Classroom Solutions > 174 posts categorized "Strategies"

The Challenge Based Classroom: Using Curriculum to Serve the Community

HabitatLast year I came to a crossroads in my teaching. During my annual review, I found myself agonizing over my goals for this upcoming school year. I was completely stuck. I browsed through our district's professional development opportunities with a sense of “been there, done that.” It surprised me that so early in my career I would feel this way. My classroom certainly kept me on my toes, but I was missing that spark that ignited my planning each year. An offer to explore curriculum development made me even more confused. Was I really ready to leave the classroom? I needed a teaching makeover!

As if on cue, two amazing things happened that would transform my teaching: the opportunity to be a teacher advisor here and the discovery of Apple’s Challenge Based Learning. The journey outside of my comfort zone had begun.  

 

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Comments: 1

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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Comments: 2

Helping Students Develop a Lifelong Love of Reading

 

Love 2 read We all know that reading is one of the most important skills you can teach a child. It lays the foundation for a child’s success in school and in everyday life. For this reason, one of the most precious gifts we can give our students is a book. Books stir the senses, inspire imagination, and spark a love of reading that will last a lifetime. But how can a book compete in this new age of instant entertainment — with such things as television and video games? Read on as I share ideas to help your students develop a lifelong love of reading despite these distractions.

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Comments: 2

Motivating the Unmotivated: Tough Kid Tools That Really Work

Toolbox At some point in your teaching career you will have a "tough kid" in your classroom. You may even have several at the same time. These students send you home exhausted, often in tears, and raise doubts about your career choice. The tough kid changes the dynamic and mood of the room in an instant, and you may find yourself wondering what to expect from minute to minute. The tough kid may come to you with a prior history, with warnings from your colleagues, and with a cornucopia of labels such as "at-risk," "difficult," "attention deficit disorded," or even "lazy." How do you deal with tough kids, and what can you do to restore order to your classroom? Read on for the top five ways to motivate the seemingly unmotivated. 

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Comments: 1

How to Serve a Nutritious Morning Meeting

DSC_0364Starting the school day off with Morning Meeting will get your students ready to learn from the moment they walk into your classroom. It is a great way to build classroom community and teach a variety of academic and social skills. Read on as I share a recipe to help you serve a nutritious Morning Meeting of your own!

 

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Comments: 2

Hands-On Geography: "Paint a Partner" Topographic Maps

Map

"Where in the world is Randolph, NY? Is that near New York City?"

I smile every time I hear that question because our little corner of Western New York is nowhere near — and geographically nothing like — the big city. Modern technologies such as Google Earth show students the world through a whole new lens and offer exciting opportunities for them to improve their geography. But unfortunately most of my students still can't identify basic geologic formations on a topographic map: they're far more used to the flat, traditional maps they see online. For teaching topographic maps, modern technology just won't cut it.

Instead, I take an old-fashioned, hands-on approach that gives my students a solid understanding of how topographic maps work. Read on to turn your students into expert cartographers using their classmates as canvases.

 

 

 

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Comments: 1

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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Comments: 4

Easing the Middle School Transition: "Getting to Know You" Geocaching

225 "Middle School" - Just the words alone can strike fear into the hearts of students and parents alike. Sixth- through eighth-grade teachers will agree these years can be the some of the toughest, and most tumultous, in a child's life. For some, it will mean a chance to advance to a higher-level floor in a familiar building, but for others it might mean acclimating to an entirely different school. While this is a wonderful opportunity to meet new friends, it may mean leaving lifelong friendships behind - which can be one of many scary steps to endure. In addition, there seems to be a laundry list of changes that middle-schoolers can expect, such as:

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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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Comments: 4

Avoiding Teacher Burnout: Celebrate You This Labor Day!

HelpTeachers, do you ever wish you could give yourself a time-out? Dealing with the different personalities and demands of our students, parents, administration, and that never-ending trail of paperwork can cause a teacher to feel overwhelmed and in need of a break. Although the school year has just started, it is always a great idea to learn different ways to prevent teacher burnout before it happens.

