Saturday, September 15, 2018

Constitution Day Classroom Activities

Constitution Day is an annual American holiday celebrated on September 17, the same day 39 delegates signed the Constitution in 1787. You can commemorate Constitution Day in the classroom in many ways. Here are just a few ideas;

1. Have your students participate in a Constitution Scavenger Hunt:

Students will work with a partner and compete against other teams to find answers to 20 scenarios. This is a great critical-thinking activity and lots of fun too!

2. Test your students' knowledge about the Constitution with this fun game! Get it FREE HERE.

3. Explain the structure of the Constitution with this engaging presentation. It reviews the Articles of Confederation, the three branches of government and includes a notes template and film clips.

4. If you teach Civics this presentation might be helpful because it reviews the Principles of the Constitution; Popular Sovereignty, Limited Government, Separation of Powers, Checks and Balances, and Judicial Review.

I hope you find these resources useful!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Back-To-School Checklist

It's about that time! Summer is coming to an end, the leaves are changing, and both teachers and kids are getting ready to return to school. To make my teacher-life easier (and make sure I don't forget anything since my brain is still on "vacation mode") I follow this back-to-school checklist I created for myself:

1. I first set up all technology in my classroom. I confirm my LCD projector and laptop work properly.  I make sure my students' technology cart is charging and ready to go the first day.  I set up my Google Classroom adding my syllabus and "About" section. I also update the school website with the courses I'm currently teaching. At this time, I might also set up my categories into the grading system.

2. The next thing I do is to create my syllabus. I usually create this before I leave for the summer and make any copies I need according to my class count when I return before the first day of school. I get a sample textbook to show the students what book they will be picking up during textbook distribution. I also get my teacher edition textbook.

3. I then set up my room. I don't stress about getting everything completed before the first day of school. I have my teachers-aid complete what I didn't finish once school begins.  However, I do make sure I have the agenda and objective on my board before my kiddo's enter the classroom.

4. I then make sure I have lesson plans completed for at least the first two weeks of school. I usually have an entire unit completed before I leave for the summer. This makes my first week of school much less stressful. I also make sure I make copies of all the worksheets I need for the first week of school. Now that I'm paperless, I make sure the first day's assignment has been posted on Google Classroom.

5. For my next task, I enter all the important dates into my school calendar. (Sometimes I have my Teachers-Aid complete this for me.) I also color-code all events to make it easier to view.

6. I then make my seating chart. Since I don't know my students yet, I just place them in a random order. This always changes the first week of school when students are added and dropped from my class. The second week of school I print the seating charts and place them in a binder. I color-code the seating chart with essential information. For example, if a student is an English-Language-Learner I might highlight their name in blue. Special-Ed students might be highlighted in yellow.
Once the above has been accomplished, I take a deep breath and anticipate the beginning of the new school year.

Anything you would add to this list? Share your comments below!

Check-out all my back-to-school teaching strategies HERE! 

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Summer School Teaching Strategies

Are you teaching summer school this year? It's a great way to practice new teachings strategies and make a little money on the side. For the past 15 years, I've taught  10th grade World History summer school to students who failed the class during the regular school year. From my many years of teaching this fast-paced course, I have learned a few things. Keep reading to learn about some of my tried and true summer school teaching strategies:

1. On the first day of school be sure to explain to students that it is a VERY fast-paced class. In my school district, we teach 4 hours a day for six weeks. Being absent even one day may jeopardize their grade in the class. Believe it or not, I've had many students fail summer school because of their absences.

2. Review your state standards and determine the focus standards you want to teach. Because of the pace of the class, you will not have time to incorporate all of the content standards. Don't feel guilty! For example, during the regular school year when I teach about World War I, I explain the causes, effects, significant leaders, strategies, and battles, etc. However, during summer school I might only teach about the causes and effects, and incorporate the other standards if I have time.

3. Consider trying out new teaching strategies you've always wanted to try. Summer school is a great time to try new things. Ask your students to give you feedback and make revisions before using the strategy during the regular school year. Consider assigning a project where students can choose a topic they want to learn about. Giving students a choice is a great way to differentiate!

4. Since most students who take summer school most likely failed a class, begin with a "Growth Mindset" activity. On the first day of summer school, I always use this engaging activity.

