I can relate to students who find it difficult to avoid the distractions that are ever present with their peers, their devices, and the all the other competing interests in their lives. These distractions are part of the world today and are not going away anytime soon, so I think it behooves teachers and students alike to regularly revisit strategies for improved concentration on important tasks and projects.
Plickers is such a fun tool with a myriad of uses in the classroom! If you haven't heard of plickers, they are definitely worth a look!
Let's get one thing out of the way; I love using technology in my classroom. I use multiple devices, websites, and apps everyday. However, as edtech becomes more prevalent, I hear a lot of fallacious reasoning around the topic that I think can be damaging to both teachers and students. Here are some of the things I hear:
- Mrs. X uses technology in her classroom, so she is a great teacher.
- Because school X is not using a 1 to 1 student device program, the students will not be well prepared for college or careers.
- Giving massive technology grants to low performing schools will solve the issues of educational inequity.
- Computer skills are replacing basic reading and writing skills in the new digital world.
Although it is often underestimated and overlooked, parent and teacher collaboration is vitally important to student success. Some parents have time to be very involved and others have significantly less time and/or resources to dedicate to schooling. Either way, parents ought to be a respected part of the education equation and positive communication with them should be toward the top of teachers' priorities. Here are a few tips for keeping parent communication positive:
Move over Von Trapps, it's time for the sound of school:
New sharpened pencils and fresh ink in pens
Bright stadium lights and warm woolen letterman's
Brown paper lunch bags tied up with strings
These are a few of my favorite back to school things
With all of the stress, busyness, and seemingly endless meetings that greet teachers at the beginning of each school year, I thought that today would be a good day to reflect on some of my favorite parts of the back to school season. Feel free to share yours in the comment section below!
I've just finished another round of student research papers and as laborious as the grading can be, the process of curating research is one of the most valuable lessons that I teach students heading into our modern world. For the rest of their lives at home and work, students will need to solve problems and reach conclusions based on the incredible expanse of information on the internet. They will need to be able to determine the credibility of sources, understand multiple perspectives, and use resources to form educated responses to their world. Academic research, including research papers can be one step along the path to digital proficiency. (For tips about research paper assignments, click here. For more about teaching students to determine source credibility,click here.)
I'm in the midst of teaching Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, which I absolutely love for the end of the American Lit school year since it so eloquently ties together early and modern America. We have been doing Streetcar Named Desire for the last few years, but made the switch back to The Crucible this year, so it was time to revamp my curriculum and dust off the cobwebs on my brain! I've been using the Common Core Aligned Unit from Simply Novel, which has been saving my life (especially since I am almost 8 months pregnant)! It is chock full of meaningful activities, assessments, and resources for teaching the play. Today I want to share a supplemental, cross-curricular activity that I tried this year. Where it works, the English department at my school likes to collaborate with the social science department to enrich both of our curricula and help students make connections. The most obvious links in my class are between American literature and US History, but this activity links the Arthur Miller play with psychology, a popular social science elective at my school.
Before school started this year, I wrote this blog post about one of my goals for this school year, which is to incorporate more educational social networks into my classroom. I decided to give the free version of schoology a whirl this year and so far I have been LOVING it! Here are some of the things I've been loving so far:
It seems like everywhere I turn these days I see a new resource to help students take short cuts around the valuable work we do in our classrooms. When I was working on a side project recently, I came across fiverr.com, which is a global marketplace offering a variety of services, or gigs, starting at $5 each. I was disheartened to see sellers offering to do homework or analyze a book, but it did get me thinking about how I could switch the dynamic around to give teachers some much needed shortcuts. Here are the $5 gigs I found that can take tough tasks off of our teacher to do lists, so we can focus on other important classroom priorities:
I read this article in The Atlantic recently that discussed a new finding that hand written notes are more effective in student learning than are typed notes. The article focused on laptops and specifically noted that there may be differences with tablets, but as a teacher in a school that is moving toward a one on one iPad program, I'm interested in thinking about and sharing best practices for helping students take effective digital notes. Below are my top five tips. I'd love to hear any questions, comments, or suggestions in the comment section below!