  

  

 

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Comments: 6

Tips for Creating Strong Teacher-Parent Relationships

 

 FcEffective communication is essential to create strong teacher-parent relationships and parental involvement. Students need the support of both teachers and parents in order to succeed academically, physically, and emotionally. Read on as I provide you with a few tips to help establish a strong relationship with your most powerful ally: parents.

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Comments: 6

Planning for the First Day of Kindergarten

Welcome to school
 
The first day of kindergarten can be both exciting and frightening for students, parents, and the teacher too. There are mixed emotions everywhere as this day marks a huge milestone in the child's life. As teachers, we need to incorporate ideas to help ease first day jitters and start the school year off on the right track. Here are a few tips to help you plan for the first day of kindergarten.

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Comments: 9

My Classroom Management Must-Haves, Part 2: Float Jars and More

Float Jar1Last week, I wrote about the color chart that I use to help my students manage their individual behavior choices. The color chart is my saving grace, but it is not the panacea for all behavior woes. This week, I am going to share some more of my favorite management strategies: The Float Jar, Table Stars, and my Homework Black Book.

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Comments: 8

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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Comments: 10

Surviving the First Six Weeks of School, Part 2: Classroom Organization

Organization pics 001 I can't reach the puzzles! Where's the glue? That's my pencil! Does any of this sound familiar? Well, if you're a teacher you have probably heard these lines before. Because of the incredible amount of material that accumulates, our classrooms can quickly become unmanageable. Having an organized classroom helps students to meet many goals throughout the day independently. It will also help you as the teacher feel confident and in control from the moment the first child enters your door. Here are a few tips to help you with classroom organization.

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Comments: 2

Creating a Professional Learning Community This Fall

DSC00001 The motto of my school district, Randolph Central, is "Learning with passion, innovation, and leadership." This serves as an excellent foundation for my teaching, as well as a reminder of how crucial it is to inspire students with our instruction. A professional learning community (PLC) is a wonderful way to focus on student learning and assess teaching practices. And in these tough economic times, in-house professional development opportunities, like PLCs, are even more attractive. Read on to learn more about creating your own professional learning community.

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Comments: 12

Surviving the First Six Weeks of School, Part 1: Classroom Setup

Scholastic picThose restful days of summer have come and gone. It's almost time to enter a new school year. As you walk back inside your school, you can immediately feel your temperature rising. You are about to come face to face with the unknown. No, it is not some bloodcurdling creature out of a horror film. It's your classroom! Finding your once-organized classroom replaced by bare walls and empty shelves can be a bit frightening. Before you begin moving things from place to place, scratching up those freshly buffed floors, read on for strategies to help you with classroom setup.

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Comments: 15

Classroom Setup: Arranging the Physical Space

classroom setuupIt won’t be long until summer is behind us and we are back at school. I’ve spent hours imagining the perfect classroom setup, and in about three weeks, it will be time to transform my thoughts into reality. Experience has taught me that details matter. How quickly I am reminded of the sheer exhaustion of classroom setup when I see furniture piled high, boxes stacked one on top of another, and closets packed full of materials. The classroom space is clean, fresh, and anything but organized! I begin my classroom setup wisely by reflecting on student learning and my teaching practices.

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Comments: 24

My Top Five Tips on How to Celebrate Summer in Style

VacationLike most teachers, I am relishing every moment of summer, but before we know it the days of grading papers and creating dynamic lesson plans will be upon us. Therefore, let's live each day of the next few weeks to the fullest so we can return to our classrooms refreshed and ready to go. Here are my top five ways to celebrate summer. You can use these tips to make the most of your time off and rejuvenate yourself and your teaching as well!

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Comments: 9

To Endings, Transitions, and New Beginnings

Kindergarten End of the Year Summer FunIt’s the end of the school year, and to kick off summer vacation, our classroom became the O.K. (Over Kindergarten) Ranch and Corral. To prepare my students for the long break, I created a calendar of summer bridge activities to give to parents. And to get ready for next year, I got some great advice from some surprise stars.

