Archive for the ‘Classroom Community’ category

L is for Lesson Plans for the First Week of School

May 24, 2017

Lesson Plans for the First Week of School: The Crayon Box that Talked and The Color of Us

Using literature to appreciate diversity in the classroom is one way to build a classroom community—vital to student learning. These two literature based lesson plans focus on diversity, inclusion, and building relationships of respect. And, while these two lessons are designed for K-4, they could easily be adapted to intermediate and middle grades—maybe even high school. This product includes:

  • Lesson #1 The Crayon Box that Talked Crayons Lesson Plan.jpg
  • Lesson #2 The Color of Us

SALE 20% off May 24-25 Lesson Plans for the First Week of School

J is for Just Adjectives

May 21, 2017

Getting to know students and encouraging students to get to know each other is an important step in the process of building classroom community. Taking time to complete getting-to-know-you activities always pays off—go slow to go fast.

This mini-lesson came out of our Wonder unit plan because it is a great getting-to-know-you activity that could easily be used during the first days of school. It’s also a nice introduction to adjectives. Students explore adjectives with the ABC of Adjectives, then using adjectives, students complete Who Are You. The result is an I AM poster that can be displayed in the classroom—great for open house. The mini-lesson includes:

  • ABCs of Adjectives
  • Who Are You?
  • I AM Directions

SALE 20% off Adjectives and Me Lesson Plan

J Adjectives.jpg

G is for Grouping Techniques

May 15, 2017

Using innovative and novel ways to form student groups catches students’ attention, saves time and commotion, and can reinforce your content. Determining how pairs, triads, or groups will be formed before you need them provides a smooth way for students to move into their groups. If you constantly group and regroup students randomly, students are usually willing to work with all students. If the grouping technique uses something that connects to the content, all the better (academic language terms, literary characters, quotes, objects, cartoon characters, famous people, movie titles, song titles, etc.). This product lists ways to form groups and includes reproducible cards to facilitate the process.

All of our products that employ the use of pairs, triads, or quads include unique ways that connect to the novel or topic to form those groups.  Try it, it works!!!

Grouping Techniques

SALE 20% off May 16-17 Grouping Techniques for the Classroom

You might want to check out: Grouping to Build Relationships

B is for Bell Ringers and Bell Work

May 7, 2017

B is for Bell Ringers or Bell Work or those little assignments you give to students as they walk into your classroom. I remember them as sponge activities, sponging up every moment for teaching and learning including the moment a student walks into class. These activities only work if they are engaging, quirky, interesting, fun, relevant, and/or off the wall. The key to making these activities work is to refer to the activity sometime during the lesson—beginning, middle, or end and students sharing responses with a partner, the class, or you.

I strongly believe bell ringers should NEVER be graded or checked off or whatever. On the other hand, students should know by your practice that responses will be shared with each other, the class, and/or you. The classroom climate you establish will encourage or discourage students to share responses. All responses should be respected and respectful.

One of our new products is Bell Work-Set 1, available on Teachers Pay Teachers. These are designed to be used for morning meetings, advisory, or anytime, including the beginning of class or end-of-the-class reflection. These prompts are useful to keep in a substitute folder, have them ready to use for shortened periods, or when there’s that odd amount of time left at the end of a lesson. Each day includes a question or prompt, an optional student handout, and a sharing strategy that you could easily incorporate into other lessons. Finally, these activities build community and relationships between you and your students and among your students throughout the school year. Bell Work Set 1 includes:

  • 20 Day of the Week Questions and Prompts—4 for Monday, 4 for Tuesday, 4 for Wednesday, 4 for Thursday, and 4 for Friday (4 weeks)
  • PowerPoint Presentation with 24 PowerPoint Slides with directions and suggestions for sharing
  • Outline of PowerPoint Slides and Notes/Directions
  • Easy Reference Guide to Sharing Strategies Included in Bell Work Set 1

THREE DAY SALE (May 8-9) 20% Off!

Bell Work

Learning Stations and Cranberries

November 10, 2016

cranberriesLearning stations engage students in active learning. “Learning stations can be used for myriad purposes—to teach concepts, integrate subject matter, build interest, and allow for inquiry—the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the teacher and the supplies available” (Jarrett, 2010, p. 56).

Learning stations are designated areas in a classroom, hallway, cafeteria, or community room where students complete tasks. Everything the student needs is available at each station, which could include handouts, activity sheets, experiments, photographs, videos, music, artwork, food, cranberries, etc. There are step-by-step directions at each station. Students move from station to station individually, in pairs, or small groups. The number of stations can vary as well as the time estimated at each station for students to complete the station task. And, students can work at their own pace.

Learning stations work for all grade levels. Consider inviting parents, older students, or preservice teachers to help with setting up stations, guiding students through stations, or even be part of a station, giving interviews, clarifying instructions, doing demonstrations. For example, a parent helper might serve samples of cranberry juice at a tasting station.

Check out Crazy for Cranberries Cross-Curricular Learning Center Activities to use as a template for developing and setting up learning stations in your own classroom. It’s a great example of the types of stations you might set up as well as what you need for each station. It’s a delicious example of using learning stations!

Crazy for Cranberries Cross-Curricular Learning Center Activities includes

  • 19 page-teacher guide
  • Materials and picture guides for each center
  • Answer key for student journal
  • Optional QR codes or print resources
  • 14-page student journal
  • 11 center signs for each learning station

Jarrett, O. (January 2010). Inventive learning stations. Science and Children 47.5: 56-69.

