August 2015 - History Gal

Back to School Hack #4

Teaching can be overwhelming. If all teachers had to do was teach, it would be great. Instead, teachers also have to grade assignments, tests, and projects; maintain websites or blogs; answer emails and voice mails; go to department meetings, staff meetings, district meetings, parent meetings and professional development meetings; go to morning, lunch, and afternoon duties, and the list goes on and on. There just never seems to be enough time in the day to get everything that needs to be done, done.

 Here are some tips that will help you keep your sanity this school year.

1. Set aside one or two days that you will stay 1-2 hours after school to get things done. On those days minimize distractions. Shut the door (turn off the light if that will help convince co-workers and students that you're actually gone), turn off or silence your phone, and unless a task requires you to get online, stay off the internet. It's time to get things done.

2. You don't actually have to grade every assignment. Really. Let students grade their own classwork, quizzes and even the matching/multiple choice/true-false parts of tests. Require graders to use pens or markers to grade so they can't change answers.

3. Use grading rubrics for projects and essays. Rubrics will help you grade faster.

4. Multi-task. When students are watching a video or working well on an assignment, take a few minutes to enter grades into the computer.

5. Make entering grades easier by having a colored folder for the graded papers that need to be entered for each class. When assignments are turned in, alphabetize them and place them in the folder- no more hunting for names as you enter the grades! You can make the alphabetizing easier on yourself by creating a seating chart that places the students in alphabetically order and having the students pass up the homework assignments through the rows. Another method is to assign each student a number that corresponds to their alphabetical order. Students are required to put their number along with their name on everything they turn in. Once the assignment is turned in, simply put them in numerical order!

6. Create templates for documents you use frequently so you don't have to reinvent the wheel each time.

7. Each afternoon, pull together everything you need for your classes the next day and place them together.

8. Set boundaries. You are not a doctor who is on call 24/7. Tell students and parents that you will check email (and voice mail) between the hours of 7 am-5 pm Monday-Friday (or what ever hours you pick) when school is in session and you will respond within 24 (or 48) hours. Stick to it.

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Back to School Teacher Hack #3: Pinterest

The Musings of a History Gal

For this week's back to school hack, I'm joining up with the ELA Buffet and Desktop Learning Adventures for a great link-up about Pinterest!
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If you think Pinterest is just for collecting recipes and DIY ideas, you're missing out! Pinterest is an awesome place to find ideas and inspiration for your classroom.

Tip#1: Follow Good Boards

The trick to finding good ideas for your classroom is to follow good boards. Secondary Solutions compiled a list of 10 Pinterest Boards Secondary Teachers Should be Following.


Some other great boards include:

The Musings of a History Gal
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 Tip #2: Switch It Up  

Change up an activity you do each year by adding a Pinterest twist. This year I decided to switch out my usual student interest form by adding a Pinterest twist where students create a board with images that represent their interests.

Tip #3: Let Students Create Their Own Boards  

The Musings of a History GalWhen you start a new unit or topic, have students create Pinterest boards about the new topic. Then, they can send you their completed boards on a designated date for a grade. Set guidelines for the types of pins they should use, a minimum number of pins, the types of descriptions you want them to write, and have them complete a brief written assignment explaining why they chose the pins they placed on their board, their favorite pin, what they learned, etc.

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Back to School Hack #2

Why is it that the pre-planning or teacher workdays are always packed with meetings? It's hard to prepare for a new school year when you're stuck in meetings all day! To help you out, I've pulled together a list of 10 of my favorite FREE back to school downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers. I hope you'll find them useful!

Tired of the same old syllabus you've used for years? Check these out!

Looking to refresh your first day activities? Look at these!

Looking for something different for a first homework assignment? Students won't mind completing these!

Lastly,be more organized this school year!

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Back to School Hack #1

While students often think teachers spend the summer watching documentaries and planning new lessons (or perhaps something more devious like in this July 26 Non Sequitur Sunday comic), many teachers, like me, do very little "school" stuff during the summer. We need the mental break. But, as the start date of school looms closer and closer, I start thinking more about the upcoming year. How about you?
I am part of a collaborative group of middle and high school teachers called Tools for Teaching Teens.

We just launched a new website and Facebook group full of resources for the secondary teacher.

On the site, you'll find two free idea and printables packs that you can download.
You'll also find video blogs like:
Learn how to have middle and high school students self-differentiate using locations in the classroom during instruction. Learn how to use pod seating to your advantage by creating heterogeneous groups based on student ability.
Establishing routines on the first days of school is so important! I have a few favorites... my tenure as a high school teacher, I concluded that few students who requested to go to the bathroom during class actually visited the bathroom when they left the classroom.

So, to stop the flood of students wanting "to go to the bathroom," I created a bathroom pass. (& Why) to set up interactive notebooks for your classroom

Last, we have a Pinterest board full of great ideas for secondary teachers.

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