Three Tools You Can Use to Make Effective Lessons

The skill of writing lesson plans is crucial to running an effective classroom. This is common knowledge I am sure most will agree. The question for the effective teacher then becomes:

What teaching tools are out there to use to make effective lesson plans?

In this post I give you three tools, though there are many others, to do make effective lesson plans.

The first tool is a standard, or objective. Here in my state of California, we have made great inroads toward success by using the state standards framework. The Common Core will be here soon and that is also a great way to map out lessons. The objectives for each grade level have been articulated on aour academic standards website and teachers are free to access them. They are also responsible to teach from them and show results at the end of the school year. Every state and district give guidelines, that are usually online, to teaching everything in your year. Continue reading “Three Tools You Can Use to Make Effective Lessons”

Sing a Dirge to VHS

Sing a Dirge to VHSI’ve written here before about what a shame it is that so many old materials get discarded. This is very true with VHS videos, movies, and teaching material gathered through the years. I’m 45, so I’m not part of the new teacher age (about 25) so my gripes may be vacant to them. However, those about my age will remember all the science, math, and language arts VHS that came to us over the years that are now literally “inaccessible.” Houghton Mifflin had some science VHS tapes that were spectacular. They showed survival in the ocean. This is powerful teaching stuff for any classroom but especially in my demographic where the kids rarely see the ocean. I really do feel video has powerful potential in lessons, especially completely new concepts. Perhaps the only video my kids will see of the ocean is Happy Feet? Video has its place in education and I do mourn the loss of a VHS player in the classroom. Continue reading “Sing a Dirge to VHS”

Save it for Later

Do you ever get little notes from your students that are touching but you tend to throw away? It would be easy to put them in a special folder titled “Sunshine Folder.” On a rainy day you can get those little notes out and warm your teacher heart. This can workMVC-013S in a similar way for all the stuff you get in your mailbox and ends up cluttering your desk. Develop a “Need to Sort” folder and a “What’s Important Now” one. You don’t have to sort everything now. You can save it for later and save your brain energy, wit, and candor for your lessons. Continue reading “Save it for Later”

Beyond Table Points

IMG_2541.JPGTable points are amazingly helpful in my classroom. Each table takes initiative to win points by listening and participating. I’ve discovered over the years that competition works. My 4th graders will compete to get the prize every time. For this reason, I seat my students at tables, not individual desks. This enables them to have elbow room and engage in discussion. I find that group discussion often fills in teaching objectives that I might not have covered in traditional teaching. It works well for every subject, including fostering self-esteem.  Continue reading “Beyond Table Points”

Dont Over Stuff Your Brain

When it comes to our brains, less is more and quality is better than quantity. Slow down and take more breaks, you’ll be amazed how much more you retain for life!

Whether you are learning or teaching, it’s important to not over stuff your brain. Studies have shown that the mind cannot absorb more than three things at a time. So, if you are writing, don’t make more than 3 main points or they will be wasted on over-fed minds. If you are looking to read and understand something, break it down into three or less main categories. Yellow pads are great for this. You’d do well to “space out” the time you have to study as well. The theory of time spaced learning got me through College Algebra at the junior college. I have always struggled with math and a teacher shared with the class about it. My life has been improved ever since!

The theory goes like this: instead of studying to absorb new material over the course of an hour, break up your time into 15 minute increments. The data shows that memory is strongest when you start and stop a study time. Therefore, instead of having strong memories only twice in an hour, you will have them at the start and stop of each mini session. This equals more knowledge retained! Now this was great news to me, because I loved taking breaks from math!

When it comes to our brains, less is more and quality is better than quantity. Slow down and take more breaks, you’ll be amazed how much more you retain for life!

Search Google for PDF and DOC Worksheets for Your Lesson

20130111-144253.jpgI own a few Disney Nature videos along with some Bill Nye the Science Guy ones as well as some cool Nat Geo programs. When they complement the curriculum and standards, I use them in my lesson. Recently I discovered that videos like “March of the Penguins” have a plethora of PDF and DOC worksheets findable on Google. In most cases these are teacher created ANC absolutely free.

If you are looking to use video in your lesson, you may want to do a PDF or DOC search on Google. Someone may have done valuable work that will increase comprehension of your lesson’s content. HINT: try Google’s advanced search feature. There is a line where you can filter by file type.

Dealing With Multiple Levels in the Classroom

appleAs teachers, we are charged with the duty of reaching a whole class of students. Some are high level functioning and others not. This does not however allow us to choose one or the other. Our lessons must reach both. This is the real challenge in education. The textbooks our districts buy included scaffolding suggestions in the margin. Some have elaborate supplemental books to teaching the varying levels in our classrooms. Still, it’s no easy task. You always run the risk of leaving some kids out. I think assessment on a uniform scale is a must these days. For example, at my school we use Accelerated Reader. This program has a subset inside called the “STAR” Reading and Math test. This is a good program, again as I’ve said before, no program is perfect. This one use the same criteria over and over as many times as the kid takes the test to determine grade level equivalency. Continue reading “Dealing With Multiple Levels in the Classroom”

Teacher as Student

tumblr_n19nvqQrgQ1r1kqreo1_500.jpgThis is true for teachers too. The next time you are leading your class, why not be open to the idea that some student in the class could teach you something new. If not about the standards you are studying, then about people and children the age of which you teach. We should be listeners as well as pontificators of lessons.

What Great Teachers Do

Here’s 7 things taken from a great article. Click on the link below them to visit the original post and read the rest. What a great post for teachers.
“1. Great teachers never forget that it is people, not programs, that determine the quality of a school. 2. Great teachers establish clear expectations at the start of the year and follow them consistently as the year progresses. 3. When a student misbehaves, great teachers have one goal: to keep that behavior from happening again. 4. Great teachers have high expectations for students, but even higher expectations for themselves. 5. Great teachers know who is the variable in the classroom: THEY are. 6. Great teachers create a positive atmosphere in their classrooms and schools. 7. Great teachers consistently filter out the negatives that don’t matter and share a positive attitude.”
What Great Teachers Do Differently