Category Archives: Teaching Tip Tuesdays

8 Online Tools for Students and Educators

8 Tools for Students and EducatorsSomeone approached me and asked to contribute a guest post for my Teaching Tip Tuesday series.

Over the years, I have had some great tips submitted from readers all over the globe.

I found out that this latest one though was a thinly veiled attempt at self promotion. Even worse that that, it linked to a site and service that cut against everything I believe about education.

I almost deleted the post outright. Instead, I edited in heavily and let it stay in place. I have since reconsidered. I wrote this rebuttal and erased the entire post.

I am sorry that I was duped this way and hope not to be again. I will be very critical of further guest -post submissions.

Thank you!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – advice, lessons, tips and tricks for classroom teachers  (once a month)

Schools Can Be So Much Greener

Making Our Schools GreenerWhen we think of the cost of school, we rarely think of the buildings themselves. It is important to remember that they have both a financial cost and an environmental one.

Energy Use

“School buildings are the third biggest energy users. A mid-size school district may spend $1 million yearly on energy, a number that is increasing by around 19 percent each year.”

I found that number to be mind-blowing when reading the article, 10 Ways to Green Your School by J.H. Fearless. And that wasn’t the only thing that caught my attention.

Environmental Costs

“Poor indoor air quality negatively affects students’ performance, and schools remain a huge source of pollution and waste that degrades the environment.”

I know some of our old buildings aren’t the best places for students to learn. I hadn’t even thought about any negative health consequences associated with our schools. It definitely is something worth considering.

“Going to school can actually harm your health. Nearly half of all schools (43 percent) have unsatisfactory indoor environmental conditions, and 20 percent have unsatisfactory air quality. That’s partly due to aging school buildings, but also related to an overall decrease in indoor air quality thanks to reduced air circulation and more synthetic substances in our daily lives. One in ten school-age kids now suffer from asthma, so poor air quality isn’t just an annoyance—it can be life threatening.”

What Needs to Be Done

Our schools need some major upgrades. But there are also things that we can do as teachers and students to makes things better.

So, let’s “take action to improve indoor air quality and reduce exposure to toxic substances for all teachers and students.”

Organize Classroom Cleanup Days

Sometimes, it’s hard to keep a classroom clean. I try my best to keep my work area clean for purely aesthetic reasons, but there are health benefits too.

“Some of the biggest health concerns lurking in your classroom exists under all your stuff. Cluttered surfaces, cupboards, and corners harbor dust and mold. Organize some classmates or fellow parents to stay after school once a month to declutter. You’ll help reduce asthma triggers, and your teachers and custodians will thank you.”

Use Green Cleaning / Maintenance Materials

“Toxic cleaning supplies, pest poisons, paints, furnishing finishes, and even chemical fertilizers and ice melt threaten kids’ health. They’re also toxic to cleaning and maintenance staff. Ask your school administration to seek out green solutions to various issues, including sidewalk weed control, ice melt in the winter months, and cleaning products.”

Get an Air Quality Meter

“Want to get a clearer idea of what you’re really breathing? Work with students and parents to raisefunds for or ask the school to invest in air quality meters, which will help students manage asthma. Additionally, the meters notify the school of any serious air quality issues, such as high CO2 levels, or elevated moisture that could cause mold.”

Organize a Local Food Day

“Consider teaming up with local restaurants, farms, or even food trucks to bring fresh, local food to school once a month or once every few months. Kids will get a chance to learn the benefits of local food, and you’ll be supporting the small businesses in your community.”

Set Up A Green Club

“Take environmental education into your own hands. A student club can take real action on school issues. Your club may create a school-wide recycling or composting program; learn about growing your own food with a school garden; organize cleanup and planting days; raise funds for green initiatives; and even take part in statewide and national green schools competitions. Through all this, students will learn leadership, teamwork, and how great feels to make a positive difference.”

Form a Carpooling, Cycling, or Walking Group

“Save time for busy parents, conserve energy, and make friends with a community carpool or other transportation group. By getting together with your neighbors, you can find new, more efficient ways to get to and from school. Carpools are the time-tested solution, but if you live close enough to your school, think about organizing a group to ride bikes or walk together. As a bonus, parent chaperones will get their daily exercise, too.”

Install Energy Meters

“It’s a lot easier to understand energy use when you can see it in action. Energy meters that are visible to any student and teacher aren’t just great learning tools— they can also encourage everyone to conserve energy and water throughout the day. Many schools have started sharing their energy use in this way. Monitoring not only creates savings for the school’s power, heat, and water budgets, but can also be incorporated into friendly school-wide competitions and classroom sustainability lessons.”

