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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Secondary Brain Break Ideas

Want to start the year off with scheduled physical activity and downtime in your classroom?  Read on to find out how I use both to capture my secondary students' attention!

1.  The Music Break: This is where I put on a song and everyone is required to walk (no running) around the classroom. They usually end up doing laps around the room, but some like to zig-zag between desks. They can also chat if they want. When the music goes off, everyone returns to their seat. 

Here's what you'll need:
Your phone Or Bluetooth-enabled music device
Appropriate popular songs (I download the instrumental version of songs with no lyrics)

2. The Review Break: This is perfect for reviewing things like procedures and expectations or chunking larger pieces of information into smaller bites. 

I have students stand up, find two people from a different table, and tell each person the answer to a review question. For example, "What are the required materials to bring to class each day?"  That means that each student has repeated and heard the answer to that question at least four times. It reviews information and gets them moving and communicating. 

3.  The Whole-Class Longer Reward Break:  My classes earn points for demonstrating responsible behavior each day. Once the class has earned 20-30 points, I allow them to spend 20-30 minutes doing a chosen activity. Some of my favorites include:
Hour of Code
BreakoutEdu Digital
Online learning games
Sustained reading
Vocabulary games

What can you add to this list?  I'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Get-to-Know-You Name Tags

This get-to-know-you activity is quick and allows the teacher to quickly find out students' names and interests. They also share teacher interests with students.

I have supplies and name tag examples on each table. The examples share my information with my students, as well as show students what the finished product will look like.

Get-to-Know-You Nametags:  First day of school activity

This is the front (first and last name). We used construction paper and I asked them to make little "feet" to make it stand upright.

Get-to-Know-You Nametags:  First day of school activity

These are the the general categories on the back.  Students used markers to write their own answers. I write different things on each example so I can talk about different things with each table. For example, I might write "kickboxing" beside sports or "90s" beside music on a different name tag because I also like those things.

Some other categories I used:
Favorite band
Favorite author/book series

Feel free to change any of categories to meet your interests or needs of your students. 

What categories would you include?  

Sunday, August 13, 2017

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

Would you like to get to sleep faster?  Do you wish the sleep you do get was more restful?  Then this post is for you!

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

Teachers!  This time of year can do a number on our sleep if we let it. Confession: I have to really work on my sleep.

The following are the time-tested things that help me. 

1. Dim the Lights an Hour Before Bedtime
That includes all electronics, especially your phone. Change your phone's setting to "night shift mode". This is what it looks like on an iPhone.

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

2. Take a Warm Bath or Shower
There's just something soothing about washing away the day's cares. Plus, I like knowing I won't have to rush to shower in the morning. 

3. Essential Oils

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

I use a roller bottle of cedarwood, wild orange, frankincense, and serenity blend (DōTERRA).  I put it on the bottoms of my feet and big toe before bed. It gives me such amazingly restful sleep!  On nights I forget to use it I toss and turn a lot more. 

4.  Get in Bed 1/2 Hour Before You Need to Go to Sleep
This one is pretty simple. Put the papers that need grading and the to-do list down. Get yourself in bed with a good book or a meditation podcast. You know, things that make you feel relaxed. 

5.  Use White Noise or a Fan

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

For white noise, I use the White Noise Baby app. It does cost money but it's got a bunch of different noise options, such as air conditioner, hair dryer, and vacuum. Oddly enough, I always opt for the fan noise. I also like the real thing. So don't be afraid to get an actual fan if that appeals more to you. 

6.  Use a Sleep Mask

Teacher Savior: How to Get to Sleep Fast and Stay Asleep

This might be too much for some people, but I swear it's increased my quality of sleep.  I like the Drift to Sleep mask

Those are my must-haves for a restful night. What are yours?  I can never have too many tricks up my sleeve for sleep!  

Sunday, August 6, 2017

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder and FREEBIE

Would you like a quick and simple binder set up for your students?  How about a set up that encourages self-reflections and easy organization?  Then this post is for you!

Even though they are older, the more simplified we can make organization for school subjects, the easier it will be for middle-schoolers to perform, study, and find what they need.  It is with that in mind that I design my binder setup each year.

Tips for easy set-up:

Start with a Composition Book OR a 3-Ring Binder:
I personally prefer a 3-ring binder with loose-leaf paper because papers can easily be added or taken out without disrupting the whole notebook.

Include a Table of Contents:
I find a table of contents to be absolutely necessary for students to easily look up information or tell what's missing from their binder.  This one is from my ISN setup pack, but you can easily have the students copy the headings on notebook paper and keep that in the front of their binder.

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Table of Contents

Use dividers to organize the other papers from your class.
I include the following:
  • Table of Contents:  Put about 10 pages of blank notebook paper under this tab.
  • Vocabulary:  Put about 15 pages of blank notebook paper under this tab.
  • Notes: Put the rest of the pack of blank notebook paper in this section AFTER you place the required pages under the “Table of Contents” and “Vocabulary” tab.
  • Labs
  • Study Tools 

The following is the ENTIRE list of setup materials from my Interactive Science Notebook pack.

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Materials

After the general set up, you'll want to give students a way to demonstrate their understanding of what you've been teaching.

In my Interactive Science Notebook ISN Setup Freebie, you'll find ways for your students to demonstrate their knowledge such as:

Note-taking strategies

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Notetaking Plan

Creating Flowcharts

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Concept Map

Other output methods included in my complete ISN pack:
Cornell Note-taking
Thinking Stems
Question Starters
T-Chart (compare and contrast)
Venn Diagram
RAFT writing

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Acrostic

Setting Up a Middle School Student Binder: Venn Diagram

How do you set up your binders?  What else is important to you that's not part of this post?  I'm always looking to make my set-up better each school year!