May 2015 - History Gal

5 Things To Do Before You Run Out of the Classroom

I don't know about you, but it's hard to escape the call of summer. It calls to me throughout the months of May and June. By the time teacher workdays arrive at the end of the school year, I'm bursting with a desire to quickly throw files and classroom decorations haphazardly into boxes and run out of the door. I don't even want to THINK about the fall and a new school year. However, I've discovered that if I make the last few workdays productive, my new year gets off to a much better start.

1. Purge
Go through everything before you put it away for the summer. Throw away, give away, or recycle classroom decorations, posters, bulletin board paper, etc. that you no longer want to use. Keep only one paper copy of each assignment, handout, and test that you think you might use next year. Recycle the rest. Pester students until they've picked up old projects still hanging around your classroom. The more you deal with now, the less you'll have to go through in the fall when you are juggling meetings while trying to get everything ready for a new school year.

2. Download
Buy a flash drive and download all of your files from your school computer and server. Servers are not infallible and there's nothing worse that arriving in the fall and finding out that everything you left on the server (and its back-up) has disappeared.


PowerPoint Hack: How to Create Duplicate Slides

I am a PowerPoint convert. I use it most of the time to create documents instead of Microsoft Word. Microsoft Word lovers tell me I can do everything in Word that I do in PowerPoint. I'm sure that is true. However, PowerPoint is much more intuitive for me and I will not go back to creating in Word. One of the features I love about PowerPoint is the ability to duplicate slides (in other words, pages). I use this feature all the time.

1. After I've created a page I want to duplicate, in this case a Bingo card, I go to the Home tab and Click on New Slide.
The Musings of a History Gal

2. Click the Duplicate Slide option and PowerPoint will duplicate the slide you have highlighted.
The Musings of a History Gal

The Musings of a History Gal3. Now, I have two of the exact same slides. No more copying and pasting!

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What's in Your Sub Folder?

Emergencies happen and if you don't have an emergency sub folder or notebook, you should!

Here's what's inside my sub folder:
1. Current class rolls:  Remember to update these when you lose or gain a student.

2. Bell schedule: If you have a confusing schedule like A and B days or classes that rotate, try to be as clear as possible to minimize confusion.

3. Emergency lessons: Be sure to leave clear instructions for the substitute and a note about how many copies to make. I like to make my emergency lessons as general as possible so they will fit into any current unit of study. I don't want to have to recreate the wheel just to make something fit with what I am currently teaching when I have a fever of 102 degrees! Nor, do I want to just create pointless busy work for my students that I then have to spend hours grading.

4. A thank you note for my substitute: Do you have sub shortages? Do your colleagues have to pitch in and cover classes? Include a note to let them know how much you appreciate them giving up their planning period to cover your class. Slip in a $5 gift card to Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts or to another favorite place so they can buy coffee or grab a doughnut on you. Or, simply let them know that you will return the favor and cover their class during your planning period as a way of showing your appreciation.


If creating the actual emergency sub lessons to place in your folder is stressing you out, click here to get a free sub plan.


You can also grab my no prep sub plans here.


These sub plans include 10 activities for students that can be used during any U.S. or World History unit. They include clear directions for the substitute and both print and digital versions are included!

End of the Year Survival Tips

The end of the year is a crazy time! State tests loom around the corner and stress levels rise for teachers.

This May lower your stress level with these easy to incorporate tips!

1. Let the students teach each other. 
 In all three of these activities below, the work is all done by the students and all you have to do is supervise!

Museum Exhibit: If you teach U.S. History, assign small groups of 2-3 students a decade: 1970s, 1980s, 1990, or 2000s. Have each group create a museum exhibit that represents the decade. The exhibit can include items like a timeline of events, a portrait wall of important people, artifacts from the time period, a short video for museum visitors to view, a Pinterest board of images from that decade, etc. In your classroom, set up all of the decade exhibits, grouping the similar decade groups together (i.e. all of the 1970s exhibits in one area), and let your students visit each of the exhibits. If you want the exhibits to be virtual, check out the Museum Box and see if it fits your needs. This activity also works great for World History by assigning the small groups a civilization (Early River Civilizations, Ancient Egypt, Ancient China, Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, etc.).

Video Interviews: Have students in small groups create mock-interviews with important people they've learned about during the school year. It could be a one-on-one interview with a host and an historical figure or a talk show with a host and multiple historical figures from similar or different time periods. Students can act them out in front of class or use iPods/iPads/video cameras to record the interviews.

Student Created Stations: Let small groups create stations. For example, if they are learning about the Civil Rights Movement, give each group an important event during the Civil Rights Movement. Give them time to research it and create a station to share what they learned with the rest of class. In addition to creating the station, they will need to create an activity (scavenger hunt, a handout to complete, a matching game, a short quiz, etc.) for their classmates to complete when they visit the station.

2. Play Games or Simulations.
It is hard to get students engaged at the end of the year. A short lecture is about all they can handle. As a result, I created a lot of games and simulations to play at the end of the school year. These kept my students engaged and exciting about coming to class!

Here are a few of my favorites:
Attrition kickball to simulate World War I: Students have to answer a question about WWI when it is their turn to kick. If they get it right, they get to kick and they pick someone from the other team to join their team. If they get it wrong, they go to the end of the kicking line. The game can easily be adapted as a review for most other topics.

Bingo: I give students a blank Bingo card (a chart/table with 25 squares) and they place 24 terms from a list I have on the board onto their card. Instead of calling out the term, I call out the definition. Students have fun playing it and I like that they are preparing for the exam!

1-2-3 Draw!:  On index cards, write down key terms, concepts, and
people that you want your students to review (one term per card). Create a place where students can draw and the rest of the students will be able to see. I use my chalkboard at the front of the room. If you don't have a board at the front of your room, you could use an easel or tape paper to a wall. Divide your class into 2 teams. When it is their turn, a team sends up an illustrator who randomly picks an index card with a term. The illustrator cannot show anyone the card and has 1 minute to get his/her team to call out the term by drawing images on the board or paper. If his/her team correctly guesses the term, they get a point. Then, the other team goes. The game continues until all the cards have been drawn. The team with the most points wins.

Don't want to create your own games? I have lots of review games available! You don't have to spend time to create it and your students are engaged and actively learning at the end of the year. What more could you ask for?

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