You probably won’t get very far in teaching without hearing about a plethora of sticky note activities. It might even seem overwhelming because you can use sticky notes for just about anything. What are the best practices for using sticky notes, especially when you’re teaching older students? Read on to see my suggestions. 1. Use them conscientiously There are two points to consider - how to get ahold of them, and what to do with them when you’re done. Buy in bulk for the best bang for your buck. But if you are tight in the supply budget and it’s part of your school culture to provide supply lists to students, consider having students contribute to a class stock of sticky notes or have them bring their own supply. The other thing to consider is how to dispose of sticky notes. There’s a myth that sticky notes can’t be recycled. While some types of sticky notes are harder to recycle (like those with fluorescent dyes), and not all recycling centers take “mixed paper”, I recommend consid...
Shakespeare has been gone for 400 years and yet we still insist on keeping him in our classroom. Mention Shakespeare, and I can guarantee teens immediately put up a front. Breaking through that initial abrasiveness can sometimes become a hurdle - but pointing out Shakespeare’s relevancy is a great start to a study. Below are some quick thoughts you might consider sharing with students, as well as several resources you can use while teaching Shakespeare. Shakespeare influenced our language. You can find so many references in our English language directly from Shakespeare’s work. If your students have ever been tongue-tied or hoodwinked, they’re quoting Shakespeare. There is a definitive record of Shakespeare being identified as the sole user or the first user of many common words and phrases. Your students might enjoy focusing on phrases they do recognize instead of worrying about what seems confusing. Shakespeare's themes are timeless. If you cut the language that feels outdated to...
It’s the not-so-favorite time of year - state testing. And while students may agonize and teachers may groan at the thought of another year of standardized testing in the midst of whatever this new normal is, it’s up to us to prepare our students the best we can. Here are six ideas to help you prep for the test prep season. 1. Get organized This applies to you as well as your students. Think about your game plan. What are you going to accomplish? “Prep for state testing” is too broad a statement. Think about specific tasks, specific knowledge your students need. Think about how you’ll organize your students and how much time you will need. Don’t add more stress to the situation by going in at the last minute with packets you found on the internet but didn’t have time to vet. Be methodical in what you plan. If you’ve waited until the final hour, focus on one or two main test prep areas: writing with evidence or focusing on listening skills. 2. Try something fun Students don’t need endl...
When it comes to reading nonfiction, my students tend to get bleary-eyed and hard-of-hearing. It’s like they instantly think of their history textbooks and informational articles and they decide before they even know the topic that they aren’t going to like it. For many students, nonfiction is like the vegetable of literature, but it doesn’t have to be this way. This is why I work hard to make sure I have a variety of activities to engage my students. Read about some of my favorites below. 1. Fact vs Opinion This super easy activity simply involves you presenting the topic of study and having students create a class list of information. Students share what they know (or think) they know about the subject. You can then assign a pre-reading activity separating fact from fiction, or have students revisit the list after reading. 2. Learn to Annotate Annotating is such an important skill because your students learn to engage with the text. It also has shown to improve retention, and helps i...
If you’ve never conducted a fishbowl discussion in your classroom, you and your students are missing out. Similar to a Socratic Seminar, fishbowl discussions are organized classroom discussions that require students to prepare thoughtful responses to deliver in class. I love using fishbowl discussions as an end of the unit review activity because I can give my students a lot of content to review and use to prepare for the discussion, and I can also use the discussion itself as a way to assess my students’ speaking and listening skills. Organize your classroom You will want to prepare your classroom for the discussion. Typically, I place two tables or four desks in the center of the room. That is my fishbowl. During the discussion, four students will sit in the middle of the room and answer and discuss the topic questions. The rest of the tables and desks in the room are arranged in a circular pattern around the fishbowl. That way, just like people look at the fi...
Whether you just signed your first teaching contract, are a seasoned educator, or you are still working toward your earning your teaching license, it is never too early (or late) to start building your classroom library. In fact, the earlier you start building your classroom library, the easier the task will be. I believe that classroom libraries are an essential part of every single secondary classroom, whether you teach English language arts or not. Teenagers need to have easy access quality, interesting books: books that they will actually want to read. Even if you don’t have an independent reading program attached to your curriculum, it is important for your students to know you value reading and that you have a plethora of books just waiting for them. While the easiest way to build a classroom library would simply be to buy every.single.title.available, that isn’t the most economical way to start your collection, especially if you are just starting your teaching career. ...