Students in Lori Frix's third grade class at Fairview Elementary constantly work toward adding links to their class' compliment chain.
Frix designed the chain so each compliment her class received, whether it be from a parent or principal - principals' compliments count for more links - counts toward a class party.
Links start from the ceiling at the beginning of the year, and once they hang all the way to the floor, her students are rewarded. Frix said this type of behavior management works far better than negative orders or punishment.
"I like a lot of positive encouragement," Frix said, "and something to encourage them when they're away from me."
Frix has spent her entire 14-year teaching career instructing third graders. She said the grade is her favorite age group of children.
"I like it because it is the first year they're becoming independent learners," Frix said. "They learn a lot about responsibility and organization."
Third grade is a year to learn many important things such as multiplication tables, but Frix feels like strengthening reading skills is her most vital task at hand.
"To me, the most important thing is reading because it revolves around everything," Frix said.
This must run in the family because Frix's parents often volunteer to read to her class.
Although third grade students must pass the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests in the spring to advance to the fourth grade as part of the 2000 No Child Left Behind Act, Frix does not want to make her students and parents anxious by drilling them with practice tests from the beginning of the year until February.
Instead, she focuses on escalating their reading skills.
"If I can instill a passion for reading in them, it will help in all other subject areas," Frix said.
One of the main tips she gives her burgeoning readers is to read a few paragraphs, then stop and think about what they just read for a moment.
"I tell them to let it sink in - your brain is like a sponge," Frix said.
Another element she tries to always instill in her instruction is hands-on projects.
"When you do everything out of the book, they're bored and their behavior is terrible," Frix said.
She said if her class is having fun, then so is she.
Frix explained how she reinforced concepts and terms learned while studying landforms, by creating an edible project.
Students shaped cookie dough into islands and peninsulas, fashioned plateaus from Rolos candies, formed mountain ranges from Hershey Kisses and crafted rolling hills from chocolate chips. The edible landforms where then surrounded by blue icing representing oceans, lakes and rivers.
"And then they get to eat it," Frix said.
Because Frix includes so many hands-on projects in her classroom, she rarely struggles to bolster concepts students need to learn.
Her love of music and continued speaking as a teacher has strained her vocal chords, making it difficult for her students to hear her sometimes.
So, she uses a portable voice amplifier to ensure none of her students miss a word.
"Also, it catches the attention of the child in the back of the room," Frix said.
Frix earned her master's in August from Walden University and said she loves learning all she can to benefit her students.
"I build a personal relationship with the child first because if I don't do that first, they're not going to learn," Frix said, "and that's what keeps me coming back - the relationships."