How to Streamline Behavior Documentation in a Middle School Classroom

I can’t believe it has been about 2 months since my last post! I came running back to the blog tonight because I have to share something I found on Pinterest (of course) that is streamlining some behavior documentation in my classroom and on my team: Using QR Codes with Google Forms.¬†

If you’re not tech savvy and the terms “QR Codes” and “Google Forms” scare you…just hear me out!¬†

What It Is

On the original post I saw (shoutout to PeppyZestyTeacherista.com! Check her out!), the teacher who has a 1:1 iPad classroom uses QR codes to help her document missing homework assignments from students. The students come in, and those who don’t have their homework scan a QR code that is on a poster on her wall, fill out the Google Form and boom! She has everything documented in one spreadsheet! This got my mind rolling. Now, I definitely don’t have a 1:1 iPad classroom (I have 3 desktops and no tablets) but I knew I could somehow use this to make life easier for me and my team. It hit me: team behavior documentation!

Let me backtrack a minute. . . as an 8th grade teacher, my school works in teams. One ELA teacher, one math teacher, one social studies teacher and one science teacher all share the same students. Previously, we were spending a good chunk of time documenting and tracking behaviors that we needed to follow up on like who was tardy to class, who was out of dress code, who needed to take a break in another classroom, who has lunch detentions, etc. Now, this is NO MORE!

What I Did

I made a Google Form to correspond with anything I wanted to track, and then linked that to a QR code. I then printed it on a half sheet of colored paper, laminated, and put it on a key ring to keep it together. Now, if someone is tardy to class (or whatever else happens that I scan for) I can quickly fill in the information I want and done! The best thing about this is that when any of my teammates do this as well, it all goes to a shared spreadsheet I can access in my Google Drive! 
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How to Set It Up

  1. Download a QR Code reader on your smartphone. I have an iPhone and have “QR Reader for iPhone”.
  2. Go to your Google account and make a new Google Form for whatever you’re wanting to track and be able to scan.
  3. When you’re finished building the Google Form, copy the link that Google gives you that is attached to the form (the link you’d use to share it with someone else).
  4. Google a QR Code generator. I used this one: https://www.the-qrcode-generator.com.
  5. Select URL on the QR Code Generator and copy the link to the Google Form you made into the “Enter URL Here” box. From here, a custom QR Code should be made.
  6. Save the QR code that you just made.
  7. Insert the picture of the QR code you made onto a word document, label what the code is for and print.
  8. Use the QR Code reader on your phone and scan the QR code to test it. The Google Form you filled out should pull up on your phone or device.
  9. Fill out test information in the fields and then visit your Google Form response spreadsheet in your Google Drive to make sure everything shows up. If it does, you’re FINISHED!

 

So what do you think? Will this make anything¬†easier for you in your classroom? I’d love to hear how you use Google Forms or QR codes in your classroom!

Lesson Planning Made Easy

Each year, like most everything else in my classroom, I adjust my lesson plans and create newer materials for all of my¬†lessons (powerpoints, bell ringers, exit ticket activities, worksheets, rubrics, etc.). Each class each year is different, and what kids struggle with from one class or one year to another changes. You have to differentiate differently. You figure out what works and what doesn’t work.

When I first started teaching, like most first year teachers, a lot of times I found myself working “harder, not smarter” and re-creating the wheel for every little thing. Even after my first year, I never had a great way to organize ¬†my lesson¬†materials.

I’ve tried many systems. I made folders on my computer¬†and labeled items by topic, but at the end of each year I’d look back at my documents folder and have a bunch of videos, powepoints, and worksheets¬†labeled with just a date. “9.17.15”, for example. What the heck did I do on¬†September 17th? That would lead me to have to click each¬†folder, or document, and figure it out. Out of frustration, when I couldn’t find things, I would end up just re-doing something I knew I had somewhere.

I’ve also tried to keep a “Master Copy” binder. That doesn’t work for me either. I will start off the year strong and then stop following through with including everything in there. I had struggled to find a system that is efficient, and that works for me, until this year.¬†

Now, I’ve found a system¬†that is efficient, easy to use, and keeps everything all together in a calendar style (by date), and also by units and now I couldn’t lesson plan without it so I’m excited to share it with you: PLANBOARD.