Save Money, Save the Environment

“If you asked your school administration, they’d probably be the first to tell you that they would love to upgrade your school with more modern, sustainable, and healthy features. Unfortunately, most schools have tight budgets, and they have to make tough choices about how to allocate funds.”

That said, it shouldn’t be surprising that environmentally sustainable schools—with increased efficiency and health benefits—are also more financially sustainable. For example:

It Increases Efficiency and Health Benefits

Test scores and learning ability improve by three to five percent when a school incorporates natural daylight—equating to an annual earning increase of $532 per student.

Building a green school costs less than 2 percent more than a conventional school (about $3 per square foot) but provides 20 times the financial benefits.

A green school saves an average of $100,000 annually—enough to hire two new teachers, buy 250 new computers, or purchase 5000 new textbooks.

Green schools utilize 33 percent less energy and 32 percent less water than traditional schools.

On average, a green school produces:

  • 1,200 fewer pounds of nitrogen oxides (a principal component of smog)
  • 1,300 fewer pounds of sulfur dioxide (a principal cause of acid rain)
  • 585,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide (the principal greenhouse gas)
  • 150 fewer pounds of coarse particulate matter (a principal cause of respiratory illness)
  • 74 percent less waste

Do Your Part

How can you help your school go green? Start by reducing energy use, water use, waste, and pollution in everyday action. Calculate the savings your actions are creating, and lobby the school district to set aside that money for upgrades and improvements to facilities.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – Once a month, we feature articles designed by teachers for teachers

Harriet’s Big Adventure (Children’s Book Review)

Harriets Big Adventure

Harriet’s Big Adventure by Glenn S. Guiles and Raymond J. Whalen

Guiles is a fellow educator who believes in the power of a good story to enrich the lives of children and to help them learn. To that end, he has crafted a series of picture books featuring a miniature donkey by the name of Harriet.

The series is based upon the animals that he has on his very own farm in Adirondack State Park. In this second book, Harriet notices that her owner forgot to secure the latch to the gate. She wanders off in search of an adventure.

She comes across creatures she has never seen before including a squirrel, a porcupine, and two deer. Just when she begins to realize that her trek through the woods has taken her far from home, she notices that the trail looped up and brought her right back home.

She is thankful for her adventure and for her nice home.

This is pretty standard fair when it comes to illustrated children’s books. The story isn’t anything out of the ordinary, but the water-colour paintings really make it come to life.

I think students can identify with their yard always being the same and wanting to travel beyond the school grounds. As such, it would be a great read-aloud for a primary classroom.

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – Great tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiration for classroom teachers

Shake it Up in the Classroom

Shake It Up in the ClassroomThere are all sorts of things you can do to shake things up in your classroom. But teachers are expected to have a certain level of decorum. That is why I included the first item in this post. From there, it gets interesting. So, read on!

Dress Appropriately 

I think teachers should dress appropriately for school. Having a professional attire is just one of the things we should all be doing on a regular basis. I wear a tie to class at least three times a week.

Even on Fridays, when a lot of teachers dress down, I still wear casual pants and a golf shirt. Although, wearing jeans and a school t-shirt also works on the occasional spirit day or the day before a holiday.

Figure out how to incorporate art, drama, movement, and props in the lesson. You could even use food or beverages to create a positive atmosphere for a special lesson. Same goes with music and lighting.

Wear a Costume

But, I also like to shake things up by wearing a costume that compliments my lesson. This year, I have gone into role as a scientist. I wore a lab coat and glasses, and spoke with an accent. I even gave this character a name and back story. It was great!

There are all sort of ways you can use costumes in the class. I regularly have myself play the role of a guest speaker. I have been a construction worker, a football player, and of course, a pirate.

Involve the Audience

You need to ask yourself questions when designing your lesson. These questions will help you make your presentation more interactive and meaningful.

– How can I consistently keep the audience feeling involved?
– Can I cue them to make certain motions or sounds at key points?
– Can I incorporate call and response in this lesson?
– Can I bring students to the front of the room as volunteers?

Here is an idea that politicians or celebrities use during press conferences. Why not bring it into the classroom too?

– Have a student play a pre-arranged role and interact with them throughout the lesson. They key here is to keep this a secret so only you and that one particular student know what is going to happen.

Try Something New and Exciting in the Classroom

I hope my Teaching Tip Tuesday Series helps to inspire you and have you try something new and creative in your classroom!

