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Joanne Miller believes all her students can sparkle. One look at her classroom—with its “Whoop Whoop!” and “Applause!” signs, its mystery-prize gumball machine, and its chairs shaped like high-heeled shoes—and you can see how she might inspire her fourth graders to “sparkle”!
For 20 years, she has taught at Pride Elementary in Deltona, Florida, creating a classroom that reflects her passion for teaching. Find her on Instagram and on her blog, Head Over Heels for Teaching.
“Whoop Whoop!” Sign
Anyone can grab the cue cards to spark a celebration and get the crowd going. My students and I choose from “Whoop Whoop!” “Applause!” “Ooooooh!” and “Ahhhhhh!”
When kids have moments of pure genius, I let them use the mystery-prize gumball machine. It’s a great incentive! Prizes include a homework pass, lunch with me, or other reward.
Help Us Learn
All of us need a little help at times—and all kids want to be experts at something. Students can sign up for either “Help Wanted” or “Experts Available.” Together we created guidelines for the board, and together we are responsible for one another’s learning.
Book Tent Motivators
Want books to fly off your shelves? Place them on book stands with tents that read “Coming Soon” (books you’ll read to them later—this drives them crazy!), “Must-Reads,” and “New Arrivals.”
I never have to remind students to practice their multiplication facts with this incentive: After they master all of them, they have a “graduation,” complete with caps and gowns, and receive their diplomas. Their pictures are posted on the board, and they even get a grad sign for their lawn!
Wall of Fame
Each week, one child gets to decorate the bulletin board with items that showcase what makes him or her special. The whole week is their celebration, from compliment cards to a special lunch. It’s a super charge for kids’ self-confidence.
These interactive posters are front and center in my room, and are built over the year. After meeting new book characters, kids cite evidence of a trait on a sticky note and add it to a poster.
Ultimate Guided Reading Cart
Everything you need to run successful guided reading groups is in this cart.
Top drawer: “Reading Rings,” for manipulatives.
Middle drawer: “Mini File Folders,” for character analysis, reading response, etc.
Bottom drawer: teacher goodies, like reading passages and Scholastic News articles.
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