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Comments: 8

One Look Back — Two Steps Forward

F81935817Where did the year go? It seems as though I was staring at a sea of unfamiliar faces just yesterday. In a few weeks, I'll be sending them on to 7th grade. Before sending them off, I take a few moments to have them reflect on the year. What was their favorite unit? What was the most important thing they learned? How could I make their learning experiences better? Then I collaborate with colleagues for about an hour, comparing notes, celebrating our successes, and discussing areas to target.

As hectic as these last few weeks are, it is important to take time to reflect on the year and create personal and professional goals while everything is fresh in your mind.   

Photo credit: iStockphoto/Tommydickson.

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Comments: 10

Merry Math Ideas for May

Kindergarten Math Make math irresistible with three of my specialty themes popular with young children: a Counting Party, Frogs & Dogs, and The Price Is Right, Kindergarten Edition. Read on to find activity packages that make counting, number recognition, and money skills fun and exciting.

 

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Comments: 12

Common Core State Standards

MBlow0510_iStock000012975998_tortoisehareThroughout my career, I have done extensive research on world folklore. Aesop, the father of fables, has blessed us with an infamous fable, “The Tortoise and the Hare,” cautioning against hurrying to reach a goal and suggesting that the slow and steady will win the race. I cling to the wisdom of this fable as we begin our journey toward educational reform. 

Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.

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Resources for the Differentiated Classroom

Mult-Sensory Teaching In a previous post, I wrote about how you can differentiate your kindergarten classroom. Here you can read up on some of my favorite resources for multisensory teaching.

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Comments: 2

Differentiate Your Kindergarten Classroom

Differentiating in KindergartenIt's a fact: every child is unique, and as teachers we know that more than anyone else. So why do we often find ourselves trying to teach every child the same way?

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Comments: 4

Conquering Test Anxiety

Brain_lead_photoWhether it's a unit test, final exam, or high-stakes state assessment, some students will suffer from test anxiety. Ironically, it is often the student who has the least to worry about who suffers the most. Other students will tell me that they are better at math. Their brain just doesn't like to write. I use brain exercises and music to help my students conquer test anxiety and wake up both sides of their brain. Included in this post is a video demonstrating activities that activate both hemispheres of the brain and reduce stress.

Photo copyright iStockphoto/Glepi.

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Comments: 1

What We'll Do Differently Next Year

DSC01483 One of the greatest things about being teachers is that at the end of each year we can evaluate our past teaching experiences, change what didn't work, and plan new strategies with the hope of perfecting our practice. Even after sixteen years of teaching, I find that every June I ponder the passing year and decide what to get rid of, what to work on, and how to change curriculum and instruction so that come September, my classroom runs more smoothly.

I did an informal survey of teachers in my district and teaching friends across the nation, asking them, "What will you do differently next year?" Responses ranged from working on classroom management and time management to creating projects that tap into higher order thinking skills.

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Stretch Your Dime and Save Your Time

Miss Bindergarten Saves Money and Time Teachers need all the help they can get, financially and otherwise. Use these tips, shortcuts, and dollar store ideas to save your budget and your sanity.

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Open House, Mother's Day, and Father's Day, OH MY!

DSC00571 The end of the school year is around the corner, and there are still so many events to prepare for. In our school district, we have state testing the first two weeks in May. So the next month or so will be spent preparing for the state test as well as wrapping up the school year with Open House. Read on to find great crafty ideas for Mother's Day and Father's Day gifts as well as instructions for creating an easy Open House slide show.

 

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Comments: 10

Character Education and the Green Classroom

Thinking It really is easy being green. In this post, you'll find some great ideas for teaching character education in the context of the green classroom — just in time to plan for Earth Day.

 

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Comments: 12

April Fools' Day: A Foolproof Primer on Classroom Laughter

April Fools Day - Laughter and Humor in the ClassroomHappy April Fools' Day, everyone! Since today celebrates the spirit of fun, I thought I'd talk about the importance of humor and laughter in the classroom, how to utilize it, and why you don't have any excuses not to. Also, take a look at my students, caught on candid camera.