This series normally runs every week during the school year. This year, it will be sporadic. I am not teaching right now, but still have some ideas I can share with all of you. Stay tuned to the blog for more!

Teachers are Such Failures

Teachers - Unfair Targets“It seems everybody is piling on teachers right now. We have become fashionable targets.”

People aren’t going to understand what we do. We will always face criticism and negative comments.

“Honestly, I don’t let it bother me and you shouldn’t either.”

Take Risks

Knowing this, it might seem easier to play it safe. I know a lot of people want us to stick to the tried and true methods of teaching. But, theses methods are no longer relevant and don’t inspire our students. It’s time to change and take risks!

“An all or nothing mentality exacerbates the fear of failure. If you believe everything you do has to work one hundred percent of the time, you are less likely to take risks and step out of your comfort zone.” 

We Learn From Mistakes

We expect out students to make mistakes and to learn from them.  We should do the same thing. If we only present lessons and material that we know has worked in the past, we don’t have the chance to fail.

Dave Burgess says, “If you haven’t failed in the classroom lately, you probably aren’t pushing the envelope enough. You are being too safe.”

How Do You Define Success?

Success isn’t something that is bestowed upon you by an outside source or test score. It doesn’t come from winning the championship or going undefeated. How then can we define success? 

I think John Wooden said it best: “Success is peace of mind, which is a direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you make the effort to do your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.”

Keep Your Enthusiasm, Stay Strong!

“You have to have the intestinal fortitude, self-confidence, and personal power to press on and do what you know is right for your students. Don’t allow misguided and ill-informed critics to steal your enthusiasm for innovation. If you let them, they will sap you of the strength needed to persist in this brutally tough profession.

You have to learn how to take a punch, bob and weave, and keep moving forward. What you do as an educator is too important to let somebody standing on the sidelines to prevent you from being the absolutely most powerful teacher you can be. Some people will just never get it! That’s OK. that’s their problem; you can’t let it become yours.”

Have a great summer!

This is the last post of my Teach Like a Pirate Series and the last Teaching Tip Tuesday entry of the year. I hope you all have a safe a happy summer. And if you haven’t read Dave Burgess’ book, I highly recommend you add it to your summer reading list.

Movie Making in the Classroom

Can it really be this easy to create a free green screen?

Green Screen

Apparently, all you need is green butcher paper and iMovie. I don’t have any experience using green screens but I am definitely intrigued!

April Kreitzer tried it out and wrote a nice tutorial here if you’d like to learn more.

I like the idea of making a movie with your class. I have done so in the past and the students really got a lot out of it. We wrote it together collaboratively. But we had to consider the practicality of shooting while we wrote it. We had to restrict the setting to locations we had available to use. With a green screen, we would no longer be restricted to just shooting in the school or yard. The students’ imaginations could run wild. And that is a beautiful thing!

Teaching Tip Tuesday Archive – over 200 great tips, tricks, and inspiration for classroom teachers!

Education Outside the Curriculum – A Guide for Teachers

Outside the CurriculumAn efficient teacher is the one who opens up the box of creativity and innovation and allows the students to indulge in something totally novel and different.

Merely sticking to the curriculum and instructing students from the highlighted box is not at all a competent option.

The process of teaching is not at all limited to writing notes on the board and teaching the students by revolving around the course. A wider part of teaching lies outside the curriculum.

A lot of elements are supposed to be incorporated by a proficient teacher; from an immense knowledge of curriculum to the fulfillment of morality and ethical norms, a teacher should have it all.

So moving aside the box, we need to teach the students the basic and the fundamental aspects of living and dwelling in the society, with the indoctrination of character education as well as acquainting with the elements of unity and discipline.

In a nutshell, teaching and learning can both become instantly spontaneous if they are taken outside theboundaries of the classroom and are particularly student- centered. The unique way of learning, which is attained only through the aspects and limitations of classrooms can result in productive consequences, which not only includes collaborative learning, but also develops relationships that are unique and constructive. This entire process of learning can be termed as deep if they move towards a modern, up-to-date approach from a conventional educational setup.

Character Education

Many schools have transformed their academic plans and introduced the concept of character education. Long ago, it was considered as an aspect of constant debates and arguments, but currently, character education is thought to be the most essential and indispensable. The way a society is made and initiated is an amalgamation of education as well as the essence of standard norms and values as per the society. They have sprouted in many schools as well as colleges are offering their major degree in this approach.