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Planboard is an “online, free lesson planning tool¬†designed to help educators simplify their planning. The site allows teachers to save and share calendars and schedules, making it easy to re-use these plans in the future”. So far, this has been a lifesaver for me.

Planboard has cut down my prep time, and organized my lessons in a way that I could never do effectively before. If you’re an educator looking to try another system of organization and prefer a paperless model, you should try¬†Planboard.

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  1. It’s free. Enough said. There are a few other similar tools out there, but many have a monthly subscription. No thanks.
  2. You can make your own schedule. Have a weird bell schedule, or a rotating system? No problem. When you set up the classes, you can put in the times of the classes each day and it automatically situates it on a calendar for you.
  3. You can create your units.¬†This feature has hands down fixed¬†the date naming epidemic that my documents folder was plagued by and organizes anything I do (or throw in last minute) by unit, and chronologically–so I can look back when I plan for next year and see the progression I followed the year before!
  4. There is a sticky note feature. Automatically on¬†the side of each lesson plan page¬†there is a “sticky note”. Need to remember to tell 3 students to go to the band room at 10:45am? Have a faculty meeting after school? Whatever you write on the note will show up on the ¬†calendar at the top of the day to help¬†keep you organized!
  5. You can make a lesson plan template to use each day. I am a stickler for following a specific format each day, thus, I use a specific lesson planning template. You can start off with a blank slate each day, or create a template you may have to use for your school to fill in. If you’re a middle school or high school teacher like me where you teach multiple periods of one subject, you can copy your lesson onto other days/periods for convenience.
  6. You can stay¬†organized ¬†from year to year and plan for future years more easily¬†without having to re-create the wheel.¬† As I’ve touched on above, this is the best system for me to pull up the calendar and see the progression of what I did the year before, keep all of the powerpoints/activities/rubrics, etc. together by how they¬†were presented, and to see how many lessons went into each unit. I am so excited to start planning for next¬†year just¬†because I already know all of this will make it so much easier!

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7. You can attach the standards to your lessons and track progression. You can attach a set of Common Core Standards to your account, then just search the standards and attach! Done! This has saved me so much time! No more checklists of when standards were taught and re-taught!

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8. Collaboration and sharing is made easy. You can easily export your lessons into a PDF format, or email them to a group of people. You can also import documents from Google Drive, or from other resources shared with you from other members of Planboard.

9. Color-coding! I color code everything, as many teachers do, from classes, to groups, and everything in between. You can color-code your class periods and documents within your schedule, which may sound like a small thing, but ultimately, makes looking at the calendar format more user-friendly.

10. The system is intuitive. If you spend a lot of time on your computer and are a technology guru, or just¬†want to move to a paperless system but aren’t an expert with technology–no worries, the Planboard system is easy to use, has a clean, simple design,¬†and can be navigated around with ease!

That’s it! I just had to share a secret that has helped me so much stay organized. Do you use Planboard or any of the other Chalk.com products? Or do you use another online system? I’d love to hear from you!

4 Ways to Earn Money by Going to the Grocery

If there is one thing I hate doing, it is going to the grocery. My head spins at the 500 options of ketchup to buy, and my ENTJ personality hates the inefficiency that comes with things like having to walk to the BACK CORNER of the store just to pick up some milk!

I also am not a cook, so my brain doesn’t think in terms of recipes when it comes to making a grocery list. It thinks in terms of “what can I pop in the microwave that is decent and requires minimal time to prep?”. Horrible, I know. Thank God Taylor is a cook and enjoys it! Anyway, my goal for 2016 is to get my budget down to a science throughout the year. In an effort to do that I have been writing down every single thing I spend money on and to no surprise, food and grocery items have been a large chunk of my spending because of a¬†lack of planning.¬†

Because of this, I began doing some research on how to get the best deals at the grocery without spending hours on some Extreme Couponing operation (but, yes, that show is awesome). Here are some things I found out about and how I am making money by just going to the grocery:

(1) Ibotta: I don’t know how I’ve shopped in my adult life without this app! You earn cash back¬†every time you shop¬†at the grocery, and at other stores. In about a month, I’ve earned about $50, just by doing the normal shopping I’m already doing!

