Final Reflection – Best Web Tools for Teachers

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Thanks to the internet, there are thousands of free resources available to teachers. It can often be overwhelming to determine which resources can be beneficial in your classroom. Help Teaching has listed the Top 100 Free Education Sites. According to the website, these sites will help to engage students and improve learning in the classroom. Best of all, they’re free! I took some time to explore the sites. Here are my favorites:

1.The Learning Network provides teaching and learning materials and ideas based on New York Times articles. Teachers can use or adapt their lessons across subject areas and levels or contribute their own ideas. Students can respond to Opinion Questions, take News Quizzes, learn about what happened on this day in history, answer “6 Questions About the News”, and speculate on “What’s Going on in this Picture?”, and so much more! It is important that students know what is going on in the world around them. This site can help them to learn about current events in a fun and age-appropriate way!

2. Education World claims to be “the educator’s best friend”. It is jam packed full of great resources including lesson plans, articles, printables, and so much more! From what I can see, this site lives up to its claim. If your stumped on a lesson or just want to browse through some ideas, I encourage you to take a look at this site!

I plan to use these sites and the other sites on the list to improve my teaching and engage my future students. I am glad that I had the opportunity to learn about so many great resources this semester! They will be a huge help to me as I continue on in the education program and begin my career as a classroom teacher!

Reflection Week 15 – Mrs. Saylor’s Log: Differentiation & The Band-Aid Lesson

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Snip20131208_42In my classes this semester, I have learned a lot about differentiation. I hope to use what I have learned in my future classroom. It is my goal for each student to be successful. In order for each student to be successful, they will need different things because students learn differently and are at different levels. I understand this concept, but that does not mean my students will. I found a great lesson for teaching the concept of differentiation to students on the blog, Mrs. Saylor’s Log. On the first day of school, Mrs. Saylor tells each student to come up with a pretend injury. Then she calls each student to the front. As they show her their injury, she puts a band-aid on all of them in the exact same spot (upper right arm). When someone replies, “but that wasn’t where I was hurt!” she tells them that she is treating them all fairly. They usually try to argue so she may say, “Ohhh you want me to give you a band-aid where you NEED it?” Students usually look at her and give her the ”Duh!” look. After all of the students have a band-aid, she takes time to discuss that fair doesn’t mean the same. We are all different so what we need is not always the same. I think it is really important to teach this concept to students. “The Band-Aid Lesson” is a great way to do so because it provides a concrete way for students to understand differentiation! You can read the full blog post here.

Reflection Week 15 – Suesstastic Classroom: HEDBANZ

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Snip20131208_41Remember playing HedBanz when you were younger? I do! It’s often referred to as the identity crisis game. You wear the plastic blue headband and with a card in it whose picture you are not allowed to see. Then you ask the other players questions to try and figure out what your picture is. If you alter this game a bit, it can be very educational. The teacher at the blog, Suesstastic Classroom, uses this game weekly to review sight words. I think it would be great for reviewing vocabulary words or math facts! The great thing about this is that the game is only $12 on Amazon and making your own cards using index cards is a breeze! The possibilities are endless. To read the full blog post, click here.

Reflection Week 14 – We are Teachers: 20 Things New Teachers Need to Know

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Snip20131208_40Apparently, I am loving lists this week. “20 Things New Teachers Need to Know” comes from the blog, We are Teachers. Basically, this list consists of twenty pieces of wisdom from twenty different seasoned teachers. Each piece of wisdom is extremely valuable. Since I don’t have time to write about them all, I will share my favorites with you! You can read the rest here!

1. The 3 Cs: “Be CLEAR on your expectations for behavior and performance. Be CONSISTENT—follow through so students know what to expect from you as a teacher. Be COMPASSIONATE—show your students that you really care about them and want them to succeed.” —Oktobriana Idol

2. Management Matters: “Strong classroom management is the key to teaching. No matter how well you know the content, students can’t learn in a chaotic environment. The simplest way to achieve this is through routines and overplanning. Also, model the respect you want to receive.” —Janet Jennings Maxwell

15. This Isn’t Practice Anymore: “What they taught you in college does not prepare you for the real classroom. Be prepared for anything to happen and be flexible and understanding when it does!”—Teresa Taylor

16. Help Is Always Available: “Don’t be afraid to ask for it.” —Beth Fitts Stone

Reflection Week 14 – Joy of Teaching: Five Ideas that will Transform Your Classroom!

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Snip20131208_37I think this is a great list of five simple things that you can do to make a huge difference in your classroom! This list comes from the blog, The Joy of Teaching.