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Cool Web Tools for Teachers and Kids! Part Two

NJang_0323111_iStock_000001186054_Websurfing
Last week at the Computer-Using Educators (CUE) Conference in Palm Springs I saw a ton of great presentations. This week I am excited to share what I learned during a great presentation called "Extreme Makeover: Web Site Edition" by Brent Coley, a 5th grade teacher in Murietta, California.  Read on for ten great suggestions for making your Web site interactive, informative, and useful with FREE, easy-to-use apps!

 

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Comments: 6

State Assessments: Extended Response

SMART_Notebook_ER_picAre you feeling the pressure of state tests? With Race to the Top and looming state testing season, many of us are feeling anxious. At this point in the year, my goal is to help my 6th grade students transfer the skills they learned throughout the year to the state tests. This week's post includes resources and strategies for teaching the extended response, or essay portion, of the assessments. Included is a SMART Notebook lesson for outlining the essay and serving a little TEA to reduce anxiety.

 

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Comments: 2

Get Ready for National Poetry Month!

DSC01412 
April is National Poetry Month, the perfect time to help get reluctant readers interested in reading and analyzing poetry. It is often true that high school students struggle with poetry and have difficulty unlocking the meaning of poems. This introductory lesson helps to hook students on poetry by challenging them to solve the riddle that each poem presents. It's a great building block to more difficult and challenging analysis.

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Comments: 12

St. Patrick's Day — Mischief o' the Leprechaun

St. Patrick's Day in  Kindergarten and PreK Yesterday, there was an incident in my classroom. My students and I walked in and found it torn apart. Furniture was tipped over; supplies were scattered everywhere; the whole place was a mess. And there were funny green footprints all over . . .

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Using Lyrics for Beyond Literal Comprehension

Music FilomenaHoward Gardner suggests that intelligence is not merely being able to read or do mathematical calculations. It encompasses several different components, one of which is music. I like to use music in my classroom to manage the day and to tap into the talents of those students who are high on the musical intelligence spectrum. One way to engage these students in reading is to use lyrics to teach the difference between the literal and beyond literal meaning of texts.  

Photo courtesy of Filomena Scalise.

 

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Comments: 8

Middle School Literature Circles

IMG_5890Okay, I confess: I thrive on organization and structure in my classroom. My students like routines, and I like to know what progress each student is making on a daily basis. If you are like me, then your first experience with literature circles may just put you over the edge. Relinquishing control of my classroom was not easy. Read how I learned to let go and guide my students through the organized chaos of literature circles. 

 

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Comments: 52

Preparing for High Stakes State Testing

NJang0310iStock_000012973521_Test

In California, we do our state testing in May, but we begin reviewing and planning for it now. Second grade is the youngest grade to take state tests in California, and we take it very seriously. I hope that you will find some helpful testing tips for students and teachers in this post.

 

 

Photo Credit: Blueberries/iStockphoto

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Comments: 6

Easy Writing Ideas for Early Writers

Writing in PreK and Kindergarten“Easy writing ideas?” you ask. “But my students don’t even know how to write!” You’re in luck. These ideas are suitable for children with limited word and print knowledge, in the beginning stages of reading and writing. Each can be adapted for any ability level, from prewriter to fluent writer. By providing options for students at different stages in their literacy journey, you help them build confidence and set every child up for success in writing.

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Comments: 6

I Love to Read! Surefire Ways to Create Lifelong Book Lovers

I Love to Read Month February is “I Love to Read Month,” the perfect time to assess if your students do, in fact, love to read. Are they captivated by good stories? Does reading fill them with excitement and enthusiasm? Do they play with the sounds of language in a literature-rich environment that promotes active learning through highly engaging activities? If the answer to any of these questions is no (and even if it’s yes!), it may be time to arm yourself with a repertoire of techniques guaranteed to get every child in your class saying “I love to read!”

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Comments: 10

Compound Sentences

Fanboys_posterEach year, I make it a goal to focus on grammar. Last year, I became determined to find a solution to the problem of run-on sentences. Each time after reading student writing, I found myself repeating the age-old question, “What is a sentence?” My students could explain the components of a sentence: subject, predicate, capital letters at the beginning, and ending punctuation. With some prompting they could conclude that a sentence must have a complete thought. So, how was it that they could identify a sentence and explain what one is, and still write paragraph-long, never-ending sentences? How could I change this?

