As 2016 comes to an end and 2017 rolls in, it is time to start thinking about ways to improve our educational practices. We spend the first semester really getting to know our new students and understanding the different classroom dynamics of each class period, so it only makes sense to take what we know and improve our teaching practices. Here are 4 resolutions to incorporate in the new calendar year. One thing I want to focus on this year is providing my students with meaningful feedback that will enhance their learning. Sure, I can quickly jot down a checkmark next to a well-written sentence , but how does that really help my students? To provide my students with more meaningful and effective feedback, I’m going to write about two detailed comments on major papers that point out specifically what the students did well and why it works. Instead of writing “nice intro” on an essay, I might write, “great job on your thesis statement. It is detailed, to the point...
As the end of the semester nears, it's time for the same ol' routine we encounter every single year. Between final grades, final exams, final essays, cumulative projects, letters of recommendation, and more, we need to remember that we've made it through before. 1. It's officially excuse season. Our students suddenly realize that there are less than two weeks left in the grading period, and they get pretty creative. 2. While some of the excuses demonstrate creativity and ingenuity, others are just .... blah. It's like they think this is our first year teaching or that we didn't attend high school ourselves. 3. Then there is that moment when you realize that last week's plans are completely back firing on you right now. Lesson learned: watch the movie AFTER students turn in their essays. 4. During this time you might begin to wonder why you have a Google Classroom, classroom website, parent information page, digital calendar, wh...
The holiday season is officially here, and I want to make sure that teachers are laughing all the way to winter break. To help make these next few weeks go by quickly, I’m participating in a holiday blog hop and raffle giveaway hosted by The Language Arts Classroom. Keep reading this post for more great ideas and for a chance to win some gift cards! My entire store will also be on sale on Monday, November 28 and Tuesday, November 29 to help teachers make it until the end of the semester. As the end of the semester nears, students begin daydreaming about winter vacation, no school, presents, no school, time with family and friends, and no school. It can be very difficult to keep their focus and concentration during this time of year, so I give students some choice with real-life topics that matter to them while maintaining the rigor that my administrators expect! One thing I like to do at the end of the semester is engage students with a high-interest argument essay. Even t...
One of the things I love the most about teaching nonfiction texts is teaching rhetorical analysis and watching students get it. After teaching my students about ethos, pathos, logos, and a variety of rhetorical devices in two different speeches, I wanted to see if they got it on their own, so I assigned a collaborative rhetorical analysis project. To set up the project, I printed copies of historical and political speeches that we had not reviewed yet: The Space Shuttle Challenger Address, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s I Have a Dream , President George W. Bush’s 9/11 Address to the Nation, and JFK’s Ich bin in Berliner . With the exception of I Have a Dream , all of the speeches are about the same length. I printed out enough copies for each group to have one speech each, and then I collated the speeches so that I could hand them out at random. The students did not have a say in which speech they were given. I gave each student group a piece of chart paper, markers, and a...
Teaching students to write essays well can be a tricky task. It is so simple to assume that our incoming students are equipped with all of the tools necessary for writing various types of essays, but that thinking is not only flawed, it is detrimental for our students. I remember way back in the day when I was in high school. My teachers simply assigned an essay, gave us a prompt, and set us on our merry way. Perhaps this wasn’t the norm for most people back then, and I surely hope that it wasn’t, but it always left me utterly confused. Our students need direction. Our students need guidance. Our students need step-by-step instruction. When we assign our students essays, especially in the first semester of the school year, we need to make sure that we provide our students with all of the tools and information they could possibly need to write the best essay they can. And for essay writing, this means over teaching. So many of my students lack the skills needed to write a tho...
When I teach writing in my classroom, I teach it as a process. Every part of the writing process, from the initial brainstorming to peer editing, is equally important and integrally essential to the final draft. All too often, students flounder when it comes to peer editing essays. Not only is it confusing for students, but they often lack the direction and skills that they need to successfully peer edit a paper. Simply designating a day for either peer editing and giving each student a red pen and free range to check his or her best friend’s paper is not enough. When it comes to peer editing, students need direction and focus. Here are FIVE ways to make peer editing successful in your class. Peer editing with mentor sentences is a great way to not only teach students how to write correct and effective thesis statements and topic sentences, but it also guides students in the because they are looking for and correcting or complementing specific aspects of the essay. I l...
Ever so often, secondary teachers will have a difficult and challenging class. While all of the students individually are great kids, the combination of students just makes for one bad recipe. That was the case in my sixth period class this year. It was a difficult class, and almost every day for a few weeks the class tested my patience and classroom management skills. I tried talking to kids individually. I tried positive rewards and interventions. I tried calling home. I tried whole-class punishment. I tried my whole bag of tricks -which includes everything that I do in all of my other classes where this does not happen. Nothing was working, so I paused the class, took an entire day off from instruction, and rebooted my class. I gave them a voice, and the results were amazing. After several sleepless nights, I decided my class needed a classroom behavior intervention. I didn’t just limit this to my class though, I included myself. At the beginning of the period, I (once again)...