Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Who says you can't use Brainpop in the High School?!

Brainpop is a teacher resource that has been around since 1999. I have used Brainpop for about 4 years now, and recently they have added some fantastic videos for all subject areas. Teachers at the high school level sometimes feel Brainpop may not be age appropriate for their students....and I say YOU'RE WRONG! The videos are engaging and my high school students laugh just as loud as my middle schoolers. 

1. When should I use Brainpop? I use Brainpop when I introduce new content or at the end as a review of a concept.
2. What are students doing while the video is playing? Brainpop goes beyond textbook information, this is great because you as a teacher can create a variety of learning strategies with each video clip. Sometimes I give my students guided listening questions, a single essential question , or a KWL chart to complete while the video is playing.
3. What other features does Brainpop provide? Brainpop has a quiz feature for every video clip. When using this feature I let my students take it as a class. Because Brainpop records all scores for each video quiz; my classes compete with my other class periods for the highest score.
4. How much does it cost? For a 1 year subscription it is $205, I suggest having your school or even district buy a subscription and share the username and password. The app is free to download and free to stream on their website.

Here are my favorite Wold History clips via Brainpop: 

1. Black Death                                                         2. Democracy
3. Rise of the Roman Empire                                    4. Fall of the Roman Empire
5. Sumerians                                                           6. Athens
7. Religion                                                              8. Ramadan
9. Pax Romana                                                        10. Middle Ages 

Friday, July 26, 2013

Reminding Parents and Students the Modern Way

Finally there is a new way to communicate with students and parents without giving up your privacy. Remind 101 is a free app that sends text or email reminders out to parents and students. Once you create your teacher account you will be prompted to create a group. Remind 101 will create a special group code and phone number, you give students and parents the code to text or email and they are immediately signed up. This app allows you to write a text message from your phone or the web (up to 140 characters) to the group of your choice. Parents and students cannot reply to the message, this is just for reminding purposes. As an alternative you can give parents and students your email address in the message if they have further questions.  I have sought out some of my friends who have kids in middle school and they said that this would be a life saver because they may not always check their email on time.


Monday, July 22, 2013

List Selector: The App You Use To Randomly Select Students

I stumbled upon this app last year and I cannot seem to put it down. This app allows you to randomly select: individual students, pairs of students, or make groups of students. I use the app in front of my classes on a daily basis via the iPad. If we are going over homework, guided reading questions, or playing a game I use this app. The app holds all students accountable for their work in my class because they never know when or if they will be called upon. My students like the app because they know it’s random, all the students are quiet until the names are revealed…it’s pretty hilarious.

I have also explored other ways to use this app such as inputting content information like vocabulary terms or names. As a Do Now or Exit Slip I will have the app select 5 or 6 terms and have the students write a cohesive paragraph using those terms in the order in which they appear. Sometimes I will pick 5 terms or names and call on students to create a question using that term and have another student answer. Again, using this app really holds all students accountable in the class, it’s wonderful! 


Friday, July 19, 2013

Not Your Typical Review Games

Need some new ways to engage your students when it comes time to review? Here are some games that my students rave about:

1. Cash Cab- Depending on your class size, place the students in groups of four. Set up the desks like "cars." Pass out white boards (or white paper) to the "drivers." As I go through the questions, all drivers are responsible for writing down the answers on their whiteboard. Each group gets about minute to discuss the answer, but not talking too loud so that other groups don't steal their answers. When I call 3-2-1, the drivers hold up their whiteboard at the same time. I have students put a tally mark on the top right hand side of their board if they get the question correct. You'd be surprised how honest the students are, they think that I am tracking their points but I'm really not. At the end of the game I do a BONUS question and groups wager an amount. Whichever group has the highest points is declared the winner of cash cab. You can get more creative and give the students flashlights for the RED LIGHT CHALLENGE questions and which ever group flashes first gets to answer the question.

2. Are You Smarter Than A Fifth Grader? - For this game, I sometimes change "fifth grader" to whatever unit or topic you are covering. I use the Geico caveman's picture for "Are You Smarter Than A Caveman." So get creative and change it up to give your students a good laugh. If you are familiar with the game you know that there are categories by grade, I usually do it by topic. I randomly select about 5 contestants per game from my class and they use whiteboards to answer the questions. The contestants are seated in front of the class and they answer all of the same questions.  Each contestant gets one "phone a friend" life line. This game actually goes by pretty quickly, so I always make sure I have prepared questions for two games. The student with the most points wins the game. So what about the students who are not playing? They are writing down the questions and answering them on a sheet of paper. They will use this sheet as a study guide. If you have good classroom management then all of your students will be on task during the game without talking. Plus, the students seated never know when they will be called upon by one of their classmates for assistance in the game.

3. Deal or No Deal- For this game the class is divided in half, I actually arrange their seats so that each of the sides are facing each other with space in the middle for myself to walk around. The left side of the room gets the even number "cases" and the right side of the room gets the odd number cases." The cases are silver construction paper that have a number on the front and a question on the back. I stapled yarn connecting the sides so that the students can hand them around their necks. Each case has a question, answer and a point value on the back. When a number is called by a student on the opposite side of the room the student whose number has been called reads their question aloud. The student who called out that number must answer the question. If they get the question wrong, the case is still in play, if they get it correct that student takes off their case. All correct answers give positive points to the team; all incorrect answers are subtracted from the teams score. I do put the word BONUS on the back of two cases (one odd one even), these questions, when wrong do not get subtracted from the score but they are out of play once read.  I usually do not allow teams to discuss the answers because things can get chaotic but you can add them in if you'd like.