5. Since most of your students may need extra support in reading and writing, focus on teaching essential strategies to give them more academic support. For example, spend more time teaching your students how to write a DBQ rather than teaching about every battle during World War II.

6. Remember, you want to enjoy your summer vacation too! So make it a policy to NEVER take work home with you. Create your daily plan to incorporate time to grade assignments. For example, if you assign a paragraph assessment, have your students work on a project or a student-centered activity. This will give you time to grade the assignments.

If you are teaching World History summer school this year, check out this FREE lesson plan and BUNDLE of resources to make your life a little easier!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, April 16, 2018

Clock Partners Teaching Strategy

Are you looking for a fun and creative way to set up partners in your classroom? This is one of my favorite strategies: Clock Partners.

By setting up a conversation structure using clock times, this activity encourages a range of student interactions.

The teacher distributes a "clock face" handout to each student with spaces to write partner names at 12:00, 3:00, 6:00, and 9:00. Then have the students walk around the room and make "appointments" with other students that they will take with at a later time.

·          This strategy requires students to get up and move around the room to dialogue with students not directly near them.
·         Not all clock appointments need to be facilitated at once – maybe for one activity use 3:00, another 9:00.  Also, appointments can be standing for a period of time. 

Note: Avoid using this strategy when strategic student pairing is critical to the outcome of the activity.

Click HERE to get a FREE Clock Template 

Looking for more creative teaching strategies? Click HERE!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, March 11, 2018

THINK-PAIR-SHARE Teaching Strategy

Research shows that the most effective teachers ask an average of 24 questions (at all levels) during a 50-minute period; the least effective asked an average of 8.6 questions.

Think-Pair-Share is a great strategy to incorporate questions into any lesson. Just follow the instructions below:

The teacher will ask a question to the entire class and give at least 3-5 seconds to have the students think about the answer. Then the students share their answers with a partner. The teacher will then randomly call on a few students to share their answers in front of the class. This can be done throughout a lesson to check for understanding. I usually make sure the my students answer in complete sentences using academic language. 

For every unit I post a "Word Wall" so my students have something to refer throughout the lesson. Get a FREE Word Wall HERE!

If you are looking for more engaging teaching strategies click on the HERE!
Happy Teaching!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Fun Games and Review Strategies for the Secondary Classroom

I don't know about you, but I love to play games! I love competition so much that I started a monthly game night in my neighborhood. My favorite day to teach is the day before the test - review day! Are you looking for some new and engaging review games for your secondary classroom? Here are some of my favorites!

1. Bingo: I put a twist on this old-time favorite. I don't  call out the term, but I define the term and the students will have to find the correct answer on their bingo sheet! On the back of the sheet is a list of definitions. Once the term is chosen, the students write the term next to the definition. They can then take the review sheet home to study.

2. The SNAKE Game: This is one of my favorite's! It's also a great way to find out who is prepared for the test and who is not. In a nutshell, the teacher asks a question and the students write their answer on a piece of paper. For those students who do not have the correct answer, they stay seated. If they do have the correct answer they move to the next available seat. The first to pass their seat is the winner! (You can see more detailed directions HERE)

3. Cold Potato: Just like "hot potato" but opposite! Students sit in a large circle. The teacher asks a question.  As the music plays the students rotate a potato, or a kleenex box, or a ball of tape (whatever works). When the teacher stops the music, the student who is holding the "potato" has a chance to answer the question. If they are correct, they get an extra credit point!

Check out more of my "Fun Games and Review Strategies" HERE!
Let the games begin!

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Numbered Heads Teaching Strategy

Are you looking for a different way to check for understanding from your students? Numbered Heads is a fun and copperative stragegy that makes sure that all students participate. Here are the easy steps:

STEP 1: Have students number off in teams, one through four. If your students are already in teams, assign each student a different number in their team.
STEP 2: Then ask a series of questions, one at a time. It could be review questions, questions to check for prior knowledge, even questions to ask their opinion about something.
STEP 3: Have the students in each group discuss possible answers for about 30 -90 seconds.
STEP 4: Call a number (1-4), and the students with that number either raise their hand or stand up, ready to respond.
STEP 5:  Then randomly call on students with the specified number to answer the on behalf of their group.
STEP 6: Continue to ask questions until the review session is over.
CLICK HERE to see more review strategies.

Happy Teaching!
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