Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Bullying – How To Spot The Signs

Every teacher knows that bullying is a very nasty problem. Alas, horrible though it is, bullying and being bullied seems to be something which is ingrained within the nature of any largeish group of children. Arguably, its roots lie in our need to define ‘pack’ boundaries and discover our own place in the ‘tribe’ – something which is particularly pertinent during childhood, when we are trying to establish our place in the world. Without fundamentally changing the human character, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever entirely eradicate the problem of bullying. Partly this is because the nature of bullying is as flexible as humanity itself, and changes with the times. One of the best things that we can do is to try and spot the early-warning signs of bullying, and try to help both victims and perpetrators to get over it before some serious psychological damage is done. Unfortunately, children who already feel vulnerable due to bullying are unlikely to want to make themselves appear even more ‘weak’ and ‘pathetic’ in the eyes of those whom they love and respect – and often will not tell anyone that they’re suffering. With this in mind, here are some signs to watch out for, which may give you advance-warning that a child is being bullied.

Physical Signs
Sometimes, a case of ‘bullying’ is as simple as the victim being physically attacked. In this case, it’s fairly easy to see the damage which occurs – although distinguishing bullying bruises from the kind of bumps and scrapes incurred through natural rough-and-tumble play can be tricky. It’s perhaps a good idea to keep an eye on any frequently bashed-about child, and look for secondary physical signs to confirm your suspicions. Bullied children are likely to be extremely stressed, and this stress will bring about certain symptoms. Frequent headaches, low mood, unexplained muscle pains, excessive loss or gain of weight, nausea, and a susceptibility to illnesses (due to lowered immune response) are all symptoms of stress. There is a school of thought which posits that such symptoms may also reinforce the bullying – the theory runs that bullies expect fewer repercussions from physically weaker children, and thus pick on those who are more frequently ill. Whatever the truth of this is, it is certainly the case that the stress of bullying can turn a strong child into a physical wreck, and will drive a weak one further into their weakness. Keep an eye, therefore, on any child which seems to be physically ailing, and watch closely for bullying incidents.

Mental Signs
The psychological effects of bullying are perhaps the most damaging aspect of the problem. Studies have shown that those who are bullied as children are likely to suffer from lifelong mental and social issues. It is therefore really important to catch bullying early on, and give the child the coping skills they need to process, cope with, and move on from their experience before it begins to affect them negatively in the long term. The psychological signs of bullying are much harder to spot than the physical ones, for obvious reasons, but can often be the most telling. Bullied children are likely to become withdrawn, to lack in self-confidence, and to display anxiety or discomfort in social situations. They may become irritable, or even aggressive due to the stress they are under. They may well become secretive, trying to hide things (including their own knowledge and personalities), and will do their best to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Naturally, this can impact upon their school performance. The effect of bullying upon a child’s state of mind should not be underestimated. It can consume their entire sense of self, particularly as children are in a state of particular powerlessness. They must return again and again to the environment in which they are routinely tortured (school), and have little recourse against their tormentors if they don’t tell an adult what is going on.

Social Signs
Watching the way in which a child behaves within his or her wider social context can be very revealing when it comes to bullying. Bullied children, quite naturally, may well be very wary of other children – fearing that they may attack them (either physically, verbally, or emotionally – it is important to note that bullying comes in a variety of forms!). They are likely to be socially isolated. As a result of this, they may either try to avoid other children, or respond to overtures of friendship over-enthusiastically (friends and the security of a social circle being something that almost every child needs). If you do a lot of group work in your class, watch out for the child who looks anguished when group work or team sports are suggested. Look for the child who is the last to be picked by their friends, or who has trouble finding someone to partner up with. Look for the child who has nowhere to sit at lunchtime. Look at how the other children behave towards them – plenty of children have periodic spats which don’t particularly affect their social status, but bullied children are likely to be avoided systematically by their peers lest the attention of the bullies turn on anyone associated with them. Warning bells should also ring when a child misses a lot of school due to illness. This may well be avoidance behavior, designed to keep them away from the bullies. Once you've identified a bullied child, then you can start working on helping them and stopping the bullies. But half the work is in identifying the problem in the first place! 

This article was written by Helen Calvert.


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Sunday, July 5, 2015

Shark Week Blog Hop

Slide6All teachers know that kids learn more when they’re excited and engaged. Today a team of bloggers come together to help your students take a BITE out of learning with a theme your students are sure to love! 


