Classroom Solutions > 85 posts categorized "Technology"

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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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Art and Poetry Through the Year: Notebooks and Keepsakes for Your Students

How Do You Do

Students in 1st grade need to have many experiences in language arts to become independent readers and writers. Shared reading is a great way for students to “play” with language to become fluent readers. Fluency is further developed when children have ample opportunities to read text that is familiar and easy for them. In my class, we love to use poetry to build our fluency. Read on to find out more about our poetry notebooks and our yearlong poetry keepsake project.

 

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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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Extra, Extra, Read All About It! Current Events in the Classroom

Reading News on the SubwayOne of my personal goals this year is to read the newspaper every single day, regardless of how many student essays I need to read or how crazy my morning commute. I want to be aware of the world around me, and I am committed to living a more news-literate life. I bought a newspaper subscription for my Kindle, and at the very least, I am going to read the news while I take the subway to and from school.

While working on myself, I also consider my students’ current events literacy. I want to help my students to become informed young citizens and lifelong news readers. However, finding time for current events during our jam-packed school day has always posed a challenge. In this post, I'll share some of the solutions I've found. However, my current events curriculum is very much a work in progress, so I would love to hear how you cover world events in your classroom. 

Photo: One of my students reading a newspaper on the subway during a field trip. I need to learn from her!

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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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Tips on Creating a Kindergarten Classroom Blog

Blogaholic Designs”=This year I'm creating a classroom blog for the first time. Needless to say, I simply love it! I have truly become a blogaholic. Creating a blog for your classroom will unlock the doors to a new world of communication. Read on as I introduce you to this virtual learning community and guide you through the steps for creating your own classroom blog.

 

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Poetic Beginnings: Four Poetry Lessons to Get to Know Your Students

Amys PoemMany curriculum guides would have us believe that poetry and April are conjoined twins, never to be parted, but we teachers know better. Poetry is powerful stuff, and cramming it into a single month is unfair to our students and to poetry! In my class, we read, write, and publish poetry throughout the year, and I frontload the first two months of school with even more poetry. We gain deep insights about each other while sharing our poetry, we luxuriate in words, and we celebrate creative risks –- important back-to-school practices. Here are four of my back-to-school poetry lessons that I use to get to really know my students.

 

Amy shares one of her published poems.

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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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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 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: 38

What’s in a Name? A Back-to-School Literacy Unit

NametagDuring the first few weeks of school, I always find it challenging to come up with a meaningful unit of study so that my students can feel as though they are accomplishing something beyond learning a bunch of routines. There’s the obvious imperative to build our classroom community. On top of that, the empty bulletin boards in the classroom are glaring at us, demanding student work so our classroom can begin to look “lived in.”

Last year, I had wonderful results using a name unit as our first shared literacy experience. Read on to find out what my students did. (This post includes a list of read-alouds and graphic organizers to support the unit.)

 

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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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Celebrate Writing and Young Authors!

DSC00722Every day in my classroom students spend time writing, either by themselves or with partners. Some students illustrate books while others peer edit or meet with me. Every week, we have Writers Workshop in our classroom, and when a student has a completed book, they present it at Author's Chair. I am pleased to share with you a fun Author's Chair video featuring several of my students. Enjoy!

Giveaway winners announced at the end of this post!

 

 

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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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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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Celebrating Eric Carle and The Tiny Seed

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One of my favorite children's book authors and illustrators is Eric Carle. He is one of our classroom favorites as well. A while back, I even had the pleasure of hearing him read The Very Hungry Caterpillar LIVE at the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books. Read on to get some fabulous resources for The Tiny Seed, watch a book trailer featuring Eric Carle, and listen to our Tiny Seed podcast!

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Chu Ju’s House by Gloria Whelan

BookcoverThis year, I was blessed to receive a class set of Chu Ju's House by Gloria Whelan, which tells the story of Chu Ju, a 14-year-old Chinese girl struggling to survive in a country where males are traditionally valued more than females. When Chu Ju's parents decide to give her baby sister away because of the One-Child Policy, Chu Ju leaves home with her. Teaching literature from other cultures requires a considerable amount of background knowledge. However, it is exciting learning about different cultures, and that excitement spreads through the class.

