Take a Break: A Place for Students to Self Regulate

Self regulation is one's ability to manage his/her emotions and the behaviors that accompany these emotions. These emotions can be perceived as both positive or negative, and many times our students don't know what an appropriate response is for various emotions. Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter: Antarctica.

Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out!

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Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.
Every classroom in my school has a Take a Break spot. It's a space in the classroom where students can go when they need some time and space to be alone and self regulate their emotions. I just happened to name mine "Antarctica." My students can choose to put themselves in Antarctica, or sometimes I ask them to go when I feel they need a break.

What It Looks Like:

I used my teacher wardrobe cabinet in the corner and a file cabinet to make this little cubby in the corner of my classroom:
Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.
On the side of the file cabinet, I have a few photos of Antarctica that I printed off of Google. As the students sit in the chair, they face a bulletin board that has self regulating signs on it. We use the Zones of Regulation at my school to help students understand their feelings and emotions, so one of the posters has the colors and the associated feelings, and the other has calming down techniques. Click HERE if you'd like a free copy of these posters!

Here are some of the fidgets that are inside the desk:
Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.
Affiliate links to some of these self regulation tools are listed below. To see my entire disclosure policy, click HERE.

Most of the items above came from Amazon. The coloring pages I got from the Target Dollar Spot, the foam car was a freebie giveaway from the county fair (lol), and the rainbow colored square is something my school social worker made. Basically, it's two pieces of fabric sewn together with a flat glass pebble inside. Then she sewed lines to make it like a maze and the kids push the pebble through the maze. It's pretty cool!

How it Works:

When my students are feeling angry or out of control (which also includes being overly excited), they can move themselves to our Take a Break spot. While there, they can take out a tool from inside the desk to help them refocus, or choose another strategy for "getting back to green:" deep breaths, coloring, writing, taking a walk, etc.

After a few minutes of the student using the Take a Break spot, I will come over, ask how it's going, and see if they need any help from me. I try to get them back to learning in about 5 minutes, but sometimes it can take a shorter or longer time. My students know that once they're "calm, focused, and ready to learn," they need to come back and join the class.

Here are some photos of our space in action: 
Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.
Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.
Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.

IMPORTANT!

The Take a Break spot should be IN the classroom, rather than out in the hallway. This allows student to stay in the classroom and still be exposed to the learning that's taking place during the break. There are times that my Take a Break spot is not enough of a break for my students and they need to be further removed from my classroom. If this is the case, then all teachers have a Buddy Class, and my student would go over to my teammate's classroom to use his Take a Break spot. Again, NOT in the hallway. We want our students to be IN the learning environment.

Looking to add some fidgets or calming tools to your Take a Break spot? Here are some of my favorites!

For more classroom management ideas, check out my Pinterest board here:



Do you have a space like this in your classroom? Leave me a comment below and tell me more about it!


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Sometimes when students have an inappropriate response to events that are out of their control, they need time and a safe space to process what happened. Enter Antarctica: A place to go when you need to chill out! This blog post is all about creating a Take a Break spot for your students to self regulate.


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Making the Best of Timed Math Fact Tests

Who here gives timed math fact tests?

I remember doing them when I was in school. I was pretty good at them, but my anxiety and nervousness was through. the. ROOF. every single Friday afternoon.

Knowing that timed tests are so stressful for our students, why do we continue to do them? Well, some of us are required to... However, when you look at the CCSS for second grade, students are supposed to "know from memory all sums of two one-digit numbers" by the end of second grade. And the wording is the same for third grade and multiplication facts.

We know that automaticity of math facts is crucial for when students move on to higher level math. My students practice their math facts every day in a variety of ways, including math games and using the Xtra Math website, but when it comes time to assess, the only option I can think of to assess automaticity is using a timed situation, which seems so old school. GROAN...

So how can I make these painful assessments less painful?

Are you required to give timed math fact tests? Check out this one simple change you can make during this routine that can help ease the anxiety and high pressure of timed math fact tests.

What is considered "knowing" math facts?

Research says that students should be able to automatically recall math facts orally in 2-3 seconds per fact. Students should be able to write facts at 2/3 the speed of their oral ability, so that means on a written timed test, it should take students about 3-4 seconds per fact to complete.

How I try to lessen student anxiety during timed math fact tests

Even though I hate giving timed tests, I have to, so here's what I do. Each student takes out a pencil and a marker from his/her desk.  They write their names on their papers and then flip them upside-down until the time is ready to start.
Are you required to give timed math fact tests? Check out this one simple change you can make during this routine that can help ease the anxiety and high pressure of timed math fact tests.
I count down to the start of the time, and then students busily get to work with their pencils. If they finish before the timer goes off, they go back and check their answers. When the timer goes off, I yell, "switch!" Students put down their pencils and pick up their markers to finish the test. It's after the timer goes off that they're allowed to get up and turn in their papers. While I encourage the speedy completion of their papers, students then can take as much time as they need to finish their tests with their marker.

For my students with IEPs and/or anxiety, tests that must be completed in a certain amount of time are not their friends. I should add that many of these children often have extended time written into their IEPs or 504s, but even that is stressful for them. This simple change attempts to lessen the emphasis on time and places additional importance on actually completing the test. My students know that the four seconds per fact expectation so they have that goal in mind, but time is not the only thing I value. 
Are you required to give timed math fact tests? Check out this one simple change you can make during this routine that can help ease the anxiety and high pressure of timed math fact tests.
When I grade the timed tests, I only record the problems written in pencil. Students should be able to recall and write 15 math facts in one minute (15 x 4 seconds = 60 seconds), and 80% or better is considered meeting expectations, so I am looking for at least 12 facts correct in that time limit. 

I still hate giving timed tests. But making this small, yet powerful change has eased the stress and anxiety in many of my students. Have you tried this tip? Let me know how it went in the comments!


Want to save this post for later? Pin this image:
Are you required to give timed math fact tests? Check out this one simple change you can make during this routine that can help ease the anxiety and high pressure of timed math fact tests.

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