Thursday, December 10, 2015

How A Pair of Pants Changed My Classroom

Yes. Seriously. A pair of pants.

Okay, I know it is an ambiguous title. But seriously.

Last year when I accepted my 4th grade teaching position, I gathered any and all materials that I could. One of those items being a pair of pants. Now, these aren't some magical pants, they were a pair of 18mo jeans from Meijer.

At some point in college or "researching" for my new classroom on Pinterest, I ran across a picture of a pair of "Smartie Pants". I looked back and wasn't sure of the exact post, but I think it may have come from the Inspired Apple.

I took the jeans straight to my mom to sew some alterations. In all of my fumble to get myself organized in my first year of 4th grade last year, the pants got mixed in my stuff and I never used them. This year, I dug them out and hung them up.

I got the label from the cover of a freebie on TpT. My mom sewed the legs shut, and I filled them with Smarties candy. I frequently tell students they are "smarty pants" or "smart cookies," so after these were hung, I would just say it and tell them they could grab a candy, or eventually just point to it. 

I am not joking when I say this has changed my classroom. Now, I like to believe that a lot of other things I have done have also helped to influence these changes, but there have been obvious benefits of these pants. 

They motivate others as soon as I call someone a "Smartie Pants" - the rest of the class perks up and I can see them working even harder. The best benefit, though, is the things students are coming to tell me. Whenever we have work time, I have students coming over to tell me things they have noticed in their books or work and really wanting to share their learning with me. Their goal may be a piece of candy, but they don't even know how much they are challenging themselves. 

Some of my favorite things that have earned Smarties so far: 
1) One girl brought her book over to my desk during silent reading time and told me about her book and her predictions and the text evidence to support them. We have been working on text evidence all year and she used it all correctly! 

2) A student told me that he knew that the Earth was rotating. When I asked him how he knew, he said that he had been noticing that in the morning, the sun is shining on table three, then later on, it isn't coming through the windows, but by the afternoon it is shining on him. What a SMARTIE!!

3) *During my evaluation,* I had just introduced theme - we were literally still writing the definition on our anchor chart. She raised her hand and said, "So would theme be like courage in the book Gregor the Overlander because he had the courage to fight for his father even though he went through all of that trouble?" EXACTLY!!

Now, maybe this has nothing to do with the pants, but I think they have been very motivating. I love the things I am hearing from students and I have really noticed them working extra hard lately! Hopefully we don't lose track after Christmas break, but it is definitely a great way to finish out the semester. 

Merry Christmas!


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