Friday, September 30, 2016

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 9/30/16

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

Draw and Tell – free iPad app; Draw and Tell is an award-winning creative tool for children of all ages that encourages imagination, story telling and open-ended play. Use the tool to draw, color, decorate with stickers, create animations and record stories. (L:E; SA:A)

Maine’s Autumn Magic – a video explaining why leaves change color. (L:E; SA:S)

Symbolab – “Solve algebra, trigonometry and calculus problems step-by-step(L:H; SA:M)

Elections and Politics – Make Belief’s commix templates to print about elections and politics (L:G; SA:SS)

Pace Recorder – an Android app that helps you check the pace of how you are speaking. Great for practicing your presentations.

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Presidential Election Year

I’m not going to get in any debate about who I’m for or against. But I have learned a lot during all of the hullabaloo that is going on. I don’t mean to make light of the election because I feel it is an important decision that will affect my future and quality of life. Yet, I’m surprised at the actions of people during this time. I saw this during the year that Barack Obama was first elected. I’m shocked by how people react to each other on social media. I think it is okay to feel strongly in your convictions but be aware that others may feel the same way about theirs. I do not understand why there is a breakdown in respect when it comes to this.

I think we can take this opportunity to teach our students a lot of things about tolerance. This includes tolerance about politics, race, finances and many other things that people feel strongly about.

1.     Ask questions. We need to keep asking questions until we are clear with the answer. There is nothing wrong with asking questions. Do not let others mock you for not understanding or wanting clarification.
2.     Be civil. We can have different opinions but still be civil. I see people who are intolerant of those who differ in opinion which can lead to violence. There is absolutely no excuse for resorting to violence when others do not agree with you. If we all agree about the same things, there would be no impetus to change for the better.
3.     Avoid name calling. When we start to use name calling, it only shows people that you have no logical evidence to back up your argument. This is childish and will not convince others to see your way.
4.     Sharing opinions. No one should ever be afraid to share an opinion even if it is not the popular opinion. We should not make others afraid to voice their opinion and should be respectful enough to allow others to have a differing opinion.
5.     Check the facts. When people are running for office, they tend to exaggerate or stretch the truth in many ways. Don’t believe anyone if you have doubts. Check the facts for yourself.
6.     Respect others. No matter how we feel, we should never react to other people’s opinions disrespectfully. If we do, then we need to look at our own actions and not the other person’s.

What other lessons do you think our students can learn during controversial times? Please share.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Making My Teaching Better

In Not Just Better, But Different from  @DavidGeurin Blog, David Geurin asks,

Some educators seem to think that new ideas are unnecessary. They say the fundamentals of learning and education are unchanging. Stay with the tried and true. What would you say to this type of thinking?”

I think teachers tend to get in a rut when they stick to the same old stuff. I have said it before and I’ll say it again but if it is boring to me as a teacher, I know it has to be boring to the students.

I don’t think that by changing up strategies or activities to teach a specific concept or skill is bad. I think it keeps me sharp because I’m always looking for something new or exciting that might “grab” the students’ attention. I think many of the concepts and skills are the tried and true aspects but how I teach it needs to be changing regularly.

I like to get new ideas from other teachers who may have taught the same thing. I used to bounce science ideas off a fabulous science teacher who would help me fine tune my lessons to meet the needs of my students but still teach the concepts. She was always willing to let us join her class when they had a speaker or special activity on the same concepts.

Sometimes if I struggled with teaching a math concept, I would ask my favorite math teacher for suggestions on how I could enhance my lessons.

By asking the best history teacher in our school (who intimidated me a little because she was so knowledgeable) for suggestions, I was thrilled when she was always looking for things to help me in my class. She would go out of the way to suggest a video or activity that she thought my class would really enjoy.

I think it was important that I was willing to ask for help. Many subject area teachers were more than willing to share their vast knowledge but many don’t want to come off like know-it-alls. They are such a valuable resource for a special ed teacher!

How do you find new ideas for teaching old lessons? Please share?