Unity and Discipline

What exactly are the factors that make a teacher so dependable and reliable? Well, here are the answers; moving ahead from educational and academic dilemmas, a competent teacher is the one who initiates the values of discipline and teamwork. This is also known asthe collaborative learning, which presently is thought to be a vital part of the academic program. Teachers are trained to instruct these elements to the students, so that more positive results are seen.

Experience and Practicality

Despite having immense knowledge and insights of the theoretical world, an expert teacher will be the one who tends to give preference to practicality along with theory. A theory or an everyday lecture seems useless, if they are not linked and justified with the added element of technicality and realism.

Insights with creativity

Thinking outside the conventional box is quite essential. Students learn instantly this way and the quality of learning is top notch. Therefore, creativity and innovation should be given preference and an able teacher allows their students to indulge themselves in inventiveness and imagination.

Guest Post by Melody Wilson

Rita – My New Favourite Show

Rita TV Series

Rita is a brilliant television series from Denmark that is now available on Netflix. It’s the first foreign language show that I have ever watched. You need to turn on the subtitles, but it is well worth the effort.

This is one of my favourite scenes from Season One. The story revolves around the school’s no sugar policy. A parent was outraged that another parent brought in treats to celebrate her daughter’s birthday. He said that the school was making sugar fun and that was the wrong message to give. So, he brought in some non-sugared treats for his son to share with the class.

At the end of that period, all of those tasteless treats were left behind. Some were even stabbed with pencils. The kid looked so embarrassed and downtrodden.

The next day Rita brought in some home-baked goodies with tons of icing sugar on them. She shared some with the staff and then made her way to the class.

 

Rita finds the student and gives the treats to him to distribute to the class. He felt like a million bucks and the kids all got a nice treat. It was a great scene. I love the reason she finally gave for being a teacher too!

In this next clip, a new teacher gets discouraged by an older teacher who tries to tell her that she was selfish for trying to start new programs. Her response is priceless.

 

I have had something close to both of these incidents in my teaching career. I could identify with the characters and story lines so much.

Season Three will be available soon. I can’t wait!

The thing about Rita is that she’s not perfect. She doesn’t have all of her life together. She might not even be the best role model, but she is a great teacher who really cares about her students.

The stories are great and so is the subject matter tackled. I love this show so much that I might just have to rework My Top 10 TV Shows of All-Time!

Happy Teaching!

Teachers and Students NEED Creativity!

We NEED CreativityI regularly think outside of the box and find ways to be creative in both my personal and professional life.

I often have co-workers comment about how creative I am. The thing often unsaid in these conversations is that they don’t see themselves as creative and they wish they could do these kind of activities in the classroom as well. But here is a very concrete truth I want to share with you and with them . . .

Everyone is Creative 

“Creativity is not the possession of some special class of artistic individuals, but is rather something that can be nurtured and developed in all of us – including your students!”

Don’t make excuses.

You can’t tell yourself that you aren’t creative.

“We all have unbelievable creative potential. It lies dormant just waiting – no begging – to be tapped.” 

Find Your Inspiration

Finding inspiration is easy. It is all around us. I often come up with great ideas for the classroom by reading something completely unrelated to the subject or topic. Or my trying something new in my personal life.

Here is a passage from Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess that explores this idea further . . .

“Becoming well-read and involved in a wide variety of interests provides us with the raw resources that we need for what I call Creative Alchemy. Too often, people believe creativity is some esoteric skill that involves coming up with completely original ideas out of the blue. That is rarely the way it works. “

Start a New Hobby

I know, there isn’t enough time to do all of the things we need  to do as a classroom teacher such as plan, photocopy, mark student work, and the hundred other things that always seem to pop up. It may seem counter-intuitive to take extra time to pursue a hobby. It is not though. I believe everyone should have a hobby or five.

“Spend more time on your passions, hobbies, and outside areas of interest and then seeks ways to incorporate them into your classroom. Cultivate new hobbies and watch new areas of your brain explode in creative output.”

I skateboard, rap, do a radio show, blog, and write fiction. All of these things I have been able to bring into the classroom in some way shape or form, and it has been amazing!

Expose Yourself to High Quality Thinking

This is a key item. Read a lot and don’t just read teaching related books.

“I believe the best books to read about teaching are rarely in the education section. . . . I consider it one of the most important part of my job to constantly expose myself to the high quality thinking of other people. It challenges me, it keeps me current, and it provides me the raw resources necessary for creative alchemy. 

Exploring the world and your passions allows you to bring a new perspective and energy into the classroom. It allows you to become a powerful role model for your students. We always say we want them to be life-long learners,  so we must show them what that looks like.”

