Finish Strong

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We have all heard the phrase, run the race to win. When you see a well conditioned athlete run a race, often times you see them have a burst of speed in the final stretch and leaning into the tape to win the race. This is how we should plan to finish our school year… we don’t want to go into the last few days of school in cruise control, we want to finish strong. What are we teaching our students if they can just “pack their bags” in those final few days? We need to make sure we have activities that inspire and encourage our students to press through the finish line.

Don’t get me wrong, I know it has been a long road… but picture a marathon runner who has completed 26 miles of the journey and decides, I have gone far enough, I’m good with 26. They are so close to the finish…take advantage of those last days and continue to inspire and motivate your students to be their best and to press through to the finish!

Encourage Risk Taking

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As educators, we want to instruct our students and prepare them for their future. That being said, it is critical that we encourage them to be bold, to take risks, and try new things. When you think of the many great inventions over the past century, how many were created on the very first try?

History is filled with great men who took risks… Abraham Lincoln, Winston Churchill, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Louis Pasteur, Henry Ford, Fred Smith, Michael Jordan, Steve Jobs… the list goes on and on. As you look at the students in your class, it may not be the ones that earn the highest grades that will make an impact in the future. As teachers, we have a great opportunity to encourage and inspire our future leaders. We need to encourage them to take risks, let them know that it is okay to fail, that the key is to learn and persevere.

As you look at your students today, tomorrow and the next day… look for opportunities to challenge them to look at things through a different lens and seek out new ways to approach situations and problems. Who knows? One of these days, one of your students may be the one to find a cure for cancer, or invent a product that transforms an industry. Be a risk taker and see what happens!

Zoom: Video Conferencing Tool

 

Zoom is a great tool for hosting and conducting video conferences! You can sign up for a free account that allows you to host and join meetings. The free account limits your conferences to 40 minutes (when you have more than two individuals in the conference). Each person can share their audio, video, and computer screens with the group. If you need to meet for longer periods you can pay for the Pro account which gives you more flexibility. Having the 40 minute limit is great for keeping your group on task, but it is good to know that you can extend the time if you want. If you decide you need extended time from time to time, switching to the Pro version is easy and is on a month to month basis.

This is a great way to interact, share information, and work collaboratively! Even with the free version you have the ability to take your group and conduct break out rooms! Zoom offers a series of free webinars that help you get started and their staff is super friendly and helpful! Be blessed and give it a try today!

https://zoom.us

 

Make It Rhyme

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Lin-Manuel Miranda performing at the White House – May 12, 2009

I observed a teacher the other day giving a lesson on the Federal Reserve and how their policies and procedures affect our economy. There were lots of facts and figures, supply and demand charts, cause and effect analysis… but then, the teacher stopped and shared a video of Lin-Manuel Miranda performing at the White House of Alexander Hamilton.

He pointed out how this poem in a couple of minutes conveyed so much information about the life of Alexander Hamilton…

Next, he had the students create their own poem to convey information about the Federal Reserve. He passed out a worksheet that had the instructions at the top and left room for them to create their poem. The poem had to have a minimum of ten stanzas and had to rhyme. Not only were the students engaged, this was a GREAT way to incorporate critical thinking skills and made learning this material fun and engaging! Give it a try in your class today, it can be incorporated into EVERY subject! Be blessed and have a great week!

Educational Bingo

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http://www.teachhub.com/engaging-classroom-games-all-grades

There are literally countless ways to use bingo.  I created an award-winning bingo game based upon the people of American History.  The boards have people’s faces on them and the clues are all standards-based facts. 

What about math bingo – the boards have numbers and the clues are problems that the students have to do mentally (or with scratch paper). Bingo can be used for phonics, vocabulary, spelling, sounds of letters. 

The other great part about bingo is that you can make a game specifically designed for what your students are learning, go to any store and buy a bingo game, or make it an end of unit activity to create a bingo game in small groups – and then play that game in class. To make it free and easy, print out blank bingo cards and have students randomly fill in answers from the word/number bank before you start.

The First & Last Five

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The most important time of our classes are the first and last five minutes. How we begin our class will set the tone for the remainder of the period. How we end each class can have a dramatic effect on what our students will remember. So how do you spend your first and last five?

Do you greet your students a the door when they arrive for class? Do you have an activity for them to participate in when they first sit down? Greeting your students at the door and inviting them to learn something new in class today is a great way to start! It reminds them that you care about them and are interested in their success. Having an individual or group activity to begin the class helps them to get in the “proper” mindset. Have them interact and consider different ways to approach a problem. See if they can discover a pattern or a shortcut  to a solution.  Post of fun brain teaser for them to solve. Post a question that uses information from yesterday’s class for it’s solution.

During class, make sure to check for understanding and ensure that every student is engaged in the learning process. Have a contest and see who can come up with the best song that incorporates your lesson material. As you inspire your students to learn, your class will excel. Create an environment that your students are excited to be a part of and that they don’t want to miss!

In the last five, have your students take time to reflect on what they discovered that day. Another great lesson I learned from my EDD course was using an exit ticket. Have your students email you an exit ticket, a short description of what they learned from your class that day. It is another tool for you to see if all your students were engaged and came away with the concepts you were hoping to teach. If you have any questions, leave me a comment. Be blessed and teach well.

Review – Reflect – Refine

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In order to create capacity, we must realize that it is an ongoing process that requires a high level of commitment to learning and continuous improvement. Creating this capacity requires specific, intentional, and deliberate actions. Deliberate, systematic reflection is essential to ensure meaningful and deep learning related to creating capacity for learning and equity.Mary Hooper and Victoria Bernhardt

To put this theory into practice requires three cognitive processes: Review, Reflect, and Refine. Review key concepts and ideas; Reflect on experiences and observations; and Refine how you will put these theories into practice to create capacity for learning and equity in your classroom or school.

As educators, we want to see every one of our students engaged in the learning process. As we take time each day to process how our lesson went, we can make adjustments that will improve our teaching methods and increase the engagement of our students. We want to create an environment where our students look forward to coming to class and discovering what new information we have to share with them.

Fortune Cookie

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This was another great exercise we learned in our EDD702 class! First you have to make sure you have enough fortune cookies for everyone in your group or class. Each person opens their fortune cookie and then has to relate the fortune to something that you have discussed in class.You can have them share how they related their fortune in small groups or as a class, depending on your time frame and the size of your group. It is a great exercise that will engage critical thinking skills, communication, and some fun! As a bonus, you can eat the cookie at the end!

Talking Stick

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This is a great technique to use with small group discussions. Thank you to Dr. Merwin who introduced this to us in EDD702.

You select a topic for discussion, only the person with the stick is allowed to talk. Once they are done, they pass the stick to the next person in the group. Remember, only the one who is holding the stick is allowed to speak. This encourages active listening and helps control discussion. If someone doesn’t have anything to say when they get the stick, they just pass it on to the next person. The stick continues to be passed until it goes around and no one has anything else to add.

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