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  • How To Join: It’s free to join¬†and¬†the app is free to¬†download!
  • How It Works: You¬†can earn money by linking your loyalty account for particular stores (Kroger, Walgreens, CVS, etc.) or by¬†scanning your receipts. I usually scan my receipts. Before ¬†you go shopping, unlock¬†rebates on¬†the app for products you are going to buy. Then, go shopping. When you get home, verify your purchases by scanning the¬†product barcode and then scanning the¬†receipt. The cash is deposited into your¬†Ibotta account within 48 hours.
  • What You Get: CASH MONEY! The rebates you¬†earn will be held in the app until you get to $20. At that point, you can cash out through PayPal or¬†Venmo.
  • Bonus: If you join¬†and then refer your friends you can earn $5 per person (and they earn $10!) when they earn their 1st rebate. All you need to give¬†them is your referral code. (If you don’t know anyone on the app currently and want to use my referral code, you will get $10 when you claim your 1st rebate! Code: ylchjdn)

(2)Checkout 51: I have only recently discovered this app, but received money back on my 1st trip using it!

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  • How To Join: It’s free to join¬†and the app is free to download!
  • How It Works: ¬†As stated on¬†the Checkout 51¬†website,Every Thursday morning, Checkout 51 updates with a new list of offers. All you have to do is pick the ones you like, purchase them at any store, and upload a photo of your receipt through our mobile app or website. When your account reaches $20, we send you a check.”
  • What You Get: CASH MONEY!
  • Bonus: Sometimes items from Ibotta are also on Checkout 51 (example: a gallon of milk) so you get rewarded for 1 item TWICE!

 

(3)Shopkick: This app enables you to earn points (kicks) by just walking in some stores, by purchasing certain items at stores, and by scanning certain items in the store. 

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  • How To Join: It’s free to join¬†and the app is free to¬†download.¬†
  • How It Works: Sign up and begin getting points (kicks) at stores. You can earn points through walk-ins, purchases, and by scanning certain items in stores. Those points (kicks) add up and you can redeem them for¬†gift cards from places like Target, Starbucks, Best Buy, Sephora and more!
  • What You Get: Gift cards or an item of your choice! I could cash out my kicks for a gift card now but I’m saving mine up for something of a larger value ūüôā Shopkick also ¬†features daily deals for stores near you (and a few times I’ve seen free items be featured!).
  • Bonus: When you invite your friends and they use your referral code, you can earn 50% of the kicks your friend earn for 2 weeks.

(4) SavingStar:

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  • How to Join:¬†It’s free to join¬†and the app is free to¬†download.
  • How It Works: Before you go to the store, select the grocery items you’re going to buy on the app. When you get home, scan your receipt and the app will verify your purchases and you will get money credited to your account that you can cash out!
  • What You Get: CASH MONEY!
  • Bonus: You can also use SavingStar when you shop online at certain stores through the SavingStar site and earn cash back on things like clothes, airline tickets, makeup, etc. The offers change often.

 

If you have experience with any of these apps, or know of any others that can help others earn money at the grocery, please comment and let me know! I’d love to hear from you!

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Why I Teach

Some say, “it takes a village to raise a child”. I’m not a parent, but I agree with that statement because it took a village to raise me. My parents, grandparents, teachers, aunts, coaches, friends’ and teammates’ parents, church leaders, neighbors, and those¬†that saw me grow up in gyms going to basketball games. I’ve become the person that I am today because I’ve had great role models, ¬†and others (along with myself) have set high expectations for me. I’ve done okay for myself because I knew that others believed in me, even if I didn’t believe in myself in any circumstance. I knew that if I messed up, I’d be afforded a level of grace and that everything would end up okay. ¬†This is one reason (of many) of why I am a middle school teacher. I am apart of “the village” now, even if it’s in just some small way, for 120 13/14 year olds this year. And there will be 120 more next year. And the next year. . .

