March 2017 - The Classroom Nook

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The Classroom Game Nook

Interactive Ways to Teach Measurement


I've heard it from teacher after teacher:  "I dread teaching measurement every year."

It's hard to blame them.  There's nothing ground-shaking about measurement.  There's nothing exciting about metric vs. customary.

It's just one of those skills that our students need to have in their back pocket - and so - we teach it.

I'd like to challenge that, however.  If there's anything a teacher is good at, it's spicing up even the most boring content.  So, let's try, shall we.

Here are 5 interactive ways to teach measurement:

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Engaging Your Students With Digital Learning Guides


Today's topic is a BIG one for me.  I've been putting my heart and soul into a new, on-going project that has been a passion for me recently:  Digital Learning Guides

We have all seen the classroom trend to go digital.  Digital interactive notebooks, google classroom, online reading programs and many other digital resources are becoming very popular in the classrooms.  More and more teachers are having their students working on individual digital devices to complete activities that were once done with a pencil and paper.  And - I LOVE it!  I think the idea of going "paperless" is awesome and opens up a whole new world for our students.

How do you get started, though?  If you've spent your entire teaching career thus far using activity sheets and the hard-copy version of everything, it can be over-whelming to start thinking about converting over to a digital learning and teaching format.

I want to help with that!
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Engaging Ways to End Your Lessons


Quick story:  In high school I was always a part of the school musicals.  It was one of my favorite times of year.  Each spring, I can remember spending almost everyday after school in the school auditorium practicing songs, dances, and memorizing lines for the the show.  As we got closer to show time, I can remember my director saying things like "If we have a strong beginning and a strong ending, the show will be a big hit!  No one remembers the middle!"  (Of course, this was typically said on dress rehearsal night when everything seemed to be going wrong...)

Well, that wasn't necessarily the case, but to some extent, it did have some truth.  If you've ever sat in the audience of a musical, you typically do remember the grand opening number with all of the cast members on stage, and the show-stopping finale with a concluding high note by the lead character.  Ah- the crowd goes wild!

The same goes true for our teaching, I think.  Presenting our lessons to our students is kind of like a musical performance.  We want an epic beginning that grabs our students attention right from the start (I talked about how to do exactly that in this post) and then, we want that standing ovation at the end of our lesson.  (Oh, wouldn't that be nice!) 

Last week I gave you a list of engaging ways to begin your lessons.  Did you miss that post?  You can check it out here.  

I also believe that how you end your lesson is just as important as how you start your lesson.  (and of course, the middle of your lesson matters, too!) You don't want to go through all that work of planning an amazing lesson only to end it with "Ok, put your books away, time to get ready for lunch!"

So, today, like last week, I'm going to attempt to give you some show-stopping ways to end your lesson on a high note!

Let's do this:

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Engaging Ways to Start Your Lesson



We've all been there - staring out into a sea of glazed-over eyes as we begin a new lesson with our students.  See that picture above?  Look familiar?

Are they even listening to you?  OR have they begun to think about what they will eat for lunch?

Don't feel bad.  It happens to every teacher.  

It would be nice, however, if we had a few sure-fire ways to grab our students' attention (and keep it!). Well, I'm going to attempt to give you a quick list of unique ways to begin a lesson that DOESN'T start with "Today we're going to learn about..."

Ready?  Here we go:

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9 Tips for Teaching Your Students to Be Kind


I seriously can NOT stand mean-ness.  Not from public figures and celebrities, not in adults, and certainly NOT in children.

There is absolutely no accuse or reason for it, but unfortunately mean-nature people are everywhere and our students are exposed to that behavior constantly.

As teachers we spend so much time thinking about how to teach math, how to teach reading, how to teach science and social studies, and so on, that the concept of teaching kindness often falls to the wayside.  And that's sad.

Quick story - I used to teach in a VERY high-needs, high-poverty district where students struggled....a LOT - in school and in life.  Many of my students came from broken homes where the last thing on their mind was learning.  Many of them came from homes where kindness was NOT a way of life.

Each day, I struggled.  I struggled because it was soooo hard to teach to a classroom full of students who came from homes where education was not valued and where their first response to a problem was to be violent and revengeful.  Now - this, of course, did not describe every student in my class, but it was certainly the over-arching tone.

What's a teacher to do?  You can't do math or literacy centers if your students don't know how to work nicely in groups.  You can't go on field trips if your students are constantly arguing on the bus on the way there.  You can't have fun parties and events in your classroom if your students don't appreciate ANYTHING you do.  It's super hard.

Here's the reality - It's very hard to teach a room of students ANYTHING until you teach them to be kind.   If you spend your entire day playing "referee," constantly putting out fires between your students, there's no time for teaching.

Here's what you can do about it - Teach kindness first.

This is not a one-and-done lesson.  This is an every day, all day kind of lesson.  We have to incorporate kindness practice into absolutely EVERYTHING we do.  We have to put kindness reminders EVERYWHERE.  And - we have to reinforce it ALL THE TIME.

Here are a few tips to help you teach your students to be kind.

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