Let’s hand it to all the teachers who taught before the internet.

Saturday Morning Musings.  This is how I feel about teaching and parenting.
How did you do it before the internet and Pinterest? Honestly? It’s amazing! Its hard enough to do it now.

That is what tupperware parties were really for right?

Cheers to you and thank you internet.

I always love a good teaching meme!

Let's hand it to all the teachers whotaughtbefore theinternet.

Make your grading more efficient!

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September is a great month for teaching!    The first few weeks of school is a happy time – new year, new students, new goals AND very little grading.  By the end of September those tests are rolling in and piling up on my desk and in my bag.   October is not as kind to teachers as the month of September.

I would prefer never to give a multiple choice test,  but I have to be practical.  Every year, I have over 150 high school students so to survive I make every test a mix of multiple choice and essay questions.   As test day approaches I gather the Scantron bubble sheets (usually in short supply) and plan an early morning assault on the one working grading machine when no other colleague will want to use it.

BUT FORGET IT! Not this year. INSTEAD…

This year… I manage my classroom on my PHONE! (Teaching? I’m on the phone!)

ZipGrade might be my best app find ever!    The basic phone app is a free download.  The free student answer sheets are downloaded from the site  (ZipGrade.com) in 20, 50 or 100 question formats.

Continue reading “Make your grading more efficient!”

What is the purpose of education?

What is the purpose of education? A great question to consider as we start the new school year. Horace Mann asked this very question when he designed and reformed our modern school system in the during the antebellum era. But fast forward to today (the 2nd gilded age?!) – we are still asking the same question. Educators, Parents, Politicians, students – perhaps we all have different answers (and questions!)

Is an education to prepare for the workforce?
Should students have a rigid structure or should students have flexibility and Freedom in the classroom?
Should teachers give homework?
Should teachers and students have the summer off?
Should education be free from birth?

These are difficult questions with varied opinions from EVERYONE. Everyone has been a student. Not everyone can be a teacher.

What are your thoughts? What is the PURPOSE of Education?

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Spill the Tea

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Since we live in such a gossipy, reality TV generation, I decided to create a lesson where students get to “spill the tea”.   Think of “The Talk” or “The View” TV shows with historical figures. This lesson is always a hit and can be used on a variety of topics. Choose a moderator to host the “show”.

Here’s how it works:

Split your class into groups of 4-5 students for each “Topic”. You can do this by having students pick a tea bag out of a hat (ex: Peppermint, Roobios, Eucalyptus etc).  The 4 students with Peppermint Tea bags are a group, the 5 with Roobios are a group and so on. Peppermint gets the topic of:
Roobios gets the topic of:
Etc.

Have your entire class sit in a circle (similar to a socratic seminar). The group sits in the center and has to spill the “tea” on a specific topic while the rest of the class takes notes.

Continue reading “Spill the Tea”

The Search for Solid Scholarships

As September ramps up and back to school season is full in gear, my students always ask me, when should I look for start to look for scholarships? Should I wait to apply to college first? NO! My answer always is START NOW. The old saying is true – the early bird gets the worm. Later on in the year after you fill out your FAFSA and apply to colleges that will open a whole other window of scholarship opportunities too so keep that in mind. Now where should you start? Here! And of course USE GOOGLE. Obviously. Try to tailor to your specific attributes. For example, female engineer. Male first generation student. Culinary Student. Talk to your school guidance counselor or college/scholarships advisor. Here are several of my favorite websites for scholarship search:

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The GREAT “HOLIDAY” Baking Challenge!

It may be September, but that is not stopping me from thinking about the holidays! I have shared with my readers in the past, bringing baking into the classroom is SUCH a hit! My Great Cookie Challenge at the end of the year is a great way to review historical events. BUT during the holiday season I like to have a GREAT HOLIDAY BAKING version of my  CHALLENGE WITH MY STUDENTS.

The rules:

I like to do this in groups of 2-3 students. Each group should Bring in a delicious dessert (that no one in the class will be allergic to!) that was baked it at home. It can be a donut, a cronut, a muffin, a cupcake, a cake, croissant, pie whatever floats your boat. In class – you will be decorating it with a historical event from THIS SEMESTER. You can have it be holiday specific, (Martin Luther King Day, Columbus Day, Christmas, Chanukah) or a historical event. The class judges each creation and at the end of course they eat the cakes. Here are some of my favorite photos from past challenges.

Whats another holiday pound or two for the joy of our children? Happy baking!

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Dreaming of September Bulletin Boards

As back to school session is underway , I love greeting new students with artfully decorated bulletin boards. My favorite way to do so is with Tagxedo’s word cloud maker.    To use the Tagxedo site you must have Silverlight (a free Microsoft plug-in) installed on your computer.  Silverlight does not work with all browsers.  I ended up using Explorer.  Once you have cleared this hurdle making word clouds on Tagxedo is very intuitive.

I had a great time playing around with the different shapes, fonts, colors – it is very entertaining and totally free!  I finally settled on the traditional apple shape and loaded it with the names of fictional students.   Check out tagxedo.com, see my sample below!

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The Teaching SECRET you NEED to know!

Tomorrow is the BIG day! Back to school. As a seasoned teacher I always get asked the same question over summer break… “If there is one SECRET to being a great teacher what would it be?” This is never an easy question to answer. But it really all comes down to ONE SECRET. Here it is…

The best teachers COMBINE the TWO E’s.
 ENTHUSIASM and EMPATHY.

WHY is this the secret to great teaching?
Simple. Ask yourself, what type of teacher would YOU learn best from? Would YOU want to be a student in your class?
In order to answer YES you need both enthusiasm and empathy.

Greet your students with a big “HELLO!” every day. Every class. Why? You don’t know what kind of day they have been experiencing. That’s where the empathy comes into play. Students may have anxiety, had a fight with their parents, or a sibling, a peer or worse. However, if you can provide a welcoming atmosphere combined with empathy it will be contagious.

If you have an online presence with a google classroom or even excel surveys then:

Be sure to decorate your google classroom with an animated header!

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks for bringing enthusiasm into the classroom! Let me know how your first day back goes!

Bring Google Classroom to Life

Howdy! How do you do? (Classroom Icebreakers 101)

Make a Magnificent Classroom Meme !

History’s Great Mystery (How can I make my classroom more interactive?!)

THE WINNING WHITEBOARD

Why I put the SOCIAL back into SOCIAL STUDIES!

SHARK TANK FOR YOUR CLASSROOM

The Great Debate (Socratic Seminars in the Classroom!)

Bored of Giving Assessments? – Use Board Games!

Holiday Themes for Google Classroom

Play-Doh is Power

Color the Past

The Mannequin Challenge – for the Classroom

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Bubbling Beauties for Back to School!

This summer has been so much fun! I have really enjoyed designing new material for my back to school classroom in my Teachers Pay Teachers Storefront.  I am elated I have been able to help so many of you ease your transition back to school! Check out my new TPT material below. Happy Shopping!

Open House Invitation Coloring Page

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Theres more!

Digital Paper-Gingham (FREE!)

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Digital Paper – Chalk Pattern

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Continue reading “Bubbling Beauties for Back to School!”

Friday Freebie – Back to School Animation!

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Its time to go back to school and meet a new group of students and parents!  Here’s a small “GIF”T! A FREE animation to add life to your September parent emails.   Adding a GIF is so easy – just insert it as a picture into an email or document to share.

Find it here at our Teachers Pay Teachers store.  Meet The Teacher Animation