Dec 8, 2018

Don't Panic! You Just Found out You're Teaching __________, Tomorrow!

Sometimes your teaching assignment changes, whether it be for the year or for the day/week. That can be enough to throw you into a panic, and cause a lot of stress!! But you can handle it!

Don’t panic!!

Strategies and Encouragement when you just found out your teaching plans were changed

Why did this happen?

There could be a lot of reasons that this happened. Some common ones I’ve seen are changes in course registrations or enrollments so that maybe extra section is offered, or one less section is offered and something else needs to fill in. Changes in staffing, even at the last minute someone quits, or their certification is not quite what it was thought to be. Things like assemblies, school-wide events, or other temporary schedule changes, or even weather delays, that can throw your plans out the window!

What Do You Do First?

Regroup, and don’t panic! You are a trained teacher, working with kids, and you know how to do this! Think about the big picture. What is the purpose for the change? What do you need to do right away? Do you need a filler activity for one day? Do you need to just start with some basic science skills while you let things settle out, and give yourself a chance to get planned further ahead?

For many of these situations basic measuring and graphing, news articles about current science news, or a controversial science related topic can be a good place to start. You get a chance to assess students a bit, and they get to know you, and hopefully get some interest up about the upcoming class.

A few activities that would be good for this situation would be this Buoyancy: Diving Ketchup activity, or this E-cigarettes Literacy Article and Position Paper.

What’s the Next Step:

It depends on your situation but if this is a longer situation than just a day or two, and you need to make some bigger plans, here are some ideas:

  • Look for other resources

    • This is the time to lean on your colleagues, whether it is your real-life colleagues, those through professional organizations, Facebook groups, Twitter, Pinterest, or get on some mailing lists and make connections. Now, with all the technology at our disposal, it is easier than ever to make connections, share ideas, and find resources.

  • Keep it simple

    • This isn’t the time to design the perfect lesson plan, but to think about what you can do that will be a good start; or a rough draft. Consider it a ‘beta version.’ Be ready to make revisions, but get something to start with. 

  • Take it one step at a time

    • If all you can do it set up a pacing guide, and plan some introductory activities, that’s ok for right now.
    • You know what students have to do to start, then soon come back to your pacing guide and focus in on Unit 1. It will get easier as you get going, but don’t get too overwhelmed.
You can do this. And if we can help at all, don’t hesitate to reach out in my Facebook Group and ask!

Nov 24, 2018

Practical and Inspirational Lessons from Ditch Summit

What is Cue Craft Summit?

Cue Craft #DitchSummit is a free, online virtual conference for educators by educators. It was sponsored by Adobe, and featured 8 speaker videos last anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. They're practical and inspirational, from hand-picked education leaders.

Practical and Inspirational Lessons from Ditch Summit

The sessions that I attended in August included:

  • Solid Teaching Craftsmanship for EVERYONE - Jon Corippo and Cate Tolnai 
    • Emphasis on the creativity of both the teacher and students, with a priority on the educator as a learner and craftsman first. This requires a change in school culture
  • Practice, Powerful, Pedagogically-charged teaching - Jennifer Gonzalez
    • So much information is at our fingertips now that it is important that we teach our students to use and curate this information. We need to be smart and deliberate as we integrate technology into our classrooms. Keep track of where you are in the levels of knowledge, and what type of learning we are looking for.
  • Powerful pedagogy with Hyperdocs - Kelly Hilton
    • Hyperdocs change the focus to the students, and free you to work with students. Lesson design starts with thinking about your students, however, this doesn’t mean they are doing the lesson alone. This requires the careful blending of tech/no tech and thinking about the best tools and skills for students to accomplish the task. 
  • Dynamic Google-Infused Learning - Kasey Bell
    • Technology is a tool, not a solution. You must have a purpose behind the technology, and purpose-driven professional development. There should be a focus on student learning. Dynamic refers to ways to extend the learning beyond the time and space of the classroom, and beyond traditional tools. 
  • The Purpose of Classroom Creativity - Ben Forta
    • Focus on kids being creators, not just consumers of information and content. This can involve different definitions of creativity, as different kids have different needs.
  • Powerful Learning Space Design - Rebecca Hare
    • This is not a focus on the furniture but look at the surfaces and space as a place to support learning and collaboration. Less can be more. This may mean using the space on the wall for students to put up their own, making flexible learning spaces, provide students with choices. 
  • Helping ELL Students Succeed - Martin Cisneros
    • Start with giving students the language that they need to survive, then move onto academic language. This includes a lot of non-technology ways to teach the English language, however also touches on technology as a tools that fosters collaboration and helps provide students with multiple ways to show what they know. 
  • Open Educational Resources - Kristina Ishmael
    • Open Educational Resources are teaching and learning resources that are in the public domain and allow for their free use, modification, and redistribution. She shared multiple resources for finding these tools, and benefits. Some of the benefits include flexibility for teachers to reflect, adapt, and decide on what fits their student’s needs the best. 

