will see if it still has its magic powers of persuasion in a few weeks. I think this is going to be my Tried It Tuesday topic over at Fourth Grade Flippers tomorrow.


  8. Oh deary dear!! I cannot even imagine taking a spin class - eek! But at this point, I would be MORE than willing to spin spin spin just to be able to move around. I'm finally walking a bit without crutches though, so maybe I'll be right there with ya soon! Love your ticket idea :)

    Keepin’ It Kool In KinderLand

  9. Hahaha!! You should have walked in and been like... "Oh this place isn't as good as the P 90X I've been doing" as you walked by the lady at the front on the way out. I had the judgy people at the gym. Yeah they work there but do they reallllllly work out?! The big buff guys do, but what about the girls. I'm not so sure. Haha, they prolly do, I'm just hatin!

    Loved your story :)
    Closing the Gap... in a Cute Outfit!

  10. I use tickets in my classroom too - it's an awesome motivator!

    Hah! I laughed all the way through your gym story - I can definitely relate! I took a pilates class a couple of years ago (when Pilates was all the rage) and I thought it'd be "no big deal"...boy was I wrong. Halfway through every class I thought I was going to keel over. Everyone would be counting and I would be screaming, "Why did I get myself into this?" "what in the world am I doing?"
    Now I was screaming internally - but I was certainly tempted to let loose and let the world know my internal monologue :)

    Enjoy your Spring Break!

    Joy in the Journey

  11. I will be in your shoes next week, well no gym because the ones around here don't have kid rooms. I will start running on my spring break again. Glad you are getting some exercise, I hope you aren't too sore tomorrow! :)
    Pinkadots Elementary

  12. Thanks for joining my party! I'm a huge fan of tickets-they work wonders!
    I'm hysterically laughing at your gym post...only because I did that same thing over a week ago on my spring break! I'm one of those who thinks she can get in shape in a week kind of gal-even though I haven't been in a year! That night I wasn't even sore, so I thought hmmmm...not too bad-I got this! Next morning, seriously, my husband had to help me go to the bathroom! I could not squat! I really just wanted to get Depends and skip the whole toilet thing!!! Good luck tomorrow!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  13. Your story is really funny! I can't imagine having to go to the gym with kids...I can't even get myself there alone never mind with children. My husband just cancelled my gym membership since he was annoyed that I haven't been in like a year. The classes always intimidate me because I don't want to look like a loser! Good for you for giving it a try!

    Literacy Spark

  14. You are too funny!! My sister actually teaches spinning classes and I don't think I could ever try it! I scream just trying to bike up a wee little hill:) I have been taking kickboxing for almost two years and am often sore...BUT my legs were sore for FOUR days after a class on 3/30 (I won't forget it and it was the worst I have ever experienced!) We did all different types of lunges and squats for what seemed like forever! Our instructor actually said, "I think it is really interesting when I see muscular failure!" Seriously, I was walking around like an old lady. Good luck tomorrow morning and the next day:)
    Fourth Grade Flipper

  15. I am just cracking up! I don't make any kind of resolution or "goal" to workout! Why kid myself?! LOL! I have worked out but I HATE it! My hubby pumped iron since he was 16. Now he's 40 something-ish and has arthritis, bad knees, had shoulder surgery...I always tell him, "see...working out is overrated. Look where it got you!" Don't give up though! :-)
    Beach Sand and Lesson Plans

  16. Thanks for the laugh. Tomorrow will be easier. :)

  17. I consider myself pretty in shape (meaning I at least GO to the gym 5 days a week). I made the mistake of taking a spin class ONCE and I will NEVER take one again!! EVER!! ;)

    Teaching Maddeness

  18. Just found you through the linky party. I too am trying to get into shape. Its my goal for the summer.

    Think, Wonder, & Teach

  19. Gah I could not survive one of those spin classes! I am in awe of your abilities! Just using a regular treadmill gets my legs & balance all crazy! I love the ticket idea btw!

  20. Spin class scares me and your experience has just validated it even more for me :) I love that you too coordinate your children's outfits :) I swore I would never do it, but do it as often as possible!


  21. Hilarous! The first time I took a spin class, I spent the majority of the time riding standing up because my butt was hurting so bad! To make matters worse a class member teased me mercilessly by saying, "Oh, it will only take a few months before your butt gets used to it..." You should have seen the look on my face..... o_O. I hobbled into Walmart as soon as I left and picked up a bike seat. But, since I haven't been back to spin in a looooong time, I'm sure if I every went back I would be starting all over again!

    Happy spinning nad Have a Great Week!
    Surviving Sixth Grade


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