Teaching the Value of Honesty

IMG_2500.JPGHonesty is such a lonely word. That’s why we must be taught what it means. My students are chomping at the bit to take a test on the computer. This is true whether or not they have read their AR (Accelerated Reader) book that they are being tested on. They often will interrupt a lesson or a time of independent work to ask me about taking an AR test. More often than not, at the beginning of the year, they have no idea what their book is about because they haven’t read it thoroughly. When I ask them if they are ready and did they read the test, they always tell me, “Yes! I read it two times.” The data unfortunately speaks otherwise when I see 30% correct, 0% correct. It’s hard to light a fire under kids for reading but it’s even harder sometimes to convince them of the value of honesty. Continue reading “Teaching the Value of Honesty”

Happy Teachers Day 2016 #Education #Teaching

Google Search┬áhas this graphic up and says it’s happy teachers day. I wonder if the kids will give me a break and not talk while I’m teaching. Well, if they do, I’ll just remind them it’s Teachers Day ;) Happy Teachers Day to my Union brothers and Sisters, my employing school district, and of course, my students and their families. Without those three, I wouldn’t be a teacher. I’m so grateful that I am one.

CD Hovercrafts – A Fun Science Craft Idea

A science lesson can be such a great part of the teaching day. Unfortunately for some, it can also be the most boring. I am always looking for innovative ways to get kids’ attention while teaching them science. Bill Nye videos are very useful and they are titled by standard which makes it easy to select one for your class. But video can’t be the sole thing you rely on when igniting interest. I discovered in the last few years that crafts or experiments can awaken even the most sluggish learner.

I’m currently teaching guitar in Summer school and I saw a science craft another teacher did I want to share. It shows how one force can work against another in unison to create movement. In this case, it is a hover craft. The materials needed are: 1) an old CD you don’t want anymore 2) a balloon 3) The “pull top” style water caps (see image) and 4) a glue gun.

As far as the lesson goes, the sky’s the limit. Do you think you could do something with this idea? I’d love to hear about it.

Ideas for Better Teaching 2011-2012

This is my 13th year teaching public school. Like most things that matter it has taken time to achieve what feels like some level of mastery. This past year I found it helpful to keep a small section of my whiteboard for writing down ideas and solutions.This is important because many times I forget about “light bulb” solutions that take things like a trip to Staples or laminating to make happen. Here are some teaching strategies and tools I plan to use in the 2011-2012 school year.

  • Teach higher volume in answering voice – Teaches all and reduces class boredom.
  • Fruit: Our school gives each class a basket of fruit every day that is provided by a private grant. My rule: must eat all 10 minutes prior to recess or no recess.
  • Random Non Volunteer Cards. Begin use on day 1. #’s work better than name cards.
  • #’s on desk a priority that requires maintenance make a dedicated spot where you can maintain the numbers when kids pick them off etc. Make replacing damage they do an easy task I am prepared for.
  • Plastic “glass” overlay for desk to show observation papers etc. Helps with focus and anxiety over the unknown.
  • Homework is Focus Reading Comp etc. packets. Also Scott Foresman Math. CFU first thing in am with questions. They must be ready to answer my question of “why.”
  • Have a central location to file report cards etc. Organization takes effort but saves mental and physical energy in the long haul.
  • Desks rows and “away” areas for troubled students. Protect the rest.
  • Pick days to stay after school and do copies. This will avoid traffic jams there and hence discouragement. Take the let downs away before they happen.

These are just a few things I plan to implement to make my year better. Have you taken the time to reflect upon your year last year? What worked and what didn’t?

Seize Training Opportunities

Professional Development - Seize OpportunitiesNo matter how bad the economy gets, educational institutions offer trainings of one sort or another. These can prove invaluable to your journey in the classroom so seize them whenever you can. Get on mailing lists of educational publishers, sometimes they will offer a free seminar for their product. Subscribe to RSS feeds of blogs that offer training courses. These can be on anything in education from behavioral management to holistic therapy techniques. I know the latter sounds “out there” but we should all be open to new ideas if we ever going to transform education. You can also seek out trainings in your area and then inquire to your supervisor about getting funded to attend. Most districts and schools are very into professional development, they want to develop the talent they have within. To them, it is an investment. To you it equals mastery, wisdom, and clarity in the teaching profession. Continue reading “Seize Training Opportunities”

Best Reader Trophy

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Do you give out recognition for your top readers? I do. We run Accelerated Reader at my school which makes it easier to run reports and identify who is passing their comprehension tests. In other words, we know who the top readers are. It’s important to publicly recognize these kids and on doing so let the school know that reading for meaning is worthy of reward. Continue reading “Best Reader Trophy”

Special File for Student Notes and Creations

Explains a “sunshine folder.” In this, you put special “gifts” from the kids and then when you are feeling down or just want a reminder that you “don’t suck” as a teacher, you can just pull the folder out and browse through it.