#5. Exit Ticket  – The Exit Ticket is a very short and quick way of checking students’ understanding right at the end of class.  It can be a single question or a couple of quick problems to solve.  The Exit Ticket should be used to guide instruction and inform the teacher if the class is ready to go on the next day or if there needs to be reteaching done first.

#4. Cold Call – Cold Calling is when the teacher calls on all students, even if their hand is not up.  It is great for keeping student attention.  It can even be used to ask the same student multiple questions in a row.

#3. 100% – This is a necessity in all classrooms.  Unfortunately, many teachers don’t realize its importance.  100% is the minimum requirement of participation and cooperation in the classroom.  When you give a direction, wait until all students are following it before going on.  This shows the class that you will not tolerate any student choosing to disregard what you say.  This one little step makes a huge difference in classroom discipline.

#2. Directions – Stand still when you are giving directions.  It gives them importance and makes the students focus on what you are saying instead of what you are doing.

#1. Format Matters -  When students are giving answers, require the correct format.  That may be requiring them to correct their grammar or requiring them to add the label to the number of a math problem.

Avoiding Death by Powerpoint

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PowerPoint can be an effective teaching tool if used correctly. Unfortunately, it is being used incorrectly in classrooms everywhere. Teachers are creating wordy, text-heavy slides. Bullet point after bullet point students become bored. To create engaging presentations, teachers must reduce the amount of text and increase the amount of images. There are numerous programs out there that make creating engaging presentations easy. For example, I transformed the boring PowerPoint shown below using a program called Prezi. Prezi’s templates and slide transitions make for an awesome presentation!

Animoto in the Classroom

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Animoto is a video creation service that allows its users to create awesome videos from video clips and pictures. Animoto is a great tool for teachers and students. Teachers can create videos with Animoto to introduce themselves, a unit, or a lesson. There are numerous possibilities! Using Animoto is so simple that students could even create their own videos! Below, I created a book trailer for Oh, the Places You’ll Go!  by Dr. Suess. Like a movie trailer, a book trailer gives students a sneak peak at what the book is about. I think showing a book trailer before assigning a book to read is a great idea because it will get kids excited to read the book. Animoto was a very easy way to create this book trailer!

Flipped Classroom and Making Tutorials

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In my educational technology class, we learned about the concept of flipped classrooms. The flipped classroom inverts traditional teaching methods. Instruction is delivered outside of class (usually online) and “homework” is done in the classroom. Many schools have adopted the flipped classroom model and have found it to be more successful than the traditional classroom model. I believe the flipped classroom model is great for high school and college classrooms. In class, we learned how to create online tutorials using QuickTime. I created a tutorial on how to used Pinterest. You can view the tutorial below!

Reflection Week 13 – Mrs. Lewis’ Learning Library: Coordinate Grids

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I found a fun activity for teaching coordinate grids and ordered pairs on the blog, Mrs. Lewis’ Learning Library. To create a life-size coordinate grid, Mrs. Lewis laid strips of masking tape on her classroom floor. At each coordinate, she placed a piece of candy. During the activity, students took turns using the coordinate grid. During their turn, Mrs. Lewis would give them an ordered pair to find on the grid. If they arrived at the correct place on the grid, they were allowed to keep the piece of candy at that coordinate. I love activities like this! Students really enjoy them and learn better from them. I would definitely use this idea in my classroom! You can read the full blog post here.

Reflection Week 13 – Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational: Run-on Repair

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Run-on sentences are a common occurrence in the writings of many elementary students. I discovered a great activity called “Run-on Repair” on the blog, Relentlessly Fun, Deceptively Educational. To introduce run-on sentences, the teacher reads the book, The No-Good, Rotten, Run-On Sentence. It’s the story of Kevin Crabtree whose great idea for a story became the longest run-on sentence in the history of writing until a lady comes to the rescue and turns his story into perfect sentences. This book is great for teaching students how to avoid run-on sentences and is available for purchase on Amazon. The teacher designed a great activity to follow the book so that students can apply what they have learned. To use the activity in your own classroom, you must copy the words from an Easy Reader book onto register tape. Be sure to leave out capital letters and punctuation! The students will read through the register tape and insert punctuation and capital letters when necessary. Once the students have edited the entire strip, they will use scissors to cut the strip into sentences that they will staple together in order. When they have finished, they can check their work with the Easy Reader book! I like this idea because it is a lot more fun than editing a run-on sentence on a sheet of paper. This is a memorable lesson that children won’t forget!