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982days since
Back to School

his section contains tools, tips and tricks I have picked up along the way. (Check back for updates)

Working smarter not harder...(ideas from specific teachers are credited in italics)

Planning and General Classroom Related...

Post-a-day planning
(Thank you A. Boyington!)
Plan your units/year using sticky notes.
Write the sections or topics to be covered on sticky notes (small ones) and place them in your plan book on the day you would like to cover it.  This way, when you have a snow day/sub/etc, you can pick them up and move them instead of erasing and rewriting.

Bonus idea: Use stickers (the return address labels) to type these in and then all you have to do is print and stick instead of writing them all.

Popsicle Students
Write student names on Popsicle sticks to use when calling on students or.  The nice thing is you can make students think randomly, but you don't actually have to call on the student you choose.  To form groups, lay them out on a table and sort by group size.  Move students as necessary.

Take it further:  I buy little wooden cubes at the craft store and write student names on them.  It is great for making groups on the fly, just by rolling dice.  And if I don't want certain students in the same group, I just make sure their name is on the same cube (so it is impossible for them to show up together).  Another great way to be "random" under your control.  Again, small stickers with printed student names make this easier to change as time goes on.

Smart Start (Thank you L. Harrod!)
What do your students do while you take attendance, find your dry erase markers, etc at the very beginning of class?  Even 5 wasted minutes each class period can amount to days by midyear.  No need to pull out your hair doing a million things at once...Give yourself a break and challenge your students to discuss current events, write on a journal prompt (even in math!), think-pair-share on prompt, etc. to keep them engaged in learning while you settle in at the beginning of class.  Make it a routine and the classroom management will be a piece of cake!

!! Tech Alert !!  If you are a one-to-one class (where each student has a computer in the class) post the prompt on a Class Blog and have students post their thoughts to the blog.

Don't have a SMART Board? Fake it!
I didn't have a super-techie interactive white board in my classroom, but that didn't stop me from interacting with my presentations.  If you have the ability, project from your computer directly onto the existing white board in your classroom.  Use dry erase markers, highlighting strips, etc to add to material projected.  Sure, your board won't remember it, and you have to erase between, but this works just fine for me and many other teachers I know.

Keep Reminders Positive (from A. Boyington)
Examples)
"I like how ___ is has his [name written on his paper]"

 

"If it were me, I would [write my name at the top so I know it's mine]"

 

"Thank you for [taking out your books and reading silently]"


Connect to the Objective

Let the students know which objective they are learning each day.  Write it where all students can see it, but be sure to mention it at the beginning of class.  Consider having students write it in their assignment book along with the assignment.  This will help focus your lesson as well as give the students an idea of what they will learn that day.

21st Century Tools for 21st Century Students

Help Students Create a "Tool Belt" (Thank you L Parisi)
Choose tech tools you want students to be able to use and create mini-assignments at the beginning of the year to expose them to the tool.  When it comes to creating a project later on, they can learn more about the one they want to use.

!!Tech Alert!!: If you have a class website, have students make Video Tutorials on each tool they use and post a few tips and tricks for using.  This will be a great resource for later in the year as well as when new students join your class.  (See Resources page for free screen video capture software, you would want to model this one before beginning other tools).

Know what tools you have!
Ask your school or district's technology person what subscriptions you have access to.  Encourage administration to make a list available to staff.  Depending on your time and interest level, you may want to consider joining your district's Technology Board and/or attending instructional technology conferences in your area. 

Free For Educators!
There are many great tools which are free to use for everyone.  Many great "paid" technology tools also have FREE editions for educators.  Your favorite website may not publicize it, but look anyway.  "You don't know unless you ask"

Educational editions are usually ad-free!

Some Examples:
Google Documents (access anywhere with internet)
Google Sites and WikiSpaces (Wiki/Blog sites)
Open Office (Compatible with MS Office too!)
...Check out my Resources page for more

Keep Up with the Times
Be on the lookout for new ideas and tools to use in the classroom.  Instructional Technology blogs are good for this (see the ones I follow in the left sidebar) or get involved in the instructional tech organization for your state. Also pay attention to what kids are using in their lives.

Invite students to share new technologies with you or the class.  You never know what you might learn from your students.


Extend Learning Opportunities after School Hours
Give assignments or extension opportunities that students can explore outside of school and with their families.

Examples of Free Ideas!
  • Figure This! offers math challenges for families.
  • BrainPOP and BrainPOP jr. offer featured videos, activities, and monthly spotlights through the Curriculum Calendar.


BrainPop Related...

Become a BrainPOP Educator
Just register!  The Educators section is FREE and great even if you don't have a subscription.  The Graphic Organizers and the Just for Fun section are still my favorite, but check out the Professional Development Area for great ideas!

The Videos are the Tip of the Iceberg

Look for activity pages, experiments, comic strips, additional information, and even jokes (BP Jr) that go along with the videos.

Bonus Tip:  There are answer keys to the Activity Pages in the Educator's side.

Post-a-POP Planning (again...A. Boyington)
Find the BrainPOP movies related to your lesson and put a post-it with that lesson in your plan book (or write it on the Post-a-day sticky note).

This way you don't forget to utilize the technology your school/district is paying for!

Keep a List of Topics
Print out a list of topics you teach and keep it in your notebook.  Just scroll down to the bottom of the BrainPOP website and click on "See full Topic List" there is an option to see a printable list too.  (Pair with Post-a-POP Planning.)

My personal lists (formatted to meet my needs) are:
BrainPOP Topics
BrainPOP Jr Topics

PD in your PJs (Thank you Allisyn-BrainPOP Edu!)
Keep up on what is going on in the world of 21st Century Learning at BrainPOP.  Your school may even offer PD credit...Check out the schedule and watch archives all for FREE!

Bonus Idea:
Use the ideas to present at your next professional development day.  Your presentation will be one teachers actually enjoy!

Infuse Writing
Use the letter from a related BrainPOP movie as a journal prompt/KWL for students at the beginning of class.  Write the question or project it on the board and have students write their answer to the letter with what they know or other questions about the topic.

Work Smarter!  Download the "Dear Tim and Moby" template and laminate it or make a digital document to display the question for that day.

!Math Alert!  Make writing a regular part of the math class.  When students explain processes in their own words, it encourages higher level understanding.  Math journals can also be organized by topic so students can use it for review too.

Spread the Word
If your school/district has a subscription, tell other teachers!!!  Even better, show them how to use it!

Bonus idea:  Have a BrainPOP Film Festival for teachers (and even parents at Back-to-School night) to introduce Tim, Moby, and the rest of the gang.  Print TICKETS so everyone can arrive in style.

Understand the Details of Your Subscription
Depending on the subscription, students may have 24/7 access at home as well as school.  Access to other subscriptions, such as BrainPOP Jr and ESL may also be included.  Check with your school for details.

! Need to Know !: Teachers have 24/7 access regardless of the subscription level (add "_teacher" to the end of your user name to log in after school hours)

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