Thanksgiving is almost here! I thought you might be able to use the following Thanksgiving resources this week with students (or maybe even next week with your families!):
How about telling your students you are thankful for them with free pass from their teacher? Consider changing up the passes with this editable copy of the Thanksgiving Passes so you can change them up and make them the type of passes you are comfortable giving out to your students!
It seems that for decades, elementary students (and their parents) eagerly await the reveal of who their teacher will be for the upcoming school year. Some schools post teacher names and class lists on the school’s windows, some send out postcards, and others have teachers call each family to introduce themselves and reveal that they are the assigned teacher for the year. Last school year, on our campus, we tried a new way to reveal homeroom teachers to our families that was loved by families and staff.
I’ve heard it said many times that Educator TikTok should count as Professional Development! I have to say that I, too, have learned so much from other educators on TikTok! So… as a principal, I decided to try to make TikTok PD a reality on a recent Professional Development Day on my campus. TikTok is blocked in my district, so I started by finding great TikToks that were also available on YouTube. Then, I found other short-form (about 3 minutes or less) videos on YouTube to create a Choice PD Bingo!
Have you heard about mote? It is a google chrome extension that adds a little happy purple button into google slides, docs, forms, and maybe more…? Here’s what the happy purple button does… it allows you to add VOICE messages directly into slides, docs, and forms!
Okay, so first of all…. thank you, mote! I can speak soooo much faster than I can type! How awesome is this for giving students feedback on assignments, teachers?? So good! One click to record and one click to insert? YES! And then students can hear your tone of voice??? YES again!
But then, I had a fun idea for getting students (or participants) to discuss content at high cognitive levels. As a principal, I am preparing for an upcoming professional development day. We are providing staff with a choice assignment so they can learn what they need (and not something they already know or aren’t interested in). We are then going to ask teachers to share the top strategy they learned and how they plan to implement it in their classroom. But… if you know me… you know that I have to amp it from “just share.” Thus, the “Strategy SMACKDOWN!” was born!
I’ll admit it – I’ve jumped on the pastel rainbow bandwagon and there’s no turning back!!!! (Well maybe, when the next adorable trend turns my head… but for now… I’m all about those rainbows!) Rainbows have brought me joy since I was a kid in the 80s and I am more than happy that they are again surfacing as super cool (I was super cool back then, right?? – Don’t answer that.) I walked by 3rd grade teacher Barbara Pinto‘s classroom last week more than once and was intrigued not only by the rainbow title text, but also by her blended learning slide (but more on that another time).
I think most of us would agree that providing students with some kind of CHOICE in their assignments – whether it is where they sit in the room while they complete it, the order in which they complete assignments, or the tool they use to create a product – providing CHOICE to students elicits more ownership.
It’s happened to all of us – you work so hard on a lesson – to make it engaging, hook students, and ensure that you cover all the content needed for the formative assessment…. and yet… when you assess… students seem to have not “gotten it”. What can a hard-working teacher do??? Insert some short prompts here and there to help students connect learning to themselves and make it relevant! Check out the prompts below and pick three to have students complete as stopping points throughout your next lesson. See if their connections, memory, and engagement with the content goes up!
As we look toward the end of a lesson, a unit, or even a school year, we plan time to review the content. This often results in asking students questions (sometimes in creative ways to make the review a game or more fun). I love me a fun game for review, but when I think about the level of thinking in order for the review to be quick and teams to be able to take turns, it usually ends up being pretty low-level questions – recalling and regurgitating information. The other thing I often observe (ahem… and maybe did a lot as a teacher) during reviews (especially prior to a big assessment) is talk a lot. I never meant to talk my students’ ears off – I always started with a review game of some sort and then if a student got something wrong, or if we came to a topic I felt the class still didn’t fully understand, I would suddenly break into lecture mode for 5-10 minutes to tell them everything I wanted to make sure they knew about the topic. As if hearing me talk about it would cement it in their brains? I think we sometimes think if we make sure we tell them everything one more time before the big test, they’ll get it… but that is far from the truth.
Texas just went through a pretty major winter storm event which kept students across the state home from school. Many of our students made wonderful and scary memories because of this event. Some of our students saw snow for the first time in their lives, but also lost power and may have been freezing and hungry in their homes. No matter what they experienced, our students will walk in our school doors (or Zoom or Google Meet screens) wanting to talk about their experiences. I believe we should most definitely allow students time and freedom to discuss and share their experiences… but at the same time… YIKES! We just lost 5 instructional days!!! How can we value our students, allow them to process and share, but not lose more time?!?! Play a quick game of Stand Up If… followed by a quick write and small group share. 15 minutes or less will allow ALL students to share, feel heard, and hear from other students.