Friday, July 29, 2016

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 7/29/16

Here are some interesting sites that I’ve found this week, thanks to my PLN. As a teacher, I feel we have to keep up to date concerning research in our field and current issues in the education system. I hope some of these inspire you, inform you, and even have you asking questions. Thank you for coming by and visiting!

Note: Each resource is labeled with a level and subject area to make it easier to use.

Levels:  E: Elementary; M: Middle; H: High; G: General, all levels; SN: Special Needs; T: Teachers

Subject Areas: LA: Language Arts, English, Reading, Writing; M: Math; S: Science; Health; SS: Social Studies, Current Events; FA: Fine Arts; Music, Art, Drama; FL: Foreign Language; PE: Physical Ed; C: Career; A: All

Tour of Park GeologyYou can search for parks by name, state, or by geological features. (L:G; SA:S)

Digital Dialects – “Digital Dialects features free to use games for learning 80 languages+. Within are games for learning phrases, numbers, vocabulary, spelling, verb conjugation and alphabets.” (L:E; SA:LA)

Do Now Activities – “Do Now is a weekly activity for students to engage and respond to current issues using social media tools like Twitter. Do Now aims to build civic engagement and digital literacy for young folks.(L:M,H; SA:SS)

Word Tamer – According to Free Technology for Teachers,Word Tamer is a neat site for learning the process of developing characters, settings, and plots in creative writing. Word Tamer is set up as an interactive journey through a carnival of literary devices. As students move through the carnival they develop characters, develop a setting, and develop a plot for their stories. At each stop in the Word Tamer carnival students can print out the words they have written. Along the way there are videos to help students understand the roles of characters, settings, and plot development in crafting a good story. (L:E; SA:LA)

Compare and Contrast – Making a compare and contrast map. (L:E; SA:LA)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, July 28, 2016

P is for Practice

Teaching takes a lot of practice.

When I first became a teacher, it didn’t feel natural. I had to work at what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the best teacher that ever was, but I had to work at it.

Just like athletes and musicians, no one starts out being great. It may take many years of practice with frustration included. Yet, if you keep trying and practicing, you can’t help but improve.

When I first started, I used to write notes as a kind of script to make sure that I said all the necessary things that are expected of all teachers. The more I taught, the less that I needed to use this type of script as a reminder. The more I practiced, the more natural these things became. It is like learning to ride a bicycle or driving a car. At first it feels awkward but all of the things you do are important steps so you don’t get hurt or hurt others. Teaching is a lot like this.

Many times I would get frustrated because lessons didn’t go as planned. I expected the students to do better than they did. The important step was reflecting about the lesson and looking at what went well, what didn’t do well, and what I would do differently. This also took a lot of time and effort but it was important.

My first year of teaching I kept a journal. This helped me the next year so I could look back at lessons and try to improve on them in this new year. This practice improved my other lessons. As years passed, I no longer needed to keep a journal but I was always reflecting on my lessons in order to improve them. Many of the strategies that I improved would apply to different lessons.

My first five years of teaching was pretty hard and frustrating, yet rewarding. It is important for new and struggling teachers to know that being an effective teacher takes practice. It is important not to give up and not to stop trying to improve.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

O is for Octopus

Teachers need to feel like they have eight arms.

One of the hardest thing to teach my student teachers is that they can’t have tunnel vision. They need to be able to multi-task and be able to do many things in a short amount of time.

It is important to prioritize the needs of the class and the school. This involves practicing effective time management.

During a class period I would have to do things like: greet students,  take attendance, pass out graded work, teach a new assignment, pass out new assignments, worked with students who needed help, dealt with classroom interruptions from other people, collected finished work, assigned homework, give feedback to students and all of this was done usually in a 50 minute period.

One of the things that I have done is to make sure that I can answer my students’ questions when they need me. But it is hard when many hands go up all at once. So, what I did was glue green and red foam board together. Then I cut small 3 inch squares from them. On the green side, I used a marker and wrote OK. On the red side I wrote Help! This square stayed on the corner of their desk. It stayed on the green side until they needed help. Then they turned it over to the red side. As I walked around the room I was able to see which students needed help. They didn’t get tired of keeping their hands raised which sometimes kept them from working. They also knew that they didn’t have to keep watching me so they could get my attention when I finished helping another student.

I was amazed at how this helped control behavior problems in the class and also helped my students have more success.

This procedure also helped me when I was interrupted by a message from the office or a phone call or the many other things that would draw my attention away from a student. 

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

N is for Nutrition

Nutrition is important and I don’t think we talk to students enough about it. I see too many students who are overweight or just don’t eat right.

A fun activity would be to have students get in groups and pretend they are the parents who are making up a week’s menu for their family dinner. Using the New Food Pyramid, they need to figure out what they will eat and then find the menus for them. Each meal would need to have a calorie count including protein amount, carbohydrate amount, sugar amount, and sodium amount. Then they would total these amounts for the week. It would be fun to see who could come up with the most nutritious meals but with the least amount of calories, carbohydrates, sugar, and sodium.

I think it would be useful to cook some vegetables and have students taste them if they never had them before. Too many students say they hate vegetables but maybe they never tried them before.

Another activity would be to have older students do some research on nutrition. Have them find out if protein is important. What are the dangers of too much salt? Then they can share their findings with the class.

What activities would you do to teach nutrition? Please share.