My Shark Week freebie is a shark-themed skip counting set. I plan to use them with my 3rd grade math kiddos, but I would use them with 2nd graders as well. The kids will practice skip counting by 1s, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s. This is great practice to get started on multiplication facts. When the kids master a level, they get a 'personal sized shark' to add to their collection! 




fintastic freebie


Be sure to go for a swim and visit A Primary Owl and check out the shark freebie there! Don't forget to 'circle' your prey and wrap your JAWS around ALL the shark freebies!

Every blog in the Shark Week Blog Hop features a J-AWesome freebie for you and your students- but hurry! Shark Week only lasts until Sunday, July 12  : )


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Monday, June 22, 2015

How Emotional Intelligence Can Underpin Effective Learning


While academic attainment remains an important objective for all schools, the comprehensive development of each child is nowadays the ultimate goal. Yet with more and more children presenting with behavioral issues such as anger, attention deficit, bullying and lying, managing a modern day class room can be extremely challenging. Could the answer to this complex conundrum lie in the development of better social and emotional skills? Here we find out more about emotional intelligence and its application in the classroom setting.

What is emotional intelligence?
Emotional intelligence is a term used to describe a person’s capacity to recognize, understand, control and evaluate emotions.  It is a practical skill which means the individual is able to pick up on other’s emotions (through for example non-verbal signals), accurately interpret the meaning of emotions and respond in a controlled and managed way. These complementary elements form a powerful package which explains why some people with average IQs outperform peers with higher levels of measured intelligence.

Emotional intelligence and learning
According to the famous Greek philosopher Plato,
“All learning has an emotional base.”
A more recent study conducted by a Chicago based team of researchers would appear to confirm Plato’s position on this subject. This large scale project involved over 270,000 children from kindergarten up to high school age, and in excess of 200 school based programs which focused on social and emotional learning (SEL). According to their findings, the children who participated in the SEL programs exhibited better social and emotional skills, behavior, attitudes and their academic achievement jumped an average of 11 percentile points. Mark Brackett, a senior psychology researcher at Yale University also believes that there is strong evidence to support an increased focus on emotional skills development. In an address to a major educator’s conference last year he said,
“Something we now know, from doing dozens of studies, is that emotions can either enhance or hinder your ability to learn. They affect our attention and our memory.”

Emotional intelligence and classroom behavior
Applying emotional intelligence techniques can fundamentally alter the feel of a classroom and what goes on in it. Children learn better in an environment which is emotionally safe i.e. where they feel secure, happy and excited about what is going on. Positive emotions can significantly enhance their capacity to absorb and process information. On the flipside, negative emotions such as anxiety and anger can serve as a distraction and thus reduce their potential to successfully accomplish the tasks in hand. These negative emotions can manifest themselves in different ways – from the classroom fight to a student quietly withdrawing. Both outcomes are equally damaging to the overall performance of the class. In a poll of teachers across the country, 62 percent of those who responded said that behavior issues have considerably worsened with the biggest problem perceived to be at elementary level.

Emotional intelligence classroom strategies
Here are some examples of activities which will help children develop emotional intelligence skills:
-          Self awareness and expression – Often when children, especially younger kids, encounter emotions they struggle to find the words to articulate their feelings. This lack of vocabulary can restrict them in clearly expressing their specific emotions, and result in them resorting to generic terms such as ‘angry’ and ‘sad’. Teachers can assist in addressing this challenge by asking questions which create a path for the child to recognize and label their emotion.
-          Regulation and control- Once the child can recognize and describe their feeling it’s time to cultivate their ability to get a handle on the outward expression of the emotion, i.e. their behavior. Consistent and clear communication of the message that it is possible to choose how to react to a given set of circumstances is critical. Reassure the child that it’s ok to feel frustrated if someone takes their pencil, but also explain that there are alternative responses than hitting or shouting. This promotes confidence in their own capacity to control how they act and react.
-          Nurturing empathy- This area focuses on listening and caring skills. Creating positive patterns of engagement with those around them can significantly enhance the child’s levels of emotional intelligence. The key abilities are to listen to what other people say and recognize their needs. The potentially tricky bit is being able to see a situation from another person’s perspective- in other words empathize. This can be challenging for adults never mind children and will take time to develop. Seize everyday opportunities to generate sympathetic responses from the class such as examples on TV. Ideally pick examples which the children can identify with. 

Disney Pixar’s latest movie ‘Inside Out’ provides an excellent platform for such a discussion because it acknowledges complicated emotions prompted by a central event.
Baptist minister turned attorney Joseph Fort Newton once said,
“We cannot tell what may happen to us in this strange medley of life. But we can decide what happens in us – how we can take it, what we do with it- and that is what really counts in the end.”
Promoting emotional intelligence in the classroom could give the next generation of students the opportunity to make positive responses to the rich tapestries of their future lives and reach even higher levels of academic achievement.