Become a Well-Rounded Person

“Don’t fall into the trap of thinking time spent developing yourself into a well-rounded person, above and beyond your role as an educator, is wasted or something to feel guilty about. It is essential and will pay dividends in not only your life, but also in your classroom.”

I hope these tips have helped. You can be creative in your professional and personal lives and inspire your students at the same time. It is win-win!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – your weekly source for professional inspiration

Updated – Free Method Book for Beginning Band

Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps: Conductor GuideMy favourite resource for teaching instrumental music is a long out-of-print book called Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps.

I absolutely love it. It is organized brilliantly, starts out students with pieces they can immediately have success on, and it introduces new notes and topics at a good pace.

I have tried out other method books and am often disappointed that they seem to rely on the same 5 notes for every song. They don’t introduce new concepts, and as such, don’t teach the kids much other than simply playing new pieces.

I digitized the individual books for each instrument about a year and a half ago. Since then, I have had people tell me how much they appreciate this resource as well. I have even had requests to add the Conductor Book to the post.

I’m sorry that it has taken this long, but I have finally digitized the Conductor Guide. You can download it for free as a PDF file, print it out. and put it in a binder to keep in your classroom.

Here are all of the resources from Band Fundamentals in Easy Steps: Book 1. You can check out the original post for some more information as well.

Book 1: Alto Saxophone
Book 1: Clarinet
Book 1: Drums
Book 1: Euphonium / Baritone
Book 1: Flute
Book 1: French Horn
Book 1: Tenor Saxophone
Book 1: Trombone
Book 1: Trumpet
Book 1: Tuba

Book 1: Conductor’s Guide

Original Silent Cacophony Post

Download, print off, and enjoy. And you might want to keep a PDF version on your computer too. This way, you can project the piece of music you are working on directly to your Smartboard. I do this all the time and find it very useful. I hope you will too.

Teaching Tip Archive – great tips, lessons, and resources every Tuesday

You Need a Good Plan, Not a Good Excuse!

No Excuses (1)I got a lot out of Barbara Coloroso’s book, Kids Are Worth It. I took pages and pages of notes when I read it. The book is now full of underlines and margin notes.

I never used to be able to write in my books. I didn’t want to mess them up. I wanted them to be in mint condition even after having read them. But having a nice looking book isn’t as important as having one that speaks to you and one you can interact with. So, I recommend making underline notes in pencil (you could always erase them later.)

Here are some of the notes I made and passages I highlighted as I read

Confrontations

  1. When you are upset or angry, say so in an upset or angry tone of voice
  2. Tell the other person about your feelings
  3. State your belief out loud but avoid killer statements
  4. Close the tip gap between the hurt and the expression of hurt. Give direct feedback
  5. State what you want from the other person
  6. Be open to the other person’s perspective on the situation.
  7. Negotiate an agreement you both can accept

It is important, that as teachers and parents we model working through problems the same way and take responsibility for our actions. These seven steps are quite handy and I am going to post them in my classroom.

Admit the Mistake and Take Responsibility

Coloroso uses the term “backbone parent” to show the contrast between two other parenting styles that are not effective. In the quote below she illustrates how backbone parents would handle making a mistake. It’s how I want my students to handle them to, so I altered the beginning a bit.

[A good person] admits that she made a mistake, takes full responsibility for making the mistake, avoids making excuses, figures out how to fix the problem created by making the mistake, recognizes if and how another person was affected, and figures out what to do the next time so it won’t happen again.

No Excuses

I want my children to understand that when they have a problem, what they need is a good plan, not a good excuse.

Here are another set of steps worth posting up.

6 Steps to Problem Solving

  1. Identify and define the problem
  2. List viable options for solving the problem
  3. Evaluate the options—explore the pluses and minuses for each option
  4. Choose one option
  5. Make a plan and DO IT
  6. Evaluate the problem and your solution. What brought it about? Could a similar problem be prevented in the future? How was the present problem solved?

Remember you are helping her learn how to think—not what to think.

The Game and The Sit

When two students have a problem with each other, there is no way a teacher can solve it. The problem often will spill out into the yard and become a fight or it will spark up again on the bus. Giving the students time to own the problem and figure it out is the best solution. I’ll admit that this particular method would be difficult in a classroom, but it is still worth considering.

Here are the basics (you can find out more in the book if interested)

“You both seem really angry. Come over here and sit together on the couch. You can both get up as soon as you give each other permission to get up. What is it you need to do?”

Asking this question is very important and good teaching practice before sending students off on any task.

