~To all of the teachers beginning a new school year ~
For all of the lessons that you plan,
All of the prep that you do,
Always doing whatever you can,
Willing to try something new.
Doing your very best each day,
To reach your students – every last one,
Not wanting to end the year asking,
Is there something else I could have done?
Teachers are a special breed,
This is nothing new,
Desiring success for your students,
It’s who you are – not just what you do.
But, when you’re frustrated and you’re tired,
Not sure if you’ll make it to the end,
Remember the students you’ve inspired,
Those you helped when they needed a friend.
With the beginning of another school year,
You’re busy and will feel some stress,
So hold on to the passion you feel right now,
Take a deep breath and just do your best.
From my classroom to yours, thank you for all that you do and will do this year. Don’t ever let there be a doubt in your mind – your hard work IS appreciated, and so are you. I hope you all have an awesome year with all of your “little lovelies”.
As a special thank you for all that you do, I also have an announcement. Tomorrow, Ann Marie Smith (Innovative Connections) and I will be launching an event that we’ve been planning for the last month! It’s called “The Ultimate Middle Years Giveaway and Blog Hop”. We have $300 worth of prizes up for grabs, and a fun blog hop that will earn you LOADS of freebies, if you choose to take part. Make sure you come back tomorrow to enter the giveaway, discover LOTS of middle school blogs to follow and maybe even grab some freebies (if you’re up for our blog hop challenge). We have planned all of this just for you guys – so I hope you take part and enjoy!
Do your students use the agendas that they’re so excited to buy that first week back to school? I’m lucky – many of my students do buy an agenda. Using it, however? That’s another story.
I’ve actually realized that I’ve been part of the problem.
I teach grade 7. I have been using the fact that I teach junior high, as an excuse of sorts. “They’re old enough to know what they need to do. If they don’t do it – that’s really their problem. I’m trying to teach them to be self-sufficient and independent here!”
Well, I’m thirty. I KNOW that I need to exercise. Do I always do it? Sometimes, I get lazy – plain and simple. Wouldn’t it be nice if I had a cheerleader helping me along? Wouldn’t I be more apt to go for a run? Well, I’m going to be more of a cheerleader to my students this year (probably in more ways than one). They know what they need to do (just like I do) but they’re going to need my help to get and stay on track.
Here are some things that I plan to share with my students to help them get on the right track with using their agendas.
Here are a few things that I’m also going to try this year, in regards to agendas.
1) Give students more time and REQUIRE that they use their agendas. I wasn’t forceful enough in the last few years with getting students to use their agendas – the result? They didn’t use them. I don’t plan on using my brute force or anything, but I do plan on setting my expectations MUCH higher!
2) Spend MORE time talking about the agendas at Meet the Teacher night - how I plan to use them, what parents can do to help etc. I plan to really talk them up!
3) We always send home monthly reports about student behaviors, homework etc. I’m thinking about switching to weekly reports and then having students staple the reports in to their agendas. Then, parents will know to ask to see the agenda each week to check out their child’s report.
I’m excited about the changes I plan to make with the use of agendas in my class this year. If you would like a copy of the tips and poster above, head over to my TeachersPayTeachers Store to grab a free copy. I hope that my raising of expectations and putting more responsibility on the students will increase their overall success!
What are your thoughts on student agendas?
UPDATE: Thank you so much everyone for voting! I won:)
I’ve seen this little badge of honor on so many blogs that I look up to and admire. Who knew? Now it’s my turn!
I’m very excited to share with you that Lessons From The Middle has been nominated for Most Fascinating Blog 2012, in the Middle School Teacher category. It sounds so cheesy but, “It’s an honor just to be nominated”.
I started this blog to share ideas that I have and that I find from other teachers, to collaborate with educators from all over, to save teachers time, to inspire, to learn, and to engage teachers in conversations about education. I started just 6 months ago, but I have learned so much from so many and I hope that I’ve reciprocated that knowledge as well.
I would very much appreciate your vote for this blog award. I’d love to display the “Winner” badge, rather than just the “Nominated” badge! (Although it’s pretty cool to have that nominated badge there. ) It’s just the glory I’m looking for with this one. There is a great prize for the winner too, but since I’m Canadian, I can’t claim it anyway. Oh well! I’ll take the glory over a monetary prize any day – and not just because I have to
Thanks for taking the time out of your jam-packed days to read my blog. I put a lot of effort into it and I still have a lot more to say.
Teachers Pay Teachers is having their annual Back to School sale August 12th-13th. They’ll be offering their usual 10% off, with many store owners offering up to an additional 20% off.
This is so exciting! I’m thrilled to welcome Neil, Lessons From The Middle’s first guest blogger. Neil is from the UK. He’s been teaching for two years, at the primary level. He has a passion for physical activity and recently started a blog focussing on physical activity and outdoor education. He practises what he preaches – he’s worked as a camp councillor and is a canoeing instructor. Although Neil teaches in the primary grades, his message is one for all teachers of all grades and subject levels.
