Taking over a class at this point in time

Many of you do not know that I have not been working in the classroom for the last 15 months. I have been recuperating from an injury I sustained and after all this time, I am mentally preparing (although I am not completely ready physically) as to how I would enter a classroom at this point in time in the year and take the reigns.   I know that many of you out there have done this, either returning from a maternity/paternity leave, or a short term absence, and many of you have taken over mid way as well (on a contractual basis).  Therefore, who else to help me and others in this situation than you!  We all look to each other for support and assistance, so let’s get this conversation started.  What are your best techniques, strategies and ideas in entering into a classroom at this point in time?  What would be your first plan of attack?  What do want to have on hand prior to entering the classroom (realistic or ideal)? How do you address the diverse classroom management style between the exiting teacher and yourself?

I will start it off, add in your comments and help us all out, especially me!

1) I would definitely need to see the daily schedule for the classroom.  This will help me understand the classroom logistics and what happens on a daily basis.  Having this item ahead of time would definitely streamline transition times in the first few days.

2) I would ideally prefer to have the opportunity to converse with the current teacher, regarding programming and which curriculum has been completed and what still needs to be completed.

3) The completed grades for all students, and an understanding of the upcoming assignments and  their respective due dates.

 

Place Value for Middle Grades

Place ValueIt is essential for students to keep practicing concepts that have been introduced to them during class time.  A fantastic way is through centre activities and games.  Here is a great game for students to keep practicing the concepts of place value.  Included is a place value chart (from Millions to Thousandths), 24 cards with numbers in written form and an answer key.  It could easily be used as a game between students, friendly competition is a great motivator!  It could also be used as a means for independent practice.  Laminate the cards so they can be used continuously and will withstand wear and tear!  We hope that you will find this product useful!  Just click on the image above to be brought to the product page.

Just a reminder that we have other centre activities available for your classroom as well.

 

Grade 4/5 Science Unit: Pulleys and Gears & Forces acting Upon Structures and Mechanisms

Gr 4:5 badgeWe have been hard at work!  Here is another great science unit for Grades 4/5.  Our first unit on Habitats and Communities and Human Organ Systems was a great success.  With great feedback from other teachers, we know that you find our products engaging, thorough and distinguished!

This new unit is a cross curricular Gr. 4/5 Science Unit  which allows teachers to meet the Ontario Science curriculum expectations all the while teaching a split grade!  Our science unit: Pulleys and Gears (4) & Forces Acting Upon Structures and Mechanisms(5)  combines the following overall big ideas:

  • Machines, mechanisms, and structures are designed to improve efficiency or simplify tasks
  • Forces act on and within structures and mechanisms
  • Mechanical systems have various impacts on society and the environment

Our Lessons include the following:

  • Learning centres: students work in small groups or individually to rotate between four centres over the course of the activity (four types of centre activities: technology, reading/writing activity, creative response, and a fun or hands-on activity);
  • Whole class lesson/discussion followed by either small group activities or whole class activity

Our unit is cross-curricular and integrates the following subjects:

  • Language Arts (Reading, Writing, Oral Communication, Media Literacy)
  • Math
  • 21st Century Learning
  • Art

We have many activities that are both engaging and active.  Differentiated instruction is also key and diverse assessment methods are incorporated.  We hope you find this unit useful for your classroom.

Here is a preview of our Gr 4/5 Science Unit.  Click on the picture above and you will be taken right to the full product!

The Tuesday 12: 12 New Year’s Resolutions for Teachers!

Happy New Year!  This is our second day of school in 2013 and my students are refreshed, ready to work, and have new goals for the year (at least I hope)!  My students are making resolutions for 2013, so that had me thinking about 12 resolutions teachers should make (and keep!) for 2013! Of course, these are only my suggestions, so feel free to add in your suggestions in the comments section!

12 teacher resolutions

1. I will get out of my comfort zone and try something new!

It’s very easy to use the same activities, lessons, and units from year to year if you’re teaching the same grades.  I guess a lot of things in life are like that—we feel comfortable with things that are familiar to us.  But I am going to challenge myself—and you too!—to get out of my comfort zone and try new things.  Do you normally run the art club? Why don’t you try coaching a sport? Have you tried to incorporate new concepts in your teaching? I’ve challenged myself to leap into 21st century learning this year…there’s so much to learn, but I will try a little bit more each day.

2. Prioritize!

Teaching is a 24 hour job.  Even if teachers work 24 hours a day, there still is not enough time to get everything that we want accomplished.  With teaching, marking, planning, decorating classrooms, extracurriculars, professional development, and preparing for daily lessons and activities, it seems like my “to do” list gets longer and longer.  I am going to focus on what is important and prioritize my tasks! Not everything is mission critical!

