Send in the Interactive Word Cloud!

 

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Start the year off with an interactive word cloud!

I am always looking for fun ways to generate classroom participation.  If you can relate to my quest, take a look at AnswerGarden.ch.    The site lets you create a word cloud with audience responses in real-time.  I am a big fan of word clouds as you know – remember my post on  Dreaming of September Bulletin Boards

With  AnswerGarden,  you post a question and  watch the magic happen as your audience responds.   It is a great tool for opening a lesson, brainstorming, or  a quick assessment check.  No time in class?   Set it up on your online platform.

This is a free site  with no login requirement!

Watch this tutorial and you will see how easy it is to use!

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Powerful PowerPoint AIMS

AIM. The GOAL. The “here’s what we are about to do today folks, so get ready!” moment.

When I first started teaching the recommendation from the “higher ups” was “ELICIT THE AIM”. Elicit the AIM? Spend 5 minutes and WASTE my class time having my students GUESS what we are going to be talking about. No thanks, talk about being “ineffective”!!

Instead I give them something to think about as they are entering my classroom. Unpacking their bags. Waking up from their long journey in. My AIMS have to be interesting or my students will not be invigorated to “discuss amongst themselves!” Here’s how I find success every morning. Please note: you can do emulate these ideas on a whiteboard, chalkboard, a smart-board anytime of board you please as long as you are not BORED!

  1. Try to add an icon or graphic or GIF to your presentation.
  2. Think of a question that relates to the lesson but is not easily answerable by a YES or NO.
  3. Try to draw synthesis to other lessons you have taught over the past week, month or year.

Here are some of my favorites from my US History course. What AIMS have you tried?

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Write the Perfect College Recommendation!

DONT BE OVERWHELMED! Here is an easy bundle of recommendation letters for you!

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So aside from the whole “there will be no bathroom breaks” when you are teaching revelation moment I had during my first year, there was also the “you will write 75 college recommendations a year” (and have no extra preps or paid time to do so!) lesson I learned too.

College Recommendations. They are SO IMPORTANT for our students. As a teacher of upper grades (11th & 12th) in high school, students always come to me for a recommendation. I can’t write every student a rec (as there are 170 students overall a year for me!) so I have to do a couple of things to streamline my application process.

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The Great Cookie Challenge!

pablo (3)One way to keep my high school students motivated is to have them think outside the box. Literally. The cookie box! As the terms wind down for the holidays or the summer, I give my students my Great Cookie Challenge. The terms – make a scene from history on your cake! Just bring the cake and you design it in class. Then – we eat it.

The students always remember this activity as one of their favorites. Just make sure your students don’t have any allergies before you begin and maybe even swing the idea by your AP just for brownie points (get it?!). Here are some of the samples from my students. Have you ever tried incorporating baking into your lessons? Let me know your thoughts and try to figure out these scenes below:

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No HW assignments for 2016? Can it be done?

I’ve been spending a lot of time this summer reflecting on my best practices for teaching. I’ve been seeing all these apps that do students homework (see blog post below) and thinking about how much copying transpires amongst students and I’m debating – just hear me out – assigning NO homework for the upcoming school year. Now I teach history to high school juniors and seniors in AP (Advanced Placement courses) which I know are traditionally rigorous and the bane of most students homework woes BUT what if instead of assigning them textbook readings and excerpts from historical books to read out of the classroom – I assigned them healthy tasks to do.

Students should go outside and play baseball, volunteer at a homeless shelter, babysit their sibling, hold a door open. Would they become better more AWARE people by the end of the year? Would their test scores be the same anyway?

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We made it! Let’s celebrate the last week of school.

I can’t believe its already here. The last day of school. June 28th. We made it! Take a deep breath, and relish in this moment. All of your hard work has come to an end.

June is a tough month. I don’t know about you, but in New York, we spend the last half of the month grading an examination called the regents and going to Professional Development “PD” activities. My brain feels fried and its such an unsatisfying way to end the year. But then of course the last week rolls around and I get to watch my students walk at graduation. That is the moment. The moment I wait for all year. The faculty and parents are cheering in the crowd. The students decorate their mortar boards with schools they are planning to attend in the fall. There is so much optimism, possibility, excitement. I wish I could capture that feeling all year long. I know my students are off to do big things.

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