This article was written by Helen Calvert.

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Sunday, June 7, 2015

Under the Influence...of the Ron Clark Academy!

A few months ago, I had the opportunity to visit the Ron Clark Academy in Atlanta, Georgia. I have to tell you that I had no idea what was in store when I walked in the door!
We were greeted with a party-like atmosphere complete with music, students dancing, and even teachers jumping on a trampoline!
I have to say that the most impressive part of this 'party' was the 5th grader I had the pleasure of talking to. He was so polite, asked questions, actually listened to my answers, and then asked more questions about me! 
Then, we got to meet Ron Clark for an introduction to the day. What a fun guy! And boy, does he have a TON of ENERGY! He showed us a spinning wheel that they use as a type of 'Harry Potter Sorting Hat.' They use the spinner for things like placing kids into their special 'house' and also as a competition to see which 'house' can earn the most points. Points can be earned for behavior, academics, honor, etc. Pretty neat!

 I LOVE the idea of having 'houses' for behaviors. I am trying to think of a way to incorporate it into the 2nd grade . . . or even better, our whole school! If you have a good idea of how it would work in a public school, please leave a comment for me!
Once we were over the excitement of being at RCA, we were split into groups to observe in actual classrooms. AMAZING! I cannot believe the engagement in these kids. 
The classrooms were also so cool! Each of the teachers is able to have their room decorated the way they want it. It really made me want to go and give my room a total makeover! I just need a little more cash and a carpenter/painter! Check out the VW! AND, this is in a classroom! 

I had the opportunity of talking with another one of the phenomenal students in the school gym. How would you like to play a game on this fiery floor? We were going to go and watch a game but it was cancelled because of the cold snap in Atlanta. They weren't taking any chances with the ice!
  And the coolest thing? I am now SLIDE CERTIFIED! What a fun way to get downstairs! Now, if there was a fun way to get back up the stairs! Oh, and one more thing . . . How do you make visiting RCA even better? You go with a bunch of blogging buddies!
If you ever get the chance to visit Ron Clark Academy, go for it! It is totally worth the money to attend. It totally changed the way I run my classroom. It was quite the shock for my kids and for some of the parents when I got back. However, the kids responded well and behaviors improved and caring and kindness increased.
I even made a simple version of Ron's Essential 55 rules into elementary posters. They are simple and have a picture to help the kids understand the rules. If you haven't read The Essential 55, you need to get it done. Great summer read!
This book is incredible! I was reading it during silent reading time and Bryce came up and asked: "Is that the Rule Book?" YES is is my boy, yes it is! If you'd like to check out the class rules and activities pack, just click the pic!


I hope your summer is off to a good start or that you are in the final count down. I am just beginning to feel human again!
Thanks for stopping by!

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Leprechauns and Luck for St. Patrick's Day

Hi there! I’m Róisín from Little Learner Toolbox, and I am delighted to guest blog here on Rockin’ Teacher Materials, especially at one of my favorite times of the year. Growing up In Ireland, Saint Patrick’s Day was always such a big day, and I still get excited every time when the day comes around.

I love thinking of fun ways to celebrate Irish culture for St Patrick’s Day, and one very fun part of Irish culture is our folk tales - especially the stories about Leprechauns! Leprechauns have been part of Irish folklore for over 1,000 years. They are fairy folk that come from Ireland and often look like old men, although they are never bigger than a small child. They aren’t nearly as cute and loveable as the images we often see of them would suggest. They are often grumpy and get up to quite a lot of mischief. Leprechauns are very hard working and like to store the gold that they earn in a giant pot. Some stories even suggest that Leprechauns are misers who like to hoard their money. From what is known, leprechauns often like to store their gold at the end of a rainbow, but we can’t really be sure because people are rarely successful in capturing leprechauns. If you do happen to be lucky enough to catch one, be sure to keep your eyes on him, because as soon as you look away from a leprechaun they can escape!


There are many stories about people who tried to capture a leprechaun to find their gold. One well known story is about a man who managed to capture a leprechaun. He made the leprechaun tell him where his gold was hidden. The leprechaun reluctantly showed him his hiding spot in a forest, underneath a tree. The man then realized that he had no tools to dig for the gold, and that he would not be able to carry both the struggling leprechaun and his tools all the way back to the forest. So he took his scarf and wrapped it around the tree. He made the leprechaun promise not to remove the gold or the scarf, and then he went home to collect his tools. When he returned to the forest he found that the Leprechaun had tied scarves around every tree so it was impossible to know exactly where the gold was buried. The leprechaun laughed as he told the man that he had not removed the gold or the scarf just as he promised. That man never did find the gold he was looking for.