After reading Chu Ju’s House, students engage in a mini research project, exploring an aspect of Chinese culture alluded to in the novel. This assists the students in developing a thorough understanding of the legal and cultural conflicts presented in the novel. In this post, you'll find a study guide, instructions for a vocabulary wall mobile, and  SMART Notebook activities.

 

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Paying It Forward

ParentteacherWhen I attend a conference, my goal is to come away with techniques, ideas, or information that will improve my teaching, and my greatest hope is to leave inspired. This year at the Computer-Using Educators conference, both my goal and my hope were realized. Today I want to introduce one of the people who made this happen last week. He's amazing both in how he uses technology in his classroom, and also in who he is as a person and as a teacher. He is one of the people that I aspire to be more like. His name is Brent Coley, and I'm honored to have him write a guest post for this blog.

 


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Cool Web Tools for Teachers and Kids! Part Two

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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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Cool Web Tools for Teachers and Kids! Part One

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I just came home from a fantastic technology conference in Palm Springs called Computer-Using Educators, or CUE, and my head is about to explode (in a good way). I would love to share some of these fantastic cool tools and apps with you. If you ever do any projects online or offline, have an iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch, or are just a tech geek like me, hold on to your heads for some AMAZING tools that you can use right away, to make teaching easier in almost any grade level or to make your life easier at home. Special thanks to all the presenters at CUE for inspiring others to bring tech into their classrooms! Read on to check out some super amazing techy things to do with your class and some cool apps for you!

 

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The Historical News Broadcast

Vasicek ClapboardHave you ever wondered what a news report might have looked like if television had existed in the time of cavemen or Columbus? One of my favorite cross-curricular projects this year, blending technology and social studies, was a lesson I call the Historical News Broadcast.

 

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Children of the Holocaust

IMG_5864 I recently received my February 28, 2011, issue of Time magazine. On the cover was a picture of youths from around the world with the subtitle, “The Generation Changing the World.” In my classroom, we are transitioning from the protests in the Middle East to the Holocaust. After introducing the literature circle books for the unit, I held up the Time issue and Yellow Star by Jennifer Roy and posed the question, “Why would Hitler fear the youth?” The question set my students on fire. The biggest problem of the day was tracking all the books that started flying out of my room. The resources below will help you create an English language arts and social studies integrated unit on the Holocaust.

 

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Comments: 12

Analyzing Characters with WALTeR

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One day, I was driving to school, pondering my frustration over the impending state test dates that were approaching, yet my students were still struggling with identifying specific details to support a character trait. It was apparent they needed another approach. They needed a mnemonic device to help them remember the type of details that would help them succeed, so I created WALTeR, a guide for identifying text-based relevant details that BEST support their claim. Walter needed to be memorable, someone they could visualize and remember. (Clip art created with ToonDoo.com by Mary Blow)

 

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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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Making the Most of Your School Computer Lab

BoywithComputers   Credit: netbritish/Shutterstock

Teaching today has its challenges, especially if you're not comfortable teaching computer and information technology skills. Our students have never known a world without the Internet, computers, cell phones, and Xboxes. They were born into a world of technology and take to it like ducks to water. You can make going to the computer lab a weekly occurrence even if your district doesn't have a computer teacher to man it. Read on for some helpful hints on how to make the most of your computer lab visits.

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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: 5

Digital Communication: Student-Designed Commercials

Movie ReelBeing able to effectively communicate in the 21st century is essential. Advertisers have efficient communication down to an art. (And at $3 million for a 30-second Superbowl slot, they'd better!) They must pick the perfect story, image, background, words, and music to engage an audience and sell a product in under a minute. By creating their own commercials, students learn to pay attention to detail and discover some fun technology.  

 

Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono.

 

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Comments: 8

Protests Prompt Change in Egypt

01_AP110130027268Why is the world concerned about the protests in Egypt? Throughout world history, there have been many historical protests. People assemble and protest for many different reasons: political, financial, social, religious, etc. Whatever the reason, change is the ultimate goal. Some of these protests have led to significant changes while others have been less effective. Whether or not a protest brings about significant or positive change, the fact remains that people, if suppressed and silenced, will assemble and protest whether or not it is a constitutional right. The following resources and activities provide the opportunity for students to explore world protests by comparing and contrasting past protests with current events in Egypt.

