I don’t want to say it. I mean, I really don’t want to say it. Saying it somehow makes it true, and as much as I love my job, I have to confess that I don’t want it to be. I want to keep staying up late and sleeping later. I want to keep not constantly having papers to grade. And most of all, I want to keep having longer than 10 minutes to eat lunch.
But I guess I have to face the reality that summer break is almost over, and a new school year is about to begin.
I truly am excited to meet my new students–I just wish I could do it at 11 A.M.
This week, I am considering classroom structure and community and simple tweaks I can make to simplify my life throughout the year. Next week, I will be considering skills that I think my students need and how I plan to build them into the curriculum.
Both weeks, I will discuss three ways to help us do this. So here’s week one–
Three Ways to Make Back to School Better
Way 1: How I Will Set Up My Classroom
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I do this so that I can implement Kagan Structures–amazing for the collaborative, interactive classroom. But instead of wasting time doing cute things like “Person with a summer birthday, go first,” I can save time by saying, “Work with your shoulder partner. Even person go first.” Or, “Work with your face partner, odd person go first.” It’s all about that number.
Way 2: Getting to Know Each Other with Avatars
Slight embellishment on the writing talent–we don’t want students to feel shy about sharing their talents, so set modesty aside.
Then I give them about 15 or 20 minutes to create theirs. Finally, they share them with the class. Since they have all been editing the same presentation (I copy as many template slides as I have students into the presentation), I just project the one presentation. Here are two student examples:
This is a part of my gamifying system. Check it out HERE.
Way 3: Being Ready for Emergencies
1. I created a three-columned chart. On it, I listed all of my units in one column and the textbook chapters that align with them in the next. If you don’t have a textbook, you can link to online readings (a pain to do, but worth it in the long-run). I also found films on YouTube that go with each chapter and linked to them in the third column.
2. Then I have a week’s worth of activities that will enable students to keep on track with the content and to work on their writing skills. (Picture this in an email to the school secretary: copy handouts 1, 2, and 3, and use the accompanying reading and video for unit 5–DONE!) It goes like this:
– Students will read any chapter in any textbook or an online reading and complete activities that are more relevant and engaging than the questions at the end of the section.
– Then they will narrow a topic, generate a thesis statement, plan an essay, write a rough draft, engage in relevant peer editing, and finally compose a final essay draft.
– Students will watch a film and complete a film guide over their topic and create a test.
– Students will reflect upon their own performance with a self-guided work rubric. There is also an editable rubric for the essay final draft.
– When you return, take questions from the tests they created and make quiz to use as formative assessment. This way you will get a better idea of what content to revisit.
This takes some time on the front end, but once you have it, it’s done and unplanned absences are so much less stressful. These are the ones I made:
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How are you getting ready to go back? Leave a comment and let me know. And come back next week to check out vital skills I am finding ways to integrate into my curriculum for the upcoming school year.