“Don’t demand an apology. “I’m sorry” has to come from the heart, not the head. If you demand an apology, you’ll probably get one of two kinds: (a) whiny or (b) “I’m sorry” followed by the apologizer slugging the other kid again

Neither can move. They both have the power over the other, but that power is connected to the other person’s power. Kids begin to see that they are not dependent or independent but truly interdependent—not controlled or controlling but rather influencing and influenced. Soon one says,

“You can get up.”
“But I’m not going to let you get up.”
“You may both get up as soon as you give each other permission to get up”

Finally they get the message that together they have the power to control the situation. Notice that they haven’t been punished. The goal is not to punish them. It is to discipline them. 

I still have more notes I can share with you about this book. And I picked up another Coloroso book at a used book sale last week, so I’ll probably have even more tips from her next year in this series.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – weekly advice and inspiration for teachers (over 200 entries so far)

It’s All About Engagement – Seamless Transitions

Seamless TransitionsFar too many times, teachers capture the attention and engagement of their class and then lose it by adding some unnecessary delay between the hook and the delivery of the content.

For example, they tell a powerful story that has the class in the palm of their hand. Then, upon finishing the story they have the students get a piece of paper out of their notebook before tying it all together with their lesson.

They knew that the piece of paper was going to be needed so they should have told the students to get it out before starting the damn story!

Be Prepared

Every time you allow or add an unnecessary delay in your presentation you create yet another time that you will have to regain the engagement and momentum you lost. Those two minutes spent putting in and cueing up the video clip matter. Something as simple as waiting for the projector to warm up can be responsible for losing a portion of your audience.

Have a Tech-Helper

There will invariable be a student in your class who is good with computers and would love the responsibility of cueing up videos, controlling the Smartboard, and making sure the projector is ready when needed.

Keep Them From Mentally Checking Out

It’s not that I’m overly concerned about lost minutes. Engagement is the real loss. Every time I lose my students’ focus to unnecessary delay is another time I must go to the hard work of hooking them yet again.

To keep your students from mentally checking out, try to get all administrative activities out of the way before beginning your presentation. If the students will need any materials (their books, paper, pens, etc.), have them get them out before you start.

Make it Seamless 

When you are forced to have a transition, try to make it as quick and seamless as possible.

Don’t ever let your lesson come to a complete halt.

When an interruption happens via the PA or a visitor, you can banter and interact in an entertaining way, or you can simply keep teaching.

Have a Runner / Messenger

I have a classroom job that I refer to as “messenger.” This is the person responsible for picking up any notices or doing office runs as need be. This is another job that students seem to enjoy doing. I rotate this responsibility often.

Hope that helps, that’s what this series is all about!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – great tips, tricks, lessons, and inspiration every week.

 

Alternatives to YouTube

Alterantives to YouTubeRichard Byrne runs an amazing wesbite called “Free Technology for Teachers.” I cannot say enough good things about it. The site is updated daily with all sorts of great resources that teachers can use in the classroom for free!

I love how he maintains a list of alternatives to YouTube.

There are certain school boards and districts that have blocked YouTube entirely. There are all sorts of ways around this problem, however. In the past, I’ve to downloaded videos on my home computer, saved them to a thumb drive, and then brought them to school. I have uploaded videos to my own site and accessed them that way at school too.

Having streaming alternatives to YouTube is certainly handy. I am not going to link to any of them here, Instead, I am just going to direct you to Free Technology for Teachers because it is a reliable site that is absolutely invaluable to teachers everywhere!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – weekly inspiration and resources for classroom teachers right here!

Let Kids Make the “Cheap Mistakes”

Cheap MistakesSometimes as parents and teachers, we are afraid to let our kids make bad choices. We want to steer them in a direction that will avoid a negative consequence. So, we tell them what to do and what to think. But ultimately, this harms them in ways we probably never even considered.

Barbara Coloroso breaks if down in her book, Kids are Worth It!

Give Them Info and Let Them Go

“What kids need instead of being told what to think, is lots of information about themselves and the world around them, and the opportunity to make lots of decisions, including some less-than-wise ones. As long as their decisions are not life-threatening, morally threatening, or unhealthy, let their choices and the consequences of those choices be their own to grow with and learn from.”

Cheap Mistakes

There are mistakes that we can let our kids make that don’t cost them a lot. These mistakes may come with minor consequences, but these consequences will help them learn and prepare them for the future. We shouldn’t be afraid of these “cheap mistakes”

“I believe if you let kids make choices and mistakes when they are cheap, they rarely make the expensive one later, Kids learn from the cheap ones”

Build a Strong Sense of Self

Letting our children make the cheap mistakes gives them experience in forming their own opinions. They are not just doing what they are told. You might think that is a good thing, but at some point, kids stop listening to their parents (even if only for a little while) and that’s when trouble can arise.