Do you have a "not so typical" review game? Share it with us by commenting below.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Social Media in the Classroom: 3 Tricks to Make Learning "Sweet"

Our students are surrounded by social media and many of them have never known life without it. Instead of looking at social media as a distraction, why not use it to your advantage. Here are some of my suggestions:

1.  Do Now or Exit Slip: Create a tweet in the point of view of one of the characters below. Be sure to get creative with your username. (sometimes I use post- its for this activity)
a.    Depending on what grade level you are teaching, students might get stuck, so provide them with a model of a person you have studied in the last chapter or section. Students might ask if they can “tweet” other characters you have listed on the board. This when you start to see advanced level thinking. Encourage students to use hash tags, if you are unsure what that means, create a twitter account and learn.

2.   Project or Homework Assignment: Use the template provided to construct a Facebook Profile or Instagram Profile on the philosopher of your choice. You must include: 3-4 status updates, photos, and short biography.
a.    There are Facebook/ Instagram templates available for free online. You can upload the template to your site (Edmodo). The students can either submit them digitally or print them out. Be sure to show students examples of a Facebook/Instagram profiles either that you create or have found online.

3.  Study Guide or Homework Assignment: Upload a Blog post using the terms and names provide to create a cheat sheet for an upcoming test.
a.    Edublogs (Edublogs.orgis a free site you can use with your students or you can provide a digital/paper copy of a blog. Math teachers can use this idea to have students explain and use certain formulas as mathematicians. When students complete the assignment they can swap blogs with other students and “check” each other’s work. Another great idea is for students to use their “cheat sheet blog” to participate in a Review Game the day before a test or quiz.

Have an idea? Share it with us by commenting below.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Get to know Knowmia

If you are having trouble viewing the video use this link: Get to know Knowmia

Knowmia is a free app that is very easy to use. Check out my video on how I use Knowmia in my classroom. Use referral link: http://urlt.ag/nGZF  to sign up today. Let me know what you think of my video in the comments section.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Teacher Cheat Sheet: Acing the Interview

Let me start off by being completely honest. Due to certain circumstances i.e. budget cuts, better job offers, moving out of state, etc.  I have been around the block when it comes to sitting in the interview chair. Whether you are interviewing for a charter, public, or parochial school here are some (of the many) key terms and phrases that you should be knowledgeable of BEFORE participating in a phone interview or a "face to face."

1. Common core standards- if you don't know what they are you should research them as they pertain to your content and if you are asked to show a sample lesson plan, you should highlight specific standards. 

2. State Standardized Tests-  depending on what state you hail from this may vary by grade level and or subject area. (NY- Regent Exams, PA- PSSA exams, etc) 

3. Differentiated Instruction and IEPs- you should give your employer an example of how you differentiate your instruction. Try to give at least one specific example while interviewing. 

4. Use of Technology- employers want to know if you have a background in technology, from Smartboards to the everyday educational apps. Do your research and become familiar with some of the free resources out there. 

5. Blooms Taxonomy and Rigor- schools want to choose a candidate that is aware of the taxonomy and who knows what that looks like in a classroom setting. This does not mean you should memorize the pyramid but instead have an idea of higher order thinking. Talk about your rigorous instruction and how you guide your students to master a specific concept. 

6. Engagement- the number one question is how do you engage your students? Think of the strategies you have used in the past that have captured student’s attention. Maybe you use hands on instruction, technology, partner activities, or maybe it’s your enthusiasm and tone in the classroom. 

7. Classroom management- can you control your classroom? Every school has different rules for handling different behavior crises; however they want to know if you can manage your classroom without another teacher, behavior specialist, or principal present. 

8. Teaching Style- principals want to know how you kick off your show. Do you greet your students as they arrive? Is there a Do Now posted immediately? Are you the type of teacher that stands in font of the room the entire time? (I sure hope not) They want an employee that can teach from any angle of the classroom and who diversifies their lesson planning. 

9. Collaboration with Coworkers- across content or in your department, employers want to make sure that you are willing to share and learn from your peers. Some charter schools require their teachers to co-plan, while others leave it up to individual teachers. 

10. High expectations- tell the employer that you have high expectations for your students and explain to them what that looks like in your classroom. 

11. Data collection- collecting data is hot right now; basically employers want to see if you use student assessments to drive your instruction. For instance, maybe students did poorly on a section of homework, what do you do to address this? 

12. Professional feedback- I have gotten this question a lot. What was the last piece of constructive feedback you received? What did you do to change the issue?  This can stump a lot of people, but I'm warning you now...take time to think about this one. 

Like I've stated before, I'm not a master at this, I am simply paying it forward. Interviews can be scary, but remember...they want YOU! 

(Feel free to add anything you deem helpful in the interview process)

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Your Teacher Desk: Expect the Unexpected

Running late? Miss your bus? Oversleep?

Aside from your regular teaching supplies, here are a few items you should have ready for your first day of school:

An extra pair of nude color stockings
An extra tie (male)
Bobbi pins
Hair ties
Band aids
Nail polish remover
Static guard (travel size)
Wrinkle remover (travel size)
Feminine products
Safety pins
Small umbrella (for the city teachers)

Want to add something? Comment below.

Back to School Icebreaker: Who's Who?

Tired of the same old "Tic Tac Toe" icebreaker? Try my "Who's who" icebreaker! Who's Who: The teacher se...