Main Takeaways

As I reflect on this fantastic learning experience, there are many specific tools and strategies that I can utilize, but there are some larger general messages that I want to share with you. I think in teaching we often get so focused on the day to day and the mechanics of lesson planning, that it is easy to lose track of the bigger messages.

  • Individualize (both for yourself and for your students; fit the needs of those you are teaching, and your style/personality)
  • Be Creative & Flexible (again both for yourself and your students)
  • Continue Learning (As a professional, we are hopefully continuing to learn and grow, expand our practice, and model lifelong learning for our students)
  • Focus on your students (All learning and lesson design should start with the students. Who are we teaching? What do we want them to learn? What are their interests? What do they need?)
  • Emphasize learning first, and then find the tools you need (Don’t use a hands-on activity, or a technology tool just because you want to use it. These are all tools that can be implemented to reach a goal. Find the tool or strategy that will help achieve your learning goal. Or use a tool in a new way. But these are tools, not the lessons in and of themselves.

Further Resources:

Cue Craft will be having another conference in December. Check back here for more information as it gets closer.

Nov 10, 2018

Valuable Free Sample! Simplified School Day Checklists

Why are daily routines important?

Daily routines are so important for our students. As parents, and as teachers, we know this. We spend a lot of time creating routines that will help our kids get settled in the morning, or help our own children go to bed at night. Unfortunately, we don’t do the same for ourselves! We would reap benefits from this as well.

I know the school day can be chaotic. There are a lot of interruptions and things that can break up our routine, but it can help to at least have a checklist of important tasks to do, or what you want your morning routine to look like.

We know routines are important for our students, but they are also important for us.  Get started with these routines

Where can you institute routines?

You could have routines for your arrival to school, the end of the school day, or even weekly routines.

Here are some examples of my routines:

Arrival to school

  • Set up materials
  • Get mail?
  • Answer emails?
  • Take care of any urgent details
  • Get yourself in the right frame of mind
  • Attendance ready/rosters printed, cabinets unlocked, personal belongings locked, etc….

End of the school day

  • Make copies
  • Set up your schedule for the next day - plan what to do in the bigger blocks of free time
  • Plan any upcoming materials that you will need later
  • Set up the agenda on the board, get everything ready to go
  • “Let go” of the end of the school day

Weekly Routines (to be done during planning periods)

  • Monday: Make copies for the week; post updated grades or list of missing work
  • Tuesday: set up lab materials for the week
  • Wednesday/Thursday: phone calls, grading
  • Friday: Work on plans for the next week, touch base with resource teachers etc. 
Of course, these will need to adapt to you and your situation, but hopefully, this will give you some ideas to get started and make sure your aren’t forgetting anything, or keep these things a bit less stressful.

Now, where do you keep track of these routines?

I am a huge digital person most of the time, but sometimes paper is better. Here are a few options

  • In your calendar or planbook, either with a paperclip or post-it on the page
  • In a sheet protector or laminated and taped to your desk
  • Google Keep (did you know you can just make checkboxes and then uncheck all). See the picture below

The bottom line - keep it somewhere that you will use it, and see it. If it helps you to physically check things off (like it does for me) then make that easy too!

What would you like to add to these lists? What fits your daily routines?

I would like to try something new on this post and make a shared document where we could all brainstorm routine tasks, to help each other think of where they fit in.  Click here to open this document in a new window and add your thoughts!  You can also certainly then make a copy of this document and use it to make your own routine checklists!
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