We all know the stats: Approximately a third of children in the US, Canada and the UK are obese. Children are getting fatter and may not live as long as their parents. I don’t want to dwell on the problem, but what is our role as educators to find a solution? Children spend around 6 hours a day at school and a lot of that time can be spent being pretty inactive. So I think as the olympics loom on the horizon, it’s a good time to start to talk to our classes about their lifestyle. What if every teacher spent an extra 5 minutes a week of our class time being active? Wouldn’t that make our children’s lives a bit less sedentary? I think that over time, it could start to make a nation fitter and healthier.
Healthy living should be like English - a subject that spans the curriculum and an area that every teacher has an obligation to teach well, no matter what their subject specialty. I’m not going to suggest that children should be constantly active in the classroom. There are lots of times when a calm quiet approach is the best way to get our learning across. But there are also those moments in a classroom, when we have a few minutes to spare or when the class appears restless, that using an active approach would enhance our teaching and the children’s enjoyment. So I wanted to share a few ideas to make your lessons full of beans.
An active few minutes:
I apologise if I’m preaching to the converted, but I find in the busy world of teaching – it’s always good to have the occasional reminder. So here are a few ideas for those quick breaks in the middle of your lessons to refocus children’s concentration. Action games are the best place to start. Games like Simon Says, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes can be adapted and put to good use in the younger grades. Music can work well depending on the dynamic of your class. You can simply play some music for 1 minute and just get your class to dance. Displaying songs with actions like the Cha, Cha Slide on your whiteboard is another option. Another idea is to lead some actions yourself and get the children to copy. I like to play the game where I repeat an action four times and then switch to a different action. But whatever action I am doing, the children have to repeat the action that I did previously.
If your lesson includes any kind of matching activity, then why not turn it into a relay race? Place all of the items at one end of a hall or outdoor space and the children have to run and collect each item one at a time. While this is happening the other children in the group can be matching. This is a good way to involve everyone in group work and helps to stop one child from taking over.
I have a lot of children in my class who have English as a second language and this next idea is a way of teaching language structure, as well as getting your class more active. Pick a short paragraph of information from your lesson. It could be a science definition or a poetic verse that you would like them to learn, about 6 lines or so should be enough. Then, photocopy it for each group. You’ll need a bit of room, so you’ll either have to take your class outside or clear some tables. Place the photocopied text at one end of the room and split the children into groups at the other end with some blank paper and pens. This is basically another form of a relay race – the children have to run to the other end of the classroom and memorize one line of text, then they run back and write it down. It doesn’t sound too tricky, right? Well, the catch is that the copied text must be perfect. So, no spelling mistakes and no incorrect punctuation. You can award points for the first team to finish and for the most accurate copy.
Name everyone in your class as a type of fruit: Bananas, strawberries, pineapples and mangos. Then, when your class need to stretch their legs you say the name of the fruit. If you said “Strawberry” everyone who was named that fruit would swap places with the other children who were strawberries. If you feel brave shout “Fruit salad” and everyone has to swap seats.
This classic game is a good way to summarise a topic or to get children to explain different concepts. Get each table to think of a key word or concept from your lesson. Then, they have to act it out while the rest of the class have to guess what the word or idea is. This is a good way to get children thinking and moving.
So next week, try to include 5 minutes of activity in your lessons. Here are a few more exercise ideas, if you need them.
Neil @ www.outdooradventurous.com
Again, I’d like to thank Neil for his guest blog post. Please visit his new blog: Outdoor and Adventurous.
I totally agree with adding more physical and/or outdoor activities to our classrooms when we can. Although it can be a challenge – especially in Canada in the winter;) It’s important! Just the other day, we were doing a writing activity in class and it was such a nice afternoon that I took my class outside to write. We took a five-minute walk from class to a sunny spot outside, and also enjoyed some fresh air!
As you get up in the older grades, you have to be a little more creative, I think, to get the kids active. There are issues with self-consciousness, and space as the kids get physically bigger. That being said, I think we’ve all looked at our classes and thought – you just need to get up and move around! So, take Neil’s advice and try to add just five minutes of movement into your class. Trust me, your students will appreciate it – especially at this time of the year! And, I know what you’re thinking…but there are lots of simple ways to get them back into their seats when the activity is over. It’s like anything else – a routine to be taught. Well done Neil!
Want to be a Guest Blogger?
If you would like to write a guest post for Lessons From The Middle, I’d love to have you! Please, send me an email with your post attached. It should be about education, either for all grades OR the middle grades. Please be sure to include where you’re currently teaching, 3 interesting things about yourself and how long you’ve been teaching, so that I can introduce you to my readers. You can also email me with any questions. I look forward to hearing from you!
Okay, so I am like a bad child. I’ve got a BIG secret to tell you! Big! Huge! But I’m not supposed to say anything…yet….Oh but it’s so sweet! I really want to tell you! But I can’t…
I’m super excited because of this gigantic announcement, although I really can’t let you in on the secret until tomorrow. I just had to give you a heads-up!
You’ve GOT to come back tomorrow so that I can fill you in on the big news. Unless you guess what the big news is! Hmm… what could it be?
Make sure that you check back tomorrow so that I can fill you in on this HUGE announcement that’s sure to make all of you wonderful teachers happy. You really don’t want to miss out! I promise!