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100-Word Limit for the 100th Day of School

By fourth grade, students are not as excited about the 100th day of school as they were when they were in kindergarten or first grade.  They are becoming more mature and aren't as easily swayed by novelty toys they used to get when they were younger.  They've worn the eyeglasses in the shape of 100 and have had the special pencils and special 100 Day snacks.  It's hard to surprise the students and excite them at this age.  So, I decided to add a twist and turn the 100th day of school into a challenge.  My students will tell you that I absolutely LOVE challenges, and I know fourth graders do, too.

Tomorrow is our 100th day of school, and my students will have no more than 100 words they can use.  Students will have post-it notes on their desks to keep track of their words, and they will need to tally EVERY WORD that they say.  The reward is that I will give them a ticket for every five words they have said under 100 at the end of the day.  The penalty is that they will give me a ticket for every five words over 100 they say.  So, if a student has said only 70 words by the end of the day, he or she will earn 6 tickets from me.  If another student says 110 words by the end of the day, he or she will owe me 2 tickets.

There are exceptions, of course.  I do not count the words they use if they ask me a school-related question, nor do I count the words they use when I call on them to answer any questions I ask.  When I am meeting with students in a small group (or students are meeting in a literature circle) and we are having a discussion, I won't count the words they use there because I want them to participate and ask questions.  I also don't have them keep count of words at recess or lunch so they can socialize.  Other than those parameters, students need to choose words carefully so that they do not go over 100 words.

I have tried this with my fourth graders last year and my third graders the year before that.  You would think that this would be a punishment for the students, but they LOVE it.  It is such a challenge to students to try and find other ways to communicate.  They hold each other accountable, and they are pretty honest about keeping track of their words.  Best of all, they are incredibly well-behaved - even the ones who are normally very social during instruction.

So, tomorrow we will be celebrating...fourth grade style.  It will truly be a surprise, and hopefully one that we will all remember for a long time!

I'm Nominated for a Liebster Blog Award!

I have to say that I am completely taken by surprise by this wonderful nomination by Fun in the Fours.  It looks like great fun, so I will carry on the tradition by following the rules for this award.

First, I will post 11 random things about myself.

1.  I was born and raised in the South.
2.  I can remember the birthday of every student I have ever taught.
3.  I have a daughter in seventh grade.
4.  I hate having colonoscopies.
5.  I have taught 1st, 3rd, and 4th grades.  Fourth grade is my favorite.
6.  My favorite sport to play growing up was softball.
7.  I am short.
8.  I am a Gemini.
9.  I love my job.
10.  I am a Maroon 5 fan (and I'm going to see them in concert soon).
11.  I have wonderful co-workers.

Now, I will answer the 11 questions asked of my nominator.

1.  How long have you been teaching and what grade do you currently teach? I teach fourth grade and this is my fifteenth year teaching.
2.  What advice would you give a brand new teacher?  Make sure you are passionate about teaching and inspiring children.  There are more and more demands being put upon teachers, and the salary is minimal.  You do not always get the recognition you deserve, and you have to put in lots of hours.  But, when a child looks at you and tells you how much you've taught or inspired them and how you're the "best teacher in the world," it will all be worth it.  If it's not, find another career.  :)
3.  What made you decide to enter the blogging world?  I have been inspired by many blogs out there and decided to try my hand at starting one up.  I don't exactly know what I am doing, but I am never too old to learn.
4.  Which blog do you really love to read?  There are so many blogs that I love reading.  One of my favorites is Teaching in Room 6.
5.  If you could visit any place in the world, where would you go and why?  I would love to visit Hawaii some day.  I have heard that it is beautiful.
6.  What pets do you have?  I have three dogs and a cat.  I am a sucker for animals.
7.  When you were a child what was your favorite book?  I didn't like to read as a child.  I do remember reading Encyclopedia Brown books and enjoying them.  What is your favorite children's book today?  I have so many favorites!  One of them is Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events.  I've read it aloud to my third graders for many years, and now my fourth graders are all hooked on the series.  It has rich vocabulary, advanced-level humor, and a great story-line.
8.  Do you speak any other languages?  Unfortunately, I only speak English.  I wish I could speak another language.
9.  What is one item you can't live without?  I have to say that I couldn't live without my cell phone.  I can use it for just about anything I need, and it gives me a sense of security. :)
10.  If you look up from the computer right now what do you see?  I would see my T.V.  I am on my laptop on my couch right now.
11.  What is your favorite charity?  I have a friend who has started a non-profit organization to help families pay non-medical bills while their children are fighting cancer.  It is A Community Effort.

I will continue this post in Part 2.