Certainly anyone who manages to trap a leprechaun and find his gold would be very lucky indeed! Students who want to trap leprechauns have to plan carefully! Leprechauns are very tricky! One thing that is fun to do on St Patrick’s Day is to think about some of the ways that we are ‘lucky’. What better way to do this than to fill a Leprechaun’s pot with gold coins full of things that are ‘lucky’ for us. For this activity ask your students to think about things that are important to them. Encourage them to fill their pot with things in their lives that they are lucky to have. 




   Click on the images to download the Freebie pages from my TpT store.

If you liked this St Patrick’s Day post, check out my blog post about Saint Patrick HERE. For more resources for Saint Patrick’s day visit my TpT Store Little Learner’s Toolbox.
The sample pages above are from:







Sunday, March 1, 2015

EdExpo 2015 - Top 10 Educational Products

Last week, I attended Ed Expo 2015 in Atlanta, Georgia as one of 50 teacher bloggers who were asked to rate educational products and come up with a top 10 list. Each of the 50 bloggers came up with their own list. Then, the lists were compiled to come up with an overall Top 10. Here's the list, David Letterman style!




I loved this awesome problem solving activity. Complete the circuit and the board lights up!



There was a tie at number 10. Doesn't this look like an awesome building adventure?!


Another cool circuit activity. This is one I want to try out for myself! Kids can draw a picture, poke holes, and build a circuit with tape! Totally cool!


These pencil grips are seriously comfy!


I don't know about you, but I always feel clothes before I buy them. These will make great fiddlers for your little fiddlers!


I need to get some of these bands for my kiddos. These are a great way to practice skip counting or multiplication facts!


A great number line to teach about fractions, decimals - 
you name it!


I can see letting my kids create inventions like crazy!


And another tie at number 4. Fidgets that you can use to teach. My favorite is the fidget with a marble in it!


This game is a blast! My kids have already played and ask to play again and again! Great way to practice making complete sentences and staying on topic.


This game was created to help kids learn to read sight words a little at a time and then immediately be able to read a book using those words. You can even use Scholastic bonus points to get one.


This was my personal favorite. Just buy the letters or numbers and download the free app. The coolest part is that if you make the word bat, a picture of a bat shows up on the screen. Change the b in bat to a c, and a picture of a cat shows up. Totally COOL!

To find out more about the products, just click the image and it will take you to the product website. If you would like to purchase an item from this amazing list, please visit Edmarket to find a local or online retailer.


What a great experience! It was so neat to see all the innovation in the educational field. Thanks to Sherron Washington I was able to provide input to the vendors and provide you with cutting edge activities for the 21st century. 

Have a Marvelous Monday!


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Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Win an Osmo for Your Classroom-Enter Now!

Well, you have had a chance to check out the awesomeness of the Osmo Gaming System at its best in my classroom. (If you haven't seen it yet, head on over to check it out!) It is great for word work, math, and creative thinking. 
Well, now is your chance to get this educational tool up and running in your room. Just follow the Rafflecopter directions and cross your fingers and cross your toes for good luck! Some of the entries can be earned if you share every day, so don't miss out!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Making Words and More with Osmo!


 Hi guys! I wanted to show you a new, exciting, educational tool that I am now using in my classroom. It's called OSMO and turns an iPad into a hands-on learning tool that has my kids totally engaged! 

We really love the Words game and the best thing is that I was able to create pictures and sentences that would help my kids practice their very own spelling and vocabulary words. I have a list out for the words they are to choose from. It is an amazing tool that uses cooperation and a little healthy competition to make learning fun!

When the picture pops up, each player (red letters or blue letters) tries to find the correct letters to make that word. For each correct letter, the player scores 2 points.  

Some words don't have a picture to go with it. That's okay. . . I just made a 'fill in the blank' sentence for the kids to us to help them figure out the word.





Making your own words is easy too. All I did to make words for my own kiddos was go to Osmo and set up an account.  I made the pics on my computer and then just loaded them onto the site.

Not only are there word games, but there is also a tangram game and a creative thinking game that is a great way to get kids thinking and working together. 


Have more questions? Check out the Osmo FAQ page for more details. 
I highly recommend you scoop up an Osmo if you can get your hands on one of these awesome gadgets! Your kids will love you for it!  


Oh, and guess what?! I am going to be heading to Atlanta next month for EDExpo. I will be checking out some of the up and coming educational materials and resources you will want to know about. While I'm there, I will be keeping you in the loop about my favorite items! I can't wait! TTYL!


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