To Text or Not to Text: Part II

During the first weeks of school, you will need to set the expectations your students should follow for the entire year.  One question you are bound to hear is, 

"Can we use our smartphones?" 

For years I fought this "change" in education.  NO!  Absolutely not!  If I see it, it goes in my desk drawer!  And then, I realized, it was happening anyway, only the phones were not being used productively.  Instead, they were hidden in their laps where they thought I couldn't see them.  So, what do I do?  Just give in?  Yes!  With structure.

Cell phones, and especially smartphones, can be a valuable tool in the classroom.  They can quickly access current events, they can be used as a dictionary or thesaurus, they can be first-stop shopping for research, and with apps and other school-friendly resources, they can become quiz buzzers, survey responders, and so much more.

So, how do you set the stage in these first days of school?
  • Include your use expectations in your syllabus and post them on your classroom expectations posters.
  • Discuss your policy on the first day of school, and every day thereafter until you are confident in the clarity and understanding of your policy.
  • And practice!
And then the policies are key!
  • All phones sit on the top of the desk, screen down, unless in class use.
  • All phone sounds must be in off mode, unless during an activity requiring sound.
  • Phones used inappropriately will be taken away immediately!
Finally, use the right resources to make your class lessons engaging, fun, and authentic!
  • Use Polleverywhere for quick student surveys to motivate classroom participation.
  • QR Code activities can keep students tied to an assignment, searching for clues and success!
  • Allow students to create Blog Talk Sessions or to hold interviews on topics with Blog Talk Radio.
  • Free GPS Features can help students with Geography lessons or with location clarification in history activities.
  • Play Games and keep students excited about learning your content!
As technology continues to advance, we have to be willing to jump on board.  If we don't, we lose our audience completely.  And teaching is no longer about "commanding" the class' attention.  Our world has changed, and now we must earn it!

Do you let your students use their iphones in your classes? Read these Ideas and take a look at these engaging website links for using cell phones in the middle and high school classroom. #teaching #lessons #technology

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck

To Text or Not to Text

As the academic world revolutionizes, secondary teachers are finding they have many new options for resources in their classrooms.  While many schools and districts are still making the big textbook purchases, others are opening up their instructional funds to the alternatives.  
That brings us to the question: 

To Text or Not to Text?

With so many options for student engagement in the classroom now, do you use textbooks? Read about other strategies for keeping your classroom interactive and hitting the standards. My favorite will always be my favorite! #teaching #strategies #technology #textbooks
When I first stepped into the classroom, I had a choice of textbooks.  My first year had landed right at adoption time, and I was lucky to be presented with choices.  And then I opened the covers.  What I found inside not only bored me, but it appalled me in some instances.  And what was even more disturbing was what I didn't see.  There were very few women, positive entries on African-Americans, and literally nowhere were any other "out of the norm" groups.  And Native Americans were only seen in two categories: Weak and dependent or aggressive and violent.  As a social historian, I asked the question, "Where are the stories of the people?"

And that was just U.S. History.  If there were this many errors or omissions in U.S. History textbooks that were written by American publishers, what would be incorrect or ignored in my World History text?  And then, more importantly, how would I know?  I wanted it to be different for my students.  It became my mission to teach them to question what they learned, rather than teach them to accept what had become the standard.

So, how can you teach without textbooks?  Here are a few tips:
  • Fill your classroom with images.  I LOVE images, and they represent the reality of the times, not just an outsider's perspective.
  • Collect books on every topic you teach.  These can be grade level books, such as The Triangle: The Fire That Changed America, or it can be books you will read to the class just to show a perspective or to introduce a topic, such as The Lorax to introduce the theme of Human-Environment Interaction in Geography.
  • Scour local and national museums (the Smithsonian and LOC will send you hard copies of primary sources for FREE) for primary sources to allow your students to analyze history.
  • Bring in contributors who actually lived history, and allow your students to investigate the past through their eyes.
  • Encourage oral histories, either viewed from museum collection internet feeds, or from family and friends of the students in your classes.
  • Gather teacher-created resources and activities to tech the content, but to also teach your students the process of investigating history and questioning everything they learn.
 And then, there is the option of using the textbooks you have been gifted in your classrooms.  Do not let them collect dust.  Instead use them as a resource.  As JUST ONE of the resources you will introduce for each topic you teach.  Utilize the pictures, the charts, and some of the prompts.  But first, teach your students that the text is never the know all, be all.  It is simply a secondary source, created to provide an outline of the history those before us thought was important to teach to America's youth.

Do you need some of those teacher created resources?  Or activities that encourage the use of primary sources or of questioning of history?  Visit My TpT Store for great resources on American History, World History, Geography and more!

With so many options for student engagement in the classroom now, do you use textbooks? Read about other strategies for keeping your classroom interactive and hitting the standards. My favorite will always be my favorite! #teaching #strategies #technology #textbooks

Happy Teaching!

Michele Luck

Are You Ready for Back to School?

Are you ready to go back to school?

It's almost that time again!  Time to go back into that classroom, to get things cleaned and organized, and to plan out all the great lessons you will teach in the coming weeks.  How do you handle the demands on your time, energy, and sanity?

As each school year approached for me, I first pulled out my calendar to keep myself motivated and on schedule.  Without negotiation, I created my "To-Do" calendar and then I made myself get started!  So, what did I add to my calendar?  Here's the run-down:

  • At least two 40-hour work weeks were scheduled for curriculum mapping and lesson planning 
  • 2 days were allotted for cleaning, organizing, and reorganizing my classroom
  • 1 day was granted for making copies, laminating, and hanging classroom posters (Expectations)
  • 1 day was set aside to create and recreate seating charts for each of my classroom configurations (Rows versus group activities), and for creating and pre-addressing post cards I would send out after the first week
  • 1 day was assigned for the final classroom preparation where I drew the welcome onto my board, set up my first day's activities, and laid out all of my first day materials (Syllabus, Expectations, Notebook Template, etc.)
  • 1 day for calming myself down and regulating my adrenaline before the kids walked in, some motivated and some not!
I know!  This totals up to 3 full weeks BEFORE the required Opening Day and PD days!  But, with this non-negotiable plan, I started my school year off with much less stress and anxiety than others I saw in my building.  I was able to enjoy meeting my students, I could take time to make early phone calls or to send emails, and I actually ended each of the first days of school at a reasonable time instead of spending my evenings there, worrying about what I would be doing the next day!

And if you need help on those back to school lessons, take a look in My TpT Store!  You might even find activities you can do on that very first day to make it go, oh, so much easier!

Happy Teaching!
Michele Luck