Often teachers share with me that they get trinkets and drawings from their students. I know I get my fair share. All too often we sweep them aside to the edges of our teaching desks and end up throwing them away. A mentor of mine several years back told me about something I know have and call a “sunshine folder.” In this, you put special “gifts” from the kids and then when you are feeling down or just want a reminder that you “don’t suck” as a teacher, you can just pull the folder out and browse through it.

I am not sure exactly why, but it seems that all children love to draw. I have been given so many pictures through the years it could probably fill a landfill. Most of them are gone forever because I didn’t hang on to them. After my mentor’s suggestion, I started keeping all the photos and small stapled envelopes my kids give me and it is getting quite encouraging already. I never know what to do with these gifts and the students always give them to me at inopportune times. Having the sunshine folder helps me keep their sentiments until a time when I can properly enjoy them and it shows the students I care enough to file it and read it at a later time I’ve noticed in recent years the students have used more “realism” in portraying my bald head. The last on I got gave me wings like George Constanza on Seinfeld. I guess looking at the ongoing realism of these pictures from my students is a little bit like accepting that I am aging. All the more reason to keep these special items in a dedicated place.

In the recent past I had a not-so-great day of teaching. I was quite deflated. Everything seemed to have a “catch” attached to it and nothing was working, not even my printer. So, I sat down and pulled out my sunshine folder. As I read through so many messages of “You’re the best … You rock … You’re the best teacher ever …” I found myself feeling better and reminded once again of why I do this wonderful though often difficult job of teaching.

Play With Technology

IMG_2490.JPGI needed a USB multiport adapter and I found one that was as much fun as practical. I got to thinking about he represents play in learning technology. Whenever people ask me how I learned so much about technology, I tell them I simply “play” with it and learn stuff while doing so. Continue reading “Play With Technology”

Small Growth is Still Growth

Many of my students just got their reports cards and they included large growth in grades. A few on the other hand, had to see what they have been seeing for years up to now: flat growth or decline in scores. There is only one way to take this: they need to improve. I don’t tell parents of my kids that their children have to be the highest in the class. I just want them to improve. If there was a 2 in one area last trimester, we are looking for a 3 and so on.

The challenge to the high kids is to maintain their high grades. Having said that, the children with lower grades have nowhere to go but up. Small, incremental growth is still growth. When I ran in high school we called it “running your own race” and making a “personal best.”

My Top Ten Posts on Teaching from 2012

We must always be adapting to change as educators but there is also a need to identify and internalize the methods that are timeless. Check out the titles I see as my best of 2012.

Student recognition
I recognize students in the classroom with 7 trophies. They travel around all year and can be used for student recognition year after year. Read more about this mini-grant I wrote at one of the top ten posts of 2012: Trophies in the Classroom

2012 was a year of change in education but many things remain the same. I suppose you could call them the “universals” of the trade. These are my best posts from 2012. As I re-read them, I could see that some universals of education are in there. We must always be adapting to change as educators but there is also a need to identify and internalize the methods that are timeless. Check out the titles I see as my best of 2012. If you have the time, I hope you’ll give them a read. I would much appreciate your comments.

Reflections on the Reflective Teacher
We as Teachers Can Improve the Culture
Trophies in the Classroom
Kids are Like Sponges: Use Stories to Teach Them
The Parent Trigger and 2 Radical Changes I Suggest for Public Education
Common Core and Collaborative Groups
What Students Need from a Teacher
Teacher as Motivator and Coach
Getting Buy-in From Your Students
5 Altruistic Values of Teaching

Thanks for reading my posts. I look forward to publishing more on the Common Core and other trends in education in 2013. Hope to see your comments.