Visit our Teachers Pay Store and look at the products we have available–you just might find something perfect for you and your students.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Wonder by R. J. Palacio

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

The Giver by Lois Lowry

Son by Lois Lowry

The One and Only Ivan

The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla

Surviving to Thriving TPT

Avoid Burnout: 10 Ways to Add Fun to Your Teaching

March 9, 2015

tagedo kids want teachers to be

Find a place inside where there’s joy,

and the joy will burn out the pain. Joseph Campbell

Often, this is the time of the year where both teachers and students begin to get restless, tired of winter, and in need of a change. In January I came across an article, 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout by Ben Johnson. The first step was to have fun with your students.

In a study I did with my two colleagues, we surveyed middle school kids to see what they had to say about good teaching. And, one thing they wanted was fun (Fontanini, Neiman, & Carpenter, 2014). I think this is a great place to start to avoid burnout, but how do you do it? Here are 10 ways to add a little fun to your teaching.

  1. Play music as students are coming into your classroom. Ask students how that music or song is connected to the content or topic. You might be surprised at what your students might say.
  2. Show a video clip to start off your lesson. Youtube is an easy place to find a video clip on practically any topic.
  3. Do a read-aloud. Pick a picture book, poem, short story, or novel you love and start reading it aloud to your students before your lesson starts or use it as a closing activity.
  4. Do a community/team building activity, one you have used in the past or a new one.
  5. Stand at the door and greet each student formally.
  6. Rearrange your classroom into a new pattern.
  7. Play a game that connects to your topic.
  8. Tell a joke or funny story.
  9. Start class with a brain-teaser or trivia question connected to the topic.
  10. Come dressed as a character, scientist, historical figure, or just something a bit outrageous. (When I was team teaching with a social studies teacher, he had a rental tuxedo that wasn’t due back until Tuesday—he wore it all day on Monday. Definitely got students’ attention!)

Not only will your students appreciate the change in pace, you will too! Novelty catches attention, teachers and students. As my colleagues and I create teacher materials for Teachers Pay Teachers, we remember that students want learning to be fun. Fun to students equates to engaging. We think, and many of our buyers agree, that our products are engaging to students and easy to implement for teachers. Check out our store on TPT: Surviving to Thriving LjL. Let us know what you do to add a little fun to your classroom.

References

Fontanini, J.J., Neiman, L.V., & Carpenter, L.L. (April 2014). Ask the Real Experts About Good Teaching. AMLE Magazine, 1(8), pp. 24-26.

Johnson, Ben. (April 22, 2014). 10 Steps for Avoiding Teacher Burnout. Edutopia.

Surviving to Thriving TPT

Three Principles to Ponder Connected to Teaching and Learning

August 10, 2014

Paul Brock wants all of his daughters’ future teachers to abide by three principles:

First, to nurture and challenge my daughters’ intellectual and imaginative capacities way out to horizon unsullied by self-fulfilling minimalist expectations. Don’t patronize them with lowest-common-denominator blancmange masquerading as knowledge and learning; not crush their love for learning through boring pedagogy. Don’t bludgeon them with mindless ‘busy work’ and limit the exploration of the world of evolving knowledge merely to the tyranny of repetitively churned-out recycled worksheets. Ensure that there is legitimate progression of learning from one day, week, month, term and year to the next.

Second, to care for Sophie and Millie with humanity and sensitivity, as developing human beings worth of being taught with genuine respect, enlightened discipline and imaginative flair.

And, third, please strive to maximize their potential for later schooling, post0school education, training and employment and for the quality of life itself so that they can contribute to and enjoy the fruits of living within an Australian society that is fair, just, tolerant, honorable, knowledgeable, prosperous and happy (Brock, 2004, pp. 250-251).

Visible Learning HattieSchool for many will be starting within the next few weeks. While teachers are busy preparing for the upcoming school year, it might be a good time to reflect upon Paul Brock’s three principles. This quote was included in the preface of a book by John Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers: Maximizing Impact on Learning. I have only read the preface and first chapter and I am intrigued.   Then I read the following quote and now I can’ wait to read the whole book.

“This development of critical evaluation skills requires educators to develop their students’ capacity to see the world from the viewpoint of others to understand human weaknesses and injustices, and to work towards developing cooperation and working with others. It requires educators to develop in their students a genuine concern for self and others, to teach the importance of evidence to counter stereotypes and closed thinking, to promote accountability of the person as responsible agent, and to vigorously promote critical thinking and the importance of dissenting voices” (Hattie, 2012,p. 4).

This quote provides a strong rationale for teachers to create community in their classrooms by getting to know their students and students getting to know each other as well as students getting to know their teachers. Building a community of learners who care for each other takes time, but it is time well-spent. Go slow to go fast.

There are many getting to know you activities in books, on the Internet, on Pinterest, etc. Check out our two books for more ideas about building trust in your classrooms: Thriving in the High School Classroom and From Surviving to Thriving: Mastering the Art of the Elementary Classroom.

Thriving in the HS ClassroomFrom Surviving to Thriving

 

Brock, P. (2004). A passion for life. Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning. New York: Routledge.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Browse/Search:surviving%20to%20thriving%20ljl

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Thriving-in-the-High-School-Classroom-1326075

http://www.amazon.com/Visible-Learning-Teachers-Maximizing-Impact/dp/0415690153/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1406818434&sr=8-1&keywords=John+Hattie

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/From-Surviving-to-Thriving-126820


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