I started my career teaching high school English. If you’d asked me back then about promoting Read Across America (RAA) Day, I would have thought you were crazy. Why would we celebrate Dr. Seuss’s birthday at the high school level when we could be focusing on Shakespeare, Thoreau, or Steinbeck? I’ve learned a lot over the years, and I know this to be true: Dr. Seuss never goes out of style. These books are fun, clever, and nostalgic—they turn children into readers and teach life lessons. They honor reading and show us how to be good citizens and friends. As an educator, parent, and lover of books, I urge teachers at all levels to plan a Read Across America celebration. Here are some reasons why:
Topics: tips for teachers
Spring is right around the corner, and with it we leave behind the winter blahs as blue skies are ahead. As an educator, it’s easy to get into a rut this time of year with everything that is going on—spring activities kicking into full gear, local and state assessments, curriculum changes for next year, and so on.
Just as nature around us begins to show renewed growth, we too feel the new energy that we can carry into our classrooms. Although it may be easy to pull out lessons from previous years to use, it can be exciting to try out new ways of teaching lessons or exploring new ideas to motivate our students. Designing new lessons can take some time to ensure it meets your needs, but the end result is well worth the investment. Here is our collection of themed content to get you ready with new lessons for March:
Collaborating with other educators is an effective method of professional development. When teachers have time to talk, connect, and collaborate, they can expand their experience and expertise.
In many schools, finding this time can be a huge challenge. Even if teachers can find the time to meet and talk, sometimes the group is not cohesive or collaborative enough to be very productive. And other times, they might not have a person in the school who teaches the same content or grade level. Teachers who want to plan and collaborate may have few, if any, options.
Many educators would agree that there has been an increase with students displaying anti-social tendencies and a struggle with social skills over the past 10 years. There are different theories about the root cause of this, but one that I have heard recently seems very logical on the surface. It goes something like this: Adults and students are spending more time than ever interacting over devices (screens) and not face to face. This reality hurts students’ development because they are unable to interpret social cues, facial expressions, and voice inflection. This has resulted in students who struggle more with social skills like cooperation and conflict resolution than in previous generations when screen time was less frequent.
At the end of a section of learning, it’s time for the teacher to create an assessment. This could be the end of a unit or chapter, but for what we are discussing today, a summative assessment needs to be created. Instruction is over, and we need to see what the student knows and has retained.
Where should a teacher start? The first question that should always be asked is, “Do I even need an assessment?” This may seem like a crazy question. “If I don’t give a test, what will I put in the gradebook?” But if we stop to think about it, not all learning is created equally. In the mind of a student, if something is tested, it matters because it is for a grade. So as teachers, if we test everything equally, we are sending the message that everything matters to the same degree.
In February, we celebrate all of the 45 presidents we have had for the past 200+ years. It’s a great time to integrate technology, trivia, and our standards while increasing student learning about our leaders. There are interesting and funny stories to be told about each of the presidents, and each one has made decisions that defined our country.
Here are some ideas for getting students engaged and interested in American history through Presidents’ Day activities.
Here we are, smack dab in the middle of winter, where time moves at a snail’s pace and it seems like spring break will never get here. Typically, it is dark (or getting dark) on your way home and it’s cold—bitterly cold. So cold that you've probably needed to have several indoor recess days as well. I often wonder how early I can crawl into my pajamas without it being weird. I would never think of putting on pajamas at 5:00 p.m. during the summer, but it actually seems like a wonderful idea in the middle of winter.
So, how do we get through these bleak days of winter? Here are few ideas, both professionally and personally:
Topics: tips for teachers
February may be the shortest month, but it has so much to offer! From Valentine’s Day and Presidents’ Day to Black History Month, there’s plenty of interesting facts, people, and history to weave into your lessons this month. Here is our collection of themed content to help you keep students engaged in February:
Over the past few decades, there has been a great deal of interest and desire to change, and most of the time improve, public education. Some of these ideas have been innovative, and some less than so. Some have been on a large scale, while some are more at a building level. Some have had political backing (charter schools), while others have had financial backing (think The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation or Summit Education founded by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg).
So, what does all this focus on “change” matter for a school building? Or does it not matter at all? Are the teachers or the principals in individual buildings impacted by these changes? Many experts, some more expert than others, have many opinions about what should or should not be going on in schools. But what impact does this have on schools that are trying to improve from the inside?
The metaphor usually goes something like this, and often when a teacher is frustrated with a class of students: “School is your job. You need to show up to work every day and work hard. Your grades are like your paycheck—the harder you work, the more you can earn in our classroom. Some of you aren’t working hard and need to be fired.”