I get up to go do my job every day because it matters. I care about all of my kids as if they were my own because many others have done that for me. I believe every kid deserves access to a quality teacher, and a fair shot, so I do my best by kids every day to try to give them just that. This work is urgent because these are the lives of children and because this is the future of my community. I teach because it matters. 
While I cannot control things that happen for my kids outside of my classroom walls, I can control what happens inside of my classroom–my attitude, my effort, general consistency, the classroom environment, classroom morale, helping kids approach all things with a growth mindset, the lessons and materials kids have access to, and generally the notion that these kids know above all that they have an adult who cares about them and loves them (if they didn’t know that already). No matter what is going on at home, or what backgrounds my students come from, I believe that they deserve the best everyday from me no matter what. I teach because it’s challenging.¬†

At my previous school, I saw my students simply accept the reality around them. Many were simply attending school (some were barely even doing that), and just going through the motions. Most of my students had a hard time realizing that there were a lot of little steps along the path to get them to their long-term goals. The problems around them, from things happening at home, in their neighborhood, and just regular teenager problems, were distracting them from a bigger picture. Many students had bigger goals, but no idea how (or little access to others who knew how) to go about reaching them, and were growing immune to their surroundings and the fact that others deemed them to have limited life prospects. I teach to help students see the bigger picture. 

I want my students to know that I have bigger dreams for them, and will do whatever it takes to help them succeed. I want their achievements to continue throughout high school and college, and for them to have an instilled sense of ambition, drive, and purpose, so that they will continue on a path that allows them options, no matter what expectations are put upon them, or circumstances they face. I want them to be advocates for themselves, and I want to inspire them in a way that they will continue to advocate for their education in the future. I teach to inspire students to dream big.

This year I’ve been trying to ¬†bring the world to my students in small ways. Not only do I want them to be better readers, writers and thinkers, but I want to open their eyes to the world beyond their neighborhood and their ‚Äútime‚ÄĚ. I feel that by opening their eyes to new things, they will see themselves in a larger world, in which they can do anything/be anything/go anywhere. I teach to lift up kids and give them access to a larger world.¬†

I want my students to not only learn content in my class, but how to be better critical thinkers, and a better version of themselves overall. My hope is that this vision of themselves, and a new world outlook, will transcend eighth grade and guide them on their path through high school and a successful college career. I want my students to have academic goals, as well as personal goals (short term and long term) that they can connect to their educational goals. I hope that my students take their successes and experiences from my class to realize they have infinite potential. I teach because many taught me.  

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If you work in education and want to share with me your “Why I Teach” story, please reach out to me! Comment below, or write an extended post and email it to me at kelseynhayes@gmail.com.
Don’t want to miss a post? Follow this blog by signing up via email on the right of this page.¬†

Why I’m Writing

So here it goes…! I’m starting a blog. I think I know what you’re thinking, because I know what I thought when I first entertained the idea of starting a blog: “Um, why? There are like a million blogs. What do I have to share that is so world-changing that everyone must read?”

Well, nothing really. I’m definitely not starting this blog in an effort to change anyone’s worldview, but I am starting it to hopefully inspire people to continuously improve, and potentially even make others’ lives a little bit easier.¬†

You see, I’m a sharer. I’m an outgoing, but private person, so this won’t really be a platform where I’m talking about my daily life, but more sharing things along the way that I’ve found that are helpful to me, especially when it comes to all things related to teaching middle school kids. This blog will also be about saving money. Being ¬†a 20-something with student loans, on a teacher’s salary (big bucks!) means that I’m consistently counting pennies with Taylor (my boyfriend) in an effort to save money so we can reach our¬†financial goals more quickly.

I want this blog to be a platform where I share any tips, tricks, secrets (and even awesome Pinterest links!) that ¬†I’ve picked up¬†along the way in terms of making and saving money, as well as things that are helping me, and can maybe help others, continuously increase our¬†effectiveness in the classroom.And since I’m a sharer, I want to hear from you too! Please follow and subscribe to my blog, and share with me anything you’d like. I encourage comments, or your own tips, tricks and suggestions that can potentially help me and others!

You can also email me at kelseynhayes@gmail.com, or connect with me on Twitter or Instagram!

Until next time,

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