Bulletin Board Letters…Easy as A, B, C

General Education No Comments »

For a long time I either bought lettering pieces that needed to be punched out, or I struggled with Word Art to try to make fun signs and lettering for my bulletin boards. Then last year I stumbled upon a website called Instant Display, and it has brought a new element of “wow” to my bulletin board displays. Under the top banner you will see something about ordering, but there are an abundance of free downloads on this site. Explore the lettering sets for theme related lettering, available in capital and lower case letters as well as numbers. You can either cut these out, or you can copy and paste the letters within a document to make your signs. The subject areas give a variety of banners and other bulletin board display signs, and the “other” section has many generic classroom decorations.

Have fun exploring!

Sara Van Der Werf’s 5×5 Game

General Education No Comments »

In looking for fun games to engage my students, I came across Sara Van Der Werf‘s 5×5 Game. She has explained the game very well in her blog post, and so I suggest you read about it there. Please make sure to follow her sharing request for this game. I have made a Smartboard Notebook file to use with this game, and you can access it here. In my Notebook file, I have added light blue squares to write the sums, and I have added thinking questions for the students to consider in between the rounds. I will still use her student handout template which can be accessed in her blog post.

Thank you for sharing, Sara!

Hot Seat!

General Education No Comments »

I like to play review games in the classroom, and one of these is called Hot Seat. In this game, the class is divided into teams of 3 or 4 students. The desks are arranged so that the students can sit with their group members, and then there are also desks separated and lined up side-by-side, either at the front or at the back of the classroom. These are the “hot seats”. The number of hot seats should match the number of student teams. I usually separate the hot seats with dividers, but you can also physically separate them to prevent students from seeing the answers of those next to them. Once the teams are made (I usually arrange the teams), I let the students determine a team name. Once this organization is completed, the game begins.

Each round of the game requires the students to answer a math question. One student from the team is selected to be in the hot seat, and the other students in the team remain at the team desks. The first question is revealed and all students work on the answer. The team member in the hot seat works alone, and the other team members work together. I actually require these team members to each try the question on their own sheet of paper, and then compare answers with the group and come to consensus. I give a designated amount of time for the students to answer the question, dependent on the complexity of the question. At the end of the time period I circulate around the room to determine who has the correct answer. I keep a sheet on a clipboard to record results as I walk around. If the student in the hot seat answered correctly, then 2 points are earned for the team. If the rest of the team answered correctly, then 1 point is earned for the team. In any round, a team can earn up to 3 points. I usually walk around as the students are still working and before the time has run out to see their progress. If there are early finishers then I can check their work. However, I don’t reveal if their answers are correct until the time is up. This prevents students from trying to copy the answers of others, as they do not know which answers were correct or incorrect. When the time is up I first take up the question with the whole class, and then we assign the scores for that round on the whiteboard. For each subsequent round, the students take turns sitting in the hot seat. I like this model because I find that it requires all students to be active participants, while adding an element of competition.

I work at an IB school, and our rubrics are leveled 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, and 7-8. Sometimes I organize the Hot Seat game into these levels, which they see on their tests, and other times I have been less formal and just given random questions. I have shared two of my Notebook Hot Seat files – one for Grade 7 proportional relationships and one for Grade 8 numeracy. You can access them here.

Need a Break?

General Education No Comments »

I have been incredibly inspired by Sarah Carter @mathequalslove. She has so many amazing resources that she generously shares. As we prepare for and begin the new school year, I also want to be part of the giving community. I have been scouring the #MTBoS and other sources for “one off” activities that I can pull out and use at any moment. Our school is moving from 40 minute to 60 minute periods, and I know that I will need to incorporate new strategies to engage students for these longer periods of time. I want to build a collection of games, tasks, and activities that can be used either to introduce the class, to end the class, or as a brief interlude in the middle.

Pentanim is a game that comes from the NRICH database. It is a short logic game that can be used as a break in any subject. I have created student game boards should you want students to play in pairs with bingo chips, as well as a Notebook file to play this game as a class. When playing as a class, students could take turns, or you could still have two students play in a match against each other. One reminder, do not save the Notebook file before closing. This will allow it to open in proper format the next time you want to play.

You can access the files here.


Classroom Management – Homework and Lates

General Education No Comments »

At my school, we only take digital attendance at the beginning of the day. After that, teachers are expected to take attendance at the beginning of each class to ensure that our students are present, but that information is not entered into the digital system. Instead, a designated student carries an attendance clipboard from class to class. To help promote good learning skills, each teacher is also required to keep track of students that are late to class, and to follow up with those that are habitually late. I am diligent with this recording, as I believe that students will not follow through with expectations if their teachers do not require this of them. If they know that their late arrival and homework completion is tracked and that they will be held accountable, then they are more likely to be diligent and put effort into these areas.