Photo: An Egyptian mother hugs her child as she watches thousands of Egyptian protesters gather at Tahrir square in Cairo, Egypt, on Sunday, January 30, 2011. Copyright Amr Nabil/AP Images.

 

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Danger on the Internet: A Lesson in Critical Thinking

Internet Danger SalvatoreArguments on Jerry Springer, cat fights on Jersey Shore, WWE wrestling — the line between reality and manufactured entertainment is forever being blurred. My momma always said, Don't believe everything you read. Don't believe everything you see. These phrases are more true today than ever before. With all the recent technological advancements, it is increasingly difficult to tell the real from the fake. We must arm our students with critical-thinking skills so they can separate the fact from the fiction and use the Internet safely.

Photo courtesy of Salvatore Vuono.

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Scripps Spelling Bee

Liam andreDo your students compete in a spelling bee? After months of preparation, the Scripps National Spelling Bee competition is under way. Last week, Lowville Academy hosted a local level of the spelling bee. Mrs. Petzoldt, our 8th grade English teacher, coached the students and chaired the event. Read on to find resources to support students in their quest to compete in the Scripps National Spelling Bee, an annual event.

 

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Comments: 4

Resources That Bring Poetry to Life

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Nothing makes me happier than coming across a good resource, a one-stop gold mine. In this post, I am sharing my favorite poetry resources with hopes that it will save you precious time. The resources are used by teachers to design interactive lessons and by students in designing poetry projects or presentation: acting out poems, imitating poems, writing poems, and collecting favorite poems or lines to keep in a journal.

 

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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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Netbooks in the Classroom

IMG_5485 What does a 21st century classroom look like? This year, as a part of a federal building grant, our school district purchased 11 wireless portable computer carts, each of which houses 27 netbooks. Over the past month, I have been piloting a wireless portable computer cart in my classroom. There have been many hurdles along the way; however, empowering each student by giving them a computer has been enlightening and exhilarating. The rewards are well worth all the time and effort I have put into piloting them.    

 

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Video Booktalks — Booktalk 101

Lightning_theif_anna Have you ever had one of those moments when you begin teaching a well-planned lesson, and the students’ enthusiasm takes it in an entirely new direction? This happened to me at the beginning of the school year. My students and I were sharing our favorite books in the classroom when the idea transpired to record our booktalks like a talk show. So, we grabbed our flip camera and started recording. In the process, we learned that there were some key elements to creating a successful, engaging talk show. Throughout the year, as we create more video booktalks, we will be evaluating what we create and striving for improvement.

There are six video booktalks included in this post.

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Friendly Letters: Giving Thanks at Thanksgiving

Friendly_letters_SMART_board_title_page Thanksgiving is the perfect time to immerse students in an authentic writing experience. In my class, we write friendly letters to give thanks to a family member, friend, neighbor, or former teacher who has had an impact on our lives. Although my goal is to teach the friendly letter, the students learn the value of taking the time to let others know how much they inspire us and how much we appreciate them. Included in this article is a SMART Notebook lesson and a video that illustrates how to use the interactive components.

 

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Teaching Word Processing Skills in English Class

TypingI can’t imagine being proficient at my job without keyboarding skills. There is too much to do with so little time. Likewise, the ability to use a word processor to communicate is important to our students’ success in school and in the real world. However, at the 6th grade level, many students are still developing keyboarding skills. For this reason, it is essential that I include keyboarding in my middle school curriculum. Otherwise, utilizing technology as a form of communication is counterproductive. It consumes too much instructional time. We know that students pick up keyboarding easily. The texting generation is very quick with the thumb. They simply need the tools and the practice to expand this skill to all ten fingers.

Included in this article are videos on formatting essays in Microsoft Word and inserting footnotes into Microsoft Word documents.

