The Great Pumpkin Challenge

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One more day until October! The month of Pumpkin Spiced Lattes, Apple Picking and my favorite THE GREAT PUMPKIN CHALLENGE! My students know how much I love food challenges (see my posts on The Great Cookie Challenge!The GREAT “HOLIDAY” Baking Challenge! and I’ll share my Food Network Challenge with you in a couple of weeks). So OF COURSE I always do a GREAT PUMPKIN CHALLENGE!

If you have a google classroom make sure to get our great october headers!
See them here:
Halloween Background
October Themed Headers

The lesson rules are simple:

I like to do this in groups of 2-3 students. Each group should Bring in a pumpkin OR a pumpkin dessert (that no one in the class will be allergic to – baked at home). So… a regular ole pumpkin to decorate, a pumpkin spice cupcake, pumpkin bar, pumpkin gingerbread cookie, pumpkin donut, pumplin pie whatever floats your boat. In class – studnents 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 pumpkin or pumpkin food. Let me know how your great pumpkin challenge goes!

Speed Networking in the Classroom

 

It can be daunting to try out a new teaching method, but TRUST ME, this one is A HUGE hit! I’m writing an extension to my post on History’s Great Mystery (How can I make my classroom more interactive?!) and Why I put the SOCIAL back into SOCIAL STUDIES! so you can try out this awesome technique in your classroom. This lesson can be modified for primary/middle school and high school.

I like doing this lesson for a number of reasons.
One –  This lesson give students practical, real world experience. The students are required to practice their interviewing skills on their peers as they bring a business card, a name tent and a resume with them of their historical figure (on the high school level). See below I modify this for the younger grades.  This gets my students thinking about creating their own resumes and business cards and career prospects.

Each resume and must include the following: Name, birth date, education, background, known associations (with a definition), notable accomplishments, and 3 references. Each resume must also have a “job sought” paragraph at the top. This must be between 3-6 sentences long and should include long term goals and other pertinent information. I have students bring a resume which should also include a picture. I require that these must be typed (you need two copies – one for you and one for me!) . You should have students work on this in groups if they are each assigned the same character. 

Two – I require each student to shake hands with the person as they move around the table. I give them a quick “this is how to do a proper handshake” and “smile nicely” when I hand out the instructions and again before the activity begins. This requires they practice their social skills.

Continue reading “Speed Networking in the Classroom”

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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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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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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Why I put the SOCIAL back into SOCIAL STUDIES!

Many moons ago, as a part of my grad school endeavors I had to follow a student around from class to class for an entire day. It was the longest day of my life! BUT… I realized some pertinent things –

  1. Students SIT ALL DAY! (Except for that 3-4 minute break heading to their next class).
  2. Students WRITE all day or TYPE and then in between classes they TEXT. Basically, their hands hurt by the end of the day.
  3. Students see different peers in every class and don’t know the names of who they spend their day with.
  4. Students are mentally and physically exhausted by the end of the day.

Continue reading “Why I put the SOCIAL back into SOCIAL STUDIES!”