Classroom Solutions > Jeremy Rinkel

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Going Paperless in the Classroom

AamcscI am reluctant to guess how much paper waste we create in my classroom alone, but I know it's substantial. So I've set a goal of going paperless in my English class within two years. Read on to learn about why this is important — and why it will benefit my students — and how I intend to do it.

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Five Tips for Creating the Problem-Free Group Project

Group1Assigning group work can be very frustrating. Reflecting back on my first year, I'm amazed at how out-of-control and unorganized my group projects were. I'm sure when the principal walked by my room, my class looked very chaotic. My students didn't understand my directions, the target was not clear, my expectations were off, and I wasn't sure how to grade them. But I took good notes on what worked and what didn't, and I did better the next year.

Though issues will arise with group projects, I continue to do them because the benefits are so great. Group work provides another form of assessment and takes students to a higher level of thinking. Students also learn to work on a team, an ability they will need in today's world. I've learned so much about myself and my students since I began group work. In this post, I'll share some of these things, along with five tips for creating a problem-free group project.

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Proposing the Use of E-readers in the Classroom

KindlepostThe idea of using e-readers in my classroom came to me several years ago. As textbooks become more expensive and school budgets continue to shrink, e-readers and e-books have become a popular option for schools. After researching e-readers and programs at other schools, I decided to put a proposal together for my school. 

Before launching a schoolwide program, I proposed that my school board pilot e-readers in my English classroom. As I prepared my proposal, I realized that my proposal revolved around three key questions: 1) Which e-reader best fits my school's needs? 2) How will e-readers be used? 3) How will e-readers benefit students in my classroom? These questions, along with a discussion of the benefits of e-readers, possible outcomes of the program, and the replacement cost of current materials, were all included in my proposal to use e-readers in the classroom.

 

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Three Classroom Activities to Celebrate Banned Books Week

Bbw11poster In the movie Field of Dreams, there is a scene at a school board meeting where PTO members are attempting to ban a book: The Boat Rocker by Terrence Mann. This scene is not far from reality. According to Banned Books Week.org, 348 books were challenged by various groups last year. As an English teacher, I see value in teaching literature. As a parent, I see value in censoring certain material for particular age groups. It is important that teachers select appropriate materials, but let's face it: Our students see many things that are far from appropriate. It is our responsibility also to teach life lessons to the best of our ability, though we have to be careful about how much we allow. As teachers, we must learn from the community and use our best judgment in the materials we select. With that said, September 24 - October 1 is Banned Books Week. I've created three activities to explore the concept of censorship, book bans, and specific titles that have been challenged or banned by particular groups.

 

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Building the Foundation for a Successful School Year

Classgroup Week Two of the 2011-2012 school year is already "in the books."  I cannot believe how time is flying by so quickly. My students are beginning to transition from summer to school. They are adapting to my teaching style and I'm doing my best to get to know and understand their learning styles. My mind is beginning to focus on ways to make this a successful school year for myself, my students, and my school. The three S's (Self/Students/School) are a work in progress for me. Each year, I strive to improve in these three areas, realizing it will be difficult to achieve perfection. Having a positive mindset and maintaining a balance in these areas will build the foundation for a successful school year.

 

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Using Five Web-based Tools to Motivate and Engage the 21st Century Writer

KeyboardIn his book, Content Area Writing, Jim Burke wrote that "writing is the most public performance of our intelligence." Writing is a skill that is needed and used regardless of the career our students pursue. People write for many different reasons and audiences.  Writing no longer involves just a pen and paper and through the Internet, the 21st century scribe has the ability to build an audience in seconds. As the media continue to evolve it is important that our students understand that a tweet, an Internet blog post, and a research paper should be written differently. In this post are five web-based tools I have used in my classroom to motivate and engage the 21st Century Writer.

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Ten Years Later: Remembering September 11th With an Oral History Project

Scholasticsept11postOn the morning of September 11, 2001, I was on my way to work in Springfield, Illinois.  Many people remember where they were and what they were doing when terrorists attacked our country 10 years ago this year. My current students, however, may have a difficult time remembering as freshman students were 4 to 5 years old when this significant event changed the course of history. Since I often refer to 9/11 when discussing various pieces of literature, I wanted my students to have a firm understanding of the event, and so created the Remembering September 11th lesson. This lesson is broken into three phases: class discussion, group research, and individual project.

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Three Tech Tools to Collect and Analyze Student Interest Data

ToolsOur classroom and teaching strategies must be student focused. Maintaining a positive teacher and student relationship is very important.  According to Jim Burke in his book The Teacher's Essential Guide Series: Classroom Management, "the student-teacher relationship is the cornerstone of an engaging, successful classroom."  To build relationships with my students, I first need to know them. Talking with them in the hallways and at lunch is a start, but I need to know what they enjoy and what their strengths and weaknesses are in the classroom. Using "icebreaker" activities gives me some perspective on their personality, but doesn't tell me if a student enjoys reading or knows how to use various technologies. I have used paper and pencil surveys, but it is very time consuming to collect and analyze the data. However, I have found three time saving tech tools to collect and analyze student interest data.

 

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Creating a Well-Managed Classroom

Expectations1The impression you make on the first day of school can make or break you when it comes to classroom management and organization. In my district, we have a very short first day, only spending about 15 minutes with each class. In some classes, students just sit around and talk, but I get down to business right away. Students in my class leave the first day with an assignment and a brief understanding of the format of the class.

You might be thinking, “You are overwhelming the freshman students on the first day.” I don’t see it as overwhelming the students. I see it as showing them the importance of beginning the learning process and not wasting any time. With that said, it is very important to build a strong rapport with students and not intimidate them. I believe that there are four things a teacher must do to create a well-managed classroom.

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Surviving the Back-to-School Transition

Blog1resize2Wow! This summer is flying by. The new school year is weeks away. The transition back to school is difficult whether we’ve been off for a couple months or just a few weeks. This year will be my fifth year going through the back to school transition as a teacher. Late nights and sleeping in will soon turn into late nights and getting up early to teach. The evenings spent by the pool or in front of the TV watching movies will turn into evenings preparing for lessons or grading. I know my students will struggle with the transition, too, so it is important that I am ready for the first day.

This transition doesn’t get any easier, but here are four things you can do to survive the transition back to school.

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About the Teacher
Jeremy Rinkel
Jeremy Rinkel
Farina, IL
Grades 9-12
Special Interests:
Free Web-Based Tools
Reading Comprehension
Professional Development
Strategies for Reaching Millenials

Jeremy's Bio

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The opinions expressed in Classroom Solutions are strictly those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Scholastic Inc.