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Showing posts from August, 2017

How to Make Your First Day of School The Best One Ever

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There is a lot of pressure on teachers. You have to teach the right thing in the right way at the right time.  Meet the demands of the curriculum.  Meet the demands of this year's new initiatives.  Meet the demands of the new evaluation system. Get to know each student.  Differentiate to each of their needs.  Communicate with parents.  Listen to their needs.

And, as we all know, I could go on and on and on.

I'd like to suggest something different this year.  Just one small thing to make your first day, and maybe your whole year, the best one ever for both you and your students.  First, I want you to stop and put yourself in a student's place.  Some of them are so eager to come back to school on the first day that they have their wardrobe planned for an entire week, a schedule made of their morning routine, and they take out their school supplies daily, lay them on their beds and admire them.  (OK, maybe that was just me as a kid, or yesterday, but whatever...) There are o…

How To Help Teens Choose Their Own Books & Actually Read Them

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Here it is, August, just weeks or maybe even days, before your new classes arrive.  You've committed to independent reading with choice books in your classroom. You've collected books and have started a classroom library. You've scheduled time daily for kids to read books. But one small, nagging question remains, how do you help kids actually choose books and actually read them? This is no small question...it's HUGE!  If the kids don't actually start reading, you will not stick with independent choice reading.  You'll think it doesn't work, and back you'll go to that whole class novel.
Before I answer this question (what's worked well for me, anyway), I have to ask you to put down a little bit of baggage you might be carrying with you:

1.  You don't have to assess everything.
2.  Stop classifying books as good and bad.

Some of you are going to stop reading right here because your inner English Teacher Diva popped out and started shaking her fin…

To Decorate or Not to Decorate? Is That Really the Question?

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School starts for teachers in my district on August 9th, just seven days away.  Not that I feel like school ever really ended this year - I went from school to summer school to prepping for and attending ILA to an AVID conference in Minneapolis and right back to our first leadership meeting yesterday.  I'm not complaining at all - I chose all of that (and loved what I was doing), and I did sneak in four extra days in Orlando to vacation with my kids.  Plus, I find lots of small ways to enjoy the more relaxed schedule of summer. There's lingering over coffee in the morning, lots more reading and writing, walking the dog, and a little pool time with the kids.

And, I'm going to admit it...I also relax with "language arts and crafts".  By this I mean that I make crafty-style decor for my classroom.

There. The truth is out. I am a high school teacher who really, really enjoys snipping and gluing, choosing patterned paper and fonts and colors, creating pretty organiza…