Best Teacher Gifts For the Holidays

Halloween is here, which means that the winter holidays are just around the corner!

gift box with ribbonMany of us at Teaching Channel are former teachers, and we recently swapped fun anecdotes of our most memorable gifts from students and colleagues. We agreed that it can be difficult to find gifts that aren’t just “stuff.” There are gifts we want (Amazon gift cards!); gifts we need (new classroom supplies); and thoughtful gestures like homemade treats or handwritten notes. Gifts can either be professional, like a book on teaching strategies, or they can have a more personal touch, like a gift certificate to a local restaurant.

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Video Playlist: 6 Ways to Build Relationships with Students

In these videos, you’ll find tips to help build authentic relationships with your students and define your classroom culture.

1. Creating a “Comfortable” Classroom Environment: Middle school can be a sensitive age where students may start feeling anxious about belonging in their communities. Mr. Van Dyck puts students at ease with verbal and nonverbal indicators, and encourages students to be themselves around him.

2. Advisory: Check-In and Support and Building Student-Advisor Relationships: Having a time and place where students can talk about their lives and receive support from peers and teachers can go a long way in creating a positive class culture. Advisories can be helpful in both small groups or one-on-one with educators and students.

3. Making it Personal in the Classroom: Ms. Koch shows how sharing personal anecdotes makes students feel safe and more inclined to open up to her about their lives.

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Your Body Language Speaks Volumes: 6 Tips for Teachers

Start off your school year on the right foot! Here are 6 body language tips to help with classroom management:

1. Lesson Starters: From the moment her students walk through the door, Ms. Bubb demonstrates that they have her undivided attention, making students more likely to focus on Ms. Bubb and her instructions.

2. My Teacher Look: Keep students on track and redirect behavior with just one look. Every teacher needs one of these. Watch how Ms. Noonan uses her “Teacher Look,” and come up with one of your own.

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12 Fresh Ideas for Social Studies

Editor’s Note: In this new series of blogs that we’re calling “Fresh Ideas,” we’ll be sharing a variety of resources for different subject areas, and we hope some or all of these will be new to you. If there are topics you’d like to see covered, or if you have suggestions for resources that should be included, send a note to:

Teaching Social StudiesWhen it comes to lesson planning, it can be a challenge to make information feel fresh and exciting (for both teachers and students). In an effort to mix things up, we’re taking a look at some novel approaches to teaching a variety of subjects. In this blog, we’re looking at resources for social studies.

You probably won’t be able to incorporate all of these resources into your classroom, but hopefully they’ll spark your creativity and inspire you to think about your curriculum in a different way.

Have more fresh ideas? We’d love to hear about them! Share your own classroom successes in the comments section below.

Best for Elementary School

1. The Sport of Life and Death: This site won a slew of awards for its thorough and interactive examination of life in ancient Mesoamerica. The website provides a history of the region, as well as suggestions for in-class projects, and a game that assesses what students have learned.

2. Mummify a Chicken: Yes, you read that correctly. With a few inexpensive ingredients, you can demonstrate firsthand how the ancient Egyptians prepared and mummified human remains. This is a somewhat long-term project (and not for the squeamish), but certainly memorable. It’s also an effective way to pair social studies with science.

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Video Playlist: Four Steps to Get You Reading Like a Historian

“Reading Like a Historian” is a strategy developed by Stanford University in which students approach history by reading primary source documents. Anchored by these texts, students explore different perspectives of historical events and develop opinions based on their reading.

Here are the key videos in this series:

1. Overview: This is a general introduction to the series that lays out how “reading like a historian” works, and its benefits. Professor Sam Wineburg, Director of the Stanford University History Education Group, says, “The first thing that this program does that is very different from a conventional history class, is that it turns history into a series of questions, instead of a series of answers.”

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Video Playlist: Educating Digital Citizens

Digital Literacy, or the ability to use information and communication technologies to find, evaluate, create, and communicate information, is an essential skill in the modern world. People need to be more than just tech savvy; they must also be able to leverage technology efficiently and responsibly.

We’ve put together a playlist showing how teachers are educating students on a number of different technology-related issues, including security, research, and etiquette.

1. Super Digital Citizen: What does it mean to be a digital citizen? How can you use the Internet safely, responsibly, and effectively? Mr. Pane’s lesson helps students answer these questions and more.

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Video Playlist: 7 Minutes, 7 Attention-Getting Moves


This summer, Teaching Channel will be helping beginning teachers countdown to their first year of teaching. We’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take before the first day of school.

Being able to quickly and effectively get the attention of students is a crucial skill for any teacher. Without it, teachers can’t give directions, move on to new activities, assign work, provide feedback, or facilitate class conversations.

We’ve put together seven attention-getting methods geared towards several different age groups.

Have your own attention getting idea? Post it in the comments section below!

1. Attention-Getting Signals: One Spot: Mr. Romagnolo gets the attention of his class by designating a particular spot in the classroom, where he asks them to focus on him. The key to taking this tack, he says, is setting up a consistent routine so that students always know what is expected of them.

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Video Playlist: Six Videos to Incorporate Complex Texts

This video playlist is designed to help you include more complex texts into your lessons. Learn more about where these texts fit in the Common Core State Standards, and find strategies that will help you incorporate complex texts into your lessons.


1. This is a broad overview that includes where complex texts fit into the Common Core State Standards, and provides a three-part model for how to measure the texts and choose appropriate readings.

The way we layer text impacts complexity


2. Teaching complex texts can be challenging, particularly in classes where students vary in their linguistic and reading comprehension abilities. Ms. Langlois engages all of her students by having them discuss readings of varying difficulty in small groups, and then reporting back to a home group. This is a way for everyone in the class to absorb the material.


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Videos and Resources for Making STEM Come Alive

DOWNLOAD a PDF of this STEM Playlist

Over the next several years, 80% of the fastest growing occupations in the United States depend on employees skilled in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). To maintain our global competitiveness and leadership in these fields, our students must become proficient in STEM concepts, and more importantly, they must want to learn more. This playlist features classroom projects that students will remember long after a class is over.

See how you can make STEM come alive in the classroom:

1. STEM Design Challenge: Edible Cars: In this video students engineer cars using different types of food. Students gain experience with various STEM-related skills, such as problem-solving, working collaboratively, research, and planning and executing a design process.

2. Experimenting with STEM: The Barbie Bungee Jump: Mr. Roda’s class uses Barbie dolls and rubber bands to perform experiments and calculate the line of best fit.

3. The Heat Loss Project: A STEM Exploration: This project combines technology and engineering to explore the abstract concept of thermal energy and how it works.

More STEM Resources

Essential Reading List for Deeper Learning


To provide you with more information about Deeper Learning and the approaches some schools are taking, we’ve compiled a list of “great reads” written by our Deeper Learning experts.

1. Ron Berger, Chief Academic Officer at Expeditionary Learning

Leaders of Their Own Learning

Leaders of Their Own Learning: Transforming Schools Through Student-Engaged Assessment by Ron Berger, Leah Rugen, Libby Woodfin and Expeditionary Learning. (2014)

Leaders of Their Own Learning tackles the issue of student assessment by having students continually track, reflect, and report on their progress in achieving targets or goals they set for themselves. By engaging students in their own assessment, learners become more motivated and take greater ownership over their learning.

An Ethic of Excellence: Building a Culture of Craftsmanship with Students by Ron Berger. (2004)

Ron Berger lays out the case for creating a school-wide “ethic of excellence,” providing realistic tips on how teachers, parents, and students can commit to a higher quality of education.

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