Read on to discover my solution. Included here is a SMART Board activity and a free FANBOYS poster.

 

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Comments: 12

Character Education in PreK & Kindergarten

Character Education in PreK and KindergartenWhat children learn about character in the early childhood classroom can shape their character for the rest of their lives. So how do you teach it?

 

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Comments: 2

Updates: Opera, High School Uncut SAT Vocab

DSC_0249On Friday, February 4, 2011, five sophomore boys from Revere High School had a most extraordinary experience: they got to be extras in Teatro Lirico D'Europa's performance of Donizetti's Lucia di Lammermoor at the Emerson Cutler Majestic Theatre in Boston. I've told you all before how lucky we are that Jenny Kelly, director, provides us with sixty to one hundred free tickets for each of her performances in Boston, but this was straight-up-over-the-top! Teatro operas are quite the extravaganza: there is a full orchestra, and the opera is sung in Italian with English subtitles provided on a screen above the stage. Lucia di Lammermoor features one of the most famous mad scenes in all of opera — and this was the scene in which our boys appeared as extras, as seen in the photo, standing perfectly at attention.

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Comments: 20

Literacy in Kindergarten Dramatic Play Centers, Part 2

Kindergarten Literacy CentersOne of my students' favorite dramatic play centers is a bakery. It's not only fun, it's also full of ways to practice literacy. And with a good name and logo, all it costs is a little effort.

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Comments: 4

Nonfiction Reading Sources and Strategies

Scholastic NewsHow on earth did elementary school teachers ever survive in the BG (Before Google) era? I am constantly looking to the Internet for informational text for my lessons or just my own general knowledge. Back in the day you had to actually go to the library, consult the card catalog, find the book, use the index, read the appropriate pages, and then cry because it was not the information for which you were searching. Okay, maybe that was just me, but even so today Google finds you millions of sources in under one second. Amazing!    

 

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Comments: 9

Mr. Vasicek's Classroom Music Playlist

Music 3 renjith KrishnanAfter reading my post "Music to Manage Your Classroom," some of you wanted to know some good tunes to play in your classroom. Grab your iTunes gift card and get ready to download some of the songs I use regularly in my classroom. Enjoy!

 

Photo courtesy of Rinjith Krishnan.

 

 

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Comments: 3

Martin Luther King Jr. and Common: I Have a Dream

DSC01278Today is Martin Luther King Day, and beyond the fact that they get a day off from school, I'm wondering if my students know much about the man who worked so hard to advance freedom in this country.

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Comments: 12

A Teen Soap Opera to Learn SAT Vocabulary

DSC01247 Because I teach in a low-income, urban high school, where many students do not speak English as their first language, my students often have difficulty building their vocabulary. Yet increasing their vocabulary is extremely important: vocabulary is critical to students' reading success, and a wide-ranging vocabulary helps students communicate more effectively when writing, speaking, and listening. In addition, students' confidence improves both academically and socially when their vocabulary increases. Further, students will soon face state testing, SAT testing, and Advanced Placement courses, all of which will require them to employ an ever-increasing vocabulary.

Read on to find out how my class learned new vocabulary words and so much more when they wrote and produced their own high school soap opera.

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Comments: 14

Music to Manage Your Classroom

Music Renjith Krishnan

So, you are making dinner in the kitchen while the television runs in the living room. You have completely lost track of time. All of sudden, without even looking at the clock, you realize it is 6:00 and the news is starting.  What gave you this great epiphany? Was it your radio alarm clock? Or is your internal clock that precise?  My guess is that the news program theme music triggered a brain cell that alerted you that it was 6:00.

Music is a powerful tool, one that can tell you it's time to watch the news — or help you manage your classroom.  

Images courtesy Renjith Krishnan.

 

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Comments: 1

Spending Educational Minutes Wisely

 

 

ClockWhen Paul Revere needed a job, he competed with the boys in his village. When I needed a job, I competed with the people in the metro-Detroit area. When our students need jobs, they will be competing globally. In the past we didn't need to care how other countries were preparing their children. Now it is essential.

Photo courtesy of healingdream on freedigitalphotos.net.

 

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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.