Happy Hallo–STEAM!

Happy Hallow-steam

Halloween can be a scary time of year for educators SmartBrief Ed Choice Award

— candy, costumes, calamity — oh my!

In this season of changing leaves, could it be time to change our mindsets as well? Can we turn the season of “boo” into a season of “oooh” in our classrooms this fall?

Here are some ideas on how to use the crispness of autumn and some tasty candy sensations to sweeten some lessons for your students this Halloween.

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I Want to Get Better at… Organization Next Year

Summer 2017 I want to get better at...

The daily craziness of being a teacher can make it hard to stay organized. Just when you’ve got your desk cleared off, stacks of papers come flying in. Or right after you spent time tidying up, in come students to mess everything up again.

This summer, you won’t have students in your classroom. You won’t even be in your classroom! But that doesn’t mean you can’t start thinking about how to make classroom organization go more smoothly next year. In fact, taking a step back and planning systems that work can be more productive than acting reactively to every pile of papers.

If you’re looking to get better at organization, these resources can help!

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PodcastPodcastDo the Write Thing: Working to Stop Violence Through Writing

Editor’s Note: Hear more about this program from Executive Director Basma Rayess in our #anewkindofPD podcast episode found on iTunes and Stitcher.

Michael had suffered for years as the result of his mother’s alcoholism. A teacher encouraged Michael to participate in a program where students could write about their experiences with violence. Michael wrote a powerful poem describing the disappointment, anger, and fear he felt with the situation, but he had no intention of having his mother read it. However, he needed a parental signature so he showed it to his mother with great trepidation. When she read it, she was silent, but something tremendous happened. The poem helped his mother make a commitment to get sober and she has been so ever since.
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Animating The Classroom

TED youth Brooklyn museum November 2015

TEDYouth conference at the Brooklyn Museum. November, 2015. Photo by Ryan Lash for TED via Flickr

It was outstanding. Under the soft glow of the mighty brass chandeliers of the Beaux Arts Court of the Brooklyn Museum, learning stations — many decorated with a splash of iconic TED red — were scattered about the restored glass tile floor like a handful of strategically tossed jacks. As I bounced about the room, I watched 400 students smile with delight, scrambling to engage, create, and collect the vast knowledge available in the room. They vibrated with energy and I knew in an instant that this conference would be extraordinary.

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Reimagine Your Learning Space: Starbucks Your Classroom!

Hey!

It’s been awhile since we’ve seen each other. I know we don’t talk that often these days, so I thought I’d drop you a line and see what’s been happening with you.

How are you? How’s your summer? Hot? Are you chillin’ like a villain? Doing some grillin’? I wish I was… But I’m not. I’m kinda’ blah right now. I’m bored. And I’m boring, too. I’ve looked the same for centuries, and that’s a long time. Trust me.

Look, I’m not saying it’s your fault. And, I’m not saying you don’t care. I’m just saying that I’m in need of an update in the worst way… I’m Outdated. Constricting. Confining. Compromising. I’m Obsolete! You know what I’m saying? I want a change. I need a change. I must change!

No more rows, columns, grey, and gloom. No more control — it’s an illusion.

Collaboration is where it’s at. Communication, creativity, and critical thinking are what I want to emulate, stimulate, cultivate, and propagate.

What you say mate?

How about some couches, armchairs, coffee tables, high tables with stools, restaurant style tables, standing tables, a rug, and maybe even a yoga mat? How about you make me look like Starbucks, but cooler? Can you do this for me?

I promise you won’t be disappointed and the kids will love it.

Stay cool.

Yours truly,

Your Classroom

Boring Classroom

What Does Your Classroom Communicate?

As teachers, we spend a great deal of time in our classrooms. Sometimes it may even feel like we’ve moved in. I imagine our students feel the same. If we’re going to spend most of our time in our rooms, the space should feel good. It should feel comfortable. A classroom should inspire creativity and productivity, but that’s not always our reality. When something is off in your classroom — when your design lags behind your teaching style — you can feel it. It’s almost as if your classroom is trying to tell you something needs to change.

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If A Teacher Were To Build An App . . .

There’s an urban legend in education that says new teachers will begin their careers as “roamers,” or traveling teachers, in overcrowded high schools. I suppose I was an anomaly. I had my own, beautiful classroom for my first year of teaching, but the glory was short lived. I became a “roamer” in my second year. Traveling to five different classrooms — one for each passing period — isn’t exactly thrilling. Needless to say, I was very disappointed to be displaced.

Was I really going to let this little setback ruin my year? Of course not!

Rather than looking at my new situation as a problem, I used this experience as an opportunity to try something brand new; something completely outside the box. I would redefine classroom. I would build a mobile app — a “mobile classroom” to fill the void.

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Beyond Being Nice


When I was in the classroom, I had the good fortune to have a team teacher. We were very similar in our personalities, and that sometimes caused tension, especially when we were first getting to know each other. The first few weeks of our five year relationship were very cordial. We were testing the waters and seeing how the other person operated in the classroom. We tried to figure out how to make our teaching styles and pedagogical beliefs work together, all while getting to know our new students and some of our colleagues. We joked later on that it was like all the adults were dressed for prom, done up in their best outfits and afraid to get dirty. Lucky for me, about a quarter way into the school year, the prom dresses “came off” and we quickly moved into giving each other critical feedback on practice and really tried to mesh our styles and beliefs, not just make them work.

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Boosting Your Practice: Anytime is a Good Time With These 12 Tips

Now that we’re getting back into the groove of the classroom, it can be a good opportunity to try some new things, improve on the old, and reignite your classroom vision. With help from Instructional Coach Katie Lyons, I’ve come up with a list of quick adjustments to your practice that will have big payoffs:

1. Revamp classroom management: Do you have some classroom management loose ends? Take some time to hash out those situations with your students and revisit classroom expectations. Together with the students, form new expectations if necessary, and the consequences for not meeting them.

2. Get organized: Are ungraded papers cluttering your desk? Create an organization system that is easy to manage. If you don’t have them already, create a file folder for each student. Have three baskets available on your desk for papers returned, papers that need to be graded, and papers that need to be filed.

Boost Your Practice

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: eweiland@teachingchannel.org.

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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