Friday, October 20, 2017

Useful Information In and Out of the Classroom 10/20/17

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

Audubon – a variety of birding activities (L:G; SA:S)

Extreme Planet Makeover – a fun NASA activity; Create your own Earth-like paradise - or hostile alien world! (L:M, H; SA:S)

Mapping History – interactive maps of historical events (L:G; SA:SS)

Character Scrapbook  -  “analyze the characters in any book” (L:E; SA:LA)

Class Tag – great tool to communicate with parents (L:T; SA:A)

Original photo by Pat Hensley

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Teaching Students to Be Leaders

“What about in your classroom? I certainly hope students are learning content. But are they also having opportunities to develop more deeply as learners and leaders? Are they learning HOW to learning? Are they learning HOW to lead?”

I remember when I first started teaching. I had no experience and was just thrilled to be part of a new team. I never thought about advancing in my career and was happy just to be a teacher. Everyone at my school treated me like the rookie that I was and after a few years, I always felt like the “baby sister.” Then I switched to a high school where the faculty was huge and I felt like a little fish in a big pond. I never thought I had any kind of leadership ability and I was just still honing my skills as a special education teacher.

Then I switched to my second high school and no one looked at me as a rookie or a little sister. Suddenly I was an equal to other teachers there and there were many new and young teachers who had far less experience than I did. Suddenly these teachers were looking up to me and asking my advice. My principal was so impressed with all that I did for the department even though I wasn’t a department head that when the position became open, he appointed me as the new department head. I enjoyed the responsibility and was proud of all that I accomplished.

When I went to my third high school, the administration had expectations of me having some type of leadership role. These expectations rolled over to the faculty and many general education teachers were coming to me for advice with their special education students. Eventually the faculty even chose me for Teacher of the Year to represent my school for the District Teacher of the Year.

I never would have advanced my career if my administrators dragged me out of my comfort zone. It was their faith in me that made me not want to disappoint them. I found out I had skills that I didn’t even know I had. It was hard for me to do many of the things I was asked to do but because the administration had faith in me, I found the strength and courage to try. The more I succeeded, the more confidence I had as I tried lead more.

I think I need to do the same thing for my students. I need to trust them more with some responsibilities. As they succeed, I can give them more responsibilities. If they have trouble, I am there as a safety net and can help them be successful.

It is hard for me to give up control in the classroom so my students usually appreciate when I trust them act in a leadership role. The more they succeed, the more confidence they will have and be willing to do more. The more they learn to be leaders, the more successful they will be in the future.

How do you teach your students to be leaders? Please share.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Jack-O’Lantern Activity

I always liked enriching my student’s learning with self-checking activities. The students could work on these independently and check their own work. This enabled me to work with students who needed help with other work.

First, I cut a large pumpkin shape out of orange construction paper. I cut out the eyes, nose, and the mouth for make the face. Behind each eye and the mouth, I taped a rectangle shaped paper on three sides to make a pocket that could hold a blank index card. The questions would be on the cards for the eyes and nose and the matching answer could be placed on the mouth.

For math:
Each card could have a number that is placed behind each eye. You can predetermine what operation you want them to work on and place that behind the nose. Students can work out the problem and find the matching answer on another card which is place behind the mouth. Then allow students to check their work using a calculator.

Language arts:
Creating compound words. Write part of a word on each card. Have the first part written on cards in one color. Have the second part written on cards in another color. Students find the compound word on cards written in a third color and place it behind the mouth. Students can check their work using an answer key.

Rhyming words. Write words that rhyme on index cards. Students put the words that rhyme behind the eyes and mouth (and nose if there are more than 3). Number the back of the cards so that all correct answers have the same number.

Using 2 sets index cards in 2 different colors. Put one set of words on one color and another set of words on another. Write categories that both words fit into on white index cards. Students put one color card behind one eye and the other color behind the second eye. Then they must find out what they have in common and what category word fits both. Students can check their work using an answer key.

Science/Social Studies:
Definitions of words. Write the definition on the card that will go behind the mouth. Students find the card that holds the word and another card that holds the picture or an example. Number the back of the cards so that all correct answers have the same number. Students can check their work to make sure they have found the correct matching items.

Do you have any other suggestions of activities using this Jack O’Lantern? Please share.

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Giving is a Good Thing

“When we give to others, it not only makes the recipient happy, but research has confirmed what we’ve known all along – the giver gets a dose of happiness as well.

Sam talks about giving kudos cards to faculty when he notices something good that they have done. It is a great way for an administrator to praise teachers. Like students, teachers like getting praise also. I had a principal who would send me an email and thank me for coming to an extracurricular activity. It made me feel good to know that he recognized I was spending my own time to support the students.

At one school, we had postcards from the school that we could send home praising a student for things such as good grades, good behavior, or anything extra we saw that the student did that was worthy of praise. The school paid for the postage. I know it made me feel good to praise my students and the students told me that they were happy when their parents got this. Some parents even saved every postcard that I sent home.

Many of my students came from low income families and were often on the receiving end of gift giving during holidays or the beginning of school. They felt good that someone cared enough to help them.

When I started doing some service learning activities with my class, the class was very excited. One year, we met flag pins that the students colored and then glued on a pin backing. On Veteran’s Day, my class went to the Veteran’s ceremony in our county and distributed the flag pins to everyone who showed up. Many of the veterans thanked my students and made them feel special for giving. After that activity, my students wanted to do more.

Another activity that my high school special education class did was to read Dr. Seuss books to a special education class at the elementary school once a month. Each of my students was paired with a young student and they went to a separate area to read together. We made cupcakes and brought some juice for after the activity. Many of the younger students bonded with the older students and their teacher said behavior improved tremendously in her classroom. Sometimes the younger students shared their “troubles” and my students could encourage them or make them feel cared for.

Once my students learned how good it felt to be giving, they were always looking for other activities that our class could get involved in. I think they liked doing it as a class activity because they felt “safe” doing it all together. There was less chance of feeling out of place or maybe being judged. Eventually some of my students would start learning to give to others on their own.

Hopefully, once my students left my classroom, they learned to continue to give in their own ways. I think they learned that even though it was great to receive from others, it also felt good to give to others.

How do you teach your students about giving? Please share. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

Back of the Book Blurb #80 Challenge

From Sioux's PageSioux offers this challenge.

She posts a picture and you need to imagine it as a graphic for a book. You choose the genre and book title, and then write a blurb that might appear on the back of the book.

The blurb should be 150 words or less (not including the title). The genre is wide-open.
Each blogger should include their blurb on their own blog, and link back to this post. Have fun with it. Go to the other posts and comment on the other blurbs.  You can do fancy techy things with the photo.

(Join in if you dare...! It sounds like fun! I think this would be a lot of fun to do with students especially since they would be expected to write 150 words or less!)

For the Birds

Mary wouldn’t talk. She wouldn’t talk to anyone because she felt like no one understood her. She also felt like she sounded stupid when she tried to say anything. She felt like she couldn’t communicate with anyone…until she found another way.

One day, she made a toucan out of her hand. It almost looked real! Tilly the Toucan could share her feelings and was comfortable talking with others. On her other hand was Milly the Macaw who like to have conversations too.

With Milly and Tilly, Mary could talk to anyone about anything. But without them, she was silent.

Then one day, Mary met Brad. She wanted so much for Brad to see her as herself and not as Milly and Tilly. Would Mary be able to put Milly and Tilly in the past? Would she be able to have a real relationship with Brad? (145 words)