The major problems arise when the teen decides he doesn’t want to please his parents anymore. . . He’s been listening to somebody else tell him what to do. He’s been doing it. He hasn’t changed. He is still listening to somebody else tell him what to do. The problem is, it isn’t you anymore, it’s his peers. The kid hasn’t learned how to think.

Lacking a strong sense of self, these teens define themselves only in relationship to whomever they have attached themselves.

Barbara Coloroso has some great advice for parent and teachers in this book. I recommend reading it if you have enjoyed this post!

Kids are Worth It

Teaching Tip Tuesday – weekly advice and inspiration for teachers (over 200 tips and counting)

Popcorn Math

Popcorn MathStudents should work with numbers on a regular basis. Adding, subtracting, dividing, multiplying, solving for x; all of these things have their place and value in education.

Unfortunately, over the past few years, mathematics pedagogy has suggested that students need not waste their time learning number facts. Teachers have been dissuaded in using any of the tried and true methods of mathematics instruction.

Gone are the so-called “drill and kill” worksheets. And I agree that simply doing a task over and over again doesn’t necessarily benefit students. But I think it is one of the best ways to learn number facts.

I want my students to know their number bonds (all of the combinations of numbers that add up to 10) their multiplication tables, and the divisibility rules. Learning these things does not take away anything from the problem-solving and collaborative learning environment that is encouraged these days. In fact, know basic number skills helps students in that arena tremendously.

So, here is a good alternative to drill worksheets. I love the randomness of it too. All you need is a popcorn box for each student and some crumpled up paper. The operations go on yellow paper and can include greater than and less than symbols.

I bet the students would like to make up the cards and then trade their popcorn boxes to solve each other’s math facts. We could make sure that the same number of cards go in each box.

I hope you find this Teaching Tip useful.

If you have anything you’d like to share in this series, please leave a comment below or contact me to write a guest post.

Artist Wanted for a Teaching Resource

Artist WantedI have a great teaching resource that I want to develop. The only problem is that I am not much of an artist.

I am looking for someone to draw 130 clip-art style images. These sketches need to be easily recognizable and in vibrant colours. They also need to be equally sized in a square shape .

If you are interested in working on this project with me, please let me know. I will send you the list of objects I need drawn and then we can work together to create this amazing classroom resource.

So far, I have been giving away all of my resources for free on this blog. This new project is going to be part of an entire program that teachers and students will find extremely useful. It is going to take some time and effort to put together. That is one of the reasons that I will be selling this resource when it is completed.

Artist Wanted!

I have big plans for this project and need your help! Please send an email to chasemarch(at)gmail(dot)com if you’d like to be part of this amazing project!

Occasional Teacher Interviews – Getting the Job You Want

1So you want to be a teacher and you don’t have any experience in the classroom outside of what you learned in teacher’s college. Don’t worry, you can still rock that first job interview.

Here are things you should think about before going to that Occasional Teacher Interview.

What would you do / have you done questions

Here is a handy mnemonic device to help you answer these questions.

S – SITUATION (tell them circumstances, what it was about)
A – ACTION (what you did, how you did it)
R – RESULTS (what the outcome was, impact, reactions)

It’s a good idea to have a story or two on hand that you have thought about or rehearsed. Think of how you handle difficult students, defiance, and what you have done when there are no plans left for you to follow.

Behaviour Management

When you enter a classroom for the first time as a supply teacher, there are already established rules in that room that you can readily use. Go to the school early and read whatever notes the teacher has left for you. If there is an incentive program in place, use it. Give points and rewards readily for any positive behaviour.

Connect with the Class

I like to share some of my interests with the class early on. I let them know that I am a rapper and can beatbox. if we have a good day together, I promise to showcase that ability for them I built up a reputation for that when i was supplying and certain classes really looked forward to it.

Be Prepared

Bring some activities that you can do in a class at a moments notice. Consider having a reading lesson or math activity for every division. I would have one that would work for Kindergarten, one for Grades 1-3, one for Grades 4-6, and one for Grades 7-8.

This is really important because there will be times when you show up for an assignment and there will be no lesson for you to deliver, no resources for you to use, and really nothing written down for you to follow.

Part of the job is being able to improvise and go with the flow.

What Would Your Class Look Like

Even for a supply teaching job, some principals will ask you specific questions about what your own classroom would look like.