3. Take time for yourself!

A refreshed, relaxed, and energized teacher is an effective teacher! Take care of yourself, eat nutritious meals and snacks, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, spend time with family and friends, and, most importantly, have fun!

4. Don’t let things pile up!

At the end of the day, it’s so easy to look at that small pile of assignments on your desk and convince yourself to let them go just one day…but then that pile starts to grow out of control!  Little things can quickly turn into big problems if you aren’t careful! I’m going to be on task this year! No more slacking Smile

5. 21st century learning!

As I mentioned in my first resolution, I really want to try new things.  21st century learning seems like such a phenomenal and revolutionary change to teaching and learning! It seems a bit overwhelming and scary, but it is also motivating and exhilarating! This year, I’ve began to use Edmodo and Engrade in my classroom.  I want to incorporate technology, digital resources, and educational apps into my daily teaching more and more.

6. Make a 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plan!

Did you reach all your goals in 2012? Did you even set any goals for yourself in 2012?  Are you where you expected to be in 2013?  Did you even imagine where you would be in 2013?

It’s very easy to just live in the moment, but it is essential to plan ahead and set goals for yourself.  I plan to make 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year goals for myself to keep me focused and on track!

7. Ask for student input!

I really want my students to be more actively engaged and involved in their learning…not just in lessons and activities, but I want their input in the types of concepts we cover, how we cover them, and how they’d like to learn.  Of course, we need to cover curriculum expectations, but there are so many ways for students to learn the curriculum, explore their learning needs, and become active contributors in your classroom learning community.

8. Simplify!

Sometimes I get a little too wrapped up in the little things when I should be focusing on the big picture.  Here’s an easy way to simplify your life a bit: get rid of your mark books and use an electronic mark book!  There are many free, online mark books or you can simply use an Excel spreadsheet…there is no excuse for wasting time calculating and tabulating final grades.  I use engrade.ca and I think it is phenomenal! Scared you’ll lose your work? I simply export or print my marks on a weekly basis and I’m worry free!

9. Form a professional learning community!

Do you meet with colleagues simply to plan lessons?  Or do you use this as an opportunity to learn from another and grow as a teacher?  If you don’t have a formal professional learning community, then make one yourself! Look to teacher blogs, teacher forums, Twitter, or Facebook to discuss education, teaching strategies, lesson plans, and student learning with teachers all over the world! How’s that for a global learning community!

10. Connect with every student!

Build a relationship with every single student in your class.  This may be difficult but it is so important! There are some kids that are shy, quiet, do their work, and don’t really stand out…it is easy for them to get lost in the crowd.  Don’t let this happen!  Help students join the classroom community and grow as individuals.

11. It’s okay to veer off your lesson plans!

I’ve said this before and I will say it again—it is okay to veer off your lesson plans! They are not written in stone! Some of the best class discussions I’ve had in my class occurred when we were off on some tangent.  It’s okay and there is time to go back and catch up.  True learning is spontaneous and cannot be scheduled into a thirty minute pre-determine block of time.  Be flexible!

12. Don’t forget that learning should be fun!

Learning should be fun…both for you and your students!  Try to use different tactics and tools to engage the students in your class.  If you are having a fun time, then your love of learning will be infectious and your students will be motivated and inspired to learn!

Good luck with your resolutions! I’ll report back on how I’m doing! If you have any suggestions or additions, please add them in to the comments.  See you next week for another edition of The Tuesday 12!

A New Year, A New Beginning!

New Year New BeginningAs we start preparing to return to our classrooms, we fully understand that in some ways this is a completely fresh start.  Once we get back to our classrooms, we need to start delineating our rules, our objectives and also our expectations.  Granted most students have not forgotten completely what our classroom expectations are but still need to be reminded by clear communication.  At the beginning of the year, we suggested that students have personal learning goals set.  Check out our TeachHub article on setting goals, we provided a lesson plan along with a strategy and student forms where students can set up and work for their goals.  If you have done this throughout the year thus far, then this would be a great time to assess what new strategies are needed to obtain that goal or identify a new one.  If you have not, then a new year can mean a new beginning.  Harness that spirit of renewal and help students focus on their goals once again.  Make time for this in your first week back as it will help students re-connect with their own learning goals and help re-focus students on their academics!

21st Century Learning: A Time of Change for Teachers and Students

“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists” (Eric Hoffer) Today, all the teachers in our board participated in professional development centred around 21st … Continue reading →