In previous years, I have recorded this information in my planbook. In addition I have also recorded the names of students who have not completed homework, and I follow up with them, as well. However, I have always found it tedious to both record the information and to aggregate it afterwards for use in report cards or conferences with students and parents, especially considering that I teach a variety of subjects and middle school classes, and often teach the same students for different subjects.

I have been reading many blogs over the summer, and many of these blogs have explored the use of G Suite products in the classroom. We do not use Google Classroom at our school, but we are avid users of many of the other G Suite products. As such, I am surprised that it has taken me so long to realize how to use these products to simplify my record keeping.

I have now developed a Google Form to collect data on students who are late to class or who do not complete homework. Originally I was going to create two separate forms, but that seemed like too much work to keep both of those tabs open and to insert data in two different places. My form asks only for five pieces of information:

  1. Student name – I used a short answer response format for this area
  2. Type – I am still working on the proper name for this data, but I have included a dropdown menu that allows me to choose either “Homework” or “Late”
  3. Date – For this data I have used the “date” response option, which allows me to click the correct data in a calendar view
  4. Subject – Here I will enter the different subjects that I teach, labeled with the class name as well (I have not shown the accurate data on my sample form as our students do not find out their teachers until the first day of class, and my posting it here would violate school policy)
  5. Notes – I used a short answer response format here to record any additional information, as needed (I anticipate it will often be blank)

Once entered, all of the data can be found in a Google Sheet, where I can then sort the information by student, class/subject, date, and by type of data (homework or late). I am also trying to learn how to have the homework data go to one sheet while the late data goes to another, but I have not yet mastered the code that needs to be written in order to make this happen. I found a video explaining how to write the code for this. I did well understanding the first six minutes or so, and then I lost track of what he was saying. I need to watch it a few more times to fully absorb the information. (I would welcome someone sharing an easier way for me to achieve this goal.)

Here is the completed form:

And here is a sample of the Google Sheet:

I am still working on the nitty gritty details, but I can already see that this will be a game changer for me. Thank you to all who wrote about G Suite this week for your inspiration!

Summer Learning – Part 3

General Science No Comments »

I want my science classes to be hands-on, and so I am always looking for new ideas that enable students to build and use critical thinking skills. I came across Engineering is Elementary from the Museum of Science in Boston. There are many downloadable free units, but you have to provide some basic information (name, organization, contact information). There are three main areas to explore, The EiE Curriculum (grades 1-5), Engineering Adventures (grades 3-5), and Engineering Everywhere (grades 6-8). Clicking on any one of the banner titles will take you to its related page. The free downloadable units are not visible on each of the three main pages, but clicking on “Curriculum Units” on the top banner will lead you to the unit downloads. Each unit comes with an educator’s guide, a student notebook, and a related video. There are 40 units to explore throughout these three areas of the website, and it looks as if they are developing preschool materials, as well.

Enjoy the last few weeks of the summer.

Summer Learning – Part 2

General Education No Comments »

I have been looking for interactive sites for science, and I came across Wisc-Online. I have mentioned this site before, but I never explored the full extent of their website. There are three main categories on the home screen – learn, play games, and build games. In the “Learn” section, there are interactive slideshows and videos on a variety of topics related to computer science, science, math, and the humanities. In “Play Games”, you can choose from the same subjects, and games range in type (flashcards, hangman, jeopardy, matching, memory, bingo, tic-tac-toe, and many more). What I especially like, however, is the “Build games” section. The entire selection of game types is available, but you can tailor your game to your own content. They even provide an image library for you to use in your game. If you are going to build your own games, then I highly recommend exploring the variety of games beforehand. This will make it easier to build your own games. Have fun exploring!

Summer Learning – Part 1

General Science No Comments »

I want to spice up my science classes, and so I have been looking for short one-off activities that will inspire creative and critical thinking skills. Today I came across the ‘Evolution and the Nature of Science Institutes’. Their mandate is to encourage evolutionary thinking within modern scientific thinking (as paraphrased from their website). What led me there was a portion of a website called ‘Nature of Science Lessons’. On this page you can find activities that will encourage students to think critically while having fun. Full lesson plans are provided along with student handouts. There are quite a few lessons that I am excited to try. If you find any similar resource sites, please send them my way!


Sustainable Learning

General Education No Comments »

Resources for Rethinking is a database of sustainable learning activities developed by Learning for a Sustainable Future. You can search for lesson plans, books, videos, and various activities, all of which are teacher reviewed. The website has been developed to enable Canadian teachers to search for material that connects to provincial units across the curriculum. Search results take you to various other websites, many of which (but not all) contain free resources.

WP Theme & Icons by N.Design Studio
Entries RSS Comments RSS Log in