Make sure you mention,  RIGS (Reading that balances Independent, Guided and Shared Reading lessons.) Don’t forget that this acronym applies to writing as well.

In Math, research the three-part problem solving lesson. Don’t mention doing drills or having students memorize number facts. Math has moved in a completely new direction that last few years and you will want to be able to speak on that.

Assessment

Growing Success is the document we use in Ontario. This is the guide we use for writing report cards and gathering marks. Even if you simply mention the document, you will be ahead of some of your peers applying for the same job.

Be familiar with the terms For, Of, and As Assessment.

Don’t forget to . . . 

  • Dress Professionally – If you are male, wear a shirt and tie. It might be old-school but it pays to look smart.
  • Be Early – I always aim to be 15 minutes early. You will be calm and relaxed when you don’t have to rush.
  • Bring a Book – I read a book while I am waiting to be called in for the interview. Sometimes this becomes a great ice-breaker and leads to intelligent discussion before they ask you the tough questions.
  • Smile – You might be nervous and not naturally smile in a job interview situation. be conscious of this and do your best to smile.
  • Don’t Ramble – Keep your answers succinct. Think of the rule of three; mention three things only and wrap up your answer with confidence.
  • Sit up Straight – Posture is important in an interview
  • Don’t use Slang – Teachers need to model proper English. Make sure you do so!

I hope these tips will help you get on the Supply Teacher / Occasional Teacher list in your area. Good luck with the job hunt!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – your  weekly resource for great resources , tips, and tricks for classroom teachers!

Increase the Fun Factor at School

School Fun Factor“Sometimes it’s OK to do things in class because it increases the fun factor and fosters positive feelings about school. “

It’s Not a Waste of Time

Doing a quick game, activity, or challenge is not a waste of time. If you do such an activity, you might notice the following

– students cheering on and encouraging their peers
– students cooperating and offering great tips
– students who never interact with each other before, working together

All of that can come from a silly activity and not detract from the regular learning that happens in your room.

I love doing special activities in school and think we can find time to do them more often. We can do short challenges and tie them into the theme or context of the learning we want to see happen in that lesson.

Be Creative

In the book, Teach Like a Pirate, Dave Burgess writes about how he sets up a hike that goes around some of the outer fields of the campus. He plans out the route and sets up all sorts of props and scenes throughout. During the class period, they go for a walk, and stop at those areas to have a lesson, lecture, or activity.

These activities can be fun, energizing, and educational! And the best part is that it gets students excited about school and breaks the monotony of the traditional school setting that inspires very few of us.

Teaching Tip Tuesday – yours source for weekly classroom inspiration

March Break – Take Time to Enjoy It

Take Time to Enjoy ItIt’s March Break and it can be quite tempting to use this time to do some planning for the rest of the school year.

I highly advocate leaving school completely behind for one week.

  • Do some reading
  • Watch movies
  • Go on vacation (if you can afford it)
  • Take a day trip (if you can’t)
  • Get outside
  • Be active
  • Spend time with your family
  • Get some things done that you’d like to
  • Focus on yourself and not your job!
  • and remember to . . .
  • Have Fun!

Our job is a very important one, here is some inspiration to carry you through this week, and the rest of the year!

the-best-teachers-dont-give-you-the-answers

Have a Safe and Happy March Break!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – every week right here on Silent Cacophony

Teach Like a Pirate – Day 3

TLAP Day 3Welcome to the third post in a series focusing on the methodology Dave Burgess lays out in his book, Teach Like a Pirate. 

Day three, according to Burgess, is absolutely critical. It is a day where you can get the reluctant learners on board. It is the day where you can sell your program and your class to the students. This is the day where you can engage students who have had a negative view towards school and their own abilities. It is a turning point.

Day three consists of a massive, high-energy, frentic sales pitch designed to convince my students that my class is completely different from anything they have experienced in school. Most importantly, I work to sell them on the fact that they can , and absolutely will, be successful. 

He doesn’t get very specific as to how he sells his program. He mentions multiple intelligences, differentiated instruction, and the importance of having a growth mindset. The rest of this day probably focuses on the specific things you want to have in your own program, your subject area, and the age group you teach.

This is something I have never done in my own teaching practice. I never felt the need to sell what happens at school. School is just something we have to do, so let’s buckle down and do it. Of course, this isn’t good enough motivation for many of our students.

I’ve actually been struggling with student motivation over the past few years. This seems like a great way to establish a positive learning environment. I can’t wait to try this three day plan next year!

Teaching Tip Tuesday – great resources for classroom teachers every week!