 

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Comments: 1

Student-Led Parent-Teacher Conferences

Conferences 006When I was a kid, I always worried about Parent-Teacher Conference Night. What would my parents say to embarrass me? What would my teacher say I was really like at school? I like to reduce that anxiety in my own students by inviting them to lead the conference. Below is my anxiety reducing recipe for student-led conferences.

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Comments: 2

Student Planned Parties

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I was strolling through the hardware store yesterday and saw Christmas items slowly invading the Seasonal Item aisle. Seriously!? As annoying as the sight of premature holiday items can be, it did serve as a reminder that I needed to start the wheels in motion for a Halloween celebration in my classroom. My students do all the planning, and they often require extra time as they are just beginning to develop the skills of organization and budgeting.

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Comments: 4

Magazines in the 21st Century Classroom

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I don't have a textbook, nor do I want one. I use magazines and trade books in my classroom. We live in the information age, and magazines are vehicles for accessing up-to-date information in the classroom. Magazines also provide the opportunity to integrate content area subjects into English language arts classes. I like magazines because the passages are short, so students get repeated exposure to multiple genres on varying topics, which is a quick way to build background knowledge. Below is a SMART Board lesson using Storyworks magazine that illustrates how much can be taught with two nonfiction magazine articles. (Download a SMART Notebook interactive lesson.)

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Comments: 24

Fun, FREE Educational Web Sites for Kids

Kidcomputer  
Kids are naturally drawn to the computer with its fun animations and cool games. It's one stop for shopping, entertainment, fun, and games. Here are a few Web sites that I use in my class to give a little extra practice in a skill for my below level kids, some challenge activities for my top students, and reviews for my on level students. Sometimes, I use the sites as extension activities or for homework. All of the sites are free and some of them have a premium version that includes more activities and some teacher tools. Leave a comment to be eligible for a GIVEAWAY at the end of the post!

Photo courtesy of Microsoft Office Clipart.

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Comments: 11

Differentiated Instruction

First Week Friday 002

Two words that are pounded into every rookie teacher’s head.Two words that are uttered at staff meetings across the globe. Two words that together pull up more than 324,000 results on Google. What are these two words? Differentiated Instruction. 

This blog contains two short video demonstrations of the ideas in action. Photo: Students kinesthetically learning science vocabulary. 

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Comments: 11

Teaching English Language Arts to the Tough Kids

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It's back to school time, and we all have dreams of reaching each and every student. However, there are some kids who just hate English class! I know. I can't imagine it, either. When I hear students say "I hate to read " or "I hate writing," I might as well be hearing them say "I hate water" because I am so appalled.

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Comments: 10

Using Web 2.0 Tools in Your Classroom

Computer
There are many teachers at various levels of tech savviness that are charging into the classroom armed with awesome tools from the Web. Many of these programs can be used with kids and adults in many capacities. Your imagination will determine how to use it. The sky's the limit!

Clip art licensed from the Clip Art Gallery on DiscoverySchool.com.

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Comments: 4

Curriculum Night

003 In Chippewa Valley, and most of Michigan, the first day of school is the Tuesday after Labor Day. As we prepare for the arrival of the students, we also need to gear up to meet the parents. Schools do this in a variety of ways. Some schedule a casual Open House while others schedule a more formal Curriculum Night. Below are some tips that may help you make a positive first impression.


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Comments: 24

Establishing a Middle School Community

Glogster_mblow During the first week of school, my top priority is welcoming the incoming 6th graders into our middle school community. This year, I decided to use an EduGlogster poster, a digital poster, as the ice breaker activity.

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Comments: 8

Welcome to Nancy Jang's Classroom

NANCY_J My name is Nancy Jang and I have been teaching 2nd grade for twelve years at Woodland Elementary School in Newport-Mesa Unified School District. The unique grade configuration of the school — kindergarten to second grade — enables us to specifically target our funding and resources to primary instruction and interventions. Since our school boundaries include two cities, Costa Mesa and Newport Beach, the socioeconomic backgrounds of our students are quite diverse. Each classroom serves approximately twenty students, with about seven classes per grade level.

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Comments: 7

Welcome to Mary Blow's Classroom

Mary I teach 6th grade English at Lowville Academy Middle School in New York’s Black River Valley, located in the rolling foothills of the Adirondack Mountains.

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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.