March Madness

We're not sure what it's like where you are, or when your spring break is, but if you were in the classroom this past week, chances are some of your students showed signs of March Madness!

No, we don't mean all of the fun college hoops happening now—this is more like the squirrelly behavior of students who have only had a handful of outdoor recesses this month!  We're talking about impulsive behavior that would have officials calling a foul.  These are behaviors that have us teachers checking the calendar to make sure it's NOT a full moon.

Why is this happening??  Is this caused by the time change?  Is it because we had our second round of state testing in three weeks?  Is it due to predictably unpredictable March weather (snow for many, storms for others, rain for many) that has us wearing short sleeves one day, rain gear the next, and snow gear the next?

How can we get back on track?  How do you deal with behavior issues when all you really want to do is teach?  You've worked hard to plan and prepare for engaging lessons, and you know the value of each minute of class time.  Here are three ideas for getting your class back on track.

It's easy to get frustrated; however, we have to remember that sometimes taking class time to talk it out is valuable, too.  This isn't learning as it pertains to your standards and curriculum, but it's definitely life-lesson-learning.

When you call a class meeting, keep these things in mind:
  • keep your discussion focused on positive ways to improve behavior
  • this is not the time for rehashing old behavior issues, finger-pointing, calling out specific kids or behaviors, or getting into he said/she said debates
  • steer the conversation to what students CAN do as opposed to what they shouldn't do
  • guide students to help brainstorm and list specific tools for curbing their impulsivity
  • keep this list visible and refer to it when students DO make strong choices—accentuate the positive behaviors as often as you can
  • role-play scenarios to give students practice disengaging from distractions
  • give that "distracting voice" in their brains a name, and practice reminding it that it's not in charge

Another strategy to combat March Madness is to build in frequent brain breaks.

  • GoNoodle is a great site to get them up, singing, and moving.  In our classroom, much hilarity ensues when their teacher joins in with her own (cue embarrassed blushing emoji) dance moves.
  • Our friend Rachel Lynette has some super ideas to get kids up and moving over on Minds in Bloom!  We like Trading Places and Keep It Up.
  • Bevin over on Teach. Train. Love has quite a fun list, too!  Our favorites are the Sid Shuffle, Dancing Pandas, and Cha Cha Slide.
Honestly, there has NEVER been a time when we've taken a brain or movement break and thought, "Gee, that was a waste of time.  I sure wish we had done _______ (insert learning activity) instead."


Every single time we've been bombarded with thoughts more along this line:  "Wow, why don't we do this more often!?"

Finally, consider building in a practice of mindfulness to help kids build the stamina to pay attention while also developing their ability to regulate their emotions and impulses.  Sounds like a WIN-WIN, doesn't it!? And you can do this in as little as 2-3 minutes a day.  Here are three places to start:

Obviously, for serious behavior challenges, always document, document, document; and be sure to communicate with parents what is going on.  We've found it very effective to use a Behavior Reflection Form for the student to write what action they took that wasn't making a strong choice.  We also have them write why they made that choice (frustration, confusion over what to do, trying to be silly, etc.), and they write what they should do in the future in that situation.  Grab your free form if this is something you think would be useful for your classroom.

We hope this gives you some ideas for dealing with March Madness and Spring Fever in your classroom!  We'd love to hear some ways you handle periods of squirrelly behavior, too.  Please feel free to comment below!

Thank you!! Happy (almost) spring!

Predicting Freebies—Not Winter—In Your Future

Oh, that pesky groundhog and his predictions...

We have a prediction of our own—we predict savings in your future!  We've teamed up with some amazing teacher-authors to bring you quite an assortment of resources, and all are free!  Thanks to our friend at Teaching Second Grade for organizing this.

So, while we may have to wait a bit for spring, don't wait to grab some of these FREEBIES to get you though these next weeks of winter!

February Freebies

Super Bowl Fun to Drive Your Students Straight to the Goal Line


The big game is coming this weekend!  Are you a football fan? Even if you're not, the Super Bowl has been getting lots of attention in the media, so your students are likely caught up in the football frenzy!  And, if you're like us, anything that captures our students' attention means we are searching for opportunities to channel that interest into learning.

There are many ways to tie football and the Super Bowl into your curriculum—and in any subject area you teach.

🏈  Social Studies - mapping

Here are just a few fun mapping ideas for your class:
  • map the location of the teams
  • use scale of miles to determine the distance between Philadelphia and Boston
  • use scale of miles to find out how far each team will travel to the game in Minneapolis
  • find the latitude and longitude of the home cities and the game site
  • map your route to get to the Super Bowl
  • use Google Earth to  explore Philadelphia, Boston, and Minneapolis; can you find the stadium?

🏈  Science 

Football is a perfect match for science!  You can have students connect concepts like force, gravity, motion, and more!  There are many STEM projects related to football, too.  Here are a few links to get you started.

🏈  Math

The Super Bowl has a host of math connections! 
  • measurement - just how far is 100 yards?
  • more measuring - how far can you kick (or throw) a ball?
  • cost to attend - how much would it cost for tickets, travel, hotel
  • elapsed time - how long would you travel to get to Minneapolis?
  • statistics - compare stats of the two teams of two players
  • graphing - research which teams have won multiple Super Bowls, or graph player stats; graph results (try this online graphing site:  NCES Kid Zone:  Create a Graph
  • place value - use yardage, scores, or the cost to run an ad during the Super Bowl; break these numbers down by place value

🏈  English Language Arts

Where do we even start??  Well, the best two places are the teams themselves and the famous Super Bowl ads!  

  • research your favorite team or player
    •  create a Google Slide with info and join these into one class slide show
    •  work with a partner to create an infographic to share facts—try or Google Charts
  • watch the Top 10 Super Bowl Plays and select two to compare and contrast
  • view the best Super Bowl ads then write to tell which you think is best
  • middle school teachers will love Frank Baker's MiddleWeb information on teaching media literacy with Super Bowl ads

🏈  Trivia Quiz

If you want to challenge your students, check out ThoughtCo's trivia quizzes.

🏈  Finally, if you'd like a SUPER resource with loads of fun cross-curricular activities, here is one we created! 

✓ TWO Close Reading Passages, to differentiate instruction for 2nd-3rd and 4th-5th reading levels
✓ Close Reading answer keys 
✓ Game Match Up - Research to compare the big teams 
✓ Venn Diagram – compare and contrast the info you found for the Match Up activity
✓ Football Spelling List (five lists on a page to save paper) 
✓ Football ABC Order Activity and answer key
✓ Math Task Cards – 8 Cards Each for Addition, Subtraction, and Multiplication
✓ Task Card answer keys and student answer page 
✓ Football Writing Prompt with Graphic Organizer 
✓ Writing Paper for final copy 
✓ Super Football Facts and Predictions - another opportunity to research these two great teams and to predict the champion
✓ Football Helmet and Jersey Design Pages