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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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!

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THE WINNING WHITEBOARD

Greeting my students with a smile and shouting a big “GOOD MORNING!” always does the trick to wake up my classroom. BUT…  one other important tool not to overlook in the “be a positive teacher everyday toolkit” is the glamorizing of the white board. In the beginning of my teaching career, having a pretty whiteboard everyday wasn’t easy (because I had three different preps and three different classrooms!) Now that I am more settled beautifying my board is one of my favorite things to do in the morning as I am drinking my cup of tea and reviewing my lesson plan of the day. Here are some of my favorite tips to do inspire in your classroom:

  1. Use multiple bright and bold colors on the board
  2. Think of a fun question for your AIM– make it a grabber so students will want to be interested in your lesson
  3. Don’t forget to have fun! Your class should be be energized and vibrant especially to set the tone for the morning

Here are some photos of my boards!

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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!”

SHARK TANK FOR YOUR CLASSROOM

Many of my readers have been asking me for extended tips on implementing Shark Tank in your classroom (since reading my post on History’s Great Mystery (How can I make my classroom more interactive?!)

This activity is a HUGE hit in my history classroom. This is basically a marketing 101 lesson.

The Basics:
Break students into groups. Each group gets one invention. The group presents the invention and has to sell the items to three – five “ investors”.

The Play by play:
Start the class by asking what technology has changed during their lifetime. How has it changed cultural, social, political and religious interactions?

Then show a pitch from Shark Tank. I like the LuminAID storyline & clip – find it here. Stop after the 2-3 minute pitch. Ask students why the LuminAID pitch was successful. Write answers on the board.

Go on to show more of the clip and introduce the concept of the valuations.

Give students 1-2 class periods to come up with their pitch and then a class period to present. The rest of the class should take notes while the pitches are being presented.

The Lesson Ideas:
Here are a few lesson ideas by topic-

The Industrial Revolution – Invite students to sell you items from the industrial revolution in a game of SHARK TANK. Pick three – five “ investors”. Ask them to sell you investment ideas from the time period such as the Erie Canal, the railroad, the telephone. Teach them how to make a three-minute pitch and calculate how much they need for their investment. Check out my other marketing ideas here.

The High Middle Ages – Ask students to SELL you technological items from the Commercial Revolution in a game of SHARK TANK. These include the windmill and guilds.

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

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Classroom introductions. The ICEBREAKER! The moment your students (and YOU!) have been waiting for all summer. But the butterflies, they are in the pits of your students stomachs. How do you make it effortless for everyone? Well, here are 5 different ways to break the ice and say “hello!” the easy way. Start by breaking your students into groups and then have each group introduce their team members via a game. Here’s how:

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Bored of your Borders?!

 

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I like adding borders to my class handouts.  See some of my work here:  Everybody Walk the Dinosaur. For those days when there is just no extra time in your teaching-packed day, the built-in borders from Microsoft Word are a great way to spice up an ordinary handout.

Follow the example below, and you’ll see that it is really easy to made something special!

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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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