Use an avatar in the classroom and for Parent Teacher Conferences!

Ever since the movie Avatar came out I have loved weaving speaking characters into my classroom. Not only is it fun to watch for students (and parents) of all ages, but students get a kick out of seeing the characters on the screen. You can create your character and add a voice to it so it can speak. You can change the backgrounds as well. Here are four ways I use avatars in my classroom:

  1. Have students make historical avatars. They can  type text to each other on the computer that would be appropriate for the historical period.
  2. Make an avatar of yourself (the teacher). Leave it up on the classroom smartboard. Hit a button that has pre-programmed sayings for when you see students are off task during groupwork.
  3. Use avatars during parent teacher conferences. Have it up on the smart board or in the waiting room for parents once they arrive.
  4. Use avatars during college conferences. I have created an avatar to emulate a student so I could walk through the college admissions process for a parents evening.

Continue reading “Use an avatar in the classroom and for Parent Teacher Conferences!”

The Teaching SECRET you NEED to know!

Tomorrow is the BIG day! The first day of teaching for NYC schools and students. As a seasoned teacher I always get asked the same question during my summer break… if there was 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.

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 say YES you need both enthusiasm and empathy.

Great your students with a big “HELLO!” every day. Every class. Why? Because you don’t know what kind of day they have been having. That’s where the empathy comes into play. Maybe they didn’t have the chance to speak to their parents, maybe they got in a fight with their sibling, a peer or worse. Combining your smile with empathy is contagious.

Best of luck on this new school year teachers. Here are 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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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

 

 

 

 

Feel Good Free Fonts (Patriotic Edition!)

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Welcome to September! What a great year to be teaching! We are so excited to share our Fantastic FREE fonts for teaching the upcoming election!  Decorate your classroom or class handouts as you prepare for the big event in November.   The number of available free for personal use fonts is just staggering.  I have spent hours playing with new fonts.  Its addicting!

Continue reading “Feel Good Free Fonts (Patriotic Edition!)”

Teaching? I’m on the phone!

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Seven ways a smart phone can make a teacher’s life easier!

  1. Use your phone to record who did the homework.   Don’t collect all that paper if you only have time to verify who completed the assignment. You can easily use the scan to spreadsheet solution- Got the Homework Blues?
  2. Randomly call on students  or choose groups with one of the name generating apps: Randomly, Pick Me!, Decide Now! or Who’s Next? so that you can get them into groups for great interactive activities such as The Great Debate (Socratic Seminars in the Classroom!)
  3. Present directly from your phone.  My classroom computer is really old and really slow.  Now that I have Office 365 on up to 5 devices, I can project a PowerPoint presentation directly from my phone.   My set up time is now under a minute!
  4. Get rid of the paper immediately by snapping a digital copy.   I know I will lose that late assignment or make-up test.  It is safer to get a digital copy and send it to email or to a cloud file!  Try to go paperless as I’ve shared in the past here-   The Paperless Teachers Desk (It can be done!) Here’s how – Continue reading “Teaching? I’m on the phone!”

Discuss amongst yourselves (Online that is!)

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“Hi, this is Linda Richman. I’m verklempt ! Talk amongst yourselves! Here, I’ll give you a topic: The Holy Roman Empire. It wasn’t holy, it wasn’t Roman, and it wasn’t an empire. Discuss!”

Just a little Saturday Night Live Humor for you.

Now – If you have some students who are super quiet in class, you might be surprised at how they come to life online. I have seen such a change in my students when I ask them to join in on an online discussion. Usually a week-long discussion board is all you need as a great assignment to bring them out of their shells!

Here’s how – Choose an exciting or controversial topic to motivate participation, similar to how you would choose one for a great debate, or socratic seminar in the classroom!  One possibility is to post a difficult problem or debate question and ask students to write a multi-paragraph response.

Later in the week, they can respond to two or more of their classmates.   You can also ask students to post a document or video to enhance their response.   I have found that group assignments work especially well online.  It is harder to free-ride on your group when all your work is displayed. Continue reading “Discuss amongst yourselves (Online that is!)”

5 Great Apps to Assess your students

It is so 2015 to give exams and quizzes to your students on paper. I’ve already mentioned how much I love a paperless classroom, but one question that keeps coming up via email from readers is well how do you issue a paperless exam or quiz. Well… here’s five ways I love to do so…

  1. AnswerGarden – A tool for online brainstorming or polling, educators can use this real time tool to see student feedback on questions. – See more at: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2015/growing-list-50-digital-education-tools-apps-formative-assessment-success/#sthash.dDrNkaZq.dpuf
  2. Animoto – Gives students the ability to make a short, 30-second share video of what they learned in a given lesson. – See more at: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2015/growing-list-50-digital-education-tools-apps-formative-assessment-success/#sthash.dDrNkaZq.dpuf
  3. BubbleSheet – An app that allows students to complete assignments and common assessments using an iPhone or iPad.  Quizzes up to 10 questions are free. – See more at: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2015/growing-list-50-digital-education-tools-apps-formative-assessment-success/#sthash.dDrNkaZq.dpuf
  4. ForAllRubrics – This software is free for all teachers and allows you to import, create and score rubrics on your iPad, tablet or smartphone. You can collect data offline with no internet access, compute scores automatically and print or save the rubrics as a PDF or spreadsheet. – See more at: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2015/growing-list-50-digital-education-tools-apps-formative-assessment-success/#sthash.dDrNkaZq.dpuf
  5. Google Forms – A Google Drive app that allows you to create documents that students can collaborate on in real time using smartphones, tablets and laptops. – See more at: https://www.nwea.org/blog/2015/growing-list-50-digital-education-tools-apps-formative-assessment-success/#sthash.dDrNkaZq.dpuf
  6. Get an animated header for your Google Classroom! Animate your Google classroom!