Prodigy, aka How I Got My Students Hooked On Math!

"I just bought 2 new video games, but this is my favorite!"
-Fifth grade student

One huge success in my room this past week has been the use of {Prodigy}. Prodigy is a FREE website that completely gamifies math. Students have an alias in a virtual world and use math to battle each other, unlock features and new worlds, and otherwise have fun. I've been told by the students that it's Pokemon-like. (Note: There are some benefits to having a paid subscription, but the free version is completely awesome on its own.)
It is incredibly easy to set up for your class, and it works on both Chromebooks and iPads (either in Safari or with the free app). First, you need to set up your classroom code by {creating an account}. Students go to {}, log in as a new student, create their screen names and avatars, and enter your classroom code.
From there, students unknowingly start the placement test.
On your teacher dashboard, you can see placement test results, skills that students are struggling with, students who have answered the most questions for the week, and how many questions have been answered during the week. I'm sure that there are a ton more reports that you can get, but I'm still exploring it myself!
You can also align {Prodigy} to Common Core, TEKS, MAFS, or Ontario standards. Students can do this when they set up an account or you can do it through the dashboard. Or, you can align to skills that you are covering in class and choose specific skills for students to encounter in the game.
My students have begged me every day to have time to play this game. They play it at home. I know this because the graph on my dashboard tells me. I also hear the talk about certain battles from the night before and making plans to battle that evening. If you are interested in checking it out, you can click on {my referral link} or any of the images.

Disclaimer: Prodigy has not asked me to review their game. These are 100% my thoughts and experiences.


End-of-the-Year Behavior Reward Chain

Students create a chain of rewards with one link for every remaining day of school. At the end of the day, a link is removed and the reward is given if students were behaved that day.
Do you ever walk into another teacher's room and get so excited about something so relatively simple that happens to be exactly what you need?! I had that feeling this week, and I wanted to share the idea with you (with her permission) in case it's exactly what you need, too.

We are entering that point of the year when it might feel that we have to pull out all the stops to make it through the last few weeks of school. This is how my coworker created a behavior reward chain with her class.

First of all, they brainstormed a list of rewards they might like to earn. The teacher had to approve them, such as hat day, iPad time, reading outside, 5 min. extra recess. Any ideas that were bigger or that the teacher wouldn't be willing to do several times, such as moving desks and PJ day, were kept on a different list.

After the class had come up with a dozen or so teacher-approved rewards, she handed out a strip of paper to each student. They each chose one item from the list and wrote it on the paper strip. The she numbered them on the other side with the number of days left of school. For the extras, she chose some of the bigger rewards so they would only be in the chain once each. Finally, she created a chain with the numbers on the outside.
Students create a chain of rewards with one link for every remaining day of school. At the end of the day, a link is removed and the reward is given if students were behaved that day.

Students create a chain of rewards with one link for every remaining day of school. At the end of the day, a link is removed and the reward is given if students were behaved that day.
At the end of each day, she takes off a link as part of the countdown. If the students had behaved during the day, they earn the reward. If they didn't behave, they don't earn it and the link goes in the trash.

You might want something a little more measurable. I have {this NOISE freebie} in my store that might help. If they get down to the NO, then they don't earn the reward.
This NOISE freebie can help with behavior management in your classroom.
Let me know if you think this idea might work in your classroom? What twist might you put on it?


Hanging Wall Files in the Classroom

Clear hanging wall files can help you utilize wall space for organization.
I cannot believe how quickly this school year is going. Fortunately, the weather is starting to cooperate to make it feel like spring. Here's a pic of a bleeding heart that I managed to keep alive from last year. (Note: Bleeding hearts do NOT like to be moved.)
Anyway, earlier this week I walked around my classroom taking pictures of things that went really well this year that I wanted to remember for next year. I decided that the ideas might make a nice little blog series.

The first idea that I want to share is the use of clear hanging wall files. They can be a little pricey, but I have used them in a variety of ways. I have a total of 12 (which I purchases in sets of 3), and they can be joined together or used separately. Instead of making a hole in the wall, I used medium Command strips (or maybe large?) to attach them to the wall.
Command strips can hang clear hanging wall files that can help you utilize wall space for organization.
As you can kind of see in this picture, I make sure that the tab extends above the top of the file so they can be removed from the wall if needed. When I have them connected together, I also add strips to the top of the bottom file. This also keeps them from wobbling. Sometimes I also add a small poster strip to the middle one with the tabs extending to the side.
Clear hanging wall files can help you display picture books or other thin books.
Picture Book/Thin Book Storage
These are hung on the wall about eye level to the students. In the past, I displayed the books that related to the current social studies unit in the blank area under my whiteboard and rotated the books with each unit. Since I actually have more room for my library, I use them for the Who Would Win books and other similarly-sized books. If you use them for this purpose, I highly recommend getting clear files so students can see the covers through the plastic.
Clear hanging wall files can help you utilize wall space for organization.
Paper Management and Teacher Interactive Notebook Storage
Oh, then endless cycle of papers that we must wrangle. I put these right behind my desk or on the side of a file cabinet. When I had to assign homework and take grades, they were labeled To Be Graded, To Be Recorded, and To Be Returned. When I was departmentalized, I labeled one for each class period and I put in papers to be returned. When they were full, I have students pass them out at the end of class.

Now that I don't have to assign homework and have fewer papers to check and return, I have 3 behind my desk that are labeled by subject, 2 for PD papers/random whatnot, and 1 for student papers to be filed.

Once I really started incorporating INBs into most subject areas, I struggled with where to store all of my teacher copies. I put files near my document camera and they are now perfectly out of my way and easy to find.

If you use hanging wall files in your classroom in a different way, please comment with